3. Ripley Fights The Queen: Aliens
Yes, the scene where Sigourney Weaver calls an alien queen suffering from a major case of incinerated nest syndrome a bitch.
Perhaps an unexpected entry on this list, the list is still mine and the final twenty minutes of Aliens often result in a sly “I’ve just got to nip to the toilet” or a swift eye wipe after distracting everyone by ringing the landline from my mobile.
The finale to James Cameron’s action sequel is a staggering sequence. Ripley returns to LV-426, the planet her crew originally landed on in Alien, albeit this time wielding a dropship full of double hard Marines, and low and behold, the xenomorphs prove to be social inclusionists. Men, women, children; trained soldiers, the moderately-okay-with-weapons and those who couldn’t fight off a cold – they’ll sink both sets of teeth into anyone.
The film ramps up for the showstopping finale as Lt. Ellen Ripley heads back into the smouldering foundry to save the little scamp, Newt. She rescues the girl everyone figured had been gobbled, and is on the cusp of boarding the dropship expertly flown back to the planet by Bishop.
Thus commences the blub-inducing ending. Building into a crescendo, thanks to James Horner’s frickin’ jaw-dropping score, Ripley dons the power loader and sets about smacking the crap out of the queen – successfully lobbing her into the airlock. That is, until Queenie grabs a hold of Ripley’s ankle and drags her down, power loader and all.
It’s Horner’s accompaniment that hammers home the sheer endurance of Ripley, a woman who days before learned that she had not only been in hypersleep for 57 years, but that her ten-year old daughter had died at a ripe old age. It’s a beautiful segment, showcasing the monstrosity of the alien desperate to survive, and the valiant nature of her foe; Ripley.
The whine of the power loader is enough to set me off.
2. David’s Realisation: Vanilla Sky
I love the ending to Cameron Crowe’s remake of Abre Los Ojos so much, I wrote a uni assignment based around its ability to drive the audience to tears during its closing coda.
You might not believe that a film starring Tom Cruise could contain sufficient depth to warrant tears. Tears that surge from overwhelming emotion, not in commiseration at two wasted hours watching a man with no charisma pursue a woman young enough to be his daughter.
Well, Vanilla Sky‘s big reveal does. For me, anyway. As business tycoon David Aames wakes from an extended cryonic sleep, he is confronted atop a building by his girlfriend, Sofia, best friend Brian, and his tech support advisor, Edmund who informs him that every event following the night he met his one true love, Sofia, never actually happened. In fact, they aren’t standing on a building at all – it’s all in his head.
In reality, he went off the deep end and killed himself. Stuffed with cash, he signed an agreement beforehand so he could live out an idealised existence in suspended animation.
The key factor in inciting my mental crumblings here are the painful glints at a life lost during the film’s final dialogue. For missed chances, for the most enriching moments in life to have been fiction, for your one clutch at happiness to have never been yours for the taking, as Edmund tells him: “You were missed, David. It was Sofia who never fully recovered. It was she who some how knew you best… and like you, she never forgot that one night where true love seemed possible.”
If I’m not practically in hysterics at this point (incited by Sigur Ros’ soul-panging score), then the final exchange between David and the-actually-dead-for-years Sofia usually does the trick.
David: Look at us. I’m frozen and you’re dead, and I love you.
Sofía: It’s a problem.
David: I lost you when I got in that car. I’m sorry… Do you remember what you told me once? That every passing minute is a another chance to turn it all around.
Sofía: I’ll find you again.
David: I’ll see you in another life… when we are both cats.
1. Diane and Camilla’s Walk: Mulholland Drive
David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive… alright, it’s going to be tough to not extend this entry into a love letter to the director’s (arguably) finest cinematic accomplishment to date. A Mobius-strip cautionary tale about the perils of Hollywood’s allure follows Betty Elms (Naomi Watts – the one on the left) who comes to the aid of a mysterious amnesiac femme hiding in her shower (Laura Harring – the one on the right.)
If at this point you’re thinking, Ooh, sounds like it’s worth a watch, then give yourself a goldfish. It is. Trying to explain the story any further would be an exercise in wasting perfectly good hyperbole on a film that inevitably outranks it. Go and watch it.
The moment in question takes place in the film’s latter half. With Diane a wreck after being dumped by Camilla, she hoofs it around her dingy apartment having angry wanks while staring at tables. In a moment’s notice her world is turned around – she is invited to a party. By Camilla! The phone rings and her former lady tells her the car is waiting outside to whisk her away.
The two women exit the car and weave their way up a darkened Hollywood hill. Diane’s face expresses her nervous excitement; why is Camilla being so kind all of a sudden? Why are they holding hands? At that moment, Camilla turns around to smile at Diane. No dialogue is exchanged, and it doesn’t need to. Angelo Badalamenti’s score, the entirety of which is a scattered mindfuck of brilliance, soars into a beautiful refrain – mirroring the aching, desperate desire of Diane. She loves Camilla, and the tender moment when their reunion seems possible is enough to break the toughest of hearts.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got something in my eye.