Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Long Fade To A Fade To Black

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JA from MNPP here. The night before last I watched the 2006 French thriller Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne). I'm sure many of you have seen it. It's a nice, solid, little piece of work - smart and character-based in a way not enough American thrillers are and just twisty enough (plus it's got Kristin Scott Thomas flexing her Gallic-skills, which is always a treat). I had a couple of issues with the film (I'm never gonna hate on getting to listen to the entire length of a Jeff Buckley song, but the music-video-like montages were a little distracting), but mostly I was entirely involved in its drama - I found myself shouting at the screen! - and enjoyed it thoroughly.

And then it ended. Or rather, it should've ended. I saw the cut to black coming, I felt it in my very bones. Right... now. Black.... now? Fin. The End? No? You gonna keep going movie? Okay... another thirty seconds of overly sentimental hooey. Blurgh. Thanks for that, movie! Thanks. Send me out on an annoyed note.

It's just... it was so there. In my mind. That cut to black. I wanted numerous heads of lettuce and cauliflower to toss at the screen. Bales of hay. I wanted to rewind time, step into the editing suite, and smack them about the face and hands until they got it.

The movie that always gets called out for its over-extended ending is Return of the King, but that one didn't so much bother me (but then, I am a geek). I last remember this feeling hitting during Australia (and there was like forty more minutes of film to go on that one). But this did get me thinking of that very specific gut-feeling I get when I sense a perfect ending and the subsequent sense of violation when it is crossed, and was curious when the last time y'all felt that twinge... and if you take it as personally as I appear to...
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26 comments:

brianmaru said...

It's not a sentimental ending necessarily, but I always wish Let the Right One In ended at the pool and not the train.

P_T_D said...

Felt the same way at the end of the '78 Heaven Can Wait.

(Obviously, minor spoilers...)

The scene with Warden and Beatty in the locker room is so perfectly sad ... and then the passing encounter with the Julie Christie character in the corridor ...

... only it's *not* a passing encounter? Wait, what?

It'd be like if, at the end of Cast Away, (*more minor spoilers*) Chuck Noland had gone back and asked that woman in the farmhouse if she wanted to have dinner. Just didn't fit.

Julius_Goat said...

Saving Private Ryan. The tank bears down on Tom Hanks, who pulls out his service pistol and starts firing on it as it inexorably advances on him, the perfect metaphor for the futility of man facing the remorseless machine heart of war . . .

END IT RIGHT HERE PLEASE!

. . . and then the day is saved by bombers ex machina, Hanks dies knowing mission is accomplished, Ryan is OK, shmalzy flash forward, cue John Williams score argggggh!!

Spielberg almost made a truly subversive WWII film.

Shawn said...

I'm not going to piss on Return of the King for its extended ending. I mean it was the swansong for a very successful and well-beloved movie trilogy. Excuse them for taking just a wee bit more time to say goodbye.

This is what I feel also with the ending of Battlestar Galactica. Sure I could've done without the Times Square scene, but the slow goodbyes to each of the characters we've grown to love/hate/know in the last half hour was quite cathartic and in fact I didn't want it to end.

Oh and I also liked the ending for Tell No One which I *just* saw last night!

dusty said...

I second the complaint about Australia. I think a well-placed ending can elevate a movie from pretty good to excellent. A good example is Billy Elliot.

Michael C. said...

The champion of "Oh no! You had the perfect ending!" is of course AI: Artificial Intelligence. Just imagine if Spielberg had the nerve to leave Haley Joel at the bottom of the ocean for all time wishing to an inanimate Blue Fairy. How cool would that have been?

But no, Ben Kingsley had to narrate us awkardly a trillion billion years into the future so silvery CGI what-nots could magically give Spielberg an ill-conceived chance to wallow in his lost parent themes and buckets of fuzzy Janusz Kaminski glow.

Phooey.

JA said...

Shawn, I didn't want to get into spoilers for the film in the main post, but here's my problem with the end of Tell No One:

(SPOILERS ahoy)

I think the film should've ended a split second before his wife's hand touched his shoulder at their tree. I loved that moment, her coming out of the flowers behind him, walking slowly up into focus, him collapsing into sobs on the ground, and then she reaches for him and WHAM it should've went to black right then juuuuust before her hand reaches him. Perfect! But no, we have to get the schmoopy moment of them hugging and cut to them as kids blah blah blah. Just cut 30 seconds off and I would've been so happy! Ugh. Frustrating.

Michael C. said...

I'd have named that obscenely pointless ending tacked on to the re-release of The Exorcist so it could trumpet "New Footage!" but I've so far done a good job pretending no such ending exists and I don't want to ruin it.

Shawn said...

JA, in the case then I agree with you. I wasn't sure where you wanted to cut off the ending, thinking that you wanted to excise that whole scene.

adelutza said...

I agree "Tell No One" is 30 seconds too long. But compared with the endless last hour of Australia ( I honestly thought it will never end!) it's a drop in the ocean ...

JA said...

Nah, in this case it's just the fact that it was so little that drove me crazy.They were so close! So, so close. But no. Ugh. I need to let this go. I'm still bitter and it's been two days!

Jim T said...

Alright, the most important reason to read this post (I mean yours, Nate, not this one by me) is to learn that you admit you are a geek!
The only way I didn't imagine you was as a geek. But I should have known... All that list-loving! I guess I am too. :p

I didn't understand what you said about the predictions. When will they be ready?

Amanda said...

Tell No one was amazing. i walked out of there feeling all sorts of things. fabulous movie. Loved the Bad-ass "thug" guy who helped the main guy (sorry to be so vague) In any case, great movie!

JA said...

Sorry to disappoint you, Jim T, but I posted this post, not Nat. But I can tell you that Nat would admit to his own geekiness quite willingly, I do think. Come on, Nat! Do it. We're all waiting now.

Dom said...

Am I the only one who hated Tell No One? I mean, the "villain" spends 15 minutes explaining his motives? Come on! Lazy writing if you ask me. Didn't bring anything new to the genre. Dull.

Morgan said...

I felt that way watching Mystic River. My friend and I wanted SO BADLY for it to cut to black after Sean Penn walks down the street, and instead it went on for another five minutes and Laura Linney had that weird scene and it was just so frustrating. I am not a huge fan of the movie, but I would have had a lot more respect for it (and remembered it more positively) if it had ended when I wanted it to.

JA said...

Dom, I actually had included a criticism of that scene in my post at first, but then deleted it. The more I thought about it the less straightforward it seemed. I mean, he's not really "the villain" for one, and then the entire thing is revealed to be undermined a few minutes later when the film turns his confession on its head, revealing that it was actually all a lie and he took that moment of static cover-up to tell his son-in-law the truth of what happened. In the end, I liked the way they played with the usual way that sort of thing plays out.

Wayne B. said...

Morgan,
I think that the scene with Laura Linney actually better serves the movie. It underlines the fact that for Jimmy Markum, there really was no escape for him from that life of crime & running the neighborhood. He fell in love with a woman, Annabeth, who fell in love with him partly because of his brutality. The only thing holding him back from that life was Katie. Now that she isn’t there, the influences to become criminal (his wife, brothers-in-law) are stronger. I’ve heard complaints that her scene seems to come out of left field but on second viewing there are hints to her coldness. Her first reaction to Katie not being home: “She’s gonna f*$% up this day too.” In her brief scenes with Celeste you never see Annabeth return any warmth or affection; clues to this character’s inner hardness. Without her and that scene, the movie would’ve been less complex, therefore less interesting.

JA said...

I have to say that for me the only part of Mystic River that I liked was the ending. I thought the rest was pretty tedious, but I loved Laura Linney's scene there.

brianmaru said...

I agree with Morgan. Hate that ending to Mystic River.

kin said...

Nice topic.

My picks:
Pay it Forward--the movie wasn't amazing before, but that ending was just stupid.

Minority Report--Spielberg just have a tendency to "Hollywooodize" his endings. I know he is not the writer, but it can't be a coincidence.

Training Day--my (least) favorite example. The movie should have stopped after Denzel gave Ethan Hawke the speech in the car. Would have been very great.

Steven A. said...

Hmmm... I don't know how to describe this without giving anything away, but The Orphange should have ended a couple minutes earlier and done without the sugary sweet 'resurrection' ending. Fade to black right after the mother relizes what has happened and is still sitting in front of the window crying.

Also, The Dark Knight really could of ended somewhere before all the Two-Face stuff.

Glendon said...

The ending of Election takes a bit too long to get to big payoff of throwing the milkshake.

To defend ROTK: It's not an ending to a 3 hour movie, it's the ending to a 9 hour three part movie.

richard said...

Billy Elliot

i've always loved the film, except for the ending. we have no emotional connection to the adult billy we see briefly at the end. and having his gay friend grow up into a makeup-wearing queen is somewhat offensive. nothing wrong with queens (i'm one myself), but that choice has always felt to me somewhat forced and stereotypical. and surprising, considering stephen daldry calls himself bisexual.

Alexa said...

For me, it was A.I. When Teddy and David go underwater to visit the fairy, and he asks to be a real boy, that would have been devastating, Kubrickian. Then Spielbeg had to get all mama-lovey-dovey on us with the ending of the reinvented "perfect day" with mama. UGH.

joseph said...

It should be cleared up for a couple of posters that while the end of AI might seem downright "Spielbergian" and the ending we all wanted (me included, the first time I saw it) would have been "Kubrickian," but it's been proven to be a wrong theory from the beginning. Kubrick wrote the entire original treatment of the story and it always ends in the future with the resurrected robot boy the only remaining trace of the "human" race. You don't have to like it, but you can't keep blaming Spielberg for an ending that was always Kubrick's....