Characters in movies aren’t all that much different from the rest of us: we like to go to the movies, and they like to go to the movies. And just like us, that experience offers them inspiration, motivation, entertainment, and sometimes a dangerous experience. Here are my favorites: I’ve tried to choose ones that are not only from great movies but are scenes that are pivotal to pushing the action forward.
A special note regarding Inglourious Basterds
In the first draft of this list, Basterds was listed as #1, but the more I got to thinking about it, the more unfair it seemed, as nearly a third of the film takes place inside of a theater, with a solid 15 minutes or so of people actually watching a film. Unfair advantage. Besides, Quentin will get some more attention later on…
Honorable Mentions: Amelie, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
I’d love to put Amelie in here, as I adore the moment we see of her at the movies watching people’s faces while they watch the movies (something I like to do as well from time to time – looking at you, 127 Hours), but it’s not all that significant and lasts for little more than a blip.
Gets by on a technicality. Idiocracy is about the farthest thing from a subtle film, and Joe’s trip to a 26th century theater is no exception. As with all things 500 years into the future, films have been dumbed down to the point where the Academy Award-winning film for Best Screenplay was this gem, which showed nothing but naked man ass – constantly farting – for 90 minutes. Solid work as usual, Mike Judge.
4. 12 Monkeys
On the run from, well, just about everyone, James Cole and Dr. Kathryn Railly hide out in a crummy cinema, taking advantage of the darkness and the anonymity more than anything, enabling Railly to purchase and fit a blond wig for James in about as private of quarters as they’re able to get. But a poignant juxtaposition of the events of Vertigo offers Cole a metaphor for his situation that adds just another layer of depth to the film.
3. Get Shorty
I just finished reading Elmore Leonard’s novel (some 16 years after seeing and loving the first for the first time) and was surprised to learn that there’s no such scene in the book (or anything like it). Chili’s solo trip to see Touch of Evil – in which he’s later joined by Karen Flores – not only further illustrates his lifelong love of movies (he quotes the dialog as the characters are speaking their lines) but shows Karen that he’s not full of b.s. This Miami gangster is more than meets the eye: a tough guy with an eye for celluloid.
2. Donnie Darko
I don’t want to spoil the action for those who still haven’t seen this mindbender, but let’s just say that Frank the Bunny inspires Donnie to get a lot done while his girlfriend is asleep (watching Evil Dead, no less!).
1. True Romance
Clarence, meet Alabama. Alabama, meet Clarence. Meet Clarence, who’s watching a Sonny Chiba triple feature. Meet Alabama, who’s spilling not only popcorn all over Clarence but also her boobs out of her shirt, in a not-so-subtle means of getting the comic book store worker’s attention. It works, they click, and you know the rest.
Movies you might think I forgot but didn’t: Annie Hall (featured prominently in Kai’s recent Top 10 Cameos list), Scream 2, The Fighter, Zodiac, The Kentucky Fried Movie, Last Action Hero, Cinema Paradiso.