There were plenty of highs and lows in film this year. While there were plenty of moments that gave me great pleasure and laughter, there are also plenty that affected me that made me bury my heads in my hands, while shielding my eyes.
Recently, I remarked to another critic that filmmakers with vivid imagination and in a quest to create more “realistic” cinema and with the advances in technology now able to perform such amazing feats, it is no wonder that the images in film have become much more raw and grittier.
If you have not seen any of these films, this is your SPOILER ALERT. It is with this in mind that we feature The Top Five Most Cringe-Worthy Scenes or as I like to refer to them, my top “Mitch” moments (hey, my radio show is called “Keeping It Reel!”):
5. Hugh Jackman Beats Paul Dano to a Bloody Pulp | Prisoners
When two young girls are abducted, one determined father (Jackman) focuses in on a suspect with a low IQ, played by Dano. Not only is his character violently interrogated by an eager detective, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, but is beaten nearly beyond recognition by Jackman. The torture scene in the bathroom was so intense, that even the hardest cinephiles were left gasping for breath. Talk about sacrificing for your art!
4. A Bloody Firefight Between a Seal Team and Taliban Fighters | Lone Survivor
When a group of four Navy Seals’ mission is compromised in the hills of Afghanistan, the overmatched group must fight between 25-50 Taliban fighters, while trying to survive. Directed by Peter Berg, he truly amps up the action with shooting scenes reminiscent of playing a video game. The sequence when the Seal team throws themselves down a rocky hill and their bodies are bouncing off of various rocks, breaking bones and causing a great deal of discomfort, was not only tough for them but the audience as well, many who recoiled in absolute horror watching this intense ordeal.
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender Peeling the Skin Off of Lupita Nyong’o’s back | 12 Years A Slave
While the ordeal of the majority of slaves was less than ideal, the plight of Patsey (Nyong’o) was downright horrific and sad. Earlier in the film, she is raped, punched, the object of scorn from slave master’s wife and even begs for Solomon (Ejiofor) to end her life. But nothing prepared the audience for the horror of her being savagely whipped, initially by Solomon and later with great effect by Epps (Michael Fassbender). Director Steve McQueen does and amazing job of initially presenting the action from the front and to accentuate the point of Patsey’s suffering, slowly pans around to show her scarred, beaten back that displays the skin literally being lifted from her back. Let’s just say, I was able to watch it once, just ONCE!!!
2. Josh Brolin Separating Samuel L. Jackson’s Head from his Body | Oldboy
The level of violence in Spike Lee’s remake Oldboy was already at a fever-pitch as Brolin savagely beats down a group of thugs using his hands and various weapons at his disposal. But the scene where he stretches out one of his tormentors, played by Jackson and takes a marker drawing a line across his neck and begins the tortuous process of slowly cutting his head off, piece-by-piece, was a little too much to take. Lee doesn’t spare the audience at all, keeping the camera fixated on the action, including the blood-curdling reaction from Jackson, who is powerless to stop the pain . . . unless he tells Brolin the information he so desperately wants.
1. The Tortue Scene | Only God Forgives
Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to Drive, was this gritty, stylized violent tale of a drug dealer and owner of a boxing gym, Julian (Ryan Gosling) who seeks to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of “The Angel of Vengeance,” Lt. Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm). No stranger to violence, Refn’s film features a beaten, bloody prostitute, a man’s arm being lanced off, Gosling being beaten literally to a pulp and his mother, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) getting a sword through the throat. But all of those events were just mere foreplay for the film’s coup de grâce where Chang sends a message in the year’s most brutal and violent scene. While I could go into detail, I will just let the scene speak for itself. In addition to this scene, my most vivid memory was doing the play-by-play commentary for a fellow colleague, who could bear to watch. I would say enjoy but the more apt description is “experience!”