Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"You're...my number one."

In "Batman", there is a scene where Jack Palance is convincing Jack Nicholson to take on the task that will ultimately lead to the creation of The Joker. Palance grabs Nicholson's shoulders and says, "...because you're..." and then he makes this weird inhaling hiss sound, "...my number one."

Something always struck me as bizarre about that scene and it took me years to figure it out. Palance is explicitly stating that Nicholson is his toadie. And the latter's actions prove it. Why is that strange? Well, how many times in his career has Nicholson taken on that role? He's always the dominant character and never answers to anyone other than his arrogant self. We're so used to seeing the "Cuckoo's Nest" Jack, the "Shining" Jack, even the "As Good as it Gets" Jack that you just know he can't remain sebverient for long. In this case we're right, and it only takes immersion in acid for the watershed moment to occur.

Perfect line.

"Good. For a minute there I thought we were talking about a FUCKING MASK!"

Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone hates this movie. Not me. Vanilla Sky is constantly criticized for being a self-indulgent piece of Cameron Crap that steals its only positive (the story) from Abre Los Ojos, the South American film that also starred Penelope Cruz. But for some reason Vanilla Sky always cheers me up. I don't know if its the irresistably cute Cruz or the fact the Tom Cruise has a mangled face for half the movie, but something in this film is just extremely hopeful.

Anyway, the reason that line always sticks in my head is because it's the one time in Cruise's career he's uttered anything remotely funny. And best of all, he doesn't follow up the line with that creepy, over-the-top laugh of his.

"Shut up, Mr. Burton."

Let's start with the name of the blog. Late in "Big Trouble in Little China" when Jack & Co. infiltrate David Lo Pan's palace, Jack is running his mouth when the decrepit, crippled version of Lo Pan snaps at him. This line kills me for so many reasons. First, it's the way Lo Pan phrases it. It comes out like "Shaht ahp...", which sounds approximately nothing like a thousand-year-old Chinese guy would say it. Second, for some reason it scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. I'm not sure why that was. A half-dead, wheelchair-bound Asian man says "shut up" and I remember thinking, "Uh oh, this guy means business. Don't say anything Jack, he's already mad!"