My favorite films are often my favorite films; not necessarily because of plot, or characters (specifically) - but the space that develops around them which allows for a moment to be captured. What do I mean by a moment? The thing that makes a moment a moment, is that it isn't definable. If it was; then it wouldn't be a moment. A moment normally comes when the characters seemingly step out of the constraints of a story and purposeful dialogue; and exist truly in a moment that resonates personally with the viewer.
In 'Almost Famous,' as Stillwater are selling their souls to the big-shot manager, Penny Lane is in the auditorium, alone, post-concert, dancing slowly to the Cat Stevens song 'The Wind.' That is a moment. At least, it was for me.
As most of you will know I've been obsessed with the movie 'Adventureland' recently. It's a film that captures many moments. When James and Lisa P sit on the out of commission ride-carriages, getting high; it really captures something. It captures life! It captures the very essence of what it is to be young-and-figuring-the-world-out, just by having two people sitting and interacting. Likewise, when James and Em sit back and watch fireworks as 'Don't dream it's over' plays over the speaker system-- it is strangely touching, and warm; which evokes something in the viewer.
I think moments only happen when they have been experienced first hand by the writer or director. Not necessarily the exact situation, but that feeling, that emotion. Do you know what I mean? In life, it's possible, on rare occasions; to forget your problems, your financial woes and your messed up relationships and instead you exist purely in a moment that means something. The best screenwriters capture the essence of these 'moments' that they have experienced themselves.
But what am I talking about? Part of me wants to get very specific and stop sounding so wishy washy, and part of me says 'an article about moments can't be too specific' so I feel stuck.
In screenplays, like in life, the character's tend to go to work, then to a restaurant, then to bed, then to work, then to a friends house, then to a bar, etc.
Moments are normally created outside of these societal norms (but only very slightly). They happen at work after everyone is gone, when only two people are left in the building. Or they happen on the way home from a restaurant, when a group of friends bond over a broken-down-car experience. I would guess your most memorable moments in life are similar. I think that's an important point.
As we get older, life gets more rigid. Jobs, relationships and responsibilities provide structures that make it difficult to have unexpected experiences. When we see someone similar to us on screen sitting around a fireplace at 3am with new friends, or we see two people spontaneously having a poem written for them on the streets of Vienna, we realise - This is us, this is ME. This is a part of my life, or my identity, or my hopes - that I can't quite reach at the moment. It's a feeling you've been longing for, or a part of yourself you've been repressing or ignoring.
The header of my blog says, "I like it when I look up at the big screen and see a part of me staring back at me" and I think that's what I'm really talking about. Great movies have the capacity to show us more rounded, complete versions of ourselves. You might relate and identify with Jerry Maguire working really hard and you might relate to his struggle; but the part that resonates might be when he's swinging