Three opening sequences have embedded themselves in my mind this year:
Youssou N’Dour’s anthemic call, at the beginning of Elizabeth Chai Versalihis’ ‘I Bring What I Love’ to the young people of Africa, tears streaming down his face, asking his people to be guided by their own vision to unshackle themselves from the dependency fostered by sentimentalized Western views of the continent.
The first section of ‘Up’, which I saw a few weeks before my own wedding in May, the most glorious animation and design fused with a powerfully resonant story: the arc of a love affair, beginning in childhood, and reaching a crisis with the death of one party; whole films have dedicated to this arc, of course; ‘Up’ manages to make you believe it in five minutes; the whole rest of the movie is about what happens next, and how love always outlasts its object.
And the first half hour of ‘Inglourious Basterds’, which manages to invoke the memory of Lee van Cleef, the ‘Hills are Alive’ sequence in ‘The Sound of Music’; and even the face of Stanley Kubrick. Beyond that, it provides the most credible reason in cinema history for a French and German character to speak English to each other; announces the arrival of a fantastic actor – Christoph Waltz – on international screens; and declares Tarantino’s intention to make Nazi violence look even worse than it has ever done by the very absurdity of its portrayal in his film.