A good opening scene or sequence is everything. The best films live on with how they well they hook us in and present the title of the show to the audience. This is a series that highlights films and filmmakers that take a risk in how they introduce themselves to you. So...open a cold one, and enjoy the cold open....
Volume 1: Three Films of Paul Thomas Anderson (*Beverage Pairing)
Hard Eight (aka Sydney)
A old man (Philip Baker Hall) sits down for coffee and cigarettes with a young man (John C. Reilly). He offers the young man help, advice. As the conversation reaches a crescendo with a threat of violence (a very funny one), a piece of piano music, some horns on the side, builds just the same. Until that slow pull into that favorite paring of diner patrons, the coffee mug and the ashtray. A friendship is born. It is a short film within a film, and one of the finest opening scenes out there.
*A coffee porter and a cigarette.
An interesting piece of music, accordion-fueled, quiet builds under a blank canvas, dark black waiting to be illuminated by neon lights, and a pop song takes over, disco, "The Best of My Love" by The Emotions, the title card, a theater marquis. Then, a minutes-long Steadicam take circling the night club where a young man's (Mark Wahlberg) dreams are about to come true.
*A 7&7. Double.
Stories of coincidence and chance read by comedian/magician Ricky Jay, that deadpan tone of voice, cleverly put up with the constant zooms and pans of a young filmmaker with a pocketful of studio money and zero restraint. Pure flash. Brilliantly written. Genius.
*An Imperial Stout or IPA, something to sip on for awhile.