Split Decision: It Belongs in a Museum
Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!
This week’s question:
In honor of The Goldfinch, what is the best movie that has at least one scene that takes place in a museum?
Vertigo. It's the greatest film ever. And it influenced so many others, including that terrific museum scene in DePalma's Dressed to Kill.
I am gonna swoop in and grab Brian DePalma's Dressed to Kill. There is a long scene early on at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York City, where frustrated housewife Angie Dickinson does a bit of a cat and mouse game with a flirty, mysterious stranger- after trying and failing to seduce her therapist. The camera is simply doing god level work, as tense and riveting as anything DePalma ever did.
1932's The Mummy! Poor guy just wants to reconnect with his wife. It's a delightful little tragedy, that.
The metaphor in the title of The Squid and the Whale can be a little much in retrospect, but when I watch the movie and am swept up in the whole thing, it totally works. The museum scene at the end just underlines everything and, again, maybe if the moment was played a little differently, I'd roll my eyes and think "Yeah, no shit the parents fighting are like the animals fighting," but there is a power to actually watching a character confront the central conflict of his young life in abstracted form.
I'll go with Skyfall, when Q and 007 meet for the first time in the middle of a museum. The dialogue in this scene is great. The two of them go back and forth at each other, each bragging about their different abilities — Q with his laptop and Bond out in the field. Q even manages to take a quick shot at the Brosnan era with a remark about exploding pens. The decision to make Q a younger tech geek was a great call, and a perfect fit for these Bond films.
Both of the answers I thought of are heist films, both stealing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While I have written about Ocean’s 8 before, I wanted to highlight John McTiernan’s 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, which contains two of may favorite heist scenes. The one above opens the film and kicks off the sexy cat and mouse game between the fourth best James Bond and Thor’s Mom, and it’s absolutely sublime how McTiernan’s use of editing and cinematography explains the heist and diversion with almost no dialogue.
I would have to say Black Panther. The scene when Killmonger goes to the museum and calls them out about stealing artifacts from another culture I screamed. As someone that works in the museum field that shit is so important to talk about.
I've gotta go with Batman, where the Joker and his cronies decide to give the art museum an upgrade in the same flavor as Joker Brand products. Take something beautiful and make it brilliantly ugly. It's a fun scene set to the bouncy sounds of Prince that feels more in tune with my head-canon's version of the Joker than any others, and it's a perfect display of the manic camp energy of Burton's genre-defining classic.
Shame that so many people were inspired to go destroy art museums and create makeup that disfigures and kills its users.
Oh wait, that didn't happen? You mean to tell me that the large majority of people are functioning adults who can tell the difference between movies and reality and there's no need for a demonstrative moral panic?!? I'll believe it when I continue to see it.