DID YOU READ

The five best rain scenes in movies

Spider-Man

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There’s just something special about watching Gene Kelly gleefully dance and sing his way through what is, arguably, the most iconic rain scene ever laid to celluloid in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.” It’s an instant feel-good moment in an endlessly fun movie that made its Blu-ray debut on July 17 (the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” even comes with a real umbrella). Starring Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, the film has never looked better and its release gave us a great excuse to run down some of the most awesomely rain-soaked scenes in cinematic history. Grab your raincoat and galoshes. It’s about to get very slippery in here.


“Jurassic Park” (1993)

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park” might not have been the first time the legendary director changed the face of modern cinema (and it certainly wouldn’t be the last time), but the film’s stunning use of computer-generated imagery set the bar for visual effects higher than anyone imagined it could go. Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, and starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and Richard Attenborough, “Jurassic Park” went on to make an obscene amount of money at the box office while also thrilling audiences young and old alike.

And there may be no more thrilling scene than the memorable one that takes place in the pouring rain. With power to the electric fences out and their park-guided touring SUVs stalled outside the dinosaur enclosure. The scene is punctuated by the iconic shot of a glass of water vibrating from the thundering boom of a T. rex’s footsteps. From there on, we’re treated to one of the most suspenseful and breathtaking animal attack scenes ever created. I don’t need to tell you what happens. You’ve probably seen it numerous times. It’s a nearly perfect scene that’s only made more frightening and claustrophobic by the seemingly endless rain pouring down. It’s enough to give you chills.


“The Matrix Revolutions” (2003)

It’s a shame “The Matrix Revolutions” is mostly a terrible movie because its rain scene is an absolute classic. Neo and Smith finally go hand-to-hand in a completely drenched street, clomping through at least an inch of the wet stuff en route to punching each other in the face. What makes the scene so great, however, isn’t just the fact that it’s a well-orchestrated, exciting fight scene (it is, in fact, all those things), but it’s also the way the Wachowski’s employ their patented brand of “bullet time” slow-motion and signature color palette. The visuals liven up any semblance of frustration viewers may have had throughout most of the film (at least for this very brief respite) and gives “Matrix” fans something to cheer about for the first time since… well… really the end of the first film. It’s a great rain scene that deserves a better movie around it.


“Poltergeist” (1982)

So Carol Anne’s been dragged into that damned TV several times already by the end of the film and, when the rain starts pouring, things are really about to go berserk. The Freelings have been through hell, learned how to throw a tennis ball through an alternate plane of existence (where everything seems to come out covered in a red, goopy mess), and watched tiny Tangina Barrons tell them that their house is “clean.” Little did they know that, before long, JoBeth Williams would be slipping into a muddy mess of a pool hole and screaming for her life as skeletons began to rise up around her.

The rain scene in Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” is not only absolutely terrifying, but it’s also a major plot point, in that it reveals one of the major things that’s been causing all the paranormal activity in the Freeling’s house. You see, those skeletons that Diane Freeling ends up swimming with near the end of the film are from the Indian burial ground that lies underneath their home in Cuesta Verde. And those spirits, my friend, are mighty pissed off. All of which eventually prompts Craig T. Nelson to utter one of cinema’s all-time finest lines: “You moved the headstones, but you forgot to move the bodies!” Talk about a serious oversight.


“Spider-Man” (2002)

It’s hard to believe that Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” is now ten years old. The film that helped launch the latest superhero film craze still stands as one of the genre’s best efforts (even if Raimi slightly outdid himself with his “Spider-Man 2” follow-up). It’s nearly as rousing and fun today as it was ten years ago and, despite what the naysayers will tell you (especially after the “Spider-Man 3” debacle), Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst have some serious chemistry.

Take, for instance, the very rain scene that’s become a pop culture staple over the past decade. After Spider-Man helps vanquish a few thugs that have been bothering Mary-Jane, all in the midst of a steady pouring rain, the webslinger hangs upside down and waits as Mary-Jane moves in to… how shall we put this… say thanks. Dripping wet from head to toe, Mary-Jane moves in, pulls down Spider-Man’s mask just enough to plant a big sloppy kiss on our hero. It’s a passionate, heartfelt, and downright sexy kiss that’s a true payoff. It’s also one that movie fans have seen endless times in the past ten years, and will probably continue to see for a very long time.


“The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)

Is there a more uplifting movie on the planet than “The Shawshank Redemption?” If so, I dare you to find it. Sure, there are plenty of feel-good movies out there, but there’s just something about Frank Darabont’s masterpiece that could take someone on the bring of a depressive breakdown and turn them into a shining beacon of hope. It might not appear that way throughout its two hour twenty minute runtime but, by the end of the film, if you’re not getting “busy living,” then there’s something wrong with you.

And there’s maybe no other rain scene in the history of movies that so embodies everything about the character caught in the middle of it. When Andy Dufresne finally found his way to freedom (“through five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine,” in the words of Morgan Freeman’s “Red”), he’s greeted by a rain so hard and strong, you’d think it was delivered God himself directly to Dufresne to cleanse himself of not only the physical grossness he just experienced, but also the emotional filth he’d been wallowing in for years behind the walls of Shawshank Prison. Dufresne rips off his shirt, closes his eyes, and raises his hands to the sky as if to say “thank you” for the most beautiful, refreshing, and powerful rain he’d ever felt. It’s an absolutely glorious moment for one of cinema’s greatest characters, and easily one of the best rain scenes of all time.


What’s your favorite cinematic rain scene? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Southern Fried SNL

Watch Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in SNL’s Southern Rock Supergroup

Fred and Carrie kept it mellow on the SNL season finale.

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Photo Credit: Saturday Night Live / NBC Universal

It was a veritable “band from comedy heaven” this weekend as a myriad of comedians assembled for a feel-good musical sketch in the Saturday Night Live season finale. Guest host Fred Armisen was joined by Portlandia cohort Carrie Brownstein as well as Maya Rudolph, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, Larry David, and members of the SNL cast to form faux-southern-rock supergroup The Harkin Brothers — a band whose members managed to outnumber its audience.

If The Harkin Brothers’ smooth vocal stylings remind you of The Blue Jean Committee from Documentary Now!, that’s probably not a coincidence. The BJC first appeared in a different, more regionally-specific form in a SNL sketch with Sudeikis on drums.

Watch an all-star SNL cast perform a mellow tribute to Arkansas called “Summertime in Fayetteville” in the video below.

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Farewell Mr. Fred

5 Funniest Sketches From Fred Armisen’s SNL Season Finale

Is "Farewell, Mr. Bunting" the best SNL sketch of the season?

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Photo Credit: Saturday Night Live / NBC Universal

The 41st season of Saturday Night Live drew to a close this past weekend, and star of Portlandia and Documentary Now! Fred Armisen hosted the occasion. A former SNL player himself, this homecoming allowed Fred to show off the comedy chops and character skills he’s honed since leaving Studio 8H.

Here are the 5 funniest sketches from the season finale of Saturday Night Live hosted by Fred Armisen.

1. Farewell, Mr. Bunting

What appears to be a straightforward take on the maudlin climax of the 1989 Robin Williams classic Dead Poets Society takes quite an unexpected turn. But if you’re really watching, you’ll realize it’s completely organic and integral to the plot.


2. Fred’s Monologue and One-Man Show

Actor, writer, producer, musician, impressionist — Fred can do it all. So tackling the many characters in the story of his life is a cakewalk for such a talent. Here, Fred takes us on the emotional journey through the day he got the job at SNL and luckily he leaves no detail, however minor or insignificant, out of the performance.


3. New Girlfriend

We were wondering what characters Fred would bring back, but we didn’t predict Regine. Fellow SNL alum Jason Sudeikis appears in this sketch as Regine’s new boyfriend, who introduces his pals to his snarky, raunchy lady. Watch Aidy Bryant try not to crack up at Fred/Regine’s joygasms.


4. Expedition

Three of the biggest stars in American colonialism are Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea. But what most history books choose to omit is the simmering sexual tension between the three explorers. Fortunately, a group of community players illustrate the historical figures’ lustful dynamic to a high school class in graphic detail.


5. Escape Pod

As an interstellar ship begins breaking apart, Fred plays the lucky member of the space crew who wins access to the last escape pod. But a heartfelt goodbye is mitigated by the pod’s virtual assistant ensuring all the luxuries and pampering are to the occupant’s liking.

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The Crying Game

10 Things You Didn’t Know About A League of Their Own

Batter up for A League of Their Own this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

While there may be no crying in baseball, lots of blood, sweat, and tears went into the making of A League of Their Own. From sweltering July heat to concussions to the Material Girl causing trouble, making the hit film wasn’t exactly a homerun. Before you catch A League of Their Own on IFC, check out some dirt on the making of this sports movie classic. Hear that call! The time has come for one and all to play ball!

1. The cast really had to play baseball.

League of Their Own Quotes
Columbia Pictures

Director Penny Marshall was adamant that all of the actresses cast in the film could really play baseball. Prior to the start of filming, the cast (even Madonna!) trained eight hours a day, six days a week for over seven months to hone their skills and bond as a team. They initially practiced sliding using a Slip ‘N Slide, but that method was abandoned when both Tracy Reiner and Megan Cavanagh suffered concussions.


2. Geena Davis auditioned in Penny Marshall’s backyard.

Geena Davis
Columbia Pictures

The Fly and Beetlejuice star was the last person cast in the film after several other prominent actresses like Debra Winger, Laura Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Demi Moore passed. Davis had never played baseball but won Marshall over through a game of catch in her backyard. A natural athlete, Davis was outplaying most of the other actresses on the film. (Though she did use a double for the sliding portion of her infamous catch in the splits.)


3. Tom Hanks entertained the extras with puppet shows.

Tom Hanks
Columbia Pictures

Over 1,700 extras were used throughout the shoot, enduring long hours and occasionally extreme 100+ degree summer heat while on location in Indiana. To keep them entertained in between shots and scenery changes, members of the cast performed. Tom Hanks did puppet shows behind the dugout while Rosie O’Donnell would perform stand-up. Madonna reportedly refused to perform (what a shocker!), leaving the rest of the cast to perform imitations of her. Geena Davis suggested they perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” and songs from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, assigning Tom Hanks the role of Caiaphas.


4. Madonna wasn’t exactly a team player.

Madonna Bosoms
Columbia Pictures

To say the Material Girl was a bit of a handful during the shoot is an understatement. In addition to refusing to perform for the extras and ignoring requests for autographs, she often complained about coming into the film a star but being relegated to the background. According to costar and friend Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna brought a boombox to set the first day and warned everybody that if they broke it, they’d have to buy her another one. She also wrote a somewhat scathing letter about her experiences to a friend, calling Geena Davis a “Barbie Doll” and lamenting the lack of “beautiful men” in Chicago.


5. All of the injuries in the film were real.

Bruise League of their Own
Columbia Pictures

The real women of the All American Girls Pro Baseball League were tough, but their onscreen counterparts were equally as tenacious on the field. Penny Marshall had the actresses play a lot of real games with multiple cameras set up in order to get enough footage for montages, and they didn’t go easy on one another, jamming their shoulders, spraining fingers, and nearly breaking noses. The giant strawberry bruise Alice gets while sliding into base was a real injury actress Renee Coleman sustained during filming, and it lasted for well over a year.  Ouch.


6. Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell were the real most valuable players.

Rosie O'Donnell
Columbia Pictures

Though Geena Davis showed natural ability and was supposed to be the “best player in the league,” on-set coach William E. Hughes was most impressed by Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell. Petty could actually outrun Davis, so she was forced to slow her pace during the scene where the two race so as not to appear faster than Davis. She wound up throwing more pitches during filming than most Major League Baseball pitchers do in a full season. O’Donnell had actually played Little League baseball with her brothers growing up, so she excelled during training camp, learning how to throw two balls at once from one of the real AAGPBL players on set. O’Donnell and Petty often had hitting competitions and could hit the fences at Major League parks with little difficulty.


7. Even Tom Hanks didn’t know how long he would pee in the locker room scene.

One of the most memorable moments in A League of Their Own occurs when Jimmy Dugan introduces himself by bursting into the locker room in a drunken stupor and relieving himself in front of the rest of the Peaches while Mae times him. To keep both Hanks and the actresses on their toes, Penny Marshall stood in a stall off camera and made the noises with a hose and a bucket for maximum comedic effect. The actual length of Dugan’s epic #1 is an impressive 53 seconds!


8. Jimmy and Dottie had a romantic subplot that was cut from the film.

A League of Their Own Spit

The initial cut of the film clocked in around four hours before being cut down to its more slender two hours and eight minutes. Among the footage left on the cutting room floor were scenes depicting a growing romantic relationship between Dugan and star player Dottie. The conversation on the bus left in the final cut of the film hints at tension, but in a deleted scene the pair shared a passionate kiss late one night on the field which is what originally led to the scene with Dottie telling Lowenstein she was going home.


9. Jon Lovitz was almost upstaged by a cow.

In the scene where Lovitz’s character, baseball scout Ernie Capadino (a role specifically written for the SNL star), visits Dottie and Kit at their family dairy farm, the girls are seen milking cows. Unbeknownst to Lovitz, one of the cows off-screen was giving birth and mooing loudly, causing him to ad lib the line “WILL YOU SHUT UP?!” It was only after they finished filming that Lovitz found out a calf had been born, which the farm named Penny after director Penny Marshall.


10. Some of the cast reprised their roles on the A League of Their Own TV Show.

CBS aired a TV version of A League of Their Own for a brief period in 1993. Cast members Megan Cavanagh, Tracy Reiner and Jon Lovitz reprised their roles, with former “Bond Girl” Cary Lowell in the Dottie role and Sam McMurray channeling Hanks as Jimmy. As you can imagine, it only lasted five episodes.

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