1. "From now on we are enemies, you and I." This is from Amadeus, spoken by Salieri to God as he burns a crucifix, having just been given a glimpse of Mozart's astonishing talent by his wife who wants Salieri to recommend Mozart for a position tutoring a princess. Salieri is furious that this buffoonish boy has been graced with so much talent while he has so little, and spends the rest of his life hating Mozart and himself and God. It's rather a cautionary tale, I think. *g*
2. "It won't be a home-cooked meal, you know?" This is Lilly Dillon (Anjelica Huston) speaking to her son, Roy (John Cusack) in The Grifters, after he decides maybe it's time to make peace with his mother following a confrontation with his girlfriend (Annette Bening) in which she accuses him of having the hots for her. I really can't explain why I love this movie so much; the first time I ever saw it, in an artsy Chicago theater where normally people complain if other people are chewing their nachos too loudly, the audience was squirming and writhing and screaming advice at the screen during the last scene. It's the most perverse modern noir I can think of, the performances are flat-out fearless, and it has that film noir lightheadedness where you know that the punishment in store is going to be awful so you might as well really enjoy the crime.
3. "The nicest thing about being happy is that you think you'll never be unhappy again." Molina to Valentin in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and it's a crime that this film is not out on DVD. I saw it six times in a week when it came out; I don't think any other film has ever had that kind of impact on me. It's about a gay daydreamer and a political prisoner who are sharing a jail cell and the ways in which they influence one another; it's also about art and life and power and love and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
4. "It costs extra to carve "shmuck" on a tombstone, but you would be worth the expense." Greta (Lee Remick), the piano teacher and onetime virtuoso, says this to Andrew (Sam Wanamaker), the conductor, in The Competition, following an argument in which he tries to convince her pupil Heidi (Amy Irving) not to switch pieces on the night of the big performance. One gets the impression that there is A Past between these two: Andrew holes up with the prettiest of the girls in the competition, and Greta gives Heidi a speech about how there will always be some man there to distract you from the brilliant career you could be having, but it's nicely understated. Again there's an art versus life conflict going on, but it's also funny and subtle.
5. "Everyone lies...but not all the time." Russell Crowe's Andy says this to Hugo Weaving's Martin near the end of Proof. Martin, who apparently reviews classical albums for a living (though I didn't pick up on this until I listened to the commentary tracks on the DVD), is a photographer by hobby, which is particularly fascinating because he's blind and needs someone else to tell him what his pictures show. His one requirement is absolute honesty, but Andy gets entangled with Martin's housekeeper and tells what should be a fairly insignificant fib, except in Martin's life it's everything, as he believes that his mother always lied to him about everything and therefore he can't trust anyone, ever. It's really a devastating characterization, except it has this lovely hopeful ending and you just want to kiss Russell, I mean Andy.
6. "America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time." Spoken by Terence Mann, the J.D. Salinger-based character in Field of Dreams, to Ray Kinsella when he's thinking he's going to have to plow under his magical baseball field in Iowa where the 1919 "Black Sox" are currently playing. This scene never fails to make me bawl, and I'm even worse at the end. I am a shameless baseball as American myth fan, and films that touch on that -- The Natural, The Rookie, etc. -- never fail to do it for me.
7. "This isn't my gun. I was never here." The only one no one got! I'm not surprised, given that the film is fairly obscure: David Mamet's brilliant neo-noir House of Games, starring Lindsay Crouse, who was then his wife, as a repressed psychotherapist who doesn't even realize that she's unhappy until she meets a con man who makes her see the relative morality of all crime and guilt. It would give away far too much to explain the quotation itself but it's an absolutely shocking moment, and I highly recommend the movie.
8. "In the end I distilled everything to one simple principle: win or die." This is Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' Marquise de Merteuil, played by Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons. There isn't a version of this story I haven't enjoyed, even though every single one has a different ending (this is a longtime interest too). Here's a transcript of the whole speech from the IMDb, though this is not exact: "When I came out into society I was 15. I already knew then that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest to me, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learn how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork onto the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with, and in the end it all came down to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die."
9. "God, whose name I do not know, thank you for my life. I forgot how big..." I have quoted this in my journal before, and I used to have it on an icon; it's from Joe vs. the Volcano, spoken by Joe himself, a character who learns how to live starting the day he learns he's dying, even though he quite literally can't escape from his baggage. In this scene, he's starved, dehydrated, floating on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, talking to the moon.
10. "Do you know how you got that dent in your top lip? Way back before you were born, I told you a secret. Then I put my finger there and said 'Shhhhh!'" I really wanted to quote Viggo Mortensen's Lucifer from The Prophecy, but all the lines just seemed so obvious. This is instead Christopher Walken's Gabriel. I'm just going to link to my review of this one, too, to explain why I have such affection for this rather overblown heavenly war epic in which God and his angels are the bad guys. As Elias Koteas' Thomas Daggett says, "Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like?"
11. "You're the one who stopped sleeping with me! It'll be a year come April 20th. I remember the date because it was Hitler's birthday." Woody Allen's Cliff says this to his wife, Joanna Gleason's Wendy, in Crimes and Misdemeanors, a movie with a screenplay so brilliant that I could have quoted the whole damn thing. The more memorable line in this scene is "A strange man defecated on my sister," but the way Hitler hangs over this entire movie fascinates me. On the surface it's a sprawling family epic centered on Judah, an opthalmologist whose mistress is threatening to blow the cover on their longtime affair; his story connects loosely with that of Cliff because Wendy's brother Ben, a rabbi, is slowly going blind, and Wendy's filmmaker brother Lester is romancing the woman with whom Cliff (also a filmmaker) would like to commit adultery. But really the entire movie is about whether morality is possible or relevant in a world where the Holocaust happened, though the Holocaust comes up only in oblique ways, like this one. The predominant metaphor is eyes, and whether God is blind. Every time I see the film it astonishes me.
12. "There's no Messiah in here! There's a mess, all right, but no Messiah!" I thought about including Hannah and Her Sisters as well as Crimes and Misdemeanors for the line about how if Jesus came back, he'd never stop throwing up, but it's not nearly as good a movie, and as far as commentary on organized religion goes, there's none I've seen better than Monty Python's Life of Brian. I adore the political relevance of the scene where two Jewish terrorist groups trying to kidnap Pilate's wife get into a fight about who's the Real Movement and end up killing one another while Brian pleads with them to remember the common enemy -- "The Judean People's Front?" "No, the Romans!" But my favorite moment in the entire film, even more than "No one is to stone anyone until I blow this whistle even if they do say Jehovah," "What have the bloody Romans ever done for us?" and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," is the one where Brian wakes up after a night of sex with the pretty woman who inspired him to join the movement, opens the window, and stands there, stark naked, as thousands of followers cry, "MASTER!" Then his mother arrives and disperses the crowd.