Movie scenes / plots that you've never understood

In this thread posters tried to explain the climax of “Trading Places”.

That movie 's been a favorite of mine since it came out. I’ve seen it close to a hundered times and never understood exactly what happens in the climactic scene. Still don’t really, despite all the posters that tried to explain it. It used to bug me that I didn’t fully get it; like maybe my enjoyment of the movie would be that much more enhanced if I was fully in on the joke. Based on what some people said in the other thread it sounds like there was some artistic license taken so maybe it doesn’t matter that much, but I sure have spent a lot of time pondering it over the years. It got me to to thinking about some other favorites of mine that, no matter how many times I see them there are still plot points I don’t quite get.

When Marissa Tomei delivers her trial changing testimony in “My Cousin Vinny”, I feel like my “aha” moment is diminished because I don’t really understand what the point is she’s making about the two sets of tire marks.

In “A Few Good Men”, what is the significance in the scene toward the beginning when Tom Cruise is talking to Lt. Wineberg and he’s really pretty blase about the whole case but then seems to find something odd about Kevin Bacon mentioning
Lt. Kendrick. He says something like “I don’t even know who Lt. Kendrick is”. What is the importance of that? Am I missing something totally obvious or looking for something that isn’t there ? I also don’t understand the part about the flight log books. It seems pretty clear that Col. Jessup simply lied about there not being an earlier flight but why the line about “I can’t prove that a flight took off but I can sure as Hell prove that one landed” ?

Let’s use this thread to share our movie questions and answers. Sometimes what’s clear to one person is a deep mystery to someone else and vice versa.

in Star Wars why do Luke and Obi-Wan stop the speeder on that cliff as they’re going to Mos Eisley? Was it just because Obi-Wan wanted to stop, get out, and talk about villainy and scum?

Pee stop.

The way I recall it, Marissa Tomei was explaining that the tire marks could not be made by the car the kids drove because the way its transmission worked. I think it was related to how the tire marks were made when they drove over the raised concrete.

BTW, that movie was on the other day and I noticed a mistake - they said the tires were 14 inch but a car that big would not have tires that size.

It was a discussion regarding the rear end whether the car had a “posi” or limited slip rear end where both wheels were spun by the drive shaft or a non posi rear where only one wheel was spun by the drive shaft. The difference would cause either a pair of burn out marks or just a single one.

Regarding 14" tires, yes on older cars, 14" was pretty much the standard diameter prior to the late '70’s. I had a 1972 Chevy Nova, a 1974 Chevy Malibu and a 1968 Dodge Charger, each were big cars and each were stock with 14" diameter wheels.

Seems to me that Cruise’s character picked up on the fact that Bacon was giving too much information too soon, and in a slightly paranoid manner. As if he was saying, “Don’t bother investigating because you’re going to find out this, this and that, and it’s all irrelevant anyway. And I’m not being defensive!”

Cruise was alarmed by the fact that Bacon’s character was so quick to make a defence against an argument that Cruise haven’t even made yet, and the fact that Bacon knew something Cruise didn’t, yet.

The tower chief log books weren’t going to show a flight landing at Andrews AFB, either. (Jessup got to those, too.) But it was essentially a bluff, to try and throw Jessup off his stride and abandon the lies. For such a supposedly smart fellow and rising star in the military/political beauracracy, Jessup sure played the whole affair kinda dumb and arrogantly. (Admitting to the JAG, at lunch, that he bends the rules. Eeesh. He’s begging for a microscope colonoscopy.)

I’ll take a shot at some of these, though I’m going purely by memory so I could be mistaken on any or all of them.

No, that poster was mistaken. The ending of Trading Places made sense. To explain it like you’re Denzel Washington in Philadelphia, Winthorp and Billy Ray began by selling orange juice they didn’t own. (Meaning they’d have to buy it at a later date to complete the transaction.) The false report made the Dukes want to buy up all the OJ thinking they could corner the market, and all the other background traders took their cue from the Dukes so they all started buying too.

Winthorp and Billy Ray were the only two guys selling, (remember they didn’t actually own any yet) so they ended up selling a metric assload, most of it going to the old guys. Because everyone was buying the same thing, the price shot through the roof, meaning Winthorpe and Billy Ray sold a ton of OJ for a very high price, also meaning the Dukes bought a ton of OJ for a very high price.

The crop report comes out, turns out OJ will be fine so there is no market to corner, so everyone who just bought a ton of OJ for a very high price is fucked. They have to sell everything as fast as they can because in a matter of minutes the price will drop like a rock. Winthorpe and Billy Ray then buy it all back up from everyone, at a much lower price than they just sold it for.

In some cars, the two back wheels are connected by a straight steel beam. In other cars, the wheels aren’t connected to each other, allowing them to both grip an uneven surface at the same time. The picture of the skid marks showed a curb in between the two tire marks, meaning it was an uneven surface. (One wheel on the curb, the other not.) That tells you beyond question whether the two back wheels could grip independantly or if an uneven surface would leave one wheel up in the air while the other skidded. The car driven by the Karate Kid wasn’t the kind of car that could leave the tracks in the picture.

There’s a brief scene in Boogie Nights that I’ve always found perplexing. It’s during the visit to Rahad’s house to sell the fake coke to him, while he jams to his awesome mix tape and his houseboy tosses firecrackers around.

As the tension of that scene rises, Dirk (Wahlberg) is getting more and more nervous about the whole thing. At one point, he stares into the camera for a long time, as far as close ups go. He says or does nothing, but has a little smile on his face. The camera is held on him for so long, it’s clearly meant to say or suggest something, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what it is.

I’ve read a number of explanations for that scene, but it made perfect sense to me the first time I saw it. He was having a moment of clarity. In the middle of a crazy situation he stopped and saw things clearly, and they were so screwed up and ridiculous he found it funny. Notice how he cracks a small, wry smile? He then snaps out of it, stands up and tries to get them to leave.

I don’t mean to flog a dead horse here, but through the whole movie of Phantom Menace, though I honestly tried, I had no idea what the plot was.

There were two issues that were examined by both Vinny and Trotter (the DA):

  1. Positraction, as noted by JXJohns. What GM cars from the given model year had positraction?

  2. Which of those GM cars that had positraction also had an independent rear suspension?

I’ll spoiler the rest, just in case anybody hasn’t seen the movie.

[spoiler]Answer to question 1: There were two such cars: the Pontiac Tempest and the Buick Skylark. The defendants were driving a Buick Skylark.

Answer to question 2: The Pontiac Tempest.

The second question is important, because the photo of the skidmarks going over the curb shows that both rear tires of the getaway car were flat on the ground–one wasn’t tilted and on an angle, as it would be if it made by a car that did not have an independent rear suspension. Since the defendants’ Buick had positraction but did not have an independent rear suspension, it couldn’t have been the getaway car. In other words, the getaway car must have been a Pontiac Tempest–the tire marks couldn’t have been made by the defendants’ Buick.

Normally, this would have been enough to cast a reasonable doubt on the guilt of the defendants, but the filmmaker further cemented the defendants’ innocence by including testimony from the sheriff that two guys driving a stolen Pontiac Tempest from the necessary model year, and carrying a gun that matched the caliber of the bullet that killed the clerk at the Sack-O-Suds, had recently been stopped and arrested. Since these guys and their car and gun, were more likely to have committed the murder, charges against Vinny’s clients could be dropped.[/spoiler]As an aside, I recall discussing this film, and its ending, in our Criminal Law class and our Evidence class at law school. Who says education can only come from books? :slight_smile:

Trade routes to Naboo are important…or something.

Thanks all, especially Ellis Dee.That was a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out explanation :slight_smile:

I’ll second this, since I rewatched it over the weekend on Spike TV’s Star Wars marathon

So the Trade Federation wants to blockade one little planet and then have the Senate make it legal? Why? And what the hell was Palpatine doing trying to pressure this one planet in secret?

In the Star Wars movie series ( a set of three films released in the 70-80s), there’s a point where there’s a masked character named Darth Vader that claims that he has killed the main character’s father. Yet; somehow, later on, the same guy says he is in fact the father of the hero. Does it mean he considers that by killing the hero’s father he has, in fact, become his father?
This is kind of confusing. Is it a continuity error? I really wish they’d read scripts more thoroughly before they start filming. Film seems to be available on youtube, if you want to check.

Palpatine’s motive is to made the current tractor seem ineffectual so he can be voted in in his place, and to have a war going on so he’ll be able to stay in office indefinitely and eventually become emperor.

The Trade Federation, despite its name, wanted to conquer (and presumably enslave) Naboo and increase their own power and wealth. Acting behind the scenes, Palpatine was manipulating them into thinking they could do this successfully so that they would give him his desired war.

I never understood the nihilists role in The Big Lebowski. Nothing they do makes sense.

Kendrick is the one who gave the direct order for the code red. At that point, though, Kaffey doesn’t know about the Code Red, or any reason for Kendrcik to be involved at all. Bacon is hinting that there’s a lot more to the story.

Jessup doctored both flight logs to make it look like the flight never happened. What Kaffey did instead was bring in the Andrews grounds crew and imply that they could testify that the flight landed, and thus impugn Jessup’s testimony. It was later revealed that they could only testify that they had no recollection of any particular flights. Good bluff, Kaffey.

Phantom Menace for Fanboys: The Trade Federation is a splinter group of the Republic that’s unhappy with the way things are going for whatever reason. Darth Sidious and Count Dooku have been conspiring with them, and egging them on. They’ve built up a huge droid army, much more massive than anything the Republic has, and they decide to start their campaign by annexing a relatively small and weak planet, figuring the Republic will let it ride because they don’t really have the military strength to do anything about it. That’s why they want the Princess to legitimize their grab, they aren’t looking for open warfare, just acquiescence to their will. Sort of a “Hitler takes Poland” thing, only Hitler really does not want to have to fight the rest of Europe. Sidious IS looking for open warfare down the road, but the Trade Federation guys dont know about that.

On edit, Skald beat me to it. :::shakes fist::: SKAAAAAAAAAAAAALDDD!!!