Sunday Video Essay: Swearing In Film

Here is a pithy, but intelligent survey of how swearing can be, and is, used in various classic and contemporary cinema brought to us from Youtube channel, Now You See It. Whether it is Rhett Butler not giving a damn at the end of Gone With The Wind, or just about every character in Fargo dropping F-Bombs on that most dangerous of fools, Jerry Lundegaard, or Jules Winnfield’s reaction to the idea of giving a guy a foot massage in Pulp Fiction, I think this essay elucidates a lot of intrinsic notions of how to swear on screen.

Toronto After Dark Review: In A Valley Of Violence

In Sergio Leone’s classic The Good The Bad And The Ugly, one of many iconic scenes involves a gunfighter sneaking up to murder Eli Wallach’s Tuco in the bath-tub. The anonymous heavy lost his arm in a shootout with Tuco in the opening scene of the film, and seeking bloody revenge, as is par for the course in so many westerns, he stops first for a smug monologue about how it took months to learn how to shoot with his other hand. As the grimy Italian blonde savours the reversal of fortune (again, a staple of this superb film) with words, Tuco turns the table because he has his pistol in the bath-tub. He blows away the smug, would-be killer through the soap suds. To the corpse, he lectures, “When you have to shoot, SHOOT. Don’t talk.” It would not surprise me in the slightest, if it was this scene alone that inspired Ti West to make In A Valley of Violence, a film that seems a full featured examination of what amounts to a throwaway 2 minutes in a 179 minute film. More recently, HBO’s Deadwood, The Coen Brothers’ True Grit remake, and the recent pair of Quentin Tarantino gunslinger film have set out to prove that excessively loquacious, but nevertheless savoury, dialogue is a wholesome part of the Western that bears at least some consideration.

Ethan Hawke plays civil war deserter Paul, who, after a Shakespearean styled prologue with a drunken Irish priest (Burn Gorman doing what he so wonderfully does) about the nature of where he finds himself, ends up nevertheless caught up in the local toxicity of a friable futureless village-slash-movie-set called Denton. He tries to keep his head down and sip his drink at the bar as the local blowhard and sadistic bully, Gilly (Generation Kill & The Wire‘s oily-but-wide-eyed James Ransome), who also the deputy and son of the town’s sheriff, picks a fight with him for no reason other than that Paul a stranger in a place that, you guessed it, don’t like no strangers.

Pestered to the point of violence, and equally important to the point of speaking (mainly to the audience) he says that he just wants to hang out with his preternaturally cute, Lassie-like, dog and make for Mexico to forget the horrors of the war. Anyone who has ever seen a western, hell anyone who has ever seen some movies, can spot what is coming a mile away. Don’t get me wrong though, the point of the film seems less about realistically defined characters or completely reinventing the wheel (West even shoots on 35mm film, although he favours 1.85:1 over cinemascope to keep things somewhat small) and more about playing with familiar tropes of the western. This auto-critique of the genre, whose often deadpan and straight-up approach to many familiar situations is sure to be abrasive to some.

Paul being forced to deal revenge to many of the denizens of Denton is without question a given in this sort of thing. As Paul reluctantly returns to town with guns a-blazin’, it is more through dialogue than gunfire that the showdown at high noon takes place. If there is a mission statement to In A Valley of Violence it is (as stated above) when to speak and when not to speak.

Would you like to know more…?

Fantasia 2016 Review: In A Valley Of Violence

In Sergio Leone’s classic The Good The Bad And The Ugly, one of many iconic scenes involves a gunfighter sneaking up to murder Eli Wallach’s Tuco in the bath-tub. The anonymous heavy lost his arm in a shootout with Tuco in the opening scene of the film, and seeking bloody revenge, as is par for the course in so many westerns, he stops first for a smug monologue about how it took months to learn how to shoot with his other hand. As the grimy Italian blonde savours the reversal of fortune (again, a staple of this superb film) with words, Tuco turns the table because he has his pistol in the bath-tub. He blows away the smug, would-be killer through the soap suds. To the corpse, he lectures, “When you have to shoot, SHOOT. Don’t talk.” It would not surprise me in the slightest, if it was this scene alone that inspired Ti West to make In A Valley of Violence, a film that seems a full featured examination of what amounts to a throwaway 2 minutes in a 179 minute film. More recently, HBO’s Deadwood, The Coen Brothers’ True Grit remake, and the recent pair of Quentin Tarantino gunslinger film have set out to prove that excessively loquacious, but nevertheless savoury, dialogue is a wholesome part of the Western that bears at least some consideration.

Ethan Hawke plays civil war deserter Paul, who, after a Shakespearean styled prologue with a drunken Irish priest (Burn Gorman doing what he so wonderfully does) about the nature of where he finds himself, ends up nevertheless caught up in the local toxicity of a friable futureless village-slash-movie-set called Denton. He tries to keep his head down and sip his drink at the bar as the local blowhard and sadistic bully, Gilly (Generation Kill & The Wire‘s oily-but-wide-eyed James Ransome), who also the deputy and son of the town’s sheriff, picks a fight with him for no reason other than that Paul a stranger in a place that, you guessed it, don’t like no strangers.

Pestered to the point of violence, and equally important to the point of speaking (mainly to the audience) he says that he just wants to hang out with his preternaturally cute, Lassie-like, dog and make for Mexico to forget the horrors of the war. Anyone who has ever seen a western, hell anyone who has ever seen some movies, can spot what is coming a mile away. Don’t get me wrong though, the point of the film seems less about realistically defined characters or completely reinventing the wheel (West even shoots on 35mm film, although he favours 1.85:1 over cinemascope to keep things somewhat small) and more about playing with familiar tropes of the western. This auto-critique of the genre, whose often deadpan and straight-up approach to many familiar situations is sure to be abrasive to some.

Paul being forced to deal revenge to many of the denizens of Denton is without question a given in this sort of thing. As Paul reluctantly returns to town with guns a-blazin’, it is more through dialogue than gunfire that the showdown at high noon takes place. If there is a mission statement to In A Valley of Violence it is (as stated above) when to speak and when not to speak.

Would you like to know more…?

Bookmarks for November 23-30th

What we’ve been reading over the past week or so.

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  • A Top 10: Lengthy Tracking Shots
    From Godard to Scorsese. Showy Shots abound. There are plenty more to add (feel free to suggest in the comment, I am surprised they left out the big D.W. Griffith shot in Intolerance. Or for that matter, The Protector, Brazil, Serenity, Boogie Nights, Satantango, etc. etc. But then again, it is only a top 10.
  • Playboy does James Cameron (no photos!)
    “Avatar is made very consciously for movie fans. If critics like it, fine. I can’t say I won’t read the reviews, because I may not be able to resist. I spent a couple of decades in the capricious world of being judged by those not knowledgeable about the depth and history of film and with whom I would not want to have a conversation—with a few notable exceptions. Why would I want to be judged by them? For me, this past decade has been about retreating to the great fundamentals, things that aren’t passing fads or subject to the whims of some idiot critic. You can’t write a review of the laws of thermodynamics.”
  • SPIEGEL Interview with Umberto Eco on the vertigo of making lists
    “I was fascinated with Stendhal at 13 and with Thomas Mann at 15 and, at 16, I loved Chopin. Then I spent my life getting to know the rest. Right now, Chopin is at the very top once again. If you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you’re an idiot.”
  • ‘Nine’ Leads Indie Heavy Golden Satellite Nods
    While the awards – handed out by International Press Academy – are generally disregarded as a serious Oscar precursor due to their often inexplainable decisions, this year’s batch is definitely full of worthy nominees, particularly from the specialty sector.
  • More Mainstream Press for THE ROOM.
    “Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” is a train wreck of almost incomprehensible proportions: Whole scenes are out of focus, while others are repeated in their entirety; characters appear without introduction, while others vanish without explanation; and the unfortunate cast engages in behavior that few would consider typical. All of which, of course, makes the painfully overwrought relationship drama one of the greatest comedies ever to be created entirely by accident.”
  • The Road Takes Desolate Journey From Page to Screen
    To deliver “The Road’s” worn and weathered ambience, Hillcoat avoided as much as possible the over-the-top digital approach employed by director Roland Emmerich for his post-apocalyptic spectacle, “2012.” Hillcoat shot “The Road” at 51 real-world locations to give the R-rated film, which opens Wednesday, an extra dose of authenticity.
  • 100+ Cliche Dialogue Lines
    ‘The Definitive List of Cliched Dialogue’ or just another day at the office for those ink stained grinders writing Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Dacacos or Steven Segal flicks.
  • Critical Shift: New Moon vs. Gone With The Wind
    Peter Howell considers what has changed in the critical landscape in how lurid melodrama and hammy acting was received in 1939 vs. 2009.
  • Tres Chic Twin Peaks Photo Gallery
    Quite an awesome (yet creepy) set of on-set photos taken during the taping of Twin Peaks by Richard Beymar.
  • The 99 Most Jaw-Dropping Movie Moments
    We love those movie moments that make us feel like we’ve been swiftly punched in the gut. The shocking scenes that give us goosebumps and gasps at the same time. Because we love those shock & awe bits so much, we’ve compiled our 99 favourites, counting down to the all-time greatest jaw-dropping movie moment.

Bookmarks for August 17th

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What we’ve been reading – August 17th:

  • Quentin Tarantino in His Own Words
    The House Next Door on Q.T. — As some readers may know, I’m not the world’s most enthusiastic defender of Quentin Tarantino; I discussed my reservations about him a while back with my friend Keith Uhlich, the managing editor of The House Next Door, a Time Out New York film critic and an unabashed Tarantino booster. But because I do admire Tarantino’s idiosyncratic style, and because some of Keith’s arguments made me question my assumptions
  • Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films post-Reservoir Dogs
    I believe this is an older video, from around 2007, but hey, it is making the rounds virally at the moment. Film Junk listed out the films to make it even easier.
  • Mathematical Model for Surviving a Zombie Attack | Wired.com
    Math could play a key role in quelling a zombie outbreak and when to quarantine, etc.

Finite Focus: Rat-a-tat-tat (Double Indemnity)

Double Indemnity One SheetDouble Indemnity, one of the most iconic entries in the film noir set, does not necessarily need any more praise. The film has been showered with it, and deservedly so. But let us just have a look at this scene and marvel just how definitive it is of noir in general. It would be almost cliche if it wasn’t so good.

First there is the rat-a-tat whiplash dialogue, witty rejoinders, informative and atmospheric voice-overs, slats of light and shadowy chiaroscuro from the venetian blinds, and most importantly, sexual innuendo without a hint of a wink. When Fred MacMurray’s insurance salesman falls hard and fast in lust with Barbara Stanwyck’s femme fatale you can feel the burn coming off the screen. Stanwyck is first seen nearly nude, and very casual about it. She then makes the impressionable saunter down the staircase and into the study where you only see her ankle adorned by a piece of golden jewelry. The camera pans up to reveal her buttoning the top button on her dress. Some chit-chat is had about insurance policies and the like, but really both cocky MacMurray and confident Stanwyck are sizing each other up and sending signals with body language. Then in the middle of the mundane there is a pause followed by the question “accident insurance?” When the talk turns to speeding tickets and issuing warnings and ‘wacking you over the knuckles,’ well the movie sizzles the way good noir sizzles. The chemistry is palpable between the actors to the point where you actually see sparks.

Lastly, I love the way the characters and the camera saunter around the richly decorated study (another staple in noir cinema), like Gina Gershon said in the 1996 neo-noir Bound, “For me, stealing has always been a lot like sex. Two people who want the same thing: they get in a room, they talk about it. They start to plan. It’s kind of like flirting. It’s kind of like… foreplay, ’cause the more they talk about it, the wetter they get.” MacMurray and Stanwyck practically waltz, both physically and with wordplay. When they part ways, the need to meet again where they left off is palpable. The Husband is definitely optional at this point. The medium of film seems to handle this type of thing, lust and human connection, better than most, better than the written page, better than radio or theatre. This scene is a prime example.