Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Classic Scenes #4

Just to balance things out after all that embarrassing Oirish stuff, I'm going to post some classic Irish-related scenes for the rest of the week. So let's start proceedings with a lovely, traditional song.

'Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes, are calling.'


  1. Now this is Irish - violence combined with maudlin sentiment.

  2. This scene, to me, represents everything that is wrong with Miller's Crossing in that it's a movie about gangster movies instead of being an actualy gangaster movie. The movie is bleak and dark and well made and yet then along comes a scene like this is which it seems that the Coen's are winking at the screen with their self indulgent humour. This scene, dramatically speaking, brings the narrative to a standstill but, up until this point, it appears as though we are watching a serious film but then we have to wait until the Coen's have their little funny aside and then get back to the film until the next one. It's too self-indulgent and although I love the Coen's and their sense of humour, this material deserved better.

  3. Thanks for the comment Mike. Obviously I disagree. I think this scene is genius. I think it captures the essence of what makes the Coen Bros unique. Lazily referencing other films is one thing, creating something new out of them is something else. The entire film is a homage to gangster films and the Dashiell Hammett novels many of them are based on, yes, but its all gone through some Coen Bros filter, so its heightened, absurd, comical and hearbreakingly serious all at the same time. They don't always manage to walk this tightrope of course, that balance between play and meaning it, but they do here, which is why Miller's Crossing is my favourite Coen Bros film. I know good screen-writers usually try to cut out scenes that are not strictly relevant to the narrative but I think cinema would be pretty boring if everyone did it. Sometimes a scene justifies itself on the basis of excitement, mood, humour or dialogue. The film might not strictly need it in narrative terms but would be seriously diminished without it. Just think of the Dude's gutterballs fantasy in The Big Lebowski for example, the Coens doing Busby Berkely. Narrative relevence - nil. Classic scene - most definately.