In The T-Shirt Shop at the End of the World, I talked about the writing process, how non-linear it is, and how I’ve been meandering for a few months.
After I finished up post on Telling Mattresses Stories and Lost Gloves, I returned to the feature script I was taking a break from. But – at least for me – there are only so many hours in the day I can spend writing on the same piece of work.
A habit I’ve had for a long time is I’m constantly writing down snippets of conversations I overhear, passages from books, photographing trash in the street, collecting, cataloging – I talked about this habit a bit in Another Day in Paradise.
While I have done this with film dialog for a while, I haven’t done it as much with visuals and images.
So I wanted to start a little notebook cataloging shots, techniques, and images that grabbed me while watching things.
This is it.
Blue Velvet // Oct 2023
There’s a scene in Blue Velvet where Jeffrey visits Detective Williams to give him a tip about some of the suspicious activity he has observed (finding the ear maybe) – and rather than starting this basic dialog scene with a two-shot, we start with this close up of a photograph of Sandy and the dialog is delivered in V.O.
I believe there’s a similar move in Bi Gan’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.
It’s just such a striking way to spice up a dialog scene with subtext.
Once Upon a Time in America // Oct 2023
Prolly my favorite version of a “fall” / temptation scene is in Once Upon a Time in America.
Patsy learns that Peggy will make out with you in exchange for a pastry, so he buys one and brings it to her home. While he’s waiting for her, outside her door, he decides to try the pastry – “just to be sure PEGGY is getting the very best…. She is.”
In a pleasantly languid scene, he does his best to rewrap the pastry, get it back to perfect, like nothing ever happened, but he just can’t resist, and by the time Peggy opens the door, he’s eaten the entire thing.
Something Homeric about this – but fun that it’s a young kid and not a Greek warrior at the center of it.
Tampopo // Oct 2023
This scene from Tampopo feels like an homage to classic silent films – and also I love the way it cultivates this feeling of breaking the rules in a benign way.
Oh, and the eggs look delicious…
I was originally going to use a frame of the eggs cooking in the skillet, but when I rewatched, I liked this one better – it’s completely unrealistic and fantastical, no one would ‘peek’ through the door like this – it draws way more attention to itself than other ways you might peek if you were actually trying to be secretive.
It’s got an almost cartoonish, Looney Tunes vibe to it.