Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jacob Shoaf's Favorite Scene of 2007

It’s hard to pick just one favorite scene from a year with so many great films. There’s the fantastic confrontation between George Clooney and Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton, the mesmerizing tracking shot that surveys the beach during the Dunkirk evacuation from Atonement, and, pardon my foray into the lowbrow arena, the opening of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters ( – if you haven’t seen this three-minute middle finger to seat-kickers, cell-phone talkers, and crying babies, then you really should). Though there are still around thirty movies I would like to see from 2007 before I finalize anything, a task is at hand and it must be completed.

My favorite scene of the year is from the film which seemed to garner the most overall critical acclaim. I am of course referring to the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. In this scene, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) confronts a gas station proprietor (Gene Jones) and forces him into a very high-stakes coin toss. It’s ridiculous how much tension the Coens are able to build from just a conversation between two men and a scant seven shots (in terms of camera positions, not cuts...and one of those shouldn't even count as it was only an establishing shot). Chigurh turns the proprietor’s friendly banter into a growing threat which slowly envelopes the room. Even a crinkled food wrapper placed on the counter by Chigurh lurches toward the man as an ominous threat of his possible doom. It’s a fantastic scene from a truly great movie. If you haven't seen it: slap yourself, say ten "Hail Tarkovsky"s as penance, and get thee to a film-ery, friendo.


Brandon Colvin said...

While your selected scene is excellent, like many scenes in "No Country," I feel there is a certainly superior scene in the film, that being the one in which Chigurh finds Llewelyn in the motel with the cat in it. In regard to tension, this scene is unmatchable. Hearing Chigurh creep up on Llewelyn through a creaky hallway is hair-raising and accomplished with a Bressonian emphasis on sound that I found very refreshing. The whole time I was watching that scene, I was nearly shitting my pants. The dread in the scene and the forced contemplation and reflection on the approaching Chigurh (Death) reveals the film's nihilistic underpinnings wonderfully in a few moments of undiluted existential anxiety. It's damned astonishing.

Anonymous said...

That is also a great scene. That as well as the amazingly intense chase by the guys in the truck and their dog were both causes for bringing Depends to the theater. There were several scenes like this in the film, but I think the fact that I was actually able to find this whole scene on youtube swayed me somewhat to select it. But as the whole film is fantastic and I could gush about almost every scene, expect it near the top of my list.

PS-When he covers the slit underneath the door in the scene you're talking about...holy crap. There's so much that happens during that scene (the revelation of the tracking device, blowing-the-lock-off technique, etc.) and the chase that ensues is also mind-blowing.