Wars and Windmills

15 December 2009

04 December 2009

One Shot, One [s]Kill

Aside from campy sports films, Wes Anderson, and Bill Murray, the only thing that never fails to garner my praise in film is the extended single take. About three years ago Children of Men came out. Not many saw it, but aside from a stellar sound track this movie is home to not one, but double one -- or two -- of the greatest examples of the extended single take. Now I take a risk at posting these because in the States this film is rated the demonic rating, and this is the warning to all those wishing to avoid hell, don't watch. For the rest of my fellow justification experts, watch and be amazed.

This first scene has been both lauded for it's technical prowess, as well as criticized as being too showie-offie. Regardless of what your position is it is impossible to pretend that this scene isn't 100-percent kick-a$$. (again, not for the fair souled)

Apparently the interior of the car was modified so the actors could duck while a camera, mounted on rails on top of the car, swerved around their heads via remote control. There was a driver at the front ensured they didn’t hit any trees going forward, and there was also a driver pointing backwards for the reverse bits. Stellar.

As brilliant as that scene is, this next one made an indelible impression on me, and three years later I still can't shake it's impact. It is one of my favorite scenes in any movie...evaa.

The video's embedding has been disabled so check out the link here: Link

While this whole ten minute clip isn't one take, the majority of it is.

This scene took twelve days to prepare for and two days of shooting to get. The shot in the movie is the only complete take, and also the last chance they had to do the scene because the available light was fading and they were to lose the location the next day. In an audio interview with the director, he describes yelling “halt” when blood splatters on the lens, however, an explosion blew at the same time so no one heard him and he decided to let the filming carry on. Huzzah for small miracles.

Serious credit should also go to the actors. There is no way that everything that has been planned will occur exactly as hoped and the actor has to cope or it is a wasted take. The director, CuarĂ³n, had this to say on the subject:

“When you doing these long shots, I can choreograph to the inch every single moment. But once you rolling the camera, everything falls on the shoulder of your character. Because things are going to go wrong, and it’s how he reacts with things going wrong that create the moment of truthfulness.”

Good film making makes me happy.

05 November 2009

From Boethius to Batman: The Wisdom of Ignatius J. Reilly

I am feeling some love today for one of my favorite books: A Confederacy of Dunces. This book made me laugh out loud on many occasions, mostly from the oddities of the main character Ignatius J. Reilly.

If you haven't read this book, a brief character analysis may be in order. In his foreword to the book, Walker Percy describes Ignatius as a "slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one". Ignatius has a general disdain for modernity, particularly pop culture; this disdain becomes a bit of an obsession, and, as obsessions can do, hinders him from living what may be deemed as a socially acceptable existence. One of the best examples of this disdain is his continual desire to attend the movies, even though he hates them. He goes, not to be entertained, but in order to mock their "perversity" and express his outrage with the contemporary world's lack of "theology and geometry".

However, sometimes Ignatius' disdain is tempered. One particularly absurd passage really stuck with me, as the beloved anti-hero tries to set his acquaintance Dorian Greene on the right path. How? By reading Roman philosophy and comics.

From Chapter 10:

“I suspect that beneath your offensively and vulgarly effeminate facade there may be a soul of sorts. Have you read widely in Boethius?”

“Who? Oh, heavens no. I never even read newspapers.”

“Then you must begin a reading program immediately so that you may understand the crises of our age,” Ignatius said solemnly. “Begin with the late Romans, including Boethius, of course. Then you should dip rather extensively into early Medieval. You may skip the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. That is mostly dangerous propaganda. Now that I think of it, you had better skip the Romantics and the Victorians, too. For the contemporary period, you should study some selected comic books.”

“You’re fantastic.”

“I recommend Batman especially, for he tends to transcend the abysmal society in which he’s found himself. His morality is rather rigid, also. I rather respect Batman.”

Ignatius may be a gargantuan, green-capped, lumberjack-shirted vortex of hypochondria, misanthropy, contempt, intellectual precocity, and intestinal problems, but he knows his comics.

28 October 2009

Music of the Past

The Archive from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

This makes me sad.

Admittedly, I am as guilty of this as anyone. I don't own a single vinyl record; but I want to...does that count? If I had 3 million extra dollars, I would buy this collection in one second of one heart beat, as the saying goes.

08 September 2009

See This

I will update soon, I promise; I have some posts that have been sitting in draft mode for months. Until then, I just wanted to say: see District 9. It is the business.

This may be old news to many as it has been out a while in the States, but here in Scotland it has only been out for 4 days. So don't judge me.

29 July 2009

20 July 2009

06 July 2009



I am impressed with how many were guessed. Well played.

1. 3:10 to Yuma
2. Aliens
3. Gangs of New York
4. Joe vs The Volcano
5. The Professional (Leon)
6. Magnolia
7. Se7en
8. The Aviator
9. The Royal Tenenbaums
10. V for Vendetta
11. 2001: A Space Odyssey
12. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
13. A Clockwork Orange
14. Capote (this one was mean...there aren't any hints in the still AT ALL...mea culpa)
15. Lawrence of Arabia
16. There Will Be Blood
17. Punch Drunk Love
18. Silence of the Lambs
19. Edward Scissorhands
20. The Shawshank Redemption
21. The Fall (again a rather cruel choice)
22. I Heart Huckabees
23. Primer
24. Psycho
25. Predator

Good times. Can anyone tell me what director was used most?

17 June 2009

Film Stills II

I have turned in the last of my course work. Because of this most excellent occasion I have prescribed for myself a small respite before delving into the abyss that is my thesis, and I felt that some of that time should be spent tossing up a second volley of cryptic film stills to test my dear friends movie prowess. So here is another cinematic have-at-ye to those few who may still gander at this page:


























I plan on waiting about a week to post the answers. However, if most are guessed before the week is spent I will post the titles earlier. If you are dying to know if your guesses are right make it known and I will email you.

Good luck.

29 May 2009


I love mine.

Every man should grow one in his life...even if it is only scant, splotchy, or wispy. (especially James, Dan, and Grant)

My friend Kristen was happy to finally make it's acquaintance in person this week on my short but bangarang week in Utah for my sisters wedding.

My wife is in deep like with my beard...which is sweet because, having it sans spousal blessing would prove, I believe, problematic.

I was told by a member of the stake presidency recently to shave...I said no. I said it isn't a testimony stick by which to measure my piety. Then a time later the stake president said it looked great and I shouldn't have been told that. Satisfying and factual.

Having a beard makes eating without a napkin always a mistake.

A beard gives you a jaw line when your neck area refuses to supply one on its own due to over plumping.

Keeping a neatly trimmed beard can make a beard turn boring and you will be upset for a time, because often, with the exception of jungle cats, the more untamed the better.

My beard is multicolored. Calico even. This makes for a rich sense of indecision on my face's part.

Once Joe brought up his mustache (which is one of my favorite parts of the full beard) and the distinct smell it has each time he grows it; I commented that mine smells of tire rubber. Upon rethinking, I would change that and say it is more like the old air coming from the tire when it is being released.

My first beard was for Euro Trip 2005. I made the novice beard-faced mistake of finding it itchy and therefore leaving it on the bathroom floor in Florence. Regrets. I grew a new one as soon as my job allowed.

Shaving my beard was the only prerequisite for Lindsey's hand in marriage. It was a harder decision then I will ever admit to in any manner other than indirect reference. I grew a new one as soon as my end of that contract had been upheld.

I have yet to find myself stroking my beard while lost in thought. I am, however, expecting this any day now.

A pipe is the ultimate accessory for a beard. Sadly no one has yet to see the profit in tobacco-less tobacco so it remains unpacked and unlit.

Beards without mustaches are odd...one is forced to wonder if that look was the mullet if its day: clean out front, party down the sides. If so then Brigham and the Amish just blasted into the mega-cool stratosphere.

17 May 2009

Mythically Speaking

Many of these I would wear without a dare, and all for less than a double-dog.

Golden Eagle Collage

Dragon Lair

Black Wolf Spirit

Sunlit Unicorn

Three Wolf Moon

Lone Star

Hallowed Harmony


Break Through Tiger

Big Cat Collage

Fighting Rexes

Rainbow Unicorn

If, for any reason, you wanted to pay top dollar for any of these rather than visit your local truck stop then there is hope -- all of these sweeties, and more, can be found at Mythically Speaking.

God Bless

14 May 2009

Things I Think Are Real

  • Hogwarts
  • Middle Earth
  • super powers
  • the Force
  • unicorns
  • Willy Wonka

23 April 2009

One Picture and One Song III

(side car = cool. lions = kings of the jungle. a lion in a side car = good family fun)

The Battle of New Orleans -- Johnny Horton

for Jack

02 April 2009

And I Thought They Smelled Bad on the Outside

Note the light saber zipper, (how else should one expect to get inside?)

Note the intestines for the lining.

Sadly this was an April Fools joke from the brilliant minds at Think Geek. If it had been real, I would have ordered one for my nephew (and by nephew I secretly mean me).

10 March 2009

Divulgence V

I worshiped this guy while sporting my Vuarnet shirt and my flounder shaped Nash skateboard that I was too afraid to ride.

20 February 2009

Musaq and Philm II

Most of my posts as of late have been both lazy and orientated around music and movies. So, keeping with the spirit of the latter and forgoing the former I am posting a second of what is a favorite post of mine...certainly the most fun I have had on this here blog.

Allow me briefly to reiterate the intent of these posts. In the hands of the right director music and film are a seamless pairing. The right song can elevate what may be mundane and make it extraordinary. I am not discussing a musical score, that is a different beast, for these posts I am simply examining that one scene made better by that one song.

The Film: Children of Men
The Song: The Court of the Crimson King -- King Crimson
The Scene: Theo is driven into the imposing Battersea Power Station and the strains of King Crimson's The Court of the Crimson King swell and I'm floored. I'm so distracted by the music in this movie that the film seems to take on a surrealistic quality.

The Film: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
The Song: Liar Liar -- Castaways
The Scene: Easily consider the UK equivalent of Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie’s film involving a high stakes card game gone wrong. Like Tarantino, the film has an excellent soundtrack as the tracks are well-placed throughout. One scene in particular involves a card game. It is shot simply with rotating camera views, slow-mo, and quick shots, but the use of the Castaways track takes what would have been a dull scene to preternatural heights.

The Film: Punch-Drunk Love
The Song: He Needs Me -- Shelly Duvall
The Scene: Barry (Adam Sandler) finally draws his courage and stands up to one of his sisters whom he constantly receives nothing but grief. It’s a moment of liberation, he has reached the point where he would no longer put up with his sister or any other malarkey life has thrown at him anymore. From that moment on, the track from Shelly Duvall plays through a wonderful sequence where he flies to Hawaii to see the one important woman in his life.

This song falls squarely in the twee category, and unless it was coupled with a magnificent scene in a film by the brilliant Paul Thomas Anderson it would have never garnered a second listen. This says something about the power found when good film is coupled with good music.

The Film: Once
The Song: Falling Slowly -- Glen Hansard
The Scene: Though slightly over played now I first heard the song when I saw the movie and can't shake it. Perhaps this shouldn't count since the music is the scene instead of being played over it, but when they sit down and Glen starts to play for her and she joins him it is something to behold; the paragon melding of the two mediums. Call me cheesy, but it was singular.

The Film: Layer Cake
The Song: Ordinary World -- Duran Duran
The Scene: This rather serene song is perfectly juxtaposed over a scene where a crazy drug dealer kicks the poop out of a fat bloke, before pouring hot tea over him. “As I try to make my way, to the ordinary world, somehow I will survive”...perfect.

The Film: Reservoir Dogs
The Song: Stuck in the Middle With You -- Stealers Wheel
The Scene: This is just a prime example of hearing a song during a scene and it forever being associated with that moment. Every time I listen to this song I cringe because I am instantly transported to that that moment when I first saw Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsden) torture his little police officer buddy. The result is the cutting of the aforementioned police officer’s ear and later being doused with gasoline -- all of this happening while Mr. Blonde dances along to this song. Horrific and brilliant.

The Film: Almost Famous
The Song: Tiny Dancer -- Elton John
The Scene: On a tour bus with a fictional band in 1973; emotions are down and stress levels are high, then Tiny Dancers comes on the radio and the mood changes culminating in everyone singing along. There you have a moment in cinema history that perfectly captures something that all of us can relate to in some manner.

The Film: High Fidelity
The Song: Dry the Rain -- The Beta Band
The Scene:
I will now sell five copies of the 3 E.P.s by The Beta Band.

Do it.

Rob pops the CD in and it begins to play... He stands there
with his arms folded, waiting. After a moment, a Customer

(re: music)
What is this?

It's The Beta Band.

It's great.

I know.

Too good.

The Film: The Darjeeling Limited
The Song: This Time Tomorrow -- The Kinks
The Scene: See for yourself (the song kicks in towards the end):

Bill Murray's cameo...the slow-mo...the colors...the whole scene is brilliant.

The Film: Apocalypse Now
The Song: The End -- The Doors
The Scene: As the eerie guitar line begins to creep in, there is a slow motion long shot of a rain forest in Vietnam. The chop from the helicopter blades can be heard slightly, and we can see shadows of them flying overhead. Just as Jim Morrison sings the opening line, “This is the end”, the canopy explodes in flames. In my opinion it is one of the most amazing shots ever recorded on film. Still the brilliant use of this opus doesn’t end there. As it progresses into a brain-quelling mash of organ, tambourine and tribal drums, we are treated to a few glimpses into the mental state of Captain Ben Willard (Martin Sheen). Based on what we see from him, it certainly feels like the end, but it’s really only the beginning.

The Film: Cool Hand Luke
The Song: Plastic Jesus
The Scene: One of the best scenes from one of the best movies. Paul Newman as Luke sings this just after he finds out some terrible news. His fellow prisoners file to the back of the room as to afford a modicum of privacy so Luke can grieve. As he plays his voice breaks over waves of emotions that he tries to choke down. The song was perhaps one his mother sang to him as a child; whatever it's significance it is an ideal choice for that scene. Paul was a master.