Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No Country For Old Men: My own personal observation

I can't tell you how pleased I was for the Oscar winners this year. Above of them all, of course, was my pride at seeing No Country For Old Men win Best Picture.

When I first saw it, I was really itching to read more about it. I found and read a number of lengthy reviews and essays on the film (thanks to the Sergio Leone blog for their in-depth discussion and links to further more). Yet with all that intensive examination of minutiae, there was one segment of the film of which I had found nothing.

So allow me to remedy that for you (SPOILERS AHEAD).

Amidst the greatness of the three leads, one actor that didn't and doesn't get mentioned much is Woody Harrelson. He plays Carson Wells, who is a hitman of sorts hired to rub out the unstoppable killing machine that is Anton Chigurh.

He has three scenes in the film. The first scene (above) takes place in his employer's office where they discuss what he's been hired for. Interestingly, Carson gives the impression that he knows Anton (it's hard to imagine Anton having friends or even colleagues). Carson tells his employer that while Anton is a truly dangerous man, he's got the skills to take care of him.

The second scene has him speaking to Llewelyn Moss in his hospital bed. One of the things they discuss is Moss's occupation as a welder. Despite being told that Moss is proficient in all kinds, Carson proceeds to ask about each type individually, which irritates Moss. It was a moment of Carson showing off his knowledge, and perhaps an indicator that he talks a bigger game than he can follow through on.

This is confirmed in his third and final scene. As Carson walks up the stairs of his hotel, Chigurh casually emerges into frame and walks up behind him. Carson realizes who it is and that he's been caught. So much for his skills. We then cut to his room where the two men sit facing each other in armchairs with Chigurh's gun pointed at Carson. There they have a brief conversation that they both know will end with Carson being killed.

We have seen countless scenes in movies of people facing their inevitable death. Some actors go a little overboard with it (though that seems impossible when it comes to a character who is about to die). But Harrelson, whose back seems literally glued to the chair, is able to convey through his body language, facial expressions and dialogue a man that truly realizes he's about to die.

The scene draws out the tension so long it's almost unbearable, for both Carson and the audience. Instead of doing the five stages of dying, Carson mostly dwells on number three: bargaining. It's appropriate, since most of Anton's victims end up using the same phrase: "You don't have to do this". This plea, along with all his others, does Carson no good, and we can see in his face that he knows it.

His bargaining eventually gives way to anger as Carson asks Anton, "Do you have any idea how goddamn crazy you are?". In any other film, this might have been a punchline. But it is delivered completely and utterly straight by Harrelson, as Carson realizes he has nothing to lose. He might as well speak the truth to the madman in front of him, while beads of sweat form on his forehead.

And then, with one more offer by Carson to settle this, Anton interrupts him for good.

Looking back, Carson Wells is a subplot that could have been excised entirely. The only thing he does that affects the proceedings was allow Anton to track a course back to the employer so he can kill him too. Otherwise, his role is completely peripheral.

But don't take this to mean that I want it excised. The movie is perfect the way it is, subplot and all. And I would be particularly sad to see him go.


It seems agreed across the board that, no matter what side of the political fence you are on, William F. Buckley (who died today at age 82) was a very smart man and an excellent speaker. I dare say those are two qualities that are not much found currently amongst the right wing, so he will be truly missed.

Or maybe not. At least, maybe not amongst that modern right wing. Along with the Yahoo headline announcing his death, there is a link called "Find What Buckley thought of Bush" that leads to a news search on both gentlemen. Here are the top three headlines:
Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative

William F. Buckley, Father of Conserativism, Slams President Bush

Founder of Conservative Magazine Calls Iraq a Failure

Hell, with headlines like this, I think I can even forgive him for picking fights with Gore Vidal.

Rest in Peace ye ol' bugger.

Is it too much to ask for an encore?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's always been my dream to be a part of a Venn diagram

My video has already been the subject of it's very own Very Short List recommendation.

Now I'ts been referenced by a VSL recommendation. Pretty sweet.

Monday, February 25, 2008

John, you're no Al Pacino

I came across this post on Tom Tomorrow's site recently:

Finally, is it just me or does McCain’s candidacy lack a coherent raison d’ĂȘtre? Hillary Clinton is the hyper-ambitious former first lady who wants to continue where her husband left off. Mike Huckabee is the conservative regular fella who wants to do save our nation from moral decay. Barack Obama is the inspirational guy who wants to bring people together to Change™ the nation. John McCain? He seems to be this year’s "I've been around Washington forever and it’s my turn to run for President" guy. Maybe he'll have more luck with "Vote for me, I’m really old." than Bob Dole did, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

He makes a good point. McCain should be reminded that the U.S. Presidency is not like the Oscars: You don't get the big prize simply because you've been around a long time and you feel that you have one coming. And even with the Oscars, it's not necessarily a sure thing (just ask Hal Holbrook and Ruby Dee).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Because it's purty, that's why.

My original design concept for the new blog template was to implement some version of the image below. That fell through when I found the current skin and was tired enough to say "That'll work" and call it a day. Still, just for the hell of it, here is a mass of iridescent gas:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Relinquishing the Chalice

Last year, Mrs. Mosley made a decision to switch to caffeine free Diet Coke because she was afraid all the caffeine she was taking in was bad for heart (as evidenced by small heart flutters she would get occasionally). Though she'll still have a regular Diet Coke when we go out, she only drinks the caffeine free stuff at home, and she feels much healthier for it.

My wife was fortunate in her not being a coffee fiend as well as cola addict. Her transition was smooth compared to what mine will be. Yes, I'm giving up coffee. At least, I'm giving up regular coffee (though I'm going to limit my decaf intake to two to three servings a week). I haven't had a cup since Wednesday morning, which resulted in my own heart flutter that gave me plenty of pause.

So if I seem incredibly grumpy in the next few weeks, you'll know why.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Big-eyed children need not apply

Many of the methods used by Evangelical Christians to appeal to youngsters just doesn't work. Watching middle aged white people try to be hip and current can be extremely painful (Click here and here... if you dare!). This story, however, sounds like somebody has finally made a solid match between Current form and Biblical content. Check out the artwork:

Now that's a nice matchup. The stylized violence that comes from Manga and Anime is a perfect fit for the Old Testament, which has people getting struck down right and left! It doesn't matter if the characters are eight feet tall with angular bone structures. The character design will match the words and deeds of the characters in the stories.

The NYT article also mentions that there will be attempts at humor, which I consider a bad idea. I cringed when I read that the "heroes look and sound like skateboarders in Bedouin gear".

C'mon, guys. It doesn't need it. It's epic drama through and through. Play that up for all it's worth. Heck, Cecil B. De Mille realized that and started a trend in film that lasted for decades, made millions of dollars and drew adoring fans the world over.

Don't muck it up by throwing a "dude" into every other sentence.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Beautiful poetry amidst flawed films

Mrs. Mosley and I watched Romance & Cigarettes earlier today. We agree that it's got a few great moments but is otherwise a failure. Near the end, though, James Gandolfini's character recites a line from a poem I had never heard of (by an Orville E. Kelly), but I'm glad to have now discovered. Here it is:

For My Wife, Wanda: Love Will Never Go Away

Spring, and the land lies fresh green
Beneath a yellow sun.
We walked the land together, you and I
And never knew what future days would bring.
Will you often think of me,
When flowers burst forth each year?
When the earth begins to grow again?
Some say death is so final
But my love for you can never die.
Just as the sun once warmed our hearts
Let this love touch you some night
When I am gone
And loneliness comes~
Before the dawn begins to scatter
Your dreams away.

Summer and I never knew a bird
Could sing so sweet and clear
Until they told me I must leave you
For awhile
I never knew the sky could be so deep a blue
Until I knew I could not grow old with you
But better to be loved by you
Than to have lived a million summers
And never known your love.
Together, let us, you and I
Remember the days and nights
For eternity.

Fall, and as the earth begins to die
And the leaves turn golden-brown upon the trees
Remember me, too, in Autumn, for I will walk with you
As of old, along a city sidewalk at evening-time
Though I cannot hold you by the hand.

Winter, and perhaps someday there may be
Another fireplace another room
With crackling fire and fragrant smoke
And turning, suddenly, we will be together
And I will hear your laughter and touch your face,
And hold you close to me again
But, until then, if loneliness should seek you out
Some winter night, when snow is falling down
Remember, though death has come to me
My love will never go away.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Generic LEGO post (Presidents Day Weekend edition)

Good God! Has it been five days since I last posted? Forgive me. Mrs. Mosley and I have been caught up in a three day weekend bacchanal composed of traveling, sightseeing and eating large quantities of food we have absolutely no business eating. In the interim until the next actual post, here's a trio of bitchin' grey mechs from a fellow named "mondaynoodle":

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Short Circuit Traveling Film Festival (In Short)

So I got to see an even dozen shorts tonight courtesy of this free film festival that made a stop at FCCJ South Campus. In the spirit of shorts, the following are my six word reviews of each short (save one):

Sandstorm - Ingmar Bergman with computer generated skelletons

Dear, Sweet Emma - Loud and obnoxious animated black comedy

Tour of Homes - House photos illustrating separation of wealth

The Language of Limbs - Mockumentary crazy enough to be real

Bowl Digger - Sweet artist portrait... which runs long

The Cole Nobody Knows - Heartfelt musician tribute... also runs long

Dick-George, Tenn-Tom - Conspiracy political slideshow of historic moment

Theodore - Fair Twilight Zone with bad acting

Moth to Light - Tennessee Williams by way of Raimi

Mr. Extion - Clever comedy on screenwriting and endings

An Abstraction on the Chronology of Will - Goofy life-affirming action comedy... thing

And then there was my favorite, Wood Diary. Unlike the rest of the films shown, it was the one that didn't seem long enough. While searching through websites that mention this short, they state the length as being between 13 and 16 minutes, and I would have sworn up and down it was no more than five. It goes by that quickly.

Saddly, there doesn't seem to be much info on it. It's been around for a couple of years and has been shown at some small festivals. This page gives some background on the short. It also had a website operating for it at one time, but that seems to have ceased working (though you can have a peak at it if you plug the URL into

It's really a very touching piece. If you ever have a chance to see it, do so.

"You WILL dance with me, EVA!"

It's been a Nazi-fest in the Mosley household lately (Movie-wise, that is). Last week, I watched the incredible Downfall about Hitler's last days, and last night Mrs. Mosley and I started the equally good Black Book about the Dutch resistance during WWII.

Well, browsing through the cast lists of these films, I noticed that a number of the German actors are attached to Valkyrie, which features a number of Brits playing Germans and one highly irritating American doing likewise (and, judging by the trailer, failing).

Anyway, I was curious who would be playing the role du jour of the Fuhrer himself. The actor's name was David Bamber, and though I didn't recognize the name at first, it only took a brief look at his resume to discover the Hitler was going to be played by ... Mr. Collins!

The thought of poor, clueless and socially inept Mr. Collins leading the Third Reich tickles me to no end. Hell, I may end up laughing more at him than at Tom.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

If only all elections were decided by a game of Air Hockey

One of the supreme ironies of this election for me is how the candidate I'm most ideologically opposed to also seems to have the best sense of humor.

I'll tell you this much, Dubya sure as hell didn't make me laugh like Huckabee does ... at least not intentionally.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

And then there was (more or less) one.

Looking back at August of last year, all I can say is "What a difference six months makes", huh?

And while Romney bowing out means that McCain pretty much has it sewn up and will not have to worry about other Republican candidates beating the crap out of him, it does mean that there will be a clear focus on him for the next nine months by everyone else.

And will you lookee here! He's giving us material already. Choice quote from the linked article: "In fact, in the 110th Congress, out of 450 votes, McCain missed 56.7% of them. The only one who missed more was a senator who had a brain hemmorhage."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Night of the Living Director

At the first of the year, I laid down (in an electronic sense) forty dollars for the chance to go and see George Romero talk about his greatest film, Night of the Living Dead. It's all part of a series at the San Marco Theater called The Talkies, which kicked off last year with a visit by John Waters. Not being a huge fan of John, I gave that one a pass. But I couldn't resist the call of George, so last night I went to listen to the great one for ninety minutes or so:

- Those looking for scene specific commentary last night were slightly disapointed. George did do his share of pointing out particular things in the film as they happened, especially in the beginning. Mostly, he told stories of his career both in making this film and other films, not to metion his opinions on everything from politics to Ron Howard.

- The first great line of the evening (and one that should by all rights become movie industry shorthand) is Romero speaking of doing one too many sequels as "reaching Thunderdome".

- Romero was not shy about pointing out the film's shortcomings such as sudden jumpcuts and poor sound effects dubbing. It put me in mind of the DVD commentary track for The Usual Suspects where Brian Singer and Christopher McQuarrie gleefully point out goofs and logical errors in their masterpiece.

- Romero's most repeated line: "This movie I just finished making". Runner up: "Just a bunch of guys from the 'burgh".

- Apparently, the Pittsburgh entertainment industry during the sixties revolved around Mister Roger's Neighborhood. Romero spoke of his time working with the show and how his first choice for the female lead in NOTLD was Neighborhood's Betty Aberlin. Fred Rogers put the kybosh on this as he didn't want the show to be linked to a horror film through her. The upside is that Aberlin, years later, played a nun at the beginning of Kevin Smith's "Dogma". I get the feeling Fred wouldn't have like that, either.

- The most interesting piece of trivia that I hadn't heard before was how the original ninety-seven minute cut was trimmed to ninety. The reason was not so they could squeeze in an extra showing, but that anything over ninety would mean an extra reel of film, which would cost that much more to ship to theaters. The downside to this was that the cut footage offered several other explantions for the zombie uprising instead of just the "Space Probe from Venus", which was the only one remaining. Much to Romero's chagrin, many reviews picked up on this and stated this as the definitive cause when in actuality Romero wanted it to remain unresolved.

- The inspiration for NOTLD's spooky lighting was, according to Romero, the Shakespere films of Orson Welles. Who knew?

- Romero has no love for running zombies, and he stated his case by referencing the old Universal Mummy films with Boris Krloff. His reasoning was sound and he admitted that Zack Snyder (who directed the speedy Dawn of the Dead remake) was a good director who simply did an action film and not a horror film. Personally, I think it excels in both genres, but George and I can agee to disagree. Besides, if we're being brutally honest, Land of the Dead sucked.

- I don't know if that clear liquid he was drinking was water or, as he said once, vodka, but he got looser with his tongue as the movie progressed and was swearing like a sailor. Either way, it was great.

- Someone in the audience mentioned Knightriders and George spoke at length about that. It made me wish I had watched that old VHS copy I owned for so long (and which was amongst the many movies stolen last September). Mostly, George had lots of great things to say about Ed Harris and lamented the unfortunate way he's treated as a "second banana" in Hollywood.

- Further proof that some of the greatest lines are ad libbed: "They're dead... They're all messed up."

Overall, there was lots of love last night for George. He was presented with a cake (his birthday is tomorrow) and several standing ovations during the course of the evening. Furthermore, he seemed genuinely happy to be there and humbled by all the adulation. I was glad to be have seen it and, depending on who they choose for the next go 'round, will definitely be up for another live commentary at the San Marco.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Giancarlo Esposito Quote of the Month: February 2008

I've covered the film Blue in the Face before, so I won't go into the back story. I will say that the funniest vignette in the film is between Giancarlo's character Tommy and an old friend of Tommy's named Pete (Michael J. Fox). The audience doesn't know quite what to make of Pete, and neither does Tommy, but he agrees to Pete's request to answer some questions on a survey he's doing. Things truly turn bizarre when Pete asks the question "What is the minimum you would have to be paid to eat a bowl of shit?":

Tommy: I don't eat shit. It's against my religion.

Pete: What religion is that?

Tommy: The religion of sanity, Peter. You should try it some time.