Has there ever been a better edited, more assured, more compressed array of fantastic shots and build-up and emotion pushed into a 5 minute span? Has there ever been a better, slower burn than this miraculous scene from Miller’s Crossing?
From the slow tracking shot across the dead man, to the cigarette lighting the paper to the pull out from the record player to the immaculately framed bedroom scene to the tips of the guns ascending the stairs, to the feet slipping in the slippers to the stubbing of the cigar: to paraphrase The Joker, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it.”
This is is art, though. Of the highest order. It’s the Coens making good on the loopy promise they showed in Blood Simple and Raising Arizona. This is the Coen Brothers stretching as far as they could for their ambition-and reaching it. There isn’t an edit or a camera angle or a reaction out of place. There is nothing more to say, because the brilliance of this scene says everything it needs to. This is an entire operetta, writ large in only 5 perfect minutes of editing, pacing, action, framing, and emotion.
This is the stuff movie dreams are made of.