Monday, August 24, 2015

TODAY'S NUGGET: Miller's Crossing (1990) - Messy is Good for Story

[Quick Summary: Adviser to a mob boss is caught between the boss and a competing boss.]

I have it on good authority (teachers, human resources) that Millenials, who grow up with instant internet answers, find it hard to adjust to the messiness of real life.

By "messiness of real life," I mean:

- Waiting
- Unanswered questions (AN answer isn't enough. They want THE correct answer.)
- No guarantees
- Making mistakes

However, it is this very messiness that makes life (and stories) real and interesting.

This script is full of messy decisions which is great for conflict.

In this scene below, Tom tries to get Verna to admit she did or did not shoot Rug.

She distracts him and the question is unanswered in favor of more romantic action.

This could've been a very formulaic cliffhanger, but notice how the writers bring out Tom's feelings for Verna and that they get in the way of his job. 

ex. "He looks at her. She holds his gaze.

VERNA: You think I murdered someone. Come on, Tom, you know me a little.

TOM: Nobody knows anybody --not that well.

VERNA: You know or you wouldn't be here.

TOM: Not at all, sugar. I came to hear your side of the story --how horrible Rug was, how he goaded you into it, how he tried to shake you down --

VERNA: That's not why you came either.

He shrugs.

TOM: Tell me why I came.

Verna looks at him.

VERNA: The oldest reason there is.

TOM: There are friendlier places to drink.

VERNA: Why can't you admit it?

TOM: Admit what?

VERNA: Admit you don't like me seeing Lee because you're jealous. Admit it isn't all cool calculation with you --that you've got a heart --even i it's small and feeble and you can't remember the last time you used it.

TOM: If I'd known we were going to cast our feelings into words I'd have memorized the Song of Solomon.

Verna smiles."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Messy is good for story.

Miller's Crossing (1990)
by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

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