This weekend saw the spectacular climaxes of two decade spanning epic series,
Both Game of Thrones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe
monumental extravagant clashes for the fate of their respective
As the dust settles on each battlefield, the question remains:
who staged the best fight of the weekend?
Though I'm sure there will be heated debate, to my mind the answer is obvious:
Without a doubt the best fight was
I'm serious. I saw Endgame and the Battle of Winterfell this weekend
and they're both awesome in their own ways
But the fight that I enjoyed the most, the one that I found the most interesting
was the fight in the latest episode of Barry called
Written and directed by Bill Hader
Ronny/Lily is essentially an episode long fight scene similar to the Battle of Winterfell
but with more sunlight.
It's engaging from start to finish and for as absurd as it gets,
the plot leads from scene to scene in ways that make perfect sense.
That's one of the things that makes it so great.
The story doesn't just feel like it's advancing,
but growing from the seeds of each new moment.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The episode begins with something that's necessary for any good fight scene:
A surveying of the battlefield.
Hader accomplishes three important things in the opening shots.
One: He makes us familiar with the layout of the house where the fight will take place;
Two: he establishes a ton about this guy's life without him saying a word;
and three: he introduces a
filming style and tone: these long
lethargic camera movements without any musical score that will characterize the fight to come.
The episode is just 31 minutes and there's a lot to get through. Hader doesn't waste a shot.
Here's one of my favorites. Again, this establishes the setting which will pay off later.
And again, we're given information about Ronnie with just visuals, but now the information is loaded.
It's adding tension to the scene by promising something in the future.
You could call this Chekhov's Trophy Room and by now the silence is proving more suspenseful than
suspenseful music ever could. As a viewer, I'm at the edge of my seat.
The fight itself is sloppy but it's choreographed that way. The signature of Barry is its tone. The way it balances
the horrific consequences of contract killing and the comedy of its absurd premise: a hitman who wants to become an actor, by highlighting
scenarios that emphasize both qualities at once.
What do you want me to get?
Needle and thread - Okay
For stitches. - I understand - Because I am dying.
The sloppiness of the fight is hilarious for its sloppiness.
But that sloppiness also captures the awkwardness of violence in a way that makes it feel real and ultimately
painful for the viewer - something I talked about in my video on Shane Black a couple years ago.
When violence is real
it's consequential so that a single punch to the windpipe actually determines the direction of the rest of the episode.
This is where Hader's early work pays off.
You're not wasting mental energy on trying to understand the layout of the space
and the camera movement is now in conflict
with the spastic energy of the fight at attention to the events
when the fight moves off screen and the camera is in no hurry to follow. As Hader noted in a Times interview
the camera is almost
judging what's happening.
In other words:
The camera has a point of view
- figuratively speaking -
In that same article Hader cites an episode of The Sopranos called Pine Barrens as a touchstone for this one.
Pine Barrens, like Ronny/Lily is a one-off short story like episode where two characters get thrust into a surreal nightmare.
Both episodes pull from and connect to the larger series,
but operate on a strange logic of their own getting increasingly weirder
and more desperate and both episodes function sort of as a compressed diamond of the show's major theme:
That you're ultimately responsible for the strange situations
that your choices lead you to
Paulie and Christopher find themselves eating ketchup packets to survive in the freezing Pine Barrens of New Jersey
as a direct result of the choices they made that day.
But also as an indirect result of the larger choices that they made for their lives.
Barry and Fuchs find themselves
bleeding with their hands super glued to the steering wheel while a feral Mongoose child bites and attacks them for the same
direct and indirect reasons.
So the fight in Barry might not be a fight for the fate of the universe against all powerful villains with fantastical powers -
- okay, some fantastical powers - but it is a fight that carries a shitload of dramatic and thematic weight.
It's one that's actually a product of choices and that in turn makes it genuinely
unpredictable. Not in the way that a well-crafted plot is unpredictable
but in the way that life is, with an electric excitement; the feeling that anything can happen next.
I'm a fan of big-budget extravagances. No questions.
But it's kind of awesome to see that you don't need 55 nights of shooting
or 55 superheroes to achieve a thrilling piece of action filmmaking. All you need is a respect for violence,
cinematography with purpose and a vice grip on tone.
Oh and Jessie Giacomazzi
Hey everybody, thank you so much for watching. Sorry about the clickbait, but I just I wanted to do a cool surprise
So hopefully you were. This episode was brought to you by Squarespace
If you want to make a website and you want that process to be just super simple Squarespace has some beautiful
Award-winning designer templates to choose from. It basically does it all for you. It's got 24-hour customer service. No upgrades, nothing to install
No patches ever and picking your domain name is really easy, too
You can start your free trial at squarespace.com. And if you use the offer code nerdwriter, you can get 10% off your first purchase
Before I go I have to shout out my best friend in the world Steven Fine who just completed his very first feature film
Love Shot. It's a low-budget independent movie about a hitman who falls in love with one of his targets. It's funny
It's well acted, it's well directed
It's a love letter to the genre and I am so proud of him for completing this really huge project
It takes a lot of spirit and grit and love to create something from scratch and see it through to the end.
All I want from my friends is for them to succeed and inspire me and you did it, Steven. Really.
I love you, man and if I can't shout out my best friends on here, then what's the point ?
Check out Steven's movie on iTunes or on any one of the links that I'll leave below in the description
Congratulations again, buddy. It's an awesome achievement.
That was.... a great job with the bibimbap.