Those indescribable moments onscreen

13 June 2011

I started out to talk about the use of Dinah Washington’s wonderful song, “This Bitter Earth,” in Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977) — but wound up watching this scene. The film as a whole feels, on first viewing, perhaps like a pastiche of scenes from a working-class Black neighborhood in LA until it somehow coheres into something inexplicably grand such that it draws tears to your eyes. In this scene, a wife (Kaycee Moore) gets ready for a date with her husband, while their little girl (Angela Burnett) sings along with the radio and plays with a doll. It’s so simple, so perfect.

That little girl’s unself-consciousness, her gazing at the doll … and her mother’s utter self-consciousness in applying the makeup, putting on the dress. How perfect.

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3 Responses to “Those indescribable moments onscreen”

  1. Hattie Says:

    It’s like living someone else’s life for a few moments. I guess this is one of the attractions of film.

  2. Didion Says:

    I’ve just come across a lovely description from James, the Albuquerque blogger at the ABQ AV Club, who writes: “To watch a man and his wife slow-dance to Dinah Washington singing “This Bitter Earth” is to witness time standing still, with molecules fizzing into the ether like soda-pop bubbles.”


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