Killer of Sheep – 1979 – dir. Charles Burnett
Of all the master storytelling, truthfulness, and beauty packed into Charles Burnett’s 1979 Killer of Sheep, my favorite scene is the trip to buy a car motor.
From the beginning of the scene, as Stan (Henry G. Sanders) and Bracy (Charles Bracy) park their rusted-out pickup truck in front of the house where the sellers are, the venture seems doomed to fail. Maybe I hear something in the ice cream truck music that accompanies their approach, or see something in the pitch of the hill where they park, or maybe I’m disappointed in the way they quickly talk about how to handle the negotiation by splitting up the money; however you slice it, the scene exudes a certain notion—albeit a calm one—that the plan just isn’t going to work out for Stan and Bracy.