' Cinema Romantico: My Favorite Shot Of 2014

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

My Favorite Shot Of 2014

Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) has retired to the roof of his Reykjavik hotel at the dawn of the evening for a little R&R with a rolled cigarette in his hand containing a substance a little more, shall we say, potent than mere tobacco. The sky spread out before him and the city skyline below sparkle and though "Land Ho!" does not possess texture-o-vision, directors Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens and cinematographer Andrew Reed nonetheless elicit the sensation of stepping into the freezing cold after breathing the same dead air all day and letting the chill rehabilitate your physical being and state of mind. Then, elegantly, the shot dissolves, and as it does, Mitch dissolves into his surroundings.

This is my favorite shot of the year.


When I was a kid I loved vacations and, yet, I could never wait to get home. Not home as in "Iowa" so much as the actual physical edifice of my home. Look, family vacations were often wonderful. Thunderstorms in Colorado Springs and staged melodramas in Dodge City and BBQ in Arkansas, etc., but as a kid you’re like Dorothy Gale and to Dorothy Gale, of course, there was no place like home. And so every single family vacation I remember those final stretches of I-80 and/or I-35 and craving my room and my Tribe Called Quest and Debbie Gibson cassette tapes. This feeling has faded in adulthood. It’s not that I don’t like my home in Chicago, I do, but that my world is so much bigger than my little Nebraska Football-paraphernalia-ensconced bedroom and my problems run deeper and and so I want these emotional and spiritual retreats to count.

This is what Mitch and his fellow road-trip companion, Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), are attempting to do throughout "Land Ho!" They are, to quote the immortal Jack Dawson, making it count. They are trying to dissuade themselves of that dreaded "sunday morning attitude." They are trying to dig beneath the layer of the drudgery of real life and find that divine spirit pulsating just beneath. They are trying to nourish their wounded souls and weary bodies with the restorative, cleansing power of the physical trek as Analēptikós, the greek god of vacation, originally intended.

In that moment, in that shot, the transient nature of the get-away gives way, and Mitch and the place become one.

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