Here’s an awesome scene from an awesome movie: Heat.
When Robert De Niro’s character is in the book store reading a book, he steps forward to get out of the way of his future love interest as she walks behind him. That’s it. That’s the scene. But here’s why it’s so awesome.
The book, we later find out, is a book about stress fractures in titanium (or some other metal, can’t remember). Hardly easy reading and certainly something one does not merely skim through before buying, since technical texts are usually very specialized and expensive.
Watching the scene again you can see that De Niro’s character is absorbed by the material, yet is still aware of his surroundings, as evidenced by his moving out of the way for the lady without looking up from the book.
Why is this understated scene so awesome then? Because this scene illustrates the character’s way of life, and way of looking at life, is so ingrained into him, that he is never truly in a relaxed state, ready to run if he ever feels the heat.
And, it does that in 3 seconds, with no dialogue.