' Cinema Romantico: Let's Get Symmetrical

Monday, September 15, 2008

Let's Get Symmetrical

Last week I was watching Monday Night Football at my friend Matt's apartment, sipping on Labatt Blue, one of my two favorite beers in the whole wide world, and after the game ended we decided to throw some "Arrested Development" on the DVD player, and then it started to approach the point when we needed to go to sleep but still wanted to finish the episode we were watching, and Matt said, "Here. Finish this." With that, he handed me the half-full beer he had been drinking which just so happened to be Sierra Nevada, my other favorite beer in the whole wide world. So there I was, with a Labatt Blue in my left hand and a Sierra Nevada in my right hand. I couldn't even take a drink for a couple minutes. I just stared at this strange, wonderous sight. "Matt," I said at least four times, "do you realize I'm double fisting my two favorite beers? This has never happened before!" Glory, glory. Yet, I find it strange that being who I am and knowing how my brain operates that I never thought this momentous moment was, in fact, foreshadowing something else.

This weekend I attended the new Coen Brothers movie (review to come, though let me say I liked it quite a bit) and had to hike through a driving rain to the theater and then through the driving rain to get back home. By the time I reached my apartment, soaked to the bone, I just wanted to flop on the couch, flip on the TV and revel in a nice, hot cup of coffee. And so as I settled in, mug in hand, and perused the cable channels, lo and behold, I found "The Last of the Mohicans", one of my two favorite movies in the whole wide world, showing on channel 141 (Fox Movie Channel). Well, this couldn't be more perfect, I thought.

Oh, except it could. For showing on, I swear, Channel 142 (American Movie Channel) was "Million Dollar Baby", my other favorite movie in the whole wide world. (Ironically, a couple years ago on this very blog I compared "Last of the Mohicans" to Labatt Blue and "Million Dollar Baby" to Sierra Nevada.) I must have sat there for about three minutes just staring at the digital cable channel lineup without selecting one or the other. They're on at the same time, I thought over and over, they're on at the same time. And not just on at the same time but side by side. Was it true? Was this possible?

Oh, it was. Has this ever happened to you? Have your two favorite movies ever been showing simultaneously? I suppose you could hook up two DVD players to two TVs and and have it happen whenever you wanted but, heck, that just seems like cheating. This, though, was the work of the fates, of the movie gods.

You haven't lived - okay, okay, I hadn't lived - until you toggle directly from Hawkeye declaring to a British officer "I don't call myself subject to much at all" to Maggie Fitzgerald declaring "I got nobody but you, Frankie."

Woah, heart palpitations. Let me calm down here.

Okay. I think I'm good. Astute readers may notice the two moments I just mentioned do not line up timewise between the two movies and this is because "Million Dollar Baby" started earlier than "Last of the Mohicans". This is a good thing. If the third acts of these two films were running concurrently....you know what? Let's not discuss what would happen.

Back and forth, forth and back I went, greatness of cinema to greatness of cinema. Alice & Maggie. Hawkeye & Frankie. Uncas & Scrap. Cora & Danger. On & on it went. And as "Million Dollar Baby" concluded with that magnificent voice-over, fading to black, I immediately flipped back to "Last of the Mohicans" and the moment that appeared, without anything in between, I swear to God, was Hawkeye shouting to Cora, "Stay alive! No matter what occurs! I will find you!" From the most shattering, heart-breaking cinematic moment of all time to the most rousing, inspiring, leap-outta'-your-seat-and-take-on-the-whole-world cinematic moment of all time. Mere coincidence? Poppycock.

This, of course, begs the question, what is this foreshadowing? Is it even possible this is foreshadowing something? How can such an event be topped? Will Kate Winslet star in the new Michael Mann movie? Will Tommie Frazier join Bo Pelini at Nebraska as Special Assistant Head Football Coach? Will Lucinda Williams and Neko Case cut an album of duets? Will Sienna Miller join Kylie Minogue onstage for a ceremonial glass of scotch? Who knows? Who cares?

"On the contrary," Cora says of the war she is finally experiencing first hand, "it is more deeply stirring to my blood than any imagining could possibly have been." I'd imagined what happened yesterday. But having it actually happen? I'm with you, Cora. It's more deeply stirring to my blood.

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