' Cinema Romantico: Free Versing On The Myth of Fingerprints

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Free Versing On The Myth of Fingerprints

Yesterday was "The Myth of Fingerprints" day - that is, I indulge in my once-a-year viewing of one of my Top 5 Favorite Movies (confession: I watched it twice this year, the other time being after Roy Scheider, one of the film's stars, passed away in February). I could have put up the traditional posting (you can read it here), followed by my friend Brad's traditional disparaging comment, but I chose to instead indulge in my annual viewing, always the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and then discuss it. This is by no means a standard review, this is just me going into free verse mode, writing out loud, getting all self-reflective and a bit hyperbolic (who, me?). So consider yourself warned with extreme prejudice.

I really would place this film as #3 on my all-time favorites list. It shares something in common with the two above it (you know them) in so much as it came out of nowhere. I didn't expect it. But I needed it. I needed it at that precise moment. Even though I didn't know it. I was unable to see "The Myth of Fingerprints" in the theater and instead saw it on the Sundance Channel when I lived in the townhouse in Urbandale. As I sipped a scotch in the complete silence of my apartment after the credits had finished rolling last night I tried to recall what my life was like at the time of my first viewing.

I was (thankfully) about to finish my tour of duty managing the movie theater at which point I took a couple months away from the working man's world to crash at my friends' places in Cedar Falls and Iowa City. I was still hung up on a young lady I had only met once whose name I now refrain from saying out loud. I was about to start a new tour of duty at the ad agency and live in a house where the TV was constantly tuned to the WWF (not by my hand, believe me). Never at any point in my life have I listened to more Springsteen, if that tells you anything. Yeah, I was a confused soul.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still confused. I think I'll be confused for the rest of my life. Confusion is part of my nature. But it won't be that sort of confusion. In fact, confused isn't the right word. I was lost. I had no clue. Didn't have a clue about what? Anything. Everything. I was unsure. You live with yourself every day, right? You reach a point where you start to get a little sick of living with yourself, right? Don't bullshit me. It happens to all of us. It was happening to me. And then the Sundance Channel was showing this movie with a family getting together for Thanksgiving that seemed to have the same issues.

This guy Warren (Noah Wyle) was still hung up on a girl that he hadn't seen in years. He was quiet, reserved, spending most of the film acting like his "usual insecure, depressed self". He evades confrontation. He finds himself sleeping alone while everyone else in the family has sex all around him (which is 100% exactly like a New Year's Eve I once experienced when shortly after midnight struck everyone dashed off to different bedrooms to have sex while I sat alone on the couch). His brother gives a speech about how you can't be filled with such overwhelming passion and emotion all the time because it's "not healthy" and and Warren simply replies, "It doesn't work that way." (When I finally forced my mom to watch the movie it was after that line she said aloud, "Oh. He's you.")

The brother Jake (Michael Vartan) was dating this woman Margaret (Hope Davis) and she obviously loved him (and she's also so happy and open and inquisitive and talkative all the damn time - so not a part of this family) but he wasn't sure if he loved her and it wasn't necessarily that he didn't love her, because maybe he did, but because he wanted to push her away because he loved her and she loved him and the whole thing just smelled so strongly of perhaps my greatest obsession - unrequited love.

This woman Mia (Julianne Moore) seemed generally unpleased but maybe it was less that and more that she was so intensely private that it came off as unpleased and, plus, how could I not love someone who gets so obsessed with a piece of art - a fictional book entitled "The Scream of the Rabbits". (When her boyfriend asks "What's the plan for today?" and, so annoyed, she replies "Can we just relax and not make a schedule?" my heart melts.)

This sister (Laurel Holloman) was so young and so hopeful and so happy and so untainted and, damn it, I remembered being like that when I was younger. Not that long ago, in fact. During my brief stint in college I felt a lot like that.

This dad (Scheider) was clearly flawed but, I had to admit, there were a couple things we had in common. 1.) He dug alone time, so much to the point that he lied about going hunting for a turkey to get away from everyone. (My friend Ashley's dad is notorious for mysteriously disappearing from rooms without anyone noticing. I think Roy Scheider's character in this movie would totally be capable of that, and I hope if I'm ever a dad I'll be able to do it too.) 2.) He has a hankering to live at certain points in the past. He's too nostalgic. And when you see him watching the old family videos near the end of the movie, a sad smile on his face, you can truly see it.

The mom (Blythe Danner) wasn't quite like me, but that's what was so perfect about it. I have friends and family who try to pull me out and get me involved and get on my case when I'm being too withdrawn or whining too much about a girl I haven't seen in however many years. She felt like all of them. Unconditional love. I have a nasty of habit sometimes of not communicating as often as I should with the people I love, and I do still love them, and they still seem to love me, and I'm so eternally thankful for it.

This family wasn't my family - not even close - but almost all of these characters were pieces of me. "Last of the Mohicans" came along and helped set the tone for my life in many ways. "Million Dollar Baby" came along when I was very despondent in both my desire to write and movies in general. "The Myth of Fingerprints" came along when I felt like I was starting to get tired of being me.

"There's no point to good memories," says Mia. "They remind you of who you were." "No," corrects her mother, "they remind you of who you are." This movie isn't who I was. It's who I am. It's who I'll be always. God help me, I'm thankful to be who I am, flaws and all. "The Myth of Fingerprints" reminds me of that every single year.

1 comment:

Wretched Genius said...

Myth of Fingerprints is terrible. Most pretentious movie ever. Yadda yadda yadda.

You know how it goes.