' Cinema Romantico: A Scene For New Year's Eve

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Scene For New Year's Eve

Ludicrous: "Amusing or laughable through obvious absurdity, incongruity, exaggeration, or eccentricity."

Poignant: "Affecting or moving the emotions."

The film: "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994). The setting: New Year's Eve 1958 at Ann's 440, the beatnik bar mentioned earlier by Jennifer Jason Leigh's Pulitzer Prize winning reporter where she goes every December 31st for a poetry marathon, a place where the people "don't quite fit in." We see the Beatnik Barman (Steve Buscemi) talking on the phone.


Beatnik Barman: "Yeah, he's a tall guy. A real mess...Look, you better get down here. He says he's a friend of yours...He didn't say. But, man, is he from Squaresville."

He hangs up the phone and trudges back to his post where our protagonist, a sloshed Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins), sits, alone and unpleased.

Norville: "I want a martini! It's New Year's Eve. I deserve a martini."
Beatnik Barman: "It's like I've been telling you-"
Norville: "I thought you served misfits here!"
Beatnik Barman: "Yeah, daddy, that's a roger. But we don't sell alcohol."
Norville: "What kind of bar doesn't serve martinis?"
Beatnik Barman: "It's a juice-and-coffee bar, man, like I've been telling you."
Norville: "Right. So, I want....a martini. I've had a martini in every bar
on the way down here."
Beatnik Barman: "Martinis are for squares, man."
Norville: "What'd you call me, you beatnik son of a..."

Norville stands, intending to land a haymaker to the Beatnik Barman, but stumbling and bumbling about instead. Then Amy Archer (Leigh), forlorn, makes her entrance, putting an arm around Norville and guiding him back to his stool. Norville, considering one of the reasons for his sloshed-ness is Amy Archer's betrayal of his trust in how she wormed her way into his inner circle at Hudsucker Industries while posing as a secretary so she could write a story exposing his "imbecil(ity)", is not pleased.

Norville: "Look who's here. Amy Archer. Prizeter Pule winner. Looking for a nitwit to buy you lunch? Bar fella, I'd like....a martini, please."
Amy: "I tried to tell you so many times. It's hard to admit when you've been wrong. If you could just find it in your heart to give me another chance.
Norville: "You take no prisoners, give no second chances."
Amy: "Please, Norville! Please give me one more chance! And yourself, too! We both deserve one. Just give us a second chance. Together we can fight this thing. I know the last story was a lie and we can prove it. Release a statement! I can help you write it!"
Norville: "What's the difference? I'm all washed up. Extinct. Homo sapiens sapicus."

Leigh's following line reading is the sort of thing that makes me laugh harder than any Adam Sandler comedy ever has or could ever hope to.

Amy: "Well, that just about does it. I've seen Norville Barnes, the young man in a big hurry. And I've seen Norville Barnes, the self-important heel. But I've never seen Norville Barnes, the quitter....and I don't like it."

And now Amy Archer remembers something, something from earlier, a situation wherein she masqueraded as being from Norville's hometown of Muncie, Indiana to assist her ruse and so returns to it in a moment that is like Tom Joad's big speech in "Grapes Of Wrath" tossed in a martini shaker with Owen Wilson.

Amy: "You can't surrender, Norville. Remember: 'Fight on, Fight on, dear old Muncie. Fight on, hoist the gold and blue. You'll be tattered, torn and hurting. Once the Munce is done with you. Go....Eagles.'"


Amy stands and tries to sing with more conviction.

Amy: "'Fight on, Fight on, dear old Muncie. Fight on, hoist the gold and blue."

But Norville is having none of it. He returns to his feet and stumbles toward the door, turning, and unleashing, despite having won an Oscar for "Mystic River", despite starring in IMDB's #1 movie, the greatest Robbins Line of 'em all.

Norville: "You lied to me. How could you lie to me? You...a Muncie girl."

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