' ' Cinema Romantico: Wait, What Did He Just Say?

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Wait, What Did He Just Say?

One of the best recurring bits of of Hulu’s Steve Martin and John Hoffman-created true crime podcast send-up “Only Murders in the Building” that My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife and I have been enjoying is the obsession nascent podcast host Oliver (Martin Short) has with dips. “Dips can be a meal,” he explains in a line sure to be dutifully recited by fans of the show around veggie platters for years to come. Oliver’s love of dips is on full display in a recent episode set during an NYC blackout. He happens to be at a diner with his two fellow tenants, amateur sleuths and podcast cohosts (Martin and Selena Gomez) when the power goes out and their server, knowing Oliver’s devotion to immersive sauces, gives him all their dips lest they go to waste in a powerless fridge. Oliver accepts, of course, but given his overly dramatic fragility (and bad knees) he abandons them in a stairwell of their apartment building a few floors up when he decides they are too heavy to carry any further. But before he presses on, he suddenly whips back around to face his beloved condiments mini-meals. (All terrible screenshots taken with my phone pointed at the TV.)

“Stay alive!” Oliver lovingly councils the dips, beginning an homage to the famous scene in this blog’s all-time favorite movie “Last of the Mohicans.” “No matter what occurs! I will find you!” 

At which point we cut to a point-of-view shot, the camera drifting toward the bag, not really to suggest the inanimate dips are impossibly in the throes of Madeleine Stowe-ish passion or even might suddenly spring to life but to put a comical point on Oliver’s absurd longing for them. 

“No matter how long it takes,” Oliver finishes, where Short’s expression takes on a true twinge of melancholy. “I will find you.”

It’s been 25 years since I gave a speech to my rhetoric class at the University of Iowa featuring a clip of that scene, though why I included a clip of that scene I cannot for the life of me recall. (Probably I just built the speech around the clip to have an excuse to show it which probably explains why I was not one of Iowa’s most celebrated students.) That means it’s been 30 years since “Last of the Mohicans” has been released. Dropping a “Last of the Mohicans” reference, then, in a 2022 show about a podcast, which wasn’t even a gleam in the eye of early 90s Nick, who would have been so confused to learn about podcasts while listening to Bob Edwards on NPR Morning Edition on his dad’s car radio on the way to basketball practice, would potentially make it seem...dated.

But if the part of “Only Murders in the Building” is about boomers and millennials sort of coming together, it’s notable that the millennial in this case – Gomez’s Mabel – does not ask Oliver what he’s talking about, as if she knows what he’s talking about, as if all these years later “Last of the Mohicans” is what I have long suspected it to be deep down in places I too frequently talk about at parties: timeless. 

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