Wow. On the heels of last (partly perfect) weekend, what do I find, a week later, at the end of a weekend highlighted by its utter sullen indistinctness? A perfect television moment (a perfect movie moment, actually). Two “perfects” in two weeks. No, my standards haven’t lowered – but perhaps someone is watching over me.
There have been a few perfect movie moments. These moments, consisting of lines or scenes that are much like Yiddish words in their ability to succintly describe a complicated comcept. The moments also manage to have impeccable (usually comic; the few perfect scenes I’ve seen are from comedies) timing, and relay the filmmaker’s beliefs, sense of naughtiness, the thoughts of a character, and so on, in such a funny way – a way that at first can seem alien but one which we realize is perfect once we realize the point of the line or the scene – that the lines or scenes are much like Shakespeare’s words: nothing can ever substitute for reading them the first time. a
A few sample movie lines: “Don’t flinch while I’m talking to you, you speed-trap sheigits!” – State and Main
“I’ll be the victim.” “All your life.” – Addams Family Values
And, a true classic, the “your problem is that you’re beautiful” speech Jack Nicholson gave to Michelle Pfeiffer in Wolf.
A few sample TV lines:
“Get your finger out of there” – Krusty the Klown wind-up doll
“That’s easy to say – you don’t have a hand up your toches!” – Gabbo
“Please rise for the national anthem” – Futurama (actually, the line plus the first few seconds of the national anthem is what makes this one one for the pantheon).
I just was watching “Fever Pitch.” The film came out shortly after – yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause – the Red Sox, down 3 games to 0, won the next 4 games, in 2004, to defeat the Yankees and win the AL Pennant (the Sox then went on to sweep St. Louis and win the World Series, ending the “Curse of the Bambino.”) The movie was filmed as the 2004 season unfolded, so we see the characters – die-hard Red Sox fans – going through the emotional ups and downs that come with being a Red Sox fan – in a way that seems less like an artifice and more like something approaching movie reality.
Jimmy Fallon – the male lead, and a die-hard Sox fan – is, at one point, once he realizes the Red Sox, at best, will win the wild card, is, in one scene, in quite a funk. He’s somewhat drunk, and is incredibly depressed, pissy, out of it, and inconsolable – not in the way real people are, mind you, but I digress.
We see him, at the height of this fit of misery, place a tape into the VCR. What’s on the tape? Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. More specifically – yes, you’ve got it – the Bill Buckner play. The character watches the play several times. A few friends burst in. They realize that his watching the tape is evidence that he’s really in a funk. One friend demands, “Who gave you this tape?” Another, repulsed by what he sees on screen, snaps, “Don’t tell me you have more copies!” Then another chimes in: “Your apartment is now contaminated.” The Fallon character’s response: “Stanley wasn’t covering first base!”
Either you get it or you don’t, I guess – but if you’re as familiar with this particular game as I am (and if you’re a Mets fan), then when you watch this scene, you’ll be watching a perfect moment showing a perfect moment. How much more perfect can you get?