06 January 2009

Ode to McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Upon seeing McCabe & Mrs. Miller for the third time a couple of weeks ago (it makes for a nice anti-holiday screening), I became convinced that it is my favorite film. "Favorite film" is a loosely-defined term, even when I am the one defining it, so this isn't an entirely significant change. I am not even sure what McCabe & Mrs. Miller is replacing from the number one spot: I usually say Seven Samurai is my favorite film, sometimes I say 8 1/2 or Annie Hall; every now and then I will say Ran to sound profound. But none of those really convinced me. In any case, the third screening of Altman's film, which was shown for a few friends, allowed me the pleasure of deeper immersion into the film in terms of understanding as well as the reflected enjoyment given to me from those others watching it for the first time. I want to write something significant about McCabe & Mrs. Miller - about Cohen's songs, about the widescreen composition, about obscured vision and sound, about the inability to connect, about the inversion of the Western genre, about Warren Beatty, about loneliness - but I don't think any type of academic analysis would express my love for this film properly. Here instead I have a crude poem dedicated to my favorite film, which I hope reaches whatever cinematic cloud of heaven on which Altman is directing the overlapping dialogue of angels.


McCabe
& Mrs. Miller

Presbyterian Church is an elegy
to the West -- a deathbed
of snow and loneliness where
men talk under their breath
to no one in particular,
asking for a drink or
maybe some love.

He sits and wipes his hat,
flashes the smile of a stranger
while he deals out hands
some hope to win, though
everyone loses.

And she loves him
like some feverish dream,
but cannot show it,
not even to herself;

And he loves her,
the funny thing,
but can't say
how or why.

So faceless men chase him
in the bluewhite death
of a landscape that is his
to walk alone,
wherein his last goodbye
is made to a yellow orb
floating in a glass of whiskey.

For she is staring at the surface
of some false egg
on which she dances with him
and is only then able
to smile and say:
I need you,
goddammit.

3 comments:

James said...

This Altman western is one of my favorite westerns and one of my favorite films of Mr. Altman. AS a young man, Altman was the beacon my film friends and I made our way to. It's sadness is enveloping and it says a lot about how human beings never say what they want to until its too later or never.

It even drove you to poetry.

Better you express yourself in other ways about something you love so much instead of in a dry academic manner. Academia destroys the urge for raw emotion and it frowns on passion.

THE FUTURIST! said...

THE FUTURIST! has, according to his therapist Dr. Davey (the youngest psychologist on the East Coast), a fear of dying in the snow. He dreams of it regularly.

pat! said...

endless thanks for showing this movie. it felt like a sneak peek into a very alive parallel universe. that last shot will break my heart over and over again. and i like your poem.

thanks for also showing TWO-LANE BLACKTOP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IZPYYDuHXg&feature=channel

we need to continue movie night in case there is another goldmine of a movie that will give meaning to my life lol