52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

41. Broadcast News


 
While in previous weeks I’ve tried to express something about the grammar, or the structure, of movies, this post is more narrowly focused--in this case, on a particularly good sentence in a movie full of good sentences. Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) resigns from his news network, partly b/c it’s becoming ever more soullessly corporate, partly because he knows he's lost the heart of Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) to the pretty boy on-air talent, Tom Grunick (William Hurt). Aaron decides to leave D.C. for a job on the West Coast, and when she hears about it, Jane calls him up and greets him, thusly: 
“Bastard! Sneak! Quitter!”
“Speaking!” he replies, cheerfully. She tells him she wants to see him, like right now, and he says he can’t—he’s getting ready to move, he’s got things to take care of, etc., etc. She demands he meet her, and finally he relents, ending the scene with the following exchange:
“Ok, I’ll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time.”
“Ok.” 
This makes us laugh by confirming what we already know about these two: they are best friends. I return to a quotation from Stanley Hauerwas I included in the first movie post I made for this project, here slightly modified (in subject) to apply to Aaron & Jane, as well as to the movie & audience watching it: “What we need to say [relationally] is that the truth is in the details, and it is the details that produce sentences that matter." This sentence (Aaron's sentence) is beautiful because it testifies by its vagueness to the particularity of the friendship we've watched unfold the previous two hours. You'd have to know someone really well to know what he means by "the place near the thing where we went that time." And it's sad because we know it's not enough.

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