Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Harmonic convergence

Ereck and I caught up with the Coen brothers comedy Intolerable Cruelty at the cheap cinema the other night, and I remembered why the cheap cinema is cheap: this was one beat-up print. It looked okay, but the sound was dismal. This became apparent during the visually arresting credit sequence, under which Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" plays. I take very few things in life utterly seriously, but that recording of "Suspicious Minds" is one of them, and I was disappointed to hear the song mangled so badly.

That said, the soundtrack featured one of the most wondrous things I have heard in many a moon. Let me say that I'm always grateful when a film shows me something I have never seen before. That's especially true of good films like Intolerable Cruelty but also applies to bad films. Case in point: last year I reviewed the Samuel L. Jackson film No Good Deed and found it dreadful, but the sight of Milla Jovovich playing the cello momentarily took my breath away.

Well, when I was watching Intolerable Cruelty, I had the unusual filmgoing experience of hearing something I've never heard before. Halfway through the movie there is a scene set in Vegas in which two characters marry in a Scots-themed wedding chapel. The scene ends with a woman playing the Simon and Garfunkle classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on bagpipes. Only a brief portion of the song is heard, and the incongruous pairing of song and instrument seems mostly intended as a sick joke. But it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. I'm getting a little misty just thinking about it.

I should reveal, without shame, that I'm a sucker for bagpipes, the most misunderstood instrument this side of the accordion. My love for the pipes almost certainly is a product of my Scottishness, several generations removed from the heather but, I like to think, never very far from it.

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