Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Prairie Home Companion

Did anybody outside of Minnesota see the Prairie Home Companion movie? It's kind of a Minnesota thing. One of my best friends at work was a writer for the radio show. I actually came this close to meeting Garrison Keillor at the Minnesota State Fair a couple of years ago. He was just walking down the main concourse, eating a corn dog. Being a good Minnesotan, I didn't ask for his autograph. Just looked at my shoes and pretended I hadn't seen him. If you're a Minnesotan, you almost had to see the film just to catch a view of downtown St. Paul on the big screen, and to watch big name actors like Meryl Streep, Lilly Tomlin, and Woody Harrelson faking Minnesota accents.

This film, mostly boring and pointless and with virtually no plot, does have its moments. Garrison Keillor plays himself, kind of a self-centered, long-winded, emotionally retarded jerk, who spouts on about the Minnesota values of doing one's duty and not making a fuss, and accepting the inevitability of all endings, including death. At one point in the film, GK reminds the viewers:

We are not a sunshiny people. We are not a paradise people or a beach people. We are a dark people. People who believe it could be worse. And we're waiting for it to become worse. We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle. And if you should ever feel really happy, be patient. This will pass.

But if I've watched the film more than once, it's because it is also about the transcendence of love. The Angel of Death (played by Virginia Madsen) is a buxom blonde. "Her hair," says Guy Noir (Kevin Kline), "was what God had in mind when he said, 'Let there be hair....' She was wearing a white trench coat so white that rain would be embarrassed to fall on it. The skirt she was wearing was so tight you could read the embroidery on her underwear. It said, 'Wash in lukewarm water, and spin lightly....' She had a Mount Rushmore t-shirt on, and those guys never looked so good, especially Jefferson and Lincoln. Kinda bloated but happy.... It was an honor to just sit there and inhale the same air that she had so recently exhaled."

My favorite line in the whole movie comes toward the end, when Guy makes his move on the Angel. "Listen," he asks in a sultry voice, "if you're an angel, I wonder if you and me were to, uh, you know... Would you feel anything?"

She thinks about it for a moment, and then says radiantly, "I would feel love."

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