short thoughts (not cuts)
February 1, 2007
i caught Altman’s “Nashville” at the Brattle tonight. it’s the second time i’ve seen the movie in the past six weeks, and I’m once again floored by the movie. i probably liked it even more this time. it’s definitely a movie that bears repeat viewings, but even more than that there’s just something magical about the theater experience. i’m pretty sure it’s the captivity. we have to watch, and so we do. we can experience characters’ silence as a true sensory deprivation, and not as an excuse to check our email or eat sunflower seeds (rightfully not sold at cinemas). but it’s also group captivity. the whole theater is forced into the experience together, and we feed off of each other. laughter breeds more laughter. i didn’t realize how funny “Nashville” was until tonight when the crowd clued me in. movies used to be more languid, which can be a real problem for modern viewers who expect constant action, yet this relaxed nature isn’t a problem in the theater. seeing everything larger than life, simultaneously alone and with your peers, focuses you. you adjust to the movie’s pace rather than force it to adjust to yours.
i was going to make a point about a certain word used in the film, but I don’t want to tag this post **Spoiler Alert**, so instead i’m going to look at the word “hobnob,” which is used (emphatically) in “Nashville.” “hobnob” means to associate on friendly terms. the word comes to us from drinking. there was a popular toast “hob or nob,” meaning “to have or have not.”
hobnob frequently has the idea of associating with someone of a higher status. here are two quotes from dictionary.com which made hobnob the word of the day in September of 2002 (bested again!): “Mr. Pinsky recited poetry to kids, schmoozed with literati, hobnobbed with Washington pols and put his bully pulpit of poetry to work in the service of verse.”; and “Charlie joined the elite Tanana Men’s Club, and he hobnobbed with lawyers and bankers.” Pinsky schmoozes with the literati because their his equals (and maybe all jews), but hobnobs with his betters in washington. likewise, one joins private clubs to be graced by their social betters, and not for a silly thing like tennis.