Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pleasant surprises

Warning: The following post contains minor spoilers about
The Town. You may choose not to paahhtake in this one if you haven't seen it.

I finally saw The Town on Sunday afternoon, and almost everything about it was a pleasant surprise. I mean, I knew it was supposed to be good, but I actually think it was better than I thought it was going to be.

But there was one thing in particular about it that really tickled me -- and I had no idea how I couldn't have known it was going to happen.

First things first. I'm a Boston Red Sox fan. Have been officially for 24 years, ever since I got anointed by fire during the 1986 playoff run, which ended in such crushing misery for Boston fans. After that, there was no going back. I was hooked.

The intensity of my feelings has died down some in recent years, which, when you're someone like me, is an inevitable part of your team winning two championships. I describe myself as a "sports socialist," which means I like to see different teams win championships, giving different fan bases something to cheer about. So when the Red Sox ended their famous 86-year drought without a championship in 2004, and especially when they won another in 2007, I hardly felt it was fair that I kept on requiring them to win championships. I'd had my share of good fortune. So inevitably, until my appetite really builds up again, I have been following the team with a little less urgency. Most sports fans would recognize a direct correlation between your hunger for a championship and the amount you parse the day-to-day fortunes of a baseball team.

This is my only explanation for how I couldn't have known that the final heist in The Town was going to take place in Fenway Park, the nearly hundred-year-old home to the Red Sox.

It's presented perfectly in the movie -- hinted at, then grandly revealed in the form of one of many glorious helicopter shots over the city of Boston, this one directly over Fenway Paahhk. That grand reveal gave me goosebumps -- is actually giving me goosebumps now as I write this.

But I don't think it should have, because I should have known that this was coming. It should have entered my consciousness through the Red Sox zeitgeist, either on Facebook through someone posting about it, or through a story on, or some other way. At the very least, one of my friends who's seen it should have leaked it to me.

But no one did. And so, when that helicopter shot swooped in on the park, and Doug (Ben Affleck) and Jem (Jeremy Renner) case the joint from one of Fenway's most elevated perches, during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, I was hit with a rush of exhilaration.

I don't have any other point than to say that it's just nice to recognize moments when good secrets remain secrets in the movies. Especially when the secrets seem so unlikely to stay secret. Not only has this movie been out a month, and not only do I know a lot of people who have already seen it, but it also has to do with my favorite sports team, the Red Sox. The team who, because of a wonderful moment exactly six years ago today, in which they finished the unprecedented comeback from three games down to beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS, proceeding to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, has allowed me the luxury to not know every little detail about them, and therefore, to be surprised by this scene in The Town.

And how do I know it was exactly six years ago? Because today is my birthday, and six years ago, they gave me the best birthday present a fan could ever ask for.

It's the same birthday present I'm hoping to get today, when the Texas Rangers play these Yankees with a chance to move on to the World Series themselves. (See, it's almost as fun to root against the Yankees as it is to root for the Red Sox.) Texas had never won a playoff series in its 50-year history until last week, so winning the World Series this year would be aces in the book of a sports socialist like me. Let those Dallas-area fans, conservative though they may be, whoop it up a little bit. Especially if it's at the expense of the hated Yankees.

Besides, the Rangers also wear red. So if I squint, I can pretend it's my team out there, giving the Yankees the whupping they so richly deserve.

That's a sentiment with which The Town's director, Ben Affleck, who's making a quick ascent in the directorial ranks, can sympathize.

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