Yesterday I was scanning the selection at my local DVD shop here in Phnom Penh when I spotted Boiling Point, an early nineties Wesley Snipe/Dennis Hopper police thriller that I saw sometime in high school, forgot had ever existed, only to have it reappear in my life here, now, in Cambodia.
Not that this is rare. There are always movies that you've forgotten you've seen, or aren't sure that you've seen, or are pretty sure that you've seen, but you could be wrong.
I guess I didn't like the movie all that much, as I can only remember a few stray images. I like Wesley Snipes more as an actor than an action star; he was great in Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever and The Waterdance and One Night Stand. (Shameless name dropping moment: I actually got Snipes' autograph at the Toronto Film Festival Screening of One Night Stand in the mid-nineties. Snipes was sitting a few rows back from me during the screening at the now sadly defunct Uptown Theatre, and as soon as the lights went up I high-tailed it over to his row and asked for his John Hancock. At that same moment, Roger Ebert said hello to Snipes, asked if he was still living in Chicago, congratulated him on the movie. So Ebert stole my moment with Snipes, is what I'm getting at...)
And yet, seeing that DVD cover last night, of a movie I can scarcely recall, brought about a brief, almost crystalline moment of sadness into being.
Why? Because it reminds me of how much we forget; sometimes I think we forget most of our lives, if not all of them.
I probably saw that movie in Grade 11, 12. (I seem to have vague memories of me watching it in the Pendale Cinemas; I almost always remember which theatre I saw which movie in, a weird quirk of mine.) Me and my friends used to go to the movies every Friday night, usually catching a 7 o'clock and 9 o'clock show. I would have seen the ad for Boiling Point in the newspaper, chatted with my friends, decided to catch it as either the first feature of the night, or the last. I probably went for a run after school. I might have been the one to drive that night, or maybe my friend Eric, or Greg; we usually took turns. We probably went to Mickey Dee's, or grabbed a pizza. It might have been a cold night in February, or a warm spring evening in late April. I probably had to work the next day, stacking books at the downtown library. I might have jotted a few thoughts about the movie somewhere in a journal of mine.
I don't know.
This is all speculation.
That night is lost. I know I saw the movie; I know that, for a few hours at least, my life intersected with the life of the movie. That movie dictated, to a small extent, a night in my life. Just one night, true, but still. The only thing I can recollect from that point in time is this movie, the fact that I saw it.
Everything else from that night is gone.
That's the way it has to be, I guess. We can't hold on to everything, right?
But still. Sometimes I like to think that the memories of that night, the details of that night, are hidden elsewhere, in some neighboring dimension, like stubborn, abandoned children that refuse to believe that they are orphans. Stored away by some unseen God from the indifferent, prying fingers of time and age and distance. Waiting for the perfect chance to discard their celestial camoflauge and reveal themselves in one shining, almost blinding blast of concentrated, enduring nostalgia.