Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hurray for Hollywood

Movies have always been a big part of my life. From the time I was a child, my parents took my brother and me to the theater. The house I grew up in didn't have air conditioning, and when it got hot in the summer, we spent a lot of lazy afternoons in the cool confines of our local movie house. As I grew up, my love of film remained. I could fall into the story and lose myself in it. Movies were magic.

Some of the wonder I felt as a child is gone, but there are movies I still fall in love with. There are some that enchant me from beginning to end and can watch over and over. Others have an element or two in them that intrigues or excites me. And yet others are wonderful movies that I'm glad I saw once, but have no desire to ever see again.

Platoon falls into the last category. It was an intense story, so intense that I couldn't take the stress--not nonstop--and I'd find myself flipping away from the movie and then going back to it when I thought I could handle it again. I'm kind of a wimp!

Titanic, the last movie I've seen in the theater, is another one of these watch once films. I tried to see it again because I did like it a lot, but it just didn't hold my attention the way it did the first time. Same with Dances With Wolves.

Then there are the movies that I could sit through every time they were on and never lose interest. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This movie has more quotable lines than any other I've ever seen. :-) Of course, I loved the Python show when I saw the reruns as a teenager, so it might be an acquired taste.

Speed and The Terminator both combine great action with a romance. What can be more romantic than a man who fell in love with a picture and travels across time to save you? (Terminator) Or a man who'll put his own life at risk to save you? (Speed)

My guilty pleasure movie is Valley Girl. I know, you're rolling your eyes and going, "Valley Girl?" But if you can totally, you know, like get past the slang, it's a sweet romance between a rich girl and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. And the movie has one of my favorite lines ever. Our heroine tells her dad she has a problem (meaning being torn between the popular guy who's after her and the punker boy she likes), but before she can explain what it is, he says: "Take it back and get the more expensive one. You know the more expensive ones always fit better."

Sometimes, though, it's just one element of a movie that intrigues me and leaves me so excited, I want to see it again and again. It happened recently when I saw Sliding Doors. In this film, our heroine's life diverges on two separate time lines. In one, she makes the train and arrives home to catch her live-in boyfriend in bed with his ex-lover. In the second, she misses the train and is none the wiser. I found the whole premise fascinating and I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Haven't we all wondered "What if?" What if I'd changed my major in college? What if I'd said yes to the guy that asked me to have coffee with him instead of hurrying to catch the bus? What if I'd gotten a call from the ad agency in Chicago before I agreed to work for the airline? And this movie doesn't even take a huge event like one of these scenarios. It looks at something small. How would your life be different if you missed the train? Wow! I still find myself intrigued by the idea that something so tiny can have such a profound ripple. Would we even realize that in our own lives?

The film I watched last night was Stranger Than Fiction and it had me wondering and thinking, too. In this movie, a man hears someone narrating his life and it turns out that he's a character in this author's book and she's going to kill him off! Can he stop her before it happens? Talk about totally intriguing! Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I was rapt for the length of the picture. This is a story I'll be thinking about for a long time to come.

What movies attract and hold your attention? What's your guilty pleasure movie? What movie did you think you should have loved, but didn't? (Mine was Shakespeare In Love) Do you have a film that had an element that kept you thinking about it after the movie was over? If you could only choose three movies to watch and you'd never see another, which three would you choose?

Patti O'Shea
www.pattioshea.com
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In the Midnight Hour -- August 2007

20 comments:

Robin Snodgrass said...

My guilty pleasures movies are: "Babycakes" which was a cheesy tv movie starring Ricki Lake as a fat girl who gets the cute guy; and, "The Night Before" starring Keanu Reeves as a guy who winds up taking the most popular girl to the prom because she lost a bet - only they never make it to the prom because they get lost and he sells her to a pimp (the main part of the movie is him trying to get her back once he realizes what he's done).
The movie that everyone seems to love and I absolutely hated was "Dances with Wolves". Every time I thought nothing worse could happen to this man, something did. It was SO depressing to me.
A movie that I liked that I never expected to like was "Butterfly Effect" starring Ashton Kutcher. This movie had an element to the story that stuck with me - much like Ms. O'Shea's talked about how one small change could affect a life. Butterfly Effect dealth with this several times over and how things changed in not only the main character's life but those people around him.
There are several movies that I can watch over and over: Dirty Dancing, A Walk In The Clouds, Bed of Roses, Ultraviolet, Tremors (yes, another cheesy movie), and Big Trouble in Little China.
I guess if I could only pick 3 movies, they would have to come from the ones I've named here - most likely, The Night Before, Tremors, and Ultraviolet - comedy with a bit of romance, straight comedy and a bit of drama with lots of violence...covers a lot of bases with those three...lol

Sierra Donovan said...

My dh and I watch a lot of movies together, and there are many we return to again and again. A few of the all-time best: CASABLANCA, THE KING AND I, NOTORIOUS, CAMELOT and RETURN TO ME (my vote for the best romantic comedy of the last 10 years). Oh, and just about anything by Hitchcock.

It's not a guilty pleasure because it's SO good, but for sheer re-watchable fun, GALAXY QUEST is way up there.

GHOST disappointed me greatly. I thought I was going to see a paranormal love story that I'd be jealous that I didn't write ... it was fun, but it never felt "real" to me.

I like movies where someone becomes a better person, or gets more than what they originally thought they wanted. Musicals have a great ability to resonate because the songs stay in your head and bring all that emotion back!

Never see another movie? Gulp -- I don't think I can answer that one!

Sierra

Dr. Bill Emener said...

As Good as it Gets, Bird Cage, and Casablanca for sure would be on my list.
Play it again, Sam...
Bill

Patti O'Shea said...

Robin,

I liked A Walk in the Clouds. I actually saw that one in the theater. :-) I have Ultraviolet in queue, so it's nice to know it's good.

My three movies would be: Speed, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.

Patti

Patti O'Shea said...

Sierra,

I'm a big fan of musicals too. I love 1776, Guys and Dolls and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Just to name a few.

I like movies where the characters change and grow too. That's one of the reasons why I liked Stranger Than Fiction because Harold (Will Farrell) did change a lot by the end of the show.

Patti

Patti O'Shea said...

Bill,

I haven't seen Casablanca or As Good As it Gets. I'll have to add them to my queue and get caught up. :-)

Patti

Sierra Donovan said...

Patti -- Ooo! Ooo! I saw SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS for the first time at a live show in Oklahoma last summer. Loved it! GUYS AND DOLLS is adorable, too.

Sierra

Robin Snodgrass said...

Patti,
I loved both the Pirates of the Carribean movies! Those are so much fun to watch. Thanks for reminding me.
Hugs, Robin S.

JoAnn Ross said...

Patti,

How could you have lived on this planet and never seen Casablanca?

You must ASAP. It's part of our united cinematic cultural memory, not to mention the mother lode from which so many novel lines are mined. *g*

Samantha Hunter said...

Oh, Stranger that Fiction was wonderful, wasn't it?? Loved that movie, and loved Sliding Doors as well -- have you seen the Lakehouse? Very much like Sliding Doors, thematically.

Guilty Pleasure: Joe vs the Volcano -- it's over the top kitsch, but I love it. Also, My Best Friend's Wedding. :)

Nancy Morse said...

Movies are a big part of my and my husband's lives because he's in the film business. The last good movie I saw was The Queen. A movie I didn't expect to like but actually did was Rocky Balboa. I saw only the first Rocky movie and had no wish to see any of the others, but my dh talked me into seeing this last one. Stallone's performance was surprisingly touching. My all-time favorite movies are Gone With The Wind and the Wizard of Oz. Both 1939 which was a great year for films. I also like Predator (the first one). I've seen it several times and it always gives me the creeps. I agree with Sierra about Ghost but only because I can't stand Demi Moore in anything. And Patti, ditto what JoAnn said about Casablanca. We're talking cinematic history here. They don't make them like that anymore, which leads me to my all-time worst kind of movie - anything with a car chase in it.

Patti O'Shea said...

JoAnn,

I know, it's a disgrace I haven't watched Casablanca. I guess I better add it to my queue.

Patti

Patti O'Shea said...

Samantha,

I saw ads for The Lakehouse and thought it looked really good. Now that I know it's like Sliding Doors, I'm going to have to watch it. Thanks!

Patti

Patti O'Shea said...

Nancy,

I was waffling about seeing The Queen. It looked interesting, but then I thought do I really want to go through the whole Princess Di death again? I'm still not sure about that.

Okay, I'll immediately go to Netflix and add Casablanca. (I do love car chases, though. :-)

Patti

JoAnn Ross said...

Nancy -- Not even the car chase in The French Connection? Or Bullit? The Bourne Identity? Or The Sugerland Express? And, if you haven't seen it, you MUST see Duel, Spielberg's terrifying road rage movie where an 18 wheeler is out to kill poor Dennis Weaver. All you ever see of the truck driver is his arm, but it's sooo frightening!

I have to admit that I love a good car chase so long as it works in the story. As the ones above did. But heck, I'll even watch Grand Theft Auto and Gone in 60 seconds.

Then again, we probably watch 3-4 movies a week, so I'm pretty much a fan of all genres.

Terry Z McDermid said...

Patti,

Your movie choices are so much like mine! I grew up with movie-loving parents -- we drove from Cheyenne to Denver when Sound of Music came out. I really liked the questions raised by Sliding Doors and have watched it several times. And Monty Python and the Holy Grail has to be our favorite family movie. My boys even downloaded the dialogue and recite lines all the time. I once named that as our family movie at a workshop where we to give one title to describe us -- dead silence and then lots of chuckles. Everyone else had been picking cerebral type movies.

To pick three only? Would have to include Pride and Prejudice (the long one, with Colin Firth), The Holy Grail. . . and the third would depend on the day and my mood. Too many choices -- we love movies around here.

JoAnn Ross said...

Oh, I just thought of a movie I sometimes ask about to see if a person and I are "connected." Spinal Tap.

When my landscape designer put a couple standing stones in the planting bed in front of our finally completed porch a couple weeks ago, the first thing I thought of was the miniature Stonehenge from that movie. I tried to expain it to him, but since he'd never seen it, the discussion became pretty much Lost in Translation. LOL

Nancy Morse said...

JoAnn, I have to go back and correct myself. The car chase in the French Connection was something else. And not only did I see Duel, but I also read the story when it was printed in Playboy. But the car chases that you see today are nothing more than exploding pyrotechnics done by special effects people. There's just so many exploding cars that I can watch.

Patti, yes, The Queen is about the death of Princess Diana, but only insofar as how to Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth each wants to handle it. She stubbornly wants it done privately, almost as if it didn't happen. He wants it done publically so that the people can mourn their princess. It may be fiction, but it's fascinating stuff.

Yesterday I watched Memoirs of a Geisha. It was good but, unfortunately, the first part was so dark (night/rain) that you could hardly see anything. I was going to read the book when it came out, but for some reason, I didn't. Now that I've seen the movie, I'm sorry I didn't read the book.

Patti O'Shea said...

Terry,

I don't think there's a scene in Holy Grail that doesn't have great lines to quote. "Your arm's off." "No, it isn't." "Yes, it is. Look, down there." LOL! I can definitely see how you got some strange looks if everyone else was naming serious movies.

Patti

Patti O'Shea said...

Okay, I've added Casablanca, The Lakehouse and The Queen to my queue. Anything else I absolutely have to see?

Patti