Tag: up

The 500 Day Problem

Ok.  I have a bone to pick with Hollywood…Not that anyone will read this post but let me pretend for a second that they will.

In 2009 a little independent movie came out called 500 Days of Summer.  (Spoiler). This little film did something very brave.  They were courageous enough to tell a love story that wasn’t THE love story.  The poster even says

‘This is not a love story.  It is a story about love’

So it tells a story about a couple that needed to be together for a period and then needed to say goodbye.  That was perfect.  It was brilliant.  It was brave.

It was also unique…

It also made 7 times it’s budget and cemented it’s 2 leads as stars, and make no mistake it deserved every penny it made.

Unfortunately there is nothing Hollywood loves more than a cloning device trying madly to duplicate any success- especially one that is 60 million dollars of success.

Here’s the thing.  The reason that ending worked for 500 Days of Summer is that they were legitimately wrong for each other.  It was the happy ending to have the couple split.

Normally that is not what I want out of a romantic plot line in a story.  I can’t believe I actually have to say this out loud but I generally want the couple we are told are going to get together to actually get together!  And it does not make you a better writer or director or producer because you surprise me with a break up or the couple you have been telling me are wrong for each other actually get together.  That is the opposite of what 500 Days of Summer did.

500 Days also made it clear from reel one that this was a different kind of story.

As viewers we are prepared for a non-traditional ending.  In fact, we know that Tom believes when he finds ‘The One’ he will be happy.  That is a pretty clear sign that he probably won’t be and that he’s going to learn a little bit about happiness. So again, as viewers we are prepared for a unique film and if Summer and Tom had gotten together at the end I would have been seriously ticked off.  I would feel cheated.

The writers would have wimped out on their promise from reel one and nothing ticks me off more than that…hmmm I wonder what has happened recently where writers promised one thing on day one and then wimped out on the ending? 😉

It’s not just How I Met Your Mother but I’ve seen it so many times lately.  I was watching TV yesterday and there it was again.  The bittersweet break up.  The writers of that show made us wait 4 months for a couple to get together, gave us 1 episode and then the break up.  I wanted to scream.  Stop it!

Stop leading us to love and then stomping all over it.  Given only 2 romantic comedies came out last year and both were stinkers I’m beginning to wonder if Hollywood knows how to write romance any more?  It’s really not that hard.  Go into a typical bookstore and you will find shelves after shelves of romantic stories.  Why?  Because people like them!  People like me!

The other thing we like is seeing our characters happy.  If you have spent 9 years convincing us a character is bad for another person don’t have them end up together.  We won’t like it….I digress (it’s still tough guys).

I’m actually getting to the point where I resent 500 Days of Summer because I can’t take the copy-cats.  As I said, the characters in 500 were happy in the end.  We want our characters to be happy and most of the time that involves finding true love.  I mean are we so jaded as a culture that we don’t believe in love? We don’t believe everyone can have a great love story?

I mean thank goodness for Frozen.  At least Disney hasn’t lost a happy ending for its heroines but I’m telling you if I see an animated bittersweet ending I think I will scream.

Please take a lesson from 500 Days of Summer and actually give what you say you are going to give.  Actually tell the story you promise to tell and if that naturally ends in your characters falling in love and being happy that’s ok.  That usually happens to most of us, or so I am told…I promise I will not think less of your writing skills because you have the courage to have a happy ending. I promise!

In fact, my favorite movie of all time tells the perfect love story in the first 5 minutes.  It is predictable and sappy but oh how moving.  Life and death can be bittersweet enough on their own.

Just tell the story you have promised to tell.

Ok. Rant done. Do any trends like this make you nuts?

5 Favorite Films

So Rottentomatoes.com has a recurring feature called 5 Favorite Films where various celebrities, mostly actors, give their 5 Favorite films.   (They even had Miss Piggy do a list (Wizard of Oz is I believe a favorite of hers).  It’s harder than it sounds to whittle everything down to 5 films.  I figure it has to be 5 movies I could watch again and again (and have).   There were so many that I wanted to pick like Clueless, Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Fiddler on the Roof, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Hoosiers, Les Miserables, Juno, Talk of the Town, His Girl Friday, Sense and Sensibility but I was good and stuck to 5 so here goes.

1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-You-Are?  You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts.  You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, ‘Ok, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.’ You call yourself a free spirt, a wild thing, and you’re terrified someone’s going to stick you in a cage.  Well, baby you’re already in that cage.  You built it yourself.  And it’s not bound by Tulip, Texas in the west or Somaliland in the east.  It’s wherever you go.  Because no matter where you go, you just keep running into yourself”

– And no, I did not google that quote. It’s one of the few lines of dialogue from a movie that I have memorized (which I think that alone has to put it on the top of my list).  I love this movie if only for that thought.  Wherever you go you eventually have to be happy with yourself.  I love this movie because of the style.  I love the just below the surface sensuality and yet innocent romance.  I love that it’s vintage postcard to New York. I love Moon River and the rest of the music.  I love Audrey Hepburn and I love the idea that nobody is a lost cause when it comes to love.

The only thing I don’t like about this movie (and I almost had to take it off the list for this reason) is Mickey Rooney’s embarrassing performance as a Japanese photographer.

2. Sound of Music

It was tough to decide which musical to pick but I figured I had to pick one of them.  The Sound of Music is definitely the best translation of musical to movie, with the movie actually being superior to the stage production.  Julie Andrews is divine. I could listen to her voice all day.  All the child actors are great and Christopher Plummer is wonderful.  If I made a movie I would want to write a part for him.  He is so good at showing nuance in a character and making someone unlikable have a tender side.

The romance between the Captain and Maria is wonderful and I love the smoldering chemistry in the ‘Something Good’ musical number.  Also, Peggy Wood’s ‘Climb Every Mountain’ is perfect and that’s a hard song to pull off.  I love seeing Salzberg and the thrilling ending at the festival.  My Favorite Things, 16 Going on 17, Do Re Mi, Sound of Music, Problem Like Maria, are all great.

3. Howards End

Maybe my more controversial choice.  A lot of people hate this movie but I loved the book and movie.  It is about a set of educated elite sisters (played by Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter) who come in contact with the traditional elitist Wilcox family who own a house called Howards End.

The movie is partly about human character and how we often try to change people and how that usually leads to disaster but also about how good intentions on the part of all can lead to disaster.  There is also a larger social commentary about class struggles and how finding happiness in assigned class is typically the best kind of happiness.  Especially aspiring higher for others is noble in idea but usually awful in execution.

I love how rich this movie.  You have minor side characters that get a full story arc.  You get to feel the heart of a character like Mr. Wilcox who would normally be nothing more than a stiff aristocrat without feeling.   When Anthony Hopkins breaks down at the ruin of his son you feel wounded along with him.  He is not a bad man but money sometimes makes him appear so to others.

There is also a wonderful undercurrent of forgiveness within the movie.  As all the characters wrong each other in one way or another and all must forgive both the person and the class they come from.  I love the acting, writing, cinematography and story.  Like I said, I love the book and love the movie.

4. Up

Anyone who attended my housewarming party knows I love the movie Up.  It has my favorite opening sequence of any movie bar none.   The love story between Carl and Ellie is beautiful and told completely in an opening montage without any words spoken, just images.  I love that a character who dies in the first 5 minutes can remain an active presence throughout the film.  I love the relationships between other characters like Carl and Russell or even Russell and the animals.

I love the story, as far fetched as it might be I totally bought it as a modern day fairy tale.  I love the spirit of travel, family, friendship and adventure.  I love the end message that life is an adventure no matter where you go.   It is my current favorite movie.

The opening montage: I just watched it for like the 300th time and it made me cry all over again. (and not like a tear drop, no like all out crying.  It just does it to me every time.  I love this movie!)

5. The Little Mermaid

I figured I had to pick one movie that influenced me a child and there is no debate about this.  It is Little Mermaid for sure.  The only other candidate might have been Beauty and the Beast but Little Mermaid came out first so it influenced me earlier.  I LOVED the music.  The idea of the young girl who doesn’t quite fit in totally spoke to me.  My sister and I used to sing ‘Part of Your World’ at night with both of us contending that ‘I sound the most like Ariel’.  (I totally did…).  Jodi Benson is amazing as Ariel’s voice.  She set the standard for Disney animation to come.

It is also funny with Sebastian the crab and Scuttle the bird providing great comic relief.  ‘Les Poissons’ fish stew/crab hunting song being a particular favorite that still makes me laugh.  (I’m sorry if you start that song with any American girl of my age they will join right in).  Ursula is also one of the best villains Disney has ever created.  Sounding like a cigarette smoking grandma her song ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ is definitely one of those most delicious evil songs ever written.  (I love the villain in Tangled also).  She works because she’s plenty scary without being too real for little kids (The Rescuers for instance was a little too real with wicked people kidnapping children…Not exactly something great for most kids to see).

I think it is great that they could make hand drawn animation without 3D and it is as good if not better than most of the animated work put out today with all those helps.  It will always be a favorite movie of mine. It also celebrates the ocean (Maybe that’s where I got my love of the ocean and water!)

Oh and Eric is definitely one of the most dreamy, well developed Prince’s in the Disney cannon.

So there are my 5.  What would you pick?  Please share.

free-summer-movies

UP Housewarming/Birthday Party

So today was the big day!  My ‘Rachel Turns 32 and Gets a House Party’.  My birthday was actually a few weeks ago but I wanted to combine my housewarming and birthday parties into one big bash.  I hired my Dad’s tenant and our friend Dax to come over and assemble furniture, hang artwork and that was such a great move.  It made the house feel really done. Outsourcing is almost always a fabulous idea!

My roommate was a wonderful help with cleaning and organizing for the party and my cousin Danielle came down and got balloons and helped me to clean (she’s the best!).  I was a little worried that the emerging storm might scare people off but luckily there was a steady flow of people from 5 all the way to closing time at 10.

I saw old roommates, ward friends, swim friends, cousins, just good friends.  It made me feel happy that I have such wonderful people in my life.  There were also many who could not come because of illness or other concerns and I could feel their thoughtfulness light up inside of me.  I really do have the best friends ever.

One fun thing is that my curtains got installed today and while I was at Costco getting party trays (yum!) the guy worked on the install so when I came home they were done which was a fun surprise.  They look so good.  I love them!  I just love my house!  It was so fun to share it and maybe show off just a little bit to my friends.  It was a happy moment and I feel full of joy.  I really do love my house!

The party was super fun and I’m so grateful for everyone who came.  The cake turned out amazing!

back of cake.  See swimmer at the bottom. That's me!
back of cake. See swimmer at the bottom. That’s me!
front of cake
front of cake- I couldn’t cut into it but we had a sheet cake for guests.  Will cut into Sunday when my family is town.  Too pretty to eat!

Everything else in the party turned out great.  There was a yummy spread with sandwiches, shrimp and super good strawberries all from Costco.  Seriously the strawberries were delectable.

The party spread!
The party spread!

The favors were really cute from etsy store http://www.etsy.com/shop/JegasCreations.

pin
If you’ve seen the movie Up you should recognize this pin. We also had grape soda to drink.

I made this guest book for the party which I think turned out super cute too.

If you've seen the movie Up you should get this adventure book. Isn't it cute?
If you’ve seen the movie Up you should get this adventure book. Isn’t it cute?

Here are some photos of some of the friends at the party.  There were of course many people I didn’t get photos of.  Thanks to everyone who came!  It’s always so nice to see that old friends are still good friends and that you don’t have to see someone everyday to still be tight.  I am a very loved person.

Emilee and Tiffany
Emilee and Tiffany
Sarah, Megan and Camille
Sarah, Megan and Camille
Anna and Becca
Anna and Becca
Danielle came to help early.  Thanks!
Danielle came to help early. Thanks!
My friend Rachel
My friend Rachel

It’s going to be a party that will be hard to top and while I am exhausted it is a happy kind of tired.  A feeling loved and a sense of satisfaction tired.  Its a job well done and feeling of accomplishment kind of tired.  It’s the end of a journey and the beginning of an adventure. Most importantly I feel so loved.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Best Summer Movies

As the readers of this blog know I am a huge movie buff year-round.  Unfortunately sometimes I grow weary of the blockbuster movies that are usually popular in the summer.  For some reason I don’t usually like super hero movies.  I’ve always prefered characters that I can relate to, even in a complete fantasy.  For instance, Harry Potter may be in a complete fantasy world but his character and skill-set are mostly things I can relate to.   The Incredibles is one of the few super hero movies I like because it moves super heroes into a real world setting and it makes me laugh.  Most super hero movies are very show-offy and just for the fluffy special effects.

Christy Lemire, an AP movie critic I follow, recently posted a list of her top 5 summer movies.  I have to admit I’ve only seen 1 of the movies she lists but I thought the idea was a fun one, especially for me given my usual distaste for summer movies.  I had to make a list of 6 because I just couldn’t leave one off.  So here goes:

1. Up- Up is one of my favorite movies. It is the story of an elderly man that fulfills his dream to go to Paradise Falls (a promise he made to his beloved wife) by flying his house to South America.  It is a sweet, funny, endearing movie that never fails to move and inspire me.  Just the first 5 minutes are more moving than 90% of the current romantic movies made.

The reason why I think it qualifies as a summer movie is its focus on travel (I actually saw it in Hawaii and then loved it so much to see it 2 more times in the theater when I got home.).  The spirit of adventure and freedom also feels very summery.  I think without a ‘summer vacation’ you lose a little of that sensation as an adult and a movie like Up reminds you to be a little more bold.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/pixar/

2. When Harry Met Sally- I love Norah Ephron’s writing, whether in book or movie form I think she is hilarious. Hidden in the romantic banter is nuggets of wisdom and insight.  I could easily pick You’ve Got Mail as that is a favorite of mine but I went with WHMS because it begins with a road trip with lots of conversation. To me that is an ultimate summer experience.  I must admit that usually such trips are ripe with peril for me but the idea of hitting the road and enjoying the conversation of a good friend is very American and very summery.

Perhaps because so many weddings happen in the summer but it seems to me you have to pick one romance in such a list.  People always compare WHMS to Annie Hall but to be honest I like it better.  I think Annie Hall is kind of boring and it did not make me laugh near as much as WHMS.  It just didn’t- let the name calling begin. 😉

For more of my thoughts on romantic comedies check out these posts-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/romantic-comedies-that-are-actually-romantic/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/romantic-comedy-cliches-im-sick-of/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/open-to-change/

3. Endless Summer- A summer movie list absolutely demands a beach movie.   I LOVE the beach and fantasize about it on a daily basis.  Endless Summer is a landmark documentary that introduced many people to the sport of surfing.  In 1966 director Bruce Brown follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August (perfect last name for a summer movie!) as they introduce people around the world to surfing.  They travel from Hawaii, New Zealand to Africa and Australia.   The idea is that by surfing around the world summer never ends.  What a glorious concept!  What a happy thought!

Having tried surfing myself it is amazing what these athletes can do and what a thrilling experience it must be.  Other good surfing documentaries are Step Into Liquid and Walking on Water.  All 3 films are available as an instant stream on netflix.  It will make you want to go to Hawaii and try surfing for yourself.

4. Inception- I picked Inception because for my money it is the best blockbuster type of movie ever made (was going to pick Raiders of the Lost Arc but this is even better).  It is the puzzle piece of a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio goes inside dreams to attempt to retrieve and ultimately change the behavior of the subjects.  Eventually an inception becomes so complicated that there are over 4 levels of dreams within a dream.  In fact, the final ending it is unsure whether there are even more levels.

I think Inception transcends the action movie genre because it has so many well developed characters surrounding the action and special effects. All of the acting is really good, especially Marion Cotillard as DiCaprio’s wife.  Her scenes give an emotional resonance to the film that is missing in most big budget action films.  I also love Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon Leavitt.

I also like that it is a movie 100 people could see and all feel differently about.  I like a movie that doesn’t spoon feed you a moral or a message.  I’ve seen it probably 7 or 8 times and I still don’t know what the ending is.  To me chatting about movies and books is a very summery thing.  Something you just don’t have time for the rest of the year, so Inception makes the list!

5. 12 Angry Men-  This may seem like an odd choice because it is such a small movie.  The reason it made the list is because heat is such a critical element to the story.  Told more like a play, 12 strangers (all played by amazing character actors) must deliberate on a murder case during a hot stifling summer day.  The more they talk the more heat is used to convey stress, emotion, loneliness and anger.

Henry Fonda is excellent as the stick in the mud who insists on conversation but his performance is really the easiest to pull off.  Lee Cobb and Ed Begley as the most explosive jurors are wonderfully nuanced but ALL of the actors are great.  Its remarkable that a movie set in one room with a mere table and some pencils for props can be so compelling.  Perhaps it is because human beings are compelling enough when written well without all the explosions and special effects.

You feel hot watching the movie.  I’ve always wanted to see this in the theater but haven’t gotten to do so.  I wonder if the power of movie to invoke heat and temperature would be missing in a live theater?

Still, an excellent movie for anyone interested in a good script, great acting and perfectly executed sets.

6. 5oo Days of Summer–  My last choice is another romance.  This movie uses Summer in a more broad sense.  Summer comes to mean the time of a romance; hence it lasting for 500 days instead of 90.   It is an artsy movie without being annoying telling the story of two young people Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gorden Leavitt who have a 500 day romance.  It’s a simple story but told so creatively that it does not feel simple.

First it is told in a non-linear way with days 5 followed by day 453.  This might sound confusing but it totally works.  There are also other creative touches such as a mid-movie musical number and a scene that floats into a charcoal drawing.  I also love the scene where a split screen gives two versions of an evening- what is actually happening, and what the character anticipates happening.  Brilliant.  All of these methods, however, could be incredibly irritating if done in a showy way but they aren’t.  It just melds into the picture and makes sense.  Plus, the chemistry between all the performers is really good.  This is especially important for Deschanel who plays a kind of unlikable character, but she’s so likable it works.

It also has the guts to end in a bittersweet but perfect way.  This is the movie I would recommend for someone that wants to feel summer all year round.

So there is my list.  What would you have on your list of summer favorites? Please share!