Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Sap

Oh holy hell, am I having a maudlin kind of night. The kind of night where you know better than to answer or use your phone, and to stay as far away as you can from your email inbox. It is probably inevitable that, at this time of the year, you want closure from whatever conflicts or issues you had during the course of the year. I have plenty of those, most of my own making, and I am a firm believer in the unqualified apology. In order to give a meaningful one, however, you have to really give it consideration and preparation, and I haven't done the requisite, emotional heavy lifting. I am running out of time (how very 24), but hope to do that and all of my Christmas shopping this weekend.

And see four or five movies.

Speaking of which, and for no apparent reason other than the maudlin state of mind that required me to watch Message in a Bottle on cable tonight (why yes, I did read the book, and no, I didn't hate it), I started thinking about how many terrible movies I absolutely adore. The internets are probably not big enough for me to list all of my guilty pleasure movies, but seeing as this is the time of year for lists, I hereby nominate my top 10 sappy guilty pleasures. A word of caution: there lies ahead some truly bad movies.

10. Message in a Bottle: Yes, based on a sappy Nicholas Sparks book that I probably read in tears on a plane somewhere, the movie has Robin Wright Penn, who I find positively enchanting and who sports truly kickass hair in the movie. It also has Kevin Costner, who, an old friend once argued, is never in a terrible film. Costner won me over in The Upside of Anger and Mr. Brooks, and I never saw The Postman or Waterworld, so I accept that premise. Plus, it has Paul Newman and an eminently enjoyable soundtrack. Favorite scene is when Kevin Costner realizes Robin Penn has found a letter that his late wife sent to him, but he didn't know existed.

9. Stealing Home: Yet another flick involving love and death, I can never turn this one off when it comes on cable. The writing is pretty awful, and yet the story itself was very endearing. Plus, Mark Harmon, beloved star of Summer School, gets to be Mark Harmon. LOVE. Favorite scene actually doesn't have Mark Harmon in it, but rather a young Jodie Foster, who plays a junior Ms. Robertson to a young kid who just lost his dad.

8. Men Don't Leave: Staying with the love and death theme, this kind of bleak film had some incredibly poignant moments, often provided by the supporting characters of Joan Cusack and Arliss Howard (the latter of whom is in the top five of my list of strangely but wildly attractive men). Jessica Lange completely nails the state of spiraling depression after initially sustaining a heartbreaking loss, and the film carefully paces the story of her getting her shit back together. Favorite scene is when she is hurling muffins out the window.

7. Notting Hill: I don't hate Julia Roberts. I never have and, in fact, I actually like her. More than I will ever admit publicly. I don't think she's doing anything groundbreaking as an actress, but she has a screen presence that I usually enjoy. There is a scene in this movie that I can (and have) watched over and over - when she and Hugh Grant are walking though a private garden. There is such a lovely song in the background (You Say It Best (When You Say Nothing At All)) that, for me, cinematically captures the essence of falling in love.

6. Fabulous Baker Boys: This doesn't really fall into the terrible movie category, but still has a high dose of sap, since Michelle Pfeiffer sings. Set in Seattle, it depicts the life of two seasoned but weary career city musicians (the brothers Bridges) who hire a singer to spice up their piano act. My favorite scene involves a short road trip to a resort, where they are going to play on NYE, that features the most beautiful instrumental song by Dave Grusin. I remember watching that scene in the theater and, knowing that after the credits rolled, I would be headed to Tower Records to get the soundtrack. Which is still on my ipod. This is the only YouTube clip:

5. On Golden Pond: Again, not a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination, just one that tugs at my heartstrings. Hepburn, Fondas Henry and Jane, and Dabney Coleman. I get waterworks just thinking about how simply beautiful this film portrayed families and marriage. Favorite scene is when the onscreen grandson takes the family's Centurian (wooden speedboat) out on the water, with a brilliant Dave Grusin song (I think it is called New Hampshire Hornpipe) perfectly punctuate the energy. That is also on my ipod and one of my favorite songs to listen to while running on the treadmill.

4. Goodbye Girl: I am now veering way off the path of bad movies/guilty pleasures, as this, too, is a great film. The Neil Simon dialogue (he based the story on his marriage to Marsha Mason, the lead actress) is punchy and sharp, and the lifestyle of the working actors of 70's NYC is well captured. Hard to narrow my favorite scene, but probably one with the little girl character of Lucy (portrayed by Quinn Cummings, whose blog is linked on this site) and Elliot (Richard Dreyfuss, whom I believe won the Oscar that year).

3. (Tie) Say Anything and Almost Famous: I am on record that Cameron Crowe can do no wrong, and I have avoided Elizabethtown in support of my argument. The former film is a generational landmark, and the latter was one that made me want to stand up and applaud during the credits. Cameron Crowe is such a fantastic story teller, both as a writer and director. Everyone's favorite scene in Say Anything is the boombox scene, and I certainly loved it, but my favorite scene was when Diane Court came to the boxing ring after finding out her dad was a crook. Cusack asks her whether she needs someone or whether she needs him, then shakes off the question, saying it doesn't matter. In Almost Famous, I adore the scene where Kate Hudson dances alone on a stage to Cat Stevens' The Wind.

2. Love Actually: I am not sure if this is the best Richard Curtis movie, but it is my favorite and easily my favorite Christmas movie. Every time I watch it, I want to edit out certain storylines, particularly the awful one of the London boy, going to the US to meet chicks. However, most of the writing is terrific and it somehow captures my holiday spirit.

So many favorite scenes: the opening wedding scene with Kiera Knightly and the surprise performance of All You Need Is Love; the cue cards and caroling outside Kiera's door; Hugh Grant dancing to Jump by the Pointer Sisters (Ed. Note: would hit Grant with early, often, with abandon and on demand); Emma Thompson, asking her almost-cheating husband (Alan Rickman) what she should do about his wandering ways;this isn't the clip, but still a good one on that storyline; "Liam and his kid, "let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love"); this gorgeous little girl with a crazy set of pipes, singing Mariah better than Mariah; but my favorite scene is when Laura Linney attempts to have an intimate moment with the object of her affection, while the most beautiful song I have ever heard (Eva Cassidy's Songbird) is playing softly in the background.. (Another Ed. Note: I realize the previous clip is dubbed in a foreign language. I think my description still speaks for itself) Seriously - the song moves me to tears every time I hear it*(Final Ed. Note: Go buy the goddamn DVD, as you spend $3 every time you On Demand it. Also, go ahead and get the soundtrack while you are at it. Freak.)

1. Tootsie: This isn't anywhere approaching a bad movie and, in fact, is still my favorite movie of all time. It is an almost perfect comedy and love story, with some of the best one-liners in film history. I once read an interview with Jessica Lange, who said she loved to watch this movie because she filmed it while falling in love with Sam Shepherd and she seemed to be floating throughout it. My favorite scene is easily the one with her, Dustin and Brian Dennehey on the farm, while Stephen Bishop's It Might Be You tells the whole story of the moment. Seriously, that is how you marry visuals with music. Pretty much everything you ever needed to know about me is how much I love this song and this clip.

My favorite line, in any movie, is one of the final lines of the film:
"I was a better man, with you, as a woman, than I ever was with a woman as a man."

*If you haven't heard of her or her cover of the Fleetwood Mac song, click this link, kind of ignore the fan video and just listen to the song. Also, google her - really talented singer who died of cancer in her early 30's. It is, without question, the most beautiful love song I have ever heard and she had such a simple but perfect voice.


Law said...

I love Notting Hill. It was on while Karen and I were wrapping gifts and we ended up getting distracted far too much. Then it cam on again (typical cable style) and I found myself starting to watch it again...

Talix said...

LOVE Notting Hill. "My flatmate, Spike. There's no excuse for him."

Goodbye Girl kind of mirrored my life when it came out - (slightly) neurotic single mom of precocious girl child gets involved with flaky actor (musician)... The movie happily; Mom's second marriage? Not so much. Still a great movie. "You have some very nice qualities."

On Golden Pond - absolutely a classic.

My favorite scene in Love Actually is when Laura Linney goes around the corner to jump up and down giddily. I didn't see it this year - note to self: must rent.

Talix said...

Ends happily. The movie ends happily.

cornutt said...

Oh holy hell! We are all coming out of our bloody closet as Notting Hill fans! Richard Curtis knows how to write and direct a story, doesn't he?

Tal, I love that whole scene. I remember being in the theater and watching it, my heart brimming, and then watching the scene with the Eva Cassidy tune. I had just heard it, for the very first time, on the radio a few days earlier and had actually pulled over on the side of the road to call the radio station to find out who sang it.