The Wintry Mix: Movies to Watch During the Not-so-great Blizzard of 2015 (Part II)

NYC’s Great Blizzard of 2015 was decidedly a Great Big BUST instead, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still indulge in a few more wintry movies while you wait for mass transit to start back up again and roads to get cleared.  I posted the Wintry Mix Part I yesterday, so without further ado:

PART TWO

Die Another Day (2002)

The only frostier reception Pierce Brosnan has received was for his singing in “Mamma Mia”

So it’s probably not the best of the James Bond movies by any stretch, but Pierce Brosnan’s last outing as the eponymous MI-6 agent is pretty fun.  The plot gets a little complicated, but there’s a lot of business with North Korea (timely!) and a mysterious millionaire named Gustav Graves who has (wait for it) an ice hotel in addition to a super cool satellite that will obviously put the world in danger.  Come for Halle Berry as Jinx, stay for Rosamund Pike (in one of her first big roles before Gone Girl fame) as Miranda Frost, who also happens to have been trained in fencing by a character played by…Madonna.  Because why not?

The Shining (1980)

“I’d like red…rum. Get it?” (maniacal laughter)

Redrum redrum redrum.  Director Stanley Kubrick paces this horror classic perfectly, giving viewers and its star, a terrific and terrifying Jack Nicholson, an overwhelming sense of dread throughout.  It’s the rare horror film that also doubles as high, intellectual art.  Though novelist Stephen King hated what they did to it, everyone else seems to agree it’s a masterpiece.  Not recommended viewing for those who are caretakers at humongous hotels built on old Native American burial grounds.

Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

Brrrrrr

This intriguing documentary from Werner Herzog explores what it’s like living and studying at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.  Interviews with scientists, breathtaking views of the coldest continent, and cute penguins all await you in addition to a lot of life-affirming tales.  The documentary may have a chilly subject, but it will surely warm your heart (sorry, I know that one was really cheesy).

Little Women (1994)

My favorite ladies

Full disclosure: this is one of my top three favorite movies of all-time, so I’m a little biased.  In my opinion, this is the best and most loving film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel about four very different sisters’ coming of age.  The score is gorgeous, the cinematography warm, and the acting from the all-star cast is superb.  Winona Ryder scored an Oscar nomination for her layered, heartfelt portrayal of Jo, and after you wipe away your tears, you’ll see why.  And if you don’t swoon over Christian Bale’s Laurie (or at least his hair), there’s something wrong with you.

Fargo (1996)

Badass

Nothing says “happy snow day” quite like a triple homicide and a botched kidnapping in snowy Minnesota.  The Academy Award winning film from the Coen Brothers was turned into a fine TV series this past year, but start with the sometimes funny but increasingly violent film.  Frances McDormand is great as pregnant policewoman Marge Gunderson as are Steve Buscemi and William H. Macy.  Entertaining? Yah, sure, you betcha.

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The Wintry Mix: Movies to Watch During the Great Blizzard of 2015 (Part I)

New York City is about to get pummeled by what may be a historic blizzard the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1947 (or possibly ever).  Everybody is in storm-preparation mode getting all their groceries and batteries and whatnot, but what about entertainment?  Sure, you can binge-watch all those TV shows you’ve been meaning to start OR you can check out the movies on my Wintry Mix Movie List!  Grab a blanket, some munchies, and a mug of hot chocolate and get ready to let it snow with these films (Sorry, y’all, we can do much better than Frozen).

PART ONE

Snowpiercer (2014)

Even dirty with a beard, Chris Evans is ridiculously handsome.

One of the best and most underrated movies of 2014, the film stars a bearded Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton (in an awesomely gonzo performance), and John Hurt and places them on a high-speed train that circumnavigates the globe after a global warming experiment goes wrong and kills most of Earth’s population, plunging the planet into a deep freeze. Naturally, something goes wrong on board the train, and a revolution begins.  It’s a visually-stunning movie with a timely plot and quite a twist towards the end.  I found it fresh and incredibly entertaining.  See the trailer here.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe (2005)  

If this took place in 2015 instead of the 1940s, PETA would be throwing ink all over that fur.

You know the story: four siblings are sent to live with an eccentric professor in the English countryside to escape the London Air Raids during WWII and wind up stumbling into a magical world known as Narnia through a wardrobe.  Christian allegories galore plus Liam Neeson as a majestic lion.  But the real draw is Tilda Swinton (because who doesn’t need MORE Tilda in their lives?) as Queen Jadis, the White Witch, all icy bitchiness and glee.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)  

Ice ice baby…

“You see, before he came down here, it never snowed. And afterwards, it did. If he weren’t up there now… I don’t think it would be snowing.”  This is the film that first introduced me to Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and certainly one of their best collaborations.  Edward, a shy loner who happens to have scissors for hands, is brought to live with the suburban Boggs family and winds up falling in love with their beautiful daughter, Kim, played by Winona Ryder (Winona Forever!).  This being a Burton movie, it’s visually stylish and endearingly odd but remains one of my favorites of his cannon.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

“C’mon…kiss me!” Okay, Han.

You can’t make a list of wintry movies without including Hoth! If you don’t know the plot of this movie aka haven’t seen it, I probably am suspect of your movie tastes.  Obviously, ESB is the best Star Wars film because who doesn’t love daddy issues, spaceships being swallowed by asteroid-dwelling creatures, a green alien who speaks like Confucius, a princess and smuggler making out, and BILLY FREAKING DEE WILLIAMS IN A CAPE?!  Yeah, you know you love it or your heart has been put into carbon freeze.

The Ice Storm (1997)

Apparently, everyone had beautiful peacoats in 1973.

Ang Lee’s engrossing drama centers around a suburban Connecticut community in 1973 during a terrible ice storm where several interconnected families find their lives spinning out of control.  It’s an all-star cast, literally: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Sigourney Weaver, Katie Holmes, Elijah Wood, Allison Janney.  It’s serious and sad, and an excellent portrait of the existential crisis felt by so many in the years after the swinging sixties.

Stay tuned for part II of the Wintry Mix featuring Bond, penguins, “Heeeere’s Johnny,” and more!

2015 Oscar Nominees Viewing Guide

5:30 am has literally NEVER looked sexier

5:30 am has literally NEVER looked sexier

Happy Oscar Nominations Day!

Lots and lots of surprises today from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (that Chris Pine can still look so sexy and beautiful reading nominations at 5:30 am his time is NOT one of them). If you’ve been following the race at all this year, you likely were as surprised as me by some of the inclusions and omissions in the larger races like Actor, Actress, Director, and Picture. But fret not, children, because I think many of our favorites like Boyhood, Birdman, and J.K. Simmons are all still quite safe. I have many thoughts on the nominations themselves and what it all means, but instead, let’s talk about the important stuff…and I don’t just mean the fact Oscar night means more dreamy Brits in beautiful suits (Hi Eddie and Benedict!).

Let’s talk about what YOU beautiful people need to see before the big show on February 22. Depending on your schedule and bank account (and frankly, stamina), here’s my handy-dandy viewing guide. Start with the First Tier and as you have time, see the films in each successive tier.  BAM!


First Tier: THE ESSENTIALS

Boyhood

Birdman

The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand_budapest_hotelboyhood poster birdman

These three films are the ones you’re hearing the most about right now and likely to be the ones picking up a lot of gold come Oscar night. Birdman is guaranteed a lot of wins in the technical categories (especially cinematography) and potentially Best Actor for Michael Keaton (plus solid supporting performances from nominees Edward Norton and Emma Stone). Boyhood is the front-runner for Best Picture and honestly, Best Director, and Patricia Arquette has won pretty much every single Best Supporting Actress award this season (plus a fine supporting performance from nominee Ethan Hawke). Grand Budapest Hotel came out in March but has really picked up steam thanks to the BAFTAs and Golden Globes. It has a good shot at Original Screenplay, Costumes, Production Design, and Hair/Makeup. It’s also just really fun and original.


Second Tier: TORTURED GENIUSES (+ the Essentials)

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

whiplash-poster the theory of everything Imitation-Game-Poster

These three films also picked up several nominations and in big categories. The Imitation Game is a very fine British drama with two great performances by Best Actor nominee Benedict Cumberbatch and Best Supporting Actress nominee Keira Knightley. I’d say it has a good shot at Score, Adapted Screenplay, and Production Design. The Theory of Everything’s best shot is certainly Best Actor for Eddie Redmayne, who has been splitting the award with Michael Keaton all season. Best Actor is the most unpredictable, competitive category this year. It also features a lovely performance by Best Actress nominee Felicity Jones and a beautiful score. Whiplash is one of my favorite films of 2014, and J.K. Simmons has won every single Best Supporting Actor award this season. He will, unless something crazy happens, win the Oscar. No question. I’d also say the film has a great shot at the Sound Mixing category as well.


Third Tier: THE LADIES (+ The Essentials + Tortured Geniuses)

Wild

Still Alice

Ida

ida_ver2 still alice poster WILD_movie_poster

While Julianne Moore is most likely going to take home Best Actress (FINALLY) for Still Alice, the ladies of Wild, Best Actress nominee Reese Witherspoon and Best Supporting Actress nominee Laura Dern, do some of their very best work. Ida is the front-runner at this point for Best Foreign Film and has been an art-house mainstay for its story about a young woman about to take her vows as a nun when she learns she is actually Jewish.


Fourth Tier: RULE-BREAKERS (+ The Essentials + Tortured Geniuses + The Ladies)

Citizenfour

Selma

Foxcatcher

American Sniper

selma

Unfortunately, Selma all but got shut out of the Academy Awards this year other than Picture and Original Song, but it’s well-made, and Ava DuVernay is going to be a major player now in the directing field. Citizenfour is definitely the documentary to beat at the Oscars especially given its subject matter: Edward Snowden. After strong showings and buzz at all the major festivals, Foxcatcher lost some steam but Best Director nominee Bennett Miller pulls great performances out of Best Actor nominee Steve Carrell and Best Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo. American Sniper is late to the awards race but has gotten a recent boost of support. It’s Bradley Cooper’s third consecutive Best Actor nomination, and many feel one of Clint Eastwood’s best films in recent years. I don’t think it will pick up a ton of awards, but you never know.


Fifth Tier: EXTRAS (+ The Essentials + Tortured Geniuses + The Ladies + Rule-Breakers)

Mr. Turner

Interstellar

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Nightcrawler

Unbroken

nightcrawler

I’m actually a little disappointed Nightcrawler’s Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t pick up a Best Actor nomination this morning, but that race is so crowded with contenders, someone was going to get bumped. The film is weird and chilling, but Gyllenhaal is fantastic as is Rene Russo. Mr. Turner did very well at Cannes and picked up four nominations, but production or costume design seem like its best shots. How To Train Your Dragon 2 just won Best Animated Feature at the Globes, so I’d say it’s most likely the front-runner in that category. As for Interstellar, it’s visually stunning with a great score, so I’d look for it to be a real contender in those categories. And while Unbroken wasn’t quite the awards-magnet many hoped, its Oscar-nominated cinematographer, Roger Deakins, is beloved by the industry.

Has your brain exploded yet? If you’d rather watch the films with the most nominations, here’s the breakdown:

  • 9 nominations – Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • 8 nominations – The Imitation Game
  • 6 nominations – American Sniper, Boyhood
  • 5 nominations – Foxcatcher, Interstellar, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
  • 4 nominations – Mr. Turner
  • 3 nominations – Into the Woods, Unbroken
  • 2 nominations – Guardians of the Galaxy, Ida, Inherent Vice, Selma, Wild

Remember to drink plenty of water to offset the salt intake from all the popcorn you’re about to chow down on and be sure to give your eyes a rest once in a while. Otherwise, good luck, godspeed, and see all of you on Oscar night!

Proper movie-viewing attitude

Proper movie-viewing attitude

Oh and I’ll be live-tweeting the awards, so be sure to follow me @emmylanepotter on Twitter!

Going Solo: Movies Edition

Going to the movies solo (and I don’t mean Han Solo) can be a terrifying prospect for some.  It seems unnatural in a society where we’ve been trained to think about it as part of a classic date scenario (dinner, movie, terrible or awesome goodnight kiss) or a group activity where at least one other person is involved in the rite of watching images on a gigantic screen in a darkened theater.  And I certainly can understand the need for someone with whom to share popcorn during and discussion after.

Ridin' Solo

Ridin’ Solo

But we also live in the golden age of binge-watching where we can watch hours of television shows and movies without changing out of our sweatpants, and the majority of us participate in THAT rite alone (save for maybe a bag of our dear friend, Doritos).  I realize a night in with ye olde Netflix may seem a bit different than one out at your local movie multiplex, but with a little courage and maybe a gentle swath of mascara (if you feel like it), it’s not as different as you might think.

Since moving to New York a little over three years ago, I have become a pro at the solo movie date.  Now, I know it’s a little easier to blend in when you live in a city of nine million people, but I started going to the movies alone when I was in Oklahoma City for college, and I still managed to be an under-the-radar solo movie-goer.  So let me give you the pitch for why you should start hitting the Cineplex on your own:

  1. You always get to pick the movie. Wanna see J. Lo’s new sure-to-be-a-guilty-pleasure-but-probably-terrible-movie, the Boy Next Door?  Go for it!  No one can sigh loudly and politely yet pointedly suggest something with a higher score on Rotten Tomatoes.  Feeling more like indulging your gangster side with A Most Violent Year?  What about a Truffaut marathon at your local art-house theater? C’est bon!  Allons-y!  Going alone means you don’t have to ever compromise; your choice is the only one that matters.
  2. You always get to pick the snacks/drinks. You’re basically the Kevin McCallister of your movie going experience.  A lovely cheese pizza just for me. Or you.
    "A lovely cheese pizza just for me" = the excuse I have used when ordering pizza

    “A lovely cheese pizza just for me” = an actual excuse I have used when ordering pizza

    No judgments.  Full disclosure: one time, I snuck in a 10-piece chicken nugget combo with waffle fries from Chik-Fil-A to a Toy Story/Toy Story 2 double feature.  Because I’m a BAMF…and I was starving.  Also, you never have to share, so have a calorie fest on your own, because you can.

  3. You can wear whatever you want. Obviously, you have to learn how to not care what you look like in public, but this is the most freeing part of the whole experience.  There is no one you have to impress because you’re just sitting in the dark.  Like, who actually is going to notice if you’re in an old college sweatshirt, jeans, Converse, and no makeup?  I personally do not need winged-tipped eyeliner and red lipstick if I’m wearing 3-D glasses and watching the T-Rex attack Lex & Tim’s SUV in Jurassic Park…unless I want to feel fancier, but that decision is solely up to me.
  4. Nobody talks to you during previews. I think we can all agree we’d like to swoon over the next Avengers movie and its hunky stars without any extra commentary.  (Am I the only one who finds Mark Ruffalo CRAZY HOT as Bruce Banner?  Is it seriously just me?  And also obviously I have had several dreams involving Iron Man and Captain America…)

    OKAY BUT THE HAIR. THE SMIRK.  BRUCE BANNER/MARK RUFFALO IS A TOTAL DREAMBOAT. NOBODY TELL ME DIFFERENTLY!

    OKAY BUT THE HAIR. THE SMIRK. BRUCE BANNER/MARK RUFFALO IS A TOTAL DREAMBOAT AND NOBODY TELL ME DIFFERENTLY!

  5. You can double-feature it whenever you feel like it. Maybe you want to see Wild and then maybe you want to see Night at the Museum 3.  Tomato, tomato.  No one can stop you.

So now that I’ve told you why it’s amazing ridin’ solo (and also ridin’ Solo…wink wink), let’s talk logistics!  Here’s a little starter guide to how I personally do the whole going-to-the-movies-alone thing.  Feel free to adapt this to suit your own heart’s desires.  After all, as the wise and dreamy Dr. Ian Malcolm once opined in a dinosaur breeding lab on Isla Nublar,”Life finds a way.”  You’ll find yours.

...just like your shirt found the way to be gratuitously open to your navel later, Ian.  Thanks!

…just like your shirt found the way to be gratuitously open to your navel later in the movie, Ian. Thanks!

  1. Pick your movie(s). Remember, nobody is going with you, so you have free reign.  I actually have gotten overwhelmed before because when you don’t have to think about what somebody else wants to see, you suddenly have way, WAY more choices.  Know that you can make more than one trip or see more than one movie in a day (budget allowing).  This may sound obvious, but if you’re used to always seeing movies with other people, it might seem like a strange concept to wrap your head around.  See what YOU want to see!

    Thank you for being my movie friends, old people.

    Thank you for being my movie friends, old people.

  2. Opt for a morning showtime (before noon) when possible. In New York, it costs $14.50 for a regular adult priced show and up to $18 for an IMAX.  However, most movie theaters here in the city offer early bird prices around $8 for movie times before noon.  The great thing is most of these showings are relatively empty, so you’re guaranteed your choice of seats and an almost private viewing experience.  If you don’t have problems with hanging with the elderly, you’re golden (just like the Golden Girls).
  3. Buy your snacks/drinks outside of the movie theater. Okay, so generally, this is frowned upon, because the big corporations who own movie theater chains want you to give them as much of your money as possible (and possibly your first-born child) like the Scrooge McDucks they are.  In no world should a small Coke cost $5.25.  So I stick it to the man and hit up the Duane Reade or 7-Eleven before I go and always remember to carry a slightly larger purse/bag with me.  Since I typically go to morning movies a lot these days, I like buying a pastry and iced coffee, which costs me less than the price of a movie theater concession stand small soda.  Take a big bag and be inconspicuous.
  4. Don’t worry about being there alone. Every single time I’ve gone to the movies by myself, there have been at least one or two other people there doing exactly the same thing as me.  I don’t know about you, but I go to the movies mostly because I love movies.  Occasionally, it’s also a form of stress-relief, but that’s a side benefit.  If you’re nervous about being alone, try to focus on the fact you’re there to be entertained and engrossed in a story.  The truth is that is what everyone else is there to do, and no one is paying attention to whether or not you’re there by yourself.

    One of my favorite movies of 2014: Whiplash.

    One of my favorite movies of 2014: Whiplash.

  5. Double Feature-it on occasion. What’s better than seeing one movie alone?  Seeing two!  Now, I have been a bad girl and snuck into a second movie at larger multiplexes where it’s easier to do that (I’m a rebel WITH a cause!), but I have also simply bought another ticket to a second feature.  Recently, I saw both Whiplash and Nightcrawler back to back and realized I had unknowingly created a theme night (in this case: tales of obsession)!  Part of the fun of seeing movies this way is being able to tailor your own movie-going experience. But don’t forget we all need some sunlight!

So now you have a plan for hitting the movies on your own like a boss.  Hopefully, I’ve made you feel a little less apprehensive about leaving your house, your Doritos, and your Netflix behind in lieu of a cushy seat, large popcorn, and Meryl Streep.  It’s good to do things on your own sometimes, to be the master of your own cinematic destiny.  One last thing: enjoy yourself!

See you at the movies.  I’ll be the one clandestinely chowing down on chicken nuggets towards the middle of the theater while Benedict Cumberbatch tries to break the Enigma Code and beat the Nazis.

"Are you REALLY eating chicken nuggets right now while I act my arse off?"

“Are you REALLY eating chicken nuggets right now while I act my arse off?”

Tempus fugit

I saw Richard Linklater’s extraordinary new film Boyhood opening weekend (at the always cool IFC Center here in Manhattan) and was treated to a Q&A with the man himself and his star, the miraculous Ellar Coltrane, following the film.  Chances are, you’ve probably been reading and hearing a lot about this film the last two weeks or so, and not without reason does it have a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  It is quietly moving, honest, and completely lovely; full of the real stuff of life that seems insignificant, but upon rumination, it is actually the important stuff.  It’s the stuff that shapes who you are.

Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane: changing the face of cinema, quite literally

Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane: changing the face of cinema, quite literally

And it got me thinking (and continuing to think as it is over a week ago I saw the film) about life.

But it also got me thinking about magic: both fictional and real.

Whether it’s coincidental or not, magic seems to be a recurring theme in the film.  In one scene, Mason’s mother (a sublime Patricia Arquette) reads from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets before bedtime.  In another scene, Mason and his sister, Samantha (played with feistiness by Lorelai Linklater), dress up and attend a midnight book party for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  They’re wide-eyed and excited, clutching their newly purchased books to their chests like precious treasure.  A third scene has Mason asking his father (the always reliably affable Ethan Hawke) about magic and elves.  “Right this second, there’s like, no elves in the world, right?” he asks tentatively.  And this propels his father into a wonderful moment of vocal philosophizing about the definition of magic itself.  He explains that magic could very well be the fact we have whales so huge you can swim through their arteries, but is that magic?  He doesn’t know.  When Mason asks again, this time a little more pointedly, his father answers, “Technically, no elves.”

Mason Jr. and his female friend = the new Jesse and Celine?

Mason Jr. and his female friend = the new Jesse and Celine?

The last scene of Boyhood features a now nineteen year-old Mason sitting on a rock in the wilderness of Texas with a girl he’s just met that day, his first of college.  They’re talking about life.  “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment?” she asks. “I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”  He replies, “Yeah, I know, it’s constant, the moments, it’s just — it’s like it’s always right now, you know?”  And just as he’s saying that, the sun is setting, and you know you’re glimpsing another fleeting, magical moment, but like Mason, you’re hopeful, because you know another one will come along if you ground yourself in the present.  And THAT right there got me thinking about another of my favorite Linklater films, Before Sunrise (really just that whole trilogy, but the first especially).  In a scene in that particular film which is all about seizing those fleeting moments, Celine says to Jesse, “If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.”

"If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt." - Celine

“If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.” – Celine

So is that magic?  Connecting with someone else on an almost spiritual level?  The kind of magic we’re accustomed to is often the kind associated with witches and wizards like Harry Potter where there are spells and people are transformed.  If you really think about it, all magic is about doing something to another person: cursing them, making them fall in love with you, changing them or yourself in some way.  The Oxford Dictionary defines magic in four ways:

  1. The power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.
  2. Mysterious tricks, such as making things disappear and appear again, performed as entertainment.
  3. A quality that makes something seem removed from everyday life, especially in a way that gives delight.
  4. Something that has a delightfully unusual quality.

So if we look at it this way, as magic being something that seems delightfully removed from everyday life that influences the course of the events in a life, then we really DO experience magic in the real world.  Mason’s father wasn’t wrong and neither was Celine: magic is very real and present.  I don’t think Richard Linklater featured Harry Potter in two scenes of Boyhood without reason; not only have the books changed the lives of millions of readers around the world in profound ways, but so too do Harry, Ron, and Hermione experience the magic of growing up, forging friendships, and discovering love (among other things like battling dark wizards and basically saving humanity).  Magic is ever present in all those milestones of life, big and small.

"We are the three best friends that anyone could have..."

“We are the three best friends that anyone could have…”

Celine and Jesse experience that magic as they wander the streets of Vienna, talking for hours and essentially falling in love.  I’ve written about it before, but we’ve all had those moments of connection with someone else.  It’s usually those moments we actually FEEL life happening to us and around us; we become acutely aware of our own mortality and the preciousness of it all.  It’s the thing where you feel infinite and finite at the same time.  Mason Jr. becomes aware of it at the end of BoyhoodCeline and Jesse know it too.  And so too do we when we allow ourselves to be swept up in those moments, to be seized by them the way Mason’s female companion posits during their conversation.  And those moments are also usually the ones that transform us with their magic, because our lives are never quite the same afterwards.  I just felt it late last Wednesday night as a guy and I recklessly climbed ladders to the roof of his office building just to look at the Empire State Building and essentially, each other.  To hold hands and talk about life, both of us sensing it was the start of something new and treating that beautiful fragility with reverence and wonder, because we know it will never be like that ever again; we will never have these moments again.

A now iconic movie poster for a now iconic film

A now iconic movie poster for a now iconic film

Boyhood often is about the mundane of life, but further examination reveals the mundane is the magical.  So often we remember these small things more so than the milestones.  The little setbacks and victories.  The way your mom would make breakfast.  Summer days spent riding bikes and drawing with sidewalk chalk.  Long conversations to your best friend on the phone.  Or maybe harboring a crush on a college professor.  Or climbing on a roof to look at the city lights with someone just because you’re young and feel invincible.  Things DO change, people DO change, and that’s the magic of it all.  Time is magic, because as it passes, it transforms you and the world around you.  You’re always under its spell.

Just as he’s leaving for college in Boyhood, Mason’s mother is crying and poignantly admits, “I thought there’d be more.”  So do we.  All the more reason to appreciate whatever time and magic we’ve got.

*Run to see Boyhood whenever it hits your local multiplex.  Heck, even drive to a showing nearby if it’s not.  It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of movie.  Truly something special.

The Thankful Challenge: Day 3 & 4

3

It wasn’t my greatest Saturday by any means.  I spent most of the day deep cleaning my apartment: sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, etc.  I was on my hands and knees at one point, which to any discerning eye probably looked like I was a reprimanded Scientologist serving out a punishment on one of their Sea Org boats.  I had my New Order pandora station blaring on my computer.  It was a productive day.

Then I went to make lunch and dropped a bunch on my newly cleaned floor.  I ran into a door frame with my elbow.  The piéce de resistance, however, happened as I was cleaning my bathroom.  I was cleaning my tub and shower, so I turned on the water to rinse.  I tried adjusting the shower head, and it broke off, spraying water all over me and one of our bathmats.  I felt like I had just gotten off a log flume ride at an amusement park.  After making a trip into the City to Home Depot to purchase a new shower head, my day had gone from okay to Emmy and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day.

To de-stress from my day, I popped in Pride & Prejudice and let Elizabeth and Darcy wash away my bad day.  I’m thankful for movies and the escape they provide.  I’ve noticed that sometimes, music is what soothes me, and of course writing as well, but often I’m drawn to the darkness of a movie theatre where I can just be alone and engrossed in a story for a couple hours without distractions.  Music has healing powers, I believe that, but movies possess a different kind of magic, and I always emerge from their spell feeling altogether better somehow, even inspired.  It’s not something I can fully describe, but I know it when I feel it.

4

Like pretty much everyone else, I’m truly thankful for that extra hour we accrue towards the tail end of fall, which signals daylight savings time.  Not only do I immediately feel better rested, but also this time of year makes me feel more productive because I suddenly have an extra hour to get things accomplished.

This is especially necessary since I wound up getting a last-minute audition for Arizona Broadway Theatre’s summer season on the 5th and needed time to prep.  I submitted on a whim, because my dear friend Margaret (or Madge, as we all call her) worked for them last summer and suggested I throw my name into the ring because they’re doing Into the Woods, one of my favorite musicals and one I feel destined to perform.  So I emailed and mentioned I was close friends with Madge, and when I didn’t hear back, I assumed I hadn’t secured an audition.  But then I awoke several days later to an email giving me a Monday slot.

I haven’t been to a music theatre audition in nearly five months.  I decided a while back to take a break from it, because I just wasn’t happy for some reason.  I’m not sure if I got burnt out or frustrated or what, but something just didn’t feel right, and my heart wasn’t in it.  My self-imposed break from it has been pretty enlightening in a lot of ways that I won’t get into here (maybe at some later date), but returning to it today felt pretty good.  Singing into exhaustion felt good; a bit like being back in college when it was fun.  And isn’t that what it should be always…fun?

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

The Tribeca Film Festival just began in New York this week, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I’ve read lots about different film festivals (Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, etc) and the various movies that premiere at them but as I’m not an international movie star or even just been in a feature film or lived in a city that held one, I’ve never been able to go.  That’s why I am so enthusiastic about the Tribeca Film Festival!

And also because I’m praying for a glimpse of Robert DeNiro.

Anyway, the TFF is featuring many a free program this year, one of them being the Tribeca Drive In down in the World Financial Plaza right along the Hudson.  They set up food trucks, hand out free stuff, and screen fan favorite movies.  This year, they’re showing Jaws and the Goonies.

If you know me at all, then you know both of these films are among my favorite movies of all time.  I grew up watching both incessantly (and still do).

Last night, they screened Jaws, and I took myself on a much-needed solo date to see it.  As I was born in the 1980s, I only had ever seen Chief Brody, Quint, and Matt Hooper battle that terrifying shark on a television screen.  My parents, on the other hand, came of age in the 1970s, so they witnessed it all on the big screen when it came out in ’75.  As such, I’ve always felt that I missed out a bit on what made the film so awesome in the first place: the sheer size of a giant shark on a giant screen.

"You're gonna need a bigger boat..."

Watching Jaws basically in a harbor was probably the coolest thing ever.  I honestly couldn’t tell if the seagulls I was hearing were coming from the screen or the sailboats next to me on the Hudson.  It was a perfect setting.  Most of the audience was people my age or older who’d grown up with the movie in some way: either from seeing it in the 70s or the “handing down” of it from their parents who’d seen it in the 70s.  We all clapped together, laughed together, screamed together, and cheered together.  There was a kind of magic in the air.  A nostalgia made new.  Though the majority of the audience had seen the film before, for many of us (myself included), it was like seeing the film for the first time.

And it kind of GOT to me, you know?  I got this overwhelming feeling of happiness, love, and community.  All of us were here because we LOVED this movie.  We’d all had our own experiences with this movie; in some way, it had shaped us all.  Now here we were: all of us sharing this moment.  It made me realize how lasting an impact films have as opposed to other art forms.  Film lasts forever; handed down from generation to generation.  There’s something inherently special about that.

And I don’t think anyone can deny there’s something inherently special and MAGICAL about Steven Spielberg’s films from the 1970s and 80s.  There’s a mythical quality about them, you just can’t put your finger on; it’s just a feeling.  Paired with John Williams’ scores, I just don’t think it gets any better.  Maybe it feels like childhood or growing up.  I don’t know.  His movies from that time are…well, timeless.  Classic.  You never forget your first time seeing them.

Maybe that’s why last night was so special to me.  I nearly cried on the subway ride home.  I finally got to see one of my favorite Spielberg movies on a big screen for the first time…the way people saw it for the first time when it premiered in 1975.  The way my parents saw it.  And for just half a second, I didn’t know what year I was in.  It felt timeless.  I was under a spell.  We all were.

That’s the power of the movies.

And I HAVE to be a part of that.  I HAVE to be a part of something so beloved it keeps drawing people back to it 37 years later.  Something people pass down to their kids.  I want people to feel all the things I felt last night: the nostalgia, the magic, the joy.  I want to tell stories people love.  Make films that shape their lives and experiences in a way that MUST be shared with others.

I WILL be a part of that.