Thursday Movie Picks #29: All in the Family Edition – Married Couple Movies

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! I’ve been seeing posts on the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog, but I haven’t been able to participate. Well until now that is.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. Every last Thursday for the first nine months of 2015 I’m running the All in the Family Edition and today is the the first theme for the edition… 

Married Couples

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Well, for this edition, I decided to pick three movies that feature married couples in three very different marital circumstances. Having been married for 11 years, I consider marriage a blessing I don’t take for granted, but it’s also not a walk in the park. For this blogathon, I deliberately picked three different genres just to mix things up, so here goes:

Julie & Julia

JulieJulia

Movies depicting a positive marriage is rare in Hollywood, perhaps they think it just doesn’t make for an interesting story. Well, I always go back to this movie as a good example of a healthy marriage as it actually features TWO loving married couples. People may only remember this movie for all the food/cooking scenes, and they certainly are scrumptious. But for me I always remember the relationship between Julie & Paul Child (Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci), as well as Julie & Eric Powell (Amy Adams & Chris Messina). Both husbands are so supportive of their wives, and they’re depicted in such a real and sincere ways by all the actors. In fact, Paul Child made my list of Best Movie Husbands that I did for my 9th wedding anniversary.

 

Indecent Proposal

indecentproposalI saw this film ages ago with my brother, I think I might’ve been in high school at the time. I thought that the pairing of Demi Moore & Woody Harrelson worked well here and there’s a real chemistry between the two. The film shows how temptation and desire can quickly tear apart even the strongest bond between two people, and their marriage crumbles as a result. But the film doesn’t just show the fragility of marriage, but also the power of love that can piece things back together again, no matter how shattered the bond may have been. The story made such a big impression on me and to this day, the beautiful finale scene by the beach never fails to bring tears to my eyes. The heart-wrenching theme song by John Barry is one of my all time favorite.

Mr & Mrs Smith

MrMrsSmith

This is the infamous film that serves as the origin story of Hollywood’s golden couple. Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie fell in love during filming and their scorching chemistry is palpable on screen. Playing two skilled assassins who kept their secret identity from each other, it’s perhaps the most preposterous portrayal of marriage, but it sure was fun to watch. The real-life couple could barely fake their disdain for each other in the opening scene at a marriage counseling session:

 


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen these films?

Thank you Nora Ephron for your wonderful rom-coms!

Multi-talented writer/director Nora Ephron died Tuesday at the age of 71. I regretfully wasn’t aware that she was suffering from acute myeloid leukemia and to me, she always looked younger than her age. A tinge of sadness came over me when I heard of her passing. Well, for one, there just aren’t enough female filmmakers in Hollywood as it is and now one of the best has left us. I brought up the issue of the lack of female filmmakers during the Women Filmmakers panel at TCFF last year, and some of the female directors there acknowledged the struggle of being in a business strongly-dominated by men.

But Ephron, who was born in Manhattan to parents who were both screenwriters, was one of the few who thrived in Hollywood. Writing was definitely in her blood as her sisters Delia and Amy are also screenwriters, while her sister Hallie Ephron, is a journalist, book reviewer and novelist who writes crime fiction (per Wiki). She was triple-nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Screenplays: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. I have not seen the first one, but the last two, as well as You’ve Got Mail, are amongst my favorite romantic comedies.

One of the actors who owed it to Ephron for her success was Meg Ryan, she starred in three of Ephron’s films and one of those films made her a star. “Nora was an era,” Ryan’s quoted as saying on this website, and you know what, she was. Her sophisticated and witty writing made rom-coms a genre that wasn’t frowned upon by critics nor audiences like it is today. As one of her personal friends Aaron Sorkin in this article astutely put it, “She wrote romantic comedy in a style we don’t see much anymore… Her spirit was really in it because she loved it so much. She loved film so much…”

Meg Ryan shines in Ephron’s Films

What I LOVE about Ephron’s rom-coms are how funny and heartwarming they are. The characters and stories are inherently sweet but not banal or hackneyed, and the actors in her movies embody their roles so well that they don’t seem like they’re acting. Unlike some of today’s rom-com stars, the actors aren’t *perfect looking* but they’ve got screen charisma and appeal to go with her charming scripts. Her films are packed with wonderful dialog, lines such as these…

“I’ll have what she’s having,”

“A movie! That’s your problem! You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.”

“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

“It was a million tiny little things that when you add them up it meant that we were supposed to be together, and I knew it. I knew it the first time I touched her. It was like coming home. Only to no home that I’d ever known. I was just taking her hand to help her out of the car, and I knew it. It was like magic.”

That last long line from Sleepless is when Tom Hanks’ Sam Baldwin describes his late wife to a late-night radio show host. It always makes me tear up every time I watch it. It’s one of the most genuinely romantic and heartfelt scenes tinged with such poignancy.

She also wrote scenes that are iconic, there’s barely any rom-coms these days that have such indelible scenes such as the diner’s fake-orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally, or that Sleepless‘ finale up on the Empire State Building. The supporting characters are well-written too, they are memorable even in bit parts: Paul Child in Julie & Julia, Rob Reiner as Hanks’ buddy in Sleepless, Dave Chappelle as Hanks’ right-hand man and Greg Kinnear as Ryan’s technology-loathing boyfriend in You’ve Got Mail, the list goes on. In fact, one of my favorite scenes in Sleepless involves a minor character played by Hanks’ own wife Rita Wilson. The way her character describes a scene from An Affair to Remember is a hoot and the guys’ reaction just perfectly captures the amusing contrast between male/female dynamics. I LOVE this scene!

I also appreciate that Ephron wrote strong female characters, but yet they aren’t unrealistically so. They are quirky but relatable and also have such likability quality about them that I could see them as my own friends. They also have a lot going on in their lives instead of just being the subject of the romance of the story. Julia Child in Julie & Julia has her passion and love for cooking, Sleepless‘ Annie is a successful journalist, and You’ve Got Mail‘s Kathleen Kelly has her bookstore to save. It’s obvious Ephron is a romantic at heart, and she combines that beautifully with her intelligence and sense of humor in her writing. I wish she had made more movies in her lifetime, but one thing for sure, her legacy shall lives on in her work.

Lastly, her movies always have such great music. Sleepless in Seattle is one of my favorite soundtracks that’s packed with classic tunes. I’ll leave you with this one song from Harry Connick Jr. Nora Ephron and great rom-coms go together like a wink and a smile 😀


So what’s YOUR favorite Nora Ephron movie(s)?

FlixChatter Review: Julie & Julia

Instead of staying in for our monthly girls’ movie nite, we opted to see this movie at the theater. Truthfully, I don’t know what to expect as this isn’t usually the type of flick I get excited about, but it was actually pretty good.

I knew nothing about who Julia Child is, other than she was the pioneer female TV chef long before Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray came into being. Based on a true story of two memoirs Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child, the two lives are somehow intertwined despite time and space. Julia is an endearingly boisterous wife of a diplomat husband who is stationed in Paris in pre-WW II era. She pretty much came into cooking out boredom and simply wanting something to do with her life. After being bored out of her wits in hat-making and bridge classes, she enrolled herself in the prestigious Cordon Bleu cooking school, despite being scoffed at by her snooty French school director.

Meanwhile, Julie Powell is also looking for something new in her life, she too is unsatisfied with her dead-end insurance job and feels that she needs to finish something in her life. On the way home from work, she suddenly has an epiphany to try out all 534 recipes from Child’s first best-selling book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year, and with her husband’s encouragement, blog about the experience. There is a of scene that really resonated with me as a blogger, which is when she exclaimed to her colleague, ‘I have a comment,’ which is truly an exhilarating feeling when you’re a novice blogger.

Writer/director Nora Ephron is no stranger to movies about parallel lives, as she did in Sleepless in Seattle (which is one of the very few rom-coms I like). Other than the recipe book, there is actually very little substance that ties the two lives’ together. However, Ephron uses their common bond of the love of food, as well as both women’s loving husbands to elevate it. She also did a pretty good job weaving the scenes between the two very-different lives back and forth, as they never feel jarring or out of place. There are funny spots from both leads throughout that keep it entertaining, notably Julia’s onion-chopping scene and Julie’s attempt to cook lobsters without killing ’em first. But the biggest laugh comes from a real SNL footage of Dan Aykroyd impersonating the real Julia Child, which also shows you even more how much Streep embodies her character.

Although Amy Adams is great playing a plain jane here (after the larger than life role in Enchanted), it’s Streep who is the crème de la crème of the movie. She is so charismatic and delightful as her Julia impersonations  is perfect down to her high-pitched voice and mannerism, without resorting to caricature. She also appears believably tall (Child was 6’2″ and Streep is 5’6″) by the use of platform shoes and camera tricks. Character actor Stanley Tucci provides a perfect balance as Julia’s supportive husband, as do Chris Messina as Julie’s.

If I could pick on a couple of things though, the pace seems rather slow at times and drags on a good 15-20 minutes too long. The ending also feels a bit undone and lacks a real emotional punch. But overall it’s worth seeing even just to see Meryl’s outstanding performance. I even came away with a lesson as a blogger, something I totally didn’t expect from this movie, which is not to take our real life for granted even if we have another ‘life’ outside of that, in this case my blog. Ultimately, family should always comes first, just like Julia never let her cooking take over her marriage and the way she treats her adoring husband.

Julie & Julia is more than just a cooking movie, although if you come in hungry, it’ll be torture watching all those decadent dishes and dessert. This is also a charming and heartwarming movie about relationship and a celebration of friendship.