Tag Archives: movies

Compatibility

The other day I was watching the Turner Classic Movie station and they ran an ad where Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore discussed the film Marty and paired it with the film How to Marry a Millionaire and which woman would be a good match for Ernest Borgnine as Marty. The ladies were Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. Robert Osborne thought Betty Grable might be his best match. For some reason, I didn’t agree.

If you have never seen the film Marty, it is well worth the time to see it. Ernest Borgnine plays a single, Italian man of about thirty-five who works in a butcher shop. He is not handsome, rich or a huge success. He is an ordinary, rather shy man who is overweight and gets tongue-tied around women. His family and customers all nag at him about why he isn’t married and starting a family yet, all his siblings have. The chatter does not help. He hangs out with his male friends and they do the same stuff all the time, bowling, the diner, and just hanging out. One night they go to the dance.

Marty is a shy man, who is reticent but he is a kind person. It is because of this kindness that he finally meets someone. A man offers him $5.00 to take a blind date off his hands so he can go score with a woman he already knows. Marty feels that is cruel and a lie. He refuses, but watches. He feels compassion for the lonely woman the man ditched and speaks to her. They hit it off. Though his friends don’t think too much of her, in the end, Marty feels something special for her, and they begin seeing one another, empowering Marty to come out of his shell.

The women in How to Marry a Millionaire are looking to ensnare wealthy men to keep them in style. Lauren Bacall is a savvy who knows what she wants and goes for it. She does not want to waste time dating the wrong men. She needs a man who will meet her eye to eye and be as strong as she is. Lauren and Marty would never go far. She would give him a look up and down and say; “No thanks, pal.”

Betty Grable seems weary of the chase, and may for a time give a man like Marty a chance. Where Robert Osborne sees her as a good match for Marty, I don’t agree. She may be able to hang out with the guys, be great fun at a party or on a date. She is a good person, also full of confidence. Where does her life really intersect with Marty’s? To me, Marty and Betty want different things out of life, and in the long run would not make one another happy.

Then we come to Marilyn Monroe. Mr. Osborne feels that she would be pursued by men for her looks and sex appeal. It really was the problem she faced in life every day. Yet is that what Marilyn wants? To me, she is a woman who is looking to love and be loved. She is not so taken in by the shallow surface appeal of a sexy body or drop-dead good looks. Marilyn Monroe, though she had an undeniably powerful animal magnetism, she showed her vulnerability. She showed her loneliness, and desire to find someone she could love. To me, Marilyn and Marty would be able to have a successful relationship. They want the same thing ~ to love and to be loved. They could each be vulnerable, open and honest with one another, the basis for a good, long lasting relationship.

It made me stop and ponder; what do we expect from relationships these days?

In writing, creating characters and in my everyday life, relationships need to have commonality on some level or they won’t work. In creating romance for characters, I need to be mindful of their core values, beliefs and desires. A psychologist friend of mine read my books and related to me the depth and intricacy of human relationships I achieved. I even ran a troubled character profile by her, and she was ready for me to refer him to her for treatment.

I strive for relationships in my writing that are able to stand the test of time if they are to last. I construct the relationship with the fatal flaw that will tear the couple apart. I study life, people, their relationships, what works and what does not.

The question that still remains at the end of this discourse is simple. What do you want from a relationship? As you ponder that question, know that the sage wisdom of the ages comes back as well: What you give will be returned.

May your relationships be a blessing to those who know you, because you give of yourself from your heart.

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Art?

At the multiplex I stood behind a man who was buying tickets for himself and a nine-year-old to see Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. The ticket taker pointed to the warning notice posted in the box office window and asked if he’d read it. This notice didn’t just warn parents that the film contained inappropriate language and situations for children, but also warned that they would be removed from the theater if the child did not remain in the seat immediately next to their parents and behave.

My husband was appalled. “I can’t believe anyone would bring a child to that kind of movie.”

Sadly, I can. There are a lot of irresponsible parents out there. But in their defense, one of the primary characters is a child.

But this got me thinking about the artists who made that film. Did they consider Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa to be a piece of art or a commercial cash cow? And are they responsible for the effect it might have on children?

And what about my own work? Am I responsible for the thoughts, ideas, attitudes, and behaviors that a piece of art might generate?

This argument has been ongoing for decades.

We live in a country where freedom of speech seems to be an invitation to let it all hang out in the name of Art. Crimes have been committed copying those written in a book or viewed on television and film. The artist may not have had a direct influence on the person who committed the crime, but his art certainly generated an idea and planted a seed that grew into an action.

Art is a form of expression created in many voices. Some of those are highly inappropriate for children who need responsible parental guidance until they come of age. Parents can freely choose entertainment with adult content while keeping children at a safe distance. That’s their job, not the artist’s. Yet I try to be conscious of the kind of work I create. I don’t wish to offend anyone, yet I am well aware that I might. Language, sex, religion, and politics can be land mines.

As much as I don’t believe in censorship, I do believe that, as an artist, I serve the work first, then take the audience into account. After that I have to respect my own integrity. I want to be proud of the product I put my name on, even though it might not align with everyone’s sensibilities. If I use colorful language in a piece where that is appropriate to the characters and situations, I am being true to the work. But some readers might be offended. I can’t please everyone. No one can.

I don’t write with everyone in mind. I write for a specific audience, as did the writers of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. And I’d like to believe they did not intend for their target audience to bring young children. Perhaps they didn’t care. But this was the first time I had seen such a prominently displayed notice of warning on a box office window.

Sheila Englehart is the author of Warning Signs, published by Second Wind Publishing, as well blogging on all things paranormal at http://www.sheilaenglehart.wordpress.com

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‘Tis the Season . . .

There are many ways to finish this sentence and most would probably fill say “to be jolly”. For me, it would be “. . . for the Hallmark Channel”.  Not that I don’t watch this channel the rest of the year, but I tend to gravitate to it during the holidays.  Why?  Because of almost constant Christmas movies.  I can barely get through one without shedding a tear, or two, or three. . .  If I am going to be watching a Hallmark movie, I have tissues at the ready. 

I know, Hallmark isn’t the only station to run wonderful Christmas movies and I’ve tracked them down on every channel I know.  My husband and I will record them throughout the week and then on the weekend we will build a fire, pop some corn and settle back to watch some of the movies. 

What prompted this post is actually Jerrica’s from yesterday.  That is how I decompress.  It is so easy to get caught up in the baking, shopping, parties, etc. that the holiday season is more exhausting than enjoyable. This year, I did 99% of my shopping online and I am about 90% done.  I am not going to bake the dozens of cookies I have in the past or worry that everything is not perfect.  I want to relax, enjoy, and absorb all the season has to offer. 

 So, this weekend, I plan to decompress with one or more of the following currently recorded movies awaiting my viewing: 

It’s a Wonderful Life (NBC)

An Old Fashioned Christmas (Hallmark)

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Hallmark)

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (BBC A – hubby’s choice)

Silent Night (Hallmark)

November Christmas (CBS)

The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue (Hallmark)

Do youenjoy Christmas movies? Do you go for the ones to tear at your heart strings or are you a Grinch and other cartoon fan?  What Christmas movie must you watch every year?

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Chick Gross-Out Movies

                The most exciting day of the week for me as a child was Wednesday.  That was “dollar night” at the Riverside Drive-In of Norman, Oklahoma.  My mom would make a grocery bag of popcorn (cooked in bacon drippings and seasoned with coarse salt, by the way) and my parents, my sister and I would ride out to the show in our ’52 Chevy.  They let the whole carload in for a buck because the movies were not new releases.  They were classics.  Sitting in the back seat, I got to see some of the great movies of the mid 20th century: Hitchcock thrillers like Rear Window and Vertigo, comedies, noir films, family movies (I was pretty much in love with Hayley Mills after The Parent Trap and Pollyanna), sci-fi, horror (I had to beg my folks to let me see those great Hammer Frankenstein flicks) and of course westerns like Shane, High Noon and Red River (one of the most traumatic experiences of my young life came when Gary Cooper was almost lynched at the end of The Hanging Tree).  I grew up loving movies and understanding the differences between film genres.

                Because I’ve been aware of movie genres and subgenres for fifty years now, I feel as if I’m on pretty firm ground when I say that a new subgenre has emerged, one I’m wrestling with and frankly a little irritated by.  We all know what “chick flicks” are (recent example: The Notebook) and we’re all familiar with “frat boy” movies that rely on disgusting adolescent topics for laughs (The Hangover for instance).  Over the last few years a new subgenre has emerged that combines these two.  I guess we could call them “chick-gross-out-movies” [these are not to be confused with “gross out” movies that have chicks in them, like Saw].  These are movies clearly intended to be viewed primarily by women, but they have a strong element of disgusting behavior or dialogue that disqualifies them from being true chick-flicks.  They are really less chick-flick than romantic comedy, but the “not for mixed company” conversations and events disqualify them from that genre as well; plus there always seems to be a girl-and-guy-finally-get-it-right-at-the-end theme.

                One of the prime examples of this was the 2007 movie Because I Said So, that begins with a middle-aged mother and two of her daughters having a cell phone conversation with a third daughter about the penis of the uncircumcised man with whom she is about to have sex.  I’m sorry I described that, but you probably understand the dynamic I’m talking about now.  The same sort of dynamic is at work in Something’s Got to Give (did we really need to see Jack Nicholson’s naked behind or Diane Keaton’s gratuitous frontally nudity?), Knocked Up and a number of other recent pictures.  Recently I got talked into seeing The Backup Plan, that begins with Jennifer Lopez in the stirrups having in vitro fertilization and goes downhill from there.

                I’m at a loss here.  This is an honest question: who really, fully enjoys movies like this?  We actually had a family discussion about this not long ago.  My older son offered the opinion that the disgusting elements in these movies were put there to give guys a reason to sit through them with their girlfriends.  Maybe so.  After all, if you look at the list of producers, directors and writers of these movies, they are mostly men; plus they are all “Hollywood” shows and therefore essentially created by cookie cutters.

               On the other hand, if you want to appeal to frat boys, you get fewer laughs with a baby-being-born-“I-shouldn’t-have-seen-that”-scene than a scene of someone getting drunk and throwing up.  Can it be that the young women of the world are striking a blow for equality, asserting that females can be just as disgusting as males—and enjoy it?  Of course, perhaps this is just a sign that a new plateau or threshold has been reached: maybe it has just become that much more difficult to be shocking and outrageous, and if the movie kind of sucks you need that to distract your viewers.

               Another possibility is that I’m just old, irrelevant and out of touch.  I have to be open to this possibility I suspect.   Heaven knows, there are a lot of intimate human events, but I don’t play them for laughs, or use them to make my readers gag.

              Going back to the Riverside Drive-In, one of the first things I learned from the master storyteller Alfred Hitchcock is that you don’t have to show skin to be incredibly sexy or show graphic wounds to convey violence (in Psycho you never see the knife actually strike its victims) or shock people to scare them (the suspense of waiting for something that might happen is much more compelling than having somebody leap out of the dark and make a loud noise).  So I’m just going to keep being old-fashioned and strive for quality in my writing, and know that some filmmaker somewhere has the same values I have.

Lazarus Barnhill is the author of Lacey Took a Holiday and The Medicine People, available from Second Wind Publishing.

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Christmas Movies

            I love Christmas movies.  Well, at least most of them.  Sappy, funny, traditional, crazy, Santa or religious.  For the past few weeks I’ve been taping shows and watching them in my spare time.  However, a few of my favorites have been missed and one in particular has not been aired in a few years. I have even looked for it to purchase but have not been able to find it in stock or available anywhere. 

            The movie:  Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause.  There have been several versions of this Christmas story made, mostly of the cartoon variety.  In fact, there was a cartoon version on a week or so ago.  That isn’t the one I want to see. I want to watch the 1991 version with Ed Asner, Charles Bronson and Richard Thomas.  It is my favorite and I have seen it far too little.

            Out of all the Christmas stories told, this one has to be my favorite, second only to the original Christmas Story, the one that is the reason for the holiday.   And, when I cannot see Virginia I must find the article online so I can read the editorial.  If you are unfamiliar with this story, you can find the editorial here:  www.newseum.org/yesvirginia.

            This was first published in 1897. Can you even begin to imagine that anything you write would be remembered over hundred years from now?  Do you think Francis Church had any idea that his editorial would still appear in newspapers today?  Or that movies would be made of this story?

            Is there a movie you like to see every year, or something you must read?    

Amy De Trempe is the author of Loving Lydia and soon to be release Pure is the Heart.

 

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Revivin’ the Drive-In

The drive-in – not just for making out!

 If you’ve never been to a drive-in movie, you are missing a part of Americana that is surely going to be extinct soon.

I don’t care if you call me a hick or archaic or an archaic hick. There’s nothing like loading my truck up with lawn chairs, the cushions off my couch, a full cooler, all  of the kids, and parking in front of a huge screen in the dark. We lounge around in the bed of the truck, seated comfortably on the couch cushions while the big kids hang out on the tailgate or in the lounge chairs and the little kids curl up on a stack of pillows and blankets. We take fast food or pizzas in with us and the cooler is full of snacks and sodas.

The local drive-in is cheap, only about $6 for an adult and about $4.50 for kids 11 and younger and we can stay and watch two movies in a row for the price of one. Last weekend, we saw “UP”. The second feature was the Hannah Montana movie and my daughter and I wanted to stay, but the four males in our family outvoted us, two of them threatening a murder – suicide if we didn’t leave after “UP” was over. I almost stayed just to prove they wouldn’t go through with it, but part of me was worried they would.

The drive-in is much better than a jammed movie theater. I hate those places. I haven’t been inside of a movie theater since 1994. Honestly. The movie I saw was “Sixth Sense”.

I remember sitting in the crowded theater thinking, “No one in here will shut up, I’m sick of hearing cell phones, the guy behind me is drunk and about to upchuck on my neck, and if there’s a fire, I’m going to die.”

I don’t have those thoughts at a drive-in.

Besides, if it’s a crappy movie, I didn’t waste a ton of money and I can look up and watch the stars instead.

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That First Perfect Word

I’m sitting here trying to come up with a witty first line, something that will immediately catapult me into a story, but all I can think of is Billy Crystal in Throw Mama From the Train. I remember watching him struggle for the perfect first line, the perfect word until I wanted to scream “Skip the first line! Start anywhere! Or at least dig out a thesaurus.” But that was before I started to write, and now I find myself doing the same thing.

Odd that first lines are so important, yet few set the mood or do anything else they’re supposed to. And fewer still are memorable. Probably the best known line is “It was a dark and stormy night,” but it’s also considered to be the worst first line in history. Why? It seems evocative to me, and though it’s supposed to be redundant, even city people should know that stormy nights are not always dark.

How about this for a first line? First and last, actually. As the ax descended toward her head, the young mother struggled in vain to free her hands from the nylon rope. But that doesn’t tell us who she is, why someone killed her,  or why we should care.

And that’s not what I want to write anyway. I’ve always wanted to write the story of a love that transcended time and physical bonds, told with sensitivity and great wisdom. Unfortunately, as one agent pointed out, I have a matter-of-fact writing style, little talent, and no wisdom. So I put words to the page one at a time, and thank heavens I can always rewrite later.

Now if I can only think of that first perfect word.

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One,  and A Spark of Heavenly Fire now available from Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

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