I Talk, Therefore, I Write

I talk a lot. Some say too much, but I take umbrage with that term, “too much”. I’ll bow to a lot, I totally get that, but who the hell are you to tell me it’s “too much”?

It’s always been this way. I started talking at 9 months, and as my friend Bronson used to say, “it’s been a non-stop conversation ever since.” People are annoyed by it, tease me about it and even laugh at me for it. They don’t really get it. Here’s the awful truth: I talk when I feel joyful or like someone. So having that someone tell you that you are annoying, let’s be fair, their total right to do, hurts. They sometimes even act like I’m gonna find it funny when they laugh at me for it. I’m not against laughing at myself, but that would be like telling a fat person that you think it’s so funny that they are fat and why aren’t they laughing, too?

It hurts for two reasons. One, that I’m only doing it because I feel happy and enamored with them. And two because I really wish I could control myself. I wish that I didn’t talk the ear off of those I enjoy most. I can even feel myself doing it. I wish I could stop. But I can’t, I’ve tried. When I do though, I always end up feeling like the lobotomized Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, when what I’m trying for is something more like a cross between a serene monk and Ferris Bueller. You know, someone that everyone loves, but knows when to shut up.

So what does one do with such an albatross around one’s neck? How do you reconcile having the inclination to drive away those you like most? Others must suffer with this hardly unusual affliction, surely. So there must be a common, readily available, affective cure. What do you do when you have so much to say and are missing a willing audience?

You write and try to get it all out on paper, so to speak (pun totally intended).

I used to think that writers were brilliant, brainy people who started when they were 5 and always went to college and who just “couldn’t not be a writer”. I’m pretty much none of those things. I didn’t go to college and I didn’t write much in my youth aside from some weird story I wrote for fun when in second grade about two deer in love. (Had I just seen Bambi or did I like to draw deer? I really can’t remember). So I thought, “I’m not smart or interesting enough to be a writer.” Even to this day, I am better at completing a writing assignment given to me by someone else than I am with knowing what someone else would want to read.

I also am terrible with commas. I recently met a guy who described himself as a “grammar nazi” and my first feeling was jealousy. (I know spell check wants me to capitalize “nazi, but I refuse. I feel bad enough that I am referring to anything with the word “nazi” in it in a positive way.)

Even my senior English teacher told me that my writing looked like I had just taken a saltshaker full of commas and shook it on the paper; overly abundant and totally random. I laughed so hard, because she was right and it was funny. She did however really respond to the content of my essays when they were honest. She was the first teacher to help me realize that I could do that, be honest in my writing and that it wasn’t inappropriate. They were the most fun to write and apparently what people wanted to read. My style was a bit tongue in cheek, but the good girl in me squashed that inclination because it wasn’t mature or scholarly. I hadn’t yet read any subversive writers just people like Laura Ingalls Wilder, C.S. Lewis and whoever wrote this autobiography of Helen Keller that I read over and over. When I made wry observations, this teacher would squawk with laughter and it made me feel fantastic. But that was high school and I was so in love with acting that being a writer of any kind was something that I’d never even considered mostly because I thought that I wasn’t smart enough and that it sounded a lot like school.

So, many years later, when I was trying to figure out who I was, yet again, I came across two different books that guided me back to writing. One was called, If You Can Talk, You Can Write. Done and done, I’m half way to being as prolific as Stephen King.

And the other book was called, The Secret of the Shadow by Debbie Ford. The first book is so obvious that I’ll just take it as a given that you get why it made me feel like my life’s purpose was explained in it’s pages. The second book operated on the premise that in order to embrace your shadow side, you should find a way to turn your fault into an asset. These two ideas collided and turned into me quitting my job to write a book that I began writing in 2003. It’s a self help about a meditation style that I learned and built upon. It’s 250 pages and not done yet, because another pair of shadow characteristics that I harbor is that I over analyze everything and I don’t deal well with endings.

My mother says that at the age of 3 I would cry when the Wizard of Oz was over because I never wanted it to end. I felt the same way when I watched Grease, Xanadu or Star Wars at the age of 8, when we had HBO. I must have watched those three movies 20-30 times because in the mid 80s, HBO played the hell out of all three and I couldn’t keep myself from watching if they were on. When the car went into the air at the end of Grease I became filled with such grief that it was over that I would be depressed for the rest of the day. For an 8 year old, that is a really logn time to be sad. The only way the 8 year old me got over it was to put on my fancy dress up shoes (bright purple) and my cutest top and strut around the neighborhood like Olivia Newton John. It wasn’t pretty. Luckily no one noticed, they just kept riding their bikes. The final chords of the song Xanadu still make me feel a little sad and the award ceremony at the end of Star Wars had me feeling like all of my friends were leaving my party without me.

So, as I still work on those last two shadows, I am writing this essay. I have actually come to love endings in movies, (as long as they exist, Woody Allen, I’m talking to you in the 70s and 80s), which has led me to screenwriting. Movies were, and always will be, my first real love. The only reason that I didn’t come to it soon is that I thought that there was no way I’d be any good at it. I honestly still don’t know if I am or not.
I’m also trying every day to not over think things, which is totally counter-intuitive. I have to concentrate and put effort into not concentrating too hard or putting too much effort in. It’s also hard to do when you’re trying to find ways to improve yourself. All morning while this essay was swirling around in my head, begging to come to life, Bruno Mars’s Just the Way You Are kept it company. I’m pretty sure that this was not some kind of divine message, I watched Pitch Perfect the other day and they sing it in that movie. But the message still holds true as I sing it to myself, “Cause girl, you’re amazing, just the way you are.” Damn straight, Bruno.

I’d love to hear about your shadow and how you’ve made it work for you. Leave a comment, because, we’re in this together.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower:: It’s not what you’d think…

Some of you may have read the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky or at least may have heard of it once the movie was announced.  Here is a preview of the film:

The book is written like a diary, or more accurately letters to a stranger, from the point of view of the main character, Charlie.  After reading it, I was very curious to see how they were going to adapt it into an interesting movie, because I just couldn’t picture it.  Some part of the book had a special tone, because they were witnessed by a disconnected character who doesn’t always “get” what is going on.  That makes watching the same event take place have a distinctly different feel than having it explained to you by someone who is struggling to understand it.  However,  one of my favorite novel to screen adaptations was written as a diary, The Color Purple, so I knew an adept writer could do it.

Stephen Chbosky himself not only did the screenplay adaptation, but he also directed the film, which is what I’m going to attribute it’s successful transformation from excellent book to excellent movie.  The music mentioned in the book is crucial to establish tone and character in the movie in  a way that only the writer and fans of the book would get.

The story is about Charlie (Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief) who is just starting high school.  He is very emotional and sensitive and loveable from the first moment the audience meets him.  In the book we learn in the first few pages that his friend, Michael, killed himself while they were in Jr. High without leaving a note.  In the movie this comes out a little later, but the choice to change it works for the story and is necessary in the way that the structure of film is different from a novel.

Charlie begins to come out of his shell a little when he meets an unlikely pair of friends, Patrick (Ezra Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Sam (Emma Watson, All of the Harry Potter films) who are step siblings.  Patrick and Sam are both seniors who don’t seem to mind that Charlie is a freshman.  They all connect right away sensing the outsider in each other.

Charlie also has a special English teacher, Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd, The 40-Year-old Virgin) who can tell right away that Charlie is special, he sees what Sam and Patrick see, that Charlie is an observer who sees in others what they don’t see in themselves.  He begins to give Charlie additional books outside of class and has Charlie write essays on them.

Sam and Patrick introduce Charlie to many new people, drugs, The Rocky Horror Picture show, new music and acceptance.  Although Charlie participates to a degree, he is still somewhat of an outsider who longs to know why he feels so incapable of being like everyone else.  He is like everyone else in the way that he falls in love with Sam, but can’t seem to tell her.  In the book she point blank tells him to not think of her “that way”, but in the movie it’s unspoken and used to add to his outsider feeling.

It is a well told, very personal story that leaves you wondering how much of it may have happened to Chbosky.  He seems to intimately get some things that could only be understood by experience and even then, by only a very brilliant person.  It endears him to me right away, because either he is like Charlie, or he is such a great writer that he isn’t and created him perfectly.  Either way, it is a beautiful piece of writing and film making.

After reading the book I was, as I always am, very picky about the casting.  Charlie needed to be earnest, Patrick needed to be charismatic and Sam needed to be alluring yet broken.  Everyone was spot on, but Ezra Miller as Patrick was even better than I had imagined him.  Miller has a huge career ahead of him.  He’s deep and dark, handsome and odd and really commits to his work.  Emma Watson and Logan Lerman were excellent too.  Emma’s American accent didn’t slip once and Logan really seemed 15, even though he’s 20.

Paul Rudd was wonderfully kind and understated as Mr. Anderson and it made me sad that they left out some of the other scene’s with Mr. Anderson.  I really enjoy Rudd, especially in the roles that you get to see the genuinely caring person that he really is, instead of just the goofball that also genuinely him.

Even through their roles are small, Dylan McDermont (American Horror Story) as the father and Kate Walsh (Private Practice) as the mother are well acted.  When someone truly upsetting comes to light about Charlie, the fatherly sadness in McDermont’s eyes was really tender and perfect.

Just like the book, the movie is touching, funny and inspiring.  It really captures what being a young, confused, outsider feels like.  Chbosky perfectly recreated that feeling that you have when you hear a song you’ve never heard before that speaks to your soul.  It’s that song that when you find out another person loves it too, you immediately know that you are kindred spirits.

If you like the movie, I really recommend reading the book. Because it’s written like Charlie’s diary, it’s a very fast read.  Chbosky had to leave out some parts for time that I think really flesh out parts of the story.  It’s really well written and gives a lot more back story about Charlie’s Aunt Helen, who is crucial to the end of the story.  It has some beautiful prose, including the line from the movie, “and in that moment we felt infinite”.

The movie easily proves what many of the adults know, that being cool is actually one of the worst things that can happen to you in high school.  Being an outsider may be painful, but it builds the best character and allows you to really be you.  Which as it turns out, are some of the actual “perks” of being a wallflower.

Sleepwalk With Me:: Don’t Mind If I Do!

I am an NPR nerd, and frankly, proud of it.  I love me some Fresh Air, Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.  But I really, really, REALLY love This American Life.  I am soothed by the playful voice of host, Ira Glass, who both asks the tough questions and laughs like a goofy little kid.  I have listened to hours of episodes while playing solitaire (the solitaire is to give the illusion that I am actually doing something rather than just listening to story after story).  One of my favorite episodes is called, “Fear of Sleep”.  In it, comedian Mike Birbiglia  tells a story about a sleepwalking disorder that he has called R.E.M. Behavior disorder which causes him to act out his dreams.  I’ve listened to this episode at least five times, one of which was next to my husband, with me constantly saying, “oh this next part is really funny”, which I do a lot and he hates.

When I heard that this story was being made into a movie, called Sleepwalk With Me, I was excited and concerned.  I was pretty sure that I would be disappointed as I usually am by adapted material (except with The Color Purple, that was spot on.)  Ira Glass produced the film and Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and stars in it.  Since the first time I heard the story, I have become a screenwriter and a film festival movie screener.  I know how hard it is to make a movie work, especially when it’s your first.  So many tiny things can go wrong; the casting could be wrong, the music not quite right, the pacing too slow, or about 9,000 other things.  But Mike and Ira are smart guys and even though this isn’t their first rodeo, it’s kinda their first rodeo.

I was pleasantly surprised.  The parts that I thought wouldn’t translate to film, didn’t, so they modified how they told that part of the story.  They had Mike narrate, so it had the same storytelling feel of the original piece.  They added in the back story and what was happening in Mike’s life during that time in greater detail.  He had just moved in with his long time girlfriend and his comedy career was having a hard time getting off the ground.  In the movie his sleep disorder starting happening when the pressure to marry his girlfriend is intensified by his younger sister’s engagement.

In the movie, Matt Pandamiglio (Mike Birbiglia) works in a comedy club as a bartender who occasionally gets to do five minutes of material, and bombs.  His girlfriend is played brilliantly by Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), who has just the right amount of sweetness and sadness to convey the unspoken state of their relationship.  Matt’s mother is played by Carol Kane (The Princess Bride), who always has “one more thing”, which is never worth pointing out; “One more thing, I got the cake on the internet!”  Matt’s dad is played by James Rebhorn (aka “Beth’s Dad” from Guiding Light, as my husband always calls him).  Throughout the movie, he is always angry and always funny.

It was well paced, the right length, funny, touching and perfect.  I loved it.  In fact I laughed so hard, I think I need to see it again because I’m sure I missed something.  I couldn’t be happier for Mike and Ira, they really hit this one out of the park.

David Rakoff:: My Birthday Brother

Despite the intention of this blog, movies, tv and my random thoughts on those things, I feel that writing about essayist David Rakoff, who did act and wrote some material that was later filmed, is still appropriate.  He passed away a couple of weeks ago and I have a lot to say about him.  I know that this entry is pretty self indulgent, but isn’t a lot of blog writing?

One of the things that I am most proud of as a writer is that I share a birthday with the brilliant David Rakoff.  Not the same year, but still, it has been a source of immense pride for me.  A kind of lifeline, if you will, that I might have it in me to be a working writer.  I know that this theory relies heavily on a belief of astrology, which I have, but that Rakoff probably didn’t.  It’s moot now, but I always dreamed of a day that I could share with him that we shared one of the rarer of coincidences; being born on the same day.

We did have some similarities to which I attribute to our birthday.  He said that he didn’t like childhood, I wasn’t really a huge fan either.  He said that he was born to be a man of 47-53, and I totally get this.  Not only did I always want to be older than I was, when I was 26, a new friend guessed my age at 36 and I was genuinely flattered.  My tendency to embrace getting older may slow down when I hit 50, but as I approach my 40th birthday this year with admittedly less girlish glee as I approached my 30th (for the three years before I actually turned 30, when asked my age I would proclaim with childlike enthusiasm, “I’m almost 30!”) I am still filled with a sense of pride that I will get to say that I am in my forties.

I think part of why I have felt so close to David over the years despite our obvious demographic differences (he was a gay, Jewish, Canadian, man, I am a straight, gentile, Oregonian, woman), is that he wrote with such witty honesty.  He made you laugh while he was showing you his scars and his genuine feelings about whatever he happening to be talking about.  It made it feel like I was the friend he chose to share these things with over a glass of wine.  It was an illusion, of course.  Everyone who read his work got the same raw stories that I did, I wasn’t special to him by any means.

That feeling of secret privilege is also why essays are my favorite form of writing.  When someone is good at it, it is a very intimate genre.  It’s what makes This American Life so engaging.  David was a frequent contributor to TAL and I used to get so excited when I heard that he would be on that week’s episode.  It’s because of that radio show that I got hooked on David’s voice, so smooth, so elegant, always with a hint of a wink.  Although I’ve read all of his books, I also own audio versions of all of them.  When I was unlucky enough to have a particularly demoralizing job, I would listen to David’s “Half Empty” on my hour plus each way to and from said job.  I felt like I was carpooling with my friend and I felt less hopeless.

So although I have no claim on the man, I miss him.  I love that the places that we frequented together; Fresh Air, This American Life and the NPR website, gave tribute to him.  They all seemed as mournful as I felt, yet so dedicated to celebrating the genius heart that was David Rakoff.

I’ve always wondered if the celebrities that pass on know of the heartfelt feelings of their fans have for them.  I really hope they do because I really want David to know that I loved him as only an admiring, adoring fan that also shared his birthday can.

My 2010

This is a submission to http://www.justeffing.com, a great blog by writer Julie Gray.  The rules were 300 words or less about your 2010: are you the same person?

 

2010, it sounds so futuristic and now it’s about to be the past.  My 2010 brought me one of the best gifts I could have ever asked for: a calling.  After reading/listening to The Element by Ken Robinson I decided once and for all that I needed to know what my passion in life was.  I have been an actress and a clairvoyant for hire both of which turned out to not be my true calling.  And I have been dying to have a calling.  Through a series of events and people I found Brett.  No he isn’t my calling, but working with him is.  I found my professional soul mate.

 

I found my life soul mate (although I hate that term) ten years ago this coming New Years Day, but I was awakened to myself in a new way when I met my writing partner. I have believed in my heart that I was a writer for the last 9 years, but to join forces with someone and create in a way that, put simply, makes me happier than I ever thought working could.

 

So many other things happened this year too, I got an office job, I watched my sister shed 100 lbs that she had carried for decades, I became the Newsletter editor for my neighborhood, I participated in my first film festival, I watched my niece run a cross country meet, I read a series of books with my nephew, and had two friends “dump” me.  Although all of these things are worth mentioning, I don’t think any of them compare with finding my Sundance.  I feel alive in a way that I haven’t in years and I am looking forward to 2011 with a nervous stomach and hope.

 

It’s the Little Things

There are so many bits and pieces that go into making a movie really good.  A good script, good director, good acting are all no brainers, I’m talking about the IT factor.  The part of movie making that is just inspired and that is very hard to do on purpose.  George Lucas had no idea that Star Wars would be that big of a hit and that’s just one of the known stories of this phenomena.  It isn’t just about a GOOD director, its about the RIGHT director for the project.  Can you imagine if Frank Cappra was slated to make Gone With the Wind?  Scarlett wouldn’t have been the same Scarlett from the book, that’s for sure.  Or what if James Cameron directed Juno, Yikes.  That would be utter crap.  It’s also about the right cast, the right music, the right editor, the right location, the right cinematographer, and the list goes on.  It really doesn’t take much to make a movie go wrong, and it takes a tremendous amount to make it go right.  It’s just not always clear what is in either category.  Here is a short list of movies that I feel got it right and some of what I think they did right, I tried to keep it eclectic.

1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I don’t like Westerns.  I’ll just put that out there right off the bat.  I think they’re dull and the same story over and over.  I also hate when a historical movie is way off base with its facts.  Having said that, this is my favorite movie.  I think because it has so much charisma that it makes me not care about the above mentioned dislikes.  I love this movie so much that one time a boyfriend said to me, “you just keep thinking Butch, that’s what you’re good at” and I thought it was the most wonderful thing he’d ever said to me!  I was actually moved that he saw any similarity between me and Paul Newman’s character, that I loved so dearly.  The chemistry between Redford and Newman is the best I’ve ever seen; they are in love with each other in a way that is neither romantic nor creepy.  They are more committed to each other than they are to any women and it doesn’t make them seem any less masculine.  They are brothers in a way that few movies get right.  In real life Butch and Sundance hardly worked together at all, well at least compared to the way the movie paints it. My one complaint about this movie is the score.  Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head is a great song, but I have no idea what it is doing in a period piece about train robbers.  Also the instrumental music is so of the time that this movie was made, not when it takes place that during certain scenes I just cringe.  The classic lines, the twinkle in Newman’s eye when he smiles, and the way the two men ride silently through the landscape with only the sound of the horses hoofs makes this movie so elegant that I can watch it over and over and over, and I have.  Although I don’t recommend that you watch it with me, unless you like to hear someone other than Newman say, “Hell, the fall’ll probably kill ya!”

2. Secretary.  I know an odd choice to follow BCaTSK, not just because of the S & M subject matter, but because few have seen it.  I do have to say right of the bat, I am not into S & M, not that I think there is anything wrong with it.  I worry every time I recommend this movie to someone because I’m wondering “will this person think I’m trying to ‘out’ myself in some way?”  I’ll agree I’m a little twisted, but only in my head, not so much in my activities.  Having said that, I think this is one of the most beautifully romantic movies ever.  It is about being loved for your flaws and finding that person that is right for you and only you.  Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance made me instantly fall in love with her.  Those eyes are so entrancing (and her brother is the same way).  The whole movie hinges on a couple of scenes going the right way and it’s due to Maggie’s eyes that they do.  There is a scene where everything changes and it’s so subtle and I can feel it in my bones when it does.  The casting of James Spader was inspired too.  He is so believable as a well-meaning sadist, who is deep down a coward.  So many romantic movies show two beautiful people, not ones with kinky faults, fall in love.  They lack true imagination.  Secretary tells a very specific story that I see as more of a hero’s journey that a love story.  I also love the song at the end of the movie.

3. About a Boy.  I am a huge Nick Hornby (the author of the book About a Boy is based on) fan.  It seems that I am always either reading one of his books, just finishing one of his books or asking for one for Christmas.  I know that makes me sound like an incredibly slow reader, he doesn’t have THAT many books.  It’s just that I often volley between five books at any given time depending on my mood.  Hornby, however, is my traveling companion.  I tend to read his novels when I’m on a trip.  Now, knowing that I am a huge fan of the author usually means that I hated the adaptation, About a Boy is a lovely exception.  I did read the book after I saw the movie though, which for as closed as my mind can sometimes be, that’s usually the best course of action.  I thought Nicholas Hoult was so enchanting as the main character and although I am, already, a huge Hugh Grant fan, his performance was so subtle and charming I feel in love with him all over again.  And the MUSIC!  Don’t get me started!  The soundtrack is one of my favorites and several of the songs were played at my wedding including an instrumental one (which incidentally is a really funny story.  The song is called “I love NYE”.  For the life of us, neither my husband or I could figure out what NYE meant until I saw the movie again a couple of years after our wedding.  It is played in a scene at a New Years Eve party.  It means New Years Eve.  Not all that special unless you know that my husband and I met on, you guessed it, New Years Eve.)  The narration switching between the characters of Will and Marcus is so brilliant that it makes you wonder, which of these two is the”boy” the story is about?  Another “love” story that isn’t about romantic love, although that’s in there, I find the perspective wonderfully fresh and unique.  Well done all around.  Also, Toni Collette can do no wrong in my eyes, which brings me to my next picks.

4. Muriel’s Wedding/The Dish.  I’ve lumped these two together because a lot of the things want to say about them is the same.  I love Australian comedies.  I have an Aussie friend who does not understand this, but I’m sure there are American things he loves that I don’t get, so it all works out.  Both of these movies are wonderfully cast, perfectly scored (I love me some ABBA, Yo) and are both light-hearted with tears.  Another thing I love about these two movies is that they are two of my parents’ favorites.  It makes me love my folks even more to know that they “got” these two movies.  I know there isn’t all that much to “get” other than the heart of the movies, but to me that can be a real test of who someone is.   Also my folks are both mad ABBA fans.  Both have themes of loyalty and again (here’s a trend) neither is a romantic love story.  Both are directed like a fine symphony with a light touch and perfect flow, it’s magic!  (Sorry, very corny I know, that was just a little nod to ABBA).

5. Shaun of the Dead.  I know what you’re thinking.  A common horror movie?  I know I don’t tend to like the genre either, but this one is so funny and well written and far from common.  Not to mention that I would follow Simon Pegg into a burning building, were he to ask.  I love British humor and every one of the main actors are funny by themselves.  That is why it is awesome that there are two commentaries on the DVD, one with Pegg (co-writer) and Edgar Wright (director and co-writer) and one with the some of the main cast (Pegg, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis and I think Nick Frost, but don’t quote me.  I’d check, but as I write this I have loaned out my dvd yet again).  Pegg has been heard describing this movie as a Zom Rom Com because it’s a funny zombie movie (that never uses the “z” word) that has a romance sprinkled in.  He left a few things out, it’s also a slacker film, a bunch of misfits ban together to beat the odds movie, a hero’s journey, a nod to Pegg and Wright’s show Spaced, a war film and a touching drama (only for a minute when Shaun’s mom becomes a “z” word.  Hope I didn’t spoil it for you.)  I think the only thing it isn’t is a murder mystery.  For that, check out Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Wright’s follow-up.  This one is definitely good for the writing, acting, directing and great musical moments including a zombie sing-a-long to the song White Lines and the most creative use of Panic by The Smiths that I have ever seen.

I think I need to do another list.  I still have so many movies that I want to write about like, (in no particular order) Eagle vs. Shark, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, The Sting, The Breakfast Club, High Art, Donnie Darko, The Shawshank Redemption, LA Confidential, True Romance, The Color Purple, Garden State, Razing Arizona, Walking and Talking, Superman, Shallow Grave, Rushmore, The Bourne Identity and the list goes on and on.

I love movies, they ignite my heart and entertain my mind.  But they only do that when they “work”.  Unique and moving stories are what capture imagination and with the big block busters so prevalent s, those two things are becoming a dying breed.  Support independent film!  They are the best chance at originality.

Romance=Magic

You may have found yourself wondering at some point, “why do so many woman love romantic comedies?”  Lord knows I have.  I’ve even wondered why against all my brain is telling me, why am I smiling at this dopey, predictable and kind of insulting movie?  Romantic comedies have evolved over time, but currently they seem to consist of an adorable woman out of touch with who she REALLY is meeting a gorgeous manly man who somehow teaches her to get in touch with herself in a way she never thought possible thus culminating in their living happily ever after.  It’s so formulaic, it’s so unrealistic, it’s so lame, it’s insulting to both men and women, and yet many of us fall for it against our better judgment.  It doesn’t matter how many times I roll my eyes through out the transparent story when the guy tells the girl that he loves her, I realize that I am smiling like a little girl.  I hate that I do that, but I would by lying if I said I was immune.  

So, why?  Why do normally smart, even happy women fall for this trick of the cinema?  It’s simple, romance is magic for women.  We love magic (hello Harry Potter), we also love easy, happily ever after scenarios and they are a product of magic.  “You had the power to go home all along” is one of the most magical lines of any movie; it is both true and misleading.  It’s true because we all have inside us the power to create the lives of our dreams.  Misleading because it implies that there is no work involved, it’s just a magical pair of shoes.  It’s also why I think “The Secret” was so popular.  A lot of people heard, “all you have to do is wish for what you want and you will get it!”  Just like Dorothy, wish to go home and BOOM, magic shoes that grant wishes.  I always want to ask those who think “The Secret” is simple, “were you not wishing for any of those things before you heard ‘The Secret’?  What’s changed?”  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in magic, I”ve seen in my life and the lives of those around me, but I’m also a big believer in the work that it takes to bring about that magic.  The Secret is all about manifesting the life of your dreams, much like rom coms, the real secret is a lot less “Poof, there it is”. 

Another thing about movies in general is that a lot of us get a vicarious thrill watching them.  That’s why women love to watch Josh Duhamel, Brad Pitt and George Clooney fall in love with us, (aka, Katherine Heigel, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, etc.)  We not only get to feel like one of those studs finds us interesting and hot, we also get to be interesting and hot!  I think men are put off by them because they can’t related to the guys in the movie because they are purely a female fantasy of what we want men to be like.  Also, men aren’t complicated and women are, why on earth would they want to relive that vicariously for 2 hours?   Men like action movies because the guys are badass and things blow up.  What’s not to love?  I’m not saying that all men only like action movies or that women don’t like them too.  I know many men that I greatly admire that love a good intelligent story too, so do a lot of lovely women that I know.  It’s just that,  let’s be honest, a lot of guys fantasize about blowing things up and a lot of women fantasize about being swept away by a big strong man.  I know that guys also fantasize about other things, but they aren’t as prevalent in mainstream movies as they are in, shall we say, straight to dvd titles.

We also like to feel important and worth the effort because, let’s face it ladies, we put it a lot of effort too with the waxing and the high heels and the exercise, etc.  We like to think that some beautiful man with a brain in his head wants to dedicate his life to making us happy.  That’s an exaggeration, but it’s in there on a subconscious level.  Cinderella was a poor, put upon orphan and she landed the prince just because she had the right shoes (it all comes back to shoes, no wonder we’re obsessed with them.  We were brainwashed from the start.) 

We want to know that Mr. Right was there the whole movie.  We also love to be coddled into thinking that our life is a movie with great music and an even better wardrobe.  Once we meet Mr. Right, everything works out and we don’t have to live with the honeymoon period ending and the actual work that it takes to make a real relationship work.  We also love the magical illusion that when Mr. Right comes along it will be so obvious, well maybe not at first, but there will be no stopping that freight train of love once he’s come into our life.  Movies are just stories to make us feel better about out lives, so what harm does it do to let the ladies soak in a little magic?  None, once the women are grown.  But little girls don’t know how to understand that it’s just a movie and Christopher Reeve isn’t going to travel back in time just to fall in love with you… am I dating myself here?  Okay… Robert Pattinson isn’t going to love you over the thousands of women he’s met the hundred years or so he’s lived as a vampire because all that time he was waiting for you.  It’s nice to have fantasies, but not ones that make the men in the world seem inferior because they are being compared to gorgeous, flawless, attentive 2 dimensional versions of themselves.

Real men are wonderful and interesting and worthy of being on the screen too.  So are real women.  This desire for magical romance is an avoidance tactic.  Putting yourself out there is scary and hard, what if there are no takers?  What if I am so unlovable that I die alone?  I’ll end with a little secret of my own brought to you through some of my favorite Nada Surf Lyrics from their song Concrete Bed, “to find someone you love, you gotta be someone you love…”  Genuinely work on that and you will find magic all around you all of the time.

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