formulaic

In ALL, MOVIES by Stephanie Klein50 Comments

Formulaic.  Certain things just are.  Elton John songs.  He plugs in a formula and knows what makes a hit.  It’s no longer about inspiration and is much more reliant on form.  Just as Barry & Ira in City Slickers knew "the right" ice cream flavor that went with any meal, certain things just are formulaic.  For me, rainy days go hand in hand with certain foods and movies.  Right now, for instance, I’m eating a steamy bowl of New England clam chowder in my white bed, submerged beneath covers, the air-conditioning full-throttle.  I’ve plunged islands of crostini into the bowl, submerging them until they soften, then eating them in broken swampy pieces.  Cubes of potato and the tang of the clam.  And, it’s raining.  This is the way it’s done.  All that’s needed, besides more soup for when I’m done, is the proper movie.  The Parent Trap or The Goonies would most certainly work.  Or I could mix things up with a DVD-fest of Ally McBeal episodes.  See, really what makes this work is the Vhonda Shepard songs. 

I was flipping through the TV Guide lineup (trying to ignore Joan & Melissa Rivers–talk about formulaic jokes… ugh) when I came across Casablanca.  I’d seen it years ago, but mostly, when I think of it, I think of When Harry Met Sally.  I love stories where the couple begin as enemies and each soften in their own ways, toward each other.  Something’s Gotta Give, Bridget Jones Diary (aka Pride & Prejudice), Clueless (aka Emma), You’ve Got Mail, The Philadelphia Story (one of my favorites), One Fine Day, even Groundhog Day, though really, that hate was a one-way street.  On some level I suppose that’s why make-up sex can get so hot, especially when it starts before you’ve actually made up.  Or more importantly, why so many of us stick around in the wrong relationships.  We’re hoping our partner might soften to us, might hopefully change.  We know better, certainly, but we ignore our heads and follow our hearts… into heartbreak.  Most of the really good love stories I’m drawn to begin with people who cannot stand each other.  And then there’s drama and chemistry and tension.  Even when I was still living at home with my parents, I was drawn to The Cutting Edge, an ice skating movie where a stuck up figure-skater learns a thing or two from a hockey player.  Love that crap.  I just wish I knew more of the classics shaped this way.  It’s a classic formula.  There’s also the guy gets girl, loses girl, then tries to win girl back.  That works, too, but it’s usually a sub-category within the whole "hate-first" formula, though not always. Underdog stories do the same thing. Rudy, Hoosiers, Seabiscut, The Greatest Game Ever Played.  Losing, taste of small success, then more struggle and big finish. 

I wish I knew more about film.  Not the technicals.  Not necessarily the history either.  Sometimes I light up knowing someone I love hasn’t yet seen one of my favorite movies.  I cannot wait to share it with them, eager to watch them experience it for the first time.  I already cannot wait to introduce our children to Anne of Green Gables or my Disney favorites.  I remember when my father introduced me to The March of The Wooden Soldiers.  I knew it was important to him, even though I was still wearing feety pajamas.  "Good, huh?" he asked.  I wish there were (and I believe there have to be) movies I haven’t discovered yet, favorites of someone else.  Recently, The Suitor begged me to watch Being There.  Not a chick flick, but I definitely enjoyed it.  No formula there.  I’ve already seen every single movie with Cary Grant, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Barbara Streisand, Diane Keaton, Katherine or Audrey Hepburn (oh how I loved Love in The Afternoon), so please don’t go recommending them.  But other than that, I’m taking recos…. please.

My Netflix queue is nearly barren!   

Comments

  1. Check out Dear Frankie with Emily Mortimer and Gerard Butler. It's not a love-turns-to-hate flick, just a simple, beautiful story about a mother's love for her son and the man who helps her along the way.

  2. Have you tried the Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies? They almost all use the hate-first formula.

  3. TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY for that supernatural love story (and the always hot Alan Rickman) and TURNER & HOOCH (for the hate turns to love story… okay so it's a boy and his dog… but it's sweet)

  4. I love The Cutting Edge! I love days of laying around watching Coyote Ugly, The Cutting Edge and Bridget Jones. Kind of embarrassing I guess but so much fun. I would recommend Sweet Home Alabama.

    P.S. So glad to see you are having a signing at BookPeople. Can't wait to meet you.

  5. This is totally cheesy, but Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey. It is ridiculously cheesy and takes stereotypes of us southern folk a little far, but it's still a cute movie.

    YES, I AGREE. I'VE SEEN ALL OF REESE'S FILMS, INCLUDING THE MAN IN THE MOON.

  6. Urban Cowboy.
    "Are you a real cowboy?"

    "That depends on what you think a real cowboy is."

    Love, love, love that movie.

  7. Scenes from a Marriage and Frannie and Alexander are excellent. Both Swedish films (the latter a mini-series). The dynamics of the relationships are so interesting. F&A is five parts, I believe, and I watched all five parts in one night. So good.

    My partner is a director, and so I am forced (sometimes it's a pleasant experience and sometimes it's pure torture) to watch every movie that has some link to his inspiration :)

    He on the otherhand refuses to watch any film that's purely entertaining jibberish (which I love in the right mood).

  8. You forgot "Michael". Another great movie from Norah Ephron. I love all the Tracey & Hepburn movies too. What about the "Thin Man" movies. I love them also. Although they really don't have the hate-love dynamic you crave. Dick Powell and Myrna Loy always drinking cocktails at all hours of the day in formal attire. It seems we love the same kind of movies and can watch them over and over again. What the hell does that mean anyway? Wish I could get down to Austin and have you sign my book. I'll try my best.

  9. Sliding Doors… Amelie… Life is Beautiful… It's a Wonderful Life…

    I OWN ALL OF THESE ON DVD ALREADY (but thanks!)

  10. Some GREAT rainy day (everyday) flicks:

    Father of the Bride (both 1&2)
    Finding Nemo
    Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
    Can't Buy Me Love
    Christmas Vacation
    My Father the Hero
    Love Actually
    Dirty Dancing
    Along Came Polly
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    Garden State
    My Best Friends Wedding
    and of course Bridget is a given.

  11. How about Before Sunrise and Before Sunset? They are rainy day favorites. One right after the other is ideal.

  12. I have 491 movies in my queue but no clue where to start. I'm actually watching When Harry met Sally right now. They've just met and fighting before going into the diner. I love this movie.

    If I think of anything good, that I don't suspect you have already seen, I will send a "recos" your way.

  13. 'The Apartment' w/ Jack Lemmon & Shirley MacLaine…'Heartburn' is another Nora Ephron – classic Jack & Meryl.

    Amelie, All About Eve, Home For the Holidays, Up Close & Personal.

    And although I tried to avoid it – I got addicted to the Gilmore Girls.

  14. Long time reader…. first time to comment. I had to mention my faves Pretty in Pink… Sixteen Candles… The Breakfast Club
    Can ya tell I'm a child of the 80's?
    Love, LOVE these movies

  15. Reality Bites (THE BEST love/hate theme flouting megaflick — SUPERB) High Fidelity, High Translation, Almost Famous, About a Boy (also love-hate'esque). I also feel like you would love the intensity of 'Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind'.

    Your writing style is wonderful (liked your book a good deal)… but your film choice sucks my proverbial balls. JK! jk. (sort of). Try out some of the above mentioned un-conventional films for a start…

  16. Reality Bites (THE BEST love/hate theme flouting megaflick — SUPERB) High Fidelity, High Translation, Almost Famous, About a Boy (also love-hate'esque). I also feel like you would love the intensity of 'Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind'.

    Your writing style is wonderful (liked your book a good deal)… but your film choice sucks my proverbial balls. JK! jk. (sort of). Try out some of the above mentioned un-conventional films for a start…

  17. Miss Klein,
    I always read your blog, but have never posted….however, I too love sharing my favourite movies, so I thought I would suggest a few.
    For the formulaic hate-love transition, I think that Anna and the King with Jodie Foster fits…a couple of my other faves are Playing by Heart (Angelina Jolie) and Heart and Souls (Robert Downey Jr.)….if you have yet to see any of these, hopefully you enjoy them!
    Thanks for your honest, insightful writing and congratulations on all of your current successes, both professional and personal!!!

  18. look at 'Woman on Top' (with Penelope Cruz), a romantic fable about the power of love and food and tell me what about it… ;)

  19. Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. Such a good movie. Love Love LOVEEEE that movie and can watch it over and over again. Watch it and let me know.

    Life As A House.

    Those are two special films that should be enjoyed in a cozy bed on a rainy day. For me it would be with Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream or a Magnolia's Cupcake, but Clam Chowder would do too.

  20. Not sure if you've seen "Maria, Full of Grace," but WOW. I'm not huge on foreign films, more of a romantic comedy girl myself, but again, WOW. I'd say it ranks up in my top 5 movies of all time. If you haven't seen it, definitely do.

  21. First post here, but when it comes to romantic comedies I just have to put in my two cents! I suppose this falls into the hate then love formula somewhat–While You Were Sleeping. I really enjoyed a lot of your pics (esp. Bridget Jones!) but WYWS is my ALL TIME favorite movie. I should really go watch it again… I also like Ever After and Never Been Kissed, both with Drew Barrymore coincedentally.

  22. Land Before Time series (I think there are at least 9 of them). Definitely a formula going on there and I got my niece and nephew hooked on them. Get this they knew the names of dinosaurs before I did!

    Legends of the Fall – true heartbreak.

  23. On the Waterfront is my absolute favorite movie ever. It is not strictly a love strictly a love story but I consider it romantic. Please watch this movie Stephanie if you have not already seen it.

  24. I LOVE:

    Return to Me
    The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
    Legally Blonde
    The Fog of War
    Life is Beautiful
    Rainman
    The Point (by Harry Nilsson)
    Shall We Dance? (Masayuki Suo's version)

  25. Not a movie, but the tv show Sports Night. And don't worry if you don't like sports–I don't really either except for longhorn football and wimbeldon (oh, and figure skating). It's about the people. And the fastest-paced dialogue this side of the Gilmore Girls. See, I'm very girly. Sports Night. I'm not kidding.

  26. A sweet, little unknown called, "Little Manhattan". It will melt your heart and flood you with memories.

  27. Some of my favs that come to mind are: Gotcha! (silly, very 80s, great dialogue and Anthony Edwards with hair), The Door in the Floor (smart, sexy, quirky), and Murderball (documentary about quadroplegic rugby players)

    You probably know these well, but figure I'll offer anyway: About Last Night, The Big Easy, Sea of Love, Kissing Jessica Stein

  28. If only : Jennifer Love Hewitt , love the movie as well the songs.

    Hey Stephanie, when is your 'Subscribe' link going to open?

  29. Some Kind of Wonderful – a pearl amongst '80's movies. Guy wants girl, gets girl, wrong girl, right girl there all along… John Cusack.

    Singles. Stand by Me. Less Than Zero. Reality Bites.

  30. Try:

    Love Story
    Harold and Maude
    Life is Beautiful
    Thoroughly Modern Millie
    In America
    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

    Broad range to suit myriad moods!

    c.

  31. Movies I can't live without, particularly on rainy days:

    Just about any John / Joan Cusack movie

    10 Things I Hate About You

    The Walmart Baby Movie (Can't remember the name, but we watched it probably twice a day for almost a month when it first came on HBO)

  32. Return to Me. Love it.
    Also–saw the recommendation for the book in this month's Marie Claire…not just on the summer reading lists :)

  33. I did watch some of the films you mentioned and loved them.I liked Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind and lately i saw "I heart the huckabees" and liked it a lot.For the rest i think my most favorite is every Kubric?s film.He touches me like no other film ever does.I know you talked about romantic films , only the first one could do under these circomstances.As a reader of your blog I know a little about the themes that interst you so i just felt to share my favorites thinking you might have liked them yourself.

  34. Completely off the request list but I, with my non-PC sense of humour, loved American Dreamz. Anyone seen it? Any comments just for interest?

    All the Oscar-nominated films were excellent but it seems not anything that you, Steph'd enjoy – Crash, Munich, Transamerica (Felicity H should have won Best Actress), Brokeback, Capote, etc etc. Did you see any of those? Or do you only watch the schmaltz!

    "Inside Man" is mesmerizing. "The Upside of Anger" too.

    How do you and the Suitor watch movies together, because surely he's not into your genre. One of my all-time favourite films is "The Crying Game". A recent British gem was "Keeping Mum". You may enjoy "The Family Stone" with Dianne Keaton, S J Parker etc.

    Ps I've seen Being There too …

  35. Try "Same time next year". It has Alen Alda and Ellen Burstyn. It spans over 26 yrs and is really good. Love your blog by the way. congrats on the youngins

  36. 1969 with Winona Ryder and Kiefer Sutherland
    Grosse Point Blanke (obvious choice for me)
    Anything by John Hughes is worth a revisit

    Annoying, unsolicited, and probably unwelcome comment – but please turn down your AC! Global warming is bad enough as it is.

  37. …just figure out..
    "A river runs through it" and "Fried green tomatoes at the whistle stop café"…
    for me they're perfect for a rainy day and got all a good movie needs: they make you cry, they make you laugh, always with a light sense of melancholia.
    Hope you like it.

  38. Hi Stephanie, it's my first time posting here, but definitely not my first time reading. I've been reading your blog on a more or less regular basis and finally I've got something to say!
    I'm just curious if you've seen "The Lake House" yet and if yes what's your opinion on it?(or "Il mare" for that matter)
    And today I'm gonna go watch "Volver" with some friends – don't know if I should be looking forward to this one:-/

    Movies/chick flicks I'd recommend: "While you're sleeping", "Keeping the Faith"(my all time favourite), "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "In the mood for love"(one of the greatest movies ever);

    Well that's all for now.
    Keep up that great writing of yours, I really enjoy it and I'm looking forward to "Straight up and dirty"!

  39. Falling in Love, with Meryl Streep and Robert Deniro

    not the traditional love story formula, but ohh the chemistry!

  40. I love all the movies you have mentioned.

    I can recommend Rhomer's movies to you. They are very cute.

    A question: Do you like Woody Allen? I love him.

    In bocca al lupo : )

    Manuela from Milan

  41. Dear Frankie is great.

    these are also fantastic films….
    The Barbarian Invasions
    Japanese Story
    My Life Without Me (this movie will have you balling like a fucking baby)
    He Loves Me He Loves Me Not
    Love Me if You Dare
    Everything is Illuinated
    My Summer of Love (not what you expect but very good)
    Liyla 4ever

Leave a Comment