Let’s Talk About Movies

(As my first entry for my new blog, I wanted to share the first entry from my old blog. Years ago, I had the idea of writing about movies I had watched many, many times. And I really enjoyed writing my first — and only — three entries. Because I very quickly discovered that it took a very long time and a lot of commitment to watch a movie often enough to be able to comment on it to the extent that I could comment on “Love, Actually,” “This is Spinal Tap,” and “Along Came Polly.” So that initial effort at blogging fell by the wayside. I’ll be reprinting my three entries here, and then I’ll look forward to writing about many different things in the coming weeks. I’m so thrilled to have you here with me!)

Hello, Movie Lovers,

Let’s talk about movies. Specifically, let’s talk about movies I watch over and over again. They fall into two categories: movies I own on DVD and movies that are playing on HBO. Subcategories include excellent movies that deserve to be viewed repeatedly, movies that are essentially awful but perversely fascinating, and movies that aren’t great but kind of grow on you (well, kind of grow on me, at any rate). I’ll just pick them randomly from my bookshelves or from whatever current line-up HBO has, and then we’ll chat about them, shall we?

My first choice has got to be “Love Actually.” Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie and you don’t want to know about certain plot developments before you do see it. This is a big, fat Spoiler Alert.

I first saw “Love Actually” in the theatre with two of my girlfriends. We all had a great time watching it together (we talk a lot during screenings so we go to the movies on off hours when the theatres are almost always empty, but if you’re unlucky enough to see three women braying in a huddle the next time you go to the movies, don’t sit near us unless you enjoy running commentary). It’s got a great cast and includes some great performances. And it’s a sweet and romantic movie, perfect to watch around Christmas, that happy season being the timeframe of the movie itself. I also watched “Love Actually” in the theatre with my husband, Tom. He liked it fine, and I enjoyed seeing it again. Then, about a year or two later, HBO started showing it. Whenever I scrolled through the channels and saw that it was on, I would watch it. Often enough that one night, when Tom walked into the living room from the bedroom and saw that “Love Actually” was on again, he said, “For God’s sake, you’re not watching that again, are you?”

Yes, I was watching it again. Because into what life does the sight of Hugh Grant not bring at least a little cheer? I admit that for awhile he was chapping me something fierce. He was way too cute (in the very best and very worst sense of the phrase) in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” but apart from a quite fascinating turn in Roman Polanski’s mesmerizingly bizarre 1992 film “Bitter Moon,” he kept doing the same damn schtick over and over again until — say it with me — you wanted to smack him. Well, I guess with age has come some form of wisdom, because now I find Hugh adorable no matter what he does, just like I did in the beginning. Some might call my return to Gagaland over Hugh regression. Fuck ’em, right, Hughie?

But, come on, are we supposed to believe that the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, handsome and smart and affably charming Hugh Grant, doesn’t have a girlfriend? That he’s avaialable to fall in love, very quickly, ridiculously quickly, wonderfully quickly, with Natalie, who does some kind of work at 10 Downing Street, but I’m not sure what, other than bring tea and biscuits to Hugh so he can fall in love with her? And they keep referring to how fat Natalie is. She’s not at all fat. She’s not even very large. J’accuse! This movie is to be at least partially blamed for the rise in anorexia among young women in the U.S. and England. Still, I don’t even care, because it’s adorable that they start making out at the local (local for Natalie’s “dodgy” neighborhood, so let’s love Hugh even more for falling in love with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks) school Christmas pageant.

Yeah, right, as if the Prime Minister of England would EVER diss the President of the United States like that. Won’t happen. EVER. And Hugh does it not because of some deeply held political and moral beliefs or any sense of national pride, but rather because Bubba/Dubya, I’m sorry, Billy Bob (at first I typed “Billy Bod,” so I think that should be his nickname in the press from now on) hit on Natalie, that Horn Dog. Fuck you, United States, get your hands off my woman! But I don’t care, because it’s a really delicious moment, even if the U.S. is a greater country by far than the U.K. ever was or ever will be, so kindly don’t forget that Mr. Writer/Director Richard Curtis.

I am only slightly kidding with that last feisty statement.

Do we really even need the story of the two stand-ins for the porno flick who fall in love? No, we do not. Don’t argue with me on this one. It’s just an excuse for giggling at hands on titties, etc. I defy anyone to prove me wrong.

Bill Nighy’s character couldn’t be more adorable, and he couldn’t be more adorable playing him. I get teary every time he comes from Elton John’s party where there were a large number of half-naked girls with their mouths open (yeah, girls, right) to celebrate Christmas with his fat manager, a.k.a. “The Fucking Love of [His] Life.” Fabulous.

Colin Firth asks this Portugese woman to marry him FAR too quickly. I’m reminded of a woman I used to work with in New York who married a French man after knowing him for only a few weeks, despite the fact that he didn’t speak more than a few words of English and she spoke almost no French. When I made some sympathetic comment to the effect of “Are you out of your fucking mind?,” she assured me, “When you’re in love, you don’t need words.” Sister, when you’re in love is when you need words — carefully, carefully chosen words — most of all.

And Colin should have beaten the crap out of his brother when he found out that he was sleeping with his girlfriend. His brother should have still been in a coma by the time Christmas rolled around. What a putz. Both of them. The brother for sleeping with his brother’s girlfriend, and Colin for not beating the crap out of him.

I turn the channel whenever that story with Laura Linney comes on, because it makes me crazy. She has got the most annoying ring on her cell phone in the world, and that’s quite a statement, isn’t it. She finally gets in bed with a gorgeous guy on whom she’s had a huge crush for years, and she interrupts their romp to answer the phone because her mentally disturbed brother is calling and she’s all he’s got in the world because their parents are dead. I don’t care. Either shut off your damn phone or answer it once and shout, “Listen, you SPAZOID, I’m fucking over here, so don’t BOTHER me!”

Love that story about the geeky loser who has a terrible haircut and goes to Wisconsin (WISCONSIN in WINTER, can you believe how fabulous that is?) and meets four, count ’em four gorgeous women who immediately fuck him and who ends up coming back to England with Shannon Elizabeth and Denise Richards in tow.

Emma Thompson broke my heart when she cried to “Both Sides Now” because her husband gave a gold necklace to his secretary instead of to her. Rowan Atkinson was annoying in the store while Alan Rickman was buying said necklace, but he redeemed himself when he reappeared briefly toward the end of the movie to make it possible for Liam Neeson’s stepson to sneak through security at the airport so he could say goodbye to the Love of his Life (no “Fucking” in this moniker). Myself, I always cry to “Puff, The Magic Dragon” and that Linda Ronstadt song about how “I’ve done everything I can, to try to make you mine, and I think it’s going to (actually, I think the exact lyric is “gonna”) hurt me for a long, long time.” Heike Makatsch, by the way, who plays the whorish secretary who makes shameless plays for her married boss, the slut, was born in Germany, so let’s all give her a big round of applause for that perfectly clipped British accent.

Liam Neeson is widowed. His stepson is adorable and they get along great. This segment of the movie is of course a cartoon, but, again, who cares? Liam meets Claudia Schiffer. Liam’s stepson does not have a problem with the prospect of his very recently deceased mom being replaced by a supermodel. Fine with me. Liam deserves Claudia, and I’m glad his adorable stepson is keeping his pie hole shut about this.

I’m forgetting or ignoring a lot of what makes this movie so swell. Oh, yeah, I love the way the little kids ask the Prime Minister to sing Christmas carols when he’s looking for Natalie in the aforesaid “dodgy” part of town, and Hugh obliges and signals for his bodyguard to join in and it turns out Hugh’s bodyguard has a fabulous operatic singing voice. A delightful surprise for Hugh, and for you ‘n me. This is just a swell, swell, movie, despite any of my grousing about this and that being wrong, which is downright Scrooge- and Grinch-like of me. I should be ashamed of myself. Bravo, Cast and Crew! Rule, Britannia! Stop saying Natalie’s fat, and we’ll get along just fine. Actually love you all.

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