For the love of movies.

The Graduate minimalist poster by Monster Gallery | Mom101
I adore the Oscars. Always have. There are times I want to be cynical about it but…but…I can’t. I get teary over the speeches, I love gawking at the fashion (especially when it’s my kids who are doing the commentary), and really I love the whole premise of honoring art. Even if it’s commercial. Even if it’s debatably art at all. In some camps, I know that if it’s got even one whiff of Hollywood on it, one name-you-know star, one hit song, one happy ending, it can’t possibly be art.

Whatever. I’m getting too old to be that cynical. (Though I still think The Notebook is dreck and you can’t make me like it. Sorry Kristen.) 

Looking up the definition of art, I find: The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form…producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Beauty? Sometimes. Emotional power, indeed. I can’t even think of how many times I’ve uttered phrases from the films burned into my consciousness even decades ago.

What’s your damage Heather?
I forgot my mantra
Hey, smoke up Johnny!

One word: Plastics.
Dogs and cats, living together

(RIP Harold Ramis.)

Surely you have your own overused movie quotes that are forever part of your vernacular?

Little Miss Sunshine poster - Monster Gallery | Mom101

 Minimalist movie posters by Joseph Chiang, Monster Gallery

My early years were so informed by movies that I distinguish school years and fashion trends based on what movies were out. I can track my teenage dating life via what movie I saw and with whom. (And how much of the film we actually watched, ahem.) I remember the evolution from a girl allowed to see Benji alone in the theater at six (those were different times) to a girl not allowed to see Fame the summer I spent at my aunt’s–despite having seen it four times already.

My first movie was  Shampoo, of all things. It was a drive-in. My parents hoped we’d sleep in the back of the wagon and they could…do whatever parents did at drive-in movies.

The first movie I  was grounded for was Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I saw on a  forbidden if very chaste “date” with a boy who grew up to prefer other boys anyway.

Han Solo quote art - 17th and Oak | Mom101Movie quote art by Peter Ware, 17th and Oak

I feel lucky to have been around for the massive Star Wars cultural explosion and to this day I wish I could find all those stickers and trading cards I collected so avidly. Saturday Night Fever compelled my high school gym teacher to teach us the hustle in her pink velour track suits. Watching Annie Hall the first time I remember thinking, what the heck is going on here with these people talking over each other? It was something special. And different. And I felt very mature for getting it (kind of).

Annie Hall paper doll art - Claudia Varosio | Mom101

Claudia Variosa Annie Hall Paper Doll Art 

When I hit my teens, I can tell you exactly where I was when I first saw Tom Cruise slide across the floor in his skivvies. I remember seeing Tom Hanks in Splash and thinking hey, it’s Buffy!  We had no idea then that a few decades later, the name Madison would eat the baby naming business whole.

I screamed through each and every Halloween and Friday the 13th movie; they stayed fresh because it took a while for us to catch on that happy music was a mislead every time, and that the girl who had sex always got killed first.  So much for post-feminist liberation.

I covered my locker door with photos from John Water films, then hit a phase of French subtitled movies like Metro and Diva, while smoking clove cigarettes and feeling extremely subversive, even though I understood them pretty much not at all. I hit the requisite dark indie movie phase that included Clockwork Orange and Liquid Sky. I visited the Film Forum with my dad to see revival double-features in black and white, falling in love with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and Spencer Tracey along the way.


Godfather - Ottoman Style by Murat Palta | Mom 101

Clockwork Orange Ottoman style by Murat Palta | Mom101

 The Godfather and Clockwork Orange as Ottoman art by Murat Palta

As a child of the 80’s though, my true heart was with John Hughes. Always with John Hughes.

I swooned through every single film, desperately wanting a best friend like Annie Potts, a boyfriend like Matthew Broderick or Andrew McCarthy, and hoping one day to get invited to party even close to the one in Sixteen Candles. I remember being brought to tears soon after a break up every time Don’t You Forget About Me came on the stupid radio.  (Hey, remember radio?)

And damn, if Judd Nelson punching that fist to the sky at the end of Breakfast Club didn’t capture, in a single image, every single thing you needed to know about GenX—before there was such a thing as GenX of course.

80s movie art - Retrowhale | Mom101

 80s Movie Art by RetroWhale

 Some of my passion for movies was entertainment. So much of it was escape.

I wanted to be Dorothy, and Leisl, and Princess Leia, and ooh, Anne Baxter with the sultry voice and all those gorgeous dresses in the Ten Commandments–and now I watch as my own girls want to be them too. I also wanted to be Kim Richards in Escape to Witch Mountain, but not so much anymore.

Later, I wanted to be Veronica. Diane Court. Holly Golightly. Linda Barrett.

Man, didn’t every girl want to be Linda Barrett with that body and that hair and that Cars soundtrack playing in the background?  Holly Golightly would never have worn that red bikini.

Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany by 17th and Oak | Mom101

When I hit my adulthood, I held potential dates to a Princess Bride test–it was a single issue, make-or-break litmus test that determined whether we could be compatible or not.

It was always right by the way.

And I acknowledge the emotional hold the films I grew up loving still have on me; this weekend, I nearly unfriended Jim Lin when he confessed to never having seen Sixteen Candles. And yet, even he can quote from it.

I desperately missed movies during those years of early parenthood, when I was lucky if I stepped foot once in a theater all year. If there’s one small silver lining of not having my kids with me every day now, it’s that I sometimes find the time to see Wolf of Wall Street on the Big Screen, or American Hustle, or Nebraska–overpriced popcorn and all.

So tonight we’ll collectively watch the Oscars, and we’ll bitch about how looooong it is. We’ll take the same jabs we always do at the bad script and guy from the Academy who gets to speak and the unfortunate wardrobe choices and the awful ironic facial hair on some actors. We’ll cross our fingers that there is no interpretive dance numbers for the best song nominees. We’ll complain that there’s no more art anymore, and that one movie got robbed, and it’s all political anyway and blah blah blah blah.

And it will be awesome. Because it’s movies. 


9 thoughts on “For the love of movies.”

  1. I can take or leave the Oscars, but I do love movies.

    We started a Friday Night Movie Night tradition the second time my husband got deployed because I needed constant small events for the kids to look forward to (since pacing ourselves for over a year for daddy to come home was too hard to grasp). It’s a constant challenge for me to find movies that will be interesting and appropriate to all of us despite the vast age range involved. We spend a lot of time trying to expose the kids to what we term “source material,” because they see references to all kinds of things that they have no idea what the origins are.

    We’ve watched the original King Kong (and then showed them Jurassic Park so they could spot the similarities), lots of silent movies with Charlie Chaplain and Harold Lloyd (awesome for people with small kids because they are still hilarious for everyone), and have started introducing them to movies that we enjoyed, like Ghostbusters. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure turns out to be a great kids’ movie (despite a few somewhat gross sexual jokes and one unfortunate homophobic bit that we had to explain then condemn), and we had to preface Ferris Beuller’s Day Off with the idea that “Some people don’t like school” which my kids found baffling, but accepted for the premise of the film to work. This weekend we watched Apollo 13, and that had some amazing teaching moments in it, along with it simply being a great film.

    Just like a lot of things with parenting I get to discover movies anew as I see them through my children’s eyes. I love it.

    1. I love the Friday Night Movie Night traditions! We do the same more or less–and I love that they’re hitting the age where we can watch things we both like and really talk about it. Sage’s new favorite movie is Les Mis. I debated about it and then decided we would just pause a lot and talk about it (so it took like 4 hours!) but I think it had a lot of meaning for them, more than I would have thought. Kids have an amazing ability to skip right over the things we’re most worried about.

      I really like that you’re willing to watch imperfect movies and use the scenes as teaching moments. I know a lot of parents who say “well there’s one scene where someone smokes so we can’t watch that movie” and I think hm. You can always talk about that part?

      Thanks for the great ideas. Apollo 13 sounds perfect.

  2. I nodded along emphatically as I read this, I fell so madly in love with entertainment that I pursued it as a career. It was good to me and in the end I got the fairy tale ending with the right guy and the happy life. Somewhere along the way though, I lost my ability to just enjoy and be swept away by the stories. One too many unexpected and gratuitous assaults, one too many graphic scenes that wouldn’t leave me after the credits.

    I don’t think I’m a prude, but for me the promise was broken and too much of what movies do is not at all with me in mind. It makes me sad and I do try to tiptoe back, but I nearly always come away stinging.

    Tonight, as part of a non-cable household, I may peek at Twitter and see what’s being said, but chances are someone there will also cross a line, attacking someone for aging or not aging. It will get mean and that wonder that I so reveled in will drift off quietly, familiar but distant, like the melancholy music of the 70s that is the soundtrack of my childhood.

    I do envy you your continued faith in it.

    1. It’s interesting Amanda, I hit a point early in motherhood where I couldn’t see anything violent at all. That’s passed for some reason and I’m back to enjoying some really dark dramas which is sort of nice again. I totally understand your feelings.

      As far as boneheads on Twitter, eh. For me it’s a challenge to be funny without being mean. Mean is cheap.

  3. Whenever I think about my misspent youth I wonder why I just didn’t go to the movies every weekend with my parents or by myself instead of trying to do “the cool thing” with my friends which always amounted to a wasted night of driving around doing nothing. One of my favorite things to do is to go to the movies by myself. I buy myself a, obnoxiously over-priced soda, an obnoxiously over-priced popcorn (and maybe even some obnoxiously over-priced chocolate) plop myself down an await to be transported to that magical cinematic place.

  4. It struck me reading this, that I’m not particularly a movie person these days, although they do sort of define my childhood very much the way they did yours. My friends and I used to sneak in to see R rated movies when I was 14 and I even had to lie to my parents and tell them I was seeing something else.

    The Princess Bride – totally. I still remember going to see it in the theater with my best friend and we quoted it endlessly. Anyone who doesn’t like it or doesn’t get it, doesn’t get me. I have it stored up on my Tivo to show my son as soon as I can tear his attention away from Minecraft for a couple of hours.

    And there are several movies that I haven’t seen but that I can still quote.

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