"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: Robert de Niro

a midsummer night’s movie binge . . .

Last night, we had dinner and then watched the tail end (the best part) of “Moonstruck” on Channel 91 of all places. The movie that came on afterwards was “Love Story” with Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw. I couldn’t believe I was watching it for the first time EVER! (Read online that one of the groups at Harvard still shows it to incoming freshman as a bonding exercise while they jeer and make fun of the movie.) I was struck by how fresh and beautiful Ali McGraw was in this film. Read later about her troubled 3rd marriage to Steve McQueen but that’s another whole long story.)
Next on this random TV station we don’t normally watch after “Love Story” was “Falling in Love” with Meryl Streep and Robert di Niro when they were oh-so-young and trim! That’s one of my all-time favorite films because of the way material of about falling in love by chance with someone outside marriage is handled so delicately and with such astute sensitivity. Streep almost runs into a train while desperately wanting to see him before he leaves town in the middle of the night – and fails. Plus, Robert de Niro’s hesitation as he walks towards Meryl Streep in the train at the end of the film is just priceless.
I continued the romantic love movie binge today by briefing “Oliver’s Story” – a sequel to “Love Story” with Candace Bergen which was a pale shadow of the original film with its overly repetitive music theme composed by Francis Lai (who also composed the unforgettable music theme to the French classic, “A Man and a Woman” in 1968, two years before “Love Story” in 1970.
Then, mid-morning, “Julie and Julia” came on – and once again, I observed Meryl Streep’s finely tuned facial expressions which showed her love for her husband, Paul Cushing Child played by Stanley Tucci and for her long affair with French cuisine.
Anyhow, although I have not been a Meryl Streep fan per se for a long time, her portrayal in “Falling in Love” made me seek out another unrequited life/love movie she starred in with Clint Eastwood called “Bridges of Madison County.” Oh my, how the grown children overreact and remonstrate at the beginning of the movie whilst they start reading their mother’s dying wish to be cremated and her ashes strewn at the bridge where Robert Kincaid’s ashes were scattered decades before. But “who was Robert Kincaid?” I am struck once again how the brittle shell around a family’s life is just a thin partition between what’s known within and what else truly mattered to people in their lives outside that cocoon.
So my list of favorite romantic movies that slowly unfurled on its own without much interference from me includes: “Moonstruck,” “Falling in Love,” “Bridges of Madison County,” so far. “Love Story” et al. didn’t make the cut, but I might go back and watch “A Man and a Woman” – which I loved with Jean-Louis Trintingeant and Anouk Aimee (va va voom!)  I’ll also reflect on other movies that might be added to this shortlist later on.
It’s amazing what one can do to entertain oneself with some unexpected serendipity on TV, Google, a subscription to Amazon Prime and some quiet down time (with a recuperating ankle) during what feels like a very long, hot summer.
Postscript: to jog my memory of other movies I have liked as much as these, I went through the top romance movies in the last ten years and then the top romance movies of all time. Guess what? “Falling in Love” isn’t even on either list! The only other movie I can think of right now that I enjoy seeing repeats of is “Notting Hill” with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.  Then there’s “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” (again with Meryl Streep) and “Out of Africa,” (MS too!)
Hmmmmm. . .  will have to think about this further.

two years old . . .

birthday candles
So as of Saturday, the 23rd of February, this blog turned two! Yep, been going for twenty-four months now, the view count is above 13,560 with visitors from over ninety countries.

Surprisingly, the fourth highest viewing country in 2012 was. . . (drumroll). . . Latvia! Go figure!

This morning, I received a sweet note from a reader saying that she had made tarts with her grandson (see “little hearts” post) and was reading “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (see post.) Sharing mutual experiences from the blog is so meaningful for me and I thank you for reading and writing to me about it.

Robert de Niro didn’t win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar last night, (see “Waking Up”) but Ben Affleck won for “Argo” as Best Picture, which I enjoyed seeing. From last night’s awards, the movie industry worldwide seems to be alive and well. Maybe we’re not going to hell in a handbasket after all, although you wouldn’t know otherwise from the antics of politicians in Washington. Or from reading about scuttlebutt at the Vatican, for that matter.

So, it’s a beginning of year three for the blog. A toddler in writing for me. Thank you for following it and for letting me know that you enjoy reading it. I’m surprised that the blog seems to have taken on a life of its own by now. And I’m interested, as much as you, to see what will come next. Thank you.

waking up . . .

Yesterday, I took a trip to Northampton, about an hour or so from where I live, to exchange some yarn for a sweater vest that I wanted to knit for a friend. It didn’t take long to find a nicer color in a heavier weight Lopi yarn that would be more suitable for the project. There was still time to window shop at a couple of stores that I like and have a quick lunch before returning home.

On the trip out, I had thought that I might be able to get back in time to catch the matinee showing of the movie, “Silver Linings Playbook.” The movie had stirred a lot of fuss for Jennifer Lawrence, a young actress who has been nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. The leading man was Bradley Cooper, whom I don’t particularly care for, but the film also had Robert de Niro in it so I figured that would balance things out.

I was a few minutes late but the cashier lady kindly confided that the movie had great acting but was slow in the beginning and that I wouldn’t have missed much. The beginning was indeed very slow, setting the stage for why and how Bradley Cooper was struggling with himself. His character does this all through the movie, this viewer wondering off-handedly whether he would ever “get it” or at least pull himself together.

Lawrence’s character is messed up also (of course, why else could there be a plot, right?) but there was an electric moment in the movie, at least for me, which is why I am writing this post on a Sunday morning. Lawrence is yelling at Cooper, saying that she does things for everyone else all day long, all the time, and that when she wakes up in the morning, she “feels EMPTY!” Well, I can identify with that all right. In fact, I was thinking later on, that many of us women feel like we’re doing that at least some of the time, and maybe not even noticing that we’re doing it. Or that it leaves us feeling empty too.

Why is it that even when we KNOW that we’re doing it–being and doing for others, all the time–that we can’t help ourselves. Or maybe our circumstances are that if we don’t “do it,” then nobody else will. Or, maybe we should be doing for others for ourselves, right? I don’t know the answer to this but I decided when I woke up this morning that I am going to take the day off from it, maybe even a couple of days since Monday is a holiday.

Instead of pushing myself to complete projects to please others, I’m going to take a rest from knitting. Instead of thinking that I really have to put away some things and clean the birdcage or the fridge, I think I’m going to read for pleasure today. Instead of cleaning up, I’m going to stop and rest today. After all, nobody’s MAKING me do anything. It comes from inside somewhere.

Another observation offered by the movie, equally as powerful, was the portrayal of a henpecked friend of Cooper’s, trapped by his desire to please a demanding wife who insistingly wanted what seemed like more and more, running him and his life around like a drill sargent. That was the quid pro quo for men who take that heavy burden on, trapped in their silent anger in the basement or out in the garage, the equivalent of waking up feeling empty too.

This little movie can be grating and annoying at times, but it portrays how vicariously we take out our frustrations in life, wanting our favorite sports team to win for us, wanting to win our bets in life. While Jennifer Lawrence was interesting to watch, it was Robert de Niro who stole the show. I hope he wins a Best Supporting Actor Oscar next weekend.