Welcome to a new series on – you guessed it – my favourite things. When it comes to things I like, I’m still pretty teenager-ish; I like to rank and list them. I find lists of things quite delicious, actually.
I love movies. When I was a kid I dreamed of being a screenwriter/director – my childhood and teenager diary entries are filled with details of my Oscar acceptance speeches, what I’d wear if I appeared on David Letterman, and fake articles of me being interviewed in Premiere magazine. I’ve since given up the film making dream, but I still love movies.
My Top Ten Favourite Movies*:
1. Annie Hall: From the fashions to the dialogue to the shots of Manhattan to the squirmy, uncomfortable and downright adorable Diane Keaton (why do you think my son’s name is Keaton? Seriously.), this is Woody Allen at his nebbishy, hilarious, bittersweet best. It’s been my favourite movie of all time ever since I was fifteen – in my grade 10 yearbook photo I’m wearing a white shirt, tie and men’s vest, totally a la Mademoiselle Hall (no one got it, though – they thought I looked like a private school girl). I have this poster hanging in my front hallway (copyright 1977 United Artists Corporation, by the way). (Hannah and Her Sisters is a close second for my favourite Woody Allen movie.)
2. Harold & Maude: Another very formative movie for me in my teen years – I think I first saw it when I was 14, and then my beloved and very inspiring English 11 teacher, Ms. Laidlaw, once screened it in class (much to my heart-stopping delight, she also screened Hannah and Her Sisters!). The story of a 20-year-old cutie nerd who likes to pretend to commit suicide (much to the horror of his Grey Gardens-type mother) who falls in love with a wacky 80-year-old lady, Harold & Maude made me want to live in a converted train car, own a Hearse, crash funerals, be wild and carefree, and one day name my daughter Maude. Also, the Cat Stevens soundtrack is totally kickin’.
3. The Graduate: Speaking of soundtracks, does The Graduate not have one of the best soundtracks ever? Maybe it’s just because I’m a massive Simon & Garfunkel fan. Anyway, Dustin Hoffman is brilliant, I wanted all of Mrs. Robinson’s clothes as well as her house and all its interior decor, and the sexual innuendos were both tantalizing and mysterious to my 13-year-old self. Also, I do believe that this movie started my love of hotel bars.
4. When Harry Met Sally: Of all the movies I’ve watched in my life thus far, this is probably the one I’ve seen the most. I’ve seen it probably, oh, hundreds of times. It’s my sick day movie, my Christmas movie, my sisters movie (the three of us have watched it together many a time) and my general comfort movie. I’ll never get sick of it. It’s so quotable, so loveable. Billy Crystal is a genius. It has everything. Also, as teenager I of course wanted to look and act just like Meg Ryan (partly because she was married to Dennis Quaid, and I had a huge crush on him).
5. The Double Life of Veronique: Could Irene Jacob be any more fabulous? This is another movie I first saw when I was a teenager and fell in love with it (what is wrong with me? see below). I love stories involving doppelgangers. And I really love the cinematography – everything is so yummy and warm and candlelit-looking. There’s this one scene where Veronique comes home and opens a package in her hallway, and the sound of it is so wonderfully crinkly and full of promise – that whole scene gives me that lovely, dreamy soothed feeling, which I also get when I watch someone writing slowly on a chalkboard, or gently rummaging through a box full of pencil crayons (you know that feeling? I’m getting it just describing it!).
6. Big: There’s such an element of enchantment in Big. The idea of a child in the grown-up world, finding credibility and power by being in a man’s body, is so fascinating. Plus, his toy ideas were so cool. What kid didn’t watch that movie and think: hey, they should totally get kids to design toys. That would be awesome!
7. Hannah and Her Sisters: Woody Allen again. (I really am a huge Woody fan.) How much did I want Max von Sydow’s loft apartment, with the wall of books? This movie also started my love of e.e. cummings and my lifelong desire to go to New York City (still haven’t made it there – but one day I shall!).
8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: I have the authentic 1986 poster in my living room, hanging over the TV. The tag line reads: “Leisure Rules.” That sums it up, I think. Young Ferris may have been a snot, but he sure knew how to have a good time.
9. Moulin Rouge: (Christy enters the modern period – this one was made in 2001!) I’m not usually a fan of big, loud, brassy musicals, but I could watch this all day. Maybe it’s because of Ewan McGregor and the way he smiles so passionately and gleefully when he sings. (Let’s face it, it is because of Ewan McGregor.)
10. Sideways: I loved how episodic this movie was, and also Paul Giamatti’s character Miles’s struggles to be recognized as a writer. And as if the part when “two tonnes of fun”‘s husband runs jigglingly, nakedly out to Miles’s car isn’t one of the funniest scenes in cinematic history. No matter what they say though, I’m a fan of merlot.
* The first five movies in this list have been my top three favourites since I was fourteen or fifteen. Is this a problem, I wonder? Looking at this list, it’s pretty much like I don’t think any good movies have been made since 1990. Either my tastes are solid and unwavering, or maybe I am mentally stuck in my early teens. Maybe the majority of these movies have stuck with me so vividly, so intensely, because I saw them during my most formative and influential years. I was so impressionable then, and now it takes something pretty darned spectacular to become one of my favourites. Hmmm… there must be some sort of developmental psychology theory behind that.
Oh, and there are three further movies that deserve an Honourable Mention as the Goerzen Girls’ (my sisters and I) most oft-quoted movies: Coming to America, Innerspace and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “Just let your Soul Glow, feel it oh-so-silky smooth, just let it shine through…” “Gee, so tiny” “Bit of a knot there, Russ.” Something about them just stuck in our shared lexicon – we’ve been saying those same quotes for more than 20 years now!