Friday, December 21, 2007

2007 Movies

When my husband and I have a free night (and child care), we usually head to the movies. There's just something about going to the theater that I love. For my husband, it's definitely the popcorn. For me, I think it's the big screen. When we watch movies at home, I'm usually doing something else so I probably don't focus in the same way that I do at the dark movie theater. There's also something about sitting in a full theater to see a new release. I love going to "big" openings. When I was younger it was Star Wars, and later the Lord of the Rings. The two last LOTR movies opening on my birthday and guess who was at midnight showings of both. :)

Somehow, even through the baby years, we manage to see quite a few movies in the theater every year. I wish I could remember them all. I think in 2008, I might start to keep track of them so I can see just how much money I'm giving AMC or Century Theaters--or maybe I don't want to know.

In the last couple of weeks we've seen Atonement (very good), Beowulf (pretty good) and Enchanted (very cute). We'll probably go see the Golden Compass this weekend and then be back at the theater of Christmas day to see The Water Horse.

My favorite of the year BY FAR is INTO THE WILD. I just loved that movie. I'm psyched to see it was nominated for a bunch of Actor's Guild awards after being unaccountably shut out by the Golden Globes. A close second is EASTERN PROMISES (and not just because it has Viggo.) I also loved 300 (and that probably was because of Gerry! :))

Do you like to go to the theater to see the new releases? What is your favorite movie of the year so far?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why Does Someone Have to Die?

With the dearth of new TV shows to watch courtesy of the writer's strike, my husband and I have been burning through the Netflix at a terrific pace. This week we watched a fabulous movie that had been in our "queue" for sometime, but for some reason I hadn't been excited about, called THE PAINTED VEIL (starring Naomi Watts and Edward Norton). There are some very powerful scenes in this movie, they type of scenes I'd love to emulate in a romance, where your heart squeezes and your gut clenches with the emotion. IMO Edward Norton is an absolutely brilliant actor.

*SPOILER ALERT * Stop reading if you plan to watch this movie...

Basically, it's the story of a spoiled young English woman who marries a staid doctor/scientist who works in China. The bored young wife ends up having an affair. In anger, the husband forces her to accompany him deep into the Chinese countryside to help control an outbreak of cholera. The love story that follows is heart-wrenching. As I said above, brilliant stuff. But here's the thing: my husband was teasing my mercilessly through it because you can tell just from the type of movie that it is that someone is going to die, and he knows how angry I get when I watch a movie and I don't get my pay off.

I think that is one of the reasons I love reading romance (I'm talking genre romance here). I KNOW that at the end of the book I will have my reward for sticking through all the struggle and strife the characters go through. With literary fiction "love stories" it's just the opposite. I call them romances for men. My husband could care less whether there is a HEA.

Even with the unhappy ending the movie was excellent, but I couldn't help thinking I would have enjoyed it even more with a different ending. I know there are reasons why Somerset Maugham chose to end the story the way he did--the kind of reasons that I could write a paper about in college--but those reasons don't satisfy me as a reader or watcher of the film.

I found myself compulsively checking the "special features" of the DVD for alternative endings while my husband was laughing his head off. Then again, in my little world Romeo and Juliet don't die either.

There seems to be a strange phenomena in literary fiction that in order to qualify you can't have a happy ending. I wonder why this is? This is the one criticism against romance that I really don't understand. Why is it perceived that there is something inherently "weak" or not as intellectually stimulating about a happy ending? Maybe I'm wrong, but most criticism that I get about romances (usually by people who don't read them) is that they are "formulaic." To me, that goes right to the happy ending.

What do you think . . . when you are watching a movie, or reading a book, does it bother you if there isn't a happy ending? Do you think there is an intellectual backlash against the HEA?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday? What Holiday?

Someone stole Christmas for me a few years ago and I didn't even realize it. This used to be my favorite time of the year, now all I feel is pressure. I dread the holidays. When did it happen? How did it happen?

I have no idea.

It's not just putting up the Christmas tree and decorations, the parties and family get togethers, the big dinner, the 200 plus Christmas cards, the shopping, or the kids being HOME for two weeks while I'm trying to work--it's all of the above. I literally have not bought one gift. Yet each year--despite my efforts to trim--the list of gifts I have to buy gets longer. A preverse part of me wonders what would happen if I didn't buy any gifts at all?

You don't know how tempted I am to find out.

Every year I go through all this effort to be "thoughtful" to find "that perfect gift." It never happens. BTW, guess who does ALL the shopping in the family? Surprise, surprise: me. This year I've already warned my husband that is going to change.

The funny thing is that I always thought having kids would make Christmas more fun--and to some extent that is certainly true--but it also increases the pressure to "make those special memories." I wonder though if it's just my expectations--perhaps a little too much Martha Stewart--and that the kids would be just as happy without all the hoopla.

So what are you doing this year for the holidays? Have you started your shopping? Who does the shopping in your house?