August 2006: Movie meme

The first movie you remember seeing on the big screen:

The Cat From Outer Space. I remember the cinema was so hot we had to strip off to just our vests.

Movie from which you can quote multiple lines in your sleep:

When Harry Met Sally

– that symptom is f***ing my wife!
– you made a woman miaow?
– nah, you pretty much wanna nail them too
– no-one I know would call at this time
– Pecan Pie …
– I spy a family
– You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right
– Do it to me, Sheldon

Director (dead or alive) that you’d most want to have dinner with:

Nora Ephron – Director, writer, feminist, New Yorker and funny. What more could you ask for?

Movie that should have won an Oscar but didn’t:

Um. I never know what’s won and what hasn’t. Let’s say Ghost. That Swayze is very underrated.

Movie that didn’t disappoint despite being the adaptation of a book:

Lord. How am I supposed to remember these things? How about one that did instead? The Power of One. The film could fit into a couple of pages of the book even though they added a love story that wasn’t even in the book!

Movie you were dragged to by someone else expecting to hate, but which you loved:

Well, I wasn’t exactly dragged, but I once got free tickets to Hot Shots Part Deux. I went because it was free, but I loved it. The bit where the Beau Bridges says “at ease” for the photograph kills me everytime.

Movie that scares the crap out of you no matter how many times you see it:

The Sixth Sense. The same bits get me every time: like Gabrielle, the woman walking past the door, Marissa under the bed and when Toni Colette comes into the kitchen and all the doors and drawers are open and poor little Hayley Joel Osment’s left sweaty handprints on the table.

Movie that makes you bawl no matter how many times you see it:

The Sixth Sense. The same bits get me every time: when he finally tells Bruce that he sees dead people “all the time”, when he tells Toni Colette her mum says she’s proud and when Toni asks him “what’s happening to you?” when he can’t sleep.

May 2003: Crazy Salad/Secretary

4I’ve been reading Crazy Salad, a collection of Nora Ephron’s journalism from the seventies. The thing that strikes (and disturbs) me most about it is that very little appears to have changed. Apart from the fact that she talks about the ‘Women’s Movement’ and ‘Women’s Liberation’, the battles women were fighting then we’re still fighting now – 30 years later. I mention it because last night we went to see a film called Secretary.

It’s about a woman – Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) – who is released from a psychiatric hospital and has a history of self-mutilation. She goes to work for a lawyer – E Edward Gray (James Spader). To begin with he seems a little odd, nervy, bullying, but he soon realises that she enjoys his control and the freedom from responsibility it gives her. It builds until he’s spanking her on his desk as a punishment for typos. And even when she spots the typos, she leaves them in. I’ve read reviews that have described it as a kinky love story. I loved it. It was weird, funny, sexy, and we talked about it all the way home. Maggie Gyllenhaal is brilliant – like a twisted combination of Olive Oyl and Doris Day. James Spader is amazing too. What other actor chooses his roles by whether he gets to simulate masturbation or not, eh?

tumblr_lz76m01PLQ1rpryxxo1_1280Maggie Gyllenhaal claims it’s a feminist film and I can see her point.  Lee is transformed – happy and powerful for the first time in her life. The power shifts totally from Edward to Lee until Edward is afraid of her and of his feelings for her. But then again …

This is Nora Ephron writing in 1972 about women’s sexual fantasies:

‘It is possible, through sheer willpower, to stop having unhealthy sex fantasies.  I have several friends who did just that.  “What do you have instead?” I asked.  “Nothing,” they replied.  Well, I don’t know.  I’m not at all sure I wouldn’t rather have an unhealthy sex fantasy than no sex fantasy at all.  But my real question is whether it is possible, having discarded the fantasy, to discard the thinking and expectations it represents.  … I doubt that it will ever be possible for the women of my generation to escape from our own particular slave mentality.  For the next generation, life may indeed be freer.  After all, if society changes, the fantasies will change; where women are truly equal, where their status has nothing to do with whom they marry, when the issues of masculine/feminine cease to exist, some of this absurd reliance on role playing will be eliminated.’

So we’re not there yet then. In fact, perhaps it’s a step back that a young actress who considers herself a feminist, can appear in a film like Secretary and believe it to be a feminist act. I don’t know. I know that I enjoyed Secretary and that Maggie Gyllenhaal was brilliant. I just don’t know that it’s a feminist film.

A couple of afterthoughts:  Maggie Gyllenhaal did fight against the poster which makes it look like soft porn, which it definitely isn’t. And why is her website within her brother’s (the address is

What films should I have seen?

Citizen Kane. CBA.

Me and D were talking the other day about how we haven’t seen a lot of films we feel we shouldhave seen. I said I’d find a 100 Best Films list for us to work our way through (D said, “Don’t bother. It’ll only say Citizen Kane and I can’t be arsed.”).

There’s this one, which is all very… what’s the film equivalent of ‘muso’? Basically, we predominantly want to be entertained and a silent movie about the trial of Joan of Arc isn’t really up our street, you know?

So then I thought of Empire magazine. Bound to have done a list and it’s likely to be more populist than the BFI’s list, but I’ve just had a look and it’s so… male. I think there’s maybe five films in the Top 50 with a female lead.

I’m sure Goodfellas and The Matrix and Apocalypse Now are very good films, but light and shade, you know? I’ve accepted I’m finally going to have to watch The Godfather, is that not enough for you people?! (You top film compiling people, that is. Not you blog-reading people. You’re lovely.)

And I’ve just rejoined LoveFilm so Harry and I can have a Studio Ghibli film festival in September, so it seems like the time to watch some of the films we really should have seen by now.

So. Name some. Please. I trust you. (Unless you suggest Vanilla Sky, in which case… GO TO YOUR ROOM!)


I’ve written about Nora Ephron for Bea today. But there are a few things I wanted to link to here too.

I absolutely LOVE this article from O magazine on the rapture of reading (and I’m so with her on Kavalier & Clay). Also, Nora’s bookshelf.

Ages ago, I googled Nora out of nosiness for inspiration and found this article – My Day on a Plate. My favourite quote: “I don’t think any day is worth living without thinking about what you’re going to eat next at all times.”

I also love this quote: “I try to write parts for women that are as complicated & interesting as women actually are.”

And this made me laugh. Even though I was crying.

And you’ve probably seen this by now, but I can’t stop thinking about her lists of what she will – and won’t – miss.

What Would Nora Do?

I’m too sad to write anything today – honestly, I feel like I’ve lost a friend, I’ve got a headache from crying on and off since I first heard the news at 6 this morning – but here’s something I posted on this blog last year.

“You do get to a certain point in life where you have to realistically, I think, understand that the days are getting shorter, and you can’t put things off thinking you’ll get to them someday. If you really want to do them, you better do them. There are simply too many people getting sick, and sooner or later you will. So I’m very much a believer in knowing what it is that you love doing so you can do a great deal of it.”

Nora Ephron
Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Novelist

(via Swissmiss)

I made this one day when I was feeling particularly in need of inspiration: