When was the last time you went to the cinema and it didn't involve a U certificate, animated mice and frequent trips to the loo? I know - same here. BC (before children), we would go at least once a week - it helps that the pilot has a big popcorn habit. You've already heard how I knew it was love when he sat through an entire screening of 'The Leopard' at Riverside Studios for me without mentioning he'd left his glasses behind and couldn't read the subtitles. Now, with our/his schedule we have a shocking DVD habit. Left to my own devices it's often things like The Big Sleep, or tortuous French love stories (to quote Frasier - Girl: 'Do you mind subtitles?' Frasier, thrilled: 'Mind them? I prefer them!') Last night we saw a pre-release screening of French Film starring Hugh Bonneville. It was fabulous - poignant, hilarious, well observed. If you enjoyed 'Scenes of a Sexual Nature', it's by the same writer - definitely worth seeing in the Spring if you enjoy romantic comedies.
Which films do you go back to again and again? Comedy, tragedy - two sides of the same coin, and when times are tough you need both. Films, books, music, theatre - all allow catharsis, a safety valve for our deepest sorrows, hopes and fears. I was thinking today putting the links together for this post how funny it is that works of art don't change, but your reaction does. As you go through life you might look at a tragedy and empathise with the character's loss the first time you see it, only to find yourself in a position to sympathise a few years down the line.
Maybe you're like us - the things we watch together are a compromise. If I'm writing late the pilot indulges in kung fu and cars (anything from Hero, Seven Samurai to Vin Diesel). He is off again soon so I've lined up a stack of movies I've been meaning to watch for ages (Dancer Upstairs, Gilda - anything but horror. As you know, my 92 year old grandmother can happily sit through slasher films and psychological thrillers whereas I can't do it. When I found out they had filmed the Omen at the church we were married in, I very nearly changed the venue).
What are the great tearjerkers? My own roll call would include Terms of Endearment, Heartburn, Sophie's Choice (100 times more heartbreaking now a parent), and not forgetting Beaches. You can't keep a good power ballad down. They are incredibly well done, hugely successful - perhaps not all great art but sometimes you want the cinematic/literary equivalent of comfort food. (This is why I am curled up in bed with Alan Bennett and not Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia' that I should be reading for Civil War research).
How about comedy? What makes you laugh time and time again? John mentioned the lumberjack song yesterday. Monty Python got me through Finals, and to an ex-philosopher (if there is such a thing? It's hardly something you renounce like a de-frocked priest is it?) Eric the Half a Bee is my all time favourite. The first time I saw this episode of Alan Partridge where he comes face to face with his obsessed fan I fell off the sofa laughing. 'Jed, I'll level with you ... I'm really scared'. The best comedies often play on dark themes - fear, panic, pain, but you laugh instead of cry. Or cry through laughing if it's really good. Either way we need our tragedies and our comedies, our romances and our hopeful rose tinted glasses more than ever now.
TODAY'S PROMPT: Does your writing reflect what you enjoy reading and watching, or are you working in a different field all together? A friend who read 'All the Lovely Ruined Things' said 'this novel is a French film' - so perhaps mine does (or at least art, photography and some of my favourite writers - Sagan, Colette etc). How about you? As fiction writers you can learn a great deal about dialogue studying scripts - why not pick a favourite film and view the script online, act it out, try the words on for size. A really useful exercise from NaNo are the Magna Carta exercises - why not make a list of your favourite books, films, plays and identify the common themes. These are your passions - the things that really fire you up.