Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Sara and Melissa talk about...Movies

We've been running a column series to get more personal with our readers. This month we're talking about movies.

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them.

Sara Steven:

My first day of Spring semester at Arizona State University starts today, and one of the “fun” courses I decided to enroll in had been an American Film Musicals class. Given the heavy workload of the other three classes I’m enrolled in, I figured watching musicals wouldn’t be too difficult. I enjoy them immensely, so it wouldn’t be torture, and summarizing or giving my opinion on the dance moves of Fred Astaire or trying to decipher Audrey Hepburn’s quirkiness in My Fair Lady would be a pretty easy task. 

Well, lesson learned: a three credit college course is still a three credit college course. There will be two MLA-formatted papers in my future, as well as a research paper and summaries/reviews of every movie we see this semester--eighteen in total! But, if I had to do it for any genre, I can’t think of a more fun genre. 

The first musical ever for me had been Gigi. It’s still a favorite of mine. My grandmother introduced me to it when I was in elementary school, and to this day, if I ever encounter a dress like the one Leslie Caron wore as Gigi to Maxim’s, it will be mine! 

It’s more than the dress, though. I love all the outfits. I love the Parisian backdrop. I know all of the songs by heart, even now, and just the other day I thought of the legendary Maurice Chevalier remarking on the fact that he’s “glad he’s not young anymore” when I heard my children fighting over something that consequently, didn’t matter too much and would quickly blow over if given another minute or two. 

Gigi opened the door to so many other musicals, and I’ve discovered that while I’ve seen quite a few that are required viewing for my class, there are still quite a few I haven’t seen! 

Some of my favorite film musicals:

Gypsy: Who wouldn’t love Natalie Wood, who goes from tomboy to sexpot while dealing with deep mommy issues with her momager mother?

Mary Poppins: This was a constant while growing up, and I’ve seen it recently after we acquired Disney + for our Roku. While I love Julie Andrews, my favorite character is Bert, played wonderfully by Dick Van Dyke.

The Sound of Music: Another Julie Andrews classic. My favorite song is “So Long, Farewell.”   

Xanadu: Admittedly, it has been nearly four decades since I’ve seen Olivia Newton-John in roller skates. My young parents brought me with them to the movie theater when I was only three, and I can barely remember much of it, other than vibrant colors and the music. I still remember “Magic,” and I get to reacquaint myself with it all this semester, since it’s one of the musicals we’ll be working with.

The Wizard of Oz: I made it a point to watch it every single holiday for several years, when it would air on television.

Grease: Another classic that I have seen several times over the course of my life. Friend and relatives at odd times over the years will break into famous lines and song and phrases, out of the blue. It wasn’t until later in life when I realized what Rizzo meant when she said, “I feel like a defective typewriter. I skipped a period.”    

(Links above are to trailers.)

What are some of your favorite film musicals?

Melissa Amster:

Today I am sharing ten of my favorite movies. Please note that these are just ten movies I love out of many, many more. It's hard to just pick only ten, which is why I don't want to say that these are my only favorites. (Links are to trailers.)

1. Where the Heart Is: I read the book (by Billie Letts) in 1999 and loved it. Then the movie came out in the spring of 2000 and I was excited to see it. The first time, I enjoyed it enough. Then I watched it again when it came out on video (yes, I said video) and fell in love with it. After that, I couldn't stop watching it and it became one of my all time favorite movies. I love James Frain as Forney, with all the curls. 

2. Sing!: I am talking about the film that came out in 1989 (not the animated animal movie). I had read a book called Sing in middle school about a musical competition and someone told me it was a movie, so I knew I just had to watch it. The first time I saw it, I started in the middle where this girl was auditioning for a show by singing "Like a Virgin" really bad. Then I kept watching and knew I had to see it again from the very beginning. After that, I saw it more times than I can even count. I still love it and it makes me smile (and cry) every time I see it. 

3. The Princess Bride: It is inconceivable to me that anyone has NOT seen this movie by now. It's such a classic! Oddly enough, I didn't like it the first time I saw it, when I was eleven years old. I thought some parts were scary. Then I saw it in college and fell in love with it. I watched it all the time and still quote from it a lot. I even have a Westley Funko pop and I read Cary Elwes' movie memoir As You Wish a while back and loved that too. 

4. Girls Just Want to Have Fun: I basically grew up on this movie. My sister and I watched it countless times. We always thought it was hilarious when they were giving everyone invitations to Natalie's party and then all these random people showed up and ruined everything for her. (Natalie was mean to them, so I don't feel guilty about that.) I also thought Jeff was so cute and I was sad that he wasn't in anything else. I will still watch this movie as an adult and I listen to the soundtrack in my car.

5. Dirty Dancing: I fell in love with Dirty Dancing when I first saw it during the summer I turned eleven. I was obsessed after that and watched it all the time. I got the soundtracks, posters, etc. I had such a crush on Patrick Swayze at the time. I still think I look like Jennifer Grey did in that movie. 

6. Wreck-It Ralph: You may be wondering why this is the Disney movie that made it to my list. It's just so funny and clever, with great characters and an interesting plot. I love it every time I see it and I always get teary-eyed at the end. My daughter dressed as Vanellope for Purim one year and I had fun putting together her costume.

7. Ten Things I Hate About You: One of the best teen movies from the nineties. I didn't know what to expect with this one and ended up adoring it the whole way through. I cry every time Kat reads her poem. This was also an introduction to Heath Ledger, who was fabulous as Patrick, not to mention hot! I also enjoyed Bianca's part of the story. 

8. Legally Blonde: Elle Woods was so inspiring to me in this movie and I am not ashamed to admit how much I cried at the end. I also love the Broadway musical version of this movie. Great lines too!

9. 50 First Dates: Find someone who will treat you the way Adam Sandler treats Drew Barrymore in this movie. While it's goofy at times, it's so completely romantic that it's impossible to have dry eyes by the end. 

(Yes, I like movies that make me cry when I least expect them to...)

10. The Shawshank Redemption: Another movie where I'm shocked if someone tells me they haven't seen it yet. I saw it freshman year of college and was so moved by Andy's resolve to escape prison and the lives he impacts while he is there. It's just so well told and the casting is fantastic. I never read the book, but I don't really need to after seeing the movie so many times. 

Tell us about your favorite movies!

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