Monday, August 4, 2008

Movie Faves

A web loop that I belong to has just asked the question: What are your five favorite movies and what do they say (if anything) about your writing? Fascinating question, I think. Especially since I love a good movie. So, off the top of my head (that was one of the stipulations: don't give it too much thought) here are five of my favorite movies.

Memento is the very first movie that comes to mind when I think of my favorites. It's a little dark, a lot disturbing, and breathtakingly original. When the final credits began to roll, I was literally on my feet yelling at the television. I wanted to start back over at the beginning and see it all again. All I can say is: Wow.

I'm also a huge fan of A Love Song for Bobby Long. It's an independent film starring John Travolta and Scarlett Johanssen that is set in New Orleans (pre-Katrina). The film is visual poetry and the soundtrack is one of my favorites ever. Best of all, the characters are flawed and real, the perfect mix of lovable and loathable.
Next comes Juno, a more recent fave. So witty I laughed out loud throughout the whole movie. I wax more poetic about Juno in this post if you feel like checking it out.

Crash is absolutely a must-see movie. I wept through this film, mourning the misunderstandings and reveling in the every day grace it presented. It broke my heart a dozen times over, but gave me real hope, too.

The final film I want to talk about is Love Actually. I know most people watch The Miracle on Such-and-Such Street (I can't even remember the title!) or It's a Wonderful Life at Christmastime, but Aaron and I break out this British comedy. It's gorgeous and hilarious and a movie I'm sure we'll revisit over and over again. Though it's not for the faint of heart (language and brief nudity), it is truly sweet and hopelessly endearing even though it deals with difficult subject matter (the death of a spouse, an affair, etc.).

So... Do these movies say anything about my writing (or what I hope my writing to be)? I think absolutely.

The first thing that ties all these films together is their inherently poetic nature. There is something raw and elemental in each of them that makes me long to savor certain lines one at a time. Or certain scenes, gestures, or frames. Though I don't think I acheive this to the desire that I would someday like to, I hope that my writing contains elements of that which I love in these movies: moments of pure poetry that make my readers want to stop and reread a part that spoke truth to them.

Second, I love how real these movies are. They speak to deep longings that most (if not all) people can relate to on a very human level. Love and hate, prejudice, anger, jealousy, greed... All of it is laid bare in these movies. And though we are watching characters on a screen, there is something inside of us that resonates with their joy and pain. We understand, even if we don't want to. I long to write stories like that.

Finally, these stories are all told in a powerful and unique way. Whether it's a strong female character narrating the movie as only she could (Juno) or a backwards chronology (Memento) or a fragmented patchwork of interweaving plotlines (Crash and Love Actually), the way in which the story is told is utterly gripping. Someone once told me: "Just tell the story and get out of the way!" I'm afraid I disagree with that. To me, the person (or people) who is (are) telling the story is just as important as the story itself. Don't agree with me? Visit my Grandma for a coffee and a chat--I promise, by the time your cookie is gone, you'll be completely in love with her but probably clueless as to what in the world she's talking about. When it comes to her, it's all in the telling. Of course, I want to tell a good story, but I also want to tell it well. Hmmm... suddenly I'm in the mood for a good movie. Any suggestions?


  1. Great movie choices, Nicole. I agree, movie choices are closely related to the genre in which we write. I'm more of an action, supernatural movie watcher which is directly related to my writing.

    God bless you on your writing, Nicole.

  2. Hi Sheri,

    You're writing a YA Fantasy, right? Have you read the Twilight series (soon to be released in movie form)? I've read them and plan to blog about my thoughts sooner or later... Anyway, just curious what you thought. :)

    Blessings in your writing, too, girl.


  3. Hey Nicole,

    I almost said "Hey Nic" but realize that's not your nickname and I should not allow my Australian tendencies to drive me to take everyone's name to it's lowest common denominator.

    Anyway, on Twilight, post Florida discussion, I followed Ms Meyers latest release and was amazed to see something like 25 five star reviews and 50 1 star reviews on amazon pop up in the first 2 days after release. Never seen a split like that before. Fascinating.

    Hope you're well. Loved this post.
    (Yes, my name only has four letters in it, and I still feel compelled to leave the last one off).

  4. You may call me Nic, Lis. :) Aaron does. Though it proves confusing because our close friends are a couple named Nick and Lisa (which I also shorten to Lis). Anytime someone says "Nic," we both respond. Uh, I think I digress...

    Anyway, hearing from you made me wonder--what do you watch? There's so many topics we've covered and suddenly one pops up we haven't. Next time we room together, will we fight over pay-per-view???

    Happy writing!