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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We Love Romantic Comedies- PART ONE

A few weeks ago, I discovered a long lost CD of the soundtrack a 1990's Rom Com, "French Kiss," starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. It was a charming affair about a young woman (Meg Ryan) chasing down a cheating boyfriend to convince him SHE is the love of his life against the backdrop of Paris, the French countryside, and then French Riviera. She begrudgingly enlists the help of French hustler (Kevin Kline) and, as the two learn about each other, they fall in love.

"French Kiss," while perhaps in the second tier of great romantic comedies of the 90s AFTER the greats of, say, "Sleepless in Seattle," "When Harry Met Sally," etc., is, I think, MY favorite alongside "Before Sunrise." There is a certain innocence inherent to this film, one that gives you faith that if you just follow your heart and really be your quirky, irrational, irascible self, everything will work itself out and love will TRIUMPH!

I ask myself, though, WHY this movie? WHY does THIS movie stay with me more than any other Meg Ryan flick? She has so many greats- and ones that I just LOVE. I love Sleepless in Seattle, I love City of Angels, I love You've Got Mail. But for me, French Kiss takes the cake. (Or shall I say, "gateau." I won't lie- the soundtrack is a huge part of why I love this movie. I also have a passion for caper films and this movie has caper elements.

Maybe I love it because Kevin Kline is SUCH a bad boy, and then it turns out, he was never a bad boy at all, just a wronged and misunderstood boy, who, with the proper opportunity and love (and they go hand in hand in this film), doesn't exactly REFORM, but, um, well, learns a balance between the two...

Uh, oh...

Although I like to think of myself as a Meg Ryan, I'm pretty aware that I come off as more of a femme fatale. I have more Sharon Stone in me than Meg Ryan, but if I'm completely honest, romantic comedies are my favorite genre. I suppose we don't have as many Jean Harlows today (I'm raising my hand!) by which I mean, bad girls in romantic comedies. Well, I guess, we just don't have too many romantic comedies lately. Am I wrong?
Vogue recently included a list of its top 15 all-time romantic comedies... I have a feeling the author is obsessed with Audrey Hepburn (what fashionista in her right mind isn't!?) but I felt the list was like an hors d'ouevres... and, like so many "all time best" lists, focusing more on projects of recent times and not truly of all time. So I am adding some of MY top Romantic Comedies from recent times through the beginnings of film. I am not saying I am going to be anymore rounded out in my choices than the Vogue author. I was just inspired to use a list of some GREATS to talk about WHY WE LOVE ROMANTIC COMEDIES, especially in our 2015, rather post-innocence, everything-is-cycnical-if-not-satirical world.

I would add plays... but I intend for this blog to take you a few minutes to enjoy, not a few hours to pore over... I already keep thinking of other films to add to this list... and some of these films are movies special to ME because of the moment in time during which I saw them, instead of because of their "quality" as films... But when we make a "best" or "favorite" list, we are just inspiring others to fall in love- no pun intended! So, if you haven't seen any of the following on MY list, please seek these films out and fall in love. :)


ALSO, some of these might err toward the side of dramedies. I am not including favorite romantic dramas, such as "Out of Africa," although, trust me, I WANT to. But a few of these films do not fit into the category of romantic COMEDY quite so nice and neatly... so.

Only Lovers Left Alive
by Jim Jarmusch, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston

Adam and Eve are vampires whose love has already lasted centuries... although I am not particularly one for the vampire genre of stories, THIS one had me sitting in the theater loving the way an old married couple (but who are eternally young and beautiful) have to keep finding reasons to get up every day... er... night... and love each other. Swinton and Hiddleston have a chemistry that reminds me of Hepburn and... a depressed Tracy, and while most romantic comedies of the last few years seem to want to insult the intelligence of the viewer and pretend that we don't live in a culture of fear but of tremendous denial, THIS film ventures into deeper, and darker mysteries.


One of the reasons these two have TRUE LOVE is because they are two of the only true lovers, true artists, true hearted people left alive... and they understand the world, and love, and art and music and living, in a way no one else does.

Chico Y Rita
animated feature film

Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.

Seriously, this is a film about another lifelong love relationship that withstands not only drama and heartache, music and passion, but also separation and communism. But don't let that be the definition! This movie is one of the sexiest films I ever saw- NOT pornographic style sexy, but smouldering, sultry, seduction sexy. And the music is incredible.

Slumdog Millionaire
Directed by Danny Boyle

A Mumbai teen, who grew up in the slums, becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

I have spent time in India, not a ton, and I'm no master Yogi. But I am a human who keeps her eyes wide open and does what's in front of her... the indomitable spirit of Dev Patel's character reminded me of a young boy I met in Varanasi, who took me on a tour of the hidden secrets of this amazing Indian city. He was around 8, and a muslim boy, and he showed me abandoned forts and villas, trees of parakeets, and what it was like to make your way on your own in a world against you. This movie is fiction... maybe. Maybe not.

Above, a few of the kids I met on one of my journeys to India. Photo by my friend Rick Canter.

by John Carney

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

Once, Glen Hansard (the star) hit on my 18 year old sister at a Damien Rice concert. That was fun. Anyway, aside from that little brush with fame, or as Glen would later admonish at the Oscars, "art," this film is stunning. A beautiful little gem that connects the pieces of love and hope even in the face of impossibility. Not all love is meant to last forever, but by happening "once," it remains in the stories of eternity, and therefore happens for all time as well as its own. This is one of those stories.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
by Michel Gondry, written by Charlie Kaufman

"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd." -- Alexander Pope

I think this is not only a film about love, but a film about waking up, spiritual enlightenment, and the working through the idea that even if we are spiritually awakened beings, we still have the workings and trappings of humanity unless we transcend the body and are absolved into heaven directly. And so, if we are, as I believe, born to be exactly who we are, some people become Ma, or Amma, or Jesus. And some people become mothers and lovers and fathers and sisters and brothers as well as saints. And what is a saint?

 "What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love."
Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers

Well, I took a turn for the esoteric, as I usually do, and so now I am happy to dive into a TRIO that is a wonderful conversation about all these questions of love: pure love, true love, corporeal love, the love of the mind and the love of the heart, anger, resentment, possibility, and a desire to stay suspended forever, stardust as we are:

Of course, I am talking about the "BEFORE" trilogy- those wonderful films with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke and directed by Richard Linklater.

Before Sunrise (1995)
The film follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke), a young American man, and Céline (Julie Delpy), a young French woman, who meet on a train and disembark in Vienna, where they spend the night walking around the city and getting to know each other.

Before Sunset (2004)
he film picks up the story in Before Sunrise of the young American man (Hawke) and French woman (Delpy) who spent a passionate night together in Vienna. Their paths intersect nine years later in Paris, and the film appears to take place in real time as they spend an afternoon together.

Before Midnight (2013) 
Co-written by Linklater, Hawke and Delpy, the film picks up the story nine years after the events of Before Sunset; Jesse (Hawke) and Céline (Delpy) spend a summer vacation together in Greece.

I'd love to talk about each one individually, because they all mean so much to me, but as I am nearing the end of Part One, I will just talk about the trilogy itself. For the record, so far, my favorite among the three is Before Sunset. I think the reason is that I love the idea that love can redeem itself. And so, I will close out this part one by not really talking about the trilogy at all, but including a clip from youtube that captures the beauty of these films. Warning: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Okay, guys. Next installment includes:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
City Lights
Bringing Up Baby
It Happened One Night
Princess Bride

and more!

until next time...

Here's looking at you, kid!

Wait. That's a drama.

Okay. How about...

"Baby, you are gonna miss that plane."

"I know."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't believe they exist.

Here's one from the ROUS Files.


Anyone who knows me well knows I HATE rats. In fact, one of the reasons I have a hard time living in my beloved NYC is because of all the rats. Man, oh man, I must have been a victim of the bubonic plague in a past life or something, because I hate rats. I mean, I "love" all of God's creatures, but that doesn't mean I want rats anywhere near my personage.

I'm not the biggest fan of cockroaches, either, but I don't necessarily jump on the couch when a cockroach runs by. I gird my loins, go to Target, and buy roach traps.

I don't have a problem with spiders. Not at all. Weird, huh? Or snakes. No fear. Not saying I want to walk in on a Python, but not scared, either.

Anyway, so, I believe (and whether I believe it erroneously or not, I continue to believe) that if you keep a very clean house, you will not have pests. So I clean often and thoroughly. Of course, I *have* lived in Florida and Mexico, and so know that to a certain extent, we are really pitching tents in bug territory and not vice versa, but still. I like to joke, whenever I see a bug I'm not fond of in my home, that they don't pay rent, so they're not allowed to stay.

Now, Carlo and I share a back parking lot with a famous, fancy, spendy sushi restaurant here in Los Angeles. I won't name it because in no way do I want to give a bad name to them. I've never eaten there but I've seen the celebrities ducking in and out through the back door, and all the valet guys and chefs, with whom I interact pretty regularly (we share dumpsters) are incredibly nice, except for one dishwasher who is always winking at me and giving me a hand gesture which I think means something along the lines of "voulez-vous coucher avec moi," I'm not frightened, by the way, those of you who may advise me to stay safe... he's about 4'10" and 90 pounds and 70 years old and I'm pretty sure I could pop him pretty good if not outrun him. He's just trying his luck.

Okay, back to the famous sushi restaurant. It's still a restaurant, and while they do have an "A" rating from the City of Los Angeles, they still have back dumpsters full of leftover food stuffs AND we are still in a pretty cockroach ridden city, here, this city of Angels, and so...

there are cockroaches in my back parking lot.


Now, out apartment is tidy. It isn't perfect, but it is cleaned regularly and ruthlessly by yours truly. But when I moved in, I saw those suckers by the back dumpsters and thought, oh, hell, no. Oh, no. Those MF's are not coming anywhere near me. And I bought roach traps and put them outside by the back door as a sort of insurance policy.

The roach traps keep disappearing.

I don't know if someone is stealing them (possible. I have awakened twice now around 5 in the morning to see people dumpster diving.) I am hoping it's not some local cat taking it. One of my friends suggested it might be the roaches themselves, carrying it off to their McMansion behind Target.

Carlo thought it might be a neighbor who doesn't want to buy their own, or, a neighbor who tosses them out because they are an eyesore. (Our building is like the last broke-a$$ artist living quarters in an otherwise gentrified neighborhood.)

At any rate, I was cleaning in our apartment and remarking about this one time, when I moved in, I was cleaning and found some things that Carlo swears he had never seen nor would any of his roommates have ever been caught dead with. I can't tell you what it is because I promised him I would never tell anyone, specifically my parents, that I had found any kind of drug paraphernalia whatsoever in the house. (See what I did there?) He's a former law enforcement guy. There's no way it was him. What was more frightening to me was that no one had ever cleaned out the back of this particular closet since Carlo moved into this place five years ago. Which means probably the landlord never actually cleaned it. Ever. More stories about that some other time, but this morning, I was just doing a quick sweep and mop and relating the story about that time and talking about the missing traps when Carlo pipes up,

"You know, Neil DeGrasse Tyson says that all the scientists say that when, not if, but when, because it is inevitable, when humans go extinct, the species that will run the planet will be rats. And cockroaches. And not only will they thrive, but the will grow to be huge, like human sized."

"Rodents of unusual size? I don't believe they exist," I quoted.

Carlo, and Italian, has not yet seen that movie, and so he believed I was being sincere.

"Oh, yes. Giant rats, and giant cockroaches, too."

Then I did it. I let myself imagine that as a reality.

"This is the worst day of my life," I said. "Worse than the day I was in Cuernavaca (Mexico) and saw the flying three inch cockroach hover over my burrito."

My mind instantly flew to a 1950s style horror movie: "Giant Rats Vs. Giant Cockroaches."

Ugh. Happy Saturday morning! Now THAT oughtta inspire some house cleaning, eh?!?!?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The monks are dreaming of you- a poem, 9/20/15

The monks are dreaming of you
Ensconced in light, bathed in sound,
The monks are dreaming.

Orange robes, snow capped scene,
A monk throws his head back, laughing,
Dreaming in daylight

Smoke from across a watery globe
His laughter, uncontrollable,
Waves of monotonous droning on

As you, of the people,
Of computers and cities
Of plastic rules
Live by the card, die by the card,
A forest of souls lost for trees
Statues of birds and no song on the airs
Struggle to breathe
Thinking everyone else's horrible thoughts
Thinking you imagined your life yourself
And what you imagined was never this
Never this life you actually lead

And somewhere your ancient soul remembers
That moment the star that was you, and me, and you again for you are me,
The moment it burst out of the furious silence of space
Into endless particles of dust and storm
And this dust became ladies and men
And boys and birds and gold and cards and rules and laws and 


The monk is laughing,
The sun leaving his body,
And in his breath he yet dies
And in his death still he dreams

And in his dreams,
He looks into a mirror upon your own eyes
And begs you to love him in return.

by Erin 
September 20th, 2015