Thanks so much to my dear friend Lilah Lohr for showing me Andy Ihnatko’s wonderful blog Celestial Waste of Bandwidth and especially his Amazon Advent Calendar. I love his tribute to the classic musical “The Band Wagon,” which he bravely asserts is the best ever.
Okay, “The Band Wagon.” You need to know two things about this movie: One, that it is indeed “The Band Wagon” and not “The Bandwagon.” Getting it wrong is a rookie mistake and the true film snobs to whom you were so shabbily attempting to ingratiate yourself will see to it that you’ll never get into a Max Ophuls film festival in this town again.
Secondly, that it is the single greatest musical ever made.
I would not call it the best ever, but “The Band Wagon” is simply sublime and Ihnatko’s commentary is delightful. If you have not seen “The Band Wagon,” take a look — I promise you will say at least three times, “That song is from THIS movie?” It includes standards like “A Shine on Your Shoes,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and, yes, “That’s Entertainment” plus one of the most deliriously silly musical numbers ever filmed, “Triplets” and the song Ihnatko loves, “By Myself.” And it has the wicked and brilliantly danced satire, “Girl Hunt.” It also has a better book than most of the musicals of its era, with a shrewd insider’s take on artistic pretension and a frank acknowledgment of issues of aging and risk-taking in work and in life, and one of the most gorgeously romantic dance numbers ever, with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse dancing in the dark, waltzing in the wonder of why we’re here. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Do romantic comedies create and foster impossible expectations? Are women doomed to disappointment when no man can possibly measure up to Lloyd Dobbler (Say Anything), William Thacker (Notting Hill) or Joe Fox (You’ve Got Mail) — or Cary Grant in anything?
Researchers at the Family and Personal Relationships Laboratory at Heriot Watt University in Scotland have concluded that may be the problem. In a new paper about the influence of romantic movies on people’s expectations about relationships, the researchers studied 40 films released between 1995 and 2005 and found that they conveyed to those in the audience a sense that the best relationships achieved a level of understanding that did not require the kind of communication that is necessary for real-life relationships.
Dr. Bjarne Holmes, who led the research, said: “We are not being killjoys – we are not saying that people shouldn’t watch these movies. But we are saying that it would be helpful if people were more aware and more critical of the messages in these films. The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realize.”
I do not believe anyone takes or should take these studies any more seriously than they take relationship advice from Julia Roberts movies. In other words, both are fun and sometimes provocative and can even offer genuine insights that can help illuminate relationship issues — finding the courage to take a risk, making love the top priority of your life, valuing yourself enough to value others — but by definition, movies have to take short-cuts to indicate important passages in a relationship or we’d be there for weeks. That’s what a montage is all about — we see the couple splashing each other on the beach and marveling over the goodies at an outdoor market while some sprightly pop song plays on the soundtrack and we accept that they are in love; that doesn’t mean we expect that in our own lives. This goes back way before movies. Even Shakespeare had to save time by having his lovers fall for each other at first sight, though he at least had them describe it beautifully.
I would guess that there’s something of a chicken and egg problem here. Those audience members who are attracted to romantic comedies (especially some of the second-rate ones in this study) are likely to have more of a tendency to, well, romanticize. But if they are really paying attention, they will see that one of the most important messages in any romantic film is that the best way to see those movies is while sharing popcorn with someone you love — and that the best part is talking to that person about it afterward.
If you are careful in observing the lessons from movies and other great stories about love in books, plays, operas, songs, and even paintings, you can find a true soulmate who makes all of the relationship ups and downs into life’s greatest adventure, someone who laughs with you, listens to you, and inspires you, and still holds hands when you go to the movies after more than 30 years. I’ve been lucky enough to find someone who is all of that and more.
Have a “Bolt” fan in your house? The first person to send me an email at email@example.com with “Bolt” in the subject line will get some “Bolt” goodies — a wall calendar and playing cards. I will also throw in another dog-movie-related treat. Good luck!
One of the awards announcements I most look forward to each year is the selections of the Black Reel Awards, given out by the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film, a nonprofit organization with a mission to target, identify and prepare candidates who will represent the next generation of filmmakers and potential film executives that will be able to provide a different sensibility to the stories currently told onscreen. I am so pleased to see this acknowledgment of some of the best film-makers and performers in movies today and honored to have been one of the judges.
2008 Black Reel Awards Winners
Best Film – Cadillac Records/TriStar Pictures
Best Actor – Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actress – Queen Latifah (The Secret Life of Bees)
Best Supporting Actor – Jeffrey Wright (Cadillac Records)
Best Supporting Actress – Viola Davis (Doubt)
Best Director – Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees)
Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted – Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Secret Life of Bees)
Best Breakthrough Performance – Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Ensemble – Cadillac Records/TriStar Pictures
Best Soundtrack – Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight)
Women Talk About Making Movies The New York Times talked to women in Hollywood about making movies. Some of the highlights:
“What’s wrong with bossy? It’s O.K. for a man.” Barbra Streisand, Director (“The Prince of Tid
When The Movie Plays With the Studio Logo I got a big kick out of the post by Matt Singer from Screen Crush about movies that begin before the beginning by amending the studio's opening logo. Most recently, of course "The LEGO Movie" did the logo in Legos. But before that, movies like "Scott Pilgrim," "Cat Ballou," "Alien 3," and "Wate
SAG Awards 2015 The Screen Actors Guild awards for television and movies in 2014 are in and it looks like Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore, and J.K. Simmons are in line to bring home Oscars on February 22. The tough one to call right now is Best Actor, down to the wire between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.
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