4 films that define you…go.

This made the rounds on Twitter earlier today, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. The challenge was to name four films that define you, in celebration of “the personal nature of cinema.” A worthy endeavor. It kind of evolved into people just posting four images or screencaps from their chosen movies, which is what I ended up doing too:

Pretty sure I’ve blabbed about each of these at some point on this blog, but here’s a summary.

Lost in Translation (2003)

The mood and music of Lost in Translation is basically my entire aesthetic. I love how Sofia Coppola captured the feeling of being anonymous in a big city, and the uncertainty of relationships caught in limbo, and the bittersweetness of not quite knowing what to do with your life. Also, Bill Murray is a national treasure.

Annie Hall (1977)

Liking Woody Allen movies is problematic these days, but that won’t stop me from considering Annie Hall one of the best films ever made. This movie assured me that being neurotic and awkward was ok, as long as I could find someone else equally neurotic and awkward to talk about it with (Annie Hall was one of the first things Alex and I bonded over when we met). Plus, it’s so packed with memorable scenes that I regularly forget that Paul Simon is in it, which is quite a feat.

Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider is the 1960s—my spirit decade—in movie form. It’s basically an extended road trip montage backed by an amazing soundtrack. And because the 60s weren’t all peace and love, it also gets pretty dark, a true period piece if ever there was one. Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are great, but Jack Nicholson most definitely steals the show. I quote this film probably once a week at minimum.

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

I was having a hard time choosing between this and a Chaplin/Keaton film, but went with Sunset Boulevard because it celebrates the silent era while also embodying the Hollywood of the 1950s, in all its noir splendor. And because glorifying the past is one of my favorite things to do. Me and Norma Desmond have a lot in common, as it turns out.

Putting this together made me realize that setting plays a huge role in all of my favorite movies. Tokyo, New York City, the American Southwest, Los Angeles…I have a personal connection with all of these places, and undoubtedly they are part of the reason I love each of these films so much.

For funsies, here are my runners-up:

A Hard Day’s Night (1964) – This movie changed my life (or more accurately, the people in it changed my life). It was a tough one to leave out of the top 4.
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) – Sigh. Mr. Holland’s Opus will always hold a special place in my heart for starting me on my journey to band geekdom.
Amadeus (1984) – I loooove the set design, and I looooove Mozart.
Sherlock Jr. (1924) – Ahhh, so many good visual tricks in this one. This one doesn’t really define me in any way; I wanted to include a silent film as a reminder that movies were on a completely different (and in many ways, more creative) level in the 1910s and 1920s.

Anyone else? Share your 4 films with meeeeee.

If you can’t fall in love in San Francisco….

First of all, thank you Woody Allen, for making Blue Jasmine.

Thank you for highlighting the most dysfunctional of human relationships.

Thank you for making me laugh and cringe at the same time.

Thank you for putting some of my favorite people on the screen together.

But most of all,
Thank you for making a film set in San Francisco. No one uses city settings better than you. And the fact that I watched the movie in SF’s 103-year-old Clay Theater made it even sweeter.

Although for the record, I could’ve used more sweeping panoramas of the bay and inside references (Cate Blanchett’s snooty character uttering the address “305 South Van Ness” was enough to make everyone in the theater laugh).

I’m too lazy for any kind of formal review, so have my pluses and minuses and just go see it:

I liked:
+Louis CK. Not just liked, loved him in this. I wish he was in more scenes. I also wish…another thing that I won’t say because of spoilers.
+Long shots. Ok so I didn’t realize this until reading some articles after watching the movie, but I know it’s something that Woody is famous for. There are certain scenes which were shot continuously (versus cutting back and forth between characters), which really add to the flow and in this case, tension of the scene.
+Cate Blanchett is super convincing as a socialite spiraling into madness. There’s one scene where she confronts her cheating husband and starts having a panic attack so legitimate that I felt like I was having a panic attack of my own. Admirable, if not kinda scary.
+The fact that it’s a modern Streetcar Named Desire.
+Dat clarinet.

-I’m sure it was intentional to have so much arguing to heighten the feelings of stress/anxiety, but man, there was so. much. arguing. in this movie. Also, arguments are a hard thing to make seem genuine, and sometimes I have this problem of imagining everything the characters are saying as a script in front of me.  So maybe it’s just me, but I thought the arguments were kind of predictable.
-Everyone having east coast accents, even the so-called west coasters.
-The sentence that starts out with “When we were making love last night…” If anyone actually talks like that in real life, I hope I never meet them.
-The dentist.

"That’s a good terminal. I’ve thrown up there."

Reasons to like Play It Again Sam:

  1. The Casablanca references, obviously. A film nerd’s dream. 
  2. It takes place in San Francisco. I like to believe that Woody Allen, as the writer, choose SF as the setting solely so he could get the last scene right. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean. 
  3. It was the first film pairing of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.
  4. Not to mention…Diane Keaton. She’s just the best. 
  5. The charming outdatedness of Tony Roberts’ character always calling his office to give the phone number of the place he’s currently staying. How did people survive without cell phones??

I don’t know what’s more hilarious, the spot-on dialogue or Woody’s slapstick humor. This clip has a perfect combo of both:

And of course, who wouldn’t want their own personal Bogey to give dating advice…
I can’t believe it took me this long to see this movie. The thing about Woody Allen films is that there’s so many it seems impossible for any one person to have seen them all. And that’s awesome, because it means I’ll be discovering equally hilarious movies for a loooong time…

I’m finding it strange how…

…every film, TV show, and book that I have been obsessed with seem to have one thing in common: the city is an integral part of the story. That city is almost always New York, but it can also be LA, San Francisco, any big metropolis that can come to life and shape the way a character feels or acts.

Some examples:

“He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved…”
Annie Hall is probably my all-time favorite movie. I love the Manhattan backdrop, and the fact that Alvy is a devout New Yorker who can’t stand to live anywhere else, and how amazingly beautiful the city always looks (this goes for almost all Woody Allen films, come to think of it).

As for other movies, I wouldn’t consider When Harry Met Sally or You’ve Got Mail favorites (although they top my list of favorite chick flicks, most definitely), but the fact that the city plays a major role in those movies makes me love them. Some great LA movies, by the way, are Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown, and 500 Days of Summer. But to be honest, nothing compares to the romanticism of New York City.

From Woody Allen’s Manhattan:

“If you only get one great love, then New York may just be mine.”

Speaking of NYC, off the top of my head I can name at least five shows I’ve been obsessed with at some point, all of which take place in the Big Apple: Taxi, How I Met Your Mother, Sex and the City, Seinfeld, Friends…the list could go on but those are at the top. Just the idea of living in Manhattan and having an everyday life there makes me swoon. I am in love with the city. Also, some past guilty pleasures *coughFullHousecoughFrasier* are centered around some less-featured cities (Seattle, nice) and I’m pretty sure that’s why my 10-year-old self liked them (yes, I watched Frasier when I was 10).

70s-tastic Taxi theme:

“I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline.”

I’m pretty all over the place when it comes to reading, but the whole ‘city life’ theme has been recurrent in every book I’ve read recently. I especially love The Fountainhead, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Just Kids, and pretty much any autobiography that goes into detail about living in LA, SF, NYC, etc. Oh and Fitzgerald? Don’t even get me started on him. Probably the greatest metropolitan writer ever.


I can’t really think of a decent explanation for all this, except that I must be a city girl at heart. It’s true that I’d rather live in the middle of a huge metro than in the middle of nowhere, maybe because the city has the capability of giving you anonymity while at the same time exposing you to all kinds of people and experiences. Not to mention, there’s always a million things going on, so it’s never boring. :) Maybe someday I’ll find a way to show my love for the city like Woody Allen and F. Scott Fitzgerald did…

Well la-di-da

My most recent Netflix movie was Annie Hall, which I thoroughly enjoyed. How can you go wrong with Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Paul Simon, and Christopher Walken?? Also, I’ve realized that Carol Kane is all over the 70s movies/shows I’ve been watching…Taxi, The Last Detail, this, Carnal Knowledge (which I haven’t watched but just happen to know about, haha).

I love Diane Keaton’s style in this movie. My mom says it sparked a whole new trend in women’s fashion. I think if I lived in the 70s I totally would’ve jumped on the bandwagon. While watching this movie I was remembering the time when Bondy had an Academy-Award themed birthday in 5th grade, and while the other girls came dressed up as Nicole Kidman or Kate Winslet (it was the year of Titanic), I came as Diane Keaton. Oh good times.

Also, my mom let me borrow her first season SNL dvds. Ohman, the 70s were way greater than I previously gave them credit for.