Finding Home in Sweet Home Alabama - GUEST BLOG BY AMANDA IMAN

     I love a good Reese Witherspoon rom-com, and even the mediocre ones; from Legally Blonde to This Means War to Home Again and everything in between. But I have a particular soft spot for Sweet Home Alabama. I've probably seen it more than any other Reese Witherspoon movie, rom-com or not. It was one of the first DVDs I owned in high school and I watched it countless times throughout both high school and college. There's something about Witherspoon's Melanie that I've always liked and the cast is full of character actors I adore: Melanie Lynskey, Ethan Embry, Jean Smart and more. Plus, both men Melanie chooses between are decent guys and they're nice eye candy too. However, as I rewatched the movie this time around, after having not seen it in a couple years, the relationship that stuck out to me was the one Melanie has with her hometown and the people in it, not her romantic relationships with the men in her life.

     When I first watched the movie as a 16 year old I remember not fully understanding why Melanie had such a sense of disdain for her tiny hometown at the start of the film. I was growing up in a suburban village (that's right, village, it didn't become a town until the 2010 census) on the edge of Columbus, Ohio. We were far enough out though that I grew up around corn fields, rednecks doing chew and pickup trucks. At that point in my life I assumed I'd always be friends with my friends from high school and college was a couple years away so I hadn't fully considered the idea of moving away. Then later when I would watch the movie in college I was on the opposite side of the fence. Of course, Melanie needed to get the hell out of Greenville. That town was too small for her talent and ambition. At that point I didn't fully understand the southern-ification that Melanie undergoes throughout the film. Her accent gets thicker and she embraces more of her hometown culture. My interpretation in my college years was that she was regressing a bit to fit in with Jake and his world.

     Now that I'm an adult and have more perspective on how complicated your sense of home can be though, I see Melanie's relationship with her hometown in a very different light. She can have both the appreciation of her hometown and the love of her life in the city. She even expresses this feeling in the movie when she and Jake are talking in the dog cemetery. “I'm happy in New York, Jake. But then I come down here and this fits too.” He asks her “does it have to be one or the other?” It takes Melanie another half an hour to realize this fully but I like the subtle ways the movie shows her embracing both places she now considers home. She tells Andrew she wants to have the wedding in Alabama but we see scenes of her planning her hometown wedding while back in New York. There's also the way Melanie integrates her “Yankee” friends into her life in Alabama when they come down for the wedding. It's refreshing seeing them in her parents' home interacting without judgment as a contrast to Candice Bergen's snob. The photo snapshot epilogue, though, is where we see that Melanie and Jake have made a life together in New York that includes bringing Alabama to them like visits from her parents and the opening of a New York branch of Jake's glass shop. Home is no longer one place for Melanie. She doesn't have to choose. She can have the best of both places she loves. I see this in my own life, too. I absolutely don't want to live in my hometown but I'm happy to visit frequently and take pride in the little place I grew up. I've embraced the city girl that I am with an appreciation for the small town roots I have, just like Melanie. We can all choose to find our “sweet home” wherever we like and embrace the capacity to love more than one home.

 

Amanda is the host of Amanda's Picture Show a Go Go and co-host of Culture Pop a Go Go. You should visit her website at amandaagogo.comand follow her on social media at @MandaAiley @AmandasPicShow and @CulturePopAGoGo 

Want to hear our take on Sweet Home Alabama? Make sure you listen to our episode!

Year Three: By the Numbers

Hey guys! Recently we celebrated our third birthday of the podcast! Hooray for us! We released an episode that was mailbag episode combined with our annual Cutaways awards ceremony. As a Cutaways tradition, we look back on what we watched over the season and evaluate the good, the bad, and just how many times we had to suffer though multiple movies of the same actor. If you have listened to that episode, here is just everything presented in hard print. What's nice about this page, is that there are handy-dandy links! If you have not listened and want to be surprised, go listen here!

Without further ado..... 

Most Watched Actor

 John Cusack

John Cusack

Of course we celebrated Jonuary this year so it is no surprise that this man tops this list. Here's how it shakes down with the other runner ups.

John Cusack- High Fidelity, Serendipity, America's Sweethearts

Hugh Grant- Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary

Morris Chestnut- The Best Man, The Brothers

Most Watched Actress

 Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts

We didn't have many repeat actresses this year, but we should always shine a light on Ms JULIA!

Julia Roberts- Notting Hill, America's Sweethearts

Molly Shannon- Never Been Kissed, Serendipity

Miriam Shor- Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bedazzled

Most Watched Director

We have no repeat directors within the year but a few that we want to give shoutouts to as we have covered their other films previously: Garry Marshall and Harold Ramis.

Most Watched Editor

81DSXEfOZUL._RI_.jpg

We watched films by Garth Craven twice this year! He edited Return to Me and Legally Blonde.

Most Watched Year

This year we watched ELEVEN movies from 2001! And it got pretty exhausting....

Worst Movie

The runner-ups for worst movie (with their combined rating score) we've watched in the past year are...

1999's Drive Me Crazy (1.75)

1999's Notting Hill (1.25)

2000's Return to Me (1.25)

2000's What Women Want (1.25)

2001's Someone Like You (1.25)

And we have tie for worst movie this year! Both with a rating of 1- 

1999's Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas
and
2001's On The Line

513SobxwisL.jpg

Best Movie

The runner-ups for best movie (with their combined rating score) we've watched in the past year are...

1999's 10 Things I hate About You (4.2)

1999's But I'm a Cheerleader (4.25)

2001's Amelie (4.375)

2001's Legally Blonde (4.7)

2000's High Fidelity (4.75)

And the best movie we watched this year, with the only combined score of a 5-

2001's Hedwig and the Angry Inch

hedwig.jpg

Remember if you want extra podcast content and goodies, head on over to our Patreon at patreon.com/cutawayspodcast

My favorite line from every Hedwig song

This post may read exactly like a Buzzfeed article, but that's ok with me! I'm going through the movie soundtrack and tell you, the reader, what my favorite line is in each song. Now, there are three soundtrack listings on Wikipedia. The off-Broadway soundtrack, the film soundtrack, and the Broadway revival soundtrack. I actually prefer the off-Broadway because the songs are listed in the order that they appear in the movie. Also, I will not be covering the songs that don't fully make it into the movie like "The Long Grift" (which I don't really like) and "In Your Arms Tonight" (which I do kinda like.)

Ladies and Gentlemen...

Tear Me Down

I'm the new Berlin wall, try and tear me down.

This song for me, kicks it right out the gate. I mean, there are lots of lines in the song I like, especially Yitzhak's part. I like the part where he goes, "Reviled. Graffitied. Spit upon." and the part after where he declares, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Hedwig is like that wall!" It's just a good story song, which gives you a lot of character information and visuals. Plus it's totally punk rock.

The Origin of Love

Last time I saw you, we had just split in two. You were looking at me. I was looking at you.

Another great story song! Ahhhh I seriously love it. I love the second verse starting with, "And there were three sexes then," and how that continues on the three different types of humans. I like the strong line, "Like I cut the legs off the whales, And dinosaurs into lizards." I like how it's sung. Each verse also has a tone shift too. I chose the lines because that's when the song because first person, not just a story of how this happened, but a story of how this happened to ME. It just really ties into the whole story of heartbreak as they try to make love by shoving themselves together and become whole again (the big theme of Hedwig.)

Sugar Daddy

So you think only a woman can truly love a man. Well you buy me the dress I'll be more woman than a man like you can stand.

I think this line speaks for itself. In a song about Hedwig enjoying the new American lifestyle of sweet, sweet things, this line is a reminder of the price tag.

Angry Inch

My first day as a woman and already it’s that time of the month.

Again, self explanatory. :D Hilarious.

Wig in a Box

Suddenly I'm this punk rock star of stage and screen. And I ain't never, I'm never turning back.

This one was also hard to choose a line from because it's such a good story! Not only that it's a journey! Hedwig starts out completely down and sad and slowly, with each verse starts transforming. When at first it's sad to be someone else she then takes ownership of it. It does have feelings of abuse though. She's doing it, "all because of you! It's all because of you!" and has that bit of rage in the middle of the song there. After that we get the sing-along and then final transformation, which is the lyric I have chosen. But seriously, you can see in this song she is due for a mental breakdown. "But then again, aren't we all?" (great segue, Justine, to...)

Wicked Little Town

And if you've got no other choice, you know you can follow my voice.

No joke, I love every single line in this song. It is my FAVORITE Hedwig song. So there. All, all the lyrics.

Hedwig's Lament

I gave a piece to the rock star. He took the good stuff and ran.

This song is very short 12 line poem right before the next song. I just chose this line because I relate to it personally from dating so many musicians and pretty much making other people better.

Exquisite Corpse

A montage! I'm all sewn up!

I don't really have any favorite lines in this song. This song is harder punk than all the other songs and it's meant to be jarring. It's also very much about the visuals but if you take all those lovely pretty visuals of earlier and rip them up and put them together the wrong way. Hedwig in two songs has sang that she rose from the doctor's slab and in this song she declares that she is the Monster.

Wicked Little Town (Reprise)

You think that Luck has left you there. But maybe there's nothing up in the sky but air.

Ok some more favorite lines- "When everything starts breaking down, you take the pieces off the ground," "And there's no mystical design, no cosmic lover preassigned," "'Cause with all the changes you've been through it seems the stranger's always you." Anyway, this is Tommy's goodbye song. It's an apology for stealing her songs and doing the damage he did but also he's calling her out on her beliefs. That they are no soulmates, that she's focusing so much on literally following his voice across the country that she keeps finding herself alone again in some wicked little town. Hedwig has to move on. Ok let's wrap it up and see what she's learned.

Midnight Radio

All the misfits and the losers

This line is great because we're also singing about punk rock so it is also The Misfits and The Losers. In this song Hedwig declares "Know that you're whole." She's gone the fullllll transformation. This song is also about connecting with people through music, what she's done her whole traveling show. This song is tribute to how she got here and calls out "the strange rock and rollers," like Patti and Tina and Yoko... She heard the transmission and sought her destiny. It's how we all got here to this point.

Ok I hope you enjoyed this Buzzfeed knock-off article. I hope you learned a little about Hedwig and maybe a little about me. Please check out our Hedwig Episode to hear more ranting about how much I love this. -Justine

hedwig1.jpg

Is 27 Dresses actually good? - Guest blog by Ellen Walker

I suggested to my team at work that we have an “ice breaker” question at the beginning of every team meeting. The intention of the ice breaker was to get to know each other better. One of the questions I asked my team was - what is your favourite film? You’d think I would have prepared a good answer for my own question. I didn’t. I explained that I decided on my favourite films as a teen and I never thought to change them. My favourite teen films being ‘80s classics Dirty Dancing and The Breakfast Club.

If I was to update my so-called favourite film, what would it be? I have asked myself if the best films can be judged by how many times you have watched them, and if that’s a fact, my favourite film might actually be 27 Dresses.

 "The Ultimate Romantic Comedy?"

"The Ultimate Romantic Comedy?"

The premise of the film is simple. Katherine Heigl plays a woman with a type A personality and an unsatisfactory love life. In other words, the same role as she plays in almost any of her other films.

Her character, Jane, is always the bridesmaid and never the bride. She has been the bridesmaid 27 times, in fact, and she keeps all 27 dresses in a dedicated wardrobe in her apartment. She has a huge crush on her outdoorsy good guy boss and she has a sassy friend who deserves a spin off.

Enter James Marsden, or Kevin Doyle AKA Malcolm Doyle, the handsome yet troublesome stealth reporter. He has a penchant for aggressively pursuing Jane and being generally disparaging about marriage (relatable).

It’s also important to note that Jane has always been the helper and never the helped and raised her younger sister after their mum’s death. Her younger sister, Tess, is now a grown up brat and she captures the interest of outdoorsy boss man, George. Drama ensues when they become engaged and Jane becomes the reluctant maid of honour.

I will point out a couple of things- 

1. I do own 27 actual dresses, this is a coincidence and I can fit many other pieces in my wardrobe, unlike Jane.

2. I’m not sure if this movie is actually any good and it makes me question flaws in the genre of romantic comedies, in general.

I love romantic comedies and I have difficulty reconciling that love with my values as a feminist. It’s obvious that rom coms often fall victim to tropes that were developed to make the stories palatable to a mass audience. Mainly an audience of women. The issue with 27 Dresses is that Jane spends all of her time serving men and brides.

Jane takes on the burden of emotional labour. The screenplay for 27 Dresses is written by a woman, and the film is directed by a woman, but this doesn’t save the film from some anti-feminist messages.

Jane never puts herself first. Her professional life and her personal life is dictated by her time serving others. If she is not fixing her baby bossman’s tie for him she is helping brides pick out their flowers.

The dresses

“Marriage like everything good and wonderful is never easy. Cynicism on the other hand, is.” -Jane, 27 Dresses

This line is delivered to Kevin Doyle. He is also known by his reporting alias, Malcolm. His main job is to report on weddings in the area in the Commitments section of the newspaper. He also hates weddings and is generally a real downer about relationships. I don’t understand why someone who truly hates weddings is forced to report on them. Surely, Jane should take his job?

It’s weird that movies try to convince us that a man that gets your hackles up is the kind of man we ought to love. Surely we should value kindness and a partner who makes us laugh? Someone with whom we can work with throughout the difficulties of everyday life. But no, someone who constantly and aggressively questions our values is bang on the money for this rom com. It’s not uncommon that the romantic comedy film attempts to convince its viewer that if at first the pursuer doesn’t succeed, he should keep trying until he wears our main character down.

I don’t think the appeal of this rom com is the disjointed story of true love between the odd couple Jane and Kevin. Kevin isn’t especially likable for most of the film. He finds Jane’s diary left behind in a taxi that they share. He uses the diary to find her whereabouts to create another meeting between them. He could have used Jane’s contact details, which I’m sure are in the Filofax, to respectfully return it to her. Using her diary to essentially stalk Jane is dangerous behaviour that the film should not pass off as normal.

When the diary is returned Kevin has written in vivid that she must meet with him again. This is entitled and he is essentially defacing her diary. This action is not redeemed for me by his eventual gift of an electronic diary to Jane. Kevin could have easily won over Jane using manners and respect. The aggression he shows towards Jane is a hint of the type of controlling behaviour seen in abusive relationships that should never be normalized in media.

The worst thing that Kevin does is use Jane’s wedding obsession for a big story in the newspaper without her consent. Kevin says to Jane in his defense that he begged his editor not to run the story. Yet, he wrote the story in the first place, which disrespects Jane’s right to privacy. Kevin, in sum, is unwittingly written as a total jerk.

This film is not great media. It fails to subvert the genre. The cast are mainly white. There is one Latino character called Pedro. George acts as his mentor. This character is used as the punch line for a cheap joke when Tess employs him to clean George’s apartment in secret. There are also no queer characters at all. The film follows a formula that has rendered the film barely distinguishable from any other film in the genre.

It is the performances that hold together the film’s disjointed plot. Especially Katherine Heigl as Jane.

I’m not like Jane at all. I would love to be invited to weddings but I don’t get tears in my eyes thinking about a couple tying the knot. I don’t wish to get married myself. It’s not important to me. Weddings and marriage are very important to Jane, she isn’t a maid of honour for money nor sport. She behaves as the brides emotional dumping ground for one reason only—a genuine belief and love for the institution that is marriage.

She is, of course, entitled to that love. That’s the spark behind Jane as a character. Her devotion to the brides is a true passion. This character may be victim to feminine stereotypes but at least she is a fully fleshed out character. She is as neurotic as she is anal. She is as charming as she is flawed.

Jane’s determination to destroy Tess’s happiness is hard to watch but it speaks to insecurities that run deep. Jane raised Tess in the place of their mother who died when they were young. She feels that Tess has had everything handed to her and now Tess not only gets her man but she claims Jane’s one true fantasy — the perfect wedding in their mother’s wedding dress.

Tess has convinced George to marry her through manipulation and lies. Tess also feels completely entitled to Jane’s help and all aspects of Jane’s dream wedding, which she hoped to mirror on her parents wedding at the same venue and with the same dress.

Kevin and Tess

The redeeming factor of this film is that at its heart it’s about a woman learning to say no. Jane is learning to stop providing endless emotional labour for others. She is learning to stop putting her life on hold. Her sister takes their mother’s dress and destroys it, using only parts of the original’s dress material to create a new poorly fitted dress. This is the final straw for Jane who abandons her role as the maid of honour.

This is a turning point in the film that sees Jane ferociously claim her right to put herself first. This message is what truly makes the film enjoyable.

I often joke that I have probably seen 27 Dresses 27 times. I have watched it again in preparation of this blog post and I still find it just as entertaining with a more critical lens. This film isn’t a great film but it’s an entertaining film with some dedicated performances. There is no need to have to defend what you enjoy in films. I don’t have to justify a love for a genre that suffers from a lot of major issues.

I can imagine a world where rom coms are written by women and for women. Where the characters are queer and racially diverse and more of an audience can relate to what they see on their screen. 27 Dresses was released in 2008 and we have made strides in films made for women and queer people with Man Up; Love, Simon; Set it Up; Bridesmaids; and The Incredible Jessica James being amongst the many films generally related to the chick flick or romantic comedy genre in some way. These films subvert the tropes of the genre and make for a more enjoyable watch.

I know that 27 Dresses can be considered good, but it could be so much better. It will always have a special place in my movie watching diet but I hope to see filmmakers continue to do better.

Ellen is the co-host of High Expectations Podcast with the lovely, Jaslyn. Their podcast is about sex, pop culture, relationships, and whatever else they feel like talking about. You can follow High Expectations on twitter @highexpodcast and on facebook at High Expectations Podcast. When Ellen is not recording she is writing her next comedy set, playing with her dog, and being addicted to lip balm. 

Ellen

We have watched only one Katherine Heigel film on the Cutaways so far, My Father the Hero. You can listen to it here.

Screen Queers Are Dear - Guest blog by Jaslyn Heaphy

When I was a young teen I saw a film on TV about a high school girl with a thing for wearing hats and dark hair that I think she eventually cut short. She realised that she was queer and had a ‘coming out’ party in her backyard. I’ve never been able to find out what it was called but I’d love to see it again because it captured my imagination. If you have an idea, please tell me!  Seeing someone I could relate to on TV was so important because it helped me to figure out more about myself. I wasn’t exactly sure how I related to her, but knowing that I did at all was comforting. I always thought it would be cool to come out in style like that but in the end I was too scared.

It’s heartwarming now to see ‘teen’ romantic comedies like Love, Simon (2018) and Alex Strangelove (2018), and TV shows like Degrassi: Next Class (2016 - ) helping to show not straight teenagers being a part of everyday life. In 2009, season 3 of the UK version of Skins launched. The whole season arc was a mutual coming out story between two of the characters, Naomi and Emily, who ultimately began a relationship. It holds a special place in my heart for being so relatable and cute. ‘Naomily’ gifs can still make me squee. They were reluctant to admit their feelings at first, but in time felt no choice if they were going to be happy. This is an idea that resonated with me. It’s like there is a point where any sadness that may come from coming out is outweighed by the sadness of not.

Emily and Naomi, Skins (2009)

I wonder how I would have felt seeing these things when I was in school? I’d hope I would be more inspired to come out or have better understanding of what I was feeling. It’s much better than me watching Casper (1995) and pondering  that I want to both be Christina Ricci and be slow dancing with Christina Ricci.

There was the 2000 film But I’m A Cheerleader, a cheesy, literally campy, satire reality movie. It is a movie about an anti-gay conversion camp that has its problems, but is ultimately beloved in the queer community for being an early awakening for many, and being so relatable despite the satire. It even teaches that you can be cheerleader and a lesbian at the same time! I didn’t see it until 2004, however, but it was while sitting next to my girlfriend. The same year that My Summer of Love came out starring Emily Blunt in a queer romance, it’s a rollercoaster of a movie that cemented my forever crush on her.

Megan and Graham, But I’m A Cheerleader (2000)

In recent years adult actors playing realistic queer characters in media like Carol (2015) and the Black Mirror episode San Junipero (2016) have been great to have in the mainstream. Their portrayals have stood out and have been applauded by the queer community for having realistic emotions and relationships with other queer characters. I’ve also noticed a rise in bio pics like Battle of the Sexes (2017) about tennis champion Billie Jean King, and Freeheld (2015) about police officer Laurel Hester. They don’t always show ideal scenarios, often some sad realities about family not being accepting, but they are ultimately inspiring. I do hope they also have a role in helping adults learn more about themselves and possibly even come out as a result.

Yorkie and Kelly, Black Mirror: San Junipero (2016)

It’s very special seeing more queer representation now, especially with lead role characters. It’s so much more valuable than having them be a ‘read between the lines’ character and unmentioned like I saw as a kid in A League of Their Own (1992) or Are You Being Served? (1972 - 1985). Every time there’s good representation in mainstream media, it leads to happier and safer lives as more and more of society get on board with different types from the sexualiy and gender spectrum. I can’t wait to see what characters I get excited about next.

Jaslyn Heaphy is a queer femme from New Zealand. She is Host of Up In Ten Club, the motivational podcast that helps you get out of bed, and Co-host of High Expectations Podcast, which is about relationships, pop culture, friendship, films, books, sex positivity, music, and whatever they feel like talking about!. She is also a standup comedian, pun battle champion, zine maker, and a bullet journal enthusiast. When she's not being creative she can be found on a bicycle or enjoying pizza.

Want to hear our take on But I'm a Cheerleader? Listen to our episode!

It Happened One Night - A scene analysis

Recently I, Justine, watched and reviewed 1934's It Happened One Night as a Patreon-only podcast episode. If you would like to become a Patron to access this, please visit patreon.com/cutawayspodcast and we would greatly appreciate it!

I would like to elaborate about one particular scene- the Walls of Jericho. You can watch it here and then we'll discuss. :D

First of all, sorry for the crappy youtube quality, you can rent the movie on Amazon and I highly suggest it!

Let's talk about the shots we have and how they cut together.

A medium wide shot (MWS) of Ellen- that's head to knees here.

A medium shot (MS) of Peter- head to waist (closer more intimate).

Then we cut to a matching MS of Ellen. They're both center framed, on metaphoric even ground.

A few cuts back and forth between these Mediums as he references the blanket, but not a wider shot to show the blanket referenced or a wide shot of the room to illustrate where they are in the space. Why? Probably because we're still keeping things intimate and not giving the audience relief, like how Ellen doesn't have relief. 

We cut to a MWS of Peter sitting on the bed, to show his action and then back to the MS of Ellen and the camera FOLLOWS HER to sit on the bed. We are more focused on Ellens actions because we are wondering how she is going to handle this moment.

We cut back to the MS of Peter as he's taunting her. We follow Ellen's eyes as she's looking screen right. He's looking screen left so our brain intuits that they're making eye contact with each other but THEY AREN'T! There's a blanket between them that we can't see. The editing puts them together.

Ellen asks Peter to put out the light and he does so and then opens the blind behind him. I love the cinematography here as they are both now mirrored with the windows behind them creating beautiful silhouettes.

We cut to the MWS of Ellen and it's a shot that's leaving room for her to stand up into. It's not something that we would do today. It's predictable and it's dictating the edit. We would either probably cut on action or match on action* to cut between a MS and Close Up (CU).

Now Ellen starts to undress and we start off with everyone all loose and comfortable within their respective frames. We cut to a MS of Ellen. Then a Medium Close Up (MCU) of Peter and he looks over to the blanket. This is the closest we've gotten to him in this scene. It's the shot that makes you go, "What is he thinking?" because we are focusing so much on his face now.

We now get the first kind of Shot Reverse Shot** in the scene. I say kind of because Peter is looking at the blanket, not another character. So in the that previous shot we she him look over, What is he looking at? This shot answers it. And then we go back to his face. How does he feel about what he just saw? It's classic Kuleshov Effect.***

Peter asks her to take her garments down off the wall. So we get the same shots back and forth because it's 1934 and we cannot show Ellen getting changed but the closeness of the shots keeps up the sexual tension.

We have an MCU of Ellen so we don't see her dressing below frame and then back to the MCU of Peter. It's like they are maintaining eye contact because of their position in their frames.

The next shot is the MWS of Ellen getting into bed and tension is released.

Now we have a match on action of a CU of her getting comfortable in in bed. What is the next shot going to be??? She sits up and asks Peter what his name is and it cuts to the matching shot of him. Then we cut to that beautiful wide shot! I love this shot, it's my favorite in the scene. You see the clear division between them and thus are reminded of their metaphoric division. The barrier we must break before the end of the film. I wanted it to linger longer.

Notice how in the next few lines of dialogue we use the Medium shots and then jump to matching medium wide shots, only to go in close again as they become more flirty. Then to top it off after Peter refers to Ellen as Mrs. Warne- a CU of her face and she takes in this comment. Then we go from that Close Up to her face back to that beautiful Wide to remind us exactly where we stand in the world.

And from this-

download (1).jpeg

We get this-

 When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally

Where else have you seen this before?

Thanks!

*Cutting on the action is a cut that is done in the middle of an action. The shot changes to a different angle when the character that the viewer has most focus on is in a middle of an action.

**Shot Reverse Shot a film technique where one character is shown looking at another character (often off-screen), and then the other character is shown looking back at the first character.

***Kuleshov Effect- look it up, you won't regret it. :)

An Ode to Amelie - Guest Blog by Amanda Iman

How do I begin to describe my love for the film Amelie? This movie is so embedded within who I am as a person. I’m already crying thinking about how much this film means to me. So, let’s just start at the beginning.

            I didn’t get to see Amelie in theatres when it was originally released here in the U.S. in 2001. I was in high school at the time and my friends didn’t want to go see art house foreign films for fun. They only went if I made them, like when I drug a bunch of 14 and 15 year olds to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for my 15th birthday party earlier that year. Which was one of my favorite birthday movies ever, but I could tell most of the other teenagers were not as enamored by “reading a movie” the way I was. So, sometime in the winter of 2002 my mom brought home the DVD of Amelie from Blockbuster for us to watch. This was not out of the ordinary. For years, every weekend my mom would get a small pile of movies from whatever the local video rental place was and we’d watch them over the weekend. In hindsight, she’d probably heard some buzz about Amelie somewhere online or from newspaper articles, but at the time I was sure she’d picked the movie for me since I was taking French in school and was fascinated by the language and the culture. So, late one weekend evening we put in the DVD and I fell in love.

            I don’t completely remember everything about that first viewing of the film, but I remember the feeling I got. It gave me chills. I fell in love with the Parisian world that Amelie lived in. It had a magical quality. The colors were vibrant. The locations had a warmth to them. The characters were quirky but felt so incredibly real. I wanted to live in the movie. I wanted to either be Amelie or at least be her best friend. Being an almost 16 year old living in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio I knew that wasn’t possible but I could dream. Part of what made the character of Amelie who she was, was her ability to dream and use her imagination. I wasn’t an only child, but I’d had plenty of imaginary friends growing up. Amelie’s painful shyness that makes her almost miss out on being with her perfect guy, Nino, spoke to me so intensely. I can appear to be extroverted, but inside every social interaction came with a million anxieties. I would freeze inside my head and be terrified to talk to people or ask questions until I really knew someone. Some of these things have eased over the years thanks to getting older and the social lubricant of alcohol that I discovered in college but none of that was there to help me on the brink of 16. Amelie was, though. I wasn’t French or getting to France anytime soon, but I could watch this movie again, and live inside the world there and know that someone, even a fictional someone, had these same feelings and anxieties.

            So, I watched Amelie again. And again. We rented it a lot that year. I remember watching the Oscars a week before my 16th birthday and hoping Amelie would take home one of those little gold men, but it just kept losing. The losses that I remember hurting the most that night were Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography. What was wrong with The Academy?! Couldn’t they see that Amelie was clearly the only choice for Best Foreign Language Film? It was the only one of the five nominated films I had seen, but it was beautiful. The story was so heartwarming. The characters were wonderful. And the cinematography was breathtaking. It’s the first movie I remember watching that really made me pay attention to the use of light in a film and the way the camera moved around the set and the characters. I mean, just watch that shot of Amelie skipping rocks. Gorgeous. I’d hand Bruno Delbonnel an Oscar for that alone. Now that I’m older though, the loss I’m most upset about is the one it never had a chance of winning; Best Original Score. Yann Tiersen’s score is so evocative. The moment I hear it I am transported into the world of the film. How was he not nominated that year? Now I’m angry about a 16 year old Oscar snub. The Oscars in 2002 went on and Amelie never won, but my love of the film just grew.

Later that year for Christmas, my mom gave me my own copy of the DVD. She probably figured it would save her from giving all her money to Blockbuster. It didn’t because my appetite to watch films was, and still is, insatiable, but now I had my very own copy of Amelie to watch whenever I wanted to without late fees. I know I talked about the film a lot. It being my favorite movie became one of my defining traits. (A few years later I ran into someone who had been in my little brother’s class that I only vaguely knew through doing school plays, and the thing she remembered about me was that Amelie was my favorite movie. I apparently discussed the movie at length backstage on several occasions.) I dressed as Amelie for Halloween my senior year of high school. Only my two best friends and my mom knew who I was. I even had a couple small skipping stones in my sweater pocket for more authenticity. My graduation present from my friend Sally was a CD of the score. I teared up when I opened the gift. She “got” me. I had been playing the movie on my computer in my room to fall asleep to. Now I could just pop in the soundtrack to drift off at night.

As I entered college, Amelie still meant the world to me. “What is your favorite movie?” is one of those icebreaker questions people use for orientation events and during sorority rushing. I knew when I mentioned Amelie and someone else knew the movie that they saw film on a different level, the way I did. We had common ground. I didn’t have to pretend to like Nicholas Sparks novels and the movie adaptations of them. Usually, I could nerd out about cinema with that person for a while. At the end of my freshman year I auditioned to be field commander of the marching band for the following fall. We got to pick our own music to conduct to for the audition. Everyone chose traditional marches or pop songs adapted into marching band style music. I used one of the tracks from the Amelie soundtrack. I stood out like a sore thumb. The director seemed shocked by my musical choice and I got weird looks from the others auditioning. From the response in the room I was clearly not going to be field commander. But for the couple mins I stood there conducting to the score of my favorite movie I didn’t care. It hurt a bit later but in that moment I was living a dream. It was like being in the movie for a minute. I was a dreamer like Amelie and I was taking my chance.

The following summer I was having trouble with my college boyfriend when I went on vacation to the beach with my family. I now think it was one of the first times I experienced depression but I’d never had it before so I didn’t know what was happening. I knew I was sad and had gotten so badly sunburned the first day there that I had to stay back alone at the rented beach house. I’d brought a few movies with me to watch on the portable DVD player my mom had brought but I ended up just watching Amelie over and over again. I watched it at least twice a night the whole week we were there. It was my security blanket that kept me feeling happy at night while I was anguishing over why my boyfriend wouldn’t call me. In Amelie’s world the jerks got their comeuppance. She could exact satisfying but largely benign revenge on the man who tells her she causes accidents by taking pictures, or the shopkeeper that bullies his sensitive employee. And she gets the guy in the end. She finds her soul mate. The guy with his own quirks that compliment her own. I wanted that someday. And this guy who wasn’t calling didn’t seem like he would be my Nino. I remember thinking that on one of my viewings that week and my heart broke. But then I could watch Amelie again and cry from happiness instead of sadness.

I mentioned earlier on my penchant for French culture and my love of the Paris in Amelie’s world. Amelie has become so much a part of who I am that I don’t know anymore if I loved France as much as I do now before I watched the movie or if the influence of the movie just imprinted on me. I would steal moments and scenes from the movie to write into French assignments in high school and college. Two of Amelie’s described “likes” in the film showed up a lot in those, and have now become “likes” of my own. Amelie likes to look back at the other people in the movie theatre to see their reactions to watching a film. I don’t necessarily turn away from a movie screen while watching in a theatre because I like seeing all the details, like Amelie, and don’t want to miss a moment. But, I now have a podcast where the premise is that one of my guests or I have never seen the film before. I prefer when it’s the guest because I love seeing other people experience great films for the first time. There’s so much joy in seeing cinema touch someone emotionally through laughter, excitement, awe, crying; however they react. Amelie also likes cracking the top of her crème brulee with her spoon. A dessert I love and will order whenever it is on the menu. And my poor husband has now had to put up with me always cracking it when we get one to share because I love being able to live out that Amelie moment, even when it’s just a few seconds.

There’s also my love of French Impressionist paintings. Again, did this predate Amelie? I don’t know anymore. Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party features prominently throughout the film. I had a large poster of it that hung above my bed all through college and through my first apartment with my now husband. I also have a 1000 piece puzzle of it that I spent weeks on but never quite cracked before we needed the space for other things. (Someday I will complete you!) And Renoir is now one of my favorite Impressionists.

As I’m typing this I am in a room that has quite a bit of décor either in the shape of or with the visage of the Eiffel Tower on it. I dreamt for years of visiting the places in Paris that feature throughout Amelie. I wanted to get coffee at the Café de 2 Moulins, go to Sacre Coeur and look through one of the viewers, and walk through the streets of Montmartre. I finally made it to Paris in 2011 but had much less time there than I originally thought I would. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Montmartre. Someday I’ll go back and live out my full Amelie dreams, but I did make it to one location from the film. Notre Dame. It’s where Amelie’s mother is killed by a suicidal tourist. A bit macabre but also a funny part of the film. But for me, it is where I got to call my mom and grandma and tell them I just got engaged. Because I did eventually find my quirky Nino. His name is Jeremy and he understood how much France and Paris and this movie mean to me so he proposed just behind the Eiffel Tower.

So, I’m back to the beginning when I said this movie is embedded in me. It’s changed my life more than I realized when I started writing this. I felt so honored when Justine asked me to write something about Amelie. She knew it was my favorite movie but I don’t know if she knew how much it has affected my life. I could probably write at least 3 more essays about this movie from different angles but I find film to be incredibly personal so this is my personal journey with Amelie. I don’t watch it quite as much as I used to but whenever I do I still get the magical feeling I had the first time I saw it. It still gives me chills.

Amanda is the host of Amanda's Picture Show a Go Go and co-host of Culture Pop a Go Go. You should visit her website at amandaagogo.com and follow her on social media at @MandaAiley @AmandasPicShow and @CulturePopAGoGo 

Want to hear our take on Amelie? Make sure you listen to our episode!

 

The 2000s RomCom Draft - Guest Blog by Diana RS

The following blog post is copied with permission. The back story is that The Cutaways and Jen from Indoorswomen Podcast were guests on So I Married a Movie Geek for their Fantasy Movie Draft series. The topic: 2000s Romantic Comedies. The dilemma: Who to vote for?

This is Diana's struggle.

The teams

“I could write an essay on this draft. And what methodology to use? Do I discount because I have not seen them? Do I give extra points for following certain tropes? Or take them away? Jen, Ashley, Justine did any of you put on ones you haven't seen?”

            Me in the Lady Pod Squad Slack after this was Tweeted

 

You can see my from my initial thoughts, I could not just make an idle vote. Okay, this won't be an essay so much as a stream of consciousness as I try to recapture my original brain explosion when asked to vote on the best. 

 

First off, kudos to Ashley, Jen, and Justine for their choices and that they did not put any that they had not seen. With all do respect to their choices, the first thing I thought of was, “where is How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner, 27 Dresses, Kate & Leopold, Sex & The City.....” If I didn't have to go to work right now, I could do research and go on. After work, I did. Hitch, Two Weeks Notice, The Prince and Me, Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist, Mama Mia.

 

I would not necessarily call these the best. I was strictly under the impression that these would stir the votes of those looking at a 2000 RomCom draft and assure victory. Of course that is ignoring the ones already grabbed. I'm looking at you Sweet Home Alabama and The Proposal. And if we were going back to only ones I have seen, I would have to eliminate from the possibilities Sweet Home Alabama, The Proposal, It's Complicated, and from my own research: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner,  Kate & Leopold, and Mama Mia. Everything else on the board is up for grabs.

Side complication, the question about whether all of these can be considered RomComs. I am of the opinion that two (In Her Shoes and Waitress) are heavier on drama, but all have the required elements Comedy and Romance. Therefore all are acceptable. I also recently rediscovered Coming To America does not get enough RomCom love.

 

Here I go on narrowing this down:

Ashley: Legally Blonde, In Her Shoes, Miss Congeniality, Penelope, & Waitress

Fine choices, but I see two issues from my own perspective. Similar to one of my favorite RomComs Working Girl, on closer examination, these films are about women coming into their own while a romantic element is thrown in. Yes, I love Luke Wilson, Mark Feuerstein, Benjamin Bratt, James McAvoy, and Nathan Fillion sweeping in to be adorable prizes for these heroines, but these ladies would have a Happily Ever After with or without them. Second, the more drama heavy movies as stated above make it hard to crown these five.

 

Justine: High Fidelity, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, (500) Days of Summer, Amelie, 13 Going on 30

EXCELLENT MOVIES! Well, I love the first two. And I have fond memories of the 500 days of Summer. Except they have the breakup element first. Nothing wrong there, but it puts a wrinkle in my RomCom warm fuzzies. High Fidelity has a huge impact on me, but I would not want my own personal Rob Gordon. And Eternal Sunshine and 500 Days have the guys heartbroken over the manic pixie dream girl trope that does not endear me on repeat viewings. I will fully admit to an Amelie blind spot. Saw once about 15 years about and remember little. And 13 Going on 30 has the shoe horned romance factor against it. Great movies, but what about RomCom- ness?

 

Jen: Love, Actually, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Proposal, The Holiday

Love, Actually feels like it's cheating because it's multiple RomComs at once. But I feel it in my fingers. (Thank you all for not putting any of the crappy knock off around other holidays on the board.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding, just YES. It does change it's focus after a certain point away from the romance, but what is marriage but surviving your family's antics together? I wanted to love Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but I think I wasn't prepared for the dirtier comedy(even if the red band trailer tried so hard to warn me). I think I cringed more than laughed, but still want to give it a chance. AHA! The truly formulaic RomCom plot device in The Proposal. But can I vote hard for what I have not seen? Oh, The Holiday. As a whole, I do not think this is a good movie. But I can't stop watching it. And I can't stop watching the bad story of of people falling in love. And I want so bad for a happy ending despite hating how jealous of how beautiful everything is this film. These rich, successful ladies are unlucky in love. CRY ME A RIVER IN YOUR GORGEOUS MANSION IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA! Oh, angry Diana came out. Still, I guarantee I will see this again before the year is over.

 

Krissy: Serendipity, Bridget Jone'ss Diary, Knocked Up, Sweet Home Alabama, It's Complicated

Krissy, you did amazing being in the last slot! All fall almost perfectly into the RomCom category. Sadly, it's a flaw in the RomCom genre. Serendipity is fun, but a forgettable movie. It is also overshadowed by the fact that John Cusack has other beloved movies so this gets pushed to the middle. Bridget Jones was great back when I watched it repeatedly 15 years ago. It has not aged well with two sequels after it and to be honest, I'd prefer my Colin Firth Darcy in a cravat. Knocked Up, very funny, but hard to get on board with this relationship. And I have not seen Sweet Home Alabama and It's Complicated, but based on the internet, solid choices.

 

All this being said, I think I may have overthunk it. But that's what makes talking about movies so delightful. You four kicked ass in such a tough category. I will admit that even if I tried to analyze like crazy and vote by logic, I voted with my gut. Crap, should I have voted with my heart? I love you all but I voted for Jen. Not my favorite movies, but they are all solid in the genre and (most) stand as good movies. Okay, time for bed.

 

Diana can be found on twitter at @DeeRoSko and her podcast is Happily Ever Aftermath WHICH is another Romantic Comedy podcast that you should listen to!! You can subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and follow on twitter @HEAMCast. She will be joining us on our next episode to review The Princess Diaries, which she hasn't seen... yet.