Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spontaneous Spotlight: Nancy Meyers

This might be a frequent thing I'll do, which is why I've created the title Spontaneous Spotlight. That way, in the future, you'll know what to expect. (When you're expecting. Movie pun, let's move on.) The layout may look familiar, for I often compose these special posts on the day of the talented person's birthday. You should know what I am referring to. Anyway, sometimes, like today, I stumble upon a rather extraordinary member of cinema, whether they be a writer, actor, or director. And on those occasions, I think to myself, "Say, this would be a lively post full of passion for that person! I should write a post and save it for their birthday!" Sadly, there are times when that person's birthday is months away, or, even worse, just passed. On those instances, I shall compose a "spontaneous" post commemorating their undeniable talent. And maybe I'll mention when their birthday is, too. For now, here is an awe-inspired look at Nancy Meyers. Note that she wrote the screenplay for and directed each of these fine films.

The Parent Trap - Otherwise known as the movie that made Lindsay Lohan a star. A child star, anyway, After this, and a few other amusing Disney-type films, there was no turning back from her awful decisions. It is well-known precisely what went wrong, though not important enough to discuss here. This wonderful film may actually be one of the very first I've watched and remembered, as well as remained wonderful after all these years. The story involves twins discovering each other in summer camp, years after their parents decided to separate them since they were no longer in love. (Actually, that seems really tragic, to have two children but never know one of them? In reality, that would be heart-breaking, agreed?) Well, these two clever girls (both played by the single Lindsay Lohan) plan to switch places, so they can meet the parent they've never seen. Each of the scenes where the girl meets their new parent is so heart-warmingly sweet, it's worth to watch the film just for that. And for the getting-to-know-and-love-them process, of course. Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson are the girls' parents, and, may I say, they are a perfect casting choice, as well as surprisingly compatible. (I'd like to take a moment and recognize Natasha Richardson's tragic demise in 2009, at the even more tragic age of forty-five. Rest in serenity.) Although I like Dennis Quaid, and found him to be one of cinema's greatest dads, he was a bit clueless when it came to his wretched, Disney-evil fiancee, Meredith, who was deceiving him as the typical evil stepmother. Of course, back when Disney films were good enough to make it enjoyable, the pranks against Meredith were entertaining. And when Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid were reunited (the scene scored by Benny Goodman's "In The Mood", ideal music for this situation), I'll just say that it was both amusing and heart-warming. That should make you want to watch it for yourself, I reckon. I'd also like to mention the supporting cast, or as they are recognized in the film "the help", who are the kind British butler and the caring Californian housekeeper. Very adorable all throughout, and I highly suggest you watch and enjoy. No, watch and have your heart warmed up. Yes, that's sweeter.

Something's Gotta Give - Oh, how I wish to experience this wonderful film yet again. So far, I've seen it about three times, and each time was even sweeter than the last. (Aside from the very first encounter. One can never recreate such an initial impact as that.) Starring two elder, revered actors, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, one wonders over why these two never met the other on the silver screen before. (I wouldn't count Reds. I just wouldn't.) The two have such a sensational chemistry, not in the passionate way that Jack and Rose did (you know who I'm talking about), but the adorable one that old people tend to share. I find it that older actors have a more potent compatibility than young actors do. Maybe it's based on the idea that, even in your later years, you can still discover true love. Plus, who doesn't enjoy the traditional antics between a suave silver fox (Jack Nicholson) and an uptight romantic broad (Diane Keaton)? You may be aware that Keanu Reeves is one of the leading characters in the film, playing the role of "the perfect guy who's conveniently an 'attractive' doctor" who falls for Diane Keaton. For one, I found it a bit disturbing that someone as young as him pined over someone as old as Diane Keaton. (She can do much better than him.) The fact that someone as repugnant as Keanu Reeves played the role of someone "perfect" is something I am vehemently opposed to. Nevertheless, he couldn't taint this film. Truthfully, he was not so irritating here, since he smiled more than usual and had to convince audiences that he found Diane Keaton sexy. Sure, she's pretty for her age, but nowhere near sexy. Once again, Nancy Meyers has created an exquisite romantic-comedy, one I'm sure anyone of any age will certainly enjoy. Sometimes, this genre needs fondly recognized actors in the leading roles, as opposed to these new kids, like that annoying Channing Tatum. I just had to throw that in here. Who would ever think he would be a great romantic lead? Again, Something's Gotta Give: a work of adorable writing and one that should be watched at least twice a year or more.

The Holiday - There are very few movies that I watch every year on Christmas day. Let me repeat that: on Christmas day. Only a special few can be devoted that rare spot in my repertoire, and Nancy Meyer's romantic yuletide creation holds one of those places. There are several keen points in this film that make it such an admired work of cinema, in my opinion. From Cameron Diaz's inability to cry to Kate Winslet's tragic predicament with a man she hopelessly adores, this film has so many opportunities for you to weep, whether with joy or sympathy. That moment when Cameron Diaz finally does shed a river of tears for love, and when Kate Winslet realizes that she is, indeed, a "leading lady", are such fine demonstrations of the ideal romance. One very appealing part of the film is the character of Eli Wallach, who portrays an old Hollywood player with an Academy Award or two as well as an unfortunate elderly affliction: being old and forgotten. While my dad finds him annoying (how dare he!), I consider him to be one of the sweetest, most wonderful supporting players in a single film. Eli Wallach's performance should have easily replaced Alan Arkin's place on the Supporting Actor nominee ballot. (That way, Eddie Murphy or Djimon Hounsou could have rightfully won. Seriously? Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine? Come on!) Every element of this Christmas romance is perfect...except for the male lead who ends up with the lovely Kate Winslet: Jack Black. I hope this doesn't need explaining, but Jack Black is one of the many actors who I find detestable, and for him to be the one who Kate Winslet falls in love with? That's just a crime in cinema. Nevertheless, even he cannot ruin this film, nor prevent it from being one of my Christmas day films.

It's Complicated - One could call this a copy of Something's Gotta Give, considering it surrounds the love between two older characters. Or, one could deem this to be another one of Nancy Meyer's sensational romantic-comedy successes. The latter of the two would be my own viewpoint, as it is indubitably ingenious. (That doesn't mean the opposite of "genius", mind you. Look it up yourself.) Of course, having Meryl Streep as the leading lady is a sure thing for a delightful picture. Mixing in comic alums like Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, and you've got yourself an absolute gem of a film. For those who don't know the plot, let me enlighten you: Meryl Streep plays a woman who sparks up an affair with her ex-husband, Alec Baldwin, who is newly remarried, while also starting a relationship with her architect, Steve Martin. Oh my! Now, doesn't that sound just wonderful? Who wouldn't want to see that? (Uninteresting, dull people, obviously.) What makes this film all the more charming is John Krasinski, who plays Meryl Streep's son-in-law aware of her shocking affair. This is the film where I initially fell in love with him, just so you know. (And I find it absolutely adorable that he's married to the equally charming Emily Blunt.) From the impeccable title, It's Complicated is far from being yet another predictable, "run-of-the-mill" romantic-comedy. It has reached a sought-after status of immense geniality. While that may be an improper adjective for the film, let me make a simple declaration: It's a warm, sweet film that is just one of few that make you feel oh-so comfortable and relaxed. Also, watching Meryl Streep create culinary displays accomplishes satisfying another sense. (That being smell/taste.)

There you have it. Merely a sampling of Nancy Meyers's glorious written talent, and what she will surely contrive in the future. Many have called her Nora Ephron's twin (or, more suitably now, her replacement, may Nora Ephron rest in serenity). I am guilty of making this comparison, as well, though I no longer find it unfortunate for either one of them. To be compared with such a bright mind as Nora Ephron is truly a blessing, and to actually create screenplays that hold up to her standard, or even surpass it at times, is something to refer, not pity. Like confusing two actors' appearances (such as Skeet Ulrich and Johnny Depp), people find it tragic for the lesser-known actor to be typecast as "that guy who looks like Johnny Depp". To resemble another person really establishes your position in Hollywood, therefore reducing them to just a look-alike who could never reach the fame their more well-known "twin" had, such as with Skeet Ulrich. However (I feel I'm going down a different path), Nancy Meyers has successfully established herself in Hollywood as one in herself, a unique individual capable of creating works worth loving for years to come. For this reason, I pay homage to her by composing the very first Spontaneous Spotlight in dedication to her.

P.S. This post, also, took me a few months to publish. It's good to know that the wheels are finally in motion.

1 comment:

  1. Her films does have the Nora Ephron feel about them, but her resume seems a little short. Need to make more movies. But then again, quality is always better than quantity. Lindsay Lohan looks adorable in that photo.