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Today Was The Day
October 30, 2020 – The Nineteenth Blog in the RestorationAge
I have many favorite movies. I mean, like many, many favorite movies. Of every genre, except maybe horror and art. I’m not a big horror or art film fan, even though I have written two thriller screenplays and am involved in the arts. Eh, oh well.
I am not afraid to spend precious time watching a movie over and over for whatever reason. Who hasn’t seen Star Wars a million, bazillion times? Well, a guy I work with hasn’t seen any of the series, so it’s possible…that he just landed here from outer space.
Watching the Star Wars saga, the Harry Potter saga, the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit sagas, is like mindless entertainment anymore. If I’m flipping through the channels and any of these are on, I’ll stop and keep it on while I glance at it occasionally and continue to work on whatever else needs attention in the house. No need to worry about missing a line because you’ve seen it so many times that, if forced, you could write out the script longhand.
Growing up, with my sister and then with my daughter, we all championed a good musical – Singing in the Rain, All That Jazz, Chicago – and did our best to memorize the dance steps while belting out the tunes, appropriate or not. And you know that stuff has muscle memory, so if you’re drinking with me at a party, don’t hesitate to ask for a little Cell Block Tango from Chicago – I may deliver, depending on how strong the beers are.
Action films like Top Gun are always fun to revisit because it’s a chance to remember how young we all were when that movie came out – our whole sexual lives in front of us and the opportunity to be pissed that that bitch Kelly McGillis got to be “with” Tom Cruise, I’m mean COME ON! What was she, like 30 years old?? (What I wouldn’t give to be that kind of old right now.)
The pinnacle of movie rewatching lies for me in the tear-jerking of Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment, Beaches, and Stepmom. And of course I have a story about each of them, read on…
I first saw Steel Magnolias on the stage in Chicago. My mom, sister and I took a trip to the Windy City sometime in the mid-80s and we went to the theater. I didn’t know anything about the show, or even about theater at that time. I went into it blind and it blew me away. There were laughs, tears, more laughs, more tears. I had never seen anything like it. When it was made into a movie, I was a doubter. How could anything be better than what I had seen on the stage? And then Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis, Julia Roberts and Shirley MacLaine delivered such a gem that I cried just as hard as I did in the theater, and have every time after.
I don’t remember the first time I saw Terms of Endearment and I haven’t watched it as many times as the others, but when Shirley MacLaine (again) demands that the nurses give her daughter, Deborah Winger, a pain shot and that “it is after ten, all she has to do is wait until ten and it’s past ten. My daughter is in pain. GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!!!“, you want to reach in that tv set yourself and shake that that freaking nurse. And if you aren’t bawling after that scene, you aren’t human. Shit, I’m crying just typing this.
The story of seeing the movie Beaches could be embarrassing, except that it turned out okay. I went on a first date to see it with David Rice while at WKU. I had a real crush on him and was excited to be alone in a dark theater with him. Little did I know that I would spend most of the next two hours sobbing, absolutely sobbing, in the most ugly cry way possible. It had to have been truly unattractive, but there was no stopping that train when Barbara Hershey was dying and Bette Midler was singing Wind Beneath My Wings. Note: Like I said, it turned out okay, because despite my unabashed cry-fest, David and I ended up dating for about a year. He was a philosophy major, so he got it.
But the movie I still watch at least once a year, usually in the fall, is Stepmom. I didn’t see it in the theater, but when I did see it I fell instantly in love and again, I cry every time. When Susan Sarandon, the ex-wife, who is dying of cancer, tells the younger Julia Roberts, the soon to be new wife, that she has the kids’ past, but that Julia’s character can have their future, I lose it.
Today was my day in 2020 to rewatch Stepmom. I swear there is something new every time I watch it – never mind the beautiful house outside of New York City and New England in the autumn; there is something about this story and all of the others mentioned that are a release for me. It’s the connection of women, the connection of mothers and daughters, the need for emotion and of being able to be understood. The bond of women is an truly an amazing thing. Many people say that women can’t be friends, but I disagree wholeheartedly. Other women are the only ones that “get it” and don’t judge when the feelings are all raw.
I always feel whole after getting my yearly review of Stepmom. My faith in humanity is restored and I know everything is going to be okay. Don’t ask me why, I just feel that way.
Well, I feel like I’ve just exposed my underbelly. Don’t you dare try to make me cry by quoting any of these movies to me. You just might get what you wish for and trust me, it won’t be pretty.