Weekly Scene(s): My Mom’s Favorites

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It’s late May, and that means Mother’s Day has come and gone. It also means that my mom just came to visit us (me and my boyfriend) in New York City, a raucous, joyful occasion. Clearly, those two facts mean that a blog post about my mom’s favorite movie scenes—and how they rubbed off on me—is in order!

I mention my dad a lot in relation to film, if not here than at least in my academic papers and personal writing on the subject. He introduced me to a great many genres and titles that have since become favorites of mine, and I treasure the notion that they will always have added meaning because they came from him.

But my mom has always been a major influence on me as well. Our sense of humor is almost perfectly in sync, and while she can’t appreciate horror or war films (see: My (Birth)Date With Hannibal Lecter), I have found myself in an uncontrollable fit of laughter with my mom all too often. And it is, and always will be, a joy!

So let’s dig deep into the scenes that make us, my mom and I, howl with laughter; those moments that bring us together in the way that only a mutual film-watching experience can. Continue reading

Sixty-One Years On: Marveling at Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’

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Rear Window is just one of those movies: it has left an indelible imprint on the cultural landscape. And it will forever remain not only one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films, but one of the most recognized and respected filmmaking achievements of all time.

In my couple of prior viewing experiences, the film had been presented to me as a thriller. One of the best thrillers of all time, in fact. In those other viewings, I think I was taken with the thrilling aspects, though perhaps only slightly given their comparative lightness to modern-day examples of the genre. The narrative is straight forward, the bad guy is the bad guy, and save for the climactic finale (which makes such excellent use of the protagonist and antagonist’s sensory experience) there is very little in the way of fear or anxiety. This is thriller-lite by Hitchcock’s standards.

At a recent screening—the first of those Fathom Events I’ve ever been to, though not for lack of interest—I was struck instead by the film’s singularness, by the limits and advantages of its restricted shooting style, and, most delightfully, by its humor.

So, rather than think of Rear Window as a straight thriller, I’d like to sit with its oddness, its off-kilter delight in the horror of its conceit, and its perfectly executed claustrophobia. In fact, I’d instead like to think of Rear Window as Hitchcock’s unique brand of homebound relationship dramedy-turned-horror. Let’s explore what makes this film so strange! Continue reading

Weekly Scene: Airplane!

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I’ve set myself an impossible challenge: choose a scene from Airplane!, the film with easily the fastest joke rate I’ve ever encountered. When one clip contains at least five laugh-out-loud moments, you know it’ll be hard to pick which one works the best.

I also can’t believe it’s taken me this long to highlight one of my favorite films, what I would consider, along with Some Like It Hot, the best comedy of all time. The silliness is unsurpassed, the physical comedy unmatched, and all of it stamped with a signature wit. This is smartly stupid, laugh-a-second comedy at its best.

I was introduced to Airplane! by my mom, who has always had a stellar sense of humor—turns out her entire side of the family (the Ehrmans) loves the film, and if you’ve ever wanted to find a room full of people crying tears of joy, look no further. I don’t remember exactly when I watched Airplane! for the first time, but I do know that I was young enough that I did not “get” a good portion of the jokes. One of the beautiful thing about a film this referential, crass, and bawdy is that it shifts and changes constantly; every time I watch, I discover a new joke or reference to savor. Continue reading