Tuesday, 7 May 2013

FILMS 

Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail 

Two not dissimilar romcoms for this week’s Overlooked Films, Audio and Video at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom where you’ll find many more reviews.

I often get a sense of déjà vu when I'm watching movies. Last week, I sat down with the family to watch Sleepless in Seattle (1993). Thirty minutes into the film, I said aloud, "This film looks familiar. It's a lot like You've Got Mail (1998). The lead actors are the same, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. And then I discovered the director is same too, Nora Ephron. Until the turn of the century, I did not pay much attention to the director. Now I'd feel like an idiot if I didn't know who made the films I saw.

Ephron, who died in June 2012, brings Hanks and Ryan together by post in Sleepless in Seattle and via internet in You've Got Mail—marking a smooth transition from the postbox to the inbox. They don't know each other in both the films. Of course, in You've Got Mail they do know each other as owners of two rival bookstores—Hanks' mega store trying to gobble up Ryan's tiny shop—but not as two anonymous email friends. In the end, Hanks finds out first but by then he has already shut her down. 

Neither film requires a refresher. Nonetheless, in Sleepless in Seattle, Hanks plays a widower who is still grieving over the death of his wife. He has an adolescent son who misses his mother as much. He convinces his father to narrate his sob story on a radio talk show in the hope that he will find another wife. He finds many, including Ryan, who falls for Hanks through the air waves and dumps her fiancé, Bill Pullman. His fall guy image reminded me of Patrick Dempsey who is left high and dry in Sweet Home Alabama (2002) when Reese Witherspoon returns to her husband, Josh Lucas.

Father and son and the mysterious woman finally meet in the viewing gallery atop the Empire State Building, like Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember. Reference is repeatedly made to the 1957 classic.
 

Director Nora Ephron (1941–2012)

Sleepless in Seattle may have looked like a decent romcom 20 years ago though it looked quite silly last week. The story seemed improbable. By comparison, You've Got Mail was more convincing perhaps because it came out two years after Hotmail. However, the family's verdict was that both Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were very good actors and had excellent on-screen chemistry, so that was that. 


Memorable lines


We also saw a part of Predator (1987) the same evening or the next, I don't remember. My favourite part in this film is the final battle between Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the Predator (Kevin Peter Hall) and the scene where Dutch says, "What the hell are you?” and the self-destructive monster replies, "What the hell are you?"

Schwarzenegger has long been a favourite among Indian fans of Hollywood action movies, the common refrain being that his films are highly entertaining and there is no tension while watching them.

10 comments:

  1. Greetings, Prashant! Well, while I would generally much prefer to watch a Schwarzenegger film like PREDATOR over any "chick flick," I happen to rather enjoy both of the Nora Ephron movies you mentioned, YOU'VE GOT MAIL a little more so, given its bookstore setting and clever update of the great 1940 Ernst Lubitsch comedy THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER.

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    1. Jeff, I, too, enjoyed YOU'VE GOT MAIL for the same reason, its bookstore setting and particularly Ryan's own cosy little children's bookshop. I'm not familiar with THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER and if it's a comedy, I'm going to check it out. Humour/Comedy has always been my first or second choice in books and films, competing with westerns. I liked PREDATOR whose armoured character, I felt, was unique in spite of being ugly.

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  2. I saw all of these at some point. Remember Predator the best. I thought the first one was a really good movie. Another line I remember from that movie was uttered by Jessie Ventura. "I ain't got time to bleed."

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    1. Charles, I have seen PREDATOR more than once. It has a lot of interesting characters including Jesse Ventura (I remember that line very well), Carl Weathers, and Bill Duke. The sequel, with Danny Glover in the lead, I think, failed to impress me, at least. Coincidentally, I also caught a few scenes from ALIEN VS. PREDATOR recently and I didn't know what to think of it.

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  3. I enjoyed both of the Tom Hanks / Meg Ryan movies. My husband finds You've Got Mail acceptable, but really does not like Sleepless in Seattle. Haven't watched them in a while. No Predator for me. Although Arnold is fine, in some movies.

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    1. Tracy, I watch all kinds of films. I'm perfectly comfortable skipping from a romcom to a thriller to animation to horror to comedy or whatever. Schwarzenegger is a pretty decent comedian as well — he has made a number of lighthearted movies like THE KINDERGARTEN COP, TWINS, and JUNIOR. Even an action film like COMMANDO has humour, evident in his one liners delivered with a deadpan face.

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  4. My wife loves all of Nora Ephron's movies especially WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. And an interesting contrast of PREDITOR and these romance comedies!

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    1. George, thanks for the kind words. I discovered that I'd seen a few of Nora Ephron's films including WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. Meg Ryan seemed to have been her favourite actor. I love films like PREDATOR; they're fun to watch.

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  5. While it is easy to fall in with the charm of Hanks and Ryan, I always thought Robert Altman was right when he sais about SEATTLE that of course the film would only really get interesting after the movie finished and the couple discover if they are even remotely sexually compatible as they know so very little about each other. Watched PREDATOR the other day and it is absurdly macho but works like a dream - McTiernan is a great, great action director - let's hope he gets to make lots more movies once he is out of jail.

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  6. Sergio, that is exactly the point the family discussed soon after watching the film. Does it really happen in real life? And even if it does, in this Facebook age, how long does it last? It's a fairy tale and, I suppose, one treats it as such. I like the "absurdly macho" films, like COMMANDO. I'll have to read why McTiernan is in jail.

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