Lent 2013 Entry, Day 8

There will be much Hollywood hullabaloo tomorrow and we’ll see if the Academy picked the oldest or youngest nominee in the Best Actress category or whether or not Argo moved past Lincoln for Best Picture (even though my personal favorite was Silver Linings Playbook…and let’s don’t give too much love to Zero Dark Thirty, which I can’t believe even got nominated, but live and let live)…

…but a while back, a friend of mine asked me to blog about my favorite movies and especially why they were my favorite movies rather than blogging about the best movies of all time. In other words, there are movies we all look at and can see their artistic merit but then there are those movies we’re drawn to watch again and again. Sure, sometimes they’re the same…but more often than not we stop-down on a movie when we see it on the channel guide or maybe we purchased it on DVD not because of the awards but because we related to it…sometimes deeply.

My friend and I were kicking around the reasons that might be. You know, why we felt that connection to a character where we’d look past the bad acting or poor plot twists or slow nature of the movie because we just “got” the connection with the main character. Our conclusion was that we relate to what the protagonist wants and their story rings true with our story. That’s when he said my answer might be a good blog prompt. With that in mind, here’s the three movies I truly relate to and why (in no particular order):

Field of Dreams: I searched it on this blog and over the years I’ve mentioned it’s a family favorite that we watch right before baseball’s Opening Day and all. So, this is likely no surprise to frequent patrons. I hadn’t mentioned specifically why I’m drawn to it beyond the romantic portrayal of baseball and it’s greater societal meaning in America.

The real reason I’m drawn to it is how Ray Kinsella, the Iowa farmer who heard voices telling him to “build it, and they will come,” wanted to make amends with his father who’d passed away many years earlier–and after some harsh last words between them. The field provided some “ghost” ballplayers to make amends with their gambling-on-baseball pasts…and in this case, Ray’s father, John, came to the field to have his pain eased.

Now, my dad and I didn’t end on “bad” terms…it seemed like we ended before it really got started. He was 36 when he died & I was 13. We had a good relationship and I have a lot of fond memories but the reality is that his sudden death left a void with a spider-web of repercussions I’m pretty sure I’ll never see the end of. You know, the stuff like he never met the girl I’d marry, or see me graduate from the college he did, or meet his granddaughters/grandson, or give his only daughter away. All that jazz and much more.

Like at the end of that movie, I’d give anything to have a catch with my dad.

Stranger than Fiction: I’m still floored that this movie doesn’t get much love, and maybe it’s because we’d rather have Will Ferrell be more Ricky Bobby than in a serious role. In this movie he plays an average guy with a hum-drum life who discovers that a deeper life is had when you give yourself up for the good of the story.

Ferrell’s character, Harold Crick, begins hearing voices…we later learn that those voices are the words of an author who is writing a story. He spends the movie trying to discern if he’s in a comedy or tragedy, and after a few attempts at controlling the plot that go awry, he resigns himself to the reality that he will die thereby meaning he should live abundantly. He meets a girl who helps him find some of those things. It’s a subtle and brilliant film.

Anyway, I relate to Harold in that I constantly wonder about my story and discovered that living abundantly really means dying to self and living in loving relationships of all times. Much like Howard Crick, I found the girl who exposes me to things I’d never have seen on my own, I’ve learned to dive in to my friends’ lives and have meaningful friendships and the various ways they make life better, and to enjoy the moments as they’re happening. Something as simple as letting a dog lick your face when you get home is part of a deeper life, no?

Grosse Pointe Blank: Another movie that is a shame didn’t get the box-office love it should’ve. Maybe it’s the idea that John Cusack’s portrayal of an assassin-for-hire that turns the movie-going public off. But, the reality is that both his receptionist and therapist talk him into going to his 10-year high school reunion because they feel like a few recent botched simple hit-man jobs are due to him re-thinking who he is and what he’s about. He reluctantly goes, and as he tries to connect with his past by visiting the girlfriend he stood up on prom night 10 years ago, an old teacher, his heavily-drugged hospitalized mom (after he tries to go visit his home, which has been sold & converted to a convenience store) and a visit to his dad’s gravesite.

I relate to Martin Blank in that I truly believe the past is prologue…and when you “go home” there are all sorts of introspective moments we can learn from. The parental relationships, the old flames that deeply affected us, the games won & lost that seemed so big at the time and so miniscule in retrospect, the friendships that never matured and the ones that did, the teachers that expected more from us and wondered what happened to us. Martin’s journey is one of moving forward by examining the past. I get that…in spades.


…there’s my three.

What are your three movies you deeply relate to and why? Again, not necessarily Oscar winners or favorites…