Friday, December 23, 2011
When most of us were actually *little*, it was easy because we were all super excited about the cheap plastic tiaras and generic crime-fighting action figures. Now we're ages 10-25 and it really, *really* does become the thought that counts. People give each other silly or joke gifts because the amount of people who actually seriously want something from the dollar store is getting smaller. (Also, a lot of people give candy. A LOT.) It ends up being much more about the process of gift giving than the actual gifts.
All the children are allowed to pick out their own presents for everyone. This had led to some fantastically strange gifts over the years. One time, one brother bought 3-foot plastic candy canes for every one of us. Another time, my youngest brother (maybe a year old at the time) got dog toys from two of his older brothers. There was the year the dollar store stocked plastic swords that made swishing sounds whenever they moved. We ended up with three of those swords under the tree, all making noise inside their wrapping paper whenever somebody accidentally jostled the pile of presents. My father narrowly escaped getting a Pirates of the Caribbean night light a few years ago, before that brother changed his mind. As I got older and realized there was nothing really left that I actually *wanted* for Christmas, the game became, "What in the world will the little siblings get me this year?" (It might be straws. Apparently the youngest this year was debating buying packages of straws for people.)
Ahem. To my sister Rebekah, if you've randomly decided to read my blog before Christmas, stop reading here, because I'm about to talk about what I got you this year.
So, yeah. My sister Bekah. I had chosen a gift for everyone else and couldn't think of what she might like. I was discussing it in the store with two other siblings and mused out loud, "Does she want..." I trailed off, but was reminded of an inside joke in our family - a home video that shows 3-year-old Bekah alternately speaking to and speaking as her imaginary friends. "Should I sing... Jingle Bells?" she asks, speaking for someone else, and then she switches voices and responds as herself: "Not yet!" I realized that when I said, "Does she want," it was very similar in tone to Bekah's "Should I sing," so I morphed the line into that quote: "Does she want... Jingle Bells?"
"Not yet!" my siblings both responded.
So, you know what? Bekah's getting jingle bells from me this year. Or, well, a doorknob hanger with bells on it. With that quote written on the outside of the wrapping. It is a ridiculous gift, but it's connected to a silly inside joke, and it will hopefully make her laugh. And that's kind of what our Christmases end up being about anyway.
So for those of you celebrating a holiday this month that involves gift giving, I hope you get gifts that make you smile and make you thankful for your loved ones.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Today's genre, in honor of Christmas being right around the corner, is holiday movies.
1. Love Actually (2003, #2 on my FlickChart). This is probably the first, definitely the best of the ensemble rom-coms. Not as Christmasy as it is romancey, but it always gets to me.
2. It's a Wonderful Life (1946, #146). A really solid drama. It's a holiday classic for reason.
3. White Christmas (1954, #159). Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in one of my favorite movie musicals. Great musical numbers, a fun script, ever so Christmasy.
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965, #165). Any story about a child feeling empty and hollow at Christmastime gets my vote. My favorite Christmas movie soundtrack.
5. Amahl and the Night Visitors (1978, #223). Televised version of an opera about a crippled boy and his mother, who offer the three wise men shelter. Moving story and wonderful music.
1. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006, #1640). I could barely sit through this. I longed for a joke, any joke, that made even the tiniest bit of sense.
2. Star Wars Holiday Special (1978, #1639). A ridiculous, embarrassing holiday special that I managed to see, thanks to the Internet, though I now regret that decision.
3. The Santa Clause 2 (2002, #1623). Yeah, I really hate these movies.
4. Frosty Returns (1992, #1591). The first movie is kind of cute. The second one is terrifying and bizarre.
5. The Christmas Shoes (2002, #1586). The worst Christmas song of all time gets its own movie. How could that possibly go wrong?
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
A few days ago, my two daughters Hannah and Bekah and I had an interesting conversation about how we watch movies.
First, Bekah and I analyze movies as we watch. Hannah analyzes movies and her reaction to them after seeing them, but as she is actually watching it is very important to her not to analyze.
Second, Hannah evaluates a movie almost entirely on the basis of how intensely it makes her experience the story. She doesn’t mean that a good movie has to explore grand themes. Some movies are about routine, about the ordinariness of life. That’s fine. Other movies end in emotional ambivalence or even confusion. That’s OK with Hannah too. What she wants, though, is for the movie to allow her to live through the story in the movie as though she had experienced it in her own life. She wants to have really felt the happiness or the tragedy or the sense of routine or the emotional ambivalence.
Bekah and I are more concerned with enjoying or appreciating the various things the movie does well. We have fun when it makes us laugh and enjoy the tingle when it makes us scared, but I think we don’t live through it the way Hannah does. I think it’s a little more distant from us than Hannah experiences.
The reason Hannah can’t analyze a movie as she watches is because she doesn’t want to put any wall between her and the story the movie is telling. She doesn’t want to hold it out at arms’ length and inspect it. She wants to get inside it and then enjoy the ride.
It’s also important to her not to know anything about a movie before hand. She doesn’t even like to know whether other people liked the movie or not. She wants to experience it naively, without expectations or preconceptions about where it will lead.
This is a pretty accurate summing up of what I do with movies. Not that I can't appreciate the technical elements of a film (and frequently on a second or third viewing, I pick up on that more) but I need to have an overall good experience with the movie first. It feels weird to me to admit that because I respond to most of my life in a much more objective, analytical way, and then, with movies... it's almost entirely about the emotional experience. I don't quite know yet how to mesh that with the rest of my life, but maybe it's keeping me balanced in some way.
How about you guys? Are you more analytic or intuitive in your response to movies - or art in general?