Thursday 20 September 2012

Nora, I Love You

I only properly discovered Nora Ephron last year (before which I'd only seen When Harry Met Sally, which, by the way, I loved) and within about 4 months, I'd read 3 of her books (see here, here and here) seen the underwhelming movie adaptation of Heartburn (I STILL don't understand what happened there!) and even bought a magazine because she'd written a 2 page article in it (Vanity Fair. It was totally worth it.) I was besotted.

So obviously when she died in June I was devastated. What a loss to the WORLD- someone so funny, so charming, and such a good writer that she could make a 22 year old girl want to be best friends with her 70-something year old self. She was amazing. Fortunately for me, I'd never seen You've Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle (probably her two best known films after When Harry Met Sally) so I still had some 'new' Nora to get me through my mourning period. It helped.

The thing is, because I love Nora's films so much, reviewing each of the ones I've seen separately is just going to turn into four love-rambles- which admittedly would be fun to write, but maybe less fun to read, and besides, I find it really difficult to talk coherently about things I really love (you may have noticed this about me...) But anyway, I'm going to write some mini-reviews at the end, but first allow me, in a completely general way, to tell you what I love about her movies:

  • They all pass the Bechdel Test: I'm pretty sure they all do, because, even though they're romantic comedies (PRIME for feminisity failure), Nora's heroines have interests and jobs and lives that go beyond men, and sometimes the 'love' bit is more of a secondary storyline than anything. Which is so wonderful and refreshing, I can't even tell you!
  • Awesome old lady characters: I'm thinking specifically of the lady who works in Meg Ryan's shop in You've Got Mail, but there's also the 'I'll have what she's having' woman from When Harry Met Sally (I realise she isn't fully a character, but she is awesome), and Julia Child isn't all that young in Julie and Julia, either. Basically, Nora gives older women a voice in her movies, and often the funniest lines, and best stories. Which is wonderful.
  • The dialogue: Honestly, Nora writes some of the best dialogue in any movies ever. It's just so... real and hilarious, only more so- like listening to the smartest and funniest people you know really kill it at conversation. I could really just listen to it all day.
  • She's made me love romcoms: aka the impossible feat! Having said that, I still can't really watch any romcom starring Jennifer Aniston, so it's possible that what she's actually done is given me really high expectations for how awesome romcoms should be. But whatever, I just love her movies!
And now for the mini-reviews.

When Harry Met Sally

This was my introduction to Nora, to Meg Ryan, to everything that's good about romcoms. I was thoroughly charmed by it, as well as surprised at how much Sex and the City stole from it (and, predictably, I can think of no examples of this right now. But I know there are some.) And, it's barely aged at all in 23 years? Just perfect.

Sleepless in Seattle

I watched this when I 1) was very sleepy, and 2) had watched You've Got Mail the night before, so I can't give the best review of it cause it's very hazy in my mind (clearly I need to watch it again!) But- I got a general 'liking it' impression from it, and the whole An Affair to Remember thing ("You don't want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie.") made me watch that film which was EXCELLENT. (Added to the list: Nora has excellent taste in movies. See also: Casablanca in When Harry Met Sally, The Godfather in You've Got Mail).

You've Got Mail

I love this movie. I know it has issues with orders of events (well, I think so) and because of that maybe can't be seen as perfect, but to me it kind of it! I mean, books, email, Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, New York City... How could there be anything wrong with this movie?! (Note: I totally said this about Heartburn. But in this case, it's true!) Bonus points for this: "So much of what I see reminds me of something I've read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way round?" It's like you're looking into my SOUL, Nora!

Julie and Julia

I loved this movie, and when I first saw it I didn't realise it was written by Nora, and I was kind of like 'why is this so much better than other movies..?' And then when I finally got the Nora thing, I was like 'ohhh, that's why!' I think it's great anyway- Amy Adams in Meg Ryan's role, and MERYL being amazing as always. Plus, FOOD PORN and angry french ladies. I just love it.

So tell me, TELL ME everyone that you love Nora too! And then we'll have a sleepover and watch all these films and then also FOOD PORN. Yes?


  1. Yup. That about sizes it up - especially the You've Got Mail part. I'm always a little embarrassed to admit how much I love it. It seems too "fluffy" for someone so literate and erudite as me (Ha!), but I love it all the same. My favorite line is when Meg Ryan's character describes her mother as "fine." It is such a good use of the word! And as it is now feeling oh-so-autumnal, I feel like I should watch it again. Maybe tonight!

    1. I don't really think You've Got Mail is fluffy at all though! Or if it is, it's only the very highest quality fluff.

      And ohhh, I love when Meg Ryan's character talks about her mother! It makes me want to cry, in a good way. And a bit of a bad way. But *siiiigh* "I was decorating my christmas tree and missing my mother so much I could hardly breathe" *SOB*

  2. *sobs because of overwhelming love for Sleepless in Seattle*

    "You don't want to be in love; you want to be in love in a movie."

    "Verbal ability is a highly overrated thing in a guy, and our pathetic need for it is what gets us into so much trouble."

    I was about to write out like ten quotes, but I WILL RESTRAIN MYSELF -- Sleepless in Seattle is perfect. It is perfect. Sigh.

    You've Got Mail is based on In the Good Old Summertime, which is based on She Loves Me, which is based on The Shop Around the Corner. And I saw In the Good Old Summertime first (annnd it's a musical), so I was all "WAS IST DAS? What is this remake with the emailing and the short Meg Ryan hair?" I like it better now, but I'm not AS fond of it as I think I would've been if I hadn't seen something else with a lot of similar lines.

    And haaaalf of Julie & Julia is amazing. The Meryl Streep half. Poor Amy Adams was given the annoying half.

    OH and I've weirdly only seen When Harry Met Sally like twice? Although I feel like I should be way more familiar with it? Soooo there's that.

    1. I'm still kind of sad that I was too sleepy to watch Sleepless in Seattle properly! I can basically just remember the An Affair to Remember bit and the bit where Meg Ryan hides in the cupboard to talk on the phone which really amused me! I should probably have watched it again before I sent it back to Lovefilm.

      I understaaand your feelings of You've Got Mail now. Cause it's the only one I've seen of those, so to me it's just like the GREATEST thing, but if I'd seen a freaking musical of it, I may have been like 'WHERE'S THE SINGING?!' I sure don't like to miss out on singing.

      You know what, I still like the Amy Adams half of Julie and Julia! Cause I kind of really liked Julie thingy in the book Julie and Julia. Cause, ok she's a bit moany, but also her life kind of is falling apart (in the book. In the film that's less clear, so I get why people are like 'GOD, what is her freaking problem?') And Amy Adams kind of saves it in general, cause I likes her!

      You should definitely watch When Harry Met Sally some more. And then Casablanca. And then When Harry Met Sally again. Totally worth your time.

  3. OK so please don't be mad but the only one of these movies I've seen is When Harry Met Sally which is OBVIOUSLY AMAZING. Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail I stayed away from because no one ever made me watch them and romcoms are not my thing so I didn't seek them out. Even now I'm a little ehh on You've Got Mail, but that might be the AOL connotations.

    I'd like to see Julie and Julia because of course MERYL!! I just never got around to seeing it. One thing that makes me sad (about the movie I haven't seen, so I have no real leg to stand on here) is that I believe Julie is far less curse-y than she was in the book, which was sort of why I loved her.

    I wonder if someone sells a Nora movie pack thing, cos now I really want to watch When Harry Met Sally but my copy is VHS so alas, that won't work...

    1. Awww, why would I be mad? I'd be mad if you didn't like them, but I've only just seen half of them myself so... how could I judge?! SiS and YGM are like... pretty much almost as good as WHMS (sooo man acronyms..) but not quite, but still SO SO awesome. They redefine romcoms man!

      Julie is definitely less swearing-y in the film, and like I said to Alice, there's less sort of... context behind her position, so I get that people are like 'she's SO whiiny!' but I'm just like 'but but but... Rough times!' So yeah. But other than that (which I don't even mind) I LOVE it. Especially Meryl.

      Duuude, you so need a Nora pack- like Clueless and Mean Girls in one! *hunts one down for you* Yeah, there really isn't one. Or at least there isn't on amazon, which is obviously the only place I can be bothered to look. BUT they are releasing a double book thingy of Nora's 2 earliest essay collections which have been out of print, about which I am VERY excited! (obviouslyyy!)


      This is why we all need to live by each other -- I would grab my DVDs and we would have a slumber party tonight.

    3. Ahhhhhh #dreamlife

      Yeah, I just broke out a hashtag, THAT'S RIGHT!

  4. What? Nora Ephron wrote You've Got Mail? Witty bookishness and my favourite film to watch when ill. Which of her books should I read?

    1. Yessss, I sense that You've Got Mail is a very good illness film. Very soothing.

      Hmmmm.... I'm going to have to say I Feel Bad About My Neck is my favourite of the books I've read so far. But honestly, they're ALL great. Even the ones I haven't read, I'm sure are great!

    2. I'll keep an eye out for that one!

  5. Ooooooh, here we go again. Should we get into another Twitter battle where we just quote lines at each other? No? Anyway, as you know, 'You've Got Mail' and 'When Harry Met Sally' are two of my all-time favourite movies. Kathleen Kelly was one of the big influences that made me want to be a bookseller, right from being a little girl... and now I am! Though I have far less patience with children than she does. ;)

    Okay, just one quote. "I would be proud to partake of your pecan pieeeee". See, now I feel better.