On Wednesday, I posted the first five of my top ten movies. Here’s Part Two, again in no particular order.
Postcards from the Edge
Meryl Streep starring in a Carrie Fisher screenplay inspired by her book and supported by Shirley Maclaine – it doesn’t get much better than that. Streep is a recovering drug addict and an actress struggling in the shadow of her much-more-famous-than-her mother, Maclaine. In this scene, Streep is upset after a fight with her mother and talks with the director of her last movie at a looping session to fix dialogue problems (how ironic), which she has turned up to early.
Lowell, the Director: What could possibly be the matter? You’ve gone back and corrected the past. At least in your work.
Lowell, the Director: What could be a better metaphor? It couldn’t be something I said.
Suzanne: Nothing you say to me is as horrible as what I say to myself. At least it’s happening outside my head where I can deal with it easier.
Lowell, the Director: The trouble with you is you had it too easy and you don’t even know it.
Suzanne: No, no, I do know it.
Lowell, the Director: You’re not gonna get a lot of sympathy from anybody you know. You know how many people would give their right arm to be in show business, to lead the kind of life that you lead?
Suzanne: I know but the trouble is I can’t feel my life. I can’t feel it. I see it all around me and I know that so much of it is good but I just take it the wrong way. It’s like this thing with my mother. I know that she does all this stuff because she loves me. But I just can’t believe it. And other stuff.
Lowell, the Director: I don’t know what’s happening with your mother. Maybe she’ll stop mothering you when you grow up.
Suzanne: You don’t know my mother.
Lowell, the Director: No, I don’t know your mother. I know you and you can make a mother out of anybody. Look, your mother did it to you, and her mother did it to her, and back and back and back all the way to Eve. At some point you stop it and you just say, “Fuck it. I start with me.”
Suzanne: Did you just make that up?
Lowell, the Director: Well, I was working on it before you came in. If you’d come a half hour later when you were supposed to, it would have been better.
Suzanne: It’s pretty good as it is.
Lowell, the Director: You just like it because it sounds a little like movie dialogue.
Suzanne: Yeah, that’s me. I don’t want life to imitate art, I want life to be art.
Much Ado About Nothing
This is the Kenneth Branagh interpretation of the classic Shakespearean play, so it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that it contains great dialogue. But Branagh’s delivery of Benedick’s monologue makes it so palatable to a modern audience that each and every word can be understood without having to resort to a study guide explaining what Shakespeare’s poetry meant.
I do much wonder that one man seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviours to love will after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love.
And such a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife, and now would he rather hear the tabor and the pipe. I’ve known when he would have walked ten mile afoot to see a good armour. Now will he lie ten nights awake carving the fashion of a new doublet.
He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose like an honest man and a soldier. Now is he turned orthography. His words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes. Well, may I be so converted and see with these eyes? I cannot tell. I think not. I will not be sworn but love may transform me to an oyster. But I’ll take my oath on it til he hath made an oyster of me. He shall never make me such a fool.
One woman is fair yet I am well. Another is wise yet I am well. Another virtuous yet I am well. But til all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s certain. Wise, or I’ll none. Virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen her. Fair, or I’ll never look on her. Mild or come not near me. Of good discourse, an excellent musician and her hair shall be of what colour it please God.
Stranger Than Fiction
This is a high concept movie about Harold Crick who one day starts being able to hear his life being narrated. While it’s annoying, he doesn’t really worry too much until he hears the words, “Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.” This starts him on a journey of trying to find out why he’s going to die and how he can avoid it. He visits Dr Jules Hilbert, a literary professor who has devised a series of questions to try to determine what kind of story he is in.
Dr Jules Hilbert: How are you?
Harold Crick: I’m fine actually.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Looks like our narrator hasn’t killed you quite yet.
Harold Crick: No, not yet.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Good. Great. Have a seat? Count the stairs outside.
Harold Crick: No.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Of course not. I’ve devised a test. How exciting is that? Of 23 questions which I think might help uncover more truths about this narrator. Now, Howard…
Harold Crick: Harold.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Harold. These may seem silly but your candour is paramount.
Harold Crick: Okay.
Dr Jules Hilbert: So. You know it’s a woman’s voice. The story involves your death. It’s modern, it’s in English and I’m assuming the author has a cursory knowledge of the city.
Harold Crick: Sure.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Okay. Good. Question one. Has anyone recently left any gifts outside your home?
Harold Crick: Uh uh.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Anything? Gum? Money? A large wooden horse?
Harold Crick: I’m sorry?
Dr Jules Hilbert: Just answer the question.
Harold Crick: No.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Do you find yourself inclined to solve murder mysteries in large luxurious homes, to which you… let me finish… to which you may or may not have been invited?
Harold Crick: No. No, no, no.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Alright. On a scale of one to ten, what would you consider the likelihood you might be assassinated?
Harold Crick: Assassinated?
Dr Jules Hilbert: One being very unlikely, ten being expecting it around every corner.
Harold Crick: I have no idea.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Good. Let me rephrase. Are you the king of anything?
Harold Crick: Like what?
Dr Jules Hilbert: Anything. King of the lanes at the local bowling alley?
Harold Crick: King of the lanes?
Dr Jules Hilbert: King of the lanes, king of the trolls…
Harold Crick: King of the trolls?
Dr Jules Hilbert: Yes. A clandestine land found underneath your floorboards? Anything?
Harold Crick: No.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Huh?
Harold Crick: No! That’s ridiculous.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Agreed. But let’s start at ridiculous and move backwards. Now, was any part of you at one time part of something else?
Harold Crick: Like do I have someone else’s arms?
Dr Jules Hilbert: Well, is it possible at one time that you were made of stone, wood, lye, varied corpse parts or earth made holy by rabbinical elders?
Harold Crick: No. Look, look, I’m sorry but what do these questions have to do with anything?
Dr Jules Hilbert: Nothing. The only way to find out what story you’re in is to determine what stories you’re not in. Odd as it may seem, I’ve just ruled out half of Greek literature, seven fairytales, ten Chinese fables and determined conclusively that you are not King Hamlet, Scout Finch, Miss Marple, Frankenstein’s monster or a golem. Hmm? Aren’t you relieved to know you’re not a golem?
Harold Crick: Yes. I am relieved to know that I am not a golem.
Dr Jules Hilbert: Good. Do you have magical powers?
10 Things I Hate About You
Another Shakespearean entry on the list. This is a teen comedy adapted from the play, The Taming of the Shrew, (very loosely). Cameron is the new kid in school and falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but nearly unattainable Bianca Stratford.
Michael: Hello. Michael Eckman. I’m supposed to show you around.
Cameron: Oh, hi. Thank God. You know, uh, normally they send down one of those audio visual geeks.
Michael: No, I do, I know what you mean.
Audio Visual Geek: Hey, Michael, where should I put the slides?
Michael: Michael? So, uh, Cameron, here’s the breakdown. Over there, we’ve got your basic beautiful people. Now listen. Unless they talk to you first, don’t bother.
Cameron: Wait, is that your rule or theirs?
Michael: Watch. Hey there.
Beautiful Person: Eat me.
Michael: You see that. To the left, we have the coffee kids.
Coffee Kid: That was Costa Rican, butthead!
Michael: Very edgy. Don’t make any sudden movements around them. These delusionals are your white Rastas. They’re big Marley fans. They think they’re black. Semi-political but mostly…
Cameron: Smoke a lot of weed?
Michael: Yeah. These guys…
Cameron: Wait, wait. Let me guess. Cowboys?
Michael: Yeah, but the closest they’ve come to a cow is McDonald’s. These are your future MBAs. We’re all Ivy League accepted. Yuppie greed is back, my friend. Hey, guys, how you doing?
Future MBA: Close it, Bogey.
Michael: Yesterday I was their God.
Cameron: What happened?
Michael: Bogey Lowenstein started a rumour that I buy my Izods at an outlet mall.
Cameron: So they kicked you out?
Michael: Hostile takeover. But don’t worry. He’ll pay. Now over here…
Cameron: Oh my God. What group is she in?
Michael: The “don’t even think about it” group. That’s Bianca Stratford. She’s a sophomore.
Cameron: I burn, I pine, I perish.
Michael: Of course, you do. You know, she’s beautiful and deep, I’m sure.
Bianca: Yeah, but see there’s a difference between like and love. Because I like my Skechers but I love my Prada backpack.
Ebony: But I love my Skechers.
Bianca: That’s because you don’t have a Prada backpack.
Michael: Listen, forget her. Incredibly uptight father. And it’s a widely known fact that the Stratford sisters aren’t allowed to date.
Cameron: Uh-huh. Yeah. Whatever.
A League of Their Own
Watching this film again in preparation for this post, it’s amazing how many famous and familiar faces you will see. Based on the true story of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League set up during World War II when many of the professional male baseballers were fighting overseas, this movie has a number of scenes with punchy dialogue but I think this is the best of them. And I’ve used the last line of this scene to describe writing many times before.
Helen Haley: Dottie! Write to us. We’ll miss you.
Dottie Hinson: I will. Thanks. Good luck in the World Series.
Jimmy Dugan: Taking a little day trip?
Dottie Hinson: No. Um, Bob and I are driving home. To Oregon.
Jimmy Dugan: You know, I really thought you were a ball player.
Dottie Hinson: Well, you were wrong.
Jimmy Dugan: Was I?
Dottie Hinson: Yeah. It is only a game, Jimmy. It’s only a game. And I don’t need this. I have Bob. I don’t need this. I don’t.
Jimmy Dugan: I gave away five years at the end of my career to drinking. Five years. And now there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to get back any one day of it.
Dottie Hinson: Well, we’re different.
Jimmy Dugan: This is chicken shit, Dottie. You want to go back home to Oregon and make a hundred babies, great. I’m in no position to tell anyone how to live. But sneaking out like this, quitting, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Baseball is what gets inside you. It lights you up. You can’t deny that.
Dottie Hinson: It just got too hard.
Jimmy Dugan: It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.