Sunday, June 13, 2021

Comfort movies: a listicle.

Quick update, first, on The Atherton Vampire: I've had quite a productive weekend. I wrote episodes 22 and 23 yesterday, and episodes 24 and 25 today. That means the first draft of the whole novella is done. I wasn't wrong about the length -- it has come out to 40,800 words -- but I was wrong about the lengths of each episode; almost as soon as I said none had gone over 2,000 words, I wrote one that was 2,500 words. A couple of subsequent episodes also top 2k words. So sue me.

Anyway, I still haven't heard a launch date for Kindle Vella. At least my whole story is drafted and will be ready for upload, whenever Amazon rolls it out.


At some point this week, I saw someone share a list on social media of what they termed "comfort movies." It's the same idea as comfort food -- it's a thing you turn to, again and again, when the world has been a little too much. So comfort movies would be those you've seen several times and would watch again in a heartbeat, because you love them so much.

I don't own a ton of DVDs. I only buy the ones I know I'll watch again. So it was easy for me to suss out a listicle of my comfort movies: Just catalog what's in the DVD drawer. It turns out that I do own a few movies that I would only rewatch when I'm in a certain mood. But for comfort flicks, you cannot go wrong with the following list -- or at least I can't.

Devon Breen | Pixabay | CC0
My Comfort Movies (in alphabetical order) (feel free to let me know yours):

The Avengers: The Marvel series, not the Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg TV series. Not that there's anything wrong with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. I loved this movie for the dialogue, which is full of snappy comebacks. Thor's deadpan delivery of "he's adopted" always gets a laugh from me.

Bells Are Ringing: I love me some old musicals, especially if they're also screwball comedies. I can take or leave Dean Martin, to be honest, but Judy Holliday's rendition of "I'm Going Back" is a showstopper. (The link is to the song on the cast album; I couldn't find a clip from the movie itself. Do yourself a favor and rent this flick.)

The Blues Brothers: This movie has so many great moments, it's impossible to name them all; I'd actually forgotten about the scene where Carrie Fisher pulls a rocket launcher on John Belushi until the last time I saw it. Plus it's set in Chicago, one of my favorite cities. And the Nazis get what they deserve.

The Big Lebowski: Jeff Bridges turns in a bravura performance. That rug really did pull the room together. And I can't help it: I love it every time John Goodman tells Steve Buscemi to "shut the fuck up, Donny!"

Continental Divide: I doubt you've heard of it. John Belushi plays Ernie Souchak, a hard-charging newspaper guy in Chicago (the character was modeled after Mike Royko) who needs to lay low from a crime syndicate for a while. So his editor sends him to Colorado to interview Nell Porter (Blair Brown), a wildlife researcher who lives in a cabin on top of a mountain. It's a fish-out-of-water rom-com - Souchak is a city guy who hates the great outdoors, and Nell just generally hates people, but reporters most of all. The ending is completely ridiculous and so much fun.

Fargo: The Coen brothers have done some weird movies, but this one hits all the right notes for me. Here's my favorite line: When Frances McDormand sees William H. Macy driving away while she's standing in his office, waiting to talk to him, she says, "Oh, for Pete's sake!"  It's such a wholesome thing for a character in a crime drama to say. 

Gigi: This was my all-time favorite movie for years and years. Then I grew up and realized what Madame Alvarez was training Gigi to be. Still, the music is great, and the scene where Gaston realizes he's in love with Gigi is so much fun to watch. Plus Gigi goes against Aunt Alicia's wishes and refuses to be Gaston's courtesan, so yay 1950s feminism?

Guardians of the Galaxy: Another Marvel Studios entry. Goofy goings-on in space as the Star-Lord tries to gain himself a reputation. Groot's sacrifice will tear your heart out, but the closing credits kind of make up for it. Plus the soundtrack is amazing -- I actually bought that before I bought the DVD.

Indiana Jones: Any of of them except for Temple of Doom; somebody needed to give Kate Capshaw something to do other than scream at the top of her lungs. I recently saw that Harrison Ford's donning the fedora and bullwhip for a fifth movie in the franchise, but supposedly he'll be digitally younger-fied in at least some scenes. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The new movie's due out next summer.

Jane Eyre: Charlotte Bronte's novel was my favorite book from eighth grade until I discovered the Thomas Covenant series. This novel has had a ton of film adaptations, but I think the 2011 version, with Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Michael Fassbender as Rochester, is the best. Wasikowska gives Jane an almost otherworldly air. (I never could warm up to George C. Scott as Rochester. Whose bright idea was that, anyway?)

Little Shop of Horrors: A sci-fi musical mashup with a carnivorous plant and a sadistic dentist -- what's not to like? (My kids' high school did this as their musical one year. My daughter Amy got to keep one of the Audrey props -- the hand puppet, not the ginormous beast.)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: I also love Life of Brian, but this one wins for being such a great send-up of the Middle Ages. And who can forget the killer rabbit? Or the Knights who say "Ni"? Or the Frenchman who hurls insults off his castle wall? Or the "bring out your dead!" scene? I'd better stop now or we'll be here all night.

Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen just keeps having her day. This novel has also been adapted about a bazillion times, from Hollywood to Bollywood. I know Colin Firth is the sentimental favorite for Darcy, but my favorite version is the 2004 film with Winona Ryder. When she first glimpses Darcy's estate -- and realizes what she's lost by turning down his marriage proposal -- her reaction is priceless. (I couldn't find a clip. Just watch the movie -- it'll be along.)

The Princess Bride: This is another film with too many great scenes to list, from "As you wish" to "My name is Inigo Montoya..." to "Have fun storming the castle!" and on and on. By the way, if you haven't read the novel the movie is based on, you should -- it's fun and charming in a wholly different way.

Romancing the Stone: I was a confirmed Kathleen Turner fan after seeing this movie the first time. It's so much fun that I found I could even forgive Michael Douglas for mispronouncing Cartagena throughout the entire movie. (The sequel is terrible - don't bother.)

Star Wars: And by that I mean the 1977 film that's now known as Episode IV - A New Hope. The special effects are old hat now, but they were mind-blowing at the time. And George Lucas let his actors have fun in the first three films, unlike in Episodes I to III where he seemed determined to saddle everybody with Performances with Serious Import (other than Jar Jar Binks, about whom the less said, the better).

Thor: Ragnarok: Marvel Studios again. This one is a buddy movie with Thor and the Hulk as the buddies. The dialogue shines in this one, too. Plus we get to see an actual Valkyrie -- how cool is that?

Young Frankenstein: Mel Brooks has made some outstanding movies and at least one clunker (History of the World, Part I). I know a lot of people consider Blazing Saddles to be his masterpiece, but I prefer this one -- not just because I like horror better than Westerns, but because of all the hilarious scenes. And that's just a small sample. 

White Christmas: I know, I know. It's extremely dated with its stereotypical airheaded showgirls and stuff. But the dance scenes are still stunning, and the title song gets me every time. 

Y'know, I finished drafting a book today. I think I might watch a movie tonight.


These moments of comforting cinematic blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

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