A ‘W’ is formed when two Valentine Vs bond together to say ‘We’. Hence my ‘W’ selections are both enjoyable romances. When this ‘W’ becomes the ‘M’ for Marriage, things sometimes get topsy-turvy.
One of my all time favorite films, endlessly re-watchable, to the point where it becomes difficult for me to switch channels when it (re)plays on television. This is probably the one film in my series that I haven’t watched or studied with a critical eye on film appreciation. Its surprising success revived the failed romantic comedy genre resulting in a spate of such films in the 90s. Each of Rob Reiner’s films is unlike any of his others, and I love his Stand By Me as well.
Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) drive together to New York after graduating and stay separately. Their paths cross several times on and off throughout subsequent years, until they finally realize and accept to themselves that they love each other. Nothing revolutionary here, just a simple romantic comedy, but one which sparkles because of a few outstanding elements.
The polarized characterization of the leads and the unwavering focus on their relationship works well. Harry is the dark, pessimistic guy with his wisecracks concealing a warm heart. Sally is the cherubic exuberant blond, who is smart but vulnerable. The chemistry between Crystal and Ryan is so good, that it sustains us through a decade or so of their loving friendship, waiting for the inevitable outcome. As some reviewers observe, the characters could be straight out of a Woody Allen movie (indeed, there are striking resemblances to Annie Hall and Manhattan).
The script is remarkably sharp and witty. A single line of dialogue (“Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way”) has spawned numerous talk shows, editorials, columns, and a favorite topic for discussion in society.
This isn’t a romantic comedy about people who fall in love instantly, have misunderstandings, jealousy about flirting, come together against odds of some kind or other. No such clichés. Harry and Sally’s romance is not born of passion, but out of growing up and maturing together. For many couples, life’s like that. Not surprisingly, the movie is built around shared autobiographical experiences of Reiner and the cast.
The jazz score by Harry Connick, Jr. is brilliant. The performances, including those of the supporting pair, are good. Ryan has to ostensibly appear convincing Harry and herself that there is no love between them, while betraying the truth to us – not an easy assignment. The legendary fake orgasm scene is unbelievable but enjoyable. Deft touches of humor like the raising of arms in sync with the crowd’s wave while conversing and not watching the football game are littered all over the film. Six other elderly couples share their story in brief snapshots – they look so much like real couples, it’s hard to believe they are actors.
Finally, the unique thing about this film and why I like it: Unlike most movies, When Harry Met Sally shows people who do not easily fall in love. Love doesn’t sweep them off their feet, and they do not fight external forces to reach romantic bliss, but internal ones. To turn this profound psychological struggle into such a light-hearted entertaining comedy is an achievement!
There was a time when it was difficult to animate humans, and now we’ve reached an era when animation makes robots more human than real people. That’s what I felt after watching this gem from Pixar. In Wall-E, incredible as it may sound, robots are the real characters, while people act as animated robots whose life hardly has any meaning at all.
Charming story-telling from Andrew Stanton (director, co-writer) who also wrote and directed Finding Nemo. There are no gimmicks – this is a solid story, moving and poignant, while also being entertaining and comedic. The movie is largely without dialogue and you hardly notice that because of the amazing visuals and the incredibly deep study of body language by the animators. It makes you think about the environment, and simple things humans today take for granted. Not many animated films make you think while entertaining you at the same time. Wall-E does both, and more.
‘W’ films I’ve seen are like the Mumbai skyline. Plenty of tall buildings, but no single one of them towers imperiously over others, and none of them rival others in the world of alphabets. Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, the incredible wildlife movie When The North Wind Blows, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, the venerable Where Eagles Dare, the psychiatry comedy What About Bob, and Zemeckis’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit are some good films I’ve seen. But here are my picks:
- Wait Until Dark, a well-done thriller, with Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman, must-see for Hepburn fans.
- Witness for the Prosecution, Agatha Christie + Billy Wilder. What do you expect?
- Woodstock, the most celebrated rock concert of all time is captured breathtakingly in this remarkable film, probably one of the best semi-documentary films of all time.