Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Movies of My Youth

As I've done for about five years in a row now, I began the new year (New Year's Eve and New Year's Day), rewatching the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies. It's a tradition I've grown to love, and this year in particular I think I enjoyed the Hobbit as never before. It's the first time I've been alone (for the most part, Kate was in and out but did not watch the movies with me), and as such, I was able to give them my full and undivided attention. That has led me to the conclusion that I prefer The Hobbit trilogy above LOTR, but just to be sure, I've decided to watch them all again before the new year, slowly and one at a time. I might begin again this weekend, we'll see.

Since then I've actually been revisiting some movies from my youth, in particular from the late 70's and early 80's. It happened unexpectedly really. I was scrolling a bit mindlessly through the plethora of offerings on Netflix, Hulu and Prime, when a title jumped out from the screen and transported me instantly to the months just following my graduation from high school, The Competition, starring Richard Dreyfuss (who wore entirely too much makeup throughout the movie!), and an actress I'd forgotten about, Amy Irving. Now if you're familiar with the movie, and before you go judging my cinematic tastes, I would not rate this movie highly. Even in its day I recall finding Dreyfuss/Irving an odd mix and a bit unbelievable as a couple. I preferred Irving over Dreyfuss at the time, but oddly enough didn't follow her career past this movie. I did, sadly, watch Yentl this past week in my efforts to explore her other works, what an odd movie that was, and Honeysuckle Rose, which faired only somewhat better. For someone who was once married to Steven Spielberg you would think the girl would have been considered for better roles. But I think what I liked about The Competition in particular, and a few others I've watched since then like Ice Castles (again, no judging, LOL!), and The Goodbye Girl (STILL one of my all time favorites), is the feel of them. Naturally they carry a vibe true to the time in which they were made, I'm just not sure until recently that I'd ever really noticed it. It's funny how when you're young you think that the things that you like will never grow old!

Aside from The Goodbye Girl and Star Wars (which is timeless, in my opinion), I haven't spent a lot of time watching movies from this time period, because if I'm honest, I find them a bit hokey. And they are. Maybe it was because I was fighting off a head cold, or the glare from the all the snow we've had recently was reflecting on the screen, but the sentiment they stirred in me made watching them worth it. The cinematography of the day, the fonts used for the titles, the soundtracks. They swept me up and warmed me, in spite of the fact that I wanted to wipe Richard Dreyfuss' face with a soapy wash cloth in almost every scene.

Ice Castles has always held a special place in my heart, since I chose one of the songs from the soundtrack for my wedding, and sang it a year later at the wedding of a friend. But something that The Competition aroused in me (other than reminding me of a line I once borrowed when I was angry at an ex-boyfriend, see the first quote from Greta) was my love for classical music. I grew up listening to it with my dad, who had a love affair with NPR which he has now passed on to me. Life is a funny thing, this week I recalled that it was this movie that introduced me to Sergei Prokofiev, and in particular to Piano Concerto No. 3, which is the song that Amy Irving's character plays. I listened to Prokofiev for months after seeing this movie, in particular Romeo and Juliet, which lulled me to sleep many a night. He is, by far, one of my favorite composers, as well as Rachmaninoff, who wrote a beautiful piece featured in the movie, Somewhere In Time, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. That entire movie is where my love for movie soundtracks first began, and if you're interested, you can listen to it in its entirety, here. It also happens to be one of the better movies of the early 80's.

Over Christmas I attended an online performance of Handel's Messiah at The Washington National Cathedral, and I think that, along with all of this reminiscing, has rekindled my desire to listen to classical music again, which led me this book,  A Year of Wonder: Classical Music To Enjoy Day by Day by Clemency Burton Hill (Affiliate Link). In it is highlighted a piece of classical music for every day of the year, along with a bit of history. Since I discovered it late, I began yesterday, when the featured selection was ‘Dirait-on’ – ‘Should We Say’ from Les chansons des roses by Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943). I like this piece in particular because it was inspired by the works of one of my favorite poets, Rainier Maria Rilke. You can listen to it, here. If my dad were alive I have a feeling he would enjoy listening to these, as well, and I'm going to try to be intentional about listening to them in his honor. His knowledge of classical music never extended beyond his love for the music itself. He wasn't familiar with the names of the works or even the composers, really. He listened to classical music simply for the joy it brought him. I can even recall when I thought NPR was possibly the worst station a person could listen to and that classical music was boring. But somewhere along the way, thankfully, I began to appreciate it as well. I do like that the book breaks the selections down, and that it's just one song each day, a brief pause for a bit of culture and the thrill of perhaps being introduced to a new composition.

If you grew up in the 70's and 80's you might be familiar with some of the movies I've mentioned, and maybe you want to take a little trip down memory lane, yourself. So I'm providing you with links to most of the ones I've included in this post, a few of them are free, and all at a minimal cost. As I mentioned, at least a few of these are not what I would consider high quality viewing, but they are fun in their own right, if for nothing more to reminisce about the days of our youth.

The Competition - Free if you have Prime
Of note, neither Dreyfuss or Irving played the piano, and trained for weeks to make it appear as if they were actually concert level musicians. That alone is impressive.

The Goodbye Girl - Free if you have Prime.

Ice Castles - Rent for $3.99

Somewhere In Time - Rent for $3.99

I also just discovered Crossing Delancey with Amy Irving. I've rented it and plan to watch it today! If you happen to have memories of and suggestions for other movies from the late 70's and early 80's that I may have forgotten, leave a reminder in the comments!

All rental links are non-affiliate.

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Angela said...

Oh my goodness, I LOVED The Goodbye girl! I am going to rewatch it. The music book sounds wonderful. I am definitely going to check it out! Thank you for sharing. Enjoy the music!

Kimberly Lottman said...

Angela, I'm so glad to have reminded you! It's one of my favorite movies and one of the better ones in that time period. I know you'll enjoy it! :)

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it since that time period, but my friend and I loved the 1979 movie, The Main Event with Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand.

Judith D.

Anonymous said...

I have "A Year of Wonder" and have really loved it!


Kimberly Lottman said...

Judith, thank you so much for the recommendation! It just so happens that I watched Barbra Streisand in concert on Netflix just this afternoon and was reminded of several of her movies that I've added to my list. I've never seen The Main Event, I don't think, so I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

Pam, I am really enjoying A Year of Wonder!