Before kids, one of my sisters used to refer to my husband and me as Siskel and Ebert, as in the thumb-up-or-thumbs-down theater critics. We went to the movies a lot. Our third date involved seeing a movie: A League of Their Own. There was a year we had seen every movie nominated for the Academy Awards. Then we became parents and there was a year (or two) where we hadn’t seen a single one of the nominated movies.
I partly blame my mother for our drastic reduction in movie viewing post-kids. She babysat for one of our first dates after our daughter Sarah was born. We were thinking of catching a movie, but then my mother gently suggested that we use the rare time off to catch up without interruption. In a movie, after all, we couldn’t talk to each other. You know, share our hopes, our dreams, our fears … I bet we talked about how little Sarah slept. But it seemed like sound advice. And for years, we always felt like we should reconnect on dates and not sit in silence at the movies. Although I know now, sitting in silence together is reconnecting. Sometimes it can be healthier for a relationship than talking.
This year, I saw three of the Academy-Award nominated films: Spotlight, Brooklyn and The Martian. I loved them all (rooting for Spotlight to win Best Movie ). I also saw all three in the movie theater., which, to me, makes all the difference. It’s an event. There are no distractions. I hope to see an even higher percentage of the Academy Award-nominated films when 2017 rolls around.
Thinking of the Oscars and, of course, my year of living like Alice, I asked my mother recently about her top three favorite movies. I knew Barbra Streisand’s Funny Girl was high on the list. Let’s just say we don’t share that in common.
A Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara is another one. My mother says she tries to watch the movie every year around St. Patrick’s Day. ( I plan to do the same this year if anyone wants to join me.) The third top pick is American President. Following in the footsteps of Alice, we decided to watch the movie early this morning, which seemed especially appropriate with the Massachusetts presidential primary on Tuesday.
Written by Alan Sorkin, the movie came out in 1995. It tells the story of a widowed U.S. president (Michael Douglass) who falls in love with a lobbyist (Annette Bening). Like his TV show West Wing, Sorkin’s characters speak in such clever sound bites that sometimes it’s not very believable conversation. But I liked it.
Toward the end of the movie, Douglas’ president lambastes his fictional Republication opponent, U.S. Senator Bob Rumson, played by Richard Dreyfuss:
“We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.”
Remind you of anyone? I am not afraid of what Donald Trump wants me to fear. I am afraid of Donald Trump becoming the Republican nominee for president.