Friday, October 24, 2014

Getting to Know Nora: My Blue Heaven

Last week I wrote about a new project I'm starting, "Getting to Know Nora," a look at the films Nora Ephron wrote and/or directed. This week I watched the first film of the project, "My Blue Heaven."

I hadn't seen "My Blue Heaven" (MBH) before, and my past experience with Nora Ephron films has been limited to the romantic comedy genre. While this was definitely a comedy, and somewhat romantic, it felt different from Nora's films I've fallen in love with. (Think "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail.")

Initially I wasn't sure what to make of this cast of characters. Steve Martin as an over-the-top Italian mobster, Rick Moranis as a vanilla FBI agent. How was this going to work? But as the film went on, I started to appreciate it more and more.

Nora Ephron had a knack for finding humor in real life situations that real people could and do find themselves in. As I watched MBH, I couldn't help but picture this story happening somewhere, sometime, in real life. I could imagine that these characters, although slightly embellished, had really existed in Nora's life, and that she drew from them to make this movie.

Nora also calls her actors to commit 100 percent to their characters. There's no half-way, it's all or nothing. Sometimes actors seem like the same character in movie after movie. Nora's actors have to evolve, they have to buy into their character and then sell the story so well that the viewer forgets who they are and sees only the character. And then as the viewer, you once again start to believe that this character could actually exist.

I also appreciate that Nora paints a picture of people who fully embrace their lives and the situations they experience. It's a great challenge for us as viewers. Would we embrace our lives like these characters? Would we grab life with both hands and merengue our way through it? Would we be willing to take chances for something amazing? I love that her characters are sold on where they are.

Nora wasn't only a writing genius, she was also a comic genius. She knew what would make viewers laugh, whether it was a humorous quote, a relatable blunder, or a ridiculous conversation. This movie made both Nick and I laugh out loud.

I think this was a great place to start with the project. I'm thinking for the next film I'll go with one I own, just to give me time to find one I don't. Next up I'll be re-watching and note-taking on "Sleepless in Seattle." Usually I like to watch it around Christmas time, but I think it will be good to go with that next. I hope you'll join me! In the mean time, if you've seen MBH, what are your thoughts on the writing/characters/storyline? Do you agree with my thoughts or think they're totally crazy? Leave me a comment! :)

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