Anyone who knows me well knows that film is my passion. I often quote lines from movies, make references, and constantly explain scenes to my friends and family. I preface many comments with “Have you ever seen…” and then respond “OH MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN IT? IT’S, LIKE, MY FAVORITE MOVIE?” (Disclaimer, The Departed is my favorite movie. But then again so is Knocked Up. And Django Unchained). When I started writing this piece, thinking about what I love most about films, I struggled. It’s like trying to explain why you’re in love. All at once you can’t think of anything, and you can think of everything.
I have always been excited by movies. Not necessarily by the method of creation of a film, but what they leave us with is most fascinating. From stories like the Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast, through the Harry Potter series to Silver Linings Playbook, the power to express an idea and create an emotion from books to film connects all of us. I grew up watching movies with my dad, and whenever he was surfing through movie channels, I would join him and express my endless curiosity of all things cinematic. The more I learned and watched, the more I wanted to learn and watch.
Since I was 15, I’ve taken up the hobby of writing reviews for films, researching about films, and trying to learn as much as I could. The idea of communicating meaning through passionate characters and engaging stories fed my desire to learn more. If there are books out that a movie is adapted from, or criticism or biographies about those involved in the film, I’m probably reading them (if I have not read them already). If eating VHS tapes could accelerate the process of learning about movies, I would ask for them medium-well with a side of sweet potato fries and a cold beer.
All joking aside, this drive to learn and understand films has carried me through my writing and learning, and has quickly yet slowly evolved into my passion. What makes a movie iconic is not always the actors, but the narratives they bring to the silver screen. The stories make the movie — and compelling, passionate characters — carry us from one end to another. They are simultaneously niched and universal, and you’ll never know if the next movie you’re about to watch is going to be your favorite, which is the beauty of the unexpected in film — and life. Characters become your friends, your family, and you sympathize with them the most once they realize everything that the audience already knows, thus peaking emotions.
The connections that I feel through characters are humbling, as you can say “that’s exactly what I feel like” when you cannot put your feelings into words. The characters we watch are most successful when the empathy we feel is strongest. We all connect to some characters: here are a few movies that have strong and relatable characters that I’ve bonded with through the silver screen during my undergrad years….
Ferris Bueller. One of my all-time favorite films to begin with, I grew up watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so often that I can shamelessly recite the whole movie on command. Ferris is everything I felt in high school and everything I continue to feel today as far as his brashness and fear of the future goes. He has no idea what he wants to do with the rest of his life, but knows exactly what to do the moment things are unfolding in front of him. He also strongly believes in the benefits of taking a day off from responsibilities just for fun. His brash anti-establishment mindset and ability to think on his feet are things I admire. Besides, he delivers some of my favorite movie lines in history. And even if we can’t be Ferris everyday, being Cameron every now and then is okay, too.
Pat. Silver Linings Playbook is an excellent film, and an even better movie that plays on the film-life allegory motif so beautifully. I highly recommend reading Matthew Quick’s book for a further look into Pat’s psyche and emphasis on the movie motif. Someone passionate about sports, open to finding love in unexpected places and remaining positive despite disheartening circumstances are things I can relate to. His journey to get over heartbreak is endearing, if at times dark, and his perseverance makes him one of my favorite characters in more recent films. As someone with an anxiety disorder, being affected by those around me with issues of their own, I’ve always strived to stay positive and keep looking for a silver lining. Overcoming personal struggles is ever-satisfying, as we can see through Pat and I know from experience. I also share his passion for a good book.
Andy. As an aspiring journalist, I can relate to Andy from The Devil Wears Prada in my journalistic pursuits, bizarre internship duties (have you ever had to go to an exclusive, old-school club in Manhattan to pick up a cardboard cutout of Kevin Costner?) and struggle in staying true to herself despite the expectations of where she should be. As much as I am in love with narrative journalism, it is slowly dying, along with long, exhaustive magazine-esque pieces you would see in The New Yorker. She also takes Miranda Priestly’s shit better than I could have imagined, but then again, I would have killed for that kind of job. Her hard work and determination are admirable, and even though I don’t keep fit by eating cheese by the cube, working for a New York-based publication is something I plan to experience after May 29.
Hermione Granger. The know-it-all best friend of Harry Potter has been my spirit animal for a long time. In high school, I was actually voted Teacher’s Pet and had a bad reputation as a know-it-all in a few classes because my nerdy passion to learn was overwhelmingly kiss-ass in nature. However, ending up at Cornell where people call it Hogwarts for the gothic aesthetic might be appropriate.
Gil. Although I do not have the means to get drunk in Paris regularly and time travel to meet some of the greatest American novelists, I do relate to the protagonist in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris in another way. Gil has a taste for the nostalgic, the classic, things that are not of his time. He constantly wishes he was back in the 1920s, the golden age in Paris. However, the lady he meets from that era, is not content with living in that time period and instead longs for the Belle Epoque of the late 19th century Parisian nightlife. He then comes to realize life in general is not satisfying. Although this is may be bluntly phrased, there is a way to embrace life to make the most out of everything. I have always been someone who admires Sinatra over today’s top artists and loves a good older film over a remake. People are just so stuck in materialistic things that they forget about the past and don’t appreciate it the way others do. Gil is also a writer from Hollywood, something I aspire to be. Somewhat a non sequitur, but you can also find awe in everything too.
The entire cast of Ocean’s 11 (2001). Okay, hear me out on this one. Mostly, it’s Rusty (Brad Pitt), because he messes with Linus (Matt Damon) and is eating and drinking during all of his screen-time. But as far as the whole cast is concerned, during that last scene, when everyone stands looking at the fountains lit up by the streetlights as the Claire De Lune plays in the background? It’s one of my favorite scenes, ever. Claire de Lune as background music can make anything humbling, and walking around the arts quad playing it is incredibly humbling.
To wrap up things at Cornell, and this piece I hope you endured through to the end, “…I am now watching the movie of my life as I live it.” (Matthew Quick in Silver Linings Playbook…please read the book!)