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Monday, August 31, 2020

Listening to Movies

Apple Music has given me the opportunity to set the mood for my hour (each way), commute to suite my mood.  But sometimes I'm just not in the mood for music.  So I listen to movies.

Obviously action movies and such don't work because of the explosion and blaring 'adventure' music.  No, to be a good movie to listen to, it has to meet two basic criteria:

  1. I have to have seen it often enough to know exactly what's going on in every scene.
  2. It has to have great dialogue (think 'Casablanca')

Perhaps no movie meets these criteria (for me), better than 'When Harry Met Sally'.  Nora Ephron's incredible screenplay and Rob Reiner's masterful directing paint mind pictures that are just as enjoyable with the screen off.

The film takes place exactly during the era when I was dating, and is set in New York City (where I lived when I was single, dated, and ultimately met my wife).  The background music is excellent without being intrusive, and the there are layers of intended and unintended meaning in every second of every scene that reveal themselves with each subsequent viewing (or listening).

This morning, as I drove to work, I was struck by so many random things.  So, I guess one additional criteria is that to be good for listening, a movie has to be able to conjure personal memories and reference cultural touchstones from one's life. 

Here are a few:

The double date (when H & S try to fix each other up but end up inadvertently introducing their best friends to one another):  Dating was a memorable part of my single life back in the day... but there was only one double date (that I can recall, at least).  And the woman who arranged that double date; she was dating a college buddy and she set me up with a close friend (it was sooo not the right fit), is married to someone else, and they are some of our oldest friends all these years later.  I think double dates are hopeless.  They're like regular folks trying to do gymnastics; doomed to failure but ultimately memorable.

The whole 'men and women can't be friends thing: Back in  my 20s I would have agreed with Harry;  Men and women can't be friends because the whole sex thing (or at least the potential for it), gets in the way.  But looking back, I remained good friends with most of the people I went out with AFTER we stopped dating... so the romantic interest was no longer part of the equation.  So I'd like to offer an amendment to the earlier rule:  Single men and women CAN be just friends, so long as they were previously something more.

Even Jewish people get nostalgic for Christmas.  Christmas in New York City is a rich secular tradition, not just a religious event.  I don;t care if you are a religious Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim... I'm convinced that anyone who lived/worked in Manhattan during a formative time in their life, tears up (at least secretly), when Christmas music or seasonal references pop up in later years.  

I could go on, but I guess the real point is that I highly recommend listing to your favorite movies the next time you have a long solo drive.  Trust me... it offers a new level of appreciation you could have never imagined.

Posted by David Bogner on August 31, 2020 | Permalink

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When I was a kid, we weren't allowed to have a TV in the house. My parents were firm believers that it was a waste of time. (They were probably right, and only these years later, my sisters and I are voracious readers). But I remember once my sister managed to get hold of a handheld radio that also tuned in to the audio of TV channels. And for a few months till it broke down, my sister and I used to sit and listen to TV shows, and were able to follow almost everything going on.

Posted by: David Staum | Sep 2, 2020 8:02:57 PM

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