For better or worse, I relate most of the events in my life to episodes of “Friends.” As a participant in The 2012 Word Count Blogathon (thank you Michelle Rafter!), I joined more than 300 other writers who accepted the challenge to post every day during May. For today, we have a theme, so I am writing about five movies that have inspired me. Turns out I am a bit like Rachel Green.
One of my favorite episodes of “Friends” is when Joey and Chandler claim they know Rachel and Monica better than the girls know them. That leads to a trivia challenge where an answer reveals that Rachel claims her favorite movie is “Dangerous Liaisons,” but her actual favorite movie is “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
Possibilities. So let’s get my “Weekend at Bernie’s” out of the way first. I love “Last Holiday” starring Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd, a store clerk misdiagnosed with a fatal illness who then cashes in her retirement to go to Europe’s Grand Hotel Pupp to cook with Chef Didier (Gérard Depardieu). Cooking at Hotel Pupp was in her Book of Possibilities. The lesson, of course, is not to wait to live out your possibilities. Yes, it’s a romantic comedy and whenever it’s on TBS I will watch it. I also have my own version of a possibilities book.
Hard Work. Okay, I might have a few “Weekend at Bernie’s” on my list (True Lies, Sister Act, to confess just a couple), but I will limit myself. “Legally Blonde” is another favorite. I didn’t go to law school because of the movie, but it came in handy during my first year. During a client counseling competition, I asked our “client” if his son’s lawyer was always in the courtroom or did the lawyer leave him with just a law student. During the debriefing, the lawyer playing the role of our client said he was impressed and wanted to know how I thought to ask if only a law student represented the son in the courtroom. I faked my way through the answer, the whole time thinking, “First, who hasn’t seen Legally Blonde? Second, the answer is right there in the big courtroom scene.” It’s a comedy, but Elle Woods made it through law school because she worked hard.
Courage. Onto my “Dangerous Liaisons” (although not on my list of five movies that have inspired me, that movie did give me a new appreciation for baroque and rococo architecture. Seeing the period costumes in the setting, suddenly that architecture made sense to me), “Dead Poets Society” will forever be on my list of favorite movies. I can’t imagine any quiet or shy kid who doesn’t wish he had the courage to stand on his desk
and shout “Oh captain, my captain.”
Determination. The next two movies on my list go highbrow – documentaries. I will admit that I used to avoid documentaries, but within the last year I’ve grown to enjoy them. “Hood to Coast” has it all. It’s named for the relay race that goes from Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon. The race is 197 miles with 1,000 teams. Each team has 12 runners, each runner taking three legs. The film follows four teams as they prepare for and then run the race. A 67-year-old who had a heart attack during the previous year’s race. A family running in memory of their son. A couple of beer-drinking animators. And “dead jocks,” a group of aging athletes. Maybe not this year, but I already have four people ready to run 197 miles with me because of this film. Inspired or insane is open for debate.
Joyfulness. The last movie on my list is the documentary “Bill Cunningham New York.” Mr. Cunningham has been riding his bike through the streets of New York City for decades, photographing fashion for The New York Times. Possibilities, hard work, courage and determination mean nothing if you can’t bring joy to others. I loved this film because of Mr. Cunningham’s sheer joyfulness. The film is funny, and quirky, yet one scene for the briefest of moments will break your heart.