Tag Archives: Charm

The Movies That Charm Me Every Time

DSC_1409Hello Friend,

I LOVE movies!  I always have.  I love them so much that I moved to New York and Hollywood to study acting when I was young.  There is just something so magical about them.  I think it must be that a movie is one giant piece of art that requires so many different types of artists to make: writers, directors, actors, costume designers, set designers, composers, musicians, and more.  When all of these things come together in just the right way, the result is two or three mesmerizing hours of pure enchantment and escapism for me.

Sadly, since having kids five years ago, a few consecutive hours of quiet are extremely rare in my world.  So, my beloved hobby has been temporarily put on the shelf along with other friends like golf, reading, and meditation.  I still allow myself the guilty pleasure of watching the award shows (Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and Oscars) as my one link to this hibernating passion of mine.  I say hibernating, because I will definitely be back.  I love movies too much.

I have to admit to being a bit of a movie snob (I even call them “films” a little too frequently in conversation).  That little movie that film critics like but that only plays at the little art-house theater because most folks won’t sit through it: that one is probably just right for my tastes.  In my pre-kids days, I made a point of seeing all of the films—see, I just did it—that were up for the awards.  On the other hand, I never made it a point to see the giant blockbuster that everyone in the world had seen at least once (I’m that one guy who has never seen “Jurassic Park” or “Mission: Impossible” or the modern “Star Wars” trilogy, to name a few).  I wasn’t intentionally avoiding them; they just didn’t appeal to me.  Generally, if there are a lot of explosions, aliens, superheroes, car chases, or jokes, I am in a different theater.  The closest I come to an “action movie” are films about war, which I love in a way I can’t explain (because they make me sick as I watch, but watch I must).  I tend to go for a drama–something with some gravity–that stirs me up in a deep place.  I am the guy who sits in the theater until all the credits have rolled and the lights come up, because I need all of that time to process such a serious work of art.

So there I was today, in front of the cabinet of my favorite DVDs, taking a stroll down memory lane.  As I looked through the titles and considered each movie, I realized that certain ones had me grinning.   I love all of the movies I own—most have landed on various “William’s Top 10” or “William’s War Favorites” or the like over the years–but somehow a whole new category of favorites was being created as I perused.  What was it, though, that was causing this grin on my face?  What separated these favorites from the others?  At first I thought it was just that these movies were not as serious as the others, not as typically “dramatic” as my usual favorites.  That was part of it.  Indeed, I was not grinning as I passed most of the war movies. But that wasn’t the big answer, wasn’t the common denominator.  But what was the defining element?  What was making me grin?  It took me awhile to pin it down.

It was charm.  I realized that during the many times I have watched this handful of movies, I probably had a subtle grin on my face, or at least a lightness in my heart, all the way through them.  I thought about the effect that charming people have: they are captivating yet keep you grinning, as though under a spell.  They make you feel a little happier, a little more alive.  They connect with you and also tickle you a bit with their sweetness.  They charm you.

These are the movies that touch my heart in just that special way:

  • Stand By Me—This has been on my short list of favorites since I was a kid, and still I enjoy every sweet, poignant minute with those boys from Castle Rock.
  • Almost Famous—There is an innocence and purity about this movie for me.  Both with the musical choices—I dare you to try to NOT sing along on “Tiny Dancer”–and the genuine humanity, it strikes just the right note.
  • Cinema Paradiso—If you have to read subtitles the entire time and are still as completely smitten as I am with this movie, it must be charming.
  • Beautiful Girls—There are so many flat-out funny lines and monologues in this one, but it is the tender, truthful scenes that keep it among my all-time favorites.  The young Natalie Portman is absolutely captivating.
  • American Beauty—The fact that a film with so many dark, disturbing elements can make it on this list is a testament to its amazing director and cast.  This is a great movie!
  • Home for the Holidays—Much like “Beautiful Girls”, there is a lot of straight funny in this one, but that is mixed so beautifully with honest, sad truth-telling.  And it is about family, so of course it touches a soft spot in me.
  • Life is Beautiful (La Vita e Bella)—I told you I love war movies, so I had to include one!  Despite covering a horrific topic, Roberto Benigni managed to bring a love and sweetness to this one.  (Added props again for making this list despite subtitles).

There they are: the movies that charm me every time I watch them.  I am grinning just thinking about them.  That is the power of great art!

So, which movies charm you every time?  Get out your journal and write the first titles that come to your mind when you think about the charm factor.  When you come up with a few, write about them.  What is it about them that sticks with you?  What about them keeps that subtle grin on your face the whole way through?  What is so special?  As you explore your mind for that answer, you probably will find more old favorites popping into your head.  Write them out.  See if you can find similarities among the favorites on your list.  The answer can give you some terrific insight into what makes you tick.  Then—PLEASE–leave me a reply.  As I said, I love movies and any discussion about them, so I would really appreciate hearing which ones have charmed you.  What is on your list?

Keep mining your inner treasure,