8/12/21: Weird experiment day!
Today I am going through every page I have in Life is a Fountain and adding something hopefully relevant to it from the annals of Clerkmanifesto. It’s my desperate attempt to freshen up everything after being away for a couple weeks. So here you go:
In an interview with the Guardian Newspaper the actor Christian Bale was asked if he has considered acting in a Romantic Comedy.
“Uh-oh.” I thought.
Why did I think “Uh-oh”?
It’s hard to answer that.
Maybe because the romantic comedy is the bastard child of cinema. Something that can always be knocked to the ground and stepped on to make one’s cinema bonafides eight inches taller.
“Wow, that escalated quickly.” Someone says. I’m not sure who, and I hope they’re not sticking up for the anti-romantic comedy bullies.
“Oh. No. I’m not!” They reply with alarm. “I’m just concerned at the vehemence in your analogy.”
Yes, sure, it’s just, well, let’s take a look at what the acclaimed actor responded to the question:
Bale bats the question back with what sounds like a challenge. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?” I pause and he presses the point. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?”
Now at this point I know that I am happy with neither Christian Bale nor the interviewer. And I am so outraged I really should stop reading the interview. But then I remember; I’m on the Internet. If I’m not outraged on the Internet then I’m not doing it correctly. So I yell at the computer:
“MOONSTRUCK, SAY ANYTHING, NOTTING HILL, GROUNDHOG DAY, SOME LIKE IT HOT, FRENCH KISS, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, 13 GOING ON THIRTY, THE HOLIDAY, THE WEDDING SINGER, THE APARTMENT…”
Actually I go on yelling for quite awhile as there is no one to stop me, which says a lot about the Internet. But after yelling out the titles of 112 Romantic Comedy titles that I am particularly fond of, I stop and say to my screen and to the interviewer: “Don’t say it.” even though I know he will, only in part because he cannot hear me.
The interview continues:
It is July 9, 2021, and I put this following movie up on my recommended books page. Then I realized: I’d rather just have books on my recommended books page, not movies, or music. It’s not a moral thing, or organizational even, it’s just, I don’t want to have to explain why it’s called The Books Page if it has other things than…books.
And fair enough, maybe the truth is that if one has to enter into complicated explanations then the problem is with the thing being explained.
So here is an inaugural movie recommendation, transplanted to a page made for it and that needs no explanation:
To All the Boys I Loved Before
Before I get into it, I want to say I spent the whole day fiddling about on Life is a Fountain. I added a lot of pictures, which was more on the labor side than the creative side. And I did write a short entry on the “Life is a Fountain” page, which is a quiet little part of Life is a Fountain where I sort of keep a journal of making Life is a Fountain. It’s a little like, well, this.
But what I wanted was to add some important things to some of the many pages here at Life is a Fountain.
And I couldn’t.
It all felt like it needed to be so good! So thorough! So fresh!
I wasn’t up to writing anything that good.
Then the evening rolled around and my lovely wife and I had planned to watch a movie. We tried desperately to find a decent movie. How hard is that?
Well, it turns out, a little hard, as our tastes are particular, and then they also have their overlap of what we both like, which narrows it all a good deal more.
So we started a lot of movies and shows in our search.
And they were all kind of terrible.
They made it look hard to make a movie.
Then we saw something about one of the “To All the Boys” movies and figured, why not watch the first one of those?
I guess one reason not to would be because we’ve already seen this movie eight times. Eight times!
But that’s a pretty weak reason.
Because here is Peter Kavinsky at my library:
As you know I tend to put mighty legends of the arts around my library; Linus Van Pelt, Morticia Addams, Picasso, Dylan, Frida Kahlo.
Does Peter Kavinsky deserve such a mighty honor?
Sure. Peter Kavinsky is a brilliantly charming romantic lead characterization.
And “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a near perfect Romantic Comedy.
Of course the romance works. I mean, look at them, out by the stairs that head up to the Fiction and Non Fiction stacks alike:
But a thing that I find to be so telling about an excellent Romantic Comedy, almost a trick in how much it tells, a litmus test if you will, is in the surrounding characters. Does the romantic comedy involved fill all the little character spaces with charm and depth?
Before I answer that I want to go back to how I started this by talking about how I couldn’t get myself to make any progress today on Life is a Fountain because I felt the pressure of seriousness, because I felt whatever I wrote had to be good. And it took me until near the very end of my day to remember, that kind of thing happens by accident.
It’s never that likely to be all that “good” anyway.
And even if it is there’s just so few of us here to know.
So I might as well just screw around in the meantime.
Now I’ll answer the question about side characters, and this one small bit will have to do to encapsulate how intensely I recommend this Romantic Comedy as one of the finer ones ever made:
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” has more cleverly drawn, amusing, and actual rounded side and supporting characters than possibly any Romantic Comedy since “Moonstruck” or maybe “Notting Hill”, or possibly “Long Shot”, which, admittedly, may or may not have been made after “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”. But the main point here is that “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is up there with the giants!
Many a perfectly fine romantic comedy has managed to establish its virtues with just one or two excellent side characters. Look at “French Kiss”!
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” has, at an absolute minimum, three! And that’s with applying the most stringent standards in establishing great Romantic Comedy side characters: that is that they are funny, distinct, idiosyncratic, and delightful.
Loosen the standards just a little bit and we could easily add three more. Hell, even the bit part diner waitress puts in an excellent turn. Her reaction when Peter Kavinsky addresses her by her name (due to a nametag) is the kind of great little bit that the movie is full of. Hell, the main character, Lara Jean’s bedroom is almost a character itself it’s so expressive. That wallpaper, and for a girl who had been living too much in her dreams, is so perfect.
So, as to those three great characters, I would say, if you watch the movie, keep your eye on them. Except that’s just it. You can’t miss them. You don’t have to keep an eye on them. You don’t have to do any work in a Romantic Comedy.
It’s all reward.