This kind of film comes along so rarely. Bella does not pull punches, it is not soft, it does not pander and yet it is positive and warm and life affirming. It reminds us that no matter what happens, no matter what path we think we are on, things can always change. A moment can change the path of your life and in so doing, can change the world around you.
The director aptly described it with the simple truism, "If you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans."
Life is like that. But everything comes back around. The world balances itself. And we can take part in that and we can make concious choices about the type of people we choose to be and how we wish to participate in the human race.
A lot of religious groups are trying to co-opt the film to reinforce one of their more popular messages but I don't see it that way. Two of the filmmakers have spoken openly about being Catholic, so I'm not saying they don't share opinions with these groups, but I think this film goes far beyond social issues. It's simply a story about people. How we effect each other and how life can surprise you.
It also does a beautiful job of refusing to recycle the well worn Latino stereotypes too often seen in film; presenting instead warm families, interesting people and fully rounded characters - the way it should be.
Oh, and one of the last scenes - between the two brothers - MUST be an intentional homage to Big Night. It is simply too dead-on not to be intentional. That scene from Big Night it is one of my favorite scenes ever committed to film and the same dynamic plays beautifully and meaningfully for the gifted filmmakers of Bella.
I don't want to tell you anything about this film and I think you should do yourself a favor and not read anything about it. A lot of the film is just people talking. There are sometimes subtitles. The acting is gorgeous and I thought the cinematography was lovely. It may be too stream of conciousness for some or too warm fuzzy for others... but obviously I really liked it.
I want to hang this film on my wall and watch it like a living work of art.
and I sat there staring at it, trying to figure out who sends junk mail about hair. And do people still use the word "fierce" to describe something that's aesthetically pleasing? And who wants HARD hair? Are bangs even in style right now? oh. wait. OH.
Bancroft and Brooks around the time of their wedding, in 1964
"I fell in love with her then and there."
- Brooks, in an interview with Liz Smith, on first meeting Anne
Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks met in 1961 when she was rehearsing for the Perry Como television show. The story goes that she was rehearsing the musical number, "Married I can Always Get." and wearing a white suit. Mel Brooks called from offstage, "I'm Mel Brooks." Brooks bribed one of the tv show's employees to find out where Anne was going to have dinner that evening so he could "happen" to show up at the same restaurant.
"When Mel told his Jewish mother he was marrying an Italian girl, she said: 'Bring her over. I'll be in the kitchen - with my head in the oven'."
When they met, Miracle Worker had not yet been released and much of Bancroft's career had been in television. Although she had a respectable number of films to her credit and had already won her first Tony award (for appearing opposite Henry Fonda in the Broadway production of Two for the Seesaw), she had not yet become the marquee name we know her as today. Brooks was best known as a writer and comedian, his prolific years as an actor/writer/director were still ahead of him.
"He understands not only with his brain but with his heart. And that might be called love. Not quite sure, but maybe that's the key."
- Bancroft, on her husband Mel Brooks Associated Press interview (1997)
They were married on August 5, 1964 at the New York City Hall. They asked a passer-by to be the witness for their wedding. As one of Bancroft's obituaries aptly describes them: "He was the Borscht Belt spoofer who took comedy to delightful new lows in the bawdy Western satire Blazing Saddles. She was the Bronx-born daughter of Italian parents who won two Tonys. 'He makes me laugh a lot,' she said, explaining their attraction to the New York Daily News in 2000. 'I get excited when I hear his key in the door. It's like, Ooh! The party's going to start.'"
"First of all, you have to marry the right person. If you marry the wrong person for the wrong reasons, then no matter how hard you work, it's never going to work, because then you have to completely change yourself, completely change them, completely— by that time, you're both dead. So I think you have to marry for the right reasons, and marry the right person."
- Bancroft, on successful marriage. Associated Press interview (1997)
Brooks and Bancroft making an appearance in Larry David's fictional "Opening Night" in 2004
I just love their work. And I love the idea of them together. It's a union that always fascinated me.
If the late breaking news has you worried that dameonline is about to become wedding central, you really needn't be concerned.
I have a friend who began her wedding planning when she was ten. She always wanted to get married. She kept pictures of dresses she loved and wedding cakes in a three ring binder. She wanted a picture book wedding. When she became engaged, she pulled out her binder and began reviewing her idea book. It was a fascination that lasted as she grew older and became a reality in her adult years.
She always knew what she wanted.
I am not that woman.
When I was ten years old I sat my parents down and, in all seriousness, broke the news that they would not be getting any grandchildren from me. I told them I might not even get married. If I did I would be AT LEAST 30 (which seemed very old to me at the time). They were flummoxed but then, I was a wierd kid, so they decided to take it in stride and didn't argue with me. They just said okay and I felt satisfied with myself for being so responsible and breaking the news to them early.
Evidently I've changed my mind about a few things over the years. But understand: All my parents (biological and step) have been married more than once. One has been married three times. All but two of my Aunts and Uncles (I have many) have been through a divorce. The vast majority of my childhood friends' parents were divorced.
I had no reason to think marriage was a good idea.
So I never thought about a dress or what colors I would use. I never watched Disney movies and imagined my own princess wedding. Father of the Bride didn't make me weepy. I never got weak-kneed hearing a romantic proposal story (I did get nauseated once or twice). When friends have gotten married I have participated in their weddings and been supportive and kept my cynicism to myself. It's not that I didn't believe in love. LOVE I understand. But wanting someone to be in your house all the time (ew) and never go away and then trusting that once you grow accustommed to this arrangement, that person will actually continue to STAY? Totally bizarre to me.
As you now know, however, the most improbable thing has happened. I am getting married.
My focus is on the marriage - my future with the man I love, forming a strong partnership that will last the test of time and my joy at finally finding someone who I genuinely believe I won't mind spending my days with when I'm 90 and it's just too much trouble to shuffle into another room (I think this is a vital characteristic in a life partner). This will, however, involve there being a wedding. I mean, I COULD skip that part, but since I'm actually pleased about the marriage - a celebration does seem to be in order.
I will have to start from the ground up.
I never gave any of this a second thought. So I'm not walking in with a rough blueprint in place like so many other women seem to. I don't have years of secretly thumbing through copies of Modern Bride at the grocery store and drooling over movie weddings under my belt in order to prepare me for this. The only thing I knew at all was that the shoes would have to be awesome because, you know, I LOVE SHOES.
I am finding that bridal magazines kind of freak me out. They tend to focus on large productions and I know that I don't want a wedding circus. No drowning in fluffy white taffeta and tulle while being surrounded by people I won't remember in 30 years and freaking out over children sticking their hands in the cake and running myself so ragged that I don't remember most of it later. There are these massive lists in the books and magazines of the 50 million THINGS YOU MUST DO 12 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING OR THE SKY WILL FALL AND YOU WILL NOT GET MARRIED. The average wedding in the U.S. today costs upwards of $28,000. It just sounds like such an ordeal if you try to play by these rules (and, you know, I don't have $28,000). I mean, I just don't care if everyone's names appear in the right order and I know there are not 150 people in my life right now who need to be a part of my wedding day. There just aren't.
So if I talk about the process here at dameonline, it will be in the context of how one approaches the wedding planing when one tends not be be the traditional sort. Or the fairy princess sort. Or the sort to obey the laws of etiquette when writing an invitation... Basically when one is more mindful of the marriage than the party. And during the process, of course, I will be certain to share any wacky hijinks. Because EVERYONE loves wacky hijinks. Even if they don't love weddings.
By some bizarre coincidence, Alexandra Billings put up a post about her relationship with HER father today and it just laid me out. Clearly, I already had this subject on my mind and I am just in tears now.
The relationship between a father and daughter is an important and compelling one. If it's not a positive relationship, it's impact tends to echo throughout your life. If it IS a positive relationship, the kind of bond that exists there often surpasses almost all others and creates a connection felt your entire life.
He's the first man in your life. As a woman, that relationship often effects how you feel about men when you reach adulthood. In a world where the war of the sexes rages on and feminism is still often still treated like a negative concept, a dirty word, your father is responsible for protecting you and being the first man to see your value and to acknowledge your potential. It's a big responsibility. From your first day in kindergarten when your pigtail gets pulled or the first time at recess when the boys won't let you play - the male of the species becomes far more complicated. If you are lucky, however, it starts out simple - with the unconditional love of one man.
I was my father's first child. I look just like him. Same hair, same jawline, same eyes and the same pale papery-thin skin. Same strong, gregarious personality, same pragmatism, same sarcastic sense of humor and love of the written word. From day one we've been crazy about each other. We've both made mistakes over the years. We've failed each other, but more often than that we've come through for each other. It was hard learning that he was human. Harder learning that he couldn't always live up to the standards he had raised me to maintain. In time I learned to accept him as a fallible man instead of looking for the return of the god of my childhood. Whatever mistakes he made, however many years we spent apart, whatever changes the years brought in us - he gave me my base in life. I always knew he thought I was beautiful and that I was loved by him. I knew what was right and what was wrong because my father told me these things. I grew up with this powerful sense of honor and heritage because of his influence. He is imperfect. He finds it difficult to talk about emotional matters. He is tremendously intelligent. He is more widely respected than almost anyone of my personal aquaintance. Later in his life, he is still full of dreams and plans. He is a part of who I am and an aspect of what I want to be. Obviously, I'm still crazy about him.
When I was 15, I made him a mix tape. I spent months on it; aquiring the songs I needed, arranging and rearranging them, working on the hand drawn art for the case. The songs were about fathers and their children. About love and being loved for who you are. About everything my father meant to me. I gave it to him and he was quiet. He thanked me. He kind of smiled and looked unsure what to say. He said he'd listen to it when he had the chance.
Years later he told me that he kept the tape in his top desk drawer wherever he went, whenever he moved. He kept it in a drawer and just looked at it. For three years. He said he knew it would be emotional for him. He liked just having it. He wasn't sure he was ready to listen to it. He never told me what made him finally listen to it, but almost three years later (which would have been just after I left home), he told me that he had listened to it for the first time.
Loudon Wainwright III has a sweet song that - for me - captures the magic of the father/daughter relationship in a beautiful way. And I cry every time I listen to it. In a good way.
Everything she sees she says she wants. Everything she wants I see she gets.
That's my daughter in the water everything she owns I bought her Everything she owns. That's my daughter in the water, everything she knows I taught her. Everything she knows.
Everything I say she takes to heart. Everything she takes she takes apart.
That's my daughter in the water every time she fell I caught her. Every time she fell. That's my daughter in the water, I lost every time I fought her. I lost every time.
Every time she blinks she strikes somebody blind. Everything she thinks blows her tiny mind. That's my daughter in the water, who'd have ever thought her? Who'd have ever thought? That's my daughter in the water, I lost everytime I fought her Yea, I lost every time.
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