This has been a busy day. Physical therapy and grocery shopping in the morning, then after lunch and dealing with a couple of things for the medical school I went to the downtown library and came away with a ton of reference books. Very soon, I will retreat to the sofa to begin plowing my way through the reference books. My office really isn't that pleasant on summer afternoons. I blame the skylight.
I believe I finally satisfied my chick flick cravings yesterday. I saw Letters to Juliet at the dollar theater, and that was absolutely delightful, exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. I wouldn't classify it as a romantic comedy because although there were some romantic comedy elements, that part of the movie was more of a subplot and something that happened as a byproduct of the other stuff that was happening. It's certainly very romantic, but I'd say more chick flick than a romance, if you want to get into fine distinctions.
It's the story of a magazine fact checker/aspiring writer who goes with her chef fiance to Verona. While he's doing restaurant-related stuff, she explores and discovers "Juliet's secretaries," the women who answer the letters left on the wall below the balcony at the house local legend says was the home of Juliet (of "Romeo and" fame). While helping them collect the letters, she finds one shoved deep in a crack. It was left there more than 50 years ago by a young Englishwoman who'd been studying in Italy and had fallen in love with a local farmboy. Her parents didn't approve of him, and they'd made plans to meet secretly, but she'd chickened out and never went. Our heroine decides to answer this letter, and then is surprised when a couple of days later the woman shows up in Verona, determined to track down her lost love -- much to the dismay of her rather overprotective and very unromantic lawyer grandson. Our heroine tags along on the quest, with the idea that this would make a great article, and watching the way this woman goes boldly toward seeking true love makes her reconsider her own relationship.
There are a number of things I like about this movie. For one thing, Vanessa Redgrave as the older woman seeking her first love is absolutely radiant. There's a real grace about her as she meets all the men who share her love's apparently very common name. Although I'm a big fan of happy endings, I got the feeling during the movie that I'd be okay -- and she'd be okay -- even if she never found him because the experience along the way was worthwhile. She seems to get something lovely out of each encounter. Another think I like was that they avoid a lot of the usual romantic comedy cliches. A lot of films would have had the writer not tell the woman and her grandson that she was writing an article about them, so then there would be the huge sense of betrayal when it came out, and they'd think she was using them, but she was very up front with what she was doing, so they avoided the annoying secret conflict. They don't vilify Mr. Wrong or imply that he did anything wrong. He's just not right for her, and the relationship they have isn't what she wants. Too often, the Mr. Wrong character exists mostly to make Mr. Right look good, but this one is someone I actually liked and sympathized with. And then there's no love vs. career kind of dilemma. In fact, achieving her career goals is part of her finding love because the whole theme of the movie is taking a chance and going after what you want. Finally, it seems like all the character grow, change and learn something from their experiences.
Plus, there was lots of Italian countryside porn and Italian cooking porn. Wouldn't you know, I didn't have ingredients to cook Italian food, so I had to wing it with just doing some garlic in olive oil and tossed with pasta. I don't actually know how to cook real Italian. I just imitate what I've eaten in restaurants. But I checked a book on Italian cooking out of the library, so now I'll start learning. At any rate, I may get this movie on DVD when it comes out because it falls firmly into the "feel-good movie" category, and it's the kind of thing I could watch just to look at the scenery.
The rest of my day out excursion was less successful. I need a new pair of dressy black flats, and the styles currently available are pretty hideous. It's like no one ever tried any of these designs on actual human feet before they went into production. They're cut all out of proportion. I did find a pair of walking shoes on the clearance rack, and they feel so nice and springy that I may even get up early in the morning and take a walk before it gets hot. After the shoe shopping fail, I hit the bookstore, and there I found a fun book on chick flicks, organized by mood, so you can find the right movie whether you want a good cry, a good laugh, a bad boy or a man behaving well. Plus, there are ratings for the various types of hunks and entries on "guy movies pretending to be girl movies." The book's called Cinematherapy and it is rather outdated, going only to the late 90s (probably why it was on clearance), but it's still a lot of fun to read and will be handy for evaluating movies on cable.