Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking for Nora Ephron

 by Maria Geraci

Whenever I think of transitions, I immediately think of Fall, that most wonderful of all seasons,--the time when the weather starts to cool off, pumpkins start popping up on the lawns of local churches, everyone gets caught up in college football and the stores deck out in Halloween gear (which we know will immediately come down November 1 to make way for Christmas).

But transitions also make me think of something else. Or rather, someone else. I think of Nora Ephron and how her films were such a visual tribute to the whole concept of transition, that flow from one state to another.

We all know that every good story is about change. You take a protagonist, give him/her a goal, toss a lot of conflict his/her way, and watch them struggle to overcome the conflict, which leads to the character's growth and an ultimate payoff. I can't think of anyone who did this better in the realm of women's films than Ms. Ephron.

Visually stunning and full of spot-on dialogue, I have to say I think the 1998 romantic comedy You've Got Mail is my favorite of her films. I could mute my tv and without hearing a word, I'd still get it. Not only do her characters transition, you see the city of New York transition through the seasons. Everything in the film is there to serve a purpose--to layer theme throughout.

Who can forget this Tom Hanks line from You've Got Mail?

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

Would I sound ridiculous if I told you that one line inspired me to be a writer? That one line, so perfect in it's simplicity has stayed with me for years. I want to write lines that stay with people for years. Don't you?

When I heard Nora Ephron had passed away, my first thought was a selfish one. Who's going to make the films I love so much now? Who's going to step up to the plate and deliver? I don't know about you, but I'm still waiting.

What are your favorite Nora films? Any great quotes you love? Here a few more of mine:

" I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible."  When Harry Met Sally

" Tell me what was so special about your wife?"
"Well, how long is your program? Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together... and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home... only to no home I'd ever known... I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like... magic."
Sleepless in Seattle

And probably my most favorite line of all: (and yes, it's from You've Got Mail)

"It wasn't... personal." 
"What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's *personal* to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway?"




Maria Geraci writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was released August, 2012 by Berkley, Penguin USA. For more information, please visit her website at www.mariageraci.com

19 comments:

  1. I love this post, Maria! I'll admit, I've probably seen each of the movies at least 15 times, maybe more. Nora may be gone, but she will never be forgotten. "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." That is the best!

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    1. Jilian, that line makes me smile every time:) Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Great post, full of reminders of great lines! I'm sad now, though -- I didn't realize Nora Ephron had passed away. Her unique take on the everyman dilemmas of life will be missed.

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    1. Sherri, Nora passed away this past June. A very sad day for all of us.

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  3. Heartburn inspired me (the book, not the movie). I remember the main character thinking her husband would never leave her because she made the best vinaigrette ever.

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  4. Hey, Maria, as always a wonderful and inspiring post--this coming from someone who was not a huge Nora fan. Of course you have to consider the source, as I unabashedly admit to Apollo 13 and Sweet Home Alabama being my go-to movies! But I agree, whatever your cup of tea, it is great storytelling that inspires writers to write!

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    1. Oh, and Lost in Translation, because every time I watch it, I find another layer that I never saw before!

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    2. Thanks, Laura! I too, admit to loving Apollo 13 and SHA. Josh Lucas... sigh :)

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  5. Okay, funny story. Years ago, I was working on a book and I wrote this great line. A line so great, I got chills. A line so good I nearly cried. And then I immediately got suspicious, because I don't usually write great lines easily. So I flagged it and went on, but for weeks it bugged because I was sure it had to be a great line from a movie and not something *I'd* written. So one day at critique I read it to my cp and she says, "Is that from Sleepless in Seattle?"
    And it totally was. It was the "It was like going home, only to no home I'd ever known."
    The funny this is, I'd only seen the movie once and it had been years earlier. That's how good that line is. I heard it once and it lodged into my brain as the best description of falling in love. And to this day, I still think it's the best description of falling in love. Ever. It's like going home to the home we yearn for our entire lives.
    Great post!

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    1. Hi Emily, that's a great story:) And I know what you mean about great lines because we're so exposed to so many other mediums and it's like "Did I really write that?" I love Sleepless in Seattle. So romantic. I wish I'd written it!

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  6. Oh, Maria!!
    Let's definitely raise a glass to Nora...
    "When Harry Met Sally" is one of my all-time favorite films. I *love* it. And there are SO many lines that I find myself quoting from it, like "You're right, you're right, I know you're right" and wanting to sing "Surrey with a Fringe on Top" :).

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    1. And lets not forget all those adorable "interviews" they do throughout the film asking couples how they met and fall in love. So cute and original for its time :)

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  7. I've enjoyed all of these films, with "Sleepless" being a slight favorite. For me, part of their power comes from the fact they last through many viewings over the years. They're just as fresh and amusing and meaningful now as they were the first time I saw them.

    Malcolm

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    1. So true, Malcolm. Thank you for commenting!

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  8. Weirdly, though not weird at all I guess, I've had these same "who's going to be Norah Ephron now?" thoughts myself. Her stories were like a pair of flannel pajamas - a cozy treat. She was the queen of enchanting one liners. She validated the way I feel about my neck, lol. Ironically, Norah died two days after my own mother passed away. I actually found meaning in that. Norah left a torch. One of us needs to find it and run with it. Thanks for this post!

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    1. Karen, maybe great minds think alike, heh?

      I'm so sorry about your mother. One of the things Nora did so well was her trademark humor and her lovely view of the world. She always left me feeling good and that's exactly what I want for my own readers. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

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  9. Thank you for the lovely trip down Nora's Memory Lane of Movie Lines.

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  10. Love this post! My favourite of hers is also You've Got Mail :)

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