When Harry Met Sally (6/30/12)

When Harry Met SallyMovie One Hundred Fifty Two

When Harry Met Sally chronicles the relationship between two people that meet in college and bump into each other for over the next 10 years.

In 1977 Sally (Meg Ryan) travels to New York after graduating from the University of Chicago and rides with her best friend’s boyfriend, Harry (Billy Crystal). Over the course of the long ride, the two talk and find their personalities clash heavily after Harry mentions that men and women cannot be friends due to the attraction. Sally drops Harry off. Five years later at an airport, they randomly run into each other again when Sally is dating a colleague of Harry’s and Harry is happily married. After another five year span, the two are newly single and meet again in a bookstore and decide to try becoming friends, despite Harry’s rule about men and women having friendships.

When writer Nora Ephron passed away recently I was, of course, familiar with her work but could not say I had seen much of it. When my wife realized this she made me watch When Harry Met Sally as soon as possible. While I had an idea of what I was in store for, I was left very pleasantly surprised. Normally, romantic comedies cause my brain to shut off after repeated eye-rolling but When Harry Met Sally is legitimately funny and believable. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal have fantastic onscreen chemistry as well.

The famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally in the diner is widely recognized. In fact, that’s really the only specific part of the film I knew about. There are many small parts, mostly lines of Crystal’s that make the film deep, though. Part of that depth I will attribute to director, Rob Reiner, but the bulk of the proper dues belong to Ephron, who was truly a talented writer.

A common pitfall I’ve noticed with rom-coms are their adherence to the times and places they occur in. When Harry Met Sally doesn’t quite fall into this trap, other than the fashion, but it comes close. I do fear that in another 20+ years the film may not have the fine edge it has now, but that’s all the more reason to see When Harry Met Sally sooner, rather than later.

I give it 4 I kind of liked the coffee tables out of 5.

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Ebertfest Day One – Joe Vs. The Volcano

Joe Versus the VolcanoLast night kicked off Ebertfest 2012 and we saw Joe Versus the Volcano, one of Roger Ebert’s favorites. The movie itself is a zany romantic comedy that is surprisingly funny. We meet Joe Banks (Tom Hanks), who works at a miserable job and has suffered from not feeling well for years. He goes to see a doctor who tells him he is dying of a brain cloud. Joe is then confronted by a wealthy businessman (Lloyd Bridges) that tells Joe he needs to jump in a volcano in the South Pacific to gain the trust, and natural resources, of the island.

Along the way, Joe has contact with three different woman all of whom are played by Meg Ryan. Meg and Tom Hanks are so wonderful together on screen and watching them is simply a joy. Joe Versus the Volcano switches tones and visual cues often, but in the context of the whole pictures it works wonderfully.

It’s a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously but I think it is definitely worth watching. Joe Versus the Volcano was a great way to start the festival given its lighthearted nature and it was truly a joy to see it on the big screen.

After the movie, we were introduced to the director of photography on Joe Versus the Volcano, Stephen Goldblatt, who has most recently done the cinematography on The Help. The moderator for the discussion was Christy Lemire, who you might recognize as a host from Ebert Presents: At the Movies. Also joining was Brazilian film critic, Pablo Villaca.

The discussion was interesting and spanned Goldblatt’s career in the movie industry. We were enlightened on some of the tougher shots to achieve in Joe Versus the Volcano and also Angels in America. It wasn’t so in-depth that it was confusing, it was relatively light on technical terms but still quite informative.

As for Joe Versus the Volcano

I give it 4 viewings of the moon from a raft out of 5.

Some interesting Ebertfest links:

The festival’s main site: http://www.ebertfest.com/
Stream the interview sessions for free: http://ustre.am/JauL

If you’d like more info, please follow me on Twitter @WatchesMovies

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