Maybe I’m getting old, and I am definitely sentimental … but they sure don’t make movies like they used to.
Since I became single again over 3 years ago, I had been avoiding rom-coms like the plague, probably because, it would have been too painful to watch them alone. It was definitely easier to bury oneself in mind-numbing action flicks, gripping dramas, inspiring and thought provoking biopics and fluffy slap-stick comedy.
Well, I decided to watch “You’ve Got Mail” (1998) tonight and it was 2 hours of cinematic magic and chirpy story-telling all over again and yet, also bittersweet memories. New York’s west side captured forever in the more innocent pre-911 mid 1990s, retro soundtrack (even for that time period), a younger and simpler Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, and early-ish Internet technology (remember AOL and the sound of dial up internet?) as the setting for a light re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. And oh, a quintessentally indie-bookstore as the backdrop – I could almost smell the books and the bouquet of newly sharpened pencils that Joe Fox would have sent to Shopgirl if he knew her name and address (did I ever mention that I love the smell of stationery and books, especially pencils?).
And intertwined with the movie’s story was my own memories, of a simpler and happier time watching it in love and loved and a quiet acceptance of my present. And my personal stories infused the movie with an old-worldliness for me that was like the smell of aged oak – deeply comforting and familiar, like an old friend I had lost touch with and now found again and yet tinged with a feeling of time that has passed that cannot be relived.
So, maybe it’s not that they don’t make movies like they used to anymore…maybe they can’t ever. Just like wine (well, many wines, not all) when aged become uniquely richer and deeper based on the environment where they have been stored, perhaps movies (and again, many movies, but not all) take on layers of sentimentality as they are imbued with the audience’s history at the time – memories of smells, sounds, sights, tastes and touch that accent the movie in a way that no producer, director, nor actor could inflect. Their blended memories live on, just like it did for The Shop Around the Corner – fondly remembered long after the shutters have come down for the last time.