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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rest In Peace, Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron

I was slightly saddened when I learned of screenwriter director Nora Ephron's passing yesterday right after I woke up. She had been ill with leukemia for a while.

As you may have noticed from my blog posts this year. Often when a filmmaker dies, I find myself pondering the body of work that they have left, and my memories of them.

Growing up, I always had this secret fondness for romantic comedies, a true rom-com sucker. Perhaps it was the type of escapist entertainment that appealed most to a lovelorn soul like me. Suffering so much from a string of heartbreaks and unrequited love, being transported to a fairy tale-like world of a romantic comedy where a man can just win the heart of a woman with persistence, sincerity and genuine love, all those big romantic moments could easily make my heart flutter.

The very first Nora Ephron film I saw was MICHAEL (1996), starring John Travolta, which I didn't know was a Nora Ephron film until I checked her Wikipedia page just now. I saw it in the cinema with my dad, I didn't think much of the film because it had a downer ending which felt inconsistent with the rest of the film. That year John Travolta was in a couple of films, like PHENOMENON and BROKEN ARROW, I preferred these two films much more and remembered MICHAEL as the weakest among the three Travolta film that came out in 1996. I was 12.

3 years later, I saw YOU'VE GOT MAIL (1998) in Los Angeles Las Vegas. It was a Christmas vacation with family. That was, to date, my last trip in the United States of America, I cannot really believe that I haven't been there for 14 years either. (from the age of 7 to 12, I went there almost every other year)

I was quite fond of YOU'VE GOT MAIL, because it transported me to a world where, as long as you've met your soul-mate, it really didn't matter that you have, er, put her out of business. Well, okay, I was probably less cynical then.

The final scene, when SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW played in the background, my heart skipped a beat. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan had so much chemistry.

Ahem, watching it now, my eyes still watered a little. Urgh, I'm such a sap.

But let me move on.

Another few years later, on the night of a lonely Valentine's Day, towards the end of my high school years or the beginning of my college years (I cannot remember which) when I popped in the DVD of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989), which was written by Ephron. Through the course of the film, I found myself very emotionally invested in the Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) characters.

Most people remember it for its hilarious fake orgasm scene.

Me, again, I was elevated by its ending.

It's almost a little tragic, for a hopeless romantic to watch a romantic comedy, hoping that in reality, such heartfelt confessions of love can actually yield something in return. But they usually don't happen.

I wish I could write about SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (1993), which I watched only once, shortly after WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, but my memories of it are very vague. I remember some very affecting moments, but somehow I could never forget WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.

Therefore, I cannot deny the fact that some of her works had given me quite a lot of fond memories, and this is a feeling that I will miss.