Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron - In Memoriam

Still from the infamous Katz's Deli scene in When Harry Met Sally, if you haven't seen it then shame on you sir. (I say sir because every ma'am on this planet has most definitely watched that movie).
When I first started writing, short stories and mini-plays about god knows what...anything, there was one person who I wanted to be exactly like. That was Nora Ephron. The woman who wrote cinema's most famous deli scene, wrote two Academy Award nominated performances for Meryl Streep, and for three decades had the market cornered on romantic comedies and dramadies.
It breaks my heart to hear that she died today, because so much of my childhood was learning how to speak, feel, and be as a woman the way that Nora wrote them. She was eponymous of dry, witty humor, and plenty of heart, and wrote both sexes down as if she had them completely pegged, and she did. What really was appealing about her from my point of view was just how fearless she was. She was a screenwriter at a time when the movie business was very much a man's world, particularly behind the cameras. A woman screenwriter? who'd have thunk? Nora did, and she really did pave the way. And everyone knew to take her seriously after the landmark romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally (1989) came out and Nora ripped the sheets clean off the sex-relationship table and gave 'I'll have what she's having' a permanent place in perfect joke history.
To be such a trailblazer couldn't have been easy, but Nora remained at the top of her game all throughout her career, and we never lost sight of just how insightful, bright, and brilliant she was when it came to the challenges, however awkward and comic, that we all face in our stupid relationships.
Though many people didn't enjoy it, and by 'many people' I mean the pretentious critics at the Village Voice who turned up their noses at a lighthearted and sweet-as-fuck romantic comedy, but I thoroughly loved Julie and Julia (2009), Nora's last film. For a film basically sans plot, it was still interesting, unique, and fun to watch, which is a gift that only a rare few have, Nora being one of them. As a writer, she's up there with the likes of Anais Nin, Margaret Mitchell, and what the hell, Emily Dickinson. She was truly an original, and the screenwriting/directing world is lesser because of her loss. But we'll always have her legacy tainted in the films she wrote straight from her heart (as corny as that sounds), because she always remained true to herself, and always completely and utterly fearless, and for teaching me at a very young age that men are literally the dumbest species on earth, an invaluable lesson, I say thank you.

Below are some clips of the gifts of blissful moments Nora left in her films: 

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