You don’t have to like romance or comedy.  You don’t have to love the movies this woman sent forth into the world.  But you do have to acknowledge their place in our cultural landscape.

Comedy is hard.  Romantic comedy, more so.

This week we lost a romantic comedy legend when Nora Ephron died.  So we celebrate her by remembering her work; the drama, the truth and the romance.  Let’s face it.  It takes an amazing person to write something as powerful as Silkwood, follow it up with something as personal as Heartburn and as iconic as When Harry Met Sally…

But then she came from a strong writing background given that her parents, Phoebe and Henry Ephron, wrote a truly classic romantic comedy (and one of my personal favorites) – Desk Set with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

Maybe our society has moved past the syrupy sweet romance of Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail but in their time and place they were the fluffy bubblegum of choice.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Without further ado, here is this week’s film list:

1.  Silkwood (1983)
2.  When Harry Met Sally…(1989)
3.  Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Additional Films:

4.  Heartburn (1986)
5.  Michael (1996)
6.  Julie & Julia (2009)

Bonus Film:

Desk Set (1957)

Discussion Questions:

1.  What do you like about romantic comedies?
2.  What do you hate about romantic comedies?
3.  Do you think that writers who direct their own work do a better job that a separate writer and director or are they too close to the material to make difficult judgment calls for the betterment of the picture?

James Bond.  A name that immediately evokes a drink order “martini, shaken, not stirred” and the image of a beautiful but disposable woman.  A single spy that spans decades.  A library of books and a whole catalog of films.

Bond started as the brain child of Ian Fleming.  Fleming’s life is worthy of a novel or film.  Oh wait – they did make a movie out of it… Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming.  On top of all the crazy things that happened in his life AND being the creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming wrote the novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Yes, it was a book first.

He wrote the first Bond book, Casino Royale, in 1953.  It was a sensation in England but not for any reason you would think of today.  In 1953, England was just coming out of the food rationing from World War II.  So to have a story where the hero traveled freely and ate an avocado pear… that was the end all be all in escapism.

All told there are about 13 books and a collection of short story.  The movies over took the books long ago.  There are 22, soon to be 23 official films with six men playing Bond.

It’s always been my feeling that the first man you see playing Bond will always typify Bond for you.  But the default is always Sean Connery.  That being said, Ian Fleming said that George Lazenby was the closest to the character he wrote in his novels.

One last note before we get to the movies.  The martini.  For the love of all that is holy do NOT order a martini shaken.  You stir a martini so as not to ‘bruise’ the alcohol.  The only reason you would want to shake a martini is if you were using very old school potato vodka that needed to be shaken so that the oils dispersed.  Since we don’t drink potato vodka anymore, there is no need to order your martini this way.

And now … this week’s film list:

1. Dr. No (1962) – Sean Connery
2. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – George Lazenby
3. Live and Let Die (1973) – Roger Moore
4. License to Kill (1989) – Timothy Dalton
5. GoldenEye (1995) – Pierce Brosnan
6. Casino Royale (2006) – Daniel Craig

Additional Films:
Pick a Bond

Discussion Questions:
1. Who is your favorite Bond and why?
2. Given changes in world politics, is there still a place for James Bond at the table?  Why or why not?
3. This is a film series that has spanned 50 years.  How well do you think it has fared over all that time?