Nora Ephron, 1941-2012

Hollywood, all of us really, lost a treasure this week as Nora Ephron passed away at the age of 71. She was best known as an essayist, journalist, novelist and screenwriter. She wrote such screenplays as Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally (1989), My Blue Heaven (1990), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), You’ve Got Mail (1998), and Julie and Julia (2009).

Her writing touched her audiences. Her scripts attracted great talents like Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan, Joan Cusack, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Rob Reiner and Tom Hanks. These are all people who use their gifts to make us laugh and cry at virtually the same moment. Her words gave them wings to do it.

What I like best about Nora Ephron, and what I will miss the most, is that she gave a voice to the thoughts and fears and dreams that reside in all real-life relationships. Her characters argue and debate about all of the challenges that we face. They have best friend conversations like we all have, as well as in-depth dating conversations that most of us avoid.

She gave us permission to have far-fetched, fairy-tale dreams about white knights. She showed us what that kind of thing looks like in the real world. She encouraged us all to talk. She showed us how to communicate with the ones we love—or might one day love. She reflected the real world in her movies and sprinkled them with laughter, so that we knew that it’s all right to laugh at ourselves. Though she’s moved on, her films will continue her work. Thank you for that, Nora.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s here, and the pressure’s on. Every woman in any kind of relationship—serious or not—expects their man to suddenly become romantic for this designated 24 hour period. We want roses, chocolates, appropriate gemstones, dinner and some special planned event.

Never mind that dinner reservations are impossible to manage. If you really cared, you’d have thought about that in January. And who cares that the price of roses skyrockets for one week a year? You saved up, right? Tickets to the ballet or symphony are hard to come by? The good news is that a truly romantic movie will serve just as well.

What’s more—the theatres are usually full of love stories right about now. The Vow will certainly be a home run for the seriously love-struck. One for the Money is a fun romp for the more casual couples. Want a tale as old as time? Take your sweetie to Beauty and the Beast. Is your gal a Ryan Reynolds or Denzel Washington fan? You might even get away with the action-packed Safe House.

Girls, do you want to treat your sci-fi loving man? Star Wars: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace 3D is a good bet.

Another lucky break is that this year, Valentine’s falls on a Tuesday. This means that you might be able to have a small celebration on Tuesday evening—such as a home-cooked dinner—and then wait until Friday for a big evening out.

Why is this a good deal? Because This Means War opens on Friday. It’s a romantic comedy done Bourne-style, with guns, cars and explosions. I see this as a win-win for both parties.

What if a night out is simply out of the question? You still have options.

Check out your local video rental or Netflix for some classic romances. Casablanca is nostalgic, witty and the epitome of love’s sacrifice. An Affair to Remember is Cary Grant at his most suave.

If your dear heart enjoys the newer classics, treat her to something like Ghost or Sleepless in Seattle. Titanic is sure to make her misty. The Notebook is a practically a declaration of your undying devotion. Use it wisely.

If none of these titles fits your needs, I have another suggestion for you. Find the video of the first movie you saw together and buy it. Purchase a package or two of your darling’s favorite movie candy, along with some popcorn, and wrap it all up. You can always add a cute teddy wearing 3D glasses or something similar to make it more personalized. This will show your date that you remember important milestones in your relationship.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: only do this if you actually remember your first movie together! Don’t ruin the evening, and potentially much more, by confusing your special gal or guy with someone else. This could be dangerous, as well as sad for everyone involved.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy a wonderful Valentine’s Day!