A few more movies worth a nostalgic look

My wife and I rented few new releases and enjoyed them, but felt nostalgic about some older movies. “Gone Girl” was good, but the characters were not very redeeming. “Interstellar” was good for the relationship between father and daughter, but was on the bizarre side toward the end. Of the three, we did enjoy “Wild” the most with Reece Witherspoon hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself, but Laura Dern helps the movie greatly in flash backs as her mother.

I was thinking about some older movies that may be under the radar screen on searches for movies, but offer a sense of nostalgia as well as coming of age. So, in no particular order:

Breaking Away – made in 1979 and won an Oscar for best screenplay. Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Jackie Earle Haley and Daniel Stern star in a movie about four kids who have graduated high school and are trying to find themselves in Bloomington, Indiana where Indiana University is located. Christopher is fascinated by all things Italian as he has become a world-class bicyclist and the Italian team is the best and coming to town. Paul Dooley, as the former stone cutter and now used car salesman, steals many a scene.

Summer of 42 – made in 1971 and won an Oscar for best music score. Jennifer O’Neill, who every boy falls in love with in the movie and audience, Gary Grimes, Jerry Houser star in the movie based on a summer on the Nantucket shore. The boys are coming of age during the onset of WWII and O’Neill’s husband has been deployed. The story is told from Grimes’ character’s perspective looking back at that summer as he discovers love and loss.

American Graffiti – made in 1973 by George Lucas and starring a huge cast of soon to be famous young actors – Richard Dreyfus, Ron Howard (was only known as Opie at that time), Cindy Williams, Paul Le Mat, Mackenzie Phillips, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Bo Hopkins, Candy Clark and Wolfman Jack. It is nostalgic and mirror into a different time as Dreyfus and Howard’s characters are headed off to college the next day. The movie spawned the TV show “Happy Days” which eventually led to “Laverne and Shirley” as a spin-off.

Each of these movies are nostalgic in nature. Kids are coming of age and wondering what it is all about. “Breaking Away” is set in the 1970s, “Summer of 42” is obviously set during the 1940s and “American Graffiti” is at the brink of the 1960s. Kids have not changed in this outlook to discover what is it all about. Today’s kids are more technologically advanced and are seeing a world change at a fast pace, yet they have many of the same questions.

To me, I go back to “Breaking Away” and the father son chat at the end between Christopher and Dooley’s characters. Christopher and his fellow mates have always felt and been put down as “cutters” short for stone cutters. As they walked through IU’s campus, the father notes “we” carved these beautiful stones that made these buildings on campus, but once they were erected, we felt the buildings were too good for us. The son responds “I don’t mind being a cutter.” The Dad says, “You’re not a cutter. I am cutter.” He is telling his son, do not limit yourself by what I accomplished. Go find yourself.

And, that is the best advice for any of us. Go find yourself. That may be why we liked “Wild” the most of the three new movies, as Witherspoon’s character was looking to find the woman her mother knew was always there.


Technology can short change some wonderful experiences

Our civilization has made some incredible advances technology-wise and there are many more yet to come. The power of an iPhone actually exceeds the firepower capacity of the computer on board the Voyager satellite launched so many years ago. Yet, we miss out on some wonderful things by being so connected. Walk with me down the garden path on this one.

I was thinking of a young seventh grade boy I used to be and the excitement of writing notes to young girls in class hoping that said girls would return the favor. We folded them so carefully and gave them our own sense of style. I had this heavy-duty crush on an 8th grade girl named Ginger and no, she was not the one on Gilligan’s Island, embodied in Tina Louise. While she had a 9th grade boyfriend, she was flattered by my crush and wrote notes to me and permitted me to do the same. She even had some of her friends write me as well. This was pretty heady stuff and very exciting for this young boy. Today, that would all be done by text and you would risk being ostracized if texts were routed to the wrong sort.

Also, the nervousness of asking girls out or just calling them for the first time. I remember many times rehearsing my words, hanging up several times before dialing and eventually having the words come out not as planned. I wanted to grab the words as they left my mouth, but it was too late. But, even beforehand, the discovery of whether someone liked you was interesting. I recall my friend Linda would be an ambassador for me and others as she helped discover if a feeling was somewhat mutual between a girl and me. I personally cannot imagine doing this via technology as I wanted this discovery process to be somewhat discreet. Again, I would hate to see my queries broadcast to the world. You would need an even thicker skin today, than when I was full of acne and flying hormones.

I think one of things I relished in was hanging out with best friends or playing some sort of ball, depending on the season – football, basketball, baseball, etc. We are friends to this day and when we last got together, the waitress could not believe we were still talking after three hours. Now, the central theme is hanging out and watching or playing against each other in an electronic game. Mind you, I love that my kids hang out up stairs with their friends and love to hear their laughter, the greatest sound any parent can hear. Yet, I feel conversation, ragging on each other, talking about dreams, sports teams, girls, etc. may get shortchanged in today’s time. It is different to me, which is why I likely don’t see all that is happening. However, the fact there is a gathering and fun is being had, is all that matters.

But, as we walk down the garden path, the biggest drawback is the incessant need to be connected to the electronic world. I have noted before that a communication consultant once told me we are too connected. This causes more stress than it alleviates. There are times I don’t want to hear music or see who emailed, texted or called. I would rather walk down the garden path and listen to the birds sing and squirrels rustle the leaves or smell the flowers and fauna. I want to catch the shadows and sunlight dancing through the trees giving an aura to the proceedings. I want to stop in my tracks by some combination of sights in the woods – an arching path into the deeper shadows with sunlight peaking through above.

Even when you are not in a garden and are walking the avenues, hearing sounds and seeing the sights is invigorating. And, one thing I noticed with technology playing a greater role, is you do not hear people whistling very much anymore. This may not be a surprise, but on occasion I will hum or whistle a tune while I am walking. The stimulus for the song can come from anywhere. But, I don’t hear many others so doing. I think that is a loss. I remember in the building where I first worked, a white-haired gentleman who was unmatched as a whistler. He loved doing it and others appreciated his passion and talent.

Perhaps, I am being overly nostalgic. Maybe I am wishing for spring after all of the snow we have had. For my Australian and other southern hemisphere friends, maybe you are craving a nice autumn day about now. I would love to hear some of your thoughts. What do you recall that brings you joy, that may not be as possible with today’s connectivity. I would love to hear from you.