Move it on Down the Road

I have successfully made the move from San Francisco to Salt Lake City, Utah. While I’m familiar with Salt Lake (having grown up in Utah), I’m still missing the accessibility and strangeness of SF. Hells Angels bums, bearded ladies, and drag queens are hard to come by here. So I’ve compiled a list of films that I use to get me through big moves like this. Full of nostalgia – in both the films and my relationships to the films – watching these movies has a peaceful effect on me.

5. The Cider House Rules – Not a great movie, but still a good movie. Lasse Hallstrom is characteristically dogmatic, and Tobey Maguire is obviously adorable. When Homer leaves the orphanage your heart breaks for Buster (Kieran Culkin), his younger best friend, who is left behind, and Wilbur (Michael Caine) the doctor who has taken Homer under his wing. While corespondence is dutifully kept, Homer’s new life seems permanent and necessarily complicated. Moving on is an evil here, but one which must be braved.

4. Ghost World – After graduating, Enid and Rebecca attempt to remain as close as they were in high school, but this movie shows how hard keeping those childhood relationships can be. This one reminds me of home and best friends. Enid and Rebecca’s conversation about drinking milk in the diner strikes close to home, and whenever I need to be reminded of what I’m missing I return to Ghost World.

3. The Royal Tenenbaums – Sometimes it is the return home that needs exploring, providing us with answers we didn’t know we were looking for. Here all the disgruntled, depressed, and unstable children return to their mother’s wing, looking for the stable female characters Anderson tends to employ. Not only in the film well-structured and hilarious, but everything about it screams “comforting.” From the use of color to the careful attention to art design, it seems like this movie is centered on the idea of home and, more importantly, homey-ness.

2. Days of Heaven – Not the most comfortable movie about leaving home, but definitely one of the most visually pleasing. The cinematography paired with the voice-over, improvised dialogue of a little girl moving across the country with her big brother and his girlfriend make this movie really easy and beautiful to watch. Plus, it reminds you that things could always be worse.

1. Lost in Translation – This is a great movie. But my attachment to it is more on a personal level than a technical one. I saw this movie in the middle of a parade that couldn’t be avoided in downtown Paris. Having just arrived to the city a few weeks earlier I was feeling out of place and homesick. Lost in Translation reminded me of what a common experience that is and how helpful a familiar face can be in these situations. I watch it every time I move.

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6 Comments

Filed under Whitney

6 responses to “Move it on Down the Road

  1. When I moved to San Francisco, the first things I had sent to me (before I even had a TV) were my copies of Lost in Translation, Royal Tenenbaums, and Days of Heaven. Well… those plus Airborne and Seven Samurai, which I had actually brought with me in my suitcase. It’s amazing how much certain movies can put you at ease.

  2. Fox

    I love this post about comfort films. I had the same thing when I went off to college, away from home for the first time. I got homesick so I watched Annie Hall, Rushmore, and The Graduate obsessively.

  3. I’ll add Garden State to the list. I know it’s variably too loved or too hated, but despite by not ever living anywhere near New Jersey, it gives me that homey feeling. Anything by Wes Anderson works, too (as is noted).

  4. Keith – did you find that SF quickly became home? I know it’s a big city, but things are so divided into neighborhoods (I rarely left the castro, sunset, haight areas) that you seem to constantly run into people you know and quickly develop relationships with the local non-english speaking produce lady.

    Fox – All three of those movies do it for me, too. Along with All the Real Girls…but I was trying to keep it to movies about moving specifically. Movies are just too important to me to only have five comforting ones.

    Fletch – Garden State is rough for me. I think it started because I normally have a giant crush on Natalie Portman and then she says that line about the Shins…then I started to be just anti-sap in general. But I think you’re right about it being “homey.” It’s another one of those familiar, warm colors feeling films.

  5. Yeah, SF was home for me almost instantaneously… even before I found a place to live, I think. And I totally became friends with all the little old Chinese ladies I saw at the bus stop every morning, which helped considerably. I love it when old ladies call me “handsome,” or comment on my “pretty hair.” Makes me feel like I’m constantly surrounded by well-wishing grandmothers.

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