Monday, August 20, 2012

You've Got Mail!

I recently re-watched this wonderful film.  Now, when I say that I "re-watched," I feel that this distinction is necessary from just plain old "watching again."  When watching the film, which is of course part of my chic-flick infested DVD library, I felt that I was watching through a new pair of eyes.  It is not that it has been years and years since I watched the film, for I have often caught at least part of it while flipping through the channels.  What made this occasion different, was my purposeful choice in watching the movie from beginning to finish (as is intended by all directors) and the fact that it has been many years since I watched this film religiously.  That's right, this film was part of a large group of films that were not only a regular part of my daily life, but also helped to shape me into who I really am.  For example, my love of coffee, tea, and the cute, quirky shops in which they are sold sprung from the many scenes in which the characters can be seen consuming these products in different venues.  Another prime example would be how I came to decide that daisies are my favorite flower.  Right again, Meg Ryan's character Kathleen Kelly's favorite flower is the daisy.  I will leave off that subject with those two examples, for a whole series of blogs need to be written about how different films have formed most of my opinions and strange hobbies.

The subject that I do want to cover about this freshly experienced viewing of  You've Got Mail! is how my interpretation of its message and its beauty were completely opposite from what I held to be true prior to today.  When I was religiously watching this film as a teenager, I found the use of technology very interesting and fun.  Greg Kinnear's  character, Frank, seemed hilarious in a way that older generations always seem amusing to the younger.  His nostalgia surrounding his obsessive purchases of typewriters seemed silly and his refusal of embracing any technology that he did not understand, stubborn.  Now that I live in a world where communication has taken an irrevocable turn toward technology reliant mediums, I have more sympathy for Frank's hypocritical stance of accepting an electric-run typewriter but not a laptop.  As our world gets further and further away from reality and stretching into the seemingly endless world of virtual reality, I have those same fears of the ever-changing new devices and obsessions of technologies left behind.  A rotary phone was once an  unimaginably wonderful convenience, but today a phone that you have to physically dial numbers and can't generate pick-up lines at the same time seems like something that could never be considered convenient at all.  With this viewing of the film, I have indeed discovered its true conundrum.  The main them of the story-line is a stream of emails between two strangers and the giggly talk of all the inappropriateness of chat-rooms, messaging, and the like.  Within that story, however, the main characters are booksellers.  Granted at the time of the film's release, the "world wide web," as it was still commonly called, was just in its infancy.  With the nooks, tablets, pdf files, and every other electronic form of information, literature, news, and commentary that can be ascertained in this day and age, it is a more ironic story.  I am sure that you are thinking that even this blog is hypocritical, for it is after-all a blog, and that is unfortunately true.  But this medium is the only way that I could have more than my boyfriend read this message (though there is still that risk).  Hypocrisy or no, this film highlights a struggle that I feel many people experience with the emerging technological world, whether to embrace the convenience or worry about facing the consequences of it.

Beyond the scary innuendoes about the technological world, this film has a beauty to it that I never before completely comprehended.  Sure, in the past I thought the witty comments emailed back and forth were cute and humorous.  As I watched the film on this occasion, however, I realized the poetry in the words.  Tom Hank's character, Joe Fox, particularly seems to have this gift with his poetic descriptions of New York in the fall, bagel dust on the streets, and the wonderful decision making process of ordering coffee at Starbucks.  This film is filled with more beauty because of its ability to make you create things with your own imagination in a way only a book requires.  The viewer is never shown a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils delivered to Kathleen, but I am sure that we all imagined what they would look, smell, and feel like.  Beauty also lies in what the camera does show you.  There are many incredibly magnificent scenic shots throughout the city and in the sets.  From the fall leaves, the view across the river to NJ, bagel dust, and great wood paneled rooms, offices, and stores this film shows the beauty of New York City in a way that is untouched by the chaos, noise, technology, or hustle and bustle.

If anything, this last viewing of You've Got Mail! assured me that it belongs not just in my DVD library, but in all film libraries for it can entertain as a cute and simple story, but underneath has something more special to say.

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