SieffstarI love movies.

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Jessica Sieff: A nod to the lucky to be nominated

Published 11:53am Thursday, February 4, 2010

I love everything about them.

I love them because movies are real. They’re realer than real stuff, if you ask me.
It’s movie time. Time for me to forget about the fact that we live in a real world of poverty and grudge matches and nonsense. Time for poverty and disasters and grudge matches to be sewn up with solutions by really pretty people in just about two hours. Unless you’re James Cameron. Then it’s three and a half hours.

With several award shows down, all that remains is the Academy Awards and that’s something that can get a person like me to quit thinking about anything else. Which is nice. Probably for you, too.

No complaining this week, thanks to nominations for Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and their films “The Blind Side” and “Up in the Air” and Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious” and of course, the wonderfully touching animated film “Up.”

I’m pretty much happy with them all. I love movie time. The awards, the red carpets, the god-awful dresses.

I can relate just about anything in life to a movie. The first one I remember seeing was E.T. And I cried so hard in the theater, my mother had to take me out of it. I couldn’t help it. Those men in the white Hazmat suits scared the dickens out of me.

I grew up thinking the most amazing thing in the world would be to ride a bike across the sky. Thinking anything was possible.

The Hazmat men would always remain, the scene to send me ducking under the covers, so riddled with fear that I could feel my insides pulling and I’d let out a squeal or a yelp for my mother or my father.

When the days get long and I can feel headaches beginning to form in my temples, stretching out to the back of my neck, I try to close my eyes and think of a film adaptation to life, the right soundtrack, the right script.

No jobs in America? I close my eyes and there’s Sally Field her face pressed down hard, holding her “union” sign up into the air as Norma Rae, reminding me what determination and triumph looks like.

Trouble in the capital? If the president were Michael Douglas or Harrison Ford, there’d be no trouble at all.

Real men live in the movies. Real men are Cary Grant, John Wayne and George Clooney. They don’t rely solely on a woman to be their only source of being. They carry themselves, carry the picture and carry their characters’ heart all in a nice leather attache with a glass of scotch, neat in their hand.

Real women live in the movies. Real women are Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Meryl Streep. They slip a joke in as sharp as one of those knives you buy on television and play their characters with a softness that is not silly or contrived.

When I’m craving one of those stories you just don’t want to stop working on, I’m jumping aboard “Almost Famous,” writing for Rolling Stone magazine and following rock stars through the 70s.

When I’m evaluating my friendships, the prescription is “The Big Chill.”

When I want to escape, I crave anything that has Cate Blanchett or Keira Knightly or Dame Judi Dench playing old English royalty, or I jump into a world that’s not my own, visiting the foreign beauty and poignancy of “Amelie” or “Cinema Paradiso.”

When the heart aches: “Pride and Prejudice” – the Keira Knightly version – or “When Harry Met Sally.”

“The movies aren’t real,” people will say. “Life isn’t like that.”

And in that moment, I always feel I know the secret. That if you dig beneath the darkened theater and the buckets of overpriced and over-caloried popcorn, past the makeup on George Clooney’s face and the lighting and the scenery and the set design, the costume and the music … if you keep digging right down to the table, read all the way to the script before it was finished, being typed up on a computer or scribbled out by hand by a writer at his or her desk … those grand ideas that make the movies seem so wondrous start out in the mind of a writer.

A real person who really sees the world with all that magic. Who can take those scenes, where true love does conquer all and men and women are funny, sexy and not abhorrently annoying, where the bad guys always fall to the good guys, where somehow there’s always a realization and a moment of introspection and then a wild sense of understanding of the world – and they can put all of that on a screen for all to see.

All of those ideas, the thoughts and the moments that move you to tears, to a heart all a flutter, to anger or reflection – they live and breathe in someone who just happened to put it on paper.

And if it can live and breathe in one person, it can do so in others.

So the next time something feels out of reach or unbelievable. The answer is: pop a bag of popcorn, find the appropriate title and remember that all things are possible. The right film never fails.

Here’s to the Oscars.

And here’s to Harrison “Get off my Plane” Ford for president in 2012.

Jessica Sieff is a reporter for the Niles Daily Star. Reach her at

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