By twhalliii | THE BACK ROW MANIFESTO by Tom Hall September 22, 2004 at 8:11AM
It's that time of the year, and I couldn't be more excited. Fall is my favorite season. The chill just licks the edge of the air, the sweaters begin to come out of hibernation, and nature slowly descends into its annual sleep. The fall for me is a calm, beautiful season of change and a time to reflect on my own life, its losses and possibilities. I'll admit, fall probably inspires me to sentimentality, especially when I begin to miss people who are no longer in my life. But that's ok. There is no more introspective season, and I welcome the opportunity to bundle up, feel the tip of my nose go cold, and remember.
In celebration of my favorite season, here are some films that are perfect for chilly fall evenings. I suggest a long home-cooked dinner, a delicious bottle of wine, and a warm blanket to wrap around your legs or, if you're lucky, someone kissable.
1. Late August/Early September by Olivier Assayas. In my opinion, a beautifully optimistic view of human mortality and the cycles of life. That Assayas pulls it off with gorgeous handheld camera work is a testament to the director's mastery with his actors and the camera. François Cluzet plays Adrien, a somewhat successful writer who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease that forces his friend Gabriel (Matthieu Amalric) to examine his loyalty and to confront his own mortality. The film focuses on change and loss, and in the final moments, hope is restored. A must see. 2. Manhattan by Woody Allen Essentially a film for all seasons, Manhattan is my favorite Woody Allen movie. Aside from being a great meditation on morality among the self-centered 1970's urban educated set, the film is a beautifully filmed document of the city I live in and love dearly. The romantic encounters, in restaurants, parks, apartments-- peppered with very grown up conversations and the neuroses of New Yorkers-- feel more real to me every year. The film is about the moral legacy of its characters-- what will be left of us when we're gone? Of course, these questions are couched in a wildy unbeliveable relationship bewteen Issac (Allen) and Tracy (a stunning 17 year old Mariel Hemmingway... hello, foreshadowing of real life!) that earns its credibility by allowing Tracy to be the wiser of the characters. When Issac pursues his friend's former mistress, Mary (Diane Keaton), the film confronts issues of personal responsibility and happiness. It's gorgeous and, in my opinion, one of the best romances of all time. 3. The Apartment by Billy Wilder. As perfect and overlooked as a film can be. The Apartment won the 1960 Academy Award for Best Picture and I have a hard time finding anyone my age who has seen it. Maybe I just don't socialize well enough, but if you haven't seen the film, fall is a great time to watch it. Jack Lemmon is charming as C.C. Baxter, an insurance company lackey who allows his superiors to entertain their mistresses in his bachelor apartment on the Upper West Side. When he falls in love with Miss Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine), things get complicated and, surprisingly, dark. The film almost feels like a sentimental noir, a romantic comedy bordering on the edge of mortality and alienation. The writing is head and shoulders above most romances, and the surprises abound. The perfect film for a late autumn couch. 4. The Nightmare Before Christmas by Henry Selik. No movie sends me into the joyous rapture of arrested adolesence like The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film is a tour de force of music, animation, and seasonal slapstick, and Danny Elfman's songs are some of the finest written for a film musical. I am shocked that this has not been translated into a Broadway play, because the show could be spectacular and the music stands head and shoulders above most. Either way, the film is a riot and fills me with anticipation for the holidays.