December 19, 1998

You've Got Mail

Lots of grey, tan, and putty colored clothing!
STUB HUBBY Streaming Presents: You've Got Mail
It's been 15 years since You've Got Mail came out, and surprisingly, the most dated part is the 1990s color scheme of Ryan and Hanks' wardrobes: It's distracting when they both repeatedly wear pale tan and putty in the same scene! The tech is surprisingly unobtrusive. They chat online using laptops, just like we do today. Director Nora Ephron glosses over the fact that a day passes between each turn in the e-mail conversation. One conversation takes place over IM; made in 2013, the whole film would be over IM. (At one point Ryan quickly hides her laptop, exposing the cables sticking out of the back. Oh, right! No wireless!)
Meg Ryan is doing her Meg Ryan thing; eternally sunny, optimistic, and emotional. Tom Hanks has the much harder role; halfway through the movie, he has to begin rebuilding his relationship with Ryan. Hanks has to befriend Ryan in the hopes that she could someday love the guy that ran her out of business, but also not betray her trust as NY152, the man she loves over the Internet. He does a lot of thinking on his feet, playing both parts, almost like Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker.
Ephron (and her editor) put a lot of finesse into the scenes where Hanks and Ryan are typing while their voice-over narrates. Hanks and Ryan are terrific at composing letters extemporaneously; you see them very organically choosing their words; there are wonderful moments where the voice-over pauses while the character mulls over word selection. Tying together the film with the voice-over audio is hard work, and done well.
This winter I marveled over the all-star cast Steven Spielberg assembled for Lincoln; Ephron also has her pick of the best talent. Greg Kinnear and Parker Posey are our stars' not-quite-right boyfriend and girlfriend; their colleagues include Dave Chapelle, Dabney Coleman, Maureen Stapleton, and Steve Zahn.

NOTES: I watched You've Got Mail last night mostly to comfirm that Dave Chapelle really is Tom Hanks' buddy in the movie, not some group hallucination or fever dream.

When I first saw Mindy Kaling's sitcom The Mindy Project, I joked that she cast Chris Messina because Kaling is a big Nora Ephron fan, and Messina played Amy Adams's husband in Nora Ephron's last movie, Julie & Julia (2009). Turns out it's even more delicious than that; Kaling's character loves Ephron's You've Got Mail, and look! There's Chris Messina, age 24 and very skinny, playing a clerk in Joe Fox's bookstore, with two lines.
His AOL handle = NY152. So prosaic!

Joe Fox lives at 152 Riverside Drive; if his street (and forest green awning) look familiar, it may be because he's neighbors with television writer Elizabeth Cogsworthy Lemon!

THE Future Is NOW Notes: It's 2013, and I've been diving into free streaming movies from Amazon Prime Instant Video. I am already happy to pay $80/year for free 2-day shipping; all this free streaming content is all frosting.
The Amazon interface is already renowned; the streaming video interface works well too. I especially appreciate that the video player remembers where you left off in the movie when you close the browser.
Basically, I'm now living in the future where I can instantly watch any content anytime with one click. It's not quite that comprehensive, but it feels like it, especially when I was watching a random X-Files episode the other day.
I am using an N-band wireless router, in the same room as my laptop. Usually the image quality is great; occasionally the image will drop to a blurry-compressed quality for a few minutes.