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Sunday in the Park

Teri Orr, Record columnist

I have spent my whole life loving stories. Those my grandparents told me about their childhoods. Those I found in books. Even those teachers shared in classrooms that made historical figures come to life.

But the storytelling that is most compelling to me has come on the screen. Movies — and to some extent, as the medium got smarter, television — took my mind to places both actual and emotional I was never likely to reach on my own. They shaped my opinions and filled my hours. And later, as a parent, they became not only a tool to teach but also a place where, for a few hours, we would share a common language in hopes of continuing a dialogue.

It continues still — the viewing and sharing and learning and common language — not only with my friends but still with my adult children and, best of all, now with my grandchildren. This Sunday night, the first of the award shows happens that has professionals judging the best creations on film in the past year. The Golden Globes, a product of the Hollywood foreign press, holds up the looking glass on both television and motion pictures.

In looking over the list of nominees, I was surprised, as I usually am, at the many choices they made that I did not, and a few we agreed upon. But I need to confess, due a variety of unexpected unfortunate events, my viewing may have been at all time personal low.

In fact, what improved my average were two variables — one, this year the holidays fell on Thursday night and lasted until Monday morning, and two, I have the ability to order current movies and watch them immediately from the comfort of my home at whatever time day or night I wish.

So "Julie and Julia" I included one late night. Ditto "The Proposal." "Big Love" and "Mad Men" and "House" and "30 Rock" are all smart shows I can instantly make appear when my mood is ready for their adventures. They never disappoint and it is encouraging to see such smart writers and actors being recognized for their creative work.

Two larger films, "Nine" and "Up in the Air," I actually saw in theaters and was reminded how sometimes some stories need to be on the Big Screen, larger than life, because their stories demand that kind of storytelling.

This isn’t meant to be a movie-review piece. Those will come later in the month when Sundance unreels its magic in our backyard. This is just to note that I viewed "Nine" with my daughter and daughter-in-law, since we knew their husbands would be relieved I had provided such an opportunity. It was not literature on the screen, nor in my humble opinion was there much real acting that should be recognized, given the other options. But it was fun. Great big musical, showy, travelogue kind of fun. And it allowed us a certain jumping-off point when we gathered afterwards for a meal to talk about the lives of fictional and real characters, which always leads to discussions about fictional and real situations and characters we face in our day-to-day lives.

I chased that down the next day with a viewing of "Up in the Air" with an old friend. She and I have watched each other, either in various jobs and/or relationships, for more than 20 years. We are certainly older than when we began viewing films together. We like to think we are wiser too. And after that picture, we also retired to a quiet spot to use food and drink to share stories of other movies and television shows and real life people who kinda resemble them. It allowed us to use metaphors where real names and stories were still too painful and raw to speak aloud.

But in looking over the list of Golden Globes nominees, the one that brought an immediate smile to my face was "UP," an animated film for the whole family about hope and the power of love, in a presentation that was neither cheesy nor condescending nor overly sentimental. I had seen it with all three of my grandchildren. And it created a dialogue after the film where we retired to a restaurant to chew over sandwiches and plot lines and to bond in way that only shared stories will do. This weekend, when the Golden Globes announce the winners, I will try and reflect on the winning moments I had with family and friends thanks to film. And I will know that this time next week we’ll be in the thick of the most important sharing of stories on the planet when Sundance comes to town on multiple Sundays in the Park …

Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.


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