Monday, November 27, 2006

Marjorie M. Liu GuestBlog: Sweet Is The New Sexy

Marjorie M. Liu is a lovely woman and incredibly good person whom you'd consider yourself lucky to have spent time with if you, well, got to spend time with her. She's brilliant and funny, and writes a darn good novel.

She snagged me as a fan with "The Red Heart of Jade" from her "Dirk and Steele" series. Luckily, there are several other D & S novels available, including "Eye of Heaven," out tomorrow, Nov. 28th.

Bellas, a warm Buongiorno, and accompanying Ni Hao, to Marjorie...

So I'm in Shanghai at the moment, having fun, working on a book. Which means I'm thinking about love. All kinds of love, really. Just this morning I saw a Pomeranian racing merrily after its owner, who was riding a bike down a busy street -- and if that's not love, I don't know what is. Ditto with parents and kids, sisters and brothers, platonic love between friiends -- and love of a more romantic nature. You know...kissy face love. Be still my heart, love. You are my sunshine, love.

Thing is, in China the demonstration of love is a tricky thing. Not the emotion of it, but just the logistics. Privacy is premium -- most folks live in very small apartments with their parents -- and public displays of affection are discouraged. So love, and the expression of it, is usually quite understated indeed. Holding hands. Sitting together on a sidewalk bench. Taking long walks. Stealing moments. And it's nice, let me tell you. Sweet.

And I wonder, sometimes, if sweetness isn't something that hasn't been left by the wayside when it comes to romance. Not in books, mind you (not always, anyway), but in movies and television. There's nothing subtle or restrained anymore. You dig someone? Well, hey -- chicka-chicka-boom-boom.

Which, despite the fact that chicka-boom (and boom-boom-boom) is exactly what I write (and here II verge on the faintly hypocritical), it seems that what I see on the screen nowadays celebrates the physical over the emotional -- which isn't necessarily bad -- but it isn't quite as powerful. Not always, anyway.

Take the X-Files, for example. Mulder and Scully hardly touched on screen for nine seasons, but was there any doubt as to their love and devotion? And would their relationship have been as powerful had they constantly been all over each other?

My guess is no. But hey, maybe I’m being too tough. What do you guys think about this?

Any favorite classic movies or television that demonstrates romantic understatement? Any favorites that live in some nice middle ground?

Three of mine are A Patch of Blue (one of the first movies made about an interracial romance – in this case between a black journalist and a poor white blind girl); Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (a marine and nun are stranded together on a Pacific island during WWII); and Roman Holiday (runaway princess falls in love with reporter). Of course, none of these films end entirely happily, but the sentiment is there.

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Visit Marjorie at her website at MarjorieMLiu.com
, or if you're a fan of her Dirk & Steele series, check out her other newly designed site DirkandSteele.com, narrated by Roland, the agency's foul mouthed boss. Beware spoilers, though, especially if you're ready to read EYE OF HEAVEN, which is set for release tomorrow, November 28th.

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Encore! The Dirk and Steele site is wicked cool.

28 comments:

Julie in Ohio said...

Welcome to RBTB, Marjorie!!!
I became a fan of yours with A TASTE OF CRIMSON, and now that you mentioned ROMAN HOLIDAY as one of your fav movies, I'm hooked for life. :o)

I want to add SABRINA and AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER to the list of my fav romances. They were the first movies that came to mind when you asked about sweet movies.

Stacy~ said...

Hi Marjorie! It's so great to have you here :) I love the movie choices you gave. "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison" is one of my all-time favorites. And I agree; it's because of the restraint and the sweetness. You can "see" their feelings, the tension is quite palpable, and I feel more drawn to the characters and the story because of it. It becomes obvious it's not just a physical feeling.

Now I loooove the chicka boom boom, a lot, so I don't want that to go away. But I agree that even in many of the books out there, the build-up has been forgotten, or left by the wayside in exchange for ready, set, GO! from the very beginning. There's nothing wrong with tough, independent women going after what they want. I just miss all that sexual tension. Sometimes the sweet can be very, very sexy indeed.

Julie, I love "Sabrina", the one with Audrey Hepburn. I also loved "East of Eden" which wasn't so sweet, but it had lots of tension in it. This was my favorite James Dean movie.

ev said...

Hi Marjorie!! Welcome!!

Since I am an old movie buff, picking just one would be difficult. I think everyone in the family has picked on star and buys me those DVD's each year. No duplicates and makes shopping so much easier!!

I spent the weekend watching White Christmas, Top Hat, Singin' in the Rain, etc... on tv, which meant I got squat done. I also love the movie with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy- I loved the chemistry. Or Casablanca. Or Bringing up Baby. Or, or, or.... I could go on. I seldom go see a new movie, unless it is animated, action/adventure, or a comedy. Not big on the romantic ones because all that fun is missing these days.

Now it's time to go do some cleaning and decorating. I still don't have my tree up!!!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Morning, Marjorie and Bellas! I think this is a great discussion, cause it's our prerogative to fudge back and forth between what we like in terms of love stories, right?

We took the kids to see "Happy Feet" last weekend, and my son and I -- much to his chagrin -- discussed why the movie's a romance. And it is a very sweet romance.

I kinda dig the sweet, romantic nature of a lot of animated "kids'" movies, because they have that old-fashioned movie flavor with romantic tension that's about hearts, not bodies.

Thanks again for GuestBlogging for us, Margorie!

MaryKate said...

Hi Marjorie - Welcome! I love your books, they're so unusual.

Well, I'll admit to being an overt romance lover. I don't mind the undertones, but generally, I want my h/h to have their happily ever after. So, I'm not much for middle ground. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for romantic tension, but in general, I want a payoff.

For sweet stories, I'd go with Return to Me. It's one of those "heave a big sigh" movies for me. I also adore the most recent version of "Pride and Prejudice." Or the Emma Thompson version of "Sense and Sensibility." All of those count as sweet romances to me.

How 'bout star crossed lovers? Buffy and Angel come to mind. Imagine, you get your happy on one time, and bang, your boyfriend becomes a monster. That one was a killer for me. Because the writers knew how to ratchet up the tension between Buffy and Angel to inferno levels and they weren't able to do anything about it.

Great topic!

Julie in Ohio said...

Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail bot are very sweet movies. The ending to YGM gets me every time and I love the "An Affair to Remember" feel that SIS has.

I'm with you on the payoff, MK. I like to feel as though the tension is going someplace. But sometimes a sweet story is refreshing, like a reminder of what an old fashioned courtship is. The prelude to the *big* finish. :o)

La Karibane said...

I keep plugging this book left and right but I'm starting to wonder if I'd imagined the romance of it or not? Anyway, it's "The Winslow Boy" about a British family who's suing the Gvt because their teenage boy got kicked out of school for stealing money.

Now, where's the romance, you ask? They get this yummy lawyer/politician to take the case and he falls in love with the Suffragette older sister. Extremely subtle romance but by the last line of dialogue, you can see this is LURVE.

Marjorie, I'm a major fan. Can't wait to get my hands on your next 2 books.

Marjorie Liu said...

Hello everyone, and thank you so much for the warm welcome. It's two in the morning here, so I'll probably knock back to sleep after this, but I just wanted to say hi. :-)

It was hard for me to narrow my list, too. 'Bringing up Baby' was one that came to mind, as well (along with every other Cary Grant film), and I LOVE the new 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Sense and Sensibility'. Colonel Brandon! Mr. Darcy! Mrrrow.

'Singing in the Rain' goes down as favorite musical, though Gene Kelly did a film with Judy Garland called 'The Pirate' which is so much fun.

La Karibane -- I'll try and get my hands on 'The Winslow Boy.'

And don't get me wrong, I love the chicka-boom-boom! But I was raised on restraint and sweetness, and that is still what makes my little heart tick.

I'm having trouble thinking of any recent films, though. 'Return to Me' is a good one, as is 'You've Got Mail' and 'Sleepless in Seattle.' Any other recommendations?

Marjorie Liu said...

Okay, just thought of two more movies where there is some chicka-boom, but the build up is fantastic. 'The Outsider' with Tim Daly and Naomi Watts, and 'Morning Glory' with Christopher Reeve. Actually, another good Reeve movie is 'Somewhere in Time.'

Julie in Ohio said...

ooooo, good call with "Somewhere in Time", Marjorie.

"While You Were Sleeping" and "Emma" are a couple of other goodies that I'll stop to watch whenever they're on.

Playground Monitor said...

Hi y'all! Been doin' Christmas stuff all morning and finally am at the computer.

Michelle mentioned "Happy Feet" -- well the DH and I watched "March of the Penguins" on the Hallmark channel two nights ago. What a wonderful love story! I learned so much, laughed a little, got misty-eyed a few times and just had that happy-all-over feeling at the end.

Y'all have mentioned lots of my fave movies already so I won't repeat. How about "Cheaper by the Dozen?" The OLD version with Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy. I remember my sister and I would joke about having to visit Miss Murphy. ::grin:: Or "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" with William Holden and Jennifer Jones. And there's "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain" with Susan Hayward and William Lundigan. Lots of the movies from the 50's are very understated romance.

And then there are all those Doris Day & Rock Hudson movies. Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em!

Marilyn

Julie in Ohio said...

Marilyn- Didn't Doris and Rock make a cute couple? I love those movies. *sigh*

I would like to throw "Clueless" and "The Cutting Edge" into the mix with a dash of "Robin Hood". Any version of "Robin Hood" will do. :o)

Stacy~ said...

There's "The Lake House" with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock - love her, plus they make a great pair. It was a sweet romance if you don't mind some of the paranormal elements. "Thirteen Going On Thirty" was sweet, but another one where you need to suspend belief. Why is it that so many romances in the movies feel the need to through that in? LOL.

Oh I thought of a few more, "Never Been Kissed" with Drew Barrymore and Michael Vartan. "Say Anything" with John Cusack and...I can't remember her name.

Vivi Anna said...

Welcome Marjorie! I loved A Taste of Crimson. The whole Crimson series rocked!

The Lake House is a fantastic movie, as is Serendipity. The couple in love don't even kiss until the end. How sweet is that?? I love that about some movies, the build up of the love, you know its going to happen, can see it in every look, every thought...mmm, c'est l'amore, non?

Marjorie Liu said...

'While You Were Sleeping' and 'The Lake House' are fantastic movies! I love both Bill Pullman (he's so good in 'Spaceballs', and another romantic flick, 'The Virginian') and Keanu Reeves. For those who mentioned enjoying my Crimson City book, I always thought that Michael would look something like Keanu. :-)

'Ruby Jean and Joe' is a good movie, too, with Tom Selleck playing an aging rodeo champion who falls in love with a young black woman who is hitch hiking her way across America before she starts college.

Vivi Anna said...

mmm, Marjorie...yes, Keanu's a perfect fit for Michael. I love me some Keanu. I could look at him for days...

Cathy said...

Love the Dirk and Steele series and already have Eye of Heaven ordered. Will wait and watch the promo after I read the book.

catslady said...

I have to say Forever Young is my all time favorite. Kind of a Romeo and Juliet with a better ending.

Julie in Ohio said...

I can see Keanu as Michael... YUM!


A movie with sweet and sweaty feel to it is the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh, yes, JulieO! Exactly. LOTR. I was so happy with the beautiful scene at the end w/ everyone cleaned up and Aragorn mooning at his bride. sigh, sigh sigh.

Well, he wasn't mooning her, he was all moon-eyed, is what I mean. I just lol'd at myself.

Gosh, Bellas, I've gotta start me a TBViewed list. I've not seen most of the movies you've cited. I'm so pathetic.

Thanks for continuing to drop in, Marjorie. Are you eating some great food in China? Have you seen any really cute guys?

OK. Back on topic now. Sorry.

Vivi Anna? Sweet sentimental movies? Is there a mush beneath those Hell Kat writing chops?

Patrice Michelle said...

Hi Marjorie! *waves*

One of the most romantic scenes that was 'pure emotion' in a recent movie was in M. Shyamalan's The Village. The 'porch' scene just tugged at your heart!

Marjorie Liu said...

Oh, the food is excellent. And the guys aren't bad looking, but if you want see some really hot Chinese men, Beijing is still the best place to be. They bring in all the handsome guys from the countryside to work as part of the elite military corps around the Embassy district. :-)

Anonymous said...

Joaquin Phoenix and his eyes... ::sigh::

Actually, that made me think of the scene in Spartacus, when he's in his cell and the guards send in the beautiful Varinia for him to ravish, and he refuses, because "I am not an animal!" And then the next day he asks if the other guy "hurt her" and she gives him this look that just says it all.

Marjorie

Vivi Anna said...

oh, yes, Joaquin Phoenix...*slurp* I love that man, and yes, Marjorie, his eyes, his dark hungry eyes....gives me shivers all over.

Ah, Michelle, just don't tell anyone...that would ruin my bad ass rep.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I love Joaquin and I haven't seen that flick either. Woe is me. I bow before your great cinema knowledge, my Bellas.

Stacy~ said...

I can't believe I forgot that scene from "The Village". I don't know how to describe it. It was so simple, yet so real and true. No baggage, no angst, just love. Beautifully done.

Julie you mentioned "Forever Young", and it reminded me of a movie with Richard Dreyfus and Holly Hunter, with a cameo from the lovely Audrey Hepburn. The movie was called "Always", and it was about a woman who has love, loses it tragically, then finds it again. It was funny and poignant.

Anonymous said...

Marjorie,
Robert Mitchum in The River of No Return with Marilyn Monroe was yummy and there was an earlier Christmas movie, I have forgotten the title, maybe The Holiday Affair with Janet Leigh that was just right. Cary Grant was too delicious and so was Steve McQueen.
Love you books and can't wait to read Eye of Heaven.
PS Do you think they could ever make a movie of one of them?

ev said...

Play- I am a purist when it comes to movies too. The originals are always so much better. I couldn't even stand to see the remake of "Your, Mine and Ours" they pc'd it so badly. It is probably my all time favorite movie. The Original that is!!
Oh, and you are right- ANY Robin Hood movie is good- including "Men in Tights". (We just watched that- again!!)