210. City of Angels

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Movie: City of Angels

Release Date: April 10, 1998

Director: Brad Silberling

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan, Dennis Franz, Andre Braugher.

Tag Lines: “She didn’t believe in angels until she fell in love with one.”

“What if angels walked among us, and one of them fell in love with us?”

Relevance: As I already have mentioned a few times on this blog, 1998 wasn’t my favorite time spent on this planet. From March through the end of that year, I was going through a major life change and although not diagnosed, I was definitely battling some sort of depression. Like all tough times in my life, I looked to art to help soothe my well being. When I jokingly say that Madonna saved my life, it really isn’t a joke. Her “Ray of Light” album that was released on March 3, 1998 and got me through a lot of turmoil and helped put my life in perspective. Another song that helped was Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” from the ‘City of Angels’ soundtrack.

I was a huge fan of Alanis Morissette thanks to her stunning debut album “Jagged Little Pill.” Her music and poetry spoke to me in a way very few other artists have been able to accomplish. To this day I always joke that Alanis must be living in my closet, watching my life and then writing about it. That is how I felt about “Uninvited.” Hearing this haunting melody coupled with very mysterious lyrics blaring through my car radio was exactly what my soul needed.

My life during this period was mostly just work. I did not get out much, including going to the movie theater to catch any new release, so when ‘City of Angels’ was released I missed it. However, working as the manger of a record and movie store, I was very well aware of it. The soundtrack, bolstered by both “Uninvited” and “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls, was a huge seller for me. I was also a fan. I bought it and listened to it almost constantly, only interrupted by my daily listening of “Ray of Light.” Those two albums were, pun intended, my angels.

I didn’t actually see the film until it was released as a rental sometime near the end of 1998. Although I can’t say I was a fan of Nicolas Cage, I definitely was of Meg Ryan, but it was the music that made me want to really see the film. And I am glad that I did. It was such a beautifully directed movie with a touching story that really affected me on many levels. The themes of free will, trust, faith in humanity and love really connected with me. I watched the movie alone that first time and wept like a baby. I was devastated about both what happened on screen as well as what was happening in my life and vowed to start making a change.

If I have said it once I have said it a hundred times, art really does affect my life. ‘City of Angels’ aided in getting my life back on track. Coupled with its beautiful music, both gave me a new, fresh look on life. And although a metamorphosis didn’t happen over night, I eventually became a much happier, healthier human being. The soundtrack is still to this day one of my favorites and many of the songs, if not all, are on my phone whenever I need a listen. I own ‘City of Angels’ on DVD and have watched and re-watched it numerous times. I will forever be thankful for this film, my little guardian angel.

Today’s Thoughts: I probably have not seen the movie in at least ten years or so, although I listened to “Uninvited” just yesterday. There really isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t listen to Alanis and yesterday was no exception. Walking around my neighborhood, with earbuds in place, the song popped on as I shuffled through my songs. It was a great prelude to watching ‘City of Angels’ today.

I really do love this film. It was a financial success back when it was released, but it didn’t receive great reviews from critics. I still am not sure why. Words like sappy and sentimental were used to describe it and at times, it is. But so is life. I embrace its sentimentality. It is so beautifully shot and Meg Ryan has never been better. Even Nicolas Cage is hauntingly effective in his role. Both Dennis Franz and Andre Braugher give solid performances in supporting roles. Mr. Franz adds a little humor (and nudity) and plays it well, and Mr. Braugher has some of my favorite moments in the film. His smile in one of the last scenes is so warming and beautiful, It lights up the screen. It made me smile right through the tears streaming down my face. Yes, this is a Kleenex movie.

‘City of Angels’ is loosely based on the German film “Wings of Desire,’ a great movie in its own right. Although it shares a lot of the same themes, it does not however have the same emotional impact for me. As mentioned earlier, I will always be thankful for this movie coming in my life when it did. And “Thank U” (pun intended) Alanis Morissette for your song contribution. Both of them will always be a part of my life.

Awards: Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Uninvited,” Alanis Morissette (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Showtime, YouTube, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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