Lisa Kudrow is well known for her role as Phoebe, the kooky pal on Friends. Lately, she's been playing an incompetent therapist on Showtime's Web Therapy. For Morning Edition's occasional series Watch This, Kudrow spoke to NPR's Steve Inskeep about some of her favorite classic movies — as well as an inspiring YouTube video courtesy of a cello virtuoso and an L.A. street dancer.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
This 1948 comedy stars Cary Grant and Myrna Loy as a couple living in New York City.
"Their apartment is too small for them," Kudrow says. So "they decide to buy a house in Connecticut. And it's falling down, and it turns into a money pit."
The style of comedy is old-fashioned and understated, Kudrow says. "The jokes aren't hit very hard." They come and go without too much spectacle.
But the realities of real estate seen in the movie remain the same. "It's the exact same," Kudrow says. "Nothing has changed in the world of purchasing a house, renovating it and the costs that escalate. And then the stress between the couple."
All About Eve
The classic film about the tense relationship between an aging Broadway star (Bette Davis) and an up-and-coming fan and actress (Anne Baxter) holds the record, along with Titanic, for most Oscar nominations in one year.
Kudrow says that All About Eve, like Mr. Blandings, features pitch-perfect dialogue, especially courtesy of George Sanders as the acerbic theater critic Addison Dewitt.
"[Sanders] is always worth watching," Kudrow says. "He always plays that guy who just walks into a room and eviscerates everyone with something he says. I have always been attracted to those characters, I guess, because it's not like me. I've always aspired to walk into a room and destroy someone."
Robert Redford's directorial debut won the 1980 Academy Award for best picture. It tells the story of a family working through the death of their older teenaged son.
Mary Tyler Moore plays the mother, Beth, who tries to maintain a semblance of order in the house while being exceedingly hard on her younger son, Conrad, who witnessed his brother's death.
Kudrow says she first saw the movie as a teenager. "Whenever I see it again, as I've gotten older, I have new perspective on it," she says. "Just because now I'm a wife, and then I'm a mother."
She particularly has developed sympathy for Beth's character "because of the unfathomable tragedy that happened to [the family]," Kudrow says. "How someone deals with it, to me, is beyond judgment."
Yo-Yo Ma And Lil Buck
Kudrow's final pick is a wondrous collaboration between the world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma and an L.A.-based dancer, Lil Buck.
"Someone sent this link to me, and I couldn't believe my eyes," Kudrow says. "This is Lil Buck, and he's, I think, improvising this dance, and he moves like it's not human."
The music is "The Swan," one of the movements from Camille Saint-Saens' suite Carnival of the Animals. The movement is athletic, fluid, rooted in street-dance styles that evolved in Memphis and elsewhere. Filmmaker Spike Jonze recorded the performance and posted it on YouTube, where it's gotten more than 1.8 million views.
"It's the ultimate in interpretative dance to me," Kudrow says.
The interplay between the two performers is particularly noteworthy. "These things inspire me," Kudrow says, "that kind of artistic connection."
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