Seeing Nora Everywhere

The creator of “Girls” remembers Nora Ephron.

  • Editors' Pick
  1. “This Is My Life” is the movie that made me want to make movies. I first saw it in second grade, so I wouldn’t have articulated it as such, but that’s what was going on. I must have watched it on VHS eleven or twelve times in one summer, trying hard to grasp something. About its characters? About its construction? On each viewing, a new joke or angle revealed itself to me and its world became richer. I loved Samantha Mathis’s surly teen, Gaby Hoffmann’s quippy innocent, and especially Julie Kavner’s Dot, their single mother, a standup comedian hellbent on self-actualizing despite, or maybe because of, these daughters. But what I really loved was the person orchestrating the whole thing. The costumes, perfectly low-rent polka-dotted blazers and grungy winter hats. The music, a mixture of vaudevillian bounce and Carly Simon’s voice that somehow made the city seem more real than if car horns scored the film. The camerawork, a single gliding shot that followed each family member into her bedroom as she settled into a new apartment in a less than desirable Manhattan neighborhood. I loved whoever was making these actresses comfortable enough to express the minutiae of being a human woman onscreen.

    It wasn’t until years later that I understood this was Nora Ephron. I devoured her prose, her other film offerings, and became a fangirl right along with my mother, aunt, grandmother, and every other intelligent woman in the tristate area. Which is why it was so momentous when, in March...