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"Star Trek" Reminds Me Why I Liked Winona Ryder

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ryder-trekThere were many things I enjoyed about the new Star Trek movie, such as...

  • Zoe Saldana's whip-smart appeal as Uhura.
  • The Romulan villain's effectively "human" backstory.
  • The fact that when the actors were in close-up, you could see their pores and blemishes, which made them seem like real people.
Nothing surprised me more, however, than my deep delight at seeing Winona Ryder on screen.

Winona! Ryder! Star Trek cakes her in old-age make-up to play Spock's mother, but she's obviously still the pixie-faced charmer that made me want to welcome Roxy Carmichael back home and eat plate after plate of finger foods with Mrs. Flax.

And it's funny, because the last time I really thought about Winona, I was totally over her. That was back in 2002, when she followed her shoplifting conviction with the more heinous crimes of Mr. Deeds and S1m0ne.

If I'd known she was going to be in Star Trek, I'd have been prepared to be annoyed, but that's the thing: I didn't know. So when she appeared, I had no intellectual barrier against my my gut reaction to seeing her on the big screen for the first time in thirteen years.

Yep, I haven't seen a Winona Ryder film in an actual movie theater since The Crucible was released in 1996. I had forgotten she could exist in those dimensions.

More to the point, I had forgotten how much I used to LOVE Winona Ryder the Movie Star. I was an adolescent during her halcyon days, and back then, she embodied everything I thought I wanted to be. Her characters were cool, smart, and consciously segregated from the mainstream, but they always had access to their feelings. To me, that was a flawless way to live, which is why I bought tickets to everything from Reality Bites and Mermaids to The Age of Innocence and Little Women. (My teenage dedication also extended to early classics like Heathers and Beetlejuice, which my friends and I rented over and over from the Blockbuster down the road.)

Rider's handful of scenes in Star Trek brought all of that flooding back. Like I said, if I'd known she was coming, I might have defended myself, but instead, I was left wobbly with reawakened happiness.

I've calmed down since Friday afternoon, and I doubt I'll be firing up The Crucible this week, but I'm glad that for a few hours, I remembered what it felt like to be a passionate kid sorting himself out with pop culture markers. It reminded me how far I've come in knowing myself, and it reminded me that I've always been someone who gets seriously invested in the art I love. I like that.

Granted, this experience also reminded me that in 1994, I thought Little Women had the best cast ever assembled for a motion picture, and that names like "Ryder," "Dunst," and "Danes" would someday be whispered like holy prayers in American homes. My bad! But if Claire Danes randomly pops up in G.I. Joe, then this will seriously be the summer of my re-crushing.

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Winona Ryder

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