Cinema Toast

The Music Effect

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Music does this really weird thing to me. You know how in movies when you have this obsessed detective or even a stalker who has a wall or secret room covered with a jillion photographs connected to each other with a web made of about three miles-worth of brightly-colored yarn? That’s my brain on music.

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Example: After I added some music to a play list on my laptop, the song “Twistin’ the Night Away” by Sam Cooke began. I start to dance immediately. (I was also folding laundry at the time.) I did the Twist, the Fly, and the Watusi, as instructed. Suddenly I think about Gilligan’s Island, because of course, in one episode Ginger is instructing one of the other castaways in the correct form for dancing the Watusi.

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Before I finish that thought, my mind jumps to the scene in Innerspace when Martin Short’s character is drinking and dancing to the same song. I adore that movie. Fast-forward to the end of the film when the credits roll. Short is racing down the road to save Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan from the bad guys, and the song is blasting again, this time sung by Rod Stewart.

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For a quick moment I think of how much I appreciate Rod Stewart for recording older songs like that—fun and beautiful classics that deserve a new audience.

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Hopping back to “Twistin’ the Night Away,” which is only half-over at this point, I think about how smooth Sam Cooke’s voice is—even on a party song like this. What a voice he had. And how sad that a talent like his was lost in such terrible circumstances. He was killed in a hotel at the age of 33, his death ruled justifiable homicide because he was inebriated and… it’s just like a movie.

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Why haven’t they made a movie about his life? Who would play him? Denzel Washington is too old for the part. Even Hill Harper is past 33. Maybe that cute Dayo Okeniyi from Hunger Games? I wonder when the next Hunger Games movie comes out…

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Yep, all of that in a 2 minute-41 second song. While I’m dancing. And folding clothes. I told you it was weird.

 

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

Cinema Toast

The Legend Makes the Story

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This week I watched the 2004 film The Alamo, starring Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quaid, and Patrick Wilson.

I should begin by saying that I listened intently to Mrs. Walsh’s seventh grade Texas History lessons at David Crockett Junior High School. I remember watching the 1960 movie starring John Wayne, and I’ve visited the ruins of the historic mission in San Antonio, Texas. As a child I even watched Fess Parker’s portrayal of Crockett in the Disney serial.

Like scads of other Texans, our family claims distant relations to the heroes of the great Republic.My mom’s family is somehow kin to Davy Crockett’s wife, I think.

I used to sing along with the Disney theme, “Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee/ Killed him a bear when he was only three.” I had no idea of what a true legend Crockett really was.

You see, Mrs. Walsh did her best to stick to the basics. She told us all about the pantheon of Texas revolutionaries—men with dreams of a new country—but for the most part, she kept to the script of the textbooks.

The tour guides and brass plaques installed at the Alamo give all the same information. Where the defenders were stationed during the onslaught, where the men were from, and their signature weapons. The fact that almost every person within the walls of the besieged mission died at the hands of General Santa Ana leaves a distinct lack of documentation.

There was however, the legend of Davy Crockett, Before he traveled to defend Texas, Crockett was already a living legend. The 2004 feature embraced that fact, and used it to show the celebrity he enjoyed, the fears of the Mexican soldiers, and the tradition that Crockett was the single surviving warrior. The textbook version tells that Crockett was probably one of the first to die, but there is evidence that he lasted to face the Mexican general eye to eye.

While initially dubious about Billy Bob Thornton’s incarnation, in the end I was pleased. Thornton brought complex layers to the role that neither the ruggedly handsome Fess Parker nor the rough and tumble John Wayne portrayed.Thornton showed both the confidence of the hero as well as the doubts and fears of the real man behind the moniker.

Any history lover who understands the tweaking required for film will enjoy The Alamo. I did!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

Cinema Toast

Alexander Hamilton is Hot

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“Look at this, Mom! Alexander Hamilton looks like the guy from Terra Nova.”

I took a quick look at the crisp ten dolHamilton_thumb.jpglar bill I was about to use to pay for pizza, and found that, indeed, Jason O’Mara does bear a strong resemblance to the United States’ first Secretary of Treasury.

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O’Mara and Alexander Hamilton from a ten dollar bill.

In recent years we’ve had movies about Lincoln, Washington and Adams, but not much has been presented about the man who died in a pistol duel at the hand of Jefferson’s former Vice President, Aaron Burr. Perhaps when I’m finished with the novels I’m working on, I’ll begin a screenplay about Hamilton’s story. With Irish actor, Jason O’Mara, my preferred lead for the cast, of course.

Jason O’Mara is hot right now—not only in looks, either. He is super-talented and in-demand. He currently plays the younger brother, Deputy Jack Lamb, to Dennis Quaid’s Sherriff Ralph Lamb on CBS’ Vegas. Last year he played Joe Morelli in One For the Money, an adaptation of the popular Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich. He also took the lead as Jim Shannon in Fox’s Terra Nova.

 

If you’re not watching Vegas, you should be. It’s for anyone who likes cowboys, mobsters, and smart women. It’s got a meaty story set in retro Nevada. The cast is top-notch and the fashion and set design are impeccable.

I predict that O’Mara’s star will only continue to rise. He skillfully handles a leading role as well as meshing nicely into an ensemble. He’s tough enough to be a man’s man and funny and sensitive enough to endear the women.

I wonder how he feels about powdered wigs…

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

 

To check out the films mentioned above, click on any of the titles for a link to see more and purchase! Thanks!