Cinema Toast

A Movie for Christmas

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November and December are typically wonderful months for movie-watching, because producers try very hard to get out as many family-friendly films and award contenders as possible before the end of the year. They know that kids are home from school, weary shoppers need a few hours of rest, and everyone is looking for a few hours of something to help them feel good.

Last month saw the release of The Christmas Candle, rated PG. This movie, based on a Max Lucado book, is about a small village with a legend of an angel who visits to touch a candle, granting the candle-lighter a Christmas miracle.

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Disney’s Frozen, PG, tells the story of an enchanted kingdom trapped in eternal winter.

 

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Black Nativity, PG, is cast with heavy-hitters Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Mary J. Blige, and newcomer Jacob Latimore. It’s about a youth dealing with difficult family dynamics in the holidays.

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December 13 will bring Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas as well as Saving Mr. Banks, both rated PG-13. While Madea is just what Tyler Perry fan’s expect, Mr. Banks is based on the true story of Walt Disney’s own quest to attain the film rights to P. L. Travers’ novel, Mary Poppins. It stars Tom Hanks as Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers. Though not specifically a holiday movie, it should be a good film for movie-lovers.

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Other films that will certainly make the family wish list are The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, PG-13, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, PG.

Smaug is the second installment of the Hobbit serial, and promises to set records with fan-girl fav Benedict Cumberbatch’s larger role as both Smaug and the Soothsayer.

Mitty is a remake of the 1947 film of the same name starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. I suppose we shall see if Ben Stiller can live up to Kaye’s standard.

Click to see and purchase! Click to see and purchase!

Still haven’t found the Christmas flick for you? Don’t worry, there are hundreds of cable channels filled with seasonal adventures.

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

Cinema Toast

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

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Maybe it’s the time of year—autumn always turns me nostalgic, I suppose—or maybe it’s something else, but I’m listening to more music these days. My playlist is filling up, and not only with new songs, but with a few oldies as well.

I’ve always been a huge fan of movie soundtracks. Some of my first albums were Disney soundtracks from Mary Poppins and the Jungle Book. I listened to John William’s scores from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark until the vinyl was worn through. As a teen in the ‘80’s, every movie had a defining soundtrack. Songs from Valley Girl, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off take me back to very specific moments in my life as effectively as if I had a time machine at my disposal. (Thank goodness I don’t.)

I recently advised my son on a web-design class project entitled “Back to the ‘80’s”. I suggested he research album covers and movie/ TV art from the decade. Just seeing the covers for ASIA, Duran Duran, and Cyndi Lauper gave me a smile. His project is going to be totally rad!

Last night I downloaded a Led Zeppelin song that I completely forgot about until this week. And this morning my sons and I discussed the iconic (and oft-mocked) title song from the movie Born Free. My family has a huge collection of albums that we actually do play on our turntable. It includes everything from Eubie Blake to Gene Autry to Bay City Rollers to Styx and more. My husband has already set aside several LPs for our Christmas gatherings.

The reality is that music affects our moods, triggers memories and emotions, and encourages our imagination. In film, it is often the muscle that holds the skeleton of the plot together. It’s the part that begs the audience to dance with the characters. It’s the tone that entices you to fall in love, pushes you through the action, and stokes the fire of your anger.

The connection it makes with our emotions is deeper than the story on the screen. It lasts for days, years, even decades later. A good soundtrack is essential to any good movie. In my opinion, it can turn a good movie into a great film.

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

Cinema Toast

A Sucker for an Accent

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I’ll confess. I love listening to others speak with an accent. I like them all. Since I was very young I’ve had friends from other countries—Norway, Germany, Australia. My mom’s family had roots in New Orleans, Louisiana. One of my best friends in high school was a foreign exchange student from Germany. I even attended a seminar about foam wall insulation because the
presenter was Scottish. Really.

I know. Everyone has an accent, no matter from whence they come. I’m from Texas, and I can tell you that the Panhandle accent is different from the drawls you hear from East or West Texas, the coast, or the Hill Country.

I adore stories—movies, television, and books—with characters from other countries. Their voices develop their characters, making them more real and more interesting. Their voices charm and attract. They endear us, even when they repel us.

Why? I think it reaches back into our own lives and memories. Someone with a Creole or French accent reminds me of my Grandpa and his family. A brisk Cockney accent reminds me of my first trips to the movie theatre to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and later My Fair Lady.

A rich Russian bite reminds me of hours of watching James Bond marathons. To me it is the sound of villains, but not the typical bad guys. It is the sharp clip of friends from my childhood. Mad geniuses? Yes, but their villainy is iconic and delicious. As far a Bond goes each Bond actor’s voice cuts and melts at the same time. Who wouldn’t listen to whatever Sean Connery has to say?

I like to incorporate accents into my own writing, too. All of my stories include types from various ethnicities. It helps to connect the readers to the individual characters. It offers insight into their past, their education or their heritage without a specific paragraph of exposition.

The same rule applies to film. An accent gives the audience inside information without requiring the characters to stop and explain. It keeps the story moving. The action doesn’t lose momentum. That’s good for the audience and good for the movie. And
good for me… did I mention I love an accent?

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