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

Nora Ephron, 1941-2012

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Hollywood, all of us really, lost a treasure this week as Nora Ephron passed away at the age of 71. She was best known as an essayist, journalist, novelist and screenwriter. She wrote such screenplays as Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally (1989), My Blue Heaven (1990), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), You’ve Got Mail (1998), and Julie and Julia (2009).

Her writing touched her audiences. Her scripts attracted great talents like Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan, Joan Cusack, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Rob Reiner and Tom Hanks. These are all people who use their gifts to make us laugh and cry at virtually the same moment. Her words gave them wings to do it.

What I like best about Nora Ephron, and what I will miss the most, is that she gave a voice to the thoughts and fears and dreams that reside in all real-life relationships. Her characters argue and debate about all of the challenges that we face. They have best friend conversations like we all have, as well as in-depth dating conversations that most of us avoid.

She gave us permission to have far-fetched, fairy-tale dreams about white knights. She showed us what that kind of thing looks like in the real world. She encouraged us all to talk. She showed us how to communicate with the ones we love—or might one day love. She reflected the real world in her movies and sprinkled them with laughter, so that we knew that it’s all right to laugh at ourselves. Though she’s moved on, her films will continue her work. Thank you for that, Nora.

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

Cinema Toast

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Movies

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Don’t be silly, of course this isn’t true. There are millions of incredibly important things that movies never address at all. But for this blog’s sake, let’s all just pretend.

Movies have taught me some really useful information and tricks.

As an example, I can core a head of iceberg lettuce in nothing flat by slamming the base on the countertop and twisting out the hard center. I think it was Meg Ryan who showed us how to do this in one of her ‘80’s rom coms. Try it next time; it works!

And I believe it was Sophia Loren (Houseboat, 1958) who taught me the proper way to eat a nice, thin crust slice of pizza without making a mess. Fold it length-wise and flip the tip up. This ensures that the crust will contain all the saucy, cheesy deliciousness with every bite. In this famous scene, she also shows how to scam a free bite of pizza from just about anyone.

I’ve learned from several spy movies that if you want to eavesdrop on the people in the next room, you can simply use a drinking glass. Just hold the open side to the door, press your ear against the bottom, and voila! You have a neat little listening system.

I have also learned that drinking lots of water is very important. A glass of water is a great early detection system if you’re being stalked by dinosaurs (Jurassic Park, 1993). It also reacts like acid when thrown on witches (The Wizard of Oz, 1939) or aliens Signs, 2002). Important safety tip– you’re welcome!

I’m pretty sure I could disable a bomb if I had to. All you have to do is cut the wire opposite of what you’re instructed. I can’t list one particular movie for this one. Just watch any movie with a bomb in it. If someone says, “cut the red wire,” the star cuts the black one, and it always works.

I have learned that it’s important to drive safely, because if you’re in a wreck, your car will immediately explode. I learned this at a very young age, watching Speed Racer cartoons.

My husband is pretty certain that in a space orbit emergency, he could build an air filtration system out of spare parts (Apollo 13, 1995). I’m not sure when he might be in a space emergency, but it’s good to know, anyway.

From watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977, I learned that mashed potatoes make a very nice artists’ medium. I confess, though—I already knew that one. I’ve been playing with my mashed potatoes since way back.

My sons have asked me if it’s possible to use a clothes iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches (Mr. Mom, 1983), but I advised against it. It probably would work, but I can’t think of a situation when I would have an iron and all the makings for a cheese sandwich where I wouldn’t have a grill or griddle of some kind.

There are lots of other skills to which one can aspire, but not necessarily learn, from movies. In Flashdance, 1983, Jennifer Beals displays her talent for removing her bra without taking off her sweatshirt. Lots of women can do this, but this was the first movie that I’m aware of, where it was accomplished onscreen by the leading lady. In Dan in Real Life, 2007, Marlene Lawston ties a knot in a cherry stem in her mouth. This feat has also been in other movies, but the “proud papa” look on Steve Carell’s face in this one is priceless.

What have you learned something from the movies that you can share with the class? It’s “Show and Tell” time here. I want to know!

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