Cinema Toast

The Coolest Guy Sans Skin

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I’ve always been a sucker for tall and thin, so it comes as no surprise that I’m on top of the world about the the Kick-Starter campaign for The Lost Skeleton Walks Among Us, the sequel to The Lost Skeleton Returns Again, the sequel to The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra!

Please take a minute to hop over to THIS SITE and pledge a crazy-silly amount of cash to this movie project from the genius mind of Larry Blamire!

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

Cinema Toast

I’m On Board

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I love board games… and party games, trivia games, word games, card games, puzzles, and even a few video games. Yep, I’m one of those people.

I also love to have friends over to my house. Sometimes we watch  TV, sometimes we enjoy a movie, often we just sit and talk for hours. But I’ve always found that one of the quickest ways to get to know people is through playing games with them.

The other night we had some friends over for dinner, and afterward we played a game. It had been a very long time since we had done this, and we were all feeling a little brain-dead after a long hard week. So let’s try something easy. A movie trivia video game would do it. We pulled out MOVIE Scene It?: 2nd Edition. If you haven’t played before, I highly recommend it.

Click to see and purchase!It’s technically a video game that you play through your DVD player. There are trivia cards, too, where you ask and answer questions about pop culture, movie slogans, and the like, but it mostly plays out on your television screen. There are pictograms, fill-in-the-blanks, still pictures with items removed, and movie-poster identifications—and lots of other little things like that. But my favorite category is the movie clips.

The game plays out a short scene from a film, and you (or yourClick to see and purchase! team) must answer a question following the clip.Now sometimes the question is easy. “What is this movie?” Somewhere in Time. Sometimes it’s more difficult. “Name the actress from this scene.” Jane Seymour. And sometimes the questions are all about paying very close attention to the set or something the characters say. “What is the room number on door behind them?” 116.

It’s just fun. And after a difficult week of work or school, it’s a great way to spend a few hours with friends. Scene It? even has a setting called “Party Play” where you don’t even need a person operating the remote control. It will just spin out question after question for anyone to answer.

Scene it? also has game sets and player packs for classic movies, classic TV, the Star Trek universe, James Bond, and others. If you’re especially adept at Disney movies, there’s a game just for you.

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

What are your favorite board games or movie games? I’d love to hear!

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

Cinema Toast

Enjoy a Night Out

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I had a great weekend. After a less-than-stellar week, my weekend was really good.It began Friday afternoon, when my Bestie and I left our husbands at home to watch Goldfinger, and we joined a group of ladies from church to see the new movie Mom’s Night Out.

Click to see and purchase!This little movie featuring Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, Patricia Heaton and Trace Adkins was big-time wonderful. It’s a story about a trio of tired mom’s (at various stages of motherhood) trying to relieve a little stress and find a slice of joy by stepping away from parenting for one night. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and that’s when the fun starts. We all (everyone in the theatre) laughed, cried, applauded, cheered, and swallowed our hearts as they crept up our throats in the poignant moments.

I identified with several of the characters. I’ve heard myself (or my family members) saying the exact same things as the characters in the film. I have felt invisible at times—especially to the automated paper-towel dispensers. I have felt as though nobody heeds my incredibly insightful (and usually wrong) advice. I have felt less than adequate at just about everything I’ve ever tried to do in life. And so do the characters.

The theme of the film is that being a Mom is important. Nobody is perfect, but there is joy in the journey, when you take a breath and examine what wonders you really have in your life. Moms make a difference.

This message is what kicked-off my weekend. So Saturday I cleaned my house, ran a few errands with my wonderful husband, and then went to my gorgeous niece’s engagement party. Mother’s Day Sunday I saw my amazing Daddy installed as one of the new elders at my church, then had lunch with my mom and dad, sister and niece, and all three of my kids. Sunday afternoon my kids watched a cheesy sci-fi movie ala MST3K with me, and I had a sweet visit with my beautiful mother-in-law.

I finished up my weekend by meeting with our mission team as we prepare for our summer trip to Ukraine. Yes, I’m going with a team to summer camp in Ukraine to love on some kids. Am I crazy? Don’t I know there’s civil unrest and a possible Russian invasion going on over there?

Click to see and purchase!Yes, I know all of these things, Maybe I am crazy. But I also know that showing love to kids – kind of like being a mom – is important. I know I’m not perfect, but I can hug and praise and serve kids. I can share some joy. I can take a rest from my everyday life and share the wonders I have in my life. I can make a difference in a place that needs a little peace and compassion right now.

Yeah, Mom’s Night Out is just a movie. But it’s a movie with a message that speaks to so many of the fears and joys of motherhood. That’s what great movies do best. They feed us.

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

Cinema Toast

Red Shirt Diaries

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There is a well-known rule in writing, movies, and story-telling in general. It is that you must kill your Darling. That beloved side-kick with the fun sense of humor—that adorable and plucky comic relief with the gleam in his eye—must die.

 I hate this rule!

I hate this rule.

Of course, it’s absolutely right. There comes a moment in every great story when the main character has been beaten down and hasn’t an ounce of strength left to carry on. They have lost all reason to fight. They have weighed the costs, and the battle just isn’t worth it any longer. And that’s when it happens.

Their best friend, from whom they may have just walked away, takes one for the team. They’re gone. Lost to the enemy. Sliced down by the antagonist’s most powerful weapon, or caught in the head by the unseen sniper. It doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that the protagonist sees it happen. The hero is there to catch the Darling in their arms and reassure them that they will be avenged.

Thus the hero renews the courage that they didn’t even know they had in order to vanquish the foe and save the world. This is why the rule works, and why it’s employed by every great writer and allowed by every avid reader or movie fan. Notice the sad eyes of this dog toy? Click to purchase! 

But what about “Red Shirts”—are they considered Darlings? Hardly.

For anyone who might not be a Trekkie, a Red Shirt is the nickname given by fans to the Star Trek character that appears in the opening scene of an episode, usually wearing a red shirt, and usually with a name like Johnson or Smith. This man may make a remark of some kind regarding how peaceful the planet they’re on might be. Then, from out of nowhere, an alien melts him into a puddle of goo. Captain Kirk and Spock are now forced back to the Enterprise to defend the rest of the crew, and most likely the entire galaxy.

A Red Shirt is not a Darling, because the audience has no invested interest in him. He is there merely for exposition—to reveal the imminent threat to the main characters, and to start the story rolling. Even the main character’s interest in him is usually minimal. Someone out there is killing people indiscriminately. This is how they’re doing it. The charge to the hero is simple: find out why and stop them before someone else gets hurt.

And if you’re watching closely, you will know right away who the Darling is, and you can begin to prepare yourself for their end. Maybe. You hope it won’t happen, but you know it will. You can’t watch, but you must. You can’t turn another page, and yet the pages turn.

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

Cinema Toast

Date Night is Over

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I want to go to a movie… fifteen years ago.

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I know it’s silly. Fifteen years ago there was the same sticky floor and exorbitantly-priced popcorn, but back then there were not cell phones glowing from every row of the theatre. If a person bumped your seat, they said, “excuse me” and had the decency to look embarrassed. Those days are gone.

Over the last year, my husband and I have gone to watch a movie at our local theatre four times, maybe five. We start the trip with high hopes.

We get there early. We drop a small fortune on tickets and snacks without complaining. We find our seats—not too close or too far from the screen. We watch twenty minutes or so of commercials before the previews for coming attractions even begin. We silence our phones and put them out of sight. The lights dim and we smile and hold hands. And then…

A very tall couple ambles in late and sits directly in front of us.They must stretch, pushing their seat backs firmly against out knees, and then complain because they’re too cramped. They argue with each other as the opening credits begin—not quietly—they’re mad, after all.

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Suddenly a cell phone goes off behind us. The teenage owner of the phone with the Beyonce ringtone answers it without shame.She takes a minute to explain that she can’t talk because she’s in a movie theatre, and another minute to tell her friend what movie she’s about to watch. And one last minute to promise to call back with a review.

Once the movie really starts the theatre starts to settle down. Until the toddler at the end of our row has to use the restroom. Mom and Dad decide who gets to accompany the little angel with a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Dad “wins” and quickly drags Joey across the knees of everyone down the row. Yes, they might have gone the other direction, but Mom didn’t feel like standing up to let them pass.

The next ninety minutes include much of the same, from all corners of the auditorium. Upset children, glowing smartphones, bathroom and concession breaks, all set the framework for our date night movie. By the end credits, we’re exhausted. I can barely tell you what the movie was about.

Maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Maybe I’m getting old. But I miss going out to the movies. I miss manners. Maybe that’s why we have invested in our own home theatre system. We have a huge screen and surround sound, and we sit in comfy seats. We can pause the movie if we need a break for anything. The popcorn is cheaper, too.

But I still miss the theatre. I miss being able to share the experience of a story with a few hundred other people who might have the same hopes and expectations. I can’t imagine that I’m the only person who longs for that. Sure, home theatre systems have amazing advantages, but they lack community. I wonder, even as I type this, if that sense of fellowship can ever be recaptured. Was I just imagining it in the first place?

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I understand that things change. Lots of things change for the better every day. But this isn’t better, is it? How did we get here, and how do we get back?

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