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

Music ♥ Loves ♥ Film

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Movies love music. Motion picture took its baby steps with a soundtrack. Even before the film incorporated sound, movie houses brought in musicians—pianists, organists, sometimes even full orchestras—to accompany the movie.

Music connects the audience to the story instantly, by pushing our emotional buttons. By linking visual images with sound, we receive cues about what is about to happen. Our hearts pump faster; we hold our breaths. We hunker down in our theatre seats and grab the hand next to us.

Picture a girl running from the beach into the gentle waves of the ocean. She’s carefree, enjoying a beautiful sunset swim. Now add a deep cello background. Duhhn-unmph. Duhhn-unmph. Duhhn-unmph. Yeah, she’s toast.

Try to imagine any great movie without music. It’s difficult.

I joke around with my kids about the music in ‘80’s movies, but what would Ferris Bueller’s Day Off be without “Danke Shoen” or “Twist and Shout?” How could Meryl Streep and Robert Redford fall in love without the tender scores moving them together in Out Of Africa?

Whenever I think about the Pirates of the Caribbean films, I hear the Hans Zimmer soundtracks. John Williams’ scoring for the Star Wars Saga is iconic. Sometimes when I’m angry, I pretend the Darth Vader music accompanies my march to confrontation. It’s most empowering.

Where would Bogey and Bergman be without “As Time Goes By?” That song played as big a role in Casablanca as Peter Lorre did. Speaking of the music as a character, I adore the owl mariachis in Rango. Their asides with the Spanish guitars and trumpets are hysterical.

When I write, I incorporate music into my stories, too. When I wrote about the pirate Jean Lafitte, I constantly listened to “Jupiter” from The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. To me the music embodies a buoyant power and enchanting tempo, just like the gentleman pirate himself. My romantic comedy, Fake Jake, incorporates several styles of dance music, from ballet to disco to country western.

My older son composes music on his computer, and when I heard one of his songs last week, I asked if I could use it for a book trailer. You’ll hear it soon!

Music sets the tone, not only for the unfolding story, but for our minds as well. What are your favorite soundtracks? I want to listen, too!

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