Cinema Toast

Not an Easter Egg

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I Love Easter Eggs in Movies

I do love them. Those little inside jokes that seem perfectly placed for the super-fans are just that extra, This one’s just for you, to make you feel as though the movie makers know and appreciate the audience.

I keep seeing articles about all the Easter eggs in one movie or another. Especially with Rogue One. I saw Rogue One. I did not, however, see too many Easter eggs. I saw lots of references and allusions to the other films in the Star Wars universe, but referencing Captain Antilles, showing a ship from another SW movie or series, or including the line, “I have a bad feeling about this,” does not qualify as an Easter egg. That’s simply called connecting the dots.

Don’t get me wrong. I really loved Rogue One, but it was not heavy on Easter eggs.

Here’s a Great Example

I recently saw Favreau’s 2016 The Jungle Book, and it contained a perfect example of an Easter egg.

Mowgli is abducted by monkeys and taken to see King Louie, voiced by Christopher Walken. When the boy gets to the palace, he approaches a pile of treasure and picks up a cow bell. He plays with it for a moment, trying to figure it out, and then puts it back down. Why is this an Easter egg? Because Walken is widely remembered for the silly “more cowbell” SNL skit with Will Ferrell. What does that have to do with The Jungle Book? Nothing. That’s the point. It’s only there as an inside joke for the portion of the audience who delighted in Walken’s SNL appearance. That’s what an Easter egg is meant to be.

So Why the Chip on My Shoulder?

I really don’t have a problem with bloggers bringing attention to fun facts they may have noticed in a film that others may have overlooked. I appreciate them helping other connect the dots and show continuity, especially in a series. Just don’t call it an Easter egg if it’s not one. It’s like using the wrong homonym in a sentence. It’s unprofessional. And people do notice.

 

 

Cinema Toast

My Disney Princess Carried a Blaster

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We all loved her.

Last year ran roughshod over my list of Hollywood Heroes. From start to finish, David Bowie to William Christopher, we’ve all lost some of our favorites. But for me, Carrie Fisher’s passing probably hit the hardest. Was there anyone who didn’t love her?

She ushered in a new age of Princess. She took that character genre from damsel-in-distress to kick-butt hero. She was sassy, smart, smart-mouthed, skilled, and stunning. And this is before she ever stepped in front of a camera. She was honest, brutally so, about her struggles. She was willing to step from the shadows, rip off her bandages, and show us her scars.

How best to honor her?

As a writer, I hope to honor her memory by infusing my “princesses” with her strength and presence. I want them to have vulnerabilities to face, mountains to climb, partners in passion, and character oozing from every pore. I want them to defend the less able and champion the righteous cause. I think Ms. Fisher would appreciate that. I think that’s the legacy she’d like to leave.

The Princesses next in line?

From the moment I first saw her on screen, I decided I needed to let my hair grow long enough for the bun-do and then the braids. I had grown up with tall, blonde, Barbie-type princesses, and she was a short brunette. Yay! I hope that the role models for tomorrow’s princesses will buck the trends, not just for the bucking, but to send the message that buying into the mass-production idea of beauty will never bring happiness. Happiness is a decision. It is a condition of contentment and reconciliation with one’s own actions and responsibilities. It will never be a product you can purchase or a sheep-like trend.

Carrie Fisher let us know, in no uncertain terms, that growing up as a Hollywood Princess didn’t make her the happiest girl in the kingdom. I want the next generation of role models to be grounded in reality, willing to show their flaws without making excuses. She embraced the role of princess, but not without disclaimers. She showed both that she could be romantic and rough at the same time.

Ms. Fisher requested of her obituary, “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

Rest in peace, princess.

Carrie Fisher

October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016

 

Cinema Toast

Say U.N.C.L.E.

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Me with the waxed James Bond, Daniel Craig, at Madame Tussaud’s in Las Vegas.

I like spies. I like spy novels. I like spy movies. I grew up with James Bond, Jack Ryan, Mission: Impossible, The Saint, and Man from U.N.C.L.E.— not to mention all the TV shows, books and movies that follow individual spy stories, like the classic Our Man in Havana, featuring Alec Guinness and Maureen O’Hara (1959).

I love the conflict that is inherent in these good versus evil tales, because the spies themselves so often are conflicted in their own motivation. James Bond is cold and calculated one minute as he’s defending queen and country, and then warm and charming the next while wooing the curvy Russian assassin sent to end him. The Impossible Missions Force members all know that they will hung out to dry by their own countrymen if they are caught, yet they constantly do the right thing, whatever that may be. Simon Templar is a selfish thief that somehow finds the greater reward in helping good triumph over evil. And Illya Kuryakin and Napoleon Solo (natural enemies) must join forces to save the world. The spies themselves are complex and interesting even without the stormy situations.

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My 1965 Man from UNCLE coloring book. (Okay, this wasn’t originally mine– I found it at a vintage booksellers’ booth.)

I happen to know (from my own secret sources) that the real lives of spies are usually not as exciting or adventurous as the movies depict. And though they may have some pretty cool tech at their disposal, they don’t have all the Q-Branch gadgets or a sporty car that converts into a helicopter or submarine at the touch of a button. But it’s fun to imagine, and that’s why spy movies, books, and television series always seem to be popular.

For true fans, the gadgets, cars, and signature quotes will always be en vogue. We will always treasure our Man from U.N.C.L.E. coloring books. And we will always stand in line to see the movies.

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

How to Be a Movie Criminal

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Being a movie villain is incredibly easy. There’s really nothing to it. You can get away with almost anything, and half the time, the audience will cheer for your wicked plans to succeed. The best part is, you don’t need any real education or skills, and most of your “bad guy supplies” can be found already lying around your house.

Need to steal a car? In movies, all you have to do is reach underneath the steering column and pull a handful of wires loose. Next, touch the ends of any two random wires together. This will easily start the car, and you’re free to drive away in mere seconds.

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Have a crack at safe-cracking? Twice as easy. Just grab a stethoscope and some duct tape. Now get to the nearest safe and tape the end of the scope to the side of the dial on the front of the safe. All you have to do is start turning the knob. Stop whenever you hear the tumblers click, and turn the other direction. Repeat until the locking mechanism makes one last big click, and the safe will pop open, revealing a huge stash of cash.

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What about just breaking into a building? Piece of cake. Just reach into your hair and pull out a bobby-pin. (Guys, if you don’t have a gal with you, find a paper clip.) Now pull the bobby-pin open a little and shove it into a door lock. Jiggle for a few seconds, and the door will fly right open.

Kidnapping isn’t very nice, but in movies it’s often part of the caper. Again, it’s pretty easy if you know how. First, get a white hanky and keep it folded in the palm of your hand. Next, follow your intended victim into a parking garage—all the best kidnap victims hang out in parking garages.Lastly, cover their mouth with the hanky. They will pass out immediately, without any struggle at all. This will also render them nearly weightless, making them easy to carry to your villain hide-out. Also, most kidnap victims in movies will succumb to Stockholm Syndrome in a matter of hours and fall hopelessly in love with you.

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Now for the big one—The Bank Heist. You’ll need at least two friends for this one, plus a getaway driver (see stealing a car, above). You all will need to dress completely in black. Don’t worry about the security guards noticing a group of armed men in black jumpsuits—they never notice details like that in the movies. Also, carry a can of shaving cream or spray-paint with you. This is for the security cameras. Spraying them with paint or cream completely disables them, even retro-actively, so nobody will see your faces. As far as the actual robbery goes, no need for handing the teller a note, just scream out that you’re robbing the place. The tellers will then throw bags of money at you and then you can leave quickly by your getaway car.

I’m sure you’ve noticed plenty of other fantastic ways to commit crime in the movies, most as easy as the ones I have mentioned. So why doesn’t everyone become a movie criminal? Well, there is one downside to the whole racket. It turns out that in most of the movies you see, the criminals get caught and sent to jail—if they’re lucky.

Who is your favorite movie criminal? Let me hear from you!

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