Where Do You Want to Go?

The sun is high and warm. The car windows are coming down and the shorts are begging to come out to play. It’s time to think about vacation.

My only obstacle is cash. Face it: vacations are expensive. Whether you fly or drive, or even cruise, you must have a substantial stash of dough to go.

That’s another thing that I love about movies—world travel from the comfort of your own home or local theatre.

I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral inParis. I’ve been to the Moulin Rouge and the Louvre.

In Italy, I’ve visited the Trevi Roman fountains, the Venetian canals, the Coliseum, and the leaning tower of Pisa.

Click to see and purchase!
I saw the great Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza. I’ve seen the Egyptian temples of Ramses and Abu Sembel. I’ve floated down the Nile on a luxury cruise and ridden camels through the Sahara.

In Australia, I’ve snorkeled around the Great Barrier Reef, hiked Ayres Rock, and gone walkabout in the Outback. I’ve enjoyed the man-made marvels of the Sydney Opera House framed by the Harbour Bridge. I’ve been whale watching off the coast of Perth.

I’ve climbed the steps of Indian temples and lain on the beaches of Thailand. I witnessed the Equinox at the pyramid at Chichen Itza. I’ve experienced Shangri La and Utopia.

I’ve enjoyed all of these wonders and seen places my grandparents never imagined through the magic of movies. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied with never traveling the globe. I long to visit far off destinations. The movies I see often help me to refine my “list.”

My point is that while I save up for that once-in-a-lifetime European tour, I can enjoy the rolling green hills of Irelandin films like Leap Year (2010) and The Quiet Man (1952). As my “Aussie Break” jar fills up with spare change, I can organize my packing while watching Crocodile Dundee (1986), Australia (2008), and Mad Max (1979).

Though the hotels and cars that I might rent on my real-life travels might not be as glamorous or luxurious as those in film, the trade off is that I probably won’t be attacked by post-apocalyptic savages. I hope.

Yes, it’s true that Cary Grant won’t be strolling at my side down the Seine river walk in Paris, but I also won’t be chased through the colonnade by Walter Matthau, like in Charade (1963).Click to see and purchase!

My trips might not be as adventurous as in the movies, but they’re almost never as dangerous, either. I’ve never been kidnapped by centuries-old mummies or attacked by werewolves on foggy moors. The worst thing I’ve ever really had to deal with is a nasty sunburn on my nose. Maybe next time…

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

Who Do You Think You Are?

The casting of movies always intrigues me. Brilliant casting makes a story come alive. Poor casting often goes unnoticed, but leaves the audience with a sense of unease. We know something isn’t right, but we can’t quite figure out what the problem is.

Casting is even more important when the film is an adaptation from a popular book like The Hunger Games. Finding actors that completely embody the characters is a tough job, but when it’s right, the players breathe magic onto the screen.

When I think of well-cast movies, I immediately recall 1974’s The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern and Sam Waterston. I know there are several versions of this tale, but for me, this is the cast that really tells the story. I can imagine Redford as the rags-to-riches hero, ever hopeful that if he keeps to his plan, things will work out. Mia Farrow is the flighty Daisy, with skin-deep beauty masking a shallow soul. Sam Waterston is the on-screen audience that sees the tragedy unfolding and feels helpless to affect it. He is the rest of us and he speaks to our consciences perfectly.

My favorite film of all time is 1963’s Charade starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Besides the two leads, this film features a well-constructed ensemble that includes Walter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy. Grant’s bad boy/ good guy persona keeps Hepburn’s damsel-in-distress in suspense every bit as much as the murderous villains that are chasing her through the streets of Paris.

Casting agents have a huge task. They must find the biggest stars available that fit the assigned roles, balancing a film budget that requires unknowns and extras to round out the story.

Yesterday in my twitter feed, Larry Blamire, writer, director and star of 2001’s The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, tweeted a spoof article announcing a remake of his cult-classic, starring Richard Gere, Nicole Kidman and Liam Neeson. I laughed at his quotes and at all the tweets that followed. His idea of a “darker vision” of his own homage to B-Movies was hysterical. (follow him on twitter: @larryblamire)

Who would star in your favorite story? If they remade your best-loved movie or adapted your most beloved book, who would you want to see in the lead role?

In my high school days (when I weighed 100 pounds and sported a perpetual perm), people constantly told me that I looked like Mary Steenburgen. Honestly, I wish I still did. It was much better than when Doug, the boy who sat in front of me in the third grade, told me that I looked like Barbra Streisand because I had a big nose. Doug, if you’re out there, I finally grew into my nose.

If Hollywood made your life into a movie, who would portray you? Has anyone ever told you that you resembled a movie star? Would they be perfect for the part of you?

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

PS: For a link to Blamire’s “article”– https://twitter.com/#!/larryblamire/status/184329865535815681/photo/1