TAG! – 5 Grown Men & The Game That Connected Them The Last 28 Years

tagAs we get older, we sometimes lose our inner child.  The part of us that makes us fearless, unwillingness to take no for an answer, and the unwavering loyalty we have to the people we call our best friends.  As a kid, there is no thought process, judgment, or questioning of why we are friends with people; it is more of a way of life.  Moving forward usually means changes to our group of friends, not staying in touch with people that we assumed would be in our lives forever, and huge life adjustments like being in serious relationships or having kids of our own.  The kicker is we subconsciously make those choices by ignoring a phone call, not responding to a text, or deleting an email assuming that the person who reached out will try again.

Recently, I finished watching the movie TAG.  A film based on a true story of five friends that had been playing the same game of tag for the last 28 years.  Seriously, this story was in The Wall Street Journal and a slew of other major publications back in 2013.   These five men had moved to different areas of the country, got married, had children, and were heads of major corporations.  Once a year for an entire month they would show up in random places to tag one another just like when they were kids to avoid not being “it” for another year.  Can you imagine flying 800 miles to hide behind a car or creating an insane disguise just to tag your friend for the sake of not being “it” the next year?  The 11-month strategy and planning that goes into a game that has been happening for 28 years has to keep all of them sharp and a little paranoid but more importantly connected.

The moral of the movie had nothing to do with the game of tag, but more about how invaluable they believed their friendship was to each other.  We have the ability in the 21st century to stay in touch with people that are important to us no matter where they are in this world.  We use life as an excuse.  I’m too tired to text you back.  My kids are more important than responding to this email that will take 5 minutes.  I need to watch the new Game of Thrones episode with my significant other instead of taking this phone call for 10 minutes.  I read an article the other day that said there are 86,400 seconds in a day and the author said this: “Every day we get up we are blessed with this amount of time to connect with the people that matter.  There are no refunds, no exchanges, and no roll-over to the next day.  There are also no guarantees you will be around tomorrow to experience another 86,400 seconds.”

There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year.  Use every second to connect.  Call your best friend from high school for 900 seconds, laugh through text in a college group chat and reminisce for 300 seconds, or spend 1800 seconds with your parents watching a sitcom on T.V.  Use the time that you have to relate to the people that made you who you are in this life.  To every person that made me who I am today – “I like you because you join in on my weirdness.”  I just have one question.  Are you ready to be “it”?

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Like Sunday, Like Rain – Forever Connected by A Haunted Melody

“No one cares about me…This is my life.  Welcome to the weirdness.  I’m just trying to navigate a course towards safety and sanity the best way I know how.”  This quote sets the stage for all the strangeness, hardships, and love that you encounter in the film Like Sunday, Like Rain.  It is a story of an unlikely relationship between Reggie, a lonely twelve year old, music prodigy, and genius, and Eleanor, a damaged twenty-three year old who has a broken relationship with her family and a hurtful love life.  The pair meets in an unlikely circumstance when Eleanor becomes the au pair to Reggie.

Eleanor introduces Reggie to connecting with someone that you can’t connect with through analysis or judgement.  She opens his eyes to the reality that someone cares about him even if he feels rejected by everyone else.  The story looks at two stages of life of the wealthy elite and the working class.  It analyses that two people from different worlds have more in common than what meets the eye.  The rejection and betrayal they feel by their families and others, they find comfort in one another.

The music by Ed Harcourt carries the plot and story as each composition adds a new layer to the thoughts and feelings of these two characters.  The piece “Like Sunday, Like Rain” is used  throughout the film to increase the emotions that the characters are feeling of hurt and sadness.  Eleanor’s first interaction with Reggie is listening to his piece being practiced at school.  She is almost in tears as it ends and is sitting in the dark theatre.  The composition spoke to her in a way that words could never achieve, made her miss something that she didn’t realized she missed.  As she spoke to Reggie, she connected with someone with just a handshake.  Reggie makes the comment “Life is a series of colossal mistakes.”  What I think he meant was that we are constantly learning, evolving, becoming the people that we hope to be.  We, as humans make rash decisions, allow the emotional to get in the way of the analysis, but is analysis better than taking a risk hoping we land our feet?  Life is about finding someone that can understand you.  Can sit with you in a room full of silence and not say a word.  Hold your hand without needing to say ‘I’m sorry,’ and be there whenever you need them to be.

This film is an innocent and beautiful story about two people being there for each other in a time of need, and continuing to be there for each other in the future even if they are not with each other physically.  Being two souls connected by music and living with each other in the haunted melody that is “Like Sunday, Like Rain.”  We could all use a reminder that we have been given a gift and it is our obligation to take care of it.  To take care of each other.  To constantly be reflecting on life and who we are.  And to always let the music speak when we are lost for words.

The video below is the piece “Like Sunday, Like Rain” by Ed Harcourt.  Watch the trailer here.

Bringing Dance to Life On the Big Screen

Like every sibling relationship, my younger brother and I have the ability to say something and know exactly what the other person is talking about.  Normally because it is a quote from a movie.  Anytime I watch a movie I always find something new that I didn’t see before whether it is a moment between characters that I missed, a line that is insanely funny that I didn’t connect to before, or a heart stopping quote that makes everything finally tie together.  Dancing in a movie can do that without saying one word.  Usually dancing in movies go hand in hand with it being some type of musical, unless it is specifically about dance like “Center Stage” or “Step Up,” but I am not talking about dance focused movies.  I want to talk about movies that have dance in them that make you feel something so powerful that you can’t help but fall in love with the story, the characters, and the inevitable plot twists that the director takes you on.

Over the last thirty years, dance sequences have popped up in movies periodically, but not consistently, which has to do with cost of the choreographer(s) and the dancers, the ability to find the right type of dancer(s)/ actor(s), and the various types of film shots that need to be taken when capturing a dance sequence so you can record the right type of emotion for the viewer.  Needless to say, you need a talented director and one that knows something about dance.  So what makes a movie a success?  Does dance in movies help to sell the film, or is it an added expense that not only increases the production budget but has a large potential to fail as a blockbuster?

Kenny Ortega is an American choreographer and director most notably known for his work on the ‘High School Musical’ trilogy and the 1992 film, ‘Newsies.’  He has a choreographic style that stands out from his strategic layout of group dances in songs such as ‘We’re All in This Together’ and ‘Seize the Day’ to his ability to choreograph for the camera by utilizing movements that are explosive such as chaînés leaps and pirouette extensions.  Ortega has a way of connecting his choreography with the storyline so it doesn’t seem like the dancing is coming out of no where mixing fantasy with reality through film shots and dance sequences.  For example, in High School Musical 3 during the song ‘Can I Have This Dance’ he blends the asking of a proposal to the prom that has the perfect theme of the waltz and as the two characters sing they waltz and partner throughout the roof of the school.  The director goes from quick feet views to full body circular movement of the camera to a high view of the characters during the partner lifts.  This gives the audience an inside view through each waltz to the emotions that the characters are feeling through a simple touch or a partner lift.  The High School Musical trilogy hit big after the first television release in 2006 so by the time HSM3 came out in 2008 Disney had the budget to do a theatrical production.  The fans pushed the popularity of this made for television story that skyrocketed the careers of the people who worked on these films from the actors such as Zac Eron to the choreographers Ortega, Bonnie Story, and Charles Klapow.  ‘Newsies’ didn’t have the greatest response when it first came out in 1992, but it has some great choreography in it.  For example, the song ‘King of New York’ where not only is there jazz, but also a mix of tap moves such as shuffles, scuffs, and toe hop barrels.  It’s rare to see two different styles mixed within one number.  Having a two drastically different types of dance styles in a number can create difficulty when searching for dancers who are trained in those styles; that is why as a dancer it is always good to be versatile.

I still haven’t figured out what makes a blockbuster hit movie.  I think it’s more like gambling.  Some film productions get a smaller marketing and production budget and then the fans blow up the popularity of it like with High School Musical, where other movies get a larger production budget but not enough marketing is done for it or it doesn’t resinate with the current generation that is being targeted such as ‘Newsies.’  Either way, movie studios bring on the dance because society is ready to be taken on a new ride that doesn’t always have to be capped superheroes and gore.