By Tim Smith

Yes, I know, but I just had to work into the title, sometime early in January, the "2020" clear vision imagery. I'll try to abstain in the future, maybe.

Arts in Action: Continuing in my year-long series celebrating colleagues who make an impact through the arts, this month, the film industry is going to be highlighted.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the presenters of the Oscars, have thrown me for a loop this year. The statuettes are normally given out at the end of February, yet this year, February 9th is the ceremony from Los Angeles.

A dear and long time friend, John, whom I have featured over the years, is my go to arts partner in all things celluloid.

As a film and stage actor, director and producer, and connoisseur of the art form, John and I always look forward to our post Oscar commiserations immediately after the show goes off the air.

A tradition that means a great deal to us, he lives in California, and used to make the red carpet pilgrimage. It also helps to set my viewing priorities for the upcoming year.

I look forward to sharing some of his thoughts on this year's awards leading up to the 2/9/20 telecast. Stay tuned, as soon as the nominations are out, and that's tomorrow, he will be contacting me for sure.

Movie moments: We have just come off that time of the year when we enjoyed catching up on film favorites.

Check out one of ours, “The Holiday”: During a scene about midway through this film, the two little girls who play Jude Law's daughters pushed the professionals, the other being Cameron Diaz, to pull out all the stops to not lose the film to these precious children. Quite simply, their few screen minutes are the result of brilliant directing, editing and camera work, and if truth be known, not at all that simple.

The timing had to be perfect, the editing completed with a surgical touch – and the chemistry had to be just right. And it is.

In the same film I learned a neat term: "Meet Cute." It is a technique that screenwriters have called on to place the two leading protagonists in a moment where they have to talk. Legendary actor, Eli Wallach plays a former screenwriter in the film and he explains its use to Kate Winslet. His delivery is so spot on that you feel instantly transported back to the golden age of Hollywood.

The balance of story lines in this film is quite good and I must admit that I was most surprised by the chemistry that Jack Black has with the screen.

Star Wars: 1977 – 2019: I don't have the space here to possibly share all my thoughts, save to say that as one of the generation who has been there since the beginning and now at its end, the story progression, sustained over 42 years, and not without flaws, will be studied in film schools as long as there are those who want to learn how it is done.

I think back to the period when I first lived in Hollywood, this would have been around 1978, when a young man that I worked with had a personal tie to the first “Star Wars” film, and I will always remember how he seemed somewhat disconnected from the hype that surrounded the work.

He was probably in his late teens, so in retrospect, that was probably not too unusual. I wonder what his children, and maybe grandchildren, are asking with him today?

Theater, alive: Traditional terms: To enjoy the live theater experience even more, here is another term you may find interesting.

The "11 O' Clock Number”: Back in the day, shows typically began at 8:30 p.m. When 11 o'clock rolled around, it was time for the big show stopping number, the penultimate song in the show. . ."Rose's Turn" from Gypsy . . . " comes to my mind. [Source: Playbill.com: 8/10/19: By Ruthie Fierberg]

In passing: Musical theater lost a luminary on December 26th as Jerry Herman, composer of musical hits Mame, Mack and Mable, Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles among others, passed away at age 88.

In the spirit of “Star Wars” also leaving us this past year was, "English-American actor Peter Mayhew played Chewbacca in all of the character's Star Wars appearances from 1977 through 2015's The Force Awakens.”

Note: "Chewbacca was inspired by (director) George Lucas' dog, who liked to ride in (the) copilot position in the director's car. Mayhew got the role, in part, because of his unusual height: 7 feet 3 inches."

Take time to see a favorite old film, and savor its structure, in our town.

Welcoming you into the room and provoking conversation, since 1/06

See you in the paper,

t A s

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