Monday, June 24, 2013

Mixtape movies: The Trek captains volume

The Mixtape Movies Blogathon is an event in which the object is to tie together a group of movies with a common theme, in the style of a old-fashioned "mix" cassette tape. It is hosted by Fandango Groovers Movie Blog. For a complete list of participating bloggers, visit the website.

I have a real affinity for mixtapes. My father used to make them all the time. He was a real music aficionado; he'd buy records and tapes through one of those old mail-order services - the kind where they'd offer the first six cassettes for a penny or something like that - and then, when the industry starting shifting away from LPs and 8-tracks, he'd buy these big stereos and boom boxes and record them onto cassettes (and eventually, CDs). He'd buy cassettes in bulk from The Wiz or Sam Goody (remember those places, New Yorkers?) and hand-write his selections in that beautiful, elegant style of his onto the cassette labels. He took his music seriously... I did the same. I emulated him, only I made mixtapes off of the radio. I grew up a Top 40 kid, so I wrote out my own labels and recorded almost anything and everything - and this being the 80s, that meant Top 40 radio was still a little more diverse than today. Sometimes I'd take these tapes to parties, but it never occurred to me to make one for anybody other than myself. Don't think anyone ever asked me to!

So what would my theoretical movie mixtape look like? In a sense, people are making movie mixtapes all the time on YouTube now. "Supercut" videos (such as this one) seem to embody the mixtape spirit, so my movie mixtape will be along these lines. (I think Andy had complete movies in mind for this blogathon, but I'm going with individual scenes instead.)

My theme is "Star Trek captains in other roles." I know, I know, but it was all I could think of.

- William Shatner in Judgment at Nuremberg. Six years before he boarded the Enterprise, Shat was a captain in this powerhouse all-star movie about the Nazi war trials directed by Stanley Kramer. Here he shares his first scene in the film with Kramer regular Spencer Tracy. I had meant to write about a couple of Kramer/Tracy films I had seen recently - Inherit the Wind and It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World - but I never got around to it, so I'll just say here that I loved the former and was lukewarm about the latter.

- Patrick Stewart in L.A. Story. Notice he plays a Frenchman with an actual French accent in this! A common complaint I've heard is that how can Picard be French if he talks with a British accent? My answer is: don't think about it! It's the same artistic license that allows all the aliens on the show to speak English. L.A. Story is actually a wonderful movie, perhaps the warmest one Steve Martin has ever made. I've always enjoyed many of his movies, both comedies and dramas (he's terrific in Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner), but I find that this is the one I keep coming back to.

- Avery Brooks in The Big Hit. There's actually a character named "Cisco" in this movie! One wonders if that had any impact on deciding on Sisko for this movie. Avery Brooks hasn't made many movies, and you've probably already seen him in American History X, so I picked this Mark Wahlberg crime flick instead. I haven't actually seen this - it looks kinda like a Pulp Fiction clone (the 90s were full of them) - but Brooks gets to speak Japanese in it! Not in this scene, but he gets to be a total badass here, which is hilarious and awesome.

- Kate Mulgrew in Throw Momma From the Train. I haven't seen this in quite awhile, but from what I remember, it was a very funny movie. Janeway plays the ex-wife of Billy Crystal, who plagarized a book he wrote and became a success and now he wants to kill her. Danny DeVito, meanwhile, wants to kill his pain-in-the-ass mom. So they arrange to kill each other's victims, Strangers on a Train-style. Couldn't find any scenes with Mulgrew on YouTube, but I vaguely remember seeing her in this. How could I not, if she looked like that?

- Scott Bakula in American Beauty. If I'm not mistaken, I think Bakula is the only Trek actor (among the main casts, of course) to appear in a Best Picture Oscar winner. Take that fact for what it's worth. Anyway, you probably remember him in this; he played the gay next-door neighbor of Chris Cooper, which gets him all hot and bothered. This was after Quantum Leap but before Enterprise. His role isn't that big but at least he's going slightly against type.

- Chris Pine in This Means War. After Star Trek, before Into Darkness, this is a halfway decent fight scene between nu-Kirk and Tom Hardy, or would be without the presence of Reese Witherspoon. Pine's non-Kirk roles haven't exactly set the world on fire, and I doubt reviving Jack Ryan will continue that streak, but whatever.

Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek TNG: The Best of Both Worlds
The Captains

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