by Sarah Gish
HELLO, JANUARY! IT’S TIME FOR MY ANNUAL ROUNDUP OF HOUSTONIANS’ FAVE FILMS, AND THIS YEAR I TURNED TO MY FRIENDS IN MUSIC. HOUSTON HAS ONE OF THE FINEST AND MOST DIVERSE MUSIC COMMUNITIES IN THE WORLD AND I WAS EAGER TO HEAR WHAT OUR CITY’S NOTES-MEISTERS HAD TO SAY.
Mary-Scott Hagle sings with Lager Rhythms and hosts Cortlandt Street Concerts at her lovely Heights home while serving as the executive director for Dawn Mountain Center for Tibetan Buddhism. Her favorite film is the 1981 French thriller DIVA, “which features a memorable breakfast table scene between a young Parisian mail carrier and the spectacular and elusive American opera star who’s his obsession. The music in DIVA ranges from gorgeous opera to jazz to French new wave – all fantastic – and as a bonus, the film includes one of the best motorcycle chases ever.”
Anthony Brandt is an Associate Professor of Composition at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and Artistic Director of Musiqa – his favorite film is ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. “The film has a great opening: three outlaws waiting at a train station, hardly anything happening, all shot in real-time. Director Sergio Leone’s pacing captures the expanses and isolated settlements of the West: long periods of inactivity followed by a sudden burst of action. The plot is wonderfully elaborate but lucid, with Henry Fonda as a memorable villain. And the movie has one of the greatest film scores, by Ennio Morricone. Each character has his or her own motifs, which often become intertwined and key milestones in the story are marked by a gorgeous vocalise – one of the most beautiful melodies in the movies.”
Mercury co-founder and director of Prelude Music Classes for Children, Ana Treviño-Godfrey has the voice of an angel and spent her high school years at Interlochen Arts Academy with teenagers who were crazy about music (lucky girl!). She told me she loves ALIVE INSIDE: A STORY OF MUSIC AND MEMORY; THE LATE QUARTET; and THE LADY IN NUMBER 6: MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE, the story of an inspiring 109-year-old pianist and Holocaust survivor. “They remind me why I love to teach music and why I love music: I love what it does for the human race.” Amen, sister!
“The first movie to inspire me musically was BEETLEJUICE,” award-winning filmmaker, first chair violinist and composer with Two Star Symphony Jerry Ochoa told me. “I was 9 when it came out and it was the first time I heard instrumental music that was dark, catchy and playful, and added so much attitude and atmos- phere. Twenty-five years later, I’m part of an ensemble which creates music that affects people the same way.”
Houston Ebony Opera Guild’s Board Chair Mary Marks Guillory told me her pick is A FAMILY THING, the story of Earl, a middle-aged “white” man (played by Robert Duvall) in Arkansas who suddenly discovers that he is the product of the rape of a black maid by his white father. He sets off to find his black brother (James Earl Jones) and to meet their shared aunt (Irma P. Hall) and, after a rocky start, healing occurs between all the family members. “It appealed to me because it’s a well- told tale of a difficult part of Southern history that is, in the end, about forgiveness, acceptance and family love.”
Sarah Gish is an artist, mama, igniter and connector who has been writing for Local magazine since 1998. She was one of the co-founders of Q-Fest, Houston’s only LGBT festival, and was the publicist and city manage for Landmark Theatres in the 1990s, overseeing the River Oaks, Greenway and Saks movie theatres. She owns Gish Creative (www.gishcreative.com), a personal, family and business enrichment company that she founded in 2000. It’s her joy to bring the love of movies to Houstonians and to let people know about all the amazing arts and culture in Houston.