I looked in every direction.
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Were cameras watching me? This book would have been more effective with a clearer focus. As to your question, The Birds left a huge imprint on me; I first saw it in third grade. For one thing, it introduced me to spectacular film making. For another, it left me terrified of those flying rats. Definitely Clue!! I can trace by current mild fear of birds directly to a childhood viewing of The Birds :P. I liked this book more than you did probably because I did not expect a certain kind of book.
Admit One – The Movie of My Life | The Heart of Presence
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James writes about how thrilling it was to see Sindbad fight an army of skeletons, I could identify. I remember. Those stop-motion animation monsters, once state of the art, that inspired Mr. James to pursue an acting career inspired my friends and I to try our own hand at film making. All we needed was my best friend's father's Super 8 camera, a cable for the shutter, a backyard sandbox and my little brother's plastic dinosaurs. Another confession-- half of the dinosaurs were mine.
While suburban California where I grew up is a long way from the working class England of Mr. James's childhood, I found the first half of Admit One nostalgic reading. We're bound together by a common love of the same childhood movies. I wonder if Avatar will inspire the same sort of amateur film making. I hope it does.
The second half of Admit One follows Mr. James's journey to Hollywood and his attempt to become a professional actor. Success does not come easily. There are roles he'd rather not talk about, both small and large, a few respectable acting gigs here and there, then a big break, a part in a full scale Hollywood production. The kind they don't make anymore. A good idea can hinder a memoir as well as help it.
At first the the events in each chapter stick close to the movie that frames them. James's childhood need not match the reader's childhood if the two share the love of the same movie. We were all watching Star Wars at that age, or whatever our era's Star Wars was. This makes it easy to identify with young Emmett even if the theatres we attended were radically different.
It seems odd that the closer Mr. James gets to a career in movies the farther away the chapters in Admit One get from the films that frame them. A few offer little more than ironic commentary on the events they describe, and the narration becomes snarkier, more worldly-wise. By then end of the book I began to miss the little boy who loved movies so much. But it just may be too hard to love movies like a child does once you're in the world that makes them.
The Hollywood Mr. James ends up in does not live up to his expectations. One day an agent calls--get to the set right now; you're needed for a scene. Full of hope, the young actor arrives on set to be sent to the make-up trailer.
He is stripped, shaved, dressed in a bikini with large balloons stuffed in the top. The scene, a boxing rink. The part, a woman boxer. The reason an actor was hired instead of an actress, the visual joke of punching a woman's oversized chest. This is not the worst thing that happens to the aspiring actor. James makes a living but it's not the one he dreamed of when he was a little boy amazed by the sight of Sindbad fighting an army of skeletons. Maybe one day Grab a big bag of popcorn and settle in for an adventure ripe with humor, drama and a sprinkle of adolescent spice.
From here, Emmett's life is forever changed and his love of the cinema takes a strong hold.
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This love, however, does not diminish as he ages, but instead grows stronger. It doesn't take Emmett long before he decides to takes the leap, hop across "the pond" and forge his way into America and the treasured glimmer of Hollywood. Do not be mistaken, however, it is not an easy road. After several experiences as an extra and a few quite interesting stints, including one particular role which required strapping on false breasts and having his body completely waxed to play a stunt double for a woman wrestler, Emmett finally breaks into the more enjoyable side of acting. After a big break with a small part in Titanic, things open up and Hollywood seems to embrace Emmett a bit more, allowing his dream of acting and involvement in film to grab a more secure and solid hold on his life.
Admit One is not your typical memoir - anything but. Each chapter opens with a particular film title, complete with a bit of background information and then commencing with a time in Emmett's life that reflects that movie. Humor is a very strong point in the author's writing, taking the reader through such adolescent high jinx as sibling arguing, digging a large hole in the family garden to find lost treasure, then perhaps a tunnel to China or Australia, that infamous first crush and first date and even a bit of testing out how much a youth can get away with by pocketing a BMX sticker lets say that Emmett found this to be a very wrong thing to do right from the start.
Though Emmett has told his story in a delightful and fun way, it also holds a profound lesson. The lesson that if you have a passion for something, be sure to do something about it, rather than just let life pass before you and wake up one day regretting all that time that you let go by. Life is what you make it and as long as you pursue your dreams, even if things don't turn out exactly the way you may have wanted, you will be much better off. Admit One is a wonderful story and one that I would recommend as both a great read and an excellent lesson. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason.
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