Music has a unique way of capturing a particular moment in time. A few mere strums of a guitar solo or a particular drum beat can instantly transport us to a key event in our life. A first kiss, a time of heartbreak, that brief period when we forgot proper decorum and simply let loose, etc. These cherished memories can drift away over the course of time due to factors such as age and additional life experiences.
There are some, however, who are desperate to hang on to these moments at all costs. It is why we still see individuals of a certain age rocking the teased hair and 80’s fashion. It is this clinging to nostalgia that is at the core of Christopher Connelly’s hilarious short film Panama. In the film, Cindy (Denise Jones) is eager to introduce her boyfriend Mark (Josh Blacker) to her old classmate Rory (Ken Lawson). Upon meeting it is obvious to Rory, though not Mark, that the two men had met years earlier.
It turns out both men were backup dancers in Van Halen’s “Panama” video 30 years ago. While Mark’s life has moved on, Rory still holds a grudge that Mark broke the promise he made years ago of non-stop partying. Rory even scolds Mark for ruining his dream by stating “we were going to be on the tour…the ‘Hot for Teacher’ video”.
Through these two very different men, Connelly is able to weave a comedic quilt that captures the history of music and political conflict since 1984. Mark’s life as a soldier is a vibrant tableau of wars and musical discoveries. He references battles in Bosnia and Iraq in the same breath as acid house music and the post-9/11 emergence of bands with “The” in the title. While Rory clings to the rebellious innocence of the past, Mark symbolizes both the pleasure and pain that comes with growth and experience.
Featuring a sharply written script and wonderful performances, Panama brilliantly explores both recent history and the way music keeps us connected to the past.
Screens (w/ Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back – The Quiet Riot Movie)
Sunday, June 15, 9:45 PM, The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema