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Posts Tagged ‘Oscars’

Celluloid HeroesI have always been a big fan of the movies.  I’ve written here in the past how I will often paint while an old movie plays in the studio, especially some of the older classics that were often based on great ideas and great dialogue.  They are not distracting in most cases and it’s easy to pull thought and emotion from these films that finds its way into my work.  It’s hard to not want to inject more feeling into whatever I am at work on when I listen to some of the lines from The Grapes of Wrath or so many other great films.

Tonight are the Oscars, that night when Hollywood celebrates the past year’s top films.  I have watched faithfully since I was a kid even though recently I seldom have seen many, if any, of the nominees.  It usually takes a year or so after the awards for me to catch up on them and in some cases I lose interest in pursuing them.

Sometimes when I do catch up on them I regret not having gotten to them sooner but often I am glad I waited  because the film just wasn’t that good or simply wasn’t my cup of tea.  But it’s always been like that.  In the heyday of Hollywood they produced more than their share of bad movies.  It’s easy to think otherwise because we see the classics over and over.  A bad movie is a bad movie regardless of the time in which it was made.

But let’s not focus on bad movies.  Let’s hope that there are movies this year and in the future that will inspire and move us.

It seems like every year there is some sort of controversy with the Oscars and this year is no different, with all of the the acting nominees having a decidedly pale complexion.  I don’t have any answers except to say that filmmakers are missing out on a quickly growing demographic by not developing more films that simply tell good stories with people of color in larger roles without resorting to portraying them as gang bangers and drug dealers because that is not the experience of the overwhelming majority of this segment of the population.

It’s up to writers, especially those of color, to create work that goes beyond these stereotypes.  If they can create compelling stories featuring people of color that appeal to the common human experience to which all people can relate, these films will be made.

I believe it can and will be done eventually.

That being said, let’s have a little Sunday Morning music with a Hollywood theme, one of my favorites from one of my favorite bands.  It’s Celluloid Heroes from the Kinks.  Have a great Sunday!

 

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Watch on the Rhine 1943Tonight is night when the Oscars are handed out for the best movies, directors, actors and so on.  I’ve always been a big film fan and I always look forward to seeing who wins even on the years when I have hardly seen a movie.  It also makes me think of many of my favorite movies, films that stick in my mind and, like any other  form of art, define who I am.

A few weeks ago, I saw one of these favorites of mine, Watch on the Rhine.  It was made in 1943, adapted for the screen by Dashiell Hammett from  the prize-winning play written by his wife, the great Lillian Hellman.  It concerns a family in the Northern Virginia area across the Potomac from DC whose daughter ( Bette Davis in a supporting role here) returns home from a war torn Europe for the first time in many years with her husband and children.  It is set, and was written,  in the years before our entry into World War II.

Her husband is a German freedom fighter, Kurt Muller,  who is a wanted leader in the underground movement against the Nazis. He is  played by Paul Lukas in a magnificent performance, one that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor that year over Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bells Toll.  Yes, it was that good.

His Muller is the common man who finds himself in the role of the selfless hero willing to give up everything– his career, his family, his life– in order to stand against evil.  It’s not a task Muller sought but is one he must shoulder.  His words are simple, direct and powerful.  Lukas, who also originated the part on the Broadway stage, is brilliant and, whenever I see this movie, I am haunted for weeks afterwards by Lukas’ performance.  The power of it thrills me but I find myself questioning my own strength and beliefs as a human.  Thankfully, I have never been put into a situation like that faced by Kurt Muller and hopefully never will.  But would I be able to stand with even a fraction of the grace and courage of Lukas’ character?

I doubt it but I don’t know.

But I know that this movie’s ability to fix that question in my mind for weeks make it a great movie with great acting and world-class writing.  Hopefully, this year’s movies will have a film like Watch on the Rhine that will haunt future generations when they watch it years from now.

 

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Thought today deserved a lighter touch.  As I’ve  said here, I’ve always been a big fan of the movies, enjoying most aspects of the crafting of them from their direction to the cinematography of the films to the acting that takes place.  One aspect that I’ve always enjoyed is the movie trailer, a condensed version of the film that gives a preview of the film without really giving away the entire story.  Well, ideally.  There is a real art and rhythm to the best movie trailers that really jumpstarts a movie to life, sometimes coming off far better than the actual film. 

The modern movie trailer has become a different sort of animal than the older trailers that used to more gently promote the film with a genial sort of hyperbole.  Today’s movie trailers are often way over the top, with volume turned up to eleven (for you Spinal Tap fans out there) and enough fast paced scene changes to induce epileptic seizures.  I’m not so much a fan of these. 

After this years Oscar awards, comic Jimmy Kimmel  had a special version of his late-night talk show and on it he unveiled the trailer for his film, MOVIE: The Movie.  It combines every modern stereotypical movie genres into one gargantuan film that feature the willing participation of some of filmdom’s biggest stars such as Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Tom Hanks, to name just a few.  Oh, and Matt Damon, as shown at the top here.

Anyway, if you enjoy movie trailers, you might get a chuckle from this epic (?) production.

 

 

 

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