Jury Coordination and Notes

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder By Juanita Seon Leary, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

November 16th, 2016

GentlemansGuide.jpgI had the pleasure of seeing the Tony- Award winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder at the Playhouse at Rodney Square, formerly the Dupont Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.  The Playhouse at Rodney Square continues to feel like a grand theater of yesteryear.

I am a fan of musicals.  When I was a young child, I wanted to be a tap dancer in a musical show.  A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder lives up to an award- winning musical production.  In each scene, lavish Edwardian decor of the sets put you in the time frame.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder is the story of a young man Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) who discovers, to his great shock, that his unfortunate late mother was disinherited from the highborn D’Ysquith clan for marrying a Castilian musician for love.  Monty finds out he is ninth in line to inherit a dukedom and he decides to eliminate the other eight heirs standing in his way. Monty meets and eliminates them one by one.

I enjoyed watching Monty plan his way to dukedom.  It is so funny to watch all eight D’Ysquith heirs (John Rapson). Each character has distinctive look and personality as he portrays The Rev. Lord D’Ezekial, the buxom Lady Hyacinth, the pompousness of the reigning Lord Adalbert and the perkiness of the bright-eyed beekeeper Henry with whom he sings double-entendres in a mock-duet, “Better With a Man”).

One of my favorite numbers is the scene in which Monty tries to keep his latest love interest, Phoebe (Kristin Hahn), from discovering that his old flame, Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams) is in the other room.  It is very creative and the ladies’ beautiful voices blend to let us see Monty dilemma.

All the cast members are excellent singers, dances and actors. If you want to be entertained, learn a few tips about how to move to front of the line of heirs and entertain more than one love, go see A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder now playing at The Playhouse of Rodney Square, until November 20, 2016.

I recommend A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder for ages 14 to 18 and adults will enjoy it also. I give A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder 5 out of 5 stars.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame Honors: Airing Nov. 23, 2016 on the CW By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

November 13th, 2016

hollywood_walk_of_fame_star.jpgThe first ever Hollywood Walk of Fame Honors will be airing on the CW November 23, 2016. I met some amazing people who have appeared in some incredible TV shows, movies, have written or sung some amazing songs and are our favorite Celebrities. So, get the turkey ready and pumpkin pie in the oven, settle down with some popcorn, get ready for black Friday, relax and enjoy the show. Get ready to make plans to walk off the holiday food by visiting the Terrazzo and brass star studded sidewalk. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is FREE and open 24-7. It is about a mile and half walk to view all the celebrities’ stars and you will know all about them when you go.

I had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people including Laura McKenzie, host of the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. She also hosts a show on traveling, Laura McKenzie’s Traveler. Laura and I have seen each other many times at the Parade in the past and we can’t wait to see each other again this year on November 26th. Katherine (Kat) Kramer is the daughter of Stanley Kramer, the first star to be laid in the new Walk. Stanley Kramer’s star was placed on March 28, 1960, near the intersection of Hollywood and Gower.

Ron Moss (The Bay) and his wife, producer Devin DeVasquez (The Bay & 411) and their dog, Prince, were adorable. They are in the middle of filming and are having a blast on their projects. Prince, the dog, has a Facebook and Instagram account. Dr. Fariba Kalantari, Chair of the Board for Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, was lovely. She is on the committee that approves the stars for a place on The Walk of Fame. Fariba also performs the live ceremony presentations. Jeff Zarrinnam, Senior Vice Chair Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, accompanied her. There are over 2,589 stars along the walk with more being added. Gabrielle Ruiz (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) is amazing in her pink dress. She is having a great time working on her TV show, which she loves.

Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeanie, still one of my favorite shows) loves her acting career and she is very excited for the years to come. She is an adorable sweetheart who is still young at heart and looks fabulous. BC Jean, who wrote the song If I were a Boy, which Beyoncé sings, is currently engaged to Mark Ball from Dancing with the Stars. Candice Glover, who won American Idol on its 12th season, is very excited to be performing at this fantastic event and she is very thankful that they are letting her sing on stage.

Eddie Money was also there with over 40 million records to his name. I love his music. My generation knows who he is. Nicolas Coster has the record for the appearing in most Soap Operas. That number being 10. Morgan.SM.jpgHe is 82 years old and still acting. That is magnificent! Louis Gossett Jr. is an actor with a soothing deep voice who has made a ton of movies. He loves acting and his family very much. Penn Jillette and Teller are the only magicians who reveal the secrets behind their magic. They believe that everyone is a part of the act and they want to do something no one has done before.

Melissa Rivers is Joan Rivers’s daughter and she was able to present the segment on some of the best comedic women, including her mother, who have their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Isaac C. Singleton Jr. has voiced some of your favorite characters in some of your favorite shows. He is very friendly, easy to talk to and Oh my gosh he is soooo tall.

I recommend this event to kids age 8 to 18 and adults as well. Kids will love all the guest appearances and they will learn about Hollywood’s history. Adults will see some of their favorite stars and will enjoy seeing some legendary figures in Hollywood’s history.  I give this event 5 out of 5 Hollywood Walk of Fame shinning stars.

Rachel Crow – A genuine voice by Brianna Hope Beaton

November 6th, 2016

RachelCrow_1.JPGIf you follow my blogs, you know that I mostly write about legendary women in film or women who have made a mark in history or outstanding contributions to the film industry. However, today I’m writing about someone special who I actually met and can speak about how genuine she is - Rachel Crow, a beautiful person inside and out.

Rachel Kelly Crow was born January 23, 1998. She is a singer, comedian and actress from Mead, Colorado. She was raised by adoptive parents and became a fan favorite on the X Factor (2011) for her ability to bring maturity and skill to songs that seemed well beyond her young age. Rachel finished fifth overall which was an amazing experience and opened up fantastic opportunities. In 2012, she signed a record deal with Columbia Records and began working with Teen TV network Nickelodeon.  BriannaHopeBeaton2.jpg

From the small screen, Rachel leaped to the big screen by voicing the character Carla in Rio 2.  In my interview with her, she described her character as fun and one who loves music.  She readily identified with the character so portraying her was easy. Our conversation was upbeat, fun and genuine. I could feel her excitement for what’s happening in her life. She knows her craft and is easy to talk to, one teen to another.

Whether performing a voice-over, singing or acting, her fabulous personality and amazing talent shine through.  Rachel references a song that says “all your scars make you who you are…you know all the bad scars and the good scars.” This is her biggest X Factor lesson and it’s so true.  As I continue to work on my craft of acting, I have so many disappointments and rejections, but I learn from them every time. Rachel is an inspiration to a lot of teens out there and to me in particular.  Although she was eliminated from the X Factor, she never gave up on her dream of becoming a star.

Questioning the Legitimacy of the Academy by Willie Jones, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic age 16

October 31st, 2016

Birthofanaiton.2.jpgThe Birth of a Nation writer, director and star Nate Parker has received much controversy for a scandal at his former college. His merit as a person is in question, even though he was found innocent. His film has received positive reviews from critics, so his artistry is not in question. The Academy is not the Nobel Peace Prize committee. They are not voting on how good or bad a person is, they are voting on their cinematic work. How do I know? A man who was found guilty on invidious charges was given an Oscar for Best Director, for his work on The Pianist. And that was someone found guilty. Woody Allen continues to get nominated for his work despite allegations associated with him. So why is it that Academy members declined to see a screening of The Birth of a Nation because of Nate Parker’s scandal when they have given Oscars to those found guilty and with equally troublesome scandals? I’m not saying race is the reason, but I’m not ruling it out. Let’s analyze this further.

One Academy voter was quoted as saying that they wouldn’t see the movie because there have been too many movies with the subject of slavery recently. Since Amistad was a major Oscar player in 1997, I can only think of three major movies that deal with slavery in the last 10 years: Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, and The Birth of a Nation. Even if that’s “too many,” the voters who use that as an argument must not mind seeing movies about or with WWII as the backdrop. In the past 10 years there’s been: Oscar_Awards.jpgAtonement, Inglorious Bastards, Fury, The Imitation Game, Unbroken, The King’s Speech. And that list doesn’t include the, soon to be released Hacksaw Ridge and next year’s Dunkirk. That’s already more than twice the amount of films dealing with slavery and I could still go on. So why the complaint about too many movies on slavery, but not a word on the multitude of WWII movies that get nominated for numerous Oscars.

Beyond the skeptical excuses given by these Academy members for not seeing the film, how about basic integrity? If their job is to vote for the best films of the year, why wouldn’t they see as many films as possible? It’s their job and the purpose of attending a screening. The very merit of the Academy Awards takes a shot with the knowledge of this news. Academy voters purposely not seeing a film because of ludicrous reasons that they’ve only applied this one time to this filmmaker and this film. No one refused to see Midnight in Paris. No one refused to see Carnage. But they’ve refused to see Birth of a Nation. Furthermore, the Academy’s merit is also challenged by the fact that their voters have a history of voting for things they haven’t seen. I’m sure you’ll remember when news broke out that two anonymous voters admitted to having voted (ironically enough) 12 Years a Slave for Best Picture despite having not seen it. And that’s for Best Picture; imagine how many of them see the films nominated for Animated Short or Foreign Film.

Personally, I think their reasons for not seeing Birth of a Nation are absurd. Their voting history goes against any and every excuse they could possibly use. Too many movies on slavery lately? Yet, they continue to watch and nominate WWII movies. The filmmaker is too controversial? They keep nominating and awarding Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. The film is too violent or graphic? They recently nominated The Revenant, the aforementioned 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street. But beyond that, the most upsetting part has to be their lack of care for their merit and responsibility. These are people that vote for the biggest award in the film world. Careers are affected, legends are made and dreams are made or broken. Yes, I’m well aware that art is subjective and that winning an Oscar isn’t measurable of talent or deservedness, but it does have its merits. There is a certain seriousness and importance that an Academy Award poses. In a Willie1.jpgway, it separates the wheat from the chaff. It cements Hollywood legends and greats and immortalizes films. That’s a responsibility movie buffs and cinema lovers don’t take lightly. So we expect that voters for the Academy Awards would take the time to actually see as many films as they can see in order to for their vote to reflect the most educated opinion possible.

I contend that we should write the Academy. We need to make the Academy and these voters aware that we know they are not giving their all in undertaking their responsibilities. Their hypocritical excuses for excluding certain films over another will not be tolerated. If they are unwilling to do what it takes to make the most informed vote possible, then why should we be willing to watch their show and respect their institution? Whether they are honestly critical about Nate Parker’s allegations and that is keeping them from watching the film or, for racial reasons, they are shirking their duties as voters, their vote must not be compromised. And we, as fans of cinema and the Oscars cannot allow it. Pick up your pen and write them.

Disagreeing with Critics by Keefer C. Blakeslee

October 12th, 2016

SeeYouatMovies.2.jpgHere’s something we can all relate to. I’ve recently been thinking about it because I’ve seen a lot of films recently that I’ve enjoyed and yet critics disliked. Now, film is art and art is subjective so, of course, people are going to have different thoughts about certain films. That’s what having an opinion is all about. Here are some films that come to mind.

Money Monster - This Jodi Foster directed film starred George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Just uttering those three stars should make critics go wild. Well, in fact, the opposite happened. While critics enjoyed the cast, they thought the themes of Wall Street were clouded by action. Now I can understand where they are coming from. The drama comes from George Clooney’s character becoming a hostage by a young man played by Jack O’Connell, who lost  everything by following a stock tip by Clooney. This film had the potential to use the power of film to comment about Wall street and commerce but they played it safe. I think it works. This is one of those films where it’s fueled by its actors. Lucky for Foster she has two of the best in the film industry plus Jack O’Connell  who steals the show with his performance.

Bridge of Spies - Now let’s talk about a film that was praised by critics. Many people called it Steven Spielberg’s best film and who could blame them. It stars Tom Hanks. It’s written by the Coen Brothers and Matt Charman. And, it’s based on a true story set during the cold war. I was excited for this film, which could be the reason I didn’t go nuts over it. Don’t get me wrong, I like this film and have no problems with it. However, I just didn’t get into it that much. I thought Tom Hanks’ performance was good, but not amazing compared to his other roles. The dialogue was flawless, but standard drama. Even Spielberg’s direction wasn’t anything special. Not only do I think the hype for the film influenced my opinion, but I also think it was expected to be good. With the cast and crew, I expected an amazing film, making it almost predictable. That’s where I think I didn’t connect with it. I know it sounds crazy but the film was too perfect for me to enjoy.

Ace Ventura - Here is an example of a film audiences loved but critics thought it was too obnoxious and desperate. Keefer.2014.5.jpgOne of Jim Carrey’s signature roles was disliked by many critics including my hero Roger Ebert who called the film “a long, unfunny slog through an impenetrable plot.” Yes, the film is filled with Jim Carrey’s silly comedy and even I agree it’s not his best. I have to admit, this film makes me laugh every time. I think it showcases Carrey’s best comedic attributes. His physical comedy, fast-talking quips and absurd acting ability are all wrapped up in one movie.

Now You See Me - The closer you look, the less you see.  Critics looked at this film so close, trying to find a good movie, that they missed it. Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 49% and said, “Now You See Me’s thinly sketched characters and scattered plot rely on sleight of hand from the director to distract audiences.” I can’t disagree with the points they made but that doesn’t make it a bad film. It’s a popcorn movie! It’s meant to entertain and it does a stunning job at doing that. The story is unique and the many twists and turns keep you on the edge of your seat. So instead of trying to analyze this, you should stop looking and just enjoy the show.

Rocky and Bullwinkle Movie – Okay, this one really gets me. This film brings back the cartoon icons Rocky and Bullwinkle in a feature length film. Rotten Tomatoes said, “Though the film stays true to the nature of the original cartoon, the script is disappointing and not funny.” I totally disagree. This film has hilarious lines and action from our favorite moose and squirrel. Sure, some of the jokes are incredibly cheesy and even cringe worthy, but the original cartoon was like that as well. Even the movie makes fun of their writing at points. I believe the so-called “unfunny” parts stays faithful to the original cartoon. Compared to other adaptations, I’m looking at you Smurfs, it’s comedy gold.

Are there any films you liked and the critics hated or vice versa? In the end, there are movies we love and some we hate. While critics can influence our opinions, it’s up to you to challenge your thinking of films and figure out what you enjoy at the movies.

Labor Intensive Animation Is Still Best! By Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

October 5th, 2016

hayao_mizayaki_movies.jpgAnimation is an amazing art form.  Especially, the labor intensive forms, such as hand-drawn, traditional animation, stop-motion animation and claymation. All my favorite animated films use these types of animation.  Computer generated animation (CGI) just doesn’t do it for me, especially in a feature film.

Traditional animation is known to be the oldest form of animation.  The artist has to draw every frame to fashion the animation sequence.  Numerous drawings are created and filmed to create motion.  In traditional animation, timing is very important, since each frame has to blend into the soundtrack exactly.  Some films that use classic_animated_disney_movies.jpgtraditional animation, also called ink and paint, include the classic Disney features Snow White, Aladdin, Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty. Walt Disney Feature Animation was the first studio to switch from hand-drawn to digital ink and paint, starting in the late 80s with The Rescuers Down Under.  Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke was the last feature film to exclusively employ traditional ink and paint.

In stop-motion animation, physical objects are moved around and filmed, frame by frame, but through the magic of cinema it appears as fluid movement. Stop-motion animation has been around since the invention of film when Albert Smith and Stuart Blackton made The Humpty Dumpty Circus in 1898.  Some films which use stop-motion animation are early South Park episodes, Coraline, James and the Giant Peach, Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit series and his wonderful, Chicken Run.  This year’s Kubo and the Two Strings took stop-motion animation to a whole new level. The origami characters that Kubo creates are mind-blowing in their grace and detail.  My favorite stop-motion animation film is Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.  That film not only has great visuals, but an incomparable screenplay as well.

In claymation, balls of clay are molded together to create characters.  Oil or water based clay is used to accomplish this.wallace_and_gromit.jpg  The characters are then filmed in short burst of movement to create a scene.  Most of the films that use this technique are also stop-motion animation.  Some of the best include the original Gumby series, the Wallace and Gromit shorts, Shaun the Sheep and Paranormal.  I will never forget the chase scene on the train set in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers.  That scene is the epitome of stop-motion animation!

Throughout the years, new modern forms of animation have been created that resemble these older styles, but take less time to make and cost considerably less.  These newer techniques are usually used in conjunction with the more traditional forms to create a hybrid animation if you will.  The newer Studio Ghibli films employ this approach, a mix of computer animation and hand-drawn cels.  This is what still gives those films such a wonderful, painterly look.

What do you think? What are your favorite animated films and what format are they created in? Let us know. We love to hear from our readers.

Sci-Fi of the Future by Gerry Oz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

September 23rd, 2016

sci_fi_32.jpgThere is nothing like a good futuristic story. It may include spaceships, teleportation, invisibility, lasers or just your good old giant robot fight. For many decades, this futuristic tech has been the things of fiction. Recently, that is changing. The objects in films like Star Wars, or Star Trek, or even Transformers are actually becoming part of our everyday life. In Japan, there are robots that have become so advanced and so powerful, they could replace a soldier. Across Europe and North America, there is development of cleaner and much more powerful electricity production and in many nations, space is a big topic again.

Stephen Hawking theorizes how to send a space probe at close to the speed of light, or plans to land on Mars in less than two decades, or even the possibility of sending people to Jupiter and Saturn. This is the talk of science fiction, right? Well, no. With space tourism on a rise and people living much longer then previous generations, science fiction is becoming non-fiction. This brings up an interesting point. In our future world, with all these advanced gadgets, what will become of the science fiction genre? It is described in the dictionary as: fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.

What happens when we actually all those futuristic scientific or technological advances become reality? In 100 years, Headshot.GerrySM.jpgwill we still have sci-fi as we know it now? Most likely, in 100 years, all that technology that we never thought could be possible, will be part of our day to day life. Most likely, sci-fi will either become a much different genre with technology than we believe is simply impossible to exist, like immortality, or magical production that pops anything out of nothing. Another possibility is that in a very ironic way, the imagination that the sci-fi genre sparks will be the one that kills it at the end since, as a human race, we focus on making such a world come to life (even if that world is a good or bad one) and thus, it will cause the death of sci-fi as a movie genre.  What do you think?

Betty White - Full of Life by Brianna Hope Beaton

September 16th, 2016

Betty_White.jpgBetty White was born January 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois.  She was the only child to her parents, Horace and Tess White. She moved to California at the young age of two.  She is best known for her role as Rose Nylund on the hit TV Show, The Golden Girls.

Ms. White has been in the entertainment industry for a very long time. Her appearances include sitcoms, game shows and even hosting Saturday Night Live. She is a comedic actress and a lover of animals. In fact, she worked with the Los Angeles Zoo and the Morris Animal Foundation for four decades. As if being a comedic actress and animal lover was not enough, she is also an author of several books that she wrote during the 1980s and 1990s. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988.  The star is next to her late husband Allen Ludden’s star. She has been nominated for four Golden Globes awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series and had countless Prime Time Emmy nominations and is a winner of many.

Ms. White never had any children of your own however she is the stepmother of David, Martha and Sarah through her previous marriages. It was a conscious decision not to have children which she never regretted.BriannaHopeBeaton2.jpg

Ms. White continues to make appearances on TV and is very close with her animals. She is loved by so many and, not only people in her age bracket, but also teens like me.  She is witty, funny and gets to make people laugh. How can you not love her? She states, “I’m actually the luckiest old broad alive. Half my life is working in a profession I love and the other half is working with animals.” I truly believe you can have a successful career working in what you love to do and someday, I will be doing the same thing.

Acting in Film: Portrayal or Presence? By Willie Jones, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

September 9th, 2016

classic.jpgJack Nicholson once gave the following screen acting advice to Harry Dean Stanton: “Just let the wardrobe be the character. You play yourself. That’s the way you approach it.” Jack Nicholson is a three time Oscar® winner, 12 time nominee and the star of classic films such as The Shining, Chinatown and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. On the other hand, Ian McKellen once commented, “Acting is a very personal process. It has to do with expressing your own personality, and discovering the character you’re playing through your own experience - so we’re all different.” What I’ve laid out are two completely different approaches to film acting. One is the argument that to be a good film actor, you only must be present and being yourself, with a little charm and charisma is enough to be successful on screen. The likes of Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable and William Powell might be examples of this school of thought. The other argument is one more associated with actors who participate more in the theater, in believing that a successful film actor takes more than presence, it takes an ability to express emotions and portray someone different than yourself. The likes of Pacino, De Niro, Duvall and Nicholson exemplify this. That’s where the great debate lies.

Throughout this blog I will refer to the first argument as presence and to the second as portrayal. If you notice, the examples of actors who fall under the presence category are all stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Which is to say that is the style most popular during that era.

Film acting, at that time in America, wasn’t necessarily thought of as something deep and internal. It was simply a matter grant.jpgof being marketable and was a part of successful films. Of course there were exceptions such as Fredric March, Laurence Olivier and Claude Rains. But the biggest money makers, such as Bogart and Cagney. While they may have started their careers in theater, once they became film stars they never went back.

Those actors, even though they lacked the talents of a thespian, made millions. They were stars, and they starred in the films we consider classics today. Films such as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind and His Girl Friday. You’ll notice that the supporting players are the true thespians. That’s because, at that time, to be a leading man or woman wasn’t about your talent as an actor with a deep process. It was about making money and bringing people to the theater to see beautiful, extravagant people. The studios didn’t want actors, they wanted stars. People to fawn over, people with charisma and charm. They didn’t want deep, emotional experiences. Theclassic.2.jpgy wanted to witness the fantastic - wonderful costumes, extraordinary stories, and attractive actors were the order of the day. This meant, for actors like Sydney Greenstreet and Thomas Mitchell, there were no starring roles in major pictures for them. But they could bet on a supporting actor nomination or even a win.

Nonetheless, that style of thinking within the studio system lasted until Brando came on thchinatown.jpge scene. Then, the actors of old condemned the new style. We know it as “method acting.” Gary Cooper called method actors “a bunch of goof balls.” Spencer Tracy said he was “too old, too tired and too talented to care.” Then again, Tracy approached acting as easily as “knowing your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.”

But amidst the Brando and Deans of the Golden Age, characterization in the world of film acting wasn’t something desired by audiences until the New Wave came along in the late 60s. Realism was the order of the day and that’s where Ian McKellen’s quote I mentioned earlier came into play. Actors such as Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino came on the scene and offered audiences a new type of movie star - the kind that won Oscars for more than being the box-office star, but because they delivered a wonderful performance of emotional stature. No longer was the dhoffman.jpgashingly handsome or exceptionally beautiful actor necessary. Now don’t get me wrong, box office stars still included the likes of Robert Redford and Warren Beatty, but even short, off-beat Dustin Hoffman could draw in crowds. That was new. For even in the Golden Age, method actors Paul Newman and Marlon Brando were exceptionally attractive. But now, at the dusk of that classic era, character actors could now lead movies.

That trend has trickled into today. Interestingly enough, it’s still an attractive actors’ medium as far as major motion pictures go. Dwayne Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Zac Efron and such still fit that stereotypical “leading man” criteria. The only difference is that they aren’t the ONLY ones leading films that are seen and acclaimed. If Claude Rains led a film in his day, it wouldn’t be an “indie film”, it’d be a B movie - just another film to keep the machine running. But there would be no awards’ traction, no sort of acclaim. In today’s film culture, a character actosideways.jpgr can be supporting in a major picture and lead their own indie film. Willie1.jpgTake Paul Giamatti for example, he’s not anything like a leading man type. But Sideways is a film he leads beautifully and he got plenty of awards’ notice. But he’s great at the job that pays him, being the supporting actor in films like San Andreas, Cinderella Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

The debate lies in, “is someone like Cary Grant a better film actor than someone like Philip Seymour Hoffman?” Cary Grant starred in the some of the most beloved films of all time - North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief and An Affair to Remember. Philip Seymour Hoffman has given versatile performances such as his performances in The Master, Punch-Drunk Love and Doubt. The first examples are all time acclaimed films, but Cary Grant doesn’t show much versatility. The next examples are acclaimed performances, but the films themselves aren’t considered classic by the masses. So who do you consider better? Perhaps it depends on who you are. The new generation of critics and movie buffs will say Hoffman easily. But classic movie fans will surely say Grant. What matters more to you? The presence of the actor or the portrayal by the actor?

Movies that Portray Men as Stupid, by Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

August 18th, 2016

dumb.dumber.jpgIn today’s society, men in movies, TV shows and ads are often depicted as bumbling, idiots. Since my family doesn’t have cable, I see this trend happening in movies as well. Some recent movies that have done this include the Ted franchise, the Jump Street franchise, The Internship, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Central Intelligence and The Interview. All the men in Melissa McCarthy films are portrayed as dumb fools. In the new Ghostbusters, instead of having a “dumb blonde” as a receptionist, they show a dumb, young hunk, wonderfully portrayed by Chris Hemsworth.

Most movies with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron typically portray men as ridiculous fools. Even James Franco, a very respected writer, director and actor, appears in some really inappropriate, dumb guy movies. For instance, Seth Rogen and James Franco are the stars of the movie, The Interview. I have watched this movie three times and I actually really enjoy it. They implement a lot of funny, inappropriate jokes that teens like me love. Zac Efron stars in The Neighbors franchise, which not surprisingly, also stars Seth Rogen. I haven’t seen these films yet, but they are on my list. Zac Efron also stars in the recently released Mike and Dave film which portrays two really dumb brothers that need dates to their sister’s wedding. The family thinks that if they get dates, they won’t be Mike.Dave.jpgas rowdy and ruin the event, like they usually do.

I don’t know when this trend actually started, but it seems to have supplanted the “dumb blonde” trend in movies. Sometime in the 80s. the SNL cast started making movies and many of them followed this trend. I’m thinking of films such as Caddyshack, Animal House, the National Lampoon franchise and The Jerk. This was followed by all the Jim Carrey movies and his persona who, for the most part, was a bumbling idiot. Examples are Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber and The Cable Guy.

This trend coincides with a disturbing trend in college attendance by males in this country. Prior to the 1970s, more men than women went Clayton.jpgto college. Sometime in the late 70s, the ratio switched and more women than men went to college. Now, approximately 60% of all college students are female. According to educators, this is an alarming trend in the U.S. As a teen soon headed to college, I am concerned about these statistics and wonder how I’ll be perceived by my fellow students (most of whom will be female).

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