Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for August, 2015

The Computers Documentary – By Brianna Hope Beaton

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

The_Computers.jpgIn 1946, six brilliant women programmed the first all-electronic, programmable computer, the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). This was a project run by the U.S. Army as part of a secret project. Their names are as follows:

  • Frances Bilas Spence (1922 – 2013)
  • Jean Jennings Bartik (1924 – 2011)
  • Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer (1922 – 2008)
  • Kathleen “Kay” McNulty Mauchly Antonelli (1921 – 2006)
  • Frances Elizabeth “Betty” Holberton (1917 – 2001)
  • Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum (1924 – 1986)

eniac2.jpgThese women learned to program a computer without the programming languages and tools that we have today. With all the programming that was completed the ENIAC ran a ballistic trajectory flawlessly. However when the ENIAC was presented to everyone, these women never received credit and their story vanished until now.
KathyBriannaHopeBeaton2.jpg Kleiman, Founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project and Co-Producer and Co-Writer of The Computers documentary took notice of this story when she found a number of photographs of the ENIAC project and wanted to find about the women who were in the pictures. She was told that they were models, but they didn’t look like models. They looked like they knew a lot about the computers and were the actual programmers. With further research on these women, she wanted to share their amazing story with everyone that would listen.

The Computers is a documentary that tells about these six brilliant women and their story of programming in the mid 1900s. It is not your stereotypical documentary of men performing these jobs, but of women.

I am in awe of these incredible women because they opened the door for so many females to be in the technology world. It’s an inspiring story that I wish everyone could watch.  These computing pioneers were not only women, but men too.

Is Cinema the Worst It’s Been in 50 Years? By Willie Jones

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

The_Graduate.jpgSome say, “Yes, it is.” Two-time Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman recently criticized cinema today, saying “…it’s the worst that film has ever been — in the 50 years that I’ve been doing it, it’s the worst….” Hoffman attributes the time constraints that directors have on getting their films done as part of the problem. He notes that The Graduate, a gradually small film took years to put together despite its simplicity. But what did we get? A classic that has stood the test of time and is now considered one of the all-time great films (which I can attest to). But to truly understand Mr. Hoffman’s point of view, consider where he started fifty years ago.

Hoffman made his cinematic debut 48 years ago, to be exact, in 1967’s The Tiger Makes Out, but followed it that same year with The Graduate. Now, 1967 happens to be the turning point of cinema. We had the most explicit film of all-time released that year, in Bonnie and Clyde, which changed movies forever. We had the first film to ever show a black man hitting a white man with In the Heat of the Night. We had film that tackled interracial relationships with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. It was a banner year that sparked the revolution in cinema and it went on into the 70s. The new thing was naturalism – in everything. Naturalistic acting from the likes of Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson, naturalistic direction from the likes of Francis Coppola and Roman Polanski,  and naturalistic dialogue from the likes of Robert Towne and William Goldman. That was the formula for films such as The Godfather and Chinatown.

Also consider that at the time, during the late 60s and 70s, America was in a cultural revolution. It was okay to say what you wanted, to do what you wanted, to be who you wanted to be. Things like sex, homosexuality, explicit war opposition, political opposition, civil rights, women’s rights and all the things that were deemed “impolite” beforehand, could now be expressed. And it showed in our films. Movies could now show nudity, movies could now speak out vividly against politics, movies could now use profanity, and movies could portray violence as much as they wanted. So one should understand that movie making at that time was at an artistic high. For the first time, writers and directors could say what they wanted and were encouraged to do so. Therefore, fresh ideas and stories were being told rapidly.

It was just two years after The Graduate was released that Dustin Hoffman starred in the first X Rated movie to win best picture, Midnight Cowboy (which is also an all-time great film). Things were changing for sure, therefore originality was at an all-time high. Now, fast forward 48 years.

What haven’t we seen? There is no longer anything edgy or original. The advent of technology and the sheer fact that time has softened the sensitivities of society, has made it so that people of all-ages have seen something of everything. There’s no opinion that hasn’t been heard, and no amount of sex or violence that hasn’t been seen. Most importantly, there is no story that hasn’t been told or a plot that hasn’t been seen.
So while Dustin Hoffman says that a part of the issue is filming constraints with directors, I say cinema is the worst it’s been in 50 years, because of the lack of originality. But, with that said, I’m going to make an assumption that Hoffman is talking about mainstream films, movies with big budgets and big studios behind them. I say that it’s because independent cinema is where the originality and uniqueness is. And, the problem is: no one sees them. People don’t want that.

Movies like Birdman, Whiplash or Cold Souls go unseen because no cares to see them. A part of the problem, beside a lack of good stories and time constraints, may be audiences. What ever they see, Hollywood makes. In Hoffman’s prime, audiences wanted Carnal Knowledge and Serpico. Audiences are so numb to explicit material, that edge with class is no longer desired. Now, they want Ant-Man and Ocean’s 11.

The transition from where cinema was in the late 60s and 70s to now, is sad. It makes cinephiles a rather outcast and Willie1.jpglonely bunch in cinematic interest, because all of our favorites are movies that no one sees or cares to see. I mean, have you seen Win Win? Don’t worry, few have. So I agree with Dusty, cinema is at the worst it’s been since he entered the movie business in 1967. And unfortunately, there is little indication that circumstances will change. Well told stories just aren’t in fashion anymore. People don’t flock to see them.

I guess those of who us who want that to change will either have to make the films we want ourselves or hope that the likes of Alejandro Innuritu, Bennett Miller, J.C. Chandor, and Paul Thomas Anderson continue to be the exceptions in today’s movie world.
Who knows? Maybe when Hoffman’s debut reaches an actual fifty years in 2017, another revolution will happen and we will get caught up in the passionate, artistic frenzy that movie fans of the 70s were caught in.

Thank you for reading. Willie Jones.

Farewell to Jon Stewart By Keefer C.Blakeslee

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Jon_Stewart.jpgAugust 6th was Jon Stewart’s last time as host of The Daily Show

For those of you who don’t know who Jon Stewart is, I’ll give you a brief summary.

Jon Stewart is a comedian, writer, actor, media critic, director and television host. He is known for his fake news series The Daily Show. The show starred Stewart as he tackled political and media affairs in a satirical way.

Since Stewart’s last episode was on August 6th I wanted to pay tribute to this incredible comedian. To begin, I’d like to say that I did not grow up watching The Daily Show. In fact, I just started getting into it this year. With that said, it did not take long for me to fall in love with this man’s commentary. Every chance I get I would watch his show on Comedy Central as well as segments on YouTube. Not only is he a hilarious comedian but, in the words of Howard Kurtz, “What separated Stewart is this virtuous appetite for politics and media. This is a guy who gets ticked off about things he doesn’t like in terms of political hypocrisy or media superficiality.”

The appetite that Kurtz talks about made his comedy stronger. When there was a subject that Stewart felt strong about his passion fueled his jokes. This made them funnier because they were sincere. Stewart knew when to be funny but, like any good comedian, knew when to be serious. His segment on the Charleston shooting that aired June, 18, 2015 still hits me hard. In this segment, Stewart does not sugar-coat the story. He shows one of his most unique aspects which is his honesty. He talks about how he watches the news and makes jokes but there are those occasions where jokes just don’t fit. During the above-mentioned show Stewart said, ”I did not do my job…I honestly have nothing other than sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of depraved violence that we do to each other…” The ability to open his heart to show all of his emotions made him the new Walter Cronkite.

Here comes the irony of The Daily Show. Stewart has said multiple times that he is a comedian first. He states, during aKeefer.2014.5.jpgn interview with Chris Wallace,” My comedy is informed by an ideological (a system of ideas and ideals, especially one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy) background… Hollywood is liberal but that’s not their primary motivating force. I’m not an activist, I’m a comedian.” Like many other people, he wants to be heard but his comments are not political. Even with his intentions, people call him the most trusted man in America. He’s even been nominated for journalism and news awards.

Stewart merely wanted to entertain but in the process won America’s trust. Why? Because he is eloquent, educated, meaningful and, above all, funny.

Thank you Jon Stewart for making the daily news enjoyable.   

Film Evolution – New Types of Film By Gerry Orz

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Hololens.jpgEveryone today wants to be more and more into films. First people were drawn to  video games where they could play characters from the film.  They feel like they are a part of it. Of course, that worked in a way, but really it doesn’t give them full satisfaction. Next was smell-vision, a 4D experience. These allow people to be in the same surroundings that the characters in the film are. Of course, that doesn’t work out to the max either. Next there is IMAX. These massive screens project  4K video with surround sound that truly help you blend in with the story and feel as if you are inside it. However, people haven’t stopped there. Now there are curved 3D/4K video games coming out that are based on films and even some films make cards that you sniff while watching for that smell-vision effect.

The technology people are trying. Now they are trying new tech. 360 cameras are what they’re called. They are mostly used by YouTubers right now. However, they are spreading to other places too. Already people have made horror films with these 360 cameras and they are truly amazing. You can move your mobile device around the room and, with the phone, the screen changes direction. You almost feel like you are moving with it! It really is mind boggling. However, it has an interesting and unpleasant side affect on people that suffer from motion sickness. Just imagine doing that for 90 minuets! If you are watching Speed Racer, it is three hours of that kind of stuff.

Well, a new technology is taking it even further up the chain. HoloLens, glasses made by Microsoft that project holograms show video that is watchable on the HoloLens and you can move around 720 degrees. Yes, up down, left right andHeadshot.GerrySM.jpg this will be REAL three dimensions, in which you can see the front, back and sides a your own will – almost like being on the set of “Inception”.

The question is “where will technology take us next?” To the point that we go to the movies and wear glasses and other devices that take us to virtual reality? Or, where we take pills and we LIVE in the film for a hour and a half? Movies are going through many changes now and it is just the beginning of Film Evolution.

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