Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for April, 2016

Recycling or Re-imagining? By Keefer Blakeslee

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

remakes.jpgHollywood! Whether you love it or you don’t it’s still the movie capital of the U.S. Many of the finest work of cinema come from the palm tree palace. However, with every yang there is always a yin. Case and point – the remake.

Hollywood is known for taking a film that’s already been done and creating a new one with a different twist. Sometimes they can be better than the original and others (most of the time) should have been left alone. Regardless, I’ve always been skeptical about remakes. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!” That’s my motto. Why reboot a film that was already amazing. Honestly, if Hollywood wants to do remakes, why don’t they regurgitate terrible films? That way, they have a second chance to make a great new story and if it’s a flop, it no worse than the original. Instead we get remakes like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes (oddly enough both directed by Tim Burton) that, in my humble opinion, tarnish classics.

I’ve always hated the excuses studios give on why they decided to “improve” classics. “Because they Keefer.2014.5.jpgnow have better video quality and special effects.” To me, that is not a valid reason. If you’re going to do a remake don’t rely on CGI tricks. I’m talking about Ben-Hur. Say what you want.  Is Hollywood out of ideas or are they just doing it for the money?  There is another legitimate reason why Hollywood might remake films and it’s a good one – to re-imagine the story.

I don’t hate remakes. Even though I’m not 100% in favor of them, I understand why filmmakers want to create them. I believe filmmakers are smart enough to know that you shouldn’t go into a project with the intentions to top the original. The audience decides that. Instead, they go with the mindset of not re-making, but re-imaging.

Directors have different styles of telling stories. If you gave the story, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to a bunch of different filmmakers, each one would have a different vision. Spielberg would focus on the adventure and wonder. Howard would show the survival aspect. Anderson would probably make the Nautilus a pink hotel. Now, these new visions can breathe new life into these classic stories, but they should also bring back what made them great originally.

As I said before, there are good remakes. Recently, my favorites have been Disney’s live action remakes of The Jungle Book and Cinderella. These films not only re-create the magic that made us love the original, but they also give it a modern touch that invites a new generation to be exposed to these stories. Hollywood has given me hope for good remakes – scratch that, re-imaginings. As much as you and I may hate remakes, you have to admit that good can come from them. Now, sequels and prequels, that’s for the next blog.

Remembering Shirley Temple by Brianna Hope Beaton

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

download.jpgFrom an early age, her parents encouraged her to pursue our dreams. They instilled in her the idea to work hard at what she loved doing. Being the youngest nominee for the Oscars at age six, Shirley Temple took her parents advice.

On April 23, 1928, the world welcomed Shirley Jane Temple with open arms in Santa Monica, California. Shirley was an exemplary actress during the Great Depression. When she was just three years old, Shirley acquired a contract with Educational Pictures, which presented her acting in a clump of low-budget movies dubbed “Baby Burlesques.” Her mother enrolled her in dance classes at 3 ½ and her father took the role of her agent and financial adviser. With all this exposure, Fox Film Corporation made a contrShirleytemple.jpgact with Shirley. She was six years old when she appeared in her first Hollywood feature film, Carolina. During this time, she also attended the Westlake School for Girls and made eight other movies with Fox. President Roosevelt called Shirley “Little Miss Miracle” and even stated “As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.”  By 1940, Shirley already had 43 films to her name. Her bubbly personality on screen made her so loveable and she was basically loved by all. Even today, when people watch her films they are reminded how this little girl made them feel and it brings back happy memories.

As Shirley’s entertainment occupation flickered out, she refocused her labors on a career in public service. From 1969 to 1970, she served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Shirley was appointed ambassador to Ghana in 1974. Two years later, she became chief of protocol of the United States, a position she held until 1977. In 1988, Shirley became the only person, to date, to achieve the rank of honorary U.S. Foreign Service officer. In 2005, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild.
During all of this time, Temple married John Agar Jr. in 1945, at the age of 17.  They divorced in 1949. During their four years of marriage, Linda Susan was born. In 1950, she married Charles Alden Black, becoming Shirley Temple Black. Two children, Charles and Lori were born of this marriage. Shirley became a widow when Charles died from a bone marrow disease in BriannaHopeBeaton2.jpg2005. Nine years afterwards, on February 10, 2014, Shirley died at age 85 from COPD and pneumonia.images.jpg

I salute Shirley Temple for a lifetime of outstanding achievements as an actor and diplomat. Her legacy is cherished and appreciated by the grown-up and the child in all of us.

What is the Point of Artistic Criticism by Willie Jones

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

filmcritics.jpgThe actors of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice responded to the overwhelmingly bad reviews of the film by saying that the film is for the audience. Essentially, they were saying that the critics’ opinions don’t matter and that films are made for the enjoyment of the audience. But are they?

A common argument in the artistic community is whether or not artists do what they do for fans or for critics. Many actors will say the fans, but I beg to differ. Fans are important, don’t get me wrong. Their support keeps the art alive and atmospheric and they motivate us. By the same token, they aren’t the ones who etch an artist’s work into history among other works of art. Sure there’s the rare cult classic like Scarface (1983) or The Rocky Horror Picture Show that makes reviewers and critics take a second glance at something, but they are a rarity.

It is now a popular thing for fans to not care about the opinions of critics. If a film or play gets a bad review, it usually won’t stop box office revenue, though fans often tend to agree with the critics. Whereas years ago, critic’s opinions meant much more. Art was validated by the positive reviews of major critics. None of this is to dissuade you from experiencing a piece of art because it gets bad reviews, but I want to bring up the point that perhaps a critic’s opinion weighs more than a casual fan’s.

Why is that? Well, consider this. If you are a painter and you’ve just painted something and put it on the street, would a negative review from an expert mean less than a positive review from a casual fan. See, while artists would like for fans to appreciate their art, there are certain aspects of art that only experts and connoisseurs are truly going to appreciate because of their knowledge. No one has greater respect for artists and their work than those who know what it’s like to create or have the intellect and learning to break apart their craft and evaluate what was attempted.

So, while that cliché action movie may seem great to you, critics hate it because of reasons that, frankly, no normal person cares about. What critics look at, and allow me to use film as an example here, are those categories at the Oscars the casual film buff doesn’t care about. Things such as production design or sound mixing or art direction. Those are things most people don’t care about, but they are things that play great importance in the success of a film. The same thing applies to a play or painting or a piece of music. Experts in those fields, whether they are critics who studied it or artists themselves, see and appreciate things that only they and the creator themselves can appreciate.

So, while casual fans provide the money and fame and other such things, it is connoisseurs of the respective craft whose opinions an artist truly cares about. It is a critic that translates an artist’s work. It is a critic that looks deeper into something and finds the meaning and motivation behind it that cannot be found on pure aesthetic. For example, there’s a scene in Taxi Driver when Travis looks into a cup and it bubbles. To a fan, that scene doesn’t mean much and they may even question it, but to those who’ve studied cinema, they recognize that that shot is an homage to shots used in earlier films for the same reason Scorsese used it. While a fan may fawn over the look of the film and the action and even the acting, it is a savant that fawns over things that an artist wishes his fans could see. Willie1.jpg

There is a scene in Bridge of Spies when Mark Rylance wipes off his palette that seems simple and easy and unsubstantial. But, when I spoke to an actor of over twenty years, he said that was perhaps his favorite moment of the movie. He said the way Rylance pays attention to such detail as he did it, and how motivated he was in wiping the palette was beautiful. That is the difference between the appreciation of art from a fan and from a pundit.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that fans are stupid or unworthy or anything of that sort, I am saying that experts of a certain field have opinions, more often than not, that contain more validity because they are formed with the same knowledge and understanding as that of the creator himself. That is often why artists call themselves misunderstood or are called misunderstood by authorities of their craft. They are misunderstood by the majority, which are fans, yet they’re etched in legendary status by the minority, the mavens.

In conclusion, I believe that the whole point of artistic criticism is to give the artist the understanding they need from the people they need it from. They need fans to enjoy their work, but they need aficionados to relate to and appreciate their process shown through their work.

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