Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for December, 2015

Are R Rated Films Suitable For 15 And 16 Year Olds? by Clayton Pickard

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

RRatings.jpgAs a new KIDS FIRST! Blogger, I thought for my first blog that I’d be really controversial and write about R rated movies that may be suitable for teens age 15 and up. Many people may disagree with me, but I think many R rated films are important for teens to watch with their parents or another mature adult. They are intelligent, well written and challenging. Often they are coming-of-age movies or about timely subject matter we are studying in school. Fun Movie Fact: Since the 90s, 14 of 21 Best Picture winners have been rated R.

Looking at the Oscar nominees and winners from last year, I have chosen a few films that stand out to me because of their well written screenplays and intelligence. Let us start with last year’s best picture winner, Birdman. It is a very creative and inspiring movie that shows the downside of fame. Then there is Boyhood, which I think should have won Best Picture. It is one of the best movies I have seen in my life! It follows a young boy through his childhood into adulthood. The most amazing aspect of the movie is that the child/adult is played by the same actor. The film took 12 years to make, so the filmmaker could follow this one actor as he grows up. Another great R rated film from last year is Whiplash. The story of a teenage drummer enrolled in a very rigorous music school, Whiplash drives you to the edge of your seat with great suspense and emotional anticipation. The whimsical whodunit, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is the funniest nominee among last year’s Oscars. Being a Wes Anderson film, it is one of the most creative movies on the planet. Teens should see it for its inventiveness, attention to detail and art direction. American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, is a worthy R rated film for teens because of its historical relevance. It is an incredibly emotional, sad story of an American sniper in Iraq, who has to make dire choices on a daily basis.

Clayton.jpgIn terms of 2015, the only worthwhile R rated film I have seen so far is The Big Short. This film is about the stock market crash of 2008 and the savvy investors who bet against the American housing market. Considered a black comedy, it is a dense, intellectual film that warrants another screening. The other R rated films from this year that I intend on seeing are The Danish Girl, Chi Raq, Macbeth, Spotlight and The Revenant. Stay tuned for my second blog when I will discuss some of these films.

Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

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What Is The Point Of Exploring Space by Gerry O.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Mars.jpgToday, I am going to get away from discussing Hollywood, movies and entertainment in general. I want to take a look at something that movies like to talk about, something that lately has been occupying everyone’s attention – space exploration. In the mid 1900s we had a space race with Russia and other countries to get out of the atmosphere. The U.S. got to the moon first, but Russia got to space first. I guess that might be called a tie. Now, what if I told you it is happening again?

NASA has made plans to go to Mars, which is almost a four-year mission. And, they aren’t the only ones interested. In United States, quite a few independent parties are keen on getting people to space as well. Other countries are also trying to get some of their people onto the big red ball. It makes you think, why explore space? I mean, we have so many problems on our cozy little blue ball called Earth. Why not just focus on fixing global warming, starvation and the education issues of future generations? Well, eventually our cozy little blue ball will become a bit too little. Our population right now is 7 billion. In 2023 we will hit 8 billion. In 2041, we will hit 9 billion. In 2062, we will hit 10 BILLION people on planet Earth. This may seem like some random number. “Yeah, 10 billion humans are alive, wahoo!” is what you are probably thinking. But that is not the case. At the moment millions of people here on Earth are starving. If we hit 10 billion as a worldwide population, the Earth’s resources will not be able to support all of us. It won’t just be people in Africa, or China or the United States, all of us will be hungry. Not only that, but land will get tighter, water supply will go down and there will be fewer and fewer forests. Earth will be like a sponge that we have squished out all the water out of.

LeonardMaltin.Gerry.jpgThis is why it is so important to study space, not only to look upon our own planet better, but to explore potential a new place to live. Because eventually, whether we’re looking at land, or food, or water, or power or wood, we will run out. Soon, we will need some of the population to go somewhere else. The best option in our Solar System, at this point, is Mars – the red, attractive planet that seems so desolate and pointless, with just a reddish rock here and there. Its surface resembles the desserts of Nevada, only they cover a whole planet. Now we know that Mars not only has water, it used to have quite a bit of it. All those crusts and channels you see in pictures of Mars? That used to be water. Hopefully by 2062, when we do hit 10,000,000,000 people, we will have already converted a large part of Mars into a “New Earth.” Now imagine that?

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Editors: The Silent Directors By Keefer C.Blakelee, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

FilmEditing.jpgI am attending an art school under the conservatory Film and Television. It is an academy where we study the art of making films and television. V. I mention this because recently I have been taking an editing class. When I first started the class I looked at editing as a necessity to know but I honestly thought the job was simply about putting scenes together – just paste, cut, splice, dissolve and that’s it. However, as I learn more about editing and edit my own projects, I have gained a new appreciation for editing as an art form. It dawned upon me that editing not only creates the pace of the film but also the atmosphere. Since taking this class, I look at films differently. I notice the cuts, splices and the overall flow of the film. For example, when I watched Good Morning Vietnam, starring the late Robin Williams, I noticed editing techniques that make the film more enjoyable. The editor of the film was Stu Linder. He was able match the films pace with Robin Willam’s quick-witted dialogue through the magic of editing. My favorite scene is when William’s plays Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” The peaceful song is played while we see the violence taking place on the battlefield. Linder’s beautiful editing allows the movie to create a slow and dramatic moment. Scenes such as that really demonstrate the power of good editing.

I now see the editor as the conductor of a grand orchestra. He or she controls the tempo and rhythm of the film. Films are created by many people doing many jobs. Each contributes an important part in the making of a film. The editor takes all their work and pieces it together. While I still appreciate directors, I now see that film editors are the silent directors who help create the director’s vision. So, I now not only hope to become a great director but a marvelous editor.

Keefer.2014.5.jpgThe purpose of this blog is not only to create more awareness of film editors but also, showing another way to appreciate filmmaking. It goes without saying that I love movies. Becoming a film critic for KIDS FIRST! has allowed me to channel that love and passion through my reviews. Now that passion is applied in studying the art of filmmaking. Having growing up praising films and adoring other filmmakers, I am taking that passion and make films that can touch people the same way they have me.

As I take this journey, I will continue to share my experience through my blogs – sharing the insights I discover and my admiration for the films and filmmakers I love.

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DiCaprio is Not The Most Overdue Actor for an Oscar by Willie J. .

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

ellen_oscar.jpgLet the hate begin. I know I may get a lot of flack for this but it is the truth. Mind you, I am not saying he’s never deserved an Oscar nor am I saying he’s untalented. But what I am saying, is that there are actors out there who have been snubbed longer and more often than Mr. DiCaprio. His fans, who I’d say wouldn’t be fans if it weren’t for his good looks, will surely wish to hurt me after this but movie fans and those passionate about the art form of cinema will hear me out and understand where I’m coming from.

Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for an acting Oscar four times, and some say he should have more. People think he should’ve been nominated for more- naturally. The reason I bring up this point is that Leonardo DiCaprio, for the past ten years or so, has had a fan base that complains about him “never winning an Oscar” and that “they’ll never give him Oscar.” Some say he’s the second coming of Pacino. But where are the millions of adoring fans carping about Gary Oldman not having an Oscar? Or Donald Sutherland? Or Glenn Close? Or Michelle Pfeiffer? Or Annette Bening? Or Max Von Sydow? We’re talking about actors who have been performing their craft at the highest level for over 50 years and none of them were particularly considered sex symbols in their prime eras. But then, the biggest sex symbol of his era has a following of fans that would protest AMPAS themselves over the fact Leo hasn’t received an Oscar. And that is a travesty. Not because Leo isn’t talented, but because other actors with a larger legend don’t have the backing of those same people. Perhaps they don’t because the merit given by the fans would have nothing to do with their physical appearance.

If DiCaprio’s fan base fought passionately over his Oscar-less career because they feel he’s made great art and would fight for his award, it would be different. But Glenn Close has been acting for four decades and has gone through six nominations without the precious prize. Where’s the outrage for her? Someone who’s as big a legend as she is deserves such support. The woman has made her mark with great films such as Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, and 101 Dalmations. Broadway has seen her immense talent and she’s succeeded there. She’s mastered the medium of television as well with the hit show Damages. Yet there aren’t multitudes of young adoring fans defending her case for an Oscar. Is it because she’s not a world renowned beauty?

Or let’s take even better examples. Gary Oldman, one of our most versatile actors for more than thirty years has just a single nomination. It came three years ago. But no one is fawning over him and beating up AMPAS for not rewarding him. Donald Sutherland is maybe the greatest actor without a nomination. For more than forty years he has given consistently great performances in films such as MASH, Ordinary People and Day of the Locusts. He’s entranced us on both TV and the Silver Screen, yet he hasn’t a single nomination. But there isn’t any outcry over his snubs.Willie1.jpg

Where are the outcries for Annette Bening’s Oscar-less career. The Grifters? American Beauty? Being Julia? The Kids Are All Right? Nothing. And those are only her nominated performances. She’s been entertaining us for thirty years strong without due recognition. Then, to cap this all off, what about the great Max Von Sydow. Where’s the award for The Virgin Spring? Wild Strawberries? The Seventh Seal? Or Through a Glass Darkly? Let’s not forget The Exorcist. He’s been doing this since the 40s, but no one is outraged or arguing for his Oscar.

DiCaprio, by measure, has been in movies for almost a quarter of a century and he didn’t start giving consistently good performances until the turn of the century. What separates him from the legends mentioned? He’s got the looks. Isn’t it sad? There are campaigns from his fans to get him his Oscar but the Oldman’s and the Sydow’s of the world are forgotten…or even worse, unappreciated.

I’ve ranted before about the decline of artistic appreciation. It disturbes me when an actor’s looks gains him sympathy about the lack of deserved recognition rather than their talent. I please with AMPAS, give Donald Sutherland his nomination, let him know you know he’s there. Give Oldman his win. Give Glenn Close her much awaited win. We needn’t have a female Peter O’Toole.

Speaking of Mr. O’Toole. Where’s his Oscar? Zero for eight is an awful track record for someone who gave us Lawrence of Arabia, Becket and The Lion in Winter. Yet Leo DiCaprio gets all the crusades about his being without the gold. Where’s Leo’s Lawrence of Arabia? Or is he too sexy for one.

Think about that.

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