Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for May, 2016

Revenge of the Sequel by Keefer C. Blakeslee

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

sequelprequel.jpgA sequel blog to a remake blog? It sounds like a paradox. For those of you who don’t remember, my last blog discussed remakes and looked at them from a more positive point of view. I thought it would be fitting to talk about another one of Hollywood’s quick cash schemes – the sequels and prequels. You all know them, the continuation or back story to a film that has already been made. Now, I don’t particularly dislike sequels as much as remakes. There are some cases of necessary extension of a film’s story. Indiana Jones (not including Crystal Skull) still kept its charm with each new installment. Each Back to the Future film had enough comedy and adventure to make audiences come back to the theater. Finally, who can forget the Toy Story trilogy. This group of films got better and better as time went on.

I have to say that I am a sucker for prequels. I love the idea of taking a film’s story or character and pushing rewind to see how it all started. Red Dragon managed to give an equally thrilling experience from its predecessor Silence of the Lambs. Audiences saw how Hannibal Lecture was captured and the relationship between him and the man who caught him. One of my favorite prequels is X-Men: First Class. Not only is this film strong enough to be its own film but we’re also exposed to Professor X and Magneto’s original friendship, turned rivalry. That’s what makes a good sequel and prequel. Being able to regain the same essence that made people love the original or, better yet, add something new that makes people love the story even more.

Keefer.2014.5.jpgAll of these are examples of films with good sequels or prequels. Where are the bad eggs and what makes them rotten? Most prequels and sequels that get negative responses happen because they’re unnecessary. Do we really need four Alvin
and the Chipmunks
films? One was enough. Back to the Hannibal Lecture trend, Hannibal Rising is a non-essential prequel that killed the mystery of one of cinema’s most terrifying characters. Audiences don’t ask for films such as this and yet, studios keep pushing them out. Films like these make moviegoers and film buffs continue to believe that Hollywood is running out of ideas.

While we can point the finger at studio executives, we need to understand that certain audiences contribute to the sequel and prequel madness. They say, “I loved Frozen and ‘Let it Go.’ I want more Elsa.”  “Wow, how did Anakin Skywalker turn to the dark side?” A lot of the time audiences want to see and ask for more. I’m not saying we are to blame but we are not completely innocent. When producers or studio board members get a pulse that they’re making a lot of money from a film, they want to see how long they can drag it out. Example, “We made a lot of money with Lord of the Rings, let’s see if we can take The Hobbit and make it into three films and make more money.” I understand that’s a cynical way of looking at it and I’m sure filmmakers are not purposefully trying to make poor sequels and prequels but when they seemed forced and redundant they come across that way.

Should we stop asking for more? Of course not. There are films that many people want to see continued. I’ve personally been waiting for another Incredibles film or maybe see the back story for The Matrix. Sequels and prequels aren’t all bad. They just need to be created naturally instead of forced.

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Theater History Lesson: Margaret Hughes by Brianna Hope Beaton

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

MargaretHughes_1.pngAs the first actress on the English stage, Margaret Hughes is said to be the one who  broke boundaries and made the way for many future actresses to come.

There is not much on Margaret’s early life other than she was born on May 29, 1630. On December 8, 1660, she played Desdemona in the production of Shakespeare’s Othello on the Vere Street Theatre. At that time, female and male characters were both played by men. Women were not allowed a career in theater. Margaret made history when she became the first actress to appear on the English stage.

After the debut of Margaret Hughes, the idea of female actresses became increasingly attractive and accepted by the public. King Charles, who loved going to the theater, had observed this change and the many benefits it had to the development of the theater. Around this time and after MarBriannaHopeBeaton2.jpggaret performed on stage, the idea that a man playing female roles became “unnatural.” In 1662, King Charles issued a royal warrant stating that all female roles must only be played by women. This made the demand for female actresses spike as more and more directors began casting woman.

Margaret Hughes played an extremely vital role in the progress of women in theater. It was her beautiful performance in Othello that gave women their right place. She set the stage, in England, for women to have careers in acting.

Thanks to Ms. Hughes for all her wonderful contributions to the world of theater.  I absolutely love performing in theatrical plays and could not see myself being excluded from participating in them. Without you, I’m sure the progression of women in the field of theater would not have gotten to the point we are now.

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The Art Of Cinema by Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Friday, May 13th, 2016

artofcinema_1.jpgThe art of cinema is much more than big budget, Hollywood movies. I  was lucky enough to take a Cinema and Literature course at NYU this past semester. In this course, I was exposed to the art of film and its relationship to the art of literature. From silent films to French New Wave, from low-budget independent films to Italian art films, this course had it all.

The first screening was Metropolis by Fritz Lang. It was released in 1927 and is still considered a masterpiece of the silent genre. This is the only film in the class that I thought was a little slow and boring. Our second screening consisted of a very intense, French New Wave film, Hiroshima Mon Amour. This film was also slow, but in a very interesting, intellectual way. It’s a love story between a French actress and a Japanese man, both of whom are harboring sad memories of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Les Miserables was another film that we screened. There have been many films based on this classic Victor Hugo novel. We watched the 1935 Hollywood version, directed by Richard Boleslawski and starring Charles Laughton. I really enjoyed this film. It had action, romance, politics and even obsession.Clayton.jpg Then we screened a wonderful, low- budget, independent film called Sugar Cane Alley. This film is a coming-of-age story of a young boy, Jose, growing up in Martinique. His Grandmother, Martine, makes dire sacrifices in order for young Jose to get a good education.  The most intellectually difficult film we watched was Death In Venice by the Italian director Luchino Visconti. This film is based on the novella by Thomas Mann. It is one of the most gorgeously shot and scored films of all time. It concerns a German composer who is blocked creatively and travels to Venice to get inspiration. The last film we saw was Gemma Bovery, a satire of the original book Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. Set in France, it is a charming comedy-of-manners.

This course widened my view of movies. I now have developed the patience to watch these intellectual and slow paced films. Compared to the typical Hollywood blockbusters that are offered, these films are truly an art form that deserve to be studied and belong in a museum. I urge all of you to expand your viewpoint on movies and sample some of these films.

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Looking Back by Gerry Orz

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

TCMClassicFilm.jpgWith Turner Classic Movie’s Classic Film Festival taking place in LA, I have been looking at films from 40 plus years ago and realizing how much work was required to create these films. In today’s filmmaking world, anyone with some knowledge of computers and specific programs can impose an image onto a green screen to bring animation to life, fake gun shots and more. However, when films such as Ace in the Hole (1951) were produced, they didn’t have that sort of technology at their disposal. For a green screen, they used big bulky machines. For a gun shot, they had to physically insert a gun shot in the film and physically add thAceinHole.jpge sound. Just a few days ago, during the annual Star Wars Day, people were reminded about how many amazing things were created 40 years ago such as space ships, planets, blasters, light sabers and more. All were created manually along with careful set designs. Now, entire films can be filmed in front of a green screen or in front of panels. For example, in 2013, Gravity was made almost completely in a room filled with TV panels. Sixty years ago, to get the needed look, they built sets the size of cities! The 1916 movie Intolerance was a $2.5 million dollar film ($60 milliStarwars.nh.jpgon in today’s dollars) Oh, how times have changed. It required constructing a life size Great Wall of Babylon. For people in Hollywood, that might have looked similar to the architecture of The Dolby Theater. This set, along with thousands of extras, is a perfect example of how classic films got their desired look. Today, put some people in front of a green screen and you’re good. In some ways, set design and so many other artsHeadshot.GerrySM.jpg applied to filmmaking can be considered a lost art now. It makes you wonder, in another 90 years, what will be considered lost arts of 21st century? Only the future will tell.

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