I’ve been having conversations lately with friends who aren’t quite buying into the frenzy. They may like or dislike La La Land, but either way they’re just not getting it. “Fourteen Oscar nominations? Tied for the most in history?” La La Land may be good, but it’s not a juggernaut, they might say. Its effect on our culture is hardly titanic in scale. So why all the hype?
Continue reading “La La Land”: Overhyped?
I’ve been seeing a deluge of posts online about how great Hidden Figures is. I like the movie, but it’s by no means as terrific as people say, in my opinion. Yes, it’s a good thing that this story has come to the surface, giving due recognition to these important people. But…
Full disclosure: I’m not black.
However, I do believe the film trivializes the African-American experience in the 1960s. There are nearly no hurdles for the women in the film to overcome. How can that be? They’re black in the 1960s South! Every obstacle is cleared in the same scene in which it’s presented. Three examples (minor spoilers ahead):
Continue reading Does “Hidden Figures” Trivialize the Black Experience?
There are few SNL sketches that will top “Schweddy Balls,” based on my personal tastes and sensibilities. That sketch, perfectly written by Ana Gasteyer, is so multi-layered, so well performed, and just plain hilarious.
And then there was “Short Film” (watch here).
No, “Short Film,” which aired on last week’s Emily Blunt-hosted episode, does not top Gasteyer’s and Molly Shannon’s NPR-set sketch, but it comes pretty damn close—again, per my personal tastes and sensibilities (it’s likely not everyone’s cup of tea).
Continue reading It’s Funny Because It’s True: SNL “qua” Sketch
I’m thrilled to announce the official selection of my short film, “In-Kind,” with International Film Festival Manhattan! The film will screen in New York City on October 20. For more information about its making, view the “Anatomy of a Short Film” section of this site.
On the occasion of the poster release for new film Christine, allow me to tell you a brief story about why doing means so much more than just talking.
Some years ago, I happened upon my college’s Wikipedia page. As I scanned over the “Notable Alumni” section, one name stood out to me—one that I didn’t recognize: Christine Chubbuck. I clicked on her name and found myself reading this story of a troubled woman whose tragic actions shook the world of live television. I happened to think about her again just last year when a psychotic man gunned down a reporter and her cameraman during a live feed in Roanoke, Virginia.
Continue reading “Christine,” Starring Rebecca Hall: The Film I Should Have Written
If you’re like me, you often watch a film’s opening titles and consider their relevance to the movie’s story and characters. I love good design. It only stands to enhance a film, showcasing both style and substance. And truly great design becomes iconic.
Dive deeper into more areas of film through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Originals video series.
Winner of the 1998 Academy Award for Best Short Film, Animated, this Pixar classic was written and directed by Jan Pinkava. If nothing else, it’s proof that one isn’t necessarily the loneliest number.
HBO has long been at the forefront of quality TV movies. Among this year’s offerings are three based on real people, two of which are based on Tony-winning plays. Each is primed for Emmy consideration.
All the Way
Following up his Oscar-nominated performance in Trumbo and four Emmy wins for portraying Walter White on Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston reprises his Tony-winning role of LBJ in this TV adaptation of the 2014 Tony-winning Best Play. I caught this Robert Schenkkan-penned play on Broadway—liked it, but didn’t love it. Schenkkan adapted his own work for HBO, so I’m curious to see how he interpreted this story for a different medium.
Logline (courtesy of IMDb): Lyndon B. Johnson becomes the President of the United States in the chaotic aftermath of JFK’s assassination and spends his first year in office fighting to pass the Civil Rights Act.
Director: Jay Roach
Screenwriter: Robert Schenkkan
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, Melissa Leo, Bradley Whitford, Frank Langella
Runtime: 132 min.
Continue reading On My DVR: HBO Movies
Conservators don’t receive enough credit for the painstaking and important work they do to preserve our film history. Get a peek into the art and science of preservation with this brief video, a part of the terrific Academy Originals series.
Today is the 87th anniversary of the first Academy Awards ceremony on May 16, 1929. The ceremony took place in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (a stone’s throw from the current site of the Oscars, the Dolby Theatre) and honored films released between August 1927 and August 1928. About 270 people attended the private dinner. Unlike today, winners were announced three months in advance. Here’s a quick snapshot of the ceremony:
Cost of a Guest Ticket: $5 (or $69 by today’s standards)
Number of Statues Awarded: 15
Length of Ceremony: 15 minutes
Outstanding Picture: Wings
Unique and Artistic Picture: Sunrise
Directing (Drama Picture): Frank Borzage (7th Heaven)
Directing (Comedy Picture): Lewis Milestone (Two Arabian Nights)
Actor: Emil Jannings (The Last Command, The Way of All Flesh)
Actress: Janet Gaynor (7th Heaven, Street Angel, Sunrise)
Writing (Adaptation): 7th Heaven
Writing (Original Story): Underworld
Other awards were given for Cinematography (Sunrise), Art Direction (The Dove), Engineering Effects (Wings), and Writing (Title Writing) (Joseph Farnham); Special Awards were given to The Circus and The Jazz Singer.