During the month of August, Turner Classic Movies is celebrating Hollywood and international stardom with its annual Summer Under the Stars series. Today, for many film enthusiasts—particularly young viewers-- choosing a movie often is based on its genre, special effects, or franchise. Decades ago, during the golden age of the studio system, filmgoers targeted their movie choices by the star names that appeared on theater marquees.
For more than 100 years, stereotypes have been a fixture in developing comedy routines in popular entertainment…the fat Italian man who belches garlic, the Fagan-like Jew who sits under a single weak light bulb counting gold coins, the dumb blonde, the lazy Latino who perpetually is seeking siesta, and the African American who fractures the English language and is afraid of his own shadow. Today, most would agree that these are not only inaccurate representations, but indeed are offensive and obsolete tools for creating comedy.
Since last month, big-screen viewing has been a mix of awesome and disappointing. The two films I most was looking forward to were Wes Anderson’s THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and Darren Aronofky’s NOAH. Both were outstanding visually but in need of script doctoring.
To celebrate their 50th anniversary season, Performing Arts of Woodstock is presenting Oscar Wilde’s play, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center right in the town on Rock City Road.
The works of British producer, writer, director Richard Curtis express feelings about love and the human condition in a unique way. Curtis is a topnotch student of life on our complicated planet. At times his take is so bittersweet and yet so comedic that he seems to have Charlie Chaplin whispering in his ear. But it’s not the Chaplin of the 1920s; Curtis knows modern life.
Shirley Temple died recently at the age of 85. Her film career began when she was about 4 years of age, and she starred in motion pictures with phenomenal success through the age of 21. During the mid-late 1930s, her box office power outdid the power of such stars as Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. At that time, when much of the population of the United States was struggling through the Great Depression, little Shirley Temple was dancing, singing, and genuinely charming her way into the hearts of a nation.
One film that is drawing attention at award nomination ceremonies is PHILOMENA, the story of a real-life Irish-Catholic woman named Philomena Lee. The film relates the story a teenager in the 1950s, who met a young man one evening at a fair and wound up having a one-night sexual encounter with him—her first time having sex. She never saw him again.
The silent film era from the start of the 20th Century through the end of the 1920s was a rich time in American entertainment. Rich, poor, immigrants new to our nation—they all sought out the new and wondrous moving shadows which looked so clearly like real life. By the mid-teens, the Hollywood studio system and movie companies in Chicago, New York, and parts of New Jersey, as well as Florida and Maine, were churning out thousands of short films and feature-length entertainments for mass consumption.