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.
Coming-of-age films have long been a moviemaking staple. Stories featuring young people who are attempting to define themselves, to relate to their elders while figuring their place in the world, certainly are appealing both dramatically and as subjects that will attract the audience demographic that the movie industry so desperately covets.
One new film that I have been long-anticipating is GET ON UP, a biopic which chronicles the life and times of James Brown, one of the seminal figures on the American musical scene during the infancy of rock, roll, and soul.
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.
The number of children who for one reason or another go missing not just in the United States but across the globe is staggering, maddening, and heartbreaking. The saga of one such occurrence is told in SIDDHARTH, a heartfelt, quietly shattering new film.
I recently attended the Festival Cinema Invisible, now in its third year, which features an array of new Iranian films, all of varying length. What struck me was the generally high quality of many-- but not all-- of the films, not to mention the universality of their subjects.
World War II may have ended in the mid-1940s. The concentration camps were liberated and those who survived the horrors of the era were supposed to get on with their lives. But for many, the war never really concluded. The brutality of the time and the decisions made by individuals of all backgrounds reverberated through their souls, in many cases for the rest of their lives.
These days, more than ever before, baseball-- otherwise known as America's Pastime-- is a truly international sport. According to the Associated Press, 28.1 per cent of current major leaguers were born outside the United States. They hail from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, South Korea, Australia... And the potential for finding big league talent outside the U.S. is examined in MILLION DOLLAR ARM, the story of a sports agent, played by Jon Hamm, who heads off to India in search of players who just might become the next fireballing big league hurlers.