This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

Search This Blog

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Night

File:Gable ithapponepm poster.jpgLast year I went to the Oscars. Virtually. I forget how much it was. $3.95 or $6.95. Something like that if I recall correctly. By manipulating a mouse I was a white circle on the red carpet. That was fun. I could move around  and with my special Oscar camera I could see all the stars or walk right though them. In the main auditorium wandering around wasn't allowed. You could by switching cameras go back stage or visit the press room where the winners  were being interviewed, but by doing so you missed  the actual award presentations. Then there were the post Oscar  parties.  No one really paid attention to you and you couldn't eat anything. They pulled the plug on the parties around 1 am which I thought was rather chintzy. By then I was paying bills and not really watching or moving my circle but I expected more. I wondered if they were going to have virtual Oscar visits  again this year. I didn't plan on buying but I was curious. Either they didn't have it or I was such a stick in the mud I wasn't invited back.

Hollywood and the Oscars is the greatest celebration of Americana this  side of the fourth of July. World wide they love our movies. Why exactly is hard to say. Maybe we just lucked into it because we are the good guys. Or Maybe our movies just made us good.

Frank Capra,  the only member of his family to graduate from college was also the only family member to be chronically unemployed. He was 37 when the movie he directed "It Happened  One Night" won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screen Play, and Best Director in 1934. Before the decade was over Capra would will two more Best Director Oscars.

Of course Hollywood had competition.History tells us sO and other countries started with a more definite purpose in mind.In 1917 in the final days of World War I, disturbed by their own anemic efforts to use the cinema to incite patriotism the German military created UFA Univerasum Fillm Aktion Gesshellsaft. Under private ownership Ufa made  a number of notable and imagainative films in the Wiemar era. In 1933 the company was taken over by the Nazi Regime. For the next twelve years the studio  located in Babelsburg  produced a record number of movies but none of serious  critical acclaim. After the war Babelsburg which lies in what used to be East Germany fell under Soviet Control.  Thus  DEFA the  or Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft t was born. In Layman's' terms  DEFA is the films of East Germany. When the wall came down so did  DEFA. Today That leaves "Studio Babelsburg"  which in 2012 will celebrate it's 100th Anniversary. On it's web site it claims...

Studio Babelsberg is the oldest large-scale studio complex in the world. Deutsche Bioscop, UFA, DEFA, Studio Babelsberg – no other film studio in the world can look back on such a moving history. Studio Babelsberg went through and survived four political systems: Monarchy, Weimar Republic, National Socialism and GDR. Countless renowned filmmakers have worked with Studio Babelsberg, engaging the studio to produce legendary films including Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel, starring Marlene Dietrich. Current references are Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer and Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous.

 It also ran an ad the Hollywood Reporter telling film makers, "You are in Berlin.Nothing will go wrong.

 Recently DEFA films have enjoyed a vogue. The University of Massachusetts   hosts a DEFA library.Wolfgang Staude's 1949 Film Rotation is available at the Baldwin Library. Today DEFA  Films are recognized as being innovative small budget films that were the first to depict what happened under National Socialism.

The bottom line ? Hollywood is still the standard by which the world film industry measures itself and good films big budget or small budget don't fade away

In terms of the 2012 Oscars the writer of this blog regrets that he only saw all the nominees in the category  of  Best Picture and Best Director. This publication  regrets the lapse. Predictions are a dime a dozen we will join the other critics  in predicting a best picture win for The Artist. In order to provide variety however, we  will list the top Oscar nominated pictures in reverse order of lasting importance ala David Letterman Drum please...
  • The Artist: predicable and boring. The dog and John Goodman steal the show. In a year in which big actors often appear  in more than one big movie Goodman is also in  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
  • Midnight In Paris: even Marlon  Cotillard (La Vie En Rose) can't save this dog. Owen Wilson (You Me and Dupree ) delivers a career best performance which figures.  
  • The Help  a good film  but not a best picture. Lots of strong rolls for females. Every time there is a problem between the lady of the house and the "help" hubby takes a powder. Actress Viola Davis deserves an Oscar for her role in this film,  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Doubt. Ditto Octavia Spencer for The Help.
  • Director Terrence Mallick was  Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard University. In Tree of Life he talks  the metaphysics of a  universe beyond the comprehension of those of us who got degrees from diploma mills.  Brad Pitt (who also stars in and is a Best Actor nominee  for  Moneyball)  and Jessica Chastain (nominated for Best Supporting Actress in The Help) should have been nominated for this confusing picture.
  • War Horse is a beautifully filmed two hour plus movie about the first world war which jerks a few tears before delivering...well you get the picture.
  • Moneyball a good business/sports movie destined for motivation seminars everywhere.
  • Descended star .George Clooney (who also stars and wrote the script for Ides of March) deserves best actor. This Picture deserves it's Best Picture nomination. It is a very competent movie. This year however two other films  out shadow it.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Hugo. It is hard to imagine two more different films covering the same ground. Both Hugo and the boy in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close have lost their father. Both look for a memory or anything they can find about their father throught searches or quests.  Hugo has a flip book and a the remains of Robot. He believes if he can make the Robot work he can get a message from his deceased dad. Eventually he finds a friend who has the key to the robot. That's because because before it was Hugo's Robot it belonged to the friend's  father. The boy in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has a key he found which he believes will open something from his deceased father. The idea of a quest in which a protagonist who is looking for something (holy grail ?) meets people along the way who teach him things is a very old literary device. Like Keys and locks there are literarly thousands of examples. Hugo is a very pleasant movie that is fun for whole family and a bit of a fairy tale. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is searing, gut wrenching and as real as today's headlines. Oddly enough the later film asks you to suspend belief more than Hugo. If you buy into the Hugo fairy tale all else follows. With  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close the realness prompts you to question anything that probably couldn't happen.Both are drawn from works of fiction. Hugo has a happy ending  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has a positive ending which is mildly up lifting.  
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close before it's release had all the Oscar buzz. What can you say bad about a movie staring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.Then it premiered to heavy criticism.The depiction of  9-11, and a slightly nutso kid made it  a movie not for the young at heart or the faint of heart. The movie was however a a surprise  Best Picture nomination but the director was not nominated for Best Director (always the kiss of death with the Academy ). Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close  is a picture you should see once and maybe that's as often as you will ever want to see it.
  • Hugo a family movie is a magical illusion one will want to see many times. When the DVD comes out, standing in line at Midnight probably won't be necessarily. Visiting the store during normal business hours will suffice which is a shame. Hugo is our favorite picture of the year.

No comments: