Los Angeles -- Welcome back again to another edition of Soundtrack, the occasional program devoted to everything that is anything regarding music from the movies, new media, television, radio, stage and commercials. Earlier this year we presented a selection of orchestral pieces from the Miklos Rosza catalog of film scores.
Dr. Rosza, a contemporary of Max Steiner was well known and respected for his multitude of award winning biblical musical compositions and historical dramas. To this day his music is considered among the few that are truly the basis of the classic film score style and technique during Hollywood's Golden Age of filmed entertainment.
Today we begin our series with the first and possibly the patriarch of all film music. The man who is regarded as the dean and pioneer of film scoring, Max Steiner.
For more information on Steiner you can visit the Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Steiner
Los Angeles -- It has been said and it will be said that art is the imitation of life. Yet through the aperture of a camera it seems that life has become, at least in this day, and imitation of art.
Birth to Death is one such character study of this concept. Here you have and opportunity to recreate, albeit artificially through a myriad of narrative film clips the various stages of human existence.
I believe 150 as stated in the description: a visual summary of the cycles of life, from birth to death. And best part of all it is narrated, posthumously, by that great egocentric genius, who reveled in the caricature of his personae, Mr. Citizen Kane, the late great actor, writer, producer, and magician (I'm not done, yet)...one more run on thought...Mr. Black and White...Orson Wells. I'm done.
Los Angeles -- It certainly goes without saying that Walt Disney was a true American treasure, the likes of which we will never see. Not only did he have the vision and drive to move the boundaries of our imagination to new levels of excellence hitherto unprecedented in the arts, but also his business acumen coupled with a unique understanding of human nature refashioned the standard of American and world entertainment of which we are the direct beneficiary to this day.
Much of what we see today can be traced in some way to the Disney dream machine and magic, from the uncompromising higher standards of production, to the technical innovations like the multi-plane camera system that made it possible to project animation in a 3 dimensional sense, to the development of stereophonic sound and animatronics (motorized puppetry), the early phase of cybernetics, were among the many Disney innovations in the quest for the premiere family entertainment venue. But the real legacy of Disney lies in the inspiration that he seeded to others whether directly or in directly that are the hallmark of our current state of entertainment production and exhibition.
There is so much more that if continue to review the checklist of Disney's accomplishments I am afraid we will venture away from the subject matter of our discussion, "Mary Poppins", and the movie that tells the back story of one of Walt Disney's most lucrative films, possibly rivaling his first feature animation "Snow White".
"Saving Mr. Banks" is a momentary glimpse back in time during the latter years of Walt Disney, in the early 1960's, and his dream machine the Disney Studios in Burbank, CA, as he worked some of that Disney magic to convince Mary Poppins' fictional creator P.L. Travers to sell the film rights of her children's book. of the same name.
For Disney it was more than just optioning a book to make into a movie. He had made a promise to his daughters, die in the wool fans of the book, 20 years earlier that he would make Mary Poppins into a movie. It took 20 years to get her to sign on the dotted line.
Travers' royalties were dwindling and she needed money so she agreed to work with Disney and his team to bring her book to the screen. To say she was uncooperative is a mild assumption. She was very demanding and controlling and so was Uncle Walt. He had the money and the means to make it happen. She had the story and the will power. And that is where the movie begins.
A final note. "Mary Poppins" was a very special movie for me. The Disney technique and style is what brought me into the love and interest of working in the movies. I saw "Mary Poppins" in its original release in the theater. While others looked at the screen I was glancing at the projector trying to figure out how they could take a series of still images and make magic out of them on a two story wide screen. I wanted to be a part of that magic and I have never looked back since being a part of the process.
Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews would go on to established film careers, she being cast as Maria von Trapp in the "Sound of Music" and he as Caractacus Potts in the Ian Flemming (of James Bond fame) novel "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show". P.L. Travers got paid $100,000 for her creative objections, $750,000 in today's currency valuation.
"Mary Poppins would go on to win five Oscars(R), including two—Best Song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) and Best Music, Original Score—for the Sherman brothers.
Los Angeles -- As we get around the business of preparing for the Holidays you've really got to wonder what the fuss is all about. Sienfield called it "Festivus For The Rest of Us". Some on the other hand refuse to acknowledge anything less than Christmas and with all the pomp proclaim it the celebration of the birth of Jesus the savior of the world.
We are not here to delve into the identity of Christmas. For some it is a Door Buster sale. For others it is a time of reflection on the year that's passing us by. I for one am a true believer in Christmas.
The Christmas I knew was a Christmas of giving. It was a time of sharing and renewing bonds frayed by the ever demanding strains of a social fabric stretched to the point of fracture, were it not for a child born to a Jewish couple in a dingy cold stall in a village that went by the name of Bethlehem, our yoke would not only be bent by the fierce weight of our misery, but would eventually be broken by the years of neglect and self pity.
Growing up back East outside of Washington DC, we indeed had a few White Christmases as we gathered together as a family and watched the Bing Crosby-Danny Kay flick of same name, each settled in their favorite spot.
I loved to lie on the floor and do a marathon of some of the most beloved movies of all time. "A Christmas Carol" was tops on my short list of favorites along with "Its A Wonderful Life" in my opinion our Christmas Carol. We would also watch "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" from the Gospel according to Lioness. I tended to identify with Charlie Brown not Lioness.
I thought it would be fun to watch some of those shows again. I am sure you can download many versions from YouTube and other social media sites. But it just would be nice, humor me here, to offer you a couple of the most endearing films on giving and forgiving that have stood the test of time.
As you gathered I am a fan of Black and White movies. I just like the feel and look. They seem to be charcoal sketches of life that resemble our memories as we paused to reminisce and ponder days gone in a quandary's search for meaning and value. Maybe a slight exaggeration. But one founded on truth I tell you.
The two you are about to see are as close to the spirit of what Christmas means, at least to me. The Spirit of Forgiving Love especially Forgiving of Ones Self.
Self Forgiveness here in Hollywood is a rarity if I do say so. And I do. But it is a necessity that none can do without. If you were to count the number of injuries others have done to you, you just might go ballistic. But count the number of injuries you have done to others, and I bet the imbalance of self righteous indignation would calm down to a balance of tolerance and forgiveness.
For the other part of the Golden Rule is Forgiving Yourself You Forgive Others and in so doing others will Forgive You.
So here is Scrooge, the 1951 version, which is considered by critics and public opinion the finest filmed version of Charles Dickens classic story of forgiveness and redemption, and my other favorite Christmas story that taught me "No man is a failure who has friends": It's A Wonderful Life.
Indeed it is a wonderful life. Merry Christmas from My Hollywood Journal and a very prosperous and happy start to a new year to all of us.
New York, NY – December 16, 2013 – The Online Film Critics Society proudly announces the recipients of the 17th annual OFCS awards for excellence in film.
Steven McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" was the standout winner, with recognitions for Best Picture, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o), and Best Adapted Screenplay, for John Ridley's hand in bringing Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir to the big screen.
Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for her turn in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," while Alfonso Cuarón bested the stiff competition as the Best Director winner for the critically and commercially successful "Gravity." The film also won in the categories for editing and cinematography, as well as special awards for its sound design and visual effects work.
Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises" won Best Animated Film, while France's "Blue Is the Warmest Color" was recognized as the Best Film Not in the English Language. Writer-director Spike Jonze won Best Original Screenplay for "Her," and Joshua Oppenheimer's audacious and disturbing "The Act of Killing" was voted as the best documentary of the year. Films not yet released in North America were recognized in a separate top ten list.
A special award was also given to the late Roger Ebert, whose decades of work in criticism helped to popularize serious film appreciation to a wider audience, and whose tireless persistence in the face of cancer was as inspiring as any of the films he championed.
"Our members outdid themselves this year and we couldn't be more excited," said OFCS Governing Committee members Robert Humanick, Wesley Lovell and Cole Smithey. "After selecting a superb set of nominees, tough decisions were made and the result is a fine array of work enhanced only by the pool from which they were chosen."
Founded in 1997, the Online Film Critics Society (www.ofcs.org) is the largest and oldest Internet-based film journalism organization. Over 250 members voted in this year's awards.
The Online Film Critics Society 2013 Film Awards Winners:
Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Animated Feature: The Wind Rises
Best Film Not in the English Language: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Best Documentary: The Act of Killing
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron - Gravity
Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay: Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Editing: Gravity
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Sound Design and Best Visual Effects to Gravity
To Roger Ebert, for inspiring so many of our members
Top Ten films Without a U.S. Release:Closed Curtain
Like Father, Like Son
Stranger By the Lake
We Are the Best!
Why Don't You Play in Hell?
For additional info, please email Rodrigo Brandão at Rodrigo@indiestrat.com or call 917.434.6168
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