Sunday, April 28, 2013

42 - The Story of Jackie Robinson

"42" tells the story of iconic baseball player Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the previously white-only major leagues. He was famously the man to break the color line, thanks to the determination of forward-thinking Branch Rickey, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was the beginning of the civil rights era. But that was unknown at the time.

Rickey (Harrison Ford, almost unrecognizable at the beginning of the movie) discovers the talent of Robinson and plucks him in 1945 from the Negro Leagues to play for the minor league Montreal Royals. Robinson (played by TV actor, producer, director but little-known movie actor Chadwick Boseman) soon becomes part of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Look for Boseman in many more movies to come. He was superb.

Determined to integrate professional baseball, Rickey tells Robinson "I want a player with the guts not to fight back." It's a daunting task. If he responded to the abuse he received, he'd be seen as a troublemaker. Robinson is met with vicious 1947 racism, booing crowds, and teammates who are, to say the least, unwelcoming. Robinson's fellow Dodgers, many of them Southern boys, sign a petition to have him kicked off.

In one painful five-minute rant, the Philadelphia Phillies manager (after making it known they didn't want the Dodgers playing in Philly) subjects Robinson to filthy insults, including repeated use of the N word. Throughout the movie you see segregated public bathrooms and water fountains. It's shocking to see the sign "colored."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Most Celebrated Award Shows in Hollywood

Even celebrities and filmmakers need a public boost of confidence here and there. Movie award shows give Hollywood entertainers a chance to receive recognition for their acting, writing, directing, composing, and production skills from fans and peers. While it's easy to think of all award shows as being basically the same, each show attracts a specific audience based on tone, voting system, and nominees. Award shows where the voting is decided by the public tend to bring in more playful and outlandish elements to satisfy mainstream viewers, while industry- and critic-based award shows often take the conservative approach.

Some award associations occasionally try to reverse a show's public image. For example, the Academy Awards famously chose to reach out to younger viewers by enlisting actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway to be co-hosts in 2010. The mismatched hosts bombed horribly with flat banter and ill-timed exchanges. Despite the ploy's obvious flaws, the Academy Awards renewed this attempt in 2012 by inviting crude humorist Seth McFarlane to host. Despite these mistakes, the Academy Awards reign as the top movie awards show in Hollywood. The show is informally known as the 'Oscars' and has been honoring moving pictures since 1929, making it the longest running film awards show.

The Oscars are organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one of the most influential film organizations in show business. The seasonal air date for the Academy Awards has changed multiple times, but it has been consistently hosted in late February or early March for the past decade. As the academy's voting body draws directly from Hollywood's pool of popular performers and filmmakers, winning that well-muscled golden statue is directly linked to opinions from industry peers. Looking back at the Oscars' eighty-five-year run is like taking a course in the history of film. While some audiences view the Oscars as outdated and limited in scope, the show has hailed iconic screen gems in nearly every genre, ranging from "It Happened One Night" and "West Side Story" to "Star Wars" and "Forrest Gump."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bradley Cooper's Rise to Fame

Having first obtained recognition for his role on the television show "Alias," Bradley Cooper has become a well-known actor who has gone on to appear in a number of films. Bradley Cooper was born on January 5, 1975 in Philadelphia. Cooper first attended Germantown Academy and later enrolled in Villanova University before transferring to Georgetown University. As a college student, Cooper spent several months as an exchange student in France and became fluent in French. After graduating from college, he attended the Actors Studio Drama School and received an MFA.

Cooper had previously begun to explore an acting career and launched that career with a role on "Sex and the City." His film debut arrived two years later, in 2001, when he landed a role on "Wet Hot American Summer." Around this time, Cooper was awarded what would become a breakout role for him on the television show "Alias." Although he eventually left the series in 2003, Cooper did return twice as a guest star. In 2002, Cooper was scheduled to appear in the film "Changing Lanes." The footage in which he appeared was later removed from the box office version of the film.

During this time, Cooper's career began to take off, and he appeared in the television movie "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks." The film also starred Jason Priestley. In addition, Cooper landed a role on the television series "Jack & Bobby" as a regular guest star. When Cooper appeared in the hit comedy "Wedding Crashers," his talent as a comedic actor became more widely recognized. Cooper next starred in "Failure to Launch" with Matthew McConaughey. In 2005, he portrayed the leading role on "Kitchen Confidential." The sitcom was based on a memoir penned by Anthony Bourdain. The sitcom received positive reviews, but it was later canceled.