La La Lands many influences

Federico Fellini:

The first scene in La La Land is an homage to Federico Fellini’s masterpiece . In the first scene of the lead character Guido is stuck in a traffic jam and everyone is staring at him, creating a trapped feeling. Guido then begins to daydream of him flying until he is forced to snap back into reality. We see something very similar in La La Land, a traffic jam turns into a large musical number about the Hollywood dream  and then it snaps back into reality. We see our lead character Mia and witness her reality, her frustrations and struggles. Like La La Land, is set in the movie business (in Italy though, not Hollywood).

La La Land also takes influence from the musical Sweet Charity, which is based off Fe161212_BB_something-better.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2derico Fellini’s 1957 realist film Nights of Cabiria. The number in La La Land “Someone in the Crowd” takes inspiration from the number “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This” in Sweet Charity. As you can see in the photo, Mia and her friends whip their colorful dresses around the same way Charity and her friends do in Sweet Charity.

Jacques Demy:

Perhaps the film’s most obvious influence comes from the musicals of the French director Jacques Demy. Jacques Demy was one of the most prominent directors of the French New Wave, which is considered by most film historians, film critics and filmmakers as the most important film movement of all time. The French New Wave is known for its rule-breaking techniques and its post-modernist style, which is rather than trying to make the audience forget they are watching a film, it tries to remind them that they are. You can see this in La La Land in that while the characters emotions all feel real and we can relate to them and feel for them, it still never forgets that it is a musical and creates a world of its own.

The world that is made in La La Land is very much influenced by the world that Jacques Demy created in many of his films. The most obvious connection is the bright colors and buildings. In Jacques Demy’s magnum opus The Umbrellas of Cherbourg there are also titles telling us the time of year just like in La La Land. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg also has a bittersweet ending with the lovers split apart seeing each other for the first time in years.

Vincente Minnelli:

Vincente Minnelli is the director of many classic musicals such as An American in Paris, Gigi, and Meet Me in St. Louis. La La Land borrows his style of surreal feeling song and an-american-in-paris-1108x0-c-defaultdance sequences. The musical numbers feel as if they are stepping away from reality and when they end, they are going back into reality just like in La La Land. It borrows this as well as many visual references to An American in Paris.

 

Singin’ in the Rain:

The most obvious reference to Singin’ in the Rain is in the number “A Lovely Night” when Ryan Gosling’s character swings around a street light just like in the famous sequence in Singin’ in the Rain when Gene Kelly jumps up on a street light singing “Singing in the Rain”. Many of the scenes ila-la-land-22-1024x576n the “Epilogue” are reminiscent of the “Broadway Melody” ballad in Singin’ in the Rain.

 

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers:

The best place to start watching the movies that influenced this film is with the films of Fred and Ginger. Damien Chazelle had the cast and crew of La La Land watch Top Hat before filming to understand what style he was going for. Chazelle also wanted to have the chemistry be like the chemistry between Fred and Ginger. Chazelle has also cited Fred and Ginger as an influence on the dance sequences in La La Land.

The films of Audrey Hepburn and West Side Story:

Damien Chazelle, the director of La La Land said that in many of his dance sequences he was going for a “Jerome Robbins-style”. Jerome Robbins is the director of West Side Story. Emma Stone follows a similar acting style to Audrey Hepburn. She also has a similar sounding voice to her. She did this to try to capture the 50s-60s musical feel more. Also in the “Epilogue” sequence the colorful balloons are reminiscent of the Audrey Hepburn musical Funny Face.

TCM Theater Showings

Every month, TCM shows a classic film in theaters for two days to show them to people who never got the chance to see them on the big screen. They are not at every theater, but they are not that hard to find.

At the start of every film there is always a host that will introduce the film and say something about its impact and reception. There are only nine more showings this year, but they are definitely worth it. On April 23rd and 26th, Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking classic The Graduate will be showing to celebrate its 50 year anniversary. The TCM host that will be presenting is Ben Mankiewicz. The film is known as Dustin Hoffman’s breakthrough role and one of the most important films in the New Hollywood film movement (also known as the American New Wave). On May 21st and 24th, Smokey the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds will be playing to celebrate its 40 year anniversary. Ben Mankiewicz will be hosting for this one as well. This film is what established Burt Reynolds as a star in Hollywood

On June 4th and 7th, Francis Ford Coppola’s tour de force mobster epic The Godfather will be playing. Often cited as one of the greatest films of all time from critics and audiences alike, The Godfather stars numerous acting legends, from Marlon Brando to Al Pacino to Robert Duvall to Diane Keaton, and the list goes on and on. This will also be hosted by Ben Mankiewicz.

On June 11th and 14th, Some Like it Hot will be playing. Directed by one of the great film directors of all time, Billy Wilder, and starring two of the screen’s best actors ever, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, this is surely to be enjoyed by anyone of any age or taste in film, a must-see. This will be hosted by TCM host Tiffany Vazquez.

On July 30th and August 2nd, Fast Times at Ridgemont High will be playing. While very silly and cheesy, Sean Penn’s breakthrough role is still a fun watch and worth seeing. It will be hosted by Ben Mankiewicz.

On August 13th and 16th, the classic Bonnie and Clyde will be playing. The film is well known for launching the New Hollywood movement, which I mentioned before. Starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, this classic should really be seen by everybody. This will be hosted by Tiffany Vasquez.

On September 17th and 20th, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial will be playing. Everyone has seen this Steven Spielberg classic. It will be great to relive this adventure on the big screen. It will be hosted by Ben Mankiewicz.

On October 15th and 18th, Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride will be playing in theaters for its 30th anniversary. A film everyone could enjoy, this will be great to see in theaters. This will be hosted by Tiffany Vasquez.

On November 12th and 15th, the classic film Casablanca will be playing to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Everyone loves Casablanca! This classic starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, and Peter Lorre is a globally renowned classic that is often considered one of the best films ever made. It will be hosted be Ben Mankiewicz.

On December 10th and 13th, the Sidney Poitier classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner will be playing. This film was very groundbreaking at its time because it is about an interracial couple. It is one f Sidney Poitier’s best films. It will be hosted by Tiffany Vasquez.

Manchester by the Sea review

Manchester by the Sea was one of the best movies of last year. I cried twice both times I watched it, truly one of the most realistic films I’ve ever seen. The characters literally talk over one another and don’t hear each other at times. From the first scene I was gripped. The relationship between Casey Affleck and his nephew really grabs you from the start. We learn more about it as the film goes on through flashbacks and also watch it developed whilst learning about it. Each and every reveal about the characters is told to us in an emotionally intriguing way and at the perfect time. This was one of the best character studies I have seen in years. I truly felt for Casey Affleck’s character every second along the way and understood why he did everything he did even when I did not want him to do it. I even felt with characters that were barely in it. Many people complained about the film’s pacing and its ending, but I thought they were both perfect. While the pacing was very slow, it really was fitting and needed for its subject matter. Things don’t really get any better for our protagonist, but with everything else that happens to him in the film and with his reactions to it, a happy ending would have been unfitting and totally would not have worked.

Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams give beautifully powerful performances. Affleck actually gives one of the best performances of the 21st century. Affleck subtly dies inside while still showing us his misery. Michelle Williams was robbed by Viola Davis at the Oscars. She does not have much screen time, but is devastating when on screen.

The film was wonderfully directed, but I won’t deny its flaws. While the atmosphere felt very very real at times, there were still flaws in the cinematography that keep it from perfection. While the cinematography was great, there were two or three scenes in the beginning where I felt that it was a bit too simple with boring straight on shots that kept cutting exactly 90 degrees from one another. In the more emotional scenes it couldn’t have been better. In the emotional scenes, there was chaos going on all around our lead character and we were being shown his reactions first through wides, then it would often cut to close-ups of Affleck and we would see his reaction in more detail. The costume design was simple, but real and fitting. The film just overall felt alive throughout.

Another little nitpick I had was that the editing felt a tad bit choppy. I thought some of the shots could have ran for a bit longer at times. The film has a great score, too. It really matches every scene. The songs were playing in my head for days after I saw it, making all the sadness even heavier. It really should have been nominated for Best Score at the Oscars.

All in all, Manchester by the Sea was one of the best films of last year that is totally worth your time. Though I had a few nitpicks with some of the technical aspects of the film, the acting and script were both some of the best this decade and it will break the heart of anyone who sees it. A must-see.
9/10

Sesame Street Adds First Autistic Character

The classic television series Sesame Street recently decided to add a new character. The character’s name is Julia and her mental condition has garnered much attention. Sesame Street has been on the air for 47 years and has been teaching lessons in tolerance since its first days on the air.

Julia is a four year old with red hair, a lot of friends, and autism. Her character has been in development for five years and will air on April 10th. One in 68 children born are diagnosed with autism. The number has increased by 119% percent since 2000. This character will be great for letting these kids know that there is nothing wrong with having autism. “It’s important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like,” said Stacy Gordon, the puppeteer of the character, when on 60 Minutes.

This will also be very helpful in minimizing the bullying of autistic people. “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s okay,” Stacy Gordon also said.

Julia has a mother in jail and a father in the military. This will also be great for children who feel lonely in their struggles. It will help kids in similar situations have someone to relate to and make their problems feel real, let them know that there is nothing wrong with the situations they were given, and that it’s okay to feel upset about them.

Her autism will be shown in that she excels in some areas and lacks very much in others. She also spaces out a lot and it is very hard to get her attention. She’ll often also repeat what her friends Elmo and Abby say. She loves to paint and pick flowers. “That’s just Julia being Julia,” Abby said.

“Basically, in terms of vulnerable families, we’re looking at families who may have particular stressors in their lives that are impacting their young children,” said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for U.S. social impact at parent company Sesame Workshop. Jeanette has been helping plot the development of Julia for about three years now.

The character is set to appear in two episodes of this season and more in the next. This will be a great reminder that in dark times with such an intolerant government and a seemingly intolerant people, there is still hope for our children and the future.

Blade Runner Sequel in The Works

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the original 1982 science fiction cult classic Blade Runner. Blade Runner 2049 has a set United States release date for October 6, 2017. The film will be directed by Denis Villeneuve and is starring Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, Harrison Ford and Robin Wright. This sequel is being made because the original is a world renowned cult classic.

Some fans of the original film are very upset about this. They think that since the original had such an ambiguous ending, it ruins the original because then it does not leave you thinking about the questions Ridley Scott (director of the original) wanted you to be thinking about.

(Warning: SPOILERS)

At the end of the original film, it is implied that the main character Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a replicant, which are the robots that he was assigned to kill in the beginning. Earlier in the film, it is explained to Rick by the cops who hired him to hunt down the replicants that memories and dreams are placed into the minds of replicants, and he turns his head and looks at the other cop that is trying to convince him to take the job and sees he is making an origami of a swan.

Later in the film, about halfway through, Rick is thinking of a memory he had of a unicorn dashing through the forest. This could not have been an actual memory of his. At the very end of the film when he decides to run off with a replicant named Rachel, he is walking with her and sees a unicorn origami. Many, including the films director Ridley Scott, say that this means that he is a replicant and the origamis were made as models for installed memories. Harrison Ford and some others deny this theory though.

Replicants in the film were given only four year life spans and the sequel takes place 30 years after the original. These were only one type of replicants, though (Nexus 6 replicants). Denis Villeneuve, director of 2049, said that Deckard is “not necessarily” a human.

(No more spoilers)
Blade Runner 2049 has a stacked cast and crew. The films director, Denis Villeneuve, has directed many famous movies of the 2010s. He directed the 2016 Oscar-nominated science fiction film Arrival, the drug-cartel thriller Sicario with Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt, and the very popular neo-noir mystery Prisoners with Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano. The film’s cinematographer, Roger Deakins, is widely regarded as one of the best cinematographers of all time. Roger Deakins did the cinematography for many famous films such as The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Skyfall, etc. He also did the cinematography for Villeneuve’s films Prisoners and Sicario and gained much acclaim for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, for which he got an Oscar nomination. The film’s musical composer, Johann Johannsson, did Villeneuve’s films Sicario, Prisoners, and Arrival.

The Life & Times of Edward Norton

You’ve probably heard of Edward Norton. You probably only know him as that actor in Fight Club and Birdman and not as that philanthropist and environmental activist.

Known for his humility, he has even gone so far to say, “If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart attack”. Edward Harrison Norton was born on August 18th, 1969 to Edward Mower Norton Jr. and Lydia Robinson. His father Edward Mower Norton Jr., was a marine lieutenant in Vietnam, an environmental lawyer and federal prosecutor under the Carter administration. His father is what inspired him to be an environmentalist.

Norton has given millions of dollars towards clean energy and charities for more affordable housing in low income communities. He is a user of solar energy and driver of a car with a hydrogen internal combustion engine vehicle. He is on the board of trustees of Enterprise Community Partners, a non-profit developer for affordable housing in his hometown and a major supporter of BP’s Solar Neighbors program. He is the president of the American branch of the Maasai Wildlife Conservation Trust. He has also appeared in ads against buying elephant ivory, the “say no” campaign.

“People say you can’t make movies about your politics, or the environment. And, generally speaking, I completely divide those sides of my brain,” says Norton. He is also very politically active. He was a major supporter of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and a staunch opponent of Donald Trump during the 2016 election. He says the reason he is so opposed to Trump is because he “cares about the future of his kids”. He also produced the HBO documentary The Election of Barack Obama: By The People. It is a documentary that follows Obama and his campaign team for the two years prior to his election.

Edward Norton is not only of of the great actors of his generation, he is also a great person and role model.

The Pros and Cons of the United States Involvement in NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement is a trilateral trade deal between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. It was negotiated under the George H.W. Bush administration, signed by President Bill Clinton, and implemented into effect on January 1st, 1994. According to Bill Clinton, NAFTA was signed because “NAFTA means jobs. American jobs, and good-paying American jobs. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t support this agreement.” This has been a very controversial statement because NAFTA has led to many jobs leaving the US into other countries, however it has also led to many jobs leaving other countries and coming into the US. With NAFTA being in the news so much lately because of President Trump wanting to pull out of it, it is important to know all of its effects.

NAFTA has created 5 million jobs since it was put into place. That is an avergage of 227,000 jobs made per year. We also now have an average of 42,000 outsourced jobs per year due to NAFTA.

In 1993 the US had a $1.7 billion trade surplus. In 2016 the US had a $54 billion trade deficit which has led to the loss of many U.S. factory jobs.

NAFTA has led to many environmental problems because environmental standards were a minor part of the agreement. This has been criticized harshly for many years with a lot of people wanting to renegotiate or pull out of the deal partly because of this.

Apparel prices have dropped 7.5% since NAFTA was implemented. This has helped the poor the most because they are able to obtain their basic needs for much cheaper. A 2015 study discovered that completely shutting off trade would lead to a 69% loss in real income for the bottom 10%.

Proponents of NAFTA claimed that it would reduce illegal immigration from Mexico.  Mexican immigration – legal or illegal – doubled from 1990 to 2000 and has been rising consistently since.

President Trump has called NAFTA “the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country” and since he took office he has quadrupled the tariffs that are still existing between Mexico and the U.S. and will likely try to pull out of it or renegotiate it.

The HBC’s Plans For the Budget and Why It’s Harmful to the Future of America

Congress recently released what they want the federal budget to be for the next 10 years. With the U.S. approaching nearly $20 trillion dollars in debt, Congress is doing everything it can to try to balance the budget and reduce this burden of debt as fast as possible. The budget deficit of Fiscal Year 2016 was $587 billion. This year it is set to be around $443 billion and be exactly the same for 2020 and not balance it until 2026. This plan would accumulate more debt than we have accumulated in the past 8 years. This is only if we follow the same tax plan as we have followed under Obama and Trump plans to cut taxes for everyone – so this will most likely be much, much worse. The three things the U.S. government spent the most on in 2016 are healthcare, Social Security and Unemployment Benefits, and the military which add up to 76% of the budget. You would think the HBC would want to start making cuts to these or try and find out how to carry out these programs in in cheaper, yet still efficient way. But no, they do not. $120 billion is added to military, no changes to Social Security are made to try and control the increased spending every year, and Medicaid spending is cut slightly while Medicare spending is still being allowed to expand every year with no changes to the program. Major cuts however are made to education (2% of the budget), public broadcasting (> 1% of the budget), and agriculture (3% of the budget).

The purple is where US troops are stationed

The purple is where US troops are stationed.

There are countless ways to balance the budget in faster and more efficient ways. In 2016 the US spent more on military than the next seven countries behind us combined. The next country behind us, China spent $155.6 billion dollars on military last year, just a little more than 1/4th of our $585 billion dollars spent. Adding $120 billion to this will make us spend more than the next 10 countries combined. Some might say that this is necessary for defense against terrorism. They should see where our troops are stationed. The US has troops stationed in six out of seven continents on the globe and in 74 countries. We could put more troops in the Middle East and still fight terrorism more than we need to and still cut military spending almost in half. We even spend $5.9 billion dollars a year paying for the military of other countries.

The US also spends the most in the world on healthcare. This might come as a surprise to you, considering the US does not have universal healthcare like many other countries in the world. I’m sure the first thing that just popped into your head is, “Well our population is higher than those countries”. That is a natural thing to think and would be a good argument if it made a difference. The US federal healthcare spending is 17.7% of our overall GDP and 9% of the US is uninsured. The next country behind us, The Netherlands’ federal healthcare spending is 11.9% of their GDP and has universal healthcare. We spend the most in the world on healthcare by far and we have 9% uninsured. In countries like Canada and many European countries, healthcare is very cheap because of how cheap their medicine is. Opening up trade for medicine with these countries would bring the cost of our medicine down and ultimately making healthcare must cheaper. We do not need single-payer to have universal healthcare either. Many countries have achieved universal healthcare without single payer. Germany has achieved universal healthcare through a mix of public and private insurance. Their spending on healthcare is 11% of their GDP (7th highest in world) and their life expectancy for average citizens there is 81.0 years as opposed to our 78.7 years. The US can follow this system and save a lot of money while still having very high quality insurance. While making cuts to Social Security is not wanted by most people and is immoral, we can stop the growth of Social Security spending by raising the retirement age from 62 to 66 or higher. Critics of raising the retirement age would say its not right to give people a longer working life and take less time away from their retirement. If Social Security is going insolvent soon, then it is better for this generation to get less than for every generation 20 years from now to get none. We should also cap benefits so that the rich and others who do not need social security at all don’t receive it. This may also seem unfair and almost seem like discrimination if everyone is paying into it their whole lives, then everyone should get it back. Again, it is better for some to not get it than for every generation after 2035 to get none at all.

If the US were to do all outlined above and raise individual income taxes on the upper middle class and up, balancing the budget would be no problem. Cutting taxes when $19 trillion dollars in debt is plain irresponsible. This is not fiscally conservative. Cutting back on education spending is going to do little to nothing to reduce the deficit and will be harmful for America’s children. The HBC needs to cut back on what we actually spend excessively on and possibly reinstate PART (Program Rating Assessment Tool) in order to get rid of waste and balance the budget. While private citizens have no say in the budget we can vote in people who can vote on the budget. Our next chance is in 2018; vote safely and smartly.