A writer friend of mine had a nonfiction piece published that really packs a punch!
Summary: Josie’s (Drew Barrymore) big dream of being a journalist is about to come true. Since she is the youngest copy editor (at the age of 25) at the newspaper, she is assigned to write an undercover story about high school students. Becoming 17 once again, Josie enrolls as a student at her old high school and faces the challenge of leaving her own traumatizing high school experience in the past in order to find her place among the popular crowd and its boys, while still remaining herself around a certain English teacher.
Rating: PG-13 for sex-related material and some drug content
While there are not any sex scenes, sexual relationships are discussed (no details are given, but occasional suggestive gestures are present). In one scene, the high school students are having a sex-talk at school and the class is assigned to put a condom on a banana. It is meant to be a humorous scene, but might it might be too much for those who uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the topic.
The character involved with the “drug content” scene takes the substance unintentionally, or naively, and he/she starts acting goofy. Therefore, this is also meant to be a comedic scene. No serious regrettable actions are seen or made.
Genre: This romantic comedy seems to be directed towards high school graduates, since the idea of the story is about going back to high school; and, in a way realizing that high school is merely a phase of life and it will not matter as much in the future. Now while most of the comedy comes from an adult revisiting the student life, current high school students can very well benefit from this movie as well. Since this audience group is currently experiencing this part of life, this movie may encourage them to make the most of their final years of class bells and slamming lockers.
My Reaction: Within every movie Drew Barrymore performs, she is able to project her character’s emotions in her unique, innocent, quirky persona. This movie is no exception, making you fall in love and root for Josie throughout the film. Since I myself am three years out of high school, it was interesting to return to the hallways second hand. This movie did a great job of presenting an outside, older perspective of what high school is like and how things change once you leave that chapter behind. Each click group is still there and the priorities of high school students are dramatically portrayed to get a point across, while still remaining realistic and believable. Either that or else high school students really are just over the top when it comes to little things that will not matter in three years. Which any adult will likely find to be possible.
Final Statement: This is a great comedy for anyone high school age and up. While it deals with some mature content, such as sexuality and personal identity, Barrymore’s on-screen experience is one viewers will be able to relate to and laugh along the way with as they remember their own years in high school.
Occupation: Film and Broadway Actress, Singer
Date of Birth: May 30, 1971
Personal Quote: “I feel like I was born to do this… I started working professionally as soon as I could, doing weddings and things like that in high school, while everyone else was having keg parties. I just felt destined to do it and really committed and driven; it was something that just felt right all my life.”
Idina Menzel was born in Syosset, New York to Stuart, a pajama salesman, and Helene Mentzel, a therapist. She is the oldest of two daughters, but as an adult decided to drop the “t” in her last name since it was causing everyone to mispronounce it (men-ZELL). While Idina has been in several films, her main passion is the stage. She tells everyone that she has been singing since she was born, but the event that really engrained her passion for musical theater was seeing Barbra Streisand perform in the film adaptation of “A Star is Born” (1976).
Despite her new-found love, Idina’s parents would not allow her to audition for Broadway. Instead she settled for school theater until she turned 15, earning the lead-role of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz in fifth grade. After her parents separated, she started to perform at weddings and bar mitzvahs.
Idina continued her social performances while she studied drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. After graduating from college in1993, Idina started to do gigs at rock and pop clubs until 1995. It was at this time that Jonathan Larsen searched for cast members for his new rock opera, “Rent.” Idina auditioned and became the character Maureen Johnson, a role that would ignite her off-Broadway debut in 1996 and finally take her to the Broadway stage later that year. Idina received a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress for this part and met her future husband, Tyler Diggs, on set; he played the characters’ landlord, Benjamin Coffin III. The couple got married in 2003 and both kept their roles for the 2005 film adaption of the musical, as well as most of the other original Broadway cast members. In 2006, Idina traveled to perform as Maureen in London where she became the high paid actress in earning $30,000 a week.
In 1998, Idina tried to have a recording career alongside her Maureen character and released a self-produced debut album, Still I Can’t Be Still. The record was a total flop and Idina learned that stable work was difficult to find outside of the theater. She returned to the stage in 2000 for “The Wild Party” and earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her role as Kate. Her life in theater continued as she acquired roles in shows such as “Summer of ’42” (2000) and the 2001 New York City Encores production of “Hair;” but, when she made her skin green, her fame skyrocketed as the musical became a sensation.
Idina’s staring role as Elphaba in “Wicked” (2003) exemplified her Broadway persona, and won her Broadway’s Tony Award for Best Actress in 2004. Her final performance as the Wicked Witch of the West arrived earlier than expected when during her penultimate show, Idina cracked a lower rib after falling through a trap door on stage. Even though she was unable to do her final show, Idina did make a stage appearance that evening and performed Elphaba’s final song. As she released her last note, the theater erupted into a five-minute standing ovation.
Up until her “Wicked” farewell, Idina managed to widen her career spectrum through various roles in movies, with the occasional guest appearance on TV programs. She landed her first big role in television in 2010 when she became Shelby Corcoran, the biological mother of Ravel Berry (Lea Michele) in the hit series, “Glee.” She continued portraying this character until 2011.
Her latest success has been her voicing the character Elsa in Walt Disney’s animated feature, Frozen (2013), which became the highest-grossing animated film in history. The movie’s hit-song “Let It Go,” performed by Idina, won an Oscar for best original song and made her the first Tony Award winner to have a top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
At the beginning of 2014, she returned to Broadway to work with Rent’s after she and her husband divorced in December of 2013.
To date, she has released three solo albums: Still I Can’t Be Still (1998), Here (2004), and I Stand (2008). I Stand ranked as #58 in the Billboard 200. Her single “Gorgeous” became #3 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs and “Brave” made it to #19 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
A complete history of Menzel’s screen life can be found below, provided by Internet Movie Database.
DreamWorks is known for its dedication to creating quality animation. In watching some of your favorites, such as Shrek, Over the Hedge, or How to Train Your Dragon you probably take the CGI (computer-generated imagery) for granted. Did you know that each film takes three to five years to create? Are you aware of just how detailed these artists get? Thankfully, DreamWorks Animation has publicized its work process, which is provided below. Everything, the text, the images (click on them for a closer look), the punctuation comes straight from the DreamWorks Animation Official Website on their Production Processing page. After all, the professionals from the studio will be able to explain the process best.
Meet Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon.
He, and his world, were created by a team of artists using a delicate marriage between creativity and technology. Every detail, every leaf, tree, blade of grass, rock and cloud; every shadow and shaft of light; every thread of clothing and lock of hair (or fur), was imagined and brought to life by our creative teams over the four years or so that it takes to complete an animated film. So, how did we do it?
Great films begin with great concepts. Some of our ideas are completely original, while some are inspired by a wide variety of sources, including children’s books and comic strips. Once we’ve settled on an idea, the first step is to write a script. The page you see here is from an iconic scene in Kung Fu Panda 2.
Once a script page is ready, we give it to our storyboard artists. Imagining how the words will translate into actions and pictures, they make a series of sketches, a kind of comic book, to tell the story and bring it to life. Once the directors and producer approve, the drawings are digitally photographed and strung together to create what we call a story reel (imagine a flip book that lets you see how the drawings flow together). We combine that with temporary music, sound effects and dialogue, and work with the movie in this form for about 18 months.
Once the story reel is underway, our visual development department begins to plan the look of the film, developing the style, tone, color and overall artistic approach to each and every sequence. Everything has to be designed, from the major characters to the smallest of props. Thousands of drawings, paintings, blueprints, sculptures and models later, our development artists have designed a fantasy world and characters to tell the story.
STEREO 3D 1
Starting with the release of Monsters versus Aliens in 2009, all feature films at DWA are produced in stereoscopic 3D. The groundbreaking experience this new visual format provides has been compared to the advent of color and then sound in cinema history. With these advanced technologies came the possibility to elevate our movie-making journey into the future and beyond.
STEREO 3D 2
The stereoscopic filmmaking process requires changes to the traditional methods of CGI film-making, introducing exciting new technical and creative opportunities. Integrated into all aspects of the DWA pipeline from the development of story and visual style to layout to the final render, the stereoscopic process translates the creative vision of the director into an immersive visual environment. The stereoscopic process at DWA enables artists to tell stories in creative new ways through the interaction of the camera with our characters and the space around them, further engaging the audience. The studio continues to push the boundaries of stereoscopic filmmaking through the development of new technologies and techniques.
Our storyboards are drawn, our characters and sets are designed, so now we need to find voices for our characters and start recording their lines. Casting in animation is unlike casting for live action movies. Since we create the physical characters on the computer first, we’re much more concerned with what an actor sounds like than how he or she looks. In other words, we cast with our ears, not our eyes. We record the actors before we start animating. We usually videotape the actors performing their roles to help provide reference for the next phases of production.
MODELING & RIGGING
Using production designs culled down from hundreds of drawings, modelers will construct a digital model, sort of a clay model inside the computer. The modelers start with this wire frame sculpture that we call an armature, that breaks down our design into workable geometry and allows us to rig the figure, which will give the animator the ability to move our 3-D figure in whatever way is necessary to get the articulation we want. Once we’ve set up the armature, we can begin to add basic surfaces. It is this simplified “puppet in a box” or digital marionette that we use in our next step.
Modelers create the “physical” objects in the virtual world of our movies. Modeling artists digitally sculpt the characters and environments in our films by collaborating with the Art department to realize design concepts as tangible 3D forms. The modelers start with this wire frame sculpture that we call an armature, that breaks down our design into workable geometry and allows us to rig the figure, which will give the animator the ability to move our 3-D figure in whatever way is necessary to get the articulation we want.
After modeling and before animation comes the rigging process. Character TDs, also known as “riggers”, evaluate the CG “statue” coming from the modeling department and determine how this character must move, where the bones, muscle and fat would be under their skin and how realistic or “cartoony” their actions must be in the film. Joints and various mathematical operations are then employed throughout the body, face, hair and clothing of the character to make it bend and deform like a living creature. Finally, rigging works with animation to design and build an extensive set of controls for the character so animation can pose every part of this digital puppet and bring it to life.
Layout has two distinct parts: Rough Layout and Final Layout. In Rough Layout, artists interpret and recreate the hand drawn 2D storyboard panels in a 3D CG environment. In doing so, these artists determine the initial 3D camera placement and motion along with the first pass of character blocking and staging. Working with rough versions of the characters lighting, effects, and environments, Rough Layout creates the cinematography for the film. Once the Rough Layout has been approved by the Director, the Final Layout artists take the shots and replace the rough characters and environments with the final approved assets and provide the set dressing. This allows the Character Animators to add final performances to the shots and all remaining production processes to start. Once the shots have been animated, Final Layout applies any additional camera polishing and tweaks to account for the new performances added by the Character Animators.
Once the sequence is working well in layout, the animators start bringing the characters to life in the computer. They articulate the thousands of controls that were created during the character-rigging phase to bring each character to life and to synchronize them to the voice performances. Now the characters really look like themselves, but not quite. Remember, this is just the animation; the scene isn’t quite finished yet.
Coming out of modeling, characters, props and environments are flat and grey. The surfacing artists add the colors and textures to these elements, making surfaces look smooth and shiny like glass, bumpy and gritty like dirt, fuzzy and soft like wool, etc. Sometimes characters need to be customized for a specific shot, such as being made to look dripping wet or covered in mud. The surfacing department may also be called to groom hairstyles into place, grow fields of grass, or paint footprints into a snowbank. After each environment is setdressed, surfacing artists work closely with lighting to develop the final look of assets in the film.
After the camera moves have been set and the characters have been animated, the next step is effects. In a live-action film, it’s easy to photograph things like leaves blowing in the wind, waves at the beach or even footprints in the sand. In computer animation, these simple things are all designed and animated by the effects artists. In other words, if it’s not acting, but it moves, it’s an effect.
Lighting artists utilize the computer to “paint” with light, bringing the final color, look, and illumination to the film. Lighting is the first time we get to see animation, surfaces, grass, trees, water, crowds and effects all working together. Lighting does this by creating illumination for the scene. It creates the mood and atmosphere to support the story. Lighting leads the viewers’ eye to the critical elements of the frame so that the audience is looking exactly when and where the storyteller wants them to look.
SOUND FX 1: Sound Design
Sound designers create and record sound effects, ambience and foley to create the textures and layers of sound that enrich the story. Foley artists create sound effects that are specific to each movie, such as footsteps, clothes rustling, doors opening/closing, glass breaking, etc.
SOUND FX 2: Music Scoring
The composer writes the music that heightens and enhances the story beats of the movie. The music helps the audience follow the action and emotional moments within the story.
FINAL MIX: Echo
The dialogue, music and sound effects are assembled on the sound mixing stage. Audio levels, equalization, perspective and treatments (echo, TV or radio sound, public access delay) are added as tracks and mixed into the final version of the movie.
Now that you understand the animation process, go back and watch one of your favorite DreamWorks productions. Notice how soft Puss in Boots’ paws are or how a wave of wind ripples through Eep’s hair. Each detail was individually handled with care, all for your ninety-minute viewing pleasure.
Summary: Meet Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), a young man with low IQ whose mother is the only one who thinks he is capable of doing anything worthwhile. Even though Forrest might not see the world the way the majority of people do, this does not mean he is living with his eyes closed. By simply being himself and by signing up for just about every opportunity presented to him, Forrest’s innocence is able to open the hearts and minds of those he interacts with during a time of war, rebellion, and the search for peace in the United States.
Rating: PG-13 for drug content, some sensuality, and war violence
It should be noted that there is a little bit of nudity as well, though only the complete backside of a naked woman is seen while she is sitting. Nothing is really shown; just enough to let the audience know she is nude. There are mild moments of sexuality where the couple is kissing and undressing, but nothing is shown or said. However, at the beginning of the film a couple can be heard having sex. Nothing regarding this is ever discussed verbally.
Recommendation: I would recommend this movie to anyone who is thirteen or older, just as this movie was rated. Even if one believes their child can handle the sensuality and moments of war, Forrest is a complex character whose unique take on the world is so powerful I would be concerned that anyone younger than the specified age would not appreciate it and therefore miss the awe of the story. In order to get the most out of this movie and to comprehend the treatment and relationships Forrest receives, one needs to already have a pretty good idea of how the world thinks so he or she can be struck by Forrest’s perspective to the same extent as the characters in the movie.
My Reaction: I was blown away by the quality of this movie. Tom Hanks does a phenomenal job in capturing the personality, the innocence and the life of this character. The audience can truly feel the amount of heart that was put into this production, not just from Hanks but the other cast members as well. I also really admired the way this movie was written and directed.
Spoiler (proceed with caution): As the audience watches young Forrest interact with a certain musician who is renting a room from Mrs. Gump, I love the fact that musician’s name is never mentioned. Instead the audience if just given a blurry image of him in the background, and the guitar and signature hairstyle instantly has the audience jaw-dropped when they recognize the guest as the King of Rock and Roll. Forrest and his mother know nothing of this young man since he has not done his live television performance yet. However the mere choice of not stating, “Mr. Presley,” or even Macintosh (which comes up later in the film) gives the audience a much different reaction. They are able to apply their own knowledge and realize each icon and its significance, even though Forrest is oblivious to it. Besides, Forrest’s innocence in not knowing is what makes the story so incredible. This man, whom no one believed would ever contribute anything to the world, lives an extraordinary life filled with extraordinary people in the simplest way imaginable.
Final Statement: This is a movie everyone should see as they reach their adolescent years and start to take on their own view of the world as well of those who have already established their outlook. Forrest’s unique perspective is deep, sincere, and yet so simple that everyone who watches Forrest Gump will never look at the world or the people in it the same way again.
Score composer Howard Leslie Shore was born on October 18, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and upon graduation he recorded and toured with the rock band Lighthouse as an instrumentalist from 1969-1972. In finishing his time with the band, Shore became involved with a new project that the world would come to know as “Saturday Night Live.” Shore and his fellow co-founder Lorne Michaels had met at a summer camp back when they were teenagers, where the boys organized and performed shows as well as a musical comedy called “The Fast Show.” When “Saturday Night Live” got started in 1975, Michaels operated as the show’s producer while Shore served as its musical director.
While Shore was still working on his “Saturday Night Live” project, he started experimenting with movie score compositions that were mainly for horror films. Nothing really became of Shore’s flim music, however, until he started to work with director David Cronenberg. Since their relationship first started in 1979, Shore has scored every theatrical movie done by Cronenberg to date except one (The Dead Zone, 1983). Shore left “Saturday Night Live” in 1980.
In 2000, Shore signed on to compose the music for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Shore’s dedication could be seen while he worked on the first film, The Fellowship of the Ring; it took him a year to complete it because he spent a great amount of time studying J.R.R. Tolkien’s books and music from the eighteenth and nineteenth century in hopes of capturing the world and lore of Middle Earth. Shore’s hard work earned him three Academy Awards, two Oscars, two Golden Globes, and two GRAMMY awards for the trilogy, and the soundtrack has sold over six million copies. This has been his most extensive composition to date and is what Shore is most recognized for in the movie industry.
Fun Fact: In the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Shore and Oscar winner Michael Semanick (a sound re-recording mixer) have cameos as Rohan Guards and can be seen behind Legolas when he and Gimli are having their drinking game.
The number of Shore’s awards for The Lord of the Rings may have been different had a new rule not been adopted by the Academy in 2004. This new requirement decreed that any scores containing music from previous films were ineligible for consideration, which eliminated Shore’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002) score as a candidate. However, this new rule turned out to be quite unpopular with Academy members and the general public since this would have prevented the nomination of the scores from the Indiana Jones and Star Wars sequels had it been put into place earlier. By the next year, the rule was pulled and the Academy went back to its regular arrangement.
Below is a photo gallery of all the music Howard Shore has taken part in its creation, provided by the Howard Shore Official Website. Click on an album to view Shore’s track list for that particular project.
Birth Name: Doug Liman
Occupation: Director, Producer, Cinematographer
Date of Birth: July 24, 1965
Current Residency: The Tribeca area of Manhattan, NY
- Prevalent use of Steadicam shots
- Use of humor in unusual settings
- Use of characters doubling as spies or agents
Personal Quote: “The movie I end up with is the movie I aspired to make.”
Born in New York, New York, director Doug Liman spent most of his childhood in the Upper West Side of Manhatten with his father, attorney Aruthur L. Liman and his mother, Elllen (a painter and writer). Liman received his first camcorder when he was six years old as a gift from his father. It was a Super-8 camera and was put to use immediately as the aspiring director started to record the dogs in Central Park. As Liman grew older, his eyes were frequently behind the camera as he made several films with his family and friends.
The passion motivated Liman to further his education in the practice, which started while he was still in high school as he enrolled in the International Center of Photography in New York City to study still photography. From there, Liman attended Brown University and co-founded the student-run cable television station, BTV, and was its first station manager. Upon graduating from Brown in 1988, Liman decided to study even further and entered the graduated program at the University of Southern California. It was during this phase of his education that Liman directed his first feature-length film, Getting In (1993). The cast was rich with soon-to-be-movie-stars, such as Calista Flockhart, Matthew Perry, Christine Baranski, and Dave Chappelle. Future-“Friends” star Jennifer Aniston was originally going to be involved with the movie as well, but Trimark Pictures (the studio) decided it wanted Kristy Swanson (whom had just finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer) instead.
After completing Getting In, Liman was in search of his next project when he came across the script for Swingers—which was written by Liman’s screenwriter friend, Jon Favreau (who would later direct and produce the Iron Man movies). At this point, Favreau had been rejected by nearly everyone in the neighborhood. Liman, however, was willing to commit. With a cast of dedicated friends, a low budget of $250,000, and several filming locations, Swingers became a sensation with captivated audiences and critics. This was the big break that launched Liman into the Hollywood industry; however it was not until he brought Jason Bourne to the screen that fame accompanied him in his career.
The Bourne Identity (2002) was the first of the trilogy that Liman’s talents would be associated with. The visual directions he made during the action sequences were astounding and helped secure Liman’s position as executive producer for the two films that followed, The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
Now that he had Hollywood’s attention, Liman became more active in the entertainment industry. He was an executive producer for the new television series, The O.C. (2003-2007) and directed its pilot episode. While the series was still airing, Liman also picked up the project to direct the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith and shortly afterwards directed Jumper and Fair Game.
Fun Fact: Liman was actually first approached about Mr. & Mrs. Smith while he was filming The Bourne Identity, but he rejected it. Once The Bourne Identity was finished, however, Brad Pitt approached him with the script to have Liman read it a second time.
To learn of what other movies Liman has directed, take a look at the list provided below.
Director Filmography (courtesy of Internet Movie Database)
1994 Getting In