5 Times When The Academy Awards Faced The Unexpected!

(AOTN)

This year’s Oscar ceremony is almost upon when it takes place this coming Sunday on February 26th. It may be fair to say that the nominees, especially for categories such as Best Picture, are hardly appetizing but it will be interesting to see what else they can conjure to make the show an event to remember alongside Jimmy Kimmel, who will be host. It will be the 89th show since it’s birth in 1929.

The Oscars have, for the most part, been a glorious occasion in which some of Hollywood’s elite have been rewarded for their hard work and dedication to their craft of acting and other aspects of filmmaking. But there have also been moments that have shocked, raised controversy and just been plain weird!

We are going to look at five of the most shocking and unexpected times that viewers have found appalling, strange and out and out cringe worthy!

Marlon Brando refusing his Oscar award for The Godfather

Then James Bond actor Roger Moore was left stirred (but not shaken, thankfully) when actor Marlon Brando’s name was read out as the winner for Best Actor for The Godfather. An obscure actress by the name of Sacheen Littlefeather was requested by Brando to address everybody on stage to explain why he could not accept what should have been one of the most prestigious moments in his career.

The reason? Brando accused Hollywood of their supposedly bad portrayals of American Indians in movies at the time. While one can now look back and think that his act was rather noble, it was certainly one of the most uncomfortable situations that the ceremony has ever had to undertake.

Marisa Tomei winning an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny

The 65th Academy Awards back in 1993 have still got many speculating 24 years later as to whether actress Marisa Tomei deserved her award for her performance in comedy film, My Cousin Vinny, even going as far as suggesting that there was a mistake! Jack Palance, who presented the award, has been accused of reading out the wrong winner. Tomei, herself, even made a statement in 1994 insisting that there was no mistake but that has not seemed to have cooled things down much.

Whatever the case may be, Marisa Tomei’s shock win is a prime example of the underdog rising to seize the moment!

The opening act for the 61st Academy Awards

There is pretty much only one thing that the 1989 ceremony is mostly remembered for. Obscure actress Eileen Bowman and Rob Lowe, who was trying to recover from a sex tape scandal, came together to perform an awful duet that was overly decorated with an elaborate stage set together with a ten minute song that made faces go red! Bowman did confess that she could not wait until it was all over!

Allan Carr, who produced such hit musicals as Grease, made something that was so corny that even those that were sitting front row have not have good words to say about it decades later. Carr’s career in Hollywood was effectively ruined as well as Bowman’s, who wanted to pursue success in America’s most famous neighbourhood! Instead, her naivety and lack of experience was taken advantage of, although Rob Lowe didn’t exactly do too bad afterward.

Nude streaker during 1974’s Oscar ceremony

David Niven showcased how witty he can be in the moment when he knew he had to come up with something clever after a nude streaker by the name of Robert Opel stormed the stage in the buff shortly after the names for Best Picture were read out to an unsuspecting audience.

Shortly after Opel had his few seconds of fame, Niven stated: “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” Normal duty was resumed shortly afterward.

It is not known for sure what compelled Opel to perform such a dare, but he was known for streaking a number of times, some of which were to protest some of then ongoing happenings.

James Franco presenting the 83rd Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway

Was James Franco high from smoking too much marijuana before presenting in 2011? Who knows.

But he certainly looked just a little too chill with Anne Hathaway, which resulted in many uneasy moments caused by the lack of chemistry between them both. Hathaway, to her credit, looked more natural but Franco seemed as if he was struggling what to say over half the time.

He later stated that he felt trapped, although he also has said that he does not regret hosting. But one does not need to be a psychic to probably realise that James Franco will stick to just starring in movies in the future instead of addressing an audience.

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Closing the IMDb Boards: A Blessing for True Film Lovers, A Needed Wake-Up Call for the Internet

(AOTN) If one were to recently visit the message board for their favorite movie or TV show on IMDb, like many people in the last few weeks have, they most likely have seen this posted at the top of every board since the beginning of February:

“IMDb is the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. As part of our ongoing effort to continually evaluate and enhance the customer experience on IMDb, we have decided to disable IMDb’s message boards on February 20, 2017. This includes the Private Message system. After in-depth discussion and examination, we have concluded that IMDb’s message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide. The decision to retire a long- standing feature was made only after careful consideration and was based on data and traffic.”

That’s right. Coming this President’s Day to a monitor near you, all of IMDb’s message boards are being permanently deactivated,joining the ranks of numerous social media sites that once bustled with traffic and life and slowly disappeared into the electronic abyss, such as MySpace, Friendster and Yahoo! Buzz.

* Upon the completion of this, as it turns out, February 20th for the people over at IMDb began in the UK, so in America, the boards actually went cold around 4pm Pacific Time, to the disappointment and anger of many. Matt Damon put it best in “The Martian” when his first transmission to NASA informed them of his survival: “Surprise!”.

Frankly, it’s been a long time coming.

For the last few years, I’ve heard from many people, both close friends and online acquaintances who were members at one point, about how far in quality the site had fallen thanks to online trolls that would turn numerous boards into hotbeds of petty insults to demean either the film, anyone involved with it or anyone who enjoyed it. A website that had been a big part of my online life since I was a teenager, where I had encountered and participated in a number of rewarding conversations that gave me new appreciations for a number of the films that have held a special place in my heart, was this massive trainwreck? It didn’t feel right to me.

It was when I recently started paying closer attention to the patterns and behaviors of a number of posters that I realized how wrong I was. It was far, far worse than they were describing it and that isn’t meant to be hyperbolic.

“We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!” – Peter Venkman, ‘Ghostbusters’.

Last year, inspired by the behaviors of those forums and L.A. Times’ contributor Todd Martens own article on “The Age of Entitlement”, I set out to write about “the ugly side of fandom in the social media age.” While that article was ultimately uncompleted, there was a completed section, itself a striking example to understand this “surprising” move on IMDb’s part, that was dedicated exclusively to the message board for Paul Feig’s “Ghostbuster” remake, still controversial among the most “passionate” of commenters, and its place on fandom’s whipping post.

 

Originally, I intended to employ a number of examples from the boards for anything in the DC cinematic universe, as those remain a hot button topic for both hardcore fans and casual moviegoers, but the summer’s blockbuster movie season provided both an unequivocal gold mine and an early Christmas in the form of the boards for Paul Feig’s controversial “Ghostbusters” remake. In appearance, it is little more than one “insignificant” message board in a sea of message boards. On closer examination, it is literally the social media world’s personification of cancer, if such extreme comments can be believed (and in this case, it should).

A great deal of time was spent observing it’s home page, where the consensus was trashed the moment voting was opened, and that board, from the days leading up to the film’s release to the finalizing of this, to find the right way to describe it. It has consistently remained a breeding ground for bitter, entitled “fans” – to consider them in the same league as actual fans would truly be an insult – and their acolytes who have taken a sort of permanent residence to post onslaughts of bullying and antagonizing comments. Even a handful of the “haters” from the DC boards “take breaks” to swing over and fuel the flames alongside their “brothers and sisters in crime”, claiming “political correctness” and a collaboration between “SJW Feminazis” and “liberal cucks” – you know, every term that comprises the thoroughly lazy “alt-right” dictionary – have completely tarnished the history of a simple franchise with a special place in many hearts.

The constant “excuse” to defend their behaviors has been to blame Mr. Feig and the stars of the film for their harsh words over the criticisms that had circled around the production. But let’s be real here. It wouldn’t have mattered if Mr. Feig and his leading ladies stayed silent or adapted a form of online stoicism or even, to make a bold statement, made a film that managed to surpass the original. These “fans” made their minds up the moment the filmmakers and cast were set in stone and nothing was going to change them.

A number of these “posters” have also taken exceptional pride in their relentlessly vicious tirades against actress and comedienne Leslie Jones. When infamous online commentator and admitted troll Milo Yiannopoulis was justifiably banned from Twitter after a number of his fans went after her after reading Mr. Yiannopoulis’ review of the film (which was also highly critical of Ms. Jones’ features), they automatically sided with him and claimed Ms. Jones was incredibly “racist” against white people, citing a number of earlier Tweets that read like satirical observations of . When her personal information and photographs were hacked and spread online, these people and various social media sites took a further nosedive in terms of integrity and common decency, if such a thing even exist from such a clearly skewed perspective.

I was thinking of doing a ranking of who the “worst” offenders were – ranging from one poster who has taken to harassing Paul Feig on Twitter daily about the film’s box office performance to a woman who has openly attacked the film since Mr. Feig was announced as director in October 2014 – but there’s no way to say one is “worse” than another. These people are all “guilty as sin” and just genuinely arrogant and unlikable individuals who reflect the absolute worst of fan culture online.

“All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.” – Tennessee Williams

It isn’t just things like “Ghostbusters” or any popular film that’s bore the brunt of the trolling commentary. This type of behavior has also spread to a multitude of titles, usually the ones revolving different minorities.

Even before Nate Parker’s controversial past came to light on the eve of the release of “The Birth of a Nation” (which would ultimately slight his reputation and that of his film), people arrived to give the film a negative rating and make numerous degrading comments about how the film, a highly dramatized retelling of Nat Turner’s brief uprising against Virginian slave owners, was meant to instigate “race wars” that were sure to break out during screenings of the film (something that never happened, as I went to see it with a good number of people from varying races and all that happened after the movie were discussions of Nat Turner’s short lived revolution). Similar happened the previous year with the release of Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl”: negative ratings were immediately given following the film’s premiere at Venice and a slew of homo- and transphobic comments against Lili Elbe, the subject of the story, and actor Eddie Redmayne for playing Ms. Elbe (although most of the derision directed at Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Hooper came from incensed LGBT activists who found the idea of a male actor playing a transgender icon like Ms. Elbe insulting to her legacy).

While not as extreme an example as what goes on over at “Ghostbusters”, if one were to visit the board for Jeff Nichols’ recent Oscar nominee “Loving”, a handful of poster – including one claiming to be Meade Skelton, a Virginian country music singer known less for his music catalog and more for his thoroughly mocked social persona, as a number of Urban Dictionary entries highlighted – have made posts labeling the film as “propaganda” to “promote a gay agenda.” There’s something funny about such an argument being made when you think about it as there is never a mention of homosexuality in the whole film, although the real Mildred Loving came out in full support of same-sex marriage a year before passing. Parallels can certainly be drawn between what the Lovings went through to have their marriage legally recognized and the thin ice same-sex marriage has skated on, but if such a parallel isn’t even subtly alluded to in the story – and film has always been used as a medium to explore social injustices through subtle or blatant commentary – then forcing a connection feels more like a need for justified outrage.

And, as a capper, with the release of both Raoul Peck’s Oscarnominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” and the divisive trailer for Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Justin Simien’s “Dear White People” (the “controversy” about that trailer will be part of another article that will be published close to the premiere of the series this April) has ushered in a slew of comments similar to the ones that plagued “The Birth of a Nation” and earlier prestige pictures that touched on similar subject matter and content. The pattern is the same: people who’ve made snap judgements based on the titles and no understanding of the subject matter apart from what they interpret from watching the marketing. Unsurprisingly, one or two posters from the “Ghostbusters” board have made appearances on those boards to “fan the flames” of any dissent.

“When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural…” – Ra’s al Ghul, ‘Batman Begins’.

Why is it people behave like this on such “open forums?” It’s easy: with the forms of anonymity message boards provide (when I log on, I only ever see my real name in a right hand corner of the main banner), there is little accountability to be had. When one can’t be held accountable for their comments, no matter how ludicrous, erroneous or heinous they may be, the ego is allowed to run rampant. This is something I have been just as guilty of as the subjects of this rather scathing opinion are. While my only defense is any acts of “antagonism” I have directed at others online have always been at people who have belittled others to begin with, there are examples where the term “total bastard” feels appropriate. If IMDb had sprung more money for moderators to monitor this behavior more closely and nip it in the bud when it got too out of control, it would ultimately be for naught as the damage has already been done. The ones who ultimately suffer are the posters who’ve done nothing, the ones who’ve calmly tried to maintain peace to little effect, but what happened with IMDb should serve as a reminder that commenting “freely” has its price when such freedom is abused as it was here.

(Col Needham; Creator of IMDb)

At the end of the day, there’s a hint of regret and nostalgia in watching the doors close. As an opinion-based cinephile whose love of film is a passion unto itself, there is admitted disappointment in watching the message boards that played such a big part in my growing up in the middle of the social media revolution disappear into the theoretical “eternal night.” But as someone who tries to see the best in people and has struggled to see even a glimmer of good in these people for over a year, perhaps this move is ultimately for the best until everyone, myself included, can learn to discuss differing points of view without allowing the conversation to deteriorate into a repetitive cycle of demeaning insults straight out of the works of French playwright Yasmina Reza.

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Filming Of ‘The Predator’ Will Commence Probably Next Week!

(AOTN)

It has been revealed that cameras will start rolling to film The Predator some time in the next seven days.
Shane Black, who has penned the screenplay for the upcoming film, plans to make the next installment in the franchise an “event movie” that Fox studios have promised to put a boat load of money into. No plot details have been revealed as of now, although that should within the next couple of months. Black had a co-starring role in the original movie alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hawkins that eventually fell victim to the dread locked alien.

Black has a history of successful writing credits including screenplays for all four of the Lethal Weapon movies as well as the current television adaption, Iron Man 3 and The Last Action Hero to name a few. But being cautiously optimistic is probably the right approach here seeing as how the last sequel, Predators was critically panned and the Alien v Predator movies lambasted.

Shane Black starred in the original as Hawkins. He has written the screenplay for the upcoming movie.

Boyd Holbrook, who will have a starring role, told We Got This Covered: “I’m currently working on Predator. It’s not a sequel; Shane Black has made something totally new, somehow keeping within the realm of Predator [while also being] absolutely new in terms of the story that we’re talking about today, and rooted in something real. It’s real fresh. I don’t think you’re going to see [Arnold] Schwarzenegger. It would kind of make it a gimmick. It’s horror, science-fiction and a western.”

So, it appears that the next Predator movie is being taken seriously. But just what ingredients do they need to get things right?

The original 1987 movie stands out, not just because of the subtle technique in slowly revealing the human like beast, but because of the various quotes and one liners that are often imitated in pop culture! But if one scans over Shane Black’s movies, you will hardly find any that are catchy. The 1980’s were a different time then, so that has to be taken into consideration, however, the Predator movies are what they are which is a mix of feelings of constant foreboding and fun.

Fans across the globe still frequently quote Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous character, Dutch of ‘Predator’ (1987)

The one thing that 2010’s Predators got right was it’s peculiar and somewhat tense atmosphere during the film’s first act. This was clearly an approach that was lifted from the original film that should, again, be used if the plot is compatible enough. However, any attempts to imitate Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robustness should be best forgotten, as they attempted and failed with Adrien Brody.

Further exploration into the Predator mythology should be welcome. In fact, it is a necessity at this point as there always needs to be a reason for the hunter’s return in any succeeding episode, related to any predecessor. Or not. The mythology has not been explored thoroughly in any solo Predator movie so far, so it would be nice if a number of layers were added to get our teeth into!

Well fleshed out characters are necessary if our emotions are aroused enough in order to care about our human counterparts. Unfortunately, Predator 2 failed much in this respect and elected to focus mainly on most of the bloodshed. Predators did a better job, however. Fortunately, Shane Black has a reputation for creating memorable and relatable characters, so there should not be too much to worry about here.

Fans much preferred the isolated setting of the jungle rather than the urban setting of Los Angeles in ‘Predator 2.’

Because the nature of the Predator is to hunt for pleasure and sport, a minacious mood will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. To use Predator 2 as an example once more, that sequel contained turns in it’s mood which at times was filled with humorous moments which often killed any sense of danger. The first Predator movie sustained that feeling of threat and possible danger, and that is really what Predator is mainly about.

What do you think makes a good Predator movie?

Sound off in the comments below!

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Can “Secret Empire” Lead to Marvel’s “Rebirth?”

Secret Empire

(AOTN) For Marvel Comics, the new American reality has lead to this question: Can a Hydra-loving Captain America really bring an era of good feeling (and good sales) back to the Marvel Universe? And will their newest crossover blockbuster, SECRET EMPIRE,  hold the line for Disney’s dominance their multi front war with Warner Bros.?

 

A funny thing happened on the way to Marvel Comics’ complete domination of the comics market. Namely, the 2016 Presidential Election. Now, that’s not to say Donald Trump’s victory in the Electoral College was unwelcomed in all corners of the Marvel Empire. In fact, Marvel CEO David Perlmutter stands out as staunch Trump booster, with serious talk about his consideration for a position in the Administration. However, given the three year thrust towards diversifying Marvel’s roster both on the page and behind the scenes, the Republican shift in the political culture seemingly left their sales division thinking that they would have been Stronger with Hillary.

   

In fact, a marketplace that mostly favored Marvel product during the five years of the Great Comic Book Sales Revival has swung towards DC Comics during the last six months. A check of the sales figures for the two  publishers in that time frame has a lot more appearances by “Batman” and the “Suicide Squad ” at the top of the charts than “Thor” and “Ms. Marvel.”

 

This is in great part to the warm reception that DC’s universal reboot “Rebirth” garnered with fans and critics. Seen as a needed self-correction after the divisive “New 52” reboot, “Rebirth” has been a new start for sales with DC’s comic line, putting the publisher in sales territory not seen since the pre “Flashpoint” era. 

 

If you’ve been noticing whispering around fandom concerning the cool reception to both “Secret Wars III” and “Civil War II” well, so has Marvel… While both sold well enough, the fan and critical reception was not a universally loved as Marvel Crossovers past. Adding to the mixed bag is the soft sales for “X-Men v Inhumans.”  Any threat to Marvel/ Disney’s dominance in the Super Hero movie chase is serious,  as any Marvel Comic storyline in the present  will be IP for Marvel Studios in the future. In fact, the idea of the Inhumans being the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s answer to FOX’s X-Men films has been apparently scuttled by the lack of interest in Attilan’s Finest. Maybe a hero like Black Bolt, who can’t speak for fear of blowing up the spot, isn’t  the ideal leading man for a feature film that needs to make in the range of $800 million dollars.

 

Secret EmpireWith these issues in mind, the pronouncement from on high is clear: Make Marvel Happy Again. After three years of a fractured Marvel Universe, the goal of SECRET EMPIRE is to unite all their heroes in a common cause around Evil Captain America’s neck…

 

The advance press info from Marvel sets the scene. Due to the manipulations of the Red Skull, Captain America, secretly a true believer in the cause of Hydra, uses the trust and respect he has gained over the years to a position where he can enacts Hydra’s ideals against the Marvel Universe and it’s up to all heroes to unite against one of the greatest challenges they have ever faced.

 

Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said, “SECRET EMPIRE is the rallying cry for all the heroes — Avengers, Guardians, Defenders, X-Men, Spider-Man, Deadpool – to put aside their differences and unify in the defense of the Marvel Universe.”

 

That unification is what will be needed to confront Steve Rogers since all the heroes close to Cap have been be influenced by him over the years. SVP and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort said, “Our heroes will be tested both physically and morally against one of the most trusted heroes of all time and that’s the aspect of this story our characters face and what forces them to come together.”

 

Forged together as one – the Avengers, the Champions, the Defenders, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inhumans, the X-Men, and more will be tested as Hydra’s grip tightens around the Marvel Universe and SECRET EMPIRE unleashes a horde of villains against those who have sworn to protect the innocent.

 

Based on that, Marvel is clearly hoping for a old-school, heroes united storyline, where everyone plays nice to meet the challenge of a greater evil. Perhaps a timely message.

 

Perhaps even more intriguing is the rumor that Marvel is considering a “Rebirth” style undoing of the “Secret Wars III” unification of the Marvel Multiverse, ala what DC has done. Which proves the old adage again… Eventually everything old comes back around in comics and only Uncle Ben stays dead (ouch).

 

Keeping watching this space for further analysis and updates on upcoming moves for both Marvel and DC. Who knows? Maybe they’ll bring back the Comic Code stamp…

 

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Why It Is Time For Stunt Crew To Get Recognition By The Oscars!

Movie stunts are, you could say, some of the most jaw dropping highlights of many different kinds of movies, whether they are globally established or relatively unknown with smaller budgets developed by a group of passionate folk intent on seeing their vision on screen. Many remember the famous corkscrew jump sequence in the James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun. Or what about the coach jumping over the major bridge gap in the Keanu Reeves 1994 flick, Speed. Further, what about the burning sequence in the 50’s horror film The Thing From Another World in which a stuntman was entirely engulfed in flames!

The history of movie stunts can be traced back to the year 1903 when Frank Hanaway played a useful part in having the ability to fall off a horse in the movie The Great Train Robbery. That set the ground work for movies to come, which have seen stunt crew perform death defying moves that have become one of, if not a main selling point of many movies. Theatrical trailers often display some of the biggest stunts from a picture, although that executive move has often come under scrutiny as to whether they spoil a film’s biggest and most exciting sequences.

Jack Gill performing one of many jump sequences during Knight Rider’s 4 year run.

But there is more to stunts than just the stunt performers risking their lives to achieve something visually spectacular. Hours, even days, are spent preparing to make sure that stunts turn out safe for the willing participant, which are often looked over by what is called a stunt coordinator. These people have often been stunt performers themselves, many of which still have thriving careers. They overlook the stunt to make sure everything runs smoothly and generally supervise the process from start to finish.

Unfortunately, even the best in the business have ran into major problems! In the 1980’s television show Dukes of Hazzard, Rodney Mitchell was killed when a camera truck crashed while filming a chase scene. In the Tom Cruise film Top Gun, Art Scholl crashed a camera plane and neither his body or the plane have ever been found. Jackie Chan has reportedly broken every bone in his body during the run of his career, performing his own stunts. Even the 007 movie franchise does not have a clean stunt history! In 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, a member of stunt crew was killed during the action filled bobsleigh sequence when he was pinned under a bobsled, losing his life.

While the yearly Oscars ceremony celebrates and rewards actors and other categories of film crew for their hard work developing motion pictures, the million dollar questions is why are stunt crew not rewarded for putting their lives on the line? It is true that there are a select number of actors that are willing to perform their own stunts. However, there are many more that do not and are made to look good on screen by somebody filling in for them during the most dangerous moments of a picture.

Long time stuntman, Jack Gill has campaigned for 26 years for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to start including categories for stunt crew. Gill has performed in movies such as the Fast and the Furious sequels and is known for driving the famous black trans-am, KITT, up ramps to give the illusion of the “turbo boost” in the 1980’s tv show, Knight Rider. His campaigning efforts are still ongoing as the Academy continues to deny them their much deserved gold trophies and respect.

Gill said to NBC4 I-Team, “We work very hard on these movies. We give our life and soul to them.”
That is a statement that is difficult to disagree with! Filmmaking is considered an art to those that are not in the industry solely to make a buck. And stunts are a dangerous facet of that art!

However, it is known that at least some actors are on their side! Johnny Depp and Vin Diesel have made the Academy aware, too, but they have declined to comment on the issue as of time of writing this feature. Why? We know the ceremony runs on average a little over three hours, with the longest ever recorded clocking in at 4 hours and 20 minutes. Could it be a simple issue of timing? Who knows!

Jack Gill (middle) seen with David Hasselhoff on the set of Knight Rider. The experienced stunt performer has persisted for stunt performers to gain more recognition for their dangerous work!

 

What is certain, is that for many decades stunt performers deserve to have their voice heard, as well as an appreciation for what they do because all their hard and physical work is simply not given enough credit or attention! It is about time that the Oscars take the time to give the structure of their ceremony a slight modification to allow for a couple of extra categories that will garner much admiration by everybody involved, and even those who are not. \

If you support this cause then feel free to sign the petition here to add your voice to the likes of Jack Gill who continue to fight for their right to get noticed!

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/810/757/136/stand-up-for-stunt-people-they-deserve-an-academy-award-too/

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Titanic 20 Years On: A Look At It’s Legacy

(AOTN)

It is hard to believe that twenty years have nearly gone by since the release of James Cameron’s Titanic. The director already became famous by directing established low and high budget action films such as The Terminator and True Lies. But the Canadian had a keen interest in the famous oceanic tragedy that occurred in 1912 a couple of years before the creation process of the big blockbuster movie that cost in the region of $200,000,000 to develop.

The pre-release hype, at least in the UK, was quite minimal. But all that changed when the picture was unleashed!

Future movie stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio were still relatively unknowns. Winslet was born and bred in the UK in Reading. She had made a couple of British made movies but it wasn’t long before she was thrust into global stardom when she was elected to play Rose Dewitt Bukater, the troubled teenager who was engaged to be married to a millionaire, Cal Hockley who had a rather unsparing streak.

Dicaprio had previously got his taste for fame when he acted in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, a modern day telling of the famous Shakespeare play where two star crossed lovers meet a tragic ending. His first movie was Critters 3, the second sequel in the monster furball horror franchise. Before Titanic, Dicaprio had a tendency to pick roles that depicted challenges in relationships and life itself. They may not be everybody’s cup of tea but the now 42 year old actor was certainly on the right path if he wanted to showcase genuine acting talent.

James Cameron showed his attribute for persistence when he pitched the idea of Titanic to 20th Century Fox. They originally requested Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt for the role of Jack Dawson since Dicaprio was still quite unknown and was possibly seen as a financial risk. However, the director held out and won over the studio. The actual pitch itself, in Cameron’s own words was, “Romeo and Juliet on a boat.” Understandably, again, Fox was pessimistic but they gave him the funds to dive to the actual wreckage in the North Atlantic Ocean and grab some footage. During this time, he wrote the script and impressed the studio so much with what he produced and captured that they were eventually persuaded!

The lavish first class dining room, the grand staircase, the cabins and more were all recreated with uttermost accuracy. Even compact items such as dinner plates and breakfast bowls contained the White Star Line logo’s, just like they did on the original ship now more than a century ago. Special water tanks were built to simulate the flooding and sinking of the ship that fictitiously took place during the second half of the movie.

However, the film did not just depend on special effects to impress. The story of two people from two different classes of life coming together not only provoked the audience into caring for them, it was also the key to make people feel sympathy for the rest of the passengers onboard when they eventually meet their doomed fates. But did Jack have to die at the conclusion? Cameron seems to be of the view that killing off one of the main characters is necessary for maximum emotional impact, as proven when he did so for The Terminator and even the ending of it’s sequel in the “chain of death” moment.

Gloria Stuart provided the occasional narration in telling of the events, both authentic to the actual disaster and also for some of the movie’s more imaginary moments. If the ill fated fling between Rose and Jack was to make people care, then perhaps older Rose was the second piece of the puzzle in finalising the process in informing viewers of some of the facts about the sinking. One particular moment would be immediately after Rose makes rescuers aware of her existence and the movie fades into the present with older Rose telling of how many people unfortunately perished and were recovered. A perfect but profound moment.

When the film was released, it can be recalled that it seemed as if the world had gone mad for a sinking ship! Copious amounts of memorabilia were released for retail. Some of the most corny pieces were school bags, stationery and costumes. Then there were your usual t-shirts, lobby cards and posters. Reports of people seeing the movie more than once on the same day were apparently reportedly substantiated. The Titanic marketing machine was certainly a force to be reckoned with! Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was a chart success although time has not been too kind to it. Even Kate Winslet, herself, has stated that she dislikes the song, even going so far as to say that it makes her want to “throw up.”

 

There really was not another movie out there back in 1997 to compete with it although ones such as Men In Black and the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies were successful in their own right. Titanic was in a league all on it’s own!

Depending on one’s point of view, Titanic has unfortunately, and fortunately, gotten the reputation over the years as a “chick flick.” It has also been so successful that it seems that there are certain people that hate it for hate’s sake. Let’s get it right, though.The film is not perfect! James Cameron usually had the assistance of others writing scripts for his films but decided to pen Titanic all on his own. And the faults evidently show themselves, including the trite dialogue. Still, the man proved that he is not one dimensional and can take risks and venture into territory not previously experienced.

Behind the (necessary) romantic aspect was a look at the contrast of two social classes of people and the treatment they received. And were perceived. Rose was somebody who was trapped, and forcibly so by a domineering mother, in a situation that she was blatantly not happy with. So not happy that the thought of committing suicide by jumping off the Titanic almost became a reality! On the other end of the spectrum, 3rd class ticket holder Jack was a happy go lucky type of chap who always had to fight to make ends meet, but at the same time had a heart of gold that was eventually recognised by Rose, who could not care less for materialism. Only the genuine love of another soul.

The second half of Titanic is anything but a “chick flick,” although females were, and are, inevitably drawn by Rose and Jack’s affair and the boyish good looks of Leonardo Dicaprio.

What of the movie’s legacy 20 years on?

The film no doubt still, and always will, retain the tag of ‘classic.’ The epic also inspired many to take an interest in the case of the 105 year old sinking of the ship that was claimed by the media to be “unsinkable.” A number of documentaries about it are often seen screen on television, at least here in the UK, covering a wide range of angles and going so far as to offer up different conspiracies regarding what caused the ship to descend into the murky cold waters in the early hours of April 15th, 1912.

James Cameron, himself, was inspired by his own movie to eventually take a deep (pun intended) interest in deep sea diving. He managed to capture footage with 3D cameras when embarking on a record breaking expedition in 2012. The last film he directed was Avatar, released in 2009. Directing still does not seem to be at the top of his list of priorities as of writing in 2017, although Avatar sequels have been mentioned.

Titanic was also given the 3D treatment and was re-released in cinemas in 2012, getting a 3D Blu Ray release shortly afterward although it is debatable as to whether the effort to convert it was worth it. Nevertheless, the re-release managed to rake in nearly $58,000,000 extra, domestically, after spending $18,000,000 for the conversion. It has been reported that the re-release made over $2 billion worldwide!

 

There have been a fair number of parodies and jokes aimed toward the movie that have been made and seen over the years, mainly directed at the well known “flying scene” and Jack’s venerable “King of the World” line. But it is all in good fun and contributes toward the cultural impact that the film has and probably always will.

 

Titanic is a timeless piece that inserted itself into that special category that only belongs to a select other few. In terms of filmmaking, it is something other filmmakers can look upon and feel encouraged to make the effort to reach heights they never have before. And some of the movie going public will always look at the film with despair.

Others, with affection.

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