Happy Women’s history month! Female directors may be a rarity in Hollywood today, but women were a much larger part of the film industry at the beginning of the silent film era. Before film was seen as a lucrative commercial enterprise, filming was often done as an artistic hobby. One of the most influential directors of her time, often overlooked in history books, was Alice Guy-Blache, who wrote, directed, and produced more than 1,000 narrative films in France between 1896 and 1907, and in the United States from 1910 to 1922. She is sometimes credited as the woman who began the narrative story style everyone enjoys today.
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions” -Thomas Edison
Happiness. One could define it as an emotion, and another could define it as a lifestyle or a certain thing that brings joy to oneself. Whether it be your favorite song playing on the radio or a day at Disneyland, we have all felt happiness in our lives in one way or another. Happiness is not only a genuinely amazing feeling, but it has its own day during the year. The United Nations granted March 20th International Happiness Day. The UN defines happiness as economic growth and equity, but others could perceive it as a day to feel great about something. Being happy comes from within, and if a person allows him or herself to be happy, the world around them becomes a bit brighter. According to statistics, waking up with a smile on your face will boost your mood by 30%. According to a recent Harris Poll, happy people tend to be more active, feel more energized, and have a bigger social circle.
In the film Ways to Live Forever, two boys are diagnosed with cancer and yet they still seem to have a smile on their face and find something in life to be happy about. The main character, played by Robbie Kay, sets out on an adventure to figure out how not to die - in other words, how he will leave his mark on the world. His character makes his life count and make sure happiness was at the forefront.
Make your mark on the world by spreading happiness wherever you go. Fulfilling your dreams are soon to follow.
It is March once again, and we are celebrating Irish-American films this month! The comedy drama Red Roses and Petrol, starring Malcolm McDowell, is packed full of Irish-American traditions and culture which the viewers can relate to, or identify with in their own families, while the upcoming The Secret Scripture, starring Eric Bana and Rooney Mara, will be bringing the thrilling novel to the big screen.
To further engulf ourselves in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, here is a hand-picked list of excellent Irish-American films that are timeless, captivating, and filled with the “luck of the Irish.”
Whether that means good or bad luck, it is for the audience to decide!
Gangs of New York ( 2002 ) - Irish immigrants in 1860’s New York City, led by Liam Neeson and Leonardo DiCaprio, clash with the "native" New Yorkers, led by Daniel Day-Lewis in his brilliant performance as Bill "The Butcher,” and spill blood all over the ghettoes of the Five Points district in Martin Scorsese's post-9/11 tribute to New York City.
The Commitments (1991) - A couple of unemployed Dubliners form an off-beat soul band in filmmaker Alan Parker's 1991 favorite. Winner of the BAFTA for Best Picture in the year it was released, it has also been voted Best Irish Film of All-Time by Jameson Whiskey in 2005. The Commitments well deserves a spot on this list.
This year’s Richmond International Film Festival featured Ella Purnell’s new film Wildlike on the homepage and it was declared Best Feature Film of the festival. The film follows a troubled teen girl, Mackenzie (Ella Purnell), who was sent to live with her inappropriate uncle (Brian Geraghty) by her unstable mother. Rene Bartlett (Greenwood) is a hiker wanting nothing more than to be alone; however, an unlikely friendship bonds the girl and the hiker as they both explore Alaska’s beautiful terrain. While traveling together, their friendship helps them heal their past. The film is a multi award-winner, having also garnered six Best Narrative awards and two awards for Best Director.
Justin Lowe from The Hollywood Reporter stated, “By turns both tough and vulnerable, [Purnell] conveys Mackenzie’s inner turmoil and frequent desperation with both empathy and economy, skirting the ever-present pitfalls of over-emoting.” It’s no surprise that Purnell is a rising star in the movie business.
Ella Purnell has played minor roles in other major films and they have garnered several awards and nominations, including the recent Maleficent, where she played the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty as a teenager. The movie won Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film at the International Film Music Critics Award (IFMCA). Maleficent was also nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design at the Academy Awards and Best Feature Film at BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts). In Ways To Live Forever, distributed by World Wide Motion Pictures, a film about a young boy named Sam who is discovering and searching for information about his battle with leukemia. Kayleigh (Purnell), Sam’s love interest, helps him complete items on his bucket list off and find the answers he looks for. The film won Best Picture at the Toledo Film Festival and Audience Award at the Heartland Film Festival. If these awards and nominations continue for Purnell, it will undoubtedly help her film career and we’ll likely see her more on the big screen.
Willie Nelson, one of the celebrity activists featured in the documentary Welcome to Eden from World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation, will be starring in a action adventure film titled, Waiting For a Miracle to Come. Another huge name in the music industry has also been linked with the project; legendary British rock group U2’s frontman Bono has been named the executive producer of the project, and will also be writing the film’s musical soundtrack. In 1989, Bono wrote “Slow Dancing” for Nelson, and U2 included the song on their 2011 Duals fan club album.
Nelson, alongside highly acclaimed British actress Charlotte Rampling, portray a pair of retired vaudeville stars who teach a young trapeze artist that there are other things in life more valuable than chasing gold. Waiting For a Miracle has been written and directed by Australian filmmaker Lian Lunson. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Lunson stated, "I wrote this script for Willie Nelson; his presence and stillness as an actor is unlike anyone else…. And growing up I always wanted to be Charlotte Rampling, so bringing these two icons together on screen is a dream come true for me." Lunson also directed the documentary, Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man, featuring Bono.
Widely known for his patriotic songwriting and iconic stage presence, Willie Nelson, who turned 81 this year, has also accumulated a film career spanning over 5 decades. Nelson first starred in The Electric Horseman in 1979, and has since starred in a myriad of box office hits such as Honeysuckle Rose, Barbarosa, Wag the Dog (New Line Platinum Series (1997), and Dukes of Hazzard (Rated). Willie Nelson also made his presence known in the World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation documentary, Welcome to Eden, speaking on behalf of the South Central Urban Farm’s right to exist.
Film production for Waiting for A Miracle to Come begins on Willie Nelson’s private Texas Ranch in March of 2015.
Love is in the air, and whether you have special someone or not, snuggling on the couch with a great film with a heartwarming love stories, is the perfect way to spend Valentine's Day. If you want a story about the first hints on love, then you should watch Ways to Live Forever - the charmingly hesitant chemistry between Ella Purnell, best known for Maleficent, and Robbie Kay, best known for playing Peter Pan in “Once Upon a Time,” is magically innocent. For a love story past adolescence, see Rusty Steel, a Romanian action film with a romantic subplot, featuring car chases, exploding sea vessels, and some great kissing scenes between the gorgeous Irina Bucescu and Johann Urb. For the LGBT genre, Pop Kowboy an action packed, quirky comedy about three outsiders finding their place in the world.
Today is not only Valentine’s Day, but also Organ Donor Day, and though it may seem to be an unusual combination, a connection can definitely be made. Love is symbolized through the heart, but it doesn’t stop there. Love is shown in many ways, and one of those ways is becoming an organ donor. The current organ shortage has lead to eighteen people dying a day while on the waiting list. On the other hand seventy-nine people get another chance at life with their new organ and can live a long healthy life. Over 120,000 people are waiting for lungs, hearts, kidneys and livers on the waiting list, while about 15,000 people donate their organs per year. If this situation is unchanged, we will never be able to save everyone. Become a donor at the DMV and you too can save lives. Love comes in many forms, from your first love to the love you feel for your children.