Tag: Movies

Interviewing on Location

Interviewing on Location

My work with Gladeo this month has me investigating more technical jobs than I have since the summer began. I’ve started to do my research into being a database administrator, a system analyst and a network architect specifically.

I wound up scheduling a good amount of my work today since I’ve been busy with orientation for the Daily Titan the rest of this week. Early on this morning I spoke over the phone with Tom LaPorte, who does work with databases for DreamWorks Animation (DWA) Nova.

However, this afternoon was a bit more special in that I got to do my interview on location. That location happened to be one of my favorite places: The DWA campus in Glendale, California.

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My dad worked at DreamWorks for a number of years and made plenty of friends while he was there. What kind of a journalist would I be if I didn’t use those connections where I could?

I talked with Scott Miller, who does system analysis among a variety of other roles in both the behind-the-scenes and audience-facing aspects of technical work.

While the conversation was wonderful, equally wonderful was the chance I got to explore the DWA grounds. I did it fairly often back when dad worked there, but being able to leisurely stroll around on my own a number of years later was great. After all, I haven’t been since the Asian American Journalists Association Trivia Bowl in 2015.

I talked about my time at the Trivia Bowl last year, but I wasn’t really blogging the year before. So in case you were curious, the Trivia Bowl was held at the DreamWorks campus that year. Now you know.

Exploring the campus is generally one of my favorite things to do because of how beautiful it is there. It’s seriously like a high class park that happens to have buildings for work on it. Sometimes I almost feel like it’s akin to an open-air art exhibit.

So, I figured why not share some pictures of a bunch of the cool natural architecture that has been built up there? After all, I’m sure not many people will get the chance to see it themselves.

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Honestly that’s all I wanted to do here tonight, spread the word on how beautiful the DWA campus is for those who might not get the chance to see it.

And humble brag about the cool thing I got to do, if I’m being completely transparent.

While I’m still waiting for my Gladeo pieces from June to get published (since they’re going down whatever spaced out pipeline has been planning out beyond my control), expect to see some more DreamWorks-focused pieces also sometime down the line.

I also put in a message to my bosses today that I’ll be keeping on with the internship into the Fall semester, so I’ll likely keep having more to talk about for some time.

Carrie Fisher – Rest In Peace 

Image courtesy of NBC News

So obviously I don’t do this kind of thing a lot, but as a fan of just about all things geek, this feels especially poignant to at least mention.

After suffering a heart attack last Friday on a flight from London to Los Angeles, 60-year-old Hollywood Actress Carrie Fisher died at 8:55 a.m. this morning, Dec. 27, 2016, according to the New York Times.  Though it’s hard to imagine anybody has not seen at least one branch of the legacy it spawned, her most renown claim to fame came from playing Princess Leia Organa in the 1977 phenomenon “Star Wars.”

Though playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise from Episode 4 in ’77 to Episode 7 in 2015 (with somewhat of a cameo in the Episode 3 to 4 transitional film Rogue One that came out earlier this month) has been her most famous role, Carrie Fisher also has at least 110 other credits for either acting, writing, producing and performing in various movie and television appearances, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).  Fisher has also written a number of books, including a recent memoir titled The Princess Diarist published on Nov. 22, 2016.

In a year which has also seen the deaths of quite a few other highly acclaimed celebrities, including Prince, Alan RickmanGene Wilder and David Bowie to name a few of the many, this loss in particular hits pretty hard for science fiction like myself.  It’s rather hard not to echo the general sentiment that 2016 has been a hard year for many at least in part because of such a largely star-studded death toll.

However, her titular role as the princess of a destined-to-be-doomed planet by the hands of a black suit-clad Sith Lord will likely live on longer than any of us and keep Fisher’s memory alive for a long, long time – much like many of the aforementioned stars who have also passed in the last year.

On July 22, 2016, Star Wars Episode 8 director Rian Johnson confirmed that principle photography for the next movie was completed.  Thus, the film series that jump started her carrier will likely hold Fisher’s last film credit as well.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a memorial to her at the end of Episode 8, and if anything I’m looking forward to seeing it so I can get emotional about it all over again. With New Year’s Eve in less then a week now, here’s to 2017 hopefully being a little less cruel to our Cult of Celebrity than 2016 has been, even during its home stretch.

Rest In Peace Carrie Fisher, and may the Force be with you.  Always.

September 12, 2016 Article Published

Alright so the title of this post might be a little misleading.  Technically, I did have another article published for the Arts & Entertainment section of the Daily Titan this issue.  It was just published solely online, not actually in print.

This article was also a movie review rather than a look into an art exhibit on campus.  After getting to see the film early through Alt-101, a College of Communication’s program on campus, I wrote a review for Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers”.

Probably the hardest part about writing this piece for me was that, ironically, I had to inject my own specific opinions into my writing.  As someone who writes hard news almost exclusively, I’m much more used to sticking to the facts and not letting my personal biases slip through.  For a review, however, it was almost entirely my personal feelings about Smith’s movie on display – even if I had to write everything in third person either way.

As a fan of some of Smith’s other flicks, including “Clerks” and “Dogma”, as well as his podcast “Hollywood Babble-On”, I was pretty much predisposed to enjoy this movie walking in.  However, as I try to articulate in the review, the same probably couldn’t be said for everyone.  It’s full of crude humor and referential jokes that only devoted fans will probably pick up on, and  I would argue that most people wouldn’t like the movie even if I did – something that Rotten Tomatoes agrees with me on.

If you want to see the review in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also check out my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan through the link over on the right!

Why you should watch Merchants of Doubt

For my Communications 233 class, Mass Communication in Modern Society, one of the things we were meant to learn about in the course is media literacy.  I say were because today is the day of our final exam so the course is technically over but… I’m not really here to get into semantics.  Media literacy was defined by our professor as having the ability to analyze the impact that forms of communications have on life.  This referred especially to being able to look at things like advertisements and being able to discern their true meanings through semiotics, for example.

Continue reading “Why you should watch Merchants of Doubt”

Representing History through Film

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The famous Hollywood Sign in black and white, as it would have appeared in “old movies”.  (Image Courtesy of circa71.wordpress.com)

Somehow the historical side of my blog for my Honors World Civilizations course has almost become more of a platform for me to talk about films.  In the first two posts I did (Post 1 and 2), I talked about Chantal Akerman’s documentaries in various degrees around the times that I watched them.

So, I figure why not take this last post for the class to talk about the relationship between movies and history as a whole?

The way history is depicted in media often has a large impact on how that history is addressed and thought about in our everyday lives.  Whether this is a good or a bad thing is generally debatable.

The fact that events in our past are recorded and repeated through films and TV programs is a great reflection that we as a species are continuing the legacy of those involved in various historical periods and moment.  As one of my favorite clichéd phrases goes, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  If stories from, say, the Holocaust are consistently depicted in films, we’re more likely to keep the Holocaust in our collective consciousness as a reminder that we can’t let it happen again.

In his book Visions of the Past: The Challenge of Film to our Idea of HistoryRobert Rosenstone talks about film as a tool which can alter our perception of history by saying, “In privileging visual and emotional data and simultaneously downplaying the analytic, the motion picture is subtly […] altering our very sense of the past.” (32)  Rosenstone ponders the differences between written and visual representations of history, wondering whether or not film can hold the same weight as history books or novelizations of events.

In this same vein, there are questions beyond the general strength of film as a medium.  Are films accurate in their approach to dramatizing history? What additional issues can we cultivate in portraying historical recreations?  Yes, it’s great that movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” help to draw large-scale attention to the Holocaust so we can remember it.  However, to what extent is it irresponsible to make those who watch the film believe that Schindler was the same man who trained Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is also the same man who saved his family with “a particular set of skills”?

There are other potential issues with how we depict historical moments in our filmography beyond this name or face association.  Of course, I’m referring specifically to entertainment, fictionalized or blockbuster films and shows rather than documentaries.  There’s a very common complaint that Hollywood is too “whitewashed”, hiring caucasian actors in roles which are better suited for or meant to be people of color.  There’s also the possibility that the very desire to create a film, which by convention tends to be restricted in view time and the perspectives shown on-screen at a time, results in certain editing or removal of pieces from a history.

Now, whether or not I’m qualified to judge if a movie is historically accurate is a different story entirely.  I’m not planning on tearing apart or championing any particular film for how it addresses the history it desires to address.  I just figure this is a good place to talk about why I believe it’s important to try to be as accurate as possible when showcasing history in a film.

Part of why I say I’m not necessarily qualified to judge historical accuracy is because I’m not a history major.  I enjoy learning about history, but I’m not an expert in any time period by any means.  One of the ways I enjoy learning about history is through movies, as it’s much easier to understand or appreciate something that happened when it’s shown in a recognizable way.

Gillo Pontecorvo‘s 1966 film “The Battle of Algiers” is an excellent example of this.  I knew next to nothing about the Algerian War for Independance before watching that movie.  The struggle between the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the French Government, the escalating animosity of the two parties from the means of warfare that was used, the large-scale bombings and attacks that devastated the common people, the use of women and their perceived gender roles to sneak things through French boundaries… All of these ideas and more were represented in the film, and therefore all of them were things I learned about the Battle of Algiers from watching it.

Wars and revolutions as a whole are complex, that’s a given just in the nature of building up to such events.  It’s hard to totally understand everything that happens to both parties that physically and psychologically drives them to any sort of conflict.

That’s where I think “The Battle of Algiers” succeeds.  In my opinion, it teaches the history of an event that seems a little less well-known in a way that you get an idea of how both sides are thinking and responding to things throughout the film.  As far as I’m aware, the movie does a great job of teaching someone who knows nothing about the Algerian War (like me, as I’ve said) what they need to know to understand the struggle.

Bear in mind, filmmakers take creative liberties in their art, and what you see in film isn’t always exactly what transpired in history. To some extent, it’s realistically impossible to recreate history exactly as it happened.  For an audience, there should be a balance between suspending your disbelief when you go to a movie and understanding that life is too complex to represent in an hour and a half to a two-hour celluloid format. For a filmmaker, there’s nothing wrong with taking creative liberties or trying to show history in an entertaining way, but we should keep in mind that the movie being created could become someone’s only connection to that period of history.


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