Hidden Figures

It finally happened! After almost a year of waiting, I got to go and see the film ‘Hidden Figures.’ I remember watching the first taste of a

After almost a year of waiting, I got to go and see the film ‘Hidden Figures.’ I remember watching the first taste of a trailer almost a year ago and running to tell everyone that Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Jim Parsons, Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst were starring in a film all about Space and Female Equality. I was so Excited. The trailer was released not long after the series Astronauts wives club had finished airing and space was all the range, well actually not space but rather how the people on the ground prepared to make history. FASCINATING!

I always say that true stories fuel the greatest films and this was no exception. The film and cast also did very well this awards season and took home the golden globe for best film ensemble. After watching the film, I can see why. There was some sort of magic between the cast members and it made the film. In short, this film is about 3 young black women and how they overcame discrimination, stood up for themselves and got the first American astronaut into space. These 3 women were mathematicians, engineers and mechanics working for NASA. Except for the fact that in the 1960s America was still dealing with segregation and a black woman in high positions wasn’t exactly heard of. However, this film is so much more than just that.

The first thought that came to my mind after watching the film was is this the main issue in this film a racial one or a gender one. I thought about this a lot and finally came to the conclusion that even though the film is completely multi-dimensional the issue that came across the clearest to me was Gender-based. These were WOMAN facing major discrimination however they just happened to be African American during a time where America was still segregated.

I have watched many films that deal with similar issues since these are issues that transcend anything and everything, but sometimes I feel like it can seem overdone. In this film, however, it was done tastefully and even though I am not an African American woman, I still felt proud. Proud of the accomplishments of the three woman in the film, Proud to be a woman myself and proud to see such a powerful story being shown on screen.

It is amazing to think that NASA was able to send a man into space, however, they could not have done this without these exceptional women on their team. Even though we think that we are stepping over this mountain of discrimination, we haven’t really stepped that far over and we always need reminding of how far we have come as a human race and how far we still need to come.

In terms of the cinematic experience, it was a great film. The art department was on point considering the fact that this film is set in the 1960’s. The hair, makeup and wardrobe departments did a great job. The casting was done incredibly well and I cannot explain how wonderful it was to see such great actors play such different roles. Who knew Jim Parsons could play an antagonist? And who knew that Taraji P Henson could play a role so completely opposite to The Oh so fabulous Cookie Lyon? I loved watching her in this role. Taraji is so graceful on screen, she has such poise yet when she needs to make a statement boy, oh boy does she make a statement! Like I said before, this cast was exceptional!

I really want to go into all the wonderful moments that are in this film. They bare still going round and round in my head because of how powerful they were. Small gestures, short dialogue that just expresses so much more. However, I feel like no matter who you are, what race you are, which gender you fit into, everyone needs to experience them for themselves. It is so important. Films like this need to be taught to the masses because it is more than a 2-hour entertainment piece. It is a treasure. Something that will last for years and years and never age. I watched a film about 3 women trying to get a man up into space and I came out inspired. Inspired to do the right thing. Inspired to stand up for myself and for what I believe in. And inspired to treat everyone equally because you never know what talents lie underneath the exterior.

Dorothy Vaughan: If you act right – you are right. That’s for certain”

*lights out*

Natalia

xxx

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LA LA land (2017)

Hi all,

So If you have not heard about the film LA LA LAND, you are living under a rock… La la land is a modern day musical that is making the rounds in a big BIG way at the moment. The film broke records when it won every category it was nominated for at the Golden Globes and is going to be the most nominated film at the Academy Awards this year… (My bet is that it actually wins for best film, let’s see if I am right) I recently finally had the chance to go and watch this film, was a unique experience.

I usually see a film and come home to write about it strait away but I felt like I needed to marinade in this film before I could put all my thoughts down.  This film is so wonderfully different. It is like nothing that has been on screen for a really long time. It is fun, colourful, charming, romantic, magical and cinematically, it is a treat! I left the cinema feeling like I had had my eyes opened. Not to anything too intense but to something that was just a breath of fresh air. I feel like this is why this movie is getting such good responses and is killing it at awards season this year. I feel like people are really enjoying something different being shown on their big screens.

The more I have been thinking about this film, the bigger impact it is having on me… Here is the thing, though, it starts off slow and it took me a while to get into the film. However, the film began to move swiftly along when Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were on screen together. The film is certainly about these two characters and they make it what it is. No wonder Emma Stone is winning all the awards- she is wonderful as the protagonist Mia. I felt like Ryan suited his role. I didn’t LOVE his character, I found him to be a bit full of himself, however, I loved when the two characters were together. They seemed to balance each other while still challenging each other. It was a fun dynamic.

My favourite part of the film was the idea that Director, Damien Chazelle, wanted. He wanted to create an old Hollywood type musical in modern day LA. He absolutely achieved this goal and I feel like he can be proud of that fact. The film was set in 2016 but the themes were very much old Hollywood which I loved. It made me feel like class, elegance and magic really can exist in our fast past, technological driven world. Watching a film that brought this idea to life made me remember why I decided to go into the entertainment industry in the first place. A moment that stood out for me was when Mia and Sebastian (the protagonists) are taking a walk and the view is breathtakingly magnificent. They begin to tap dance (YES TAP DANCING MAKES AN APPEARANCE AND IT IS FANTASTIC!) It feels very much like a Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire moment, and then Mia’s phone rings and she picks up her 21st Centaury iPhone.

Let’s go back for a moment to the Tap Dancing thing… yes, there is Tap Dancing in La La land and I loved it! Tap dancing is such a wonderful style of dance and Mandy Moore (the dancer not the actress) did such a fantastic job of choreographing it. She really mastered the concept of old Hollywood in modern times and I was completely engaged in the dance routines that she put together. The dancing felt so natural and comfortable to the performers. I have loved Mandy Moore’s work since I saw her work on ‘So you think you can dance’ and this film made me love her work all over again.

All in all, I get why this film is being recognised so much. It is a wonderful film. And I think it deserves the press that it is getting. Was it the most exciting film I have ever watched- not really but it was incredibly romantic and it left me with butterflies in my stomach. This film is truly for “the fools who dream”

My vote is that film is going to grab all the Oscars it has been nominated for, so watch this space!

*lights out*

Natalia

xxx

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Hi everyone,

Don’t you just love the feeling when you have seen a great movie and it leaves you feeling happy, inspired and touched? I certainly do, and it is exactly how I felt after watching this goody of a film. In the beginning, the film kind of reminded me of ‘Perks of being a wallflower’ but then it became so much more…

The Edge of Seventeen is a teenage comedy about the ups and downs of growing up. It sounds like a cheesy storyline, right? But it is so far from it! Nadine is the protagonist of the story and she takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions. During the course of the film, Nadine loses friends, makes allies, fixes relationships in her life and grows up.

Hailee Steinfeld plays the role of Nadine and she is brilliant. At only 20 years old, Hailee has starred in one of the most popular movies- Pitch perfect and has been on tour opening up for Megan Trainor! Now she steals the show in Edge of Seventeen. I really really hope she gets the recognition she deserves for this film. Her performance was exceptionally honest, raw and hilarious. From the first moment she was on screen I felt a connection to her character, a strong connection.

Her role could have come across as pathetic and desperate but instead it comes across as completely truthful. I think she was lucky to have landed such a well-written character and she just brings it to life even more. Hailee interacts with the other actors in such a genuine way that she really invites the audience into her relationships. She makes the audience feel the emotions that her character is feeling. Her performance made me laugh, smile and cry. What more could you want from an actress?

Woody Harrelson plays Nadine’s teacher, Mr Bruner, and the two of them share such a fascinating relationship.  They just get each other and their chemistry is great to watch. Their scenes are so sarcastic that it is just so funny. The way they look at life in the film is so critical but yet makes so much sense. Their scenes in the film turned out to be some of the parts that stood out for me.

There is so much I could say about this film that it is actually difficult to narrow it down. One of the things I have learned at film school is that it is so important to create something that the audience can relate to. When telling a story you need to ensure that the audience will be able to see parts of themselves within the film. This film gets that concept down to  a T! There were so many moments when I felt like I was watching a mirror image of my life. I just felt things watching this movie and it was truly an awesome experience.

The movie is based on a 17-year-old girl, but it truly transcends to any age. I am 21 years old and I related to everything. I didn’t feel like I was watching a ‘teenage’ movie, I just felt as if I was watching a portrayal of life. It is so difficult growing up. People you thought you knew turn out to be different. You think you know what you want and then it all changes. You get tested too many times to even count and you have to stay afloat when everything seems to be pushing you under water.

If I am going to watch a movie about the dysfunctionality of life, I want to be able to laugh about it. This movie not only makes you laugh but makes you cry too. It left me feeling grateful and happy, like whatever happens to me isn’t the end of the world and everything will work out in the end. I loved it.

*lights out*

Natalia

xxx

Bollywood Blonde by Gene Gualdi

Hi everyone,

I just finished reading an awesome book called Bollywood Blonde. The book is written by a South African author,photographer and creative, Gene Gualdi. Gene was living and working in the film industry in Cape Town and was picked up by an Indian producer and offered a job in India. What started out as a 6-month stint turned into a 6-year adventure full of ups and downs. What first drew me to the book was the idea that a young South African, just like me, could find herself with a ‘dream’ job in an exotic country. Since I study film, it seemed like a perfect book for me to read. As I began to read the book I came to understand that Gene’s story is so much more than just an adventure, her book is a brave testimony of an experience that changed her life.

Throughout the book, I caught myself thinking ‘how did she do it?’ How did she leave her family for something completely unknown?  How did she trust a man she didn’t even know? How did she wake up at 4:30AM every morning? How did she stay excited and positive when all she wanted to do was crash? How, How and How?? The conclusion that I came to; bravery, passion and an enormous sense of adventure!

The book is written in such a wonderful way, there is no wafting. As you read the first sentence you are immediately transported into Gene’s world. The story is so fast paced that I simply could not stop reading it in fear that I would miss something. (As a slow reader being able to finish the book so quickly makes quite the statement) There are no fancy words taking up space for lack of story. Gene tells it like it is and I loved it.

The book is her true story about her time spent in India. It follows her dramatic life there and introduces the reader to all the amazing people she met along the way. The book is an honest roller coaster ride culminating in a dramatic event that changes Gene’s entire mindset. The book is not only about India but rather it is about adventure, self-realisation, the not so glamorous film industry and how a little bravery can go a long way.

I MOST DEFIANTLY recommend this book to not only aspiring filmmakers but to anyone who loves a true story. I found her story inspiring and it has given me a new perspective about filmmaking and self-confidence. I sincerely hope this book becomes a movie one day because what an exciting movie it would be!

*lights out*

Natalia

xxx

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Fiona Ramsay- Giving Voice to Souls

I was privileged enough to hear the wonderful Fiona Ramsay talk about her career and the work that she does. Now I must admit when I heard the topic of the lecture I thought it was going to be a discussion on some airy fairy part of using ones voice. I did not expect that it would be as informative and captivating as it turned out to be.

Fiona Ramsay is one of South Africa’s most successful actresses. However she is not only a wonderful actress but she is a fantastic public speaker. On top of her large list of TV, film and theater credits, she is the founder of the Speak Easy vocal training academy. Her speciality is voice and accent training. I for one am terrible at accents. I have never understood how people can sound completely American and in the next minute can be completely italian.

This is what Fiona addressed in her lecturer. She explained how the way in which one holds their mouth is the key to finding different accents. Together with sound placement and breathing, one can learn to speak in any accent they choose. She showed us many examples of different accents and shared personal stories which were so interesting. Being a film student, listening to her speak about famous film sets that she has been a part of was so exciting. I kept thinking to myself how fantastic it must be to be rubbing shoulders with actors like Orlando Bloom and Charlize Theron (another successful South African actress)

What makes Fiona such a interesting person to listen to, is how she finds the comedy within the stereotypes of different people and breaks it down to show how people work. She takes the typical american accent and breaks it down to explain why Americans talk the way they do. She explains how it is a combination of geographic placement, surroundings, occupation, lifestyle, upbringing and many other factors that contribute to ones accent. You do not just speak the way you speak because it is what you hear but rather you use the way you talk to expose your story.

I always feel a sense of hope when I hear stories of South African people, just like me, who have managed to be successful and stick with their passion. Especially when that passion involves the arts. There are so many skeptics out there who still believe that one cannot make a living from working in the arts. While it might be extremely difficult, it is always possible and this is why I love hearing from people like Fiona about the entertainment industry. I really loved hearing from such a inspirational person and I intend to use the knowledge that I now have about ones voice.

*lights out*

Natalia

xxx