Archive for February, 2013

OscarContest graphic Saturday February 23rd is your last chance to enter Lisle Library’s Pick the Oscar Winners Contest.The Oscar broadcast is this Sunday, February 24th at 7:30 CST on ABC Channel 7.

The five winners of our contest will be announced on Monday, March 4th. They will each receive: a bag of gourment popcorn, movie theater candy, and the DVD of their choice from 5 nominated “Best Film” movies of 2013.

So remember: your guess is as good as Ebert’s!


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Top Hat Poster In contrast to Show Boat, our first musical, this classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film is a prime example of the song & dance-oriented musical. Several members commented on how everything about the visuals – whether they were dancing or not – moved to a rhythm of its own. One member pointed out how the young people of the ’30s and ’40s grew up with a culture that encouraged everyone to know different dances and dance steps. We also commented on how it seems that each human decade or so had its own rhythm and ways of moving both in terms of its dance styles and how people stand and move at different points in our culture. We talked about how that can affect how well – and how believably, the current generation’s actors can perform classic musicals of other eras; as well as how long an actor/dancer of a previous era can keep up with the changes of different generations. (We’re planning on getting into this more after we’ve seen Gene Kelly in “The Pirate” since his style and Astaire’s overlapped to some extent – but were very different.)

We also noted that sometimes Ginger Rogers gets short-shrift in talking about the pictures she made with Fred Astaire because he’s so mesmerizing when he’s dancing. We felt that this would not have been so true for him, if she hadn’t been able to both keep up with him and complement his style so beautifully. And while Astaire’s mastery of song and dance films is undeniable, Ginger Rogers was actually in more films than Fred, and a wider range of types of films (dramas, comedies, etc.) While we also admire Fred’s dancing with Rita Hayworth and particularly his tap dancing with Eleanor Powell, there’s just no denying there’s something special about the chemistry between Fred and Ginger.

Part of this magic we also attributed to the group of supporting characters who had recurring roles in their films, particularly: Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes (here as Italian clothes designer Alberto Beddini), Eric Blore (as Horton’s man Bates) and Helen Broderick as Horton’s comically pragmatic wife. These actors not only compliment the main characters and provide comic asides, they are just as fun to watch in scenes amongst themselves. We talked about how the art of the character actor seems to have slipped away in more current films and that we miss their wit and humor and the layering they gave to particularly comedic stories. In looking into this film we also learned that many consider it not only to be a fine musical comedy, but a prime example of the screwball comedies done as a musical. Another fun thing about the supporting cast is that they so often include brief appearances by performers who went on to become stars themselves. This was certainly true of “Top Hat” – Lucille Ball has an uncredited appearance as the flower shop girl. A scene we all enjoyed and appreciated how she came across as this character and not “Lucy”!

The film also showcased stunning numbers with strong dancing by the chorus groups doing variations on Busby Berkeley-styled choreography. Another member spoke about how influential and important a choreographer Hermes Pan was both in Fred Astaire’s movies and in this era in Hollywood. We talked about how the later, more balletic moves Fred uses probably were part of what caught the eye of a young Baryshnikov when he eagerly embraced American dance. Fred Astaire was his favorite performer to study. With the addition of Max Steiner as the director and Irving Berlin for the music, it’s no wonder this film had 4 Oscar nominations! The group was very pleased this was our lead-in to this year’s Oscar dance. Did we miss something about Top Hat? Please add your comments to this post! And don’t forget — The Pirate will be shown on Monday night March 25th at 6:00 p.m. It will be our last film in the American Musicals series this year.

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JBF Meeting Date Changes in 2013

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DGA  Awards Link Graphic The Directors Guild of America (DGA) picked Ben Affleck for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for Argo. With this award, Affleck has now won the Best Director award at both of the prestigious award events (the Golden Globe Awards and DGA) that precede the Oscars. Since he is not a nominee in this category for the Oscars, “Best Director” should be one of the more challenging categories to figure out for the library’s “Pick the Oscar Winners” contest. The contest will end on Saturday, Feb. 23rd at 5:00 p.m. — so get your ballots in soon to win our fabulous prizes! Click on the graphic to go to the DGA’s website and see who won in the other categories.

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