News Worthy: 8/29 – 9/2

Here we go with regularly scheduled News Worthy posts again!

News

Gene Wilder died at the age of 83 this week, and whenever a film icon of my childhood dies, it sort of numbs me for a while – like many others, I grew up watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Wilder’s death marks yet another loss from the 1960s-70s era that I see as the last period in which movie stars maintained an elusive privacy that made you see a character they were playing, not the actual actor. I just think he was so classy and really recognized the difference in today’s film industry versus the time he was most active. I found the interview below a year or two ago, and, about two minutes in, he actually touches upon how loud and unnecessarily crass today’s films can be. Wilder’s Young Frankenstein screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, and I think that detail and his remarks in this video show that he was a very selective person who really understood film.

Interviews

I loved the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly (with Emily Blunt in The Girl on the Train on the cover). Sometimes, an issue of EW just doesn’t mesh with my personal likes and interests, but this one covered so much gold material. My favorite feature was Nicole Sperling‘s interview with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay. The women discussed DuVernay bringing her TV series Queen Sugar to Winfrey’s network and their growing partnership in the industry. Besides highlighting successful women becoming friends and working with each other, I loved how, in the best way, this interview made Oprah seem flawed. She is normally conveyed as someone so faultless and composed, and this piece really put me in her shoes, showing the loneliness that can come with such powerful fame.

But you’re not just putting things out there – you have an agenda with what you are creating.

Winfrey: My agenda was that I was going to be her [DuVernay’s] friend. I don’t have a lot of friends…there have been a couple of other times when I’ve tried to make friends, but normally it doesn’t go well.

…People have their agendas and they want to start their business and they need me to start their business. They want a house. They need me to buy their house.

DuVernay: [Laughs} That’s a reason why a friendship may go off the rails.

It makes me think of movie tropes when a pop star/prince/kid with fame goes undercover as a “normal guy” and says that he never knows if someone really wants to be his friend or *insert famous title*’s friend. Oprah is human like the rest of us and just wants to be liked for being herself. I also loved her following thoughts about Ava DuVernay’s future:

When I finished The Color Purple, I remember leaving set and I was so sad, because it was the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I learned so much…When I left, I said to Quincy Jones, “Gee, I hope I see you again sometime. If you see me, would you remember my name?”

And he said, “Oh, baby, you don’t have to worry. Your future is so bright, it burns my eyes.” I feel exactly the same way about Ava, There is a quickening happening in her life and in her career that is just going to blossom into something – not even she can imagine what it is. It’s big. It’s big for the industry. It’s big for women. It’s big for herself. It’s big for the planet. It’s big.

Videos

I’m a huge fan of Jessie Mueller, who’s currently starring in the Broadway musical Waitress, and I was even coincidentally in the audience when she made her late show debut on Colbert in May. She did a “Role Call” video for Broadway.com, which is a fairly new feature in which actors are given descriptions like “Role I was wrong for” and they then select a job from their resume to fit the prompt. Jessie is just so down-to-earth – something evident by her Broadway.com vlogs she did when in Beautiful – and a weird thought came to mind when I was watching this: if Gilmore Girls ever had a musical adaptation, Jessie Mueller would be the perfect Lorelai.

Rosianna and Sanne are two of my favorite YouTubers, and I love when they post collab videos. Their most recent was a discussion about the Harry Potter books versus the films in terms of how they present characters and storylines.

This was such a comprehensive chat about the films’ flaws and how they could have been improved to truthfully represent even more of the actual story. I didn’t agree with the girls’ opinions on their favorite films – the older I grow, the more I consider the first two movies my favorite of the franchise. I think this may be because I’m young enough to have been pretty impressionable when they came out, and watching them just makes me so nostalgic and only fuels my love for the stories’ magic.

Although I understand the darker transitions now, I never liked the stark contrast between the third film and the first two as a kid. I also hated the fact that it just messed with the first films’ canon. Hogwarts is now in the mountains and has a random bridge? The Fat Lady is a completely different portrait in an entirely new location? Being so young and averse to change at the time, I also hated Michael Gambon’s debut as Dumbledore, but looking back, I wonder if Richard Harris would’ve been able to portray Dumbledore’s extremities well later in the series.

Something I always wished was included in the film was the group’s visit to St. Mungo’s in Order of the Phoenix. I loved seeing aspects of the wizarding world outside of Hogwarts, and this book chapter just had so much to work with. It provides closure about Gilderoy Lockhart and gives insight into Neville’s family and how he has been raised. Thanks to my fanfic-writing days, Neville became one of my most beloved characters soon after the last book arrived, and the almost lazy approach to his character up until Deathly Hallows really annoys me now. I also agreed with the point the girls made about Ginny’s character in the films – that is why some film-only fans insisted that Harry belonged with Hermione. Going off that, I think Ron’s character was also simplified in the films, and he’s nowhere near as clever or loyal in those as he is in the books.

What about you? Which Harry Potter films do you prefer and what aspects from the books do you think the filmmakers could have portrayed better?

Was there any news this week that got you excited or interested?

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