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Nov 28

Take Four of Seven: A Night At The Movies With Artist Judy Mastrangelo


judy-mailer-imageThis wonderful new interview series with Judy Mastrangelo is all about the movies. This is a seven part series… Let’s delve in!

Films have always inspired my life and my art, ever since I was young.  They fulfill needs for fantasy, excitement, etc., which can be experienced vicariously by everyone who loves to partake in the adventure of this delightful art form.

I don’t watch movies all day long, only when I have some time to spare for them.  But many great movies stay with me forever in my memory. Several of the films I mention here, I’ve seen several years ago.  But they were so enjoyable that sometimes they will come to mind, and I’ll enjoy thinking about them and the actors who were in them.  I find the realm of film a magical place of enrichment for my soul, since when I visit it, I can become other characters, visit fascinating lands, and partake in exciting adventures.

Personally, I enjoy both the old and the new films.  They each have something to offer.

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As a graphic artist, I always enjoy painting beautiful people to “star” in my  artwork in various “roles.” If I were able to choose some actors to portray for my paintings, here is who I would choose:

Males:

Females:

  • Phoebe Tonkin – A stunning beauty.  I first saw her in the TV series THE MAGIC CIRCLE. (Hollywood Trivia: From what I understand, Paul Wesley is now in a relationship with Phoebe Tonkin. What a good looking couple!)
  • Keira Knightley – A stunning elegant beauty.
  • Liv Tyler – She played Arwen in Lord of the Rings. She is a lovely, dreamy looking sweet beauty.
  • Michelle Dockery She played Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey. A very elegant woman.
  • Emilia Clarke

Now that Christmas is soon upon us, here are some Christmas-themed movies I enjoy:

SANTA CLAUS, The Movie ~ 1985   This is an endearing, fanciful story of the origins and development of Santa Claus.  The adorable Dudley Moore steals the show as a very likable and well meaning, yet bumbling elf.

There are many versions of the famous Dickens tale of “A CHRISTMAS CAROL.”  Here are some of my favorites:

THE MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 1992, with the wonderful Michael Cain as Scrooge.   Many of the Muppets are included in this retelling of the tale, including Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit.  (I’m sure you can guess who played Mrs. Cratchit.)

MICKEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 1983, starring Scrooge McDuck, Mickey and the Gang, plus Goofy as Marley.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 1984 with George C. Scott

CHRISTMAS CAROL with Patrick Stewart

A CHRISTMAS CAROL ~1938, with Reginald Owen as Scrooge, the lovable Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit, and adorable Terry Kilburn as Tiny Tim.

SCROOGE ~ 1951, with Alastair Sim as Scrooge and Sir Michael Hordern as Marley. There are some additional scenes that they added that were not in the original Dickens story, such as the memorable one with young Scrooge and Marley, as they take over the business from poor unfortunate Fezziwig.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL ~ 2009  This is a wonderful Disney animated adaptation of this classic, with the voice of Jim Carrey as Scrooge.  The animation and backgrounds are fantastic, and they use a great deal of the original text by Dickens.  (Sometimes they use more of the original novel than many of the other live action movies.)  It’s wonderful.

Of course, it would be very remiss of me to omit mention of these two favorite Christmas films:

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (original version with Natalie Wood) A very heartwarming story indeed!

ANIMATIONS:

It would be difficult to mention animations without talking about my favorites by Walt Disney. It’s very hard for me to choose which ones to talk about, but I list below some of my favorites.  In truth, I really love them all.

The Disney studio started out with a series of beautiful animations called “SILLY SYMPHONIES,” which were a prelude, and served as practice for their future feature full length animations.  They were like beautiful old fashioned storybooks come to life on the screen.  I would call them “Mini Masterpieces of Animation.”

My other favorite Disney animations are part of the GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICAN ANIMATION:

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS  This was Disney’s first and greatest full length animation.  It has beautiful and masterful animation, lovely attention to detail, and memorable songs.

Gustaf Tenggren was a talented illustrator who was on the Disney staff.  He played an important part in the creation of Snow White, and other Disney films.

PINOCCHIO  This was such a stellar piece of animation also.  In my opinion, the BLUE FAIRY herself was one of the most beautiful creations of an animated fairy ever done.  The amazing toy shop with its beautiful details, the wonderful characters, plus the beautiful music, are fantastic.  The song “WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR” became a classic.

BAMBI    This 1942 film was lovely in its sensitive and poignant portrayal of forest animals.  It was adapted from the original story by Felix Salten.  Live animals were even brought into the Disney studio, so that the artists could draw from them, in order to learn how to portray realism correctly.  The sweet animal friends of Bambi the fawn, such as Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk, are tenderly portrayed.

FANTASIA ~ 1940   This was an admirable Disney endeavor.  It wasn’t an immediate success but is now considered a great movie.  In it, great classical music is performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, originally by Leopold Stokowski. (The Maestro even got to shake Micky Mouse’s hand!) In the movie, eight great musical compositions are illustrated with amazingly beautiful animations.  Some notable ones are:

Tchaikovsky’s THE NUTCRACKER SUITE with lots of fairies, dancing mushrooms, etc.

Igor Stravinsky’s THE RITE OF SPRING showing fantastic imagery of the creation of the Earth, and amazing dinosaurs.

Beethoven’s THE PASTORAL SYMPHONY ~ my personal favorite, with adorable flying horses, male and female Centaurs, and other Greek deities.

Paul Dukas: THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (starring Mickey Mouse wearing a Sorcerer’s hat.)

THE JUNGLE BOOK   I feel this was the funniest of the Disney animations.  Some of the animal characters, such as haughty Shere Khan, the Tiger, with the voice of George Sanders, was outright hilarious.

COMEDIES:

I do love comedy film, and very often it is needed to “cheer you up.”  The following comedies are some of my favorites, and I feel they can be viewed often without tiring of them.

GHOSTBUSTERS #1  I think this was one of the funniest fantasy movies ever made.  And the terrific cast of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis were so comical!  It is very imaginative, adventurous romp by our stalwart heroes to rid the town of ghosts.

THE PINK PANTHER movies, starring Peter Sellers is one of my favorite comedy series.  I think Peter made the best Clouseau.  There were several imitators who tried to fill his shoes as the bumbling detective after his untimely passing.  I feel that Steve Martin was one of the best.  I also think Roberto Benigni who portrayed his illegitimate son in “THE SON OF THE PINK PANTHER” was wonderful.  Herbert Lom, who stars as Commissioner Dreyfus, is quite a riot and a very outstanding actor.

PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES  The comedy team of John Candy and Steve Martin were so funny.  They were the “Odd  Couple” of “The Regular Guy” and “The Snob.” It’s such a shame they didn’t make more movies together.  This one, about two chance travelers trying to make it home for Thanksgiving, who are caught in a snow storm, became such a favorite that it is often shown every Thanksgiving Eve.

SUMMER RENTAL  This is yet another favorite comedy with lovable John Candy made before his untimely passing.  What a delightful summer vacation family romp.

EASY MONEY is one of my favorite  Rodney Dangerfield comedies. Rodney became a star rather late in his life, but aren’t you glad he finally made it?  We might never have seen his funny “I get no respect” antics.  He was a talented script writer, also.

BEAN  Rowan Atkinson is a wonderful comedian known for his portrayal of Mr. Bean.  In this movie, he is a bumbling security guard at a London art museum.  He makes a mess of things when he’s put in charge of protecting the famous portrait of Whistler’s Mother, which is sent on loan to be exhibited in a California art museum.  What a catastrophe for the world of art!  Rowan is also great in the BLACK ADDER TV series.

Some of my favorite “old time” comedy stars are:

LAUREL AND HARDY

BUD ABBOT AND LOU COSTELLO   They actually made a delightful fantasy of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK, with Lou playing the part of Jack.

THE MARX BROTHERS

HISTORICAL DRAMAS:

THE WHITE QUEEN (TV series)  Set in the time of the Wars of the Roses in 1464 along with Edward IV of England.  This is a feast for the eyes, with sumptuous period costumes and authentic settings.  Wonderful acting, also.

REIGN (TV Series)  Historic Fantasy Romance about Mary Queen of Scots.  This is a very enjoyable series.  I’m not sure how many more seasons they can extend it for, though.

THE FIRST CHURCHILLS  The life of John Churchill and his wife, Sara, is depicted here.  It is wonderfully acted in beautiful period costumes, taking place in a fascinating period of history.

KOREAN HISTORICAL DRAMAS are literally very addicting.  If you are able to see any that have subtitles, I’m sure you will enjoy them.  The actors are superb, as are the stories, costumes and scenery. They depict great Korean heroes, and their trials and tribulations.  I know it sounds incredible that they each have so many chapters.  You can actually watch them, once a week, over a period of more than a year.  But they are so fascinating to see.  Here are some that I have seen:

BALLET MOVIES:

When I was young, my mother took me to see several live ballets on stage.  It was such a magical experience for me that I’ll always remember, and my love for ballet has remained with me all my life.  These first two ballets that I list here are the first ballets I saw live as a child, which left such a lasting impression on me:

COPPELIA is a beautiful ballet about a mysterious life-size doll, created by Dr. Coppelius.  It takes place in a quaint little village, where the townsfolk join in trying to discover the doll’s mystery. One of my favorite versions that I found on DVD is done by the Australian Ballet company in 1990.   The music by Leo Delibes is delightful, and the dancing, sets and costumes are magnificent.  I personally prefer sets and costumes done in a traditional way like this, rather than done in modern contemporary style.

THE NUTCRACKER is many people’s ballet of choice for the Christmas season.   The well known music is by Tchaikovsky, and features the famous DANCE OF THE SUGARPLUM FAIRY, etc.   One of my favorite versions of this is the 1985 one done by the ROYAL BALLET.

This link lists some of the other Nutcracker productions.

ROMEO AND JULIET is a wonderful ballet set to the music of Prokofiev. The most amazing film version I ever saw of this starred the great dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn as the leads.  They first performed it in 1965.  Margot was much older than Rudolf at the time, but she was revitalized by dancing with him, and they both seemed like young lovers.

CINDERELLA, with music by Prokofiev, is a wonderful fairytale ballet.  My favorite movie version stars Sir Frederick Ashton as the comical stepmother.  He is also the choreographer.  The sets and costumes are very fairytale-like set in a lavish tradition, and the dancing is fantastic.

THE TALES OF BEATRIX POTTER ~ 1992: In this beautiful film, the Royal Ballet presents several tales of Beatrix Potter, with lavish costumes and sets. It must have been extremely difficult for these talented dancers to perform with the elaborate costumes and animal masks they had to wear, which limited their vision. They danced the charming stories about mice, ducks, squirrels, pigs, rabbits, etc.  To me, this production is an unforgettable sheer delight!!  (Jeremy Kingfisher, a frog, does an amazing dance in his watery pond, with fantastic leaps, reminiscent of Gene Kelly’s dance in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN.)

NIJINSKY~ 1980  This is a wonderful film about the rise and fall of one of the greatest dancers of all time ~ Vaslav Nijinsky.  It is based on his personal diaries. It also shows all the difficulty that went into his choreography for Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”, which caused a riot on opening night in 1913.  This film has fantastic dancing and fascinating portrayals of, among others, composer Stravinsky, costume designer Leon Bakst, and Sergei Diaghilev, his patron and the impresario of the Ballets Russes.  This film is a fascinating glimpse into an important turning point in music and dance that would greatly influence modern art to come.

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