“(Little) Stars in Their Eyes”: How Hollywood Makes and Breaks its Child Actors

People view child actors the same way that girls treat their Barbie dolls” (Mara Wilson, former child actress, Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)).” A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark” (a Chinese proverb). “Childhood experiences are very important to lifelong outcomes… (Andrew S. Garner, MD).

We all know past childhood or teenage horrors/troubles of such celebrities as Judy Garland, Macaulay Culkin, River Phoenix or Lindsay Lohan. We also know the examples of successful transitions from child actors to adult stars, such as the Harry Potter cast. The point is that the cinema industry has learnt much about the treatment of child actors, but it has also done so at a considerable cost, including in terms of human lives. In this post, I would like to highlight three child actors (some alive and some already dead) who were essentially let down by Hollywood, and their cases were really such that more effort and support should have been given to see these child actors’ transition to adult actors or adults with other careers – especially since so much was done by Hollywood to elevate them to their “star” status from their very young ages. Studios often became the children’s second home in the examples below, and since the children relied so much on that early expectation of praise and success (and money was made out of them), these children and then teenagers had to be helped later to deal with their expected career declines. There are those who blame the pushy parents, and I am not saying that personal factors or choices did not play a role in the cases below, but I also believe that no one should have forgotten that the actors below were also mere children, much more sensitive to their environment, praise and criticism than adults, and, thus, later, needing much more support and reassurance in their careers. Continue reading ““(Little) Stars in Their Eyes”: How Hollywood Makes and Breaks its Child Actors”

“Little Joe” Review

little joe posterLittle Joe (2019)

Little Joe is a British/Austrian/German-produced film that was selected to compete at the Cannes Film Festival 2019. In this story, Alice Woodard (Emily Beecham) works at a special laboratory that produces genetically-modified flowers for the public market. Alice and her team have managed to produce one type of a plant that requires much attention from their owners, but, in return, is alleged to “make them happy”. The story takes a disturbing turn when Alice takes one of those new plants (flowers) home, gifts it to her son, Joe, and begins to worry that the pollen that the new flower produces may be infecting people in a sinister way. Probably. If that sounds a bit random and confusing, it is because it is, and the film never makes anything in this story compelling or clearer. Though, at first, the idea behind Little Joe sounds intriguing and the memorable production design does leave an impression, overall, Little Joe is nothing more than a very preposterous, excruciatingly dull and badly-acted picture that, in comparison, will make any episode of a British series EastEnders an immediate Oscar winner.  Continue reading ““Little Joe” Review”

Lost in Translation: Film Titles Gone Astray

Movie titles are important for marketing, and the correct translation of a movie title, taking into account cultural sensitivity, contributes to making that movie a success. It is more surprising, therefore, that some English-language titles are being translated in such a way that leads to all sorts of problems, and at best, may sound very funny and cause confusion. Below, I will present some of those titles, focusing on those titles translated for the benefit of Russian, French and Spanish-speaking audiences.  

Russian Silver Lining Poster

  1. Silver Linings Playbook – Russian Translation: Мой парень – псих – literal meaning: My boyfriend – a loony. 

This has to be one of the most ridiculous title translations. There is nothing subtle about the Russian title of this film, and the title suggests a cheap comedy flick, rather than a more sophisticated movie which is refreshing, layered and solidly acted.

    2. Limitless – Russian Translation: Области тьмы – literal meaning: Zones of darkness.

Not much thought was spent considering this title translation. “The Dark Fields“, the US film’s working title and the original title of the book the film is based upon, was translated, but it still did not make a lot of sense. The title emphasis should have been on the super-powers of the hero, but, instead, the title suggests this is either some UFO-abduction or a mysterious crop circles’ story.  

Continue reading “Lost in Translation: Film Titles Gone Astray”

Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films)

unpopular-opinionfilm-tagRichard at The Humpo Show has tagged me to get involved in this Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films edition), and I thought it would be great fun since I have to pick three films generally loved by most people, but which I find undeserving of all the hype and explain my choices. Thanks again, Richard!

In particular, the rules are as follows:

  1. Pick three movies which most people like, except you;
  2. Tag a minimum of five (or more) other people;
  3. Thank the person who has tagged you.

So, without further ado, I pick American Beauty (1999), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Be warned, spoilers ahead

4e5d899fb6d6955af67044f6ced65cecI. American Beauty (1999)

IMDb score: 8.4; Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%. 

I am a fan of Sam Mendes (see “Revolutionary Road(2008) and “Skyfall(2012)), but “American Beauty” is just far from being a great film everyone thinks it is. The film is just a pretentious and self-indulgent portrayal of middle-class family life in the suburban USA. It may appeal to the audience because of its strong performances, alluring direction and cinematography, and its beautiful soundtrack, but its self-conscious, manipulative play with the its melodramatic narrative leaves much to be desired, and all of its characters are unlikable. Through the narrative of our already dead protagonist, middle-aged Lester, “American Beauty” looks at the example of a middle-class suburban life cynically, romanticising the exploitation and commodification of female bodies, the maniac and perverted pursuit of underage girls, and the use of drugs, among other things. The film thinks Lester, played by Kevin Spacey, is another “Great Gatsby”, who died being misunderstood by everyone and because of some unfortunate series of events. In fact, the film glorifies a protagonist that is abusive and manipulative, and that is only too happy to gain and exploit the attention of young girls to satisfy his own sexual needs (Lester Burnham is an anagram of “Humbert learns” (from Nabokov’s controversial “Lolita”). Though some of its scenes are entertaining, the film’s overall self-importance is just laughable, and the messages its sends are, if not shocking, then definitely very tasteless.
Continue reading “Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films)”