It’s all in a name!

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My name is Lee Sinden. Is this a good name? I like it and have never been one of these people that wanted to be known by any other name. My middle name is Andrew, but I have never thought of using this as my first name like some people do. There have been many nicknames along the way, to such an extent that when I returned from university I didn’t recognise my own name when it was called out to me. Does my name have star quality? What would it look like in big flashing lights or in big letters on a huge billboard? Would I be prepared to change my name to enhance my career? I think my family would be upset by this. Can you make it in Hollywood with a boring name? Tom Hanks is a pretty standard name and he has made more money then anyone, so surely if you are talented enough then you can outshine your name. The reason I write about this is because so many stars have changed their names in order to enhance their career, maybe avoid mispronounciation, maybe for political reasons or maybe because the name just didn’t fit.
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Walter Matthau is a good example of a name change and understandably so, one because many couldn’t pronounce it, two because it would take up most of the billboard and three possibly because during the time of his career people were less tolerant of foreigners. He changed his name by shortening it from Walter Matuschanskayasky. Did the world war have any baring on whether a name was accepted? Tony Curtis’ real name was Bernard Schwartz, which sounds pretty German to me, which may have met a lot of resentment for an actor starting out just after the war. This is the same for Fred Astaire, maybe more so as his career coincided with ww 2. His real name was Frederick Austerlitz, which again doesn’t really have an American feel to it.

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Some names are just plain boring “NOW SEE WALTER WILLISON IN HIS NEW ACTION HERO ESCAPADE AS HE SAVES THE WORLD ONCE AGAIN”. It really doesn’t work “Hollywood’s darlings of tinseltown hit the red carpet tonight, Walter Willison and Demetria Gene Guynes were the highlight as they stepped out together to wave to their adoring fans” I’m not sure they would make such an adoring couple with names like that. To be fair their marriage ended in divorce, but I don’t think Bruce Willis would have been quite the action hero and Demi may not have had so much fun caressing that clay pot as Demetria, so the name change was a wise decision. Frances Gumm dazzles in A Star is Born, Seth Ward in his emotionally charged Rebel Without a Cause, Maurice Micklewhite tips you over the edge in new bank heist The Italian Job. None of these seem so appealing under their real names.
I am no macho man and could never pull off a role as an action hero or tough cowboy, but surely I would have a better chance than a guy named Marrion? Sounds like a big girls blouse to me. I would never have said that to his face however because there would be a good chance he would knock my teeth out. One of the toughest, manliest actors around actually had a girl’s name, yes John Wayne’s real name was Marrion. Now remember this because it’s a firm favourite on pub quizzes. I really can’t imagine “The Duke” having quite the same career using that name.
What is the first thing you think of when you are given the name Norma? I might be wrong, but I think of a dear little old lady with a tea cosey on her head, thick glasses, baggy tights, walking with a walking stick with a blue tinge to her hair. Now if she sang me happy birthday and blue me a kiss I wouldn’t be suitably impressed nor would I want her dress to blow up to reveal big granny pants. So when I say Norma was a blonde bombshell, with a curvey body, rich red lips who every man drooled over and every woman envied, you’d be surprised? Well no, I doubt you would because most people know that Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean even if they only know this due to the famous song Candle in the Wind. So it goes to show that there is a lot in a name and it could make the difference between you becoming a major star or one that never quite made it. What would your star name be? Or do you already have star quality? Below are a list of stars who changed their names and went on to make big money and even win an Oscar or two.

Anne Bancroft- Anna Maria Louisa Italiano
Ben Kinsley- Krishna Banji
Bridgette Bardot- Camille Javal
Bruce Willis- Walter Willison
Cyd Charisse- Tula Ellice Finklea
Demi Moore- Demetria Gene Guynes
Diana Does- Diana Fluck
Doris Day- Doris Van Kappelhoff
James Dean- Seth Ward
Judy Garland- Frances Gunn
Michael Caine- Maurice Micklewhite
Whoopi Goldberg- Caryn Johnson
Fred Astair- Frederick Austerlitz
Walter Matthau- Walter Matuschanskayasky
Kirk Douglas- Issur Danielovitch
Jennifer Aniston- Jennifer Anastassakis
Gregory Peck- Eldred Gregory Peck
John Wayne- Marrion Morrison
Tom Cruise- Thomas Mapother
Tony Curtis- Bernard Schwartz
Marilyn Monroe- Norma Jean Mortenson

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Her

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Can a machine ever feel emotion? Can it show emotion and can human beings fall in love with machines? I would say “no” to all these questions. I do believe this is something that the future may bring however, man or woman with machine. Surely life would be far easier because the machine would do what we wanted it to, look how we wanted it to and could be with us as little and as often as we want it to . The film Her aims to answer these questions and by the end most questions are answered.

Theodore is a letter writer who is going through a divorce, which has left him in a melancholy state, totally confused with his emotions. His wife never believed that Theo could ever deal with her or for that matter his own emotions. He enjoyed the fun times, But as soon as things got bad he couldn’t cope. He wanted a relationship where he could just have the fun without the emotions that another person brings. His friends tried to set him up with a lady, leading to a disastrous date where he had a great night with an attractive woman, who offered sex, but the cost was a meaningful relationship. This proved too expensive and Theo ran for the nearest hill top.

This film is all based in the future although it’s not completely different from our lives now. There are no flying cars, laser guns, weird clothing, however there is slightly more advanced technology, which focus’ on interaction. A new operating system creates a person designed by you that can organise your life from simple things like organising meetings, emails, meeting up with friends and reading your work. This system has a personality, is able to show emotions such as laughter, happiness, sadness and even love. They can be with you whenever you want through an earpiece and messages shown through a little handheld screen. This seems to be the perfect woman for Theo without any complications. They can even have sex although not in the conventional physical way and this is part of the battle. The computer system “feels” inadequate because they have no physical body. It battles with the fact that it cannot hug or kiss the person they love. Is it real though? A machine cannot feel these emotions? They cannot truly be sad or happy or fall in love? Can the human truly be happy with a machine? This is a beautiful film that explores all these questions and by the end tries to give the answers. What is good is that the film still leaves you with questions at the end? I really enjoy films that leave you thinking.
A must watch 8/10

HER

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The Baftas

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THE BAFTAS

Best film
12 Years a Slave- winner
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Philomena

Outstanding British film
Gravity-winner
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Philomena
Rush
Saving Mr Banks

The Selfish Giant

Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)- winner
Christian Bale (American Hustle)
Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)

Actress
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)-winner
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Judi Dench (Philomena)
Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks)

Supporting actor
Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)- winner
Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra)
Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)

Supporting actress
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)- winner
Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)

Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

Oprah Winfrey (The Butler)

Director
Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)-winner
Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips)
Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
David O Russell (American Hustle)
Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Adapted screenplay
Philomena-winner
12 Years a Slave
Behind the Candelabra
Captain Phillips
The Wolf of Wall Street

Animated film
Frozen-winner
Despicable Me 2
Monsters University

Documentary
The Act of Killing-winner
The Armstrong Lie
Blackfish
Tim’s Vermeer
We Steal Secrets

Foreign film
The Great Beauty-winner
The Act of Killing
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Metro Manila
Wadjda

Cinematography
Gravity-winner
12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
Nebraska

Costume design
The Great Gatsby-winner
American Hustle
Behind the Candelabra
The Invisible Woman
Saving Mr Banks

Editing
Rush-winner
12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Wolf of Wall Street

Make-up and hair
American Hustle-winner
Behind the Candelabra
The Butler
The Great Gatsby
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Music
Gravity-winner
12 Years a Slave
The Book Thief
Captain Phillips

Saving Mr Banks

Sound
Gravity-winner
All is Lost
Captain Phillips
Inside Llewyn Davis
Rush

Visual effects
Gravity-winner
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
Pacific Rim
Star Trek Into Darkness

It was a great night at the Baftas and I must confess that I quite often look forward to these awards more than the Oscars. Stephen Fry was once again on top form with his light hearted banter, but still sincere love of film and its subject. This year in particular needed sincerity due to the powerful messages brought together by the film’s nominated. I was disappointed and surprised by Gravity’ s dominance and hope this is not the same at the Oscars. The fact that it won best British film was quite mystifying! I know the film qualified, but surely there were pure British films that could have been nominated? Maybe this shows the weakness of the British film industry? I would have placed About Time in that category. I have never hidden the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Gravity and believe that it only gets near an award because of the visual display rather than its content. This probably increases my disappointment.
Film Review Gravity
In my opinion 12 years a slave should have stolen the show winning best actor, best supporting actress, best film, best director and best cinematography. I was disappointed that it didn’t, but absolutely mortified that Lupita did not win best supporting actress. Her performance in 12 years a slave was absolutely outstanding, especially for a young actress. I am a big fan of Jennifer Lawrence, but on this occasion I think the judges got it horribly wrong. This sort of clouded over a great awards ceremony with some of the best films seen for a long time. I was extremely happy that 12 years took the best film and deservedly so and that Chiwetel Ejiofor took best actor, especially as I think he may come a close second at the Oscars. I think Matthew McConaughey will take the Oscar. He was not nominated for a bafta nor was Dallas Buyers Club, which was no doubt due to its late release in Britain, otherwise I think Matthew would have a Bafta too. Gravity is a visual feast, but I think the cinematography on 12 years a slave is beautiful, thought provoking and at some points makes you feel uncomfortable as it lingers on some of the vile acts taking place. I have never experienced this watching a film before.

Gravity should definitely not have gone home empty handed and i think it’s visual art was absolutely stunning and for this it should receive every credit. I always think that visual effects add to a film, but do not make it. If the visual effects are taken away and you are left with an uninteresting script then what’s the point? This being said Sandra Bullock gives a good performance although as I have said before, not on a par with Tom Hanks in Castaway. Gravity also took awards for sound and music another contentious decision I believe in regard to the music award. I absolutely loved the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby and have the CD at home. I love how Baz Lurhman mixed modern day rnb with 20’s jazz and Charleston. I think he is a real artist when it comes to the music for his films, Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge other great examples of his musical imagination. The Great Gatsby should have taken this award.

The best supporting actor award went to Barkhad Abdhi, which is an amazing story in itself. If he can craft out a career then maybe we will see a film about his life in years to come. What i loved the most was the Joy on Tom Hanks’ face as he heard his co-stars name being read out. It was clear that Tom Hanks had provided a lot of support and encouragement to the inexperienced actor, which gave him the confidence to perform so well. I think the Oscar will be out of reach, but this is still a remarkable rags to riches story.
Cate Blanchett won best actress and rightly so. I enjoyed her performance in Blue Jasmine although the film wasn’t my favourite. She really did take hold of you and suck you into her emotional breakdown. I felt sorrow and pity for someone who had lived this fairy tale for so long and had lost it all. The whole whole cast performed their roles brilliantly with great depth, portraying their every weakness and pitfall. I loved the performances although the storyline wasn’t the most imaginative, but I believe the aim of the film was to gain a close relationship with each character and share their story.

This year has been amazing for film and I believe most categories could be extended to really show how good a year it has been, but then we could quite easily reach into the 20’s, making for a very long night. My favourite films have been American Hustle, 12 years a slave, Trance, The Great Gatsby, The Butler, August:Osage County, About Time, Prisoners and I am still looking forward to Her and Dallas Buyers Club. I do not believe that this year’s Baftas are a clue to the Oscar winners. I believe the Oscars will put right the wrongs the Baftas created, at least I hope they will.