Category Archives: AFI Movie Club

Today’s AFI Movie Club Selection: LEGALLY BLONDE

Posted by Larry Gleeson                                                           January 25, 2021

The comedy LEGALLY BLONDE, starring the effervescent Reese Witherspoon, brought its bend and snap to the big screen in 2001, following underestimated law student Elle Woods whose blonde ambition leads her from Bel Air to the hallowed halls of Harvard.

Watch and listen as Chloe Grace Moretz bubbles with good vibrations announcing today’s AFI Movie Club selection, LEGALLY BLONDE:

Find ways to watch Legally Blonde here.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

  • Released in 2001, LEGALLY BLONDE champions the trials of a law student who comes from a wealthy family and is often underestimated due to her “blonde ambition.” What are some of the qualities in Elle’s character that cause you to feel compassion for her journey even though she comes from a privileged background?
  • Describe Elle’s transformation from being motivated by the men in her life to becoming her own catalyst for intellectual development.
  • The Bechdel Test famously measures the number of representation women has onscreen by asking three questions: Does the film feature two women or more that have names; do the women speak to each other; and do they discuss something other than a man? Does LEGALLY BLONDE pass this test? Describe some scenes that uphold feminist values and consider other plot points that may curtail the representation of empowerment.
  • How does LEGALLY BLONDE defy stereotypes, and how does it depict stereotypes? What presumptions did you bring to this movie about “blondes” and do you think the bias against women like Elle is the same as prejudice? Does it do a disservice to deep-rooted discrimination to compare it with Elle’s challenges?
  • LEGALLY BLONDE depicts a scene of sexual harassment, in which Elle’s superior makes a pass at her and suggests that her accepting his advances will improve her career. What is Elle’s response to this unethical behavior, and what gives her hope to continue?
  • LEGALLY BLONDE refers to a famous quote by Aristotle: “The law is the reason, free from passion.” What does this mean in regard to Elle’s story, and how does the film challenge this adage?
  • How would you rate LEGALLY BLONDE?

Director Robert Luketic on the making of LEGALLY BLONDE:

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS: TRIVIA

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE marked Robert Luketic’s feature film directorial debut. He went on to direct other female-fronted comedies written by women including MONSTER-IN-LAW (2005) and THE UGLY TRUTH (2009).

DID YOU KNOW? Based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Amanda Brown, LEGALLY BLONDE told the story of her personal experiences while attending Stanford University’s law school. Film producer Marc Platt was also involved with developing Brown’s manuscript, which eventually moved the setting to Harvard University.

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE was the second teaming of writing partners Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith. They previously adapted another literary source—William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”for the 1999 comedy 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU.

DID YOU KNOW? A surprise box-office success, LEGALLY BLONDE was produced for $18 million and grossed nearly eight times that amount.

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE spawned various sequels and spinoffs, including two feature films to date and a musical that had its San Francisco premiere in 2007. A third movie has been announced for release in 2022.

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE was honored with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy. Reese Witherspoon won the award for Best Actress—Musical or Comedy. She was also the recipient of the MTV Movie Award for Best Actress.

 

 

Today’s AFI Movie Club Selection: IN THE BEDROOM

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A 2001 AFI AWARDS honoree, IN THE BEDROOM marked the feature directorial debut of AFI Conservatory alum Todd Field (AFI Class of 1992) and was shot by Antonio Calvache (AFI Class of 1992). 

The film’s title refers to the inner cage within a lobster trap, which is referred to as “the bedroom” and is intended to hold only two lobsters. When there are more than two lobsters, it is said that there is “trouble in the bedroom.”Based on the short story “Killings” by Andre Dubus and The Wyeths by N.C. Wyeth, The film centers on the inner dynamics of a family in transition.

Matt Fowler (Wilkinson) is a doctor practicing in Maine and is married to Ruth Fowler (Spacek), a music teacher. Their son Frank (Stahl) is involved in a love affair with an older single mother, Natalie Strout (Tomei). As the beauty of Maine’s brief and fleeting summer comes to an end, these characters find themselves in the midst of an unimaginable tragedy. (Wiki)

In the Bedroom was nominated by AFI in the following categories: Movie of the Year, Actor of the Year—Male—Movies (Wilkinson), Director of the Year (Field) and Screenwriter of the Year (Festinger and Field). The film received Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress for Spacek and Best Supporting Actress for Marisa Tomei. The film received the following Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Tom Wilkinson, Best Actress, Spacek and Best Supporting Actress, Tomei.

Upon its limited release in Nov 2001, the picture garnered further awards, including the Best Film Prize from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Spacek and Wilkinson were named Best Actress and Best Actor by the New York Film Critics Circle. Spacek was also selected by AFI as Actor of the Year—Female—Movies.

The film’s title refers to the inner cage within a lobster trap, which is referred to as “the bedroom” and is intended to hold only two lobsters. When there are more than two lobsters, it is said that there is “trouble in the bedroom.”

Watch director and AFI Conservatory alum Todd Field (AFI Class of 1992) talk about the film.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Conversation Starters

  • After the tragic loss of their son, the Fowlers also lose their ability to communicate, and this culminates in a gesture of violent retribution. Describe the transformation of their marital relationship and consider why it leads to bloodshed.
  • How do the characters’ livelihoods reflect and contradict their actual identities? How does social class and economic disparity inform their personalities, and how are these issues are depicted in the movie?
  • IN THE BEDROOM refers to the inner cage of a lobster trap, where the lobsters grow hostile if there are more than two in the enclosure. How does this metaphor play out in the movie? 
  • In his Guardian review of IN THE BEDROOM, David Lodge called the film a “perfect allegory of September 11 and its aftermath,” even though production was completed before the horrific events of 9/11 occurred. He noted that it “tapped into deep collective emotions” as it was released in November 2001 when America was still mourning. How does IN THE BEDROOM reflect the human impulses of rage, grief, and the inability to make sense of tragedy that leads to revenge? Do you see parallels to America’s response to 9/11?
  • IN THE BEDROOM depicts extreme domestic violence and its tragic impact on a family coping with grief. When the legal system seems to fail them, the Fowlers take the law into their own hands. Do you think the ending was justified? Does this movie condone violence?
  • How would you rate IN THE BEDROOM?

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

Movie Trivia

DID YOU KNOW? IN THE BEDROOM’s title refers to the inner cage of a lobster trap, which is called “the bedroom,” and is intended only to hold two lobsters. 

DID YOU KNOW? IN THE BEDROOM marked the feature film directorial debut of AFI alum Todd Field, who also co-wrote the screenplay based on the short story “Killings” by Andre Dubus. Dubus died a year before production began, and Field dedicated the film to him in an onscreen credit. Field became interested in Dubus’ work while he was Directing Fellow at AFI.

DID YOU KNOW? Shot on location in the cities of Rockland and Camden, ME, several scenes from IN THE BEDROOM were filmed at Todd Field’s family cabin, and some of his son’s T-Ball teammates were used as background actors.

DID YOU KNOW? Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, IN THE BEDROOM brought actors Sissy Spacek and Tim Wilkinson a joint Special Jury Prize. The film went on to be honored with an AFI AWARD as one of the best movies of the year.

DID YOU KNOW?Made for $1.7 million, IN THE BEDROOM was a surprise box-office success, earning more than $43 million in its theatrical release.

DID YOU KNOW? IN THE BEDROOM was honored with fiveOscarÒ nominations – including Best Actor (Tom Wilkinson), Best Actress (Sissy Spacek), Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei), Best Writing and Best Picture. This marked AFI alum Todd Field’s first two Oscar® nominations.

(Sourced from AFI News)

AFI Movie Club : ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE – a modern romantic comedy starring Ali Wong and Randall Park

This was such an unexpected treat. I was quite familiar with Randall Park’s work – Ali Wong’s not so much. After watching ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE, a modern romantic comedy with an hysterical cameo by Keanu Reeves as his own alter ego, I became very familiar with Wong’s body of work – very sharp and poignant.

Here’s what American Film Institute has to say:

In addition to vast and varied roles on film and television – appearing in character and as herself – ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE co-writer, producer and star Ali Wong is also an acclaimed stand-up comedian, known for her two Netflix stand-up specials, BABY COBRA and HARD KNOCK WIFE.

ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE is currently streaming on Netflix and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Wong and Park play off each other so well…and then there’s Reeves’ performance to not miss.

But wait there’s more……

According to Ali Wong, the casting of Keanu Reeves was aspirational, though she didn’t think that the production would be able to secure a cameo by the A-list star. The production sent him the script – and were shocked when Reeves agreed to meet with Wong and director Nahnatchka Khan. At the meeting, he said that he was a fan of Wong’s stand-up special BABY COBRA.

DID YOU KNOW? Randall Park previously starred on FRESH OFF THE BOAT, a groundbreaking ABC sitcom developed from the autobiography of celebrity chef Eddie Huang. The series was created and developed for television by ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE director Nahnatchka Khan – and ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE co-writer, producer and star Ali Wong has served as a story editor and writer. 

DID YOU KNOW? ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE co-stars Ali Wong and Randall Park both provided voices for THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE in 2017. 

DID YOU KNOW? According to Ali Wong, the casting of Keanu Reeves was aspirational, though she didn’t think that the production would be able to secure a cameo by the A-list star. The production sent him the script – and were shocked when Reeves agreed to meet with Wong and director Nahnatchka Khan. At the meeting, he said that he was a fan of Wong’s stand-up special BABY COBRA. 

DID YOU KNOW? AFI Conservatory graduate and ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE cinematographer, Tim Suhrstedt, had previously worked with Keanu Reeves on the star’s 1989 breakout hit, BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, three decades prior to reuniting on ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE. 

DID YOU KNOW? In ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE, Randall Park’s character performs in the hip-hop band, Hello Peril – which was inspired by Park’s own real-life musical experience rapping in a group called Ill Again.

Stay tuned for more!

Today’s AFI Movie Club Film: A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (1992)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Screen Shot 2020-07-04 at 10.36.19 AM

A League of Their Own comes to bat with an all-star lineup that includes Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and AFI Life Achievement Award Recipient Tom Hanks – who taught us all that “There’s no crying in baseball!” –one of AFI’s greatest movie quotes in cinematic history.

A beautiful film and heart-warming story about a difficult time in American history. Professional baseball has been canceled due to World War II. To help continue the traditions of America’s past time, a women’s professional league is formed to help fill the gaping hole by the overseas war effort. Highly entertaining! Check it out. But before you do listen to director Penny Marshall has to say about A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN in this exclusive AFI Archive video:

Interesting Facts

  • Before any actress read for a part in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, she had to take a baseball test. Each actress either had to be good at baseball or trainable in order to even audition. Roughly 2,000 actresses tested on a field at USC – including director Penny Marshall’s own daughter, Tracy Reiner.
  • Actual players of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League can be seen in the final scenes of the movie – both at the baseball field and at the Hall of Fame.Former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player Dolores “Pickles” Dries taught Rosie O’Donnell how to throw two baseballs at once during filming. Director Penny Marshall added the trick throw into the movie.
  • Rosie O’Donnell originally read for the part of Marla Hooch. After director Penny cast Megan Cavanagh in the part, Marshall had the part of Doris Murphy changed to better fit O’Donnell. Marshall thought she was funny, a good actress and a very good ball player so she made sure to find a place for her in the movie.
  • Director Penny Marshall had the teams play real baseball games with cameras rolling to get extra footage of game play.
  • A short-lived sitcom based on A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN aired in 1993. Tom Hanks and Penny Marshall both directed episodes of the series.
  • A community field in Huntingburg, IN, was enlarged and rebuilt to stand in for the Rockford Peaches’ home field. Construction was done to code so the structure could remain in use after filming, and the revamped stadium was named League Stadium in honor of the production.
  • Over $10 million was spent in Indiana during the production of the movie – becoming one of the greatest economic impacts of any film produced in Indiana.
  • The role of Ernie Capadino was specifically written with Jon Lovitz in mind.
  • During the barn scene in which Jon Lovitz meets Geena Davis and Lori Petty, production had to be temporarily paused because a cow in the background was giving birth. The calf was named after director Penny Marshall.
  • Wrigley Field doubles as the fictional Harvey Field in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. The character “Walter Harvey” is based on chewing-gum tycoon P. K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise and organized the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1943.
  • The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

Discussion Questions

-Why do you think Dottie is reluctant to attend the opening of the Hall of Fame at the beginning of the film?

-What was the political climate like in the U.S. that led to the creation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League? How did World War II influence the experience of American women?

-Why was it so difficult for society to accept women playing baseball?

-Describe the sisterly dynamic between Dottie and Kit. What were their major points of conflict?

-What makes A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN important in today’s society even after 25 years?

-Why was Doris willing to tear up the photo of her boyfriend and throw it out the bus window?

-Which player in the movie had your favorite nickname?

-What makes the line “There’s no crying in baseball!” so iconic that it is still quoted today?

– What did the league managers expect from their female players, in terms of traditional feminine qualities, appearance and behavior? Why was this expected of them as athletes?

-Why was it important for director Penny Marshall to include the scene of the African American woman throwing the baseball back to the players on the field?

-Did Dottie drop the ball on purpose at the end of the film? If she did, what would that signify about her relationship with her sister Kit?

-Why was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League short-lived? Why does a women’s baseball league not exist today?

-How would you rate A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN?

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.

AFI MOVIE CLUB

(Source: AFI News Release)

 

Today’s AFI Movie Club film: ALI (2001)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Today I’m pleased to share the AFI Movie Club selection, Ali, starring Will Smith in the title role and featuring AFI Trustee Jada Pinkett Smith as Sonji Roi. Will and Jada have been key supporters of AFI through the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation – with an emphasis on supporting and promoting female and nonbinary filmmakers through grants to AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women and Young Women in Film.

Growing up I was exposed to “The Mouth” Howard Cosell and a number of larger than life sporting personalities including Broadway Joe Namath, Evil Knievel, and the Harlem Globetrotters, to name just a few. But the greatest by name was Muhammad Ali. His banters with Cosell were must-see viewings as were his legendary boxing matches. Being the youngest of seven brothers and two sisters, I was all in when called to the television for an Ali match whether with Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Jerry Quarry, or Mr. Cosell.

One year, our mom took a job that required a lot of traveling. And. as luck would have it, while she was walking through Chicago-O’Hare International Airport, so was Muhammad Ali. Mom didn’t know any strangers and was well familiar with Ali. So, as moms do, she asked The Champ for an autograph for her seven boys at home who were his biggest fans. Muhammad agreed but only if Mom accompanied him across the terminal. Mom did and The Champ rewarded her with an autograph repeated seven times on a piece of paper.  What does Mohammad Ali mean to you?

Here’s Screenwriter Randy McKinnon, AFI Class of 2017,  introducing the film for AFI and Director Micheal Mann in an exclusive AFI archive on making Ali:

HOW TO WATCH ALI NOW

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends, and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

-What does Muhammad Ali mean to you?

-What made Muhammad Ali one of the most iconic boxers in history?

-Muhammad Ali lost his title, lost his boxing license and almost went to jail because of his principles. Do you think his beliefs would be received differently today?

-What is the significance of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell’s relationship?

-How did Will Smith’s extensive preparation enhance his performance in the film?

-Why does the film ALI continue to resonate nearly 20 years after it was released?

-How would you rate ALI?

INTERESTING FACTS

Muhammad Ali’s boxing trainer Angelo Dundee served as a boxing technical advisor during the filming of the movie.

To become Howard Cosell in the movie, Jon Voight has said that he had to undergo six hours of makeup, often beginning at 3 a.m. Voight said if any of the prosthetics were put on incorrectly, it could take up to an hour to fix.

The film also features a number of professional boxers, including Michael Bentt as Sonny Liston, James Toney as Joe Frazier and Charles Shufford as George Foreman.

To make the fight sequences look as realistic as possible, the production used both high-definition and low-resolution VHS cameras and simultaneously shot both the left and right sides of the action.

Will Smith worked with a dialect coach and went through Islamic studies to fully immerse himself into the character of Muhammad Ali.

According to Will Smith, when learning to fight like Ali for the role, he met with a neurobiologist to explain the workings of the human brain to better recreate the motion of the legendary boxer. The neurobiologist had Smith watch different moves of Ali’s on a loop in a dark room for hours at a time so that each move would burn neuro passages in Smith’s brain.

With a year of preparation for the role, Will Smith added 35 pounds of muscle through workouts and weight training.

Will Smith also went to boxing school for the role. He spent six months learning to become a fighter and then six months specifically learning to fight like Muhammad Ali.

Originally, Will Smith did not want to take on the role of Muhammad Ali because he was concerned about not doing justice to the boxing legend. Muhammad Ali and his family even asked Smith to take the part, but the star was not convinced until director Michael Mann laid out a plan on how to tell the story and how to prepare Smith for the part.

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.

AFI MOVIE CLUB

(Source: AFI News Release)

 

 

 

Today’s AFI Movie Club Film: MILK

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A riveting portrayal from Sean Penn celebrating the life and legacy of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California. The film was honored with an AFI AWARD in 2008, recognizing it as one of the 10 outstanding films deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image.

Interesting Facts

MILK was shot on location in San Francisco, utilizing city hall and various locations in the Castro District, including recreating Milk’s Castro Camera shop.

Thousands of unpaid extras participated in the candlelight march scene to honor Harvey Milk.

The “Twinkie defense” was coined by Dan White’s lawyers who argued that his consumption of massive amounts of junk food prior to the shootings contributed to his mental instability. White was subsequently convicted of voluntary manslaughter, rather than first-degree murder, which led to the “White Night riots” across San Francisco as well as the state of California abolishing the diminished capacity criminal defense.

Some of Sean Penn‘s wardrobe in the film was borrowed from Gilbert Baker, a friend of the real Harvey Milk’s. Baker is also famous for being the creator of the Rainbow Flag, the symbol of the LGBTQ+ community.

MILK won two Academy Awards®. Sean Penn won Best Actor and Dustin Lance Black won Best Original Screenplay.

MILK was intentionally released two weeks before the state of California voted on Proposition 8, a referendum to overturn the legality of gay marriage. California passed the proposition, although it has since been overturned.

The real Harvey Milk’s last public appearance was attending the San Francisco Opera performance of Puccini’s opera “Tosca” on November 25, 1978 – two days before he was shot and killed. Not only is this event depicted in MILK, but it inspired the filmmakers to use “Tosca” for all the operatic music heard throughout the film.

Sean Penn’s cosmetic transformation in MILK included a prosthetic nose and teeth, contact lenses, and a redesigned hairline. His makeup was done by Oscar®-winner Stephan Dupuis.

Warner Brothers was developing another project about Harvey Milk called “The Mayor of Castro Street,” which was ultimately never made? Milk associate Cleve Jones noted that Van Sant was originally considered for the Castro project 18 years earlier.

Matt Damon was originally cast for the role of Dan White but had to back out due to scheduling conflicts. The part was played by Josh Brolin in the final film.

When Gus Van Sant was planning a biopic of Harvey Milk in the early ‘90s, he offered the part of Cleve Jones to River Phoenix, who he had just worked with on MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO. Van Sant had wanted Tom Cruise to play Dan White.

Several associates of the real Harvey Milk appear in small roles in the film, including speechwriter and adviser Frank Robinson, politician Tom Ammiano, fellow board supervisor Carol Ruth Silver and LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones.

In the credits of MILK, Gus Van Sant acknowledges director Rob Epstein and his Academy Award®-winning 1984 documentary, THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK, from which he used the footage.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends, and others like you who love movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

-Did you know the story of Harvey Milk prior to seeing the film? If so, what did you think of Sean Penn’s performance and his transformation into the gay rights icon? 

-What was the Briggs initiative and how did Harvey Milk organize and fight against it? 

-What cinematic devices did director Gus Van Sant use in the film? Specifically, what did you think of him utilizing tape recordings made by Harvey Milk? 

-Harvey Milk is depicted as looking for allies outside the gay male community. How does he represent the qualities of an intersectional activist? What makes a good community organizer and coalition builder? 

-What is the significance of the Castro district for the LGBTQ community? Why is it important that the film was actually shot there? 

-Harvey is confronted with threats to his life throughout the film. Why do you think he persisted? 

-How were LGBTQ youth inspired by the appointment of Harvey Milk to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors? Why is it so important to have members of the LGBTQ community be visible and take part in politics? 

-Harvey Milk believed in the transformative power of “coming out of the closet” in terms of transparency furthering LGBTQ rights. Do you think “coming out” is important or do you think labels are not essential in modern culture? 

-Why do you think Dan White feared Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone? What was your reaction to the verdict and the “Twinkie Defense”? 

-How has the LGBTQ community made strides in terms of gaining rights and protections in the U.S.? 

-Anita Bryant and John Briggs harnessed religion in their anti-gay campaigns. How are religions diverse and how can we reconcile spirituality with supporting civil rights for the LGBTQ community? 

-How would you rate MILK? 

 

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.

AFI MOVIE CLUB

(Source: AFI News Release)

 

Today’s AFI Movie Club selection: SELMA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

I can’t imagine a more timely film than today’s AFI Movie Club selection, Selma.

Selma, covers a three-month period surrounding the events of the peaceful Civil Rights protest march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, that led to United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Poignantly, Ava DuVernay’s visionary film invited audiences “to rise above the breathless shame of our nation’s past and come together as one as we look to the future.” ​SELMA was honored with an AFI AWARD in 2014.

Here’s an exclusive AFI Archive video, watch Ava DuVernay talk about working on SELMA.

Interesting Facts

Many directors were involved with the project over the years including Michael Mann (with whom director Ava DuVernay worked as a publicist), Stephen Frears, Paul Haggis, Spike Lee and Lee Daniels. Ava DuVernay ultimately directed the picture, and it went on to earn an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture.

Ava DuVernay reworked the script for SELMA, emphasizing King and the female characters over President Lyndon B. Johnson’s point of view.

When Ava DuVernay signed on to direct Selma, she was informed that she would not be able to use the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s original speeches because his estate had already given permission to Steven Spielberg for an upcoming, untitled film. Undeterred, DuVernay wrote new speeches that embodied King’s spirit herself, although she is not credited onscreen as a writer.

SELMA is based on a real-life movement that helped lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The title of the film refers to the 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery that concluded on March 25,1965, with a total of 25,000 demonstrators.

SELMA is the first feature film on Martin Luther King Jr. While his life has been captured on the small screen on several occasions, including 1978’s KING and 2001’s BOYCOTT, and in a number of documentaries, it wasn’t until 2014 that his story was brought to the big screen by Ava DuVernay.

The actor portraying Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film – David Oyelowo – is British. The historical elements of the film were not a part of his own direct cultural upbringing, but he has stated that his distance helped him approach King as a man rather than just an icon.

Star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay previously teamed up for MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. The film earned DuVernay the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival, making her the first African American woman to receive the honor.

SELMA was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Picture and won the Oscar® for Best Original Song for “Glory” performed by John Legend and Common.

Carmen Ejogo not only played Coretta Scott King in SELMA but also in the 2001 TV movie BOYCOTT.

All the extras in the bridge scene were actually from Selma, Alabama. This was important to director Ava DuVernay in terms of the authenticity of the story.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

-What is the significance of the film being titled SELMA, as opposed to naming it after Martin Luther King, Jr.? Why do you think the filmmakers made this creative choice? 

-How did SELMA show an individual securing major social and political reform? 

-Why do you think disenfranchised citizens would risk their lives to ensure the right to vote? 

Oprah Winfrey was a producer on the film and also portrayed civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper. Can you name some of the other real-life civil rights leaders who were included in the film? 

-Initially, there was very little focus on Coretta Scott King and the women activists in the script. Why is it important that DuVernay reframed the story to include them? Why have women often not been considered as part of the historical narrative? 

-How was Lyndon B. Johnson portrayed in the film? Do you agree with his depiction? 

-Several attempts have been made to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge because it was named after a Confederate brigadier general, but none have been successful so far. The latest petition is to name it after U.S. Representative John Lewis. Do you think the bridge should be renamed? Who would you name it after? 

-Because the filmmakers of SELMA did not have the rights to use King’s speeches, Ava DuVernay had to interpret his words and adapt their spirit for the film. Do you think the film captured the importance he played in a specific moment in American history? 

-How would you rate SELMA? 

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.

AFI MOVIE CLUB

(Source: AFI News Release)

 

 

“IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT” TODAY’S AFI MOVIE CLUB FILM

Posted by Larry Gleeson

I had seen The Thin Man (1934) at the Fabulous Fox in St. Louis on Classic Film Monday. Organist Stan Khan came up playing classic tunes on the stage lift as it ascended before the film’s screening. Years later I had enrolled in a Film Genres film studies class with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Director Roger Durling as the instructor. As Professor Durling lectured on It Happened One Night (at this point I hadn’t seen the film), I couldn’t believe this film won the Oscar for Best Picture over my beloved Thin Man. Mind you I hadn’t seen It Happened One Night, yet. Needless to say, I saw It Happened One Night and I understood. The film is the first of only three films to ever win Oscars® in the five major categories – Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The other two members of this exclusive club are ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, both fixtures on AFI’s lists of the greatest American films. 

It Happened One Night appears on four of AFI’s lists of the greatest America films – including #8 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs, which chronicles the funniest films ever to grace the silver screen.

Here’s an exclusive clip from the AFI Archive of Cameron Crowe talking about IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.

Interesting Facts

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert performed a radio version of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT in 1939. The host for the radio broadcast was iconic film director Cecil B. DeMille. 

The working title for IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT was “Night Bus” – and it was to have starred Robert Montgomery, who was Frank Capra’s original choice for the part of Peter Warne. 

Director Frank Capra sought Myrna Loy, Margaret Sullavan, Miriam Hopkins and Constance Bennett for the role of Ellie Andrews before selecting Claudette Colbert.  

In an interview filmed for the 1975 feature BUGS BUNNY SUPERSTAR, Warner Bros. animation director Bob Clampett states that he based Bugs Bunny’s characteristic carrot-munching technique on the scene in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT in which Gable chomps on a carrot.   

AFI Trustee Steven Spielberg anonymously purchased Clark Gable’s Oscar® statuette for $607,500 to protect it from commercial exploitation. He donated it back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – saying that there was “no better sanctuary for Gable’s only Oscar® than the Motion Picture Academy.” 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

-What were some the moments or scenes that made you laugh? 

-IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is considered the first screwball comedy. What is your favorite screwball comedy? Can you name any modern-day screwball comedies? 

-Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert had long careers in Hollywood. What are some of their other films that rank among your favorites? 

-Opposites attract in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. What other films and film couples come to mind when you think of romance between conflicting personalities? 

-IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT came out more that 85 years ago, why is it still beloved today? What other films do you like that are more than 50 years old? 

-How would you rate IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT? 

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.

AFI MOVIE CLUB

(Source: AFI News Release)

 

 

 

Katie Holmes Announces Today’s AFI Movie Club Selection Inspiring Film Starring Julia Roberts

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Katie Holmes Announces Today’s Inspiring Film Starring Julia Roberts

Erin Brockovich was named one of the Top 10 films of 2000 by the American Film Institute. The film’s crusading protagonist ranks #31 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list, and the film also appears at #73 on AFI’s list of the most inspiring films.

Interesting Facts

The real Erin Brockovich hoped someone funny like Goldie Hawn would play her in a biopic of her life.

The real Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry appear very briefly in the film in a restaurant scene. She plays a waitress and he is a customer in a booth adjacent to Julia Roberts.

The film earned five Academy Award® nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Julia Roberts won the Academy Award® for her performance in the film.

ERIN BROCKOVICH was the last of Steven Soderbergh’s films to be shot by a cinematographer other than himself. Soderbergh now shoots all his films and TV productions under the pseudonym Peter Andrews.

Some residents of Hinkley who were involved in the actual case appeared in the movie in secondary roles and as extras.

Julia Roberts was paid $20 million for the role of Erin Brockovich, becoming the first actress in film history to receive that amount.

 

Watch an exclusive clip from the AFI Archive in which the real-life Erin Brockovich discusses the film.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

-What struggles did the character of Erin Brockovich have with balancing her family and career? How is she treated as a single mother by society?

-What is it about the case of Hinkley vs. PG&E that made Erin connect with it so strongly?

-How do preconceived notions about the protagonist’s appearance and attitude affect the way in which she is treated over the course of the film?

-What does the film have to say about corporate responsibility and about the influence of an unconventional outsider like Erin Brockovich to bring them to justice?

-What do you think of the biopic genre, and why is cinema such a powerful medium to tell real-life stories? Which biopic resonates with you the most?

-What are your favorite movies directed by Steven Soderbergh? And your favorite films starring Julia Roberts?

-How would you rate ERIN BROCKOVICH?

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.

AFI MOVIE CLUB

(Source: AFI News Release)

JESSICA BIEL ANNOUNCES EASY RIDER #AFIMovieClub

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Jessica Biel announces today’s AFI Movie Club selection: EASY RIDER. The film was selected for both AFI’s original and 10th Anniversary lists of the greatest American films of all time, and “Born to Be Wild” was recognized by AFI as one of the greatest songs ever featured in a film. EASY RIDER’s journey to the big screen included AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Jack Nicholson.

Interesting Facts

Actor/director Dennis Hopper said that the marijuana used in the film was real.

Although the screenplay was written by the stars of the film – Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, along with novelist Terry Southern – a great deal of the movie ended up improvised. In this exclusive AFI Archive video, Fonda and Hopper talk about making the film.

In scenes depicting rural and small-town America, real-life farmers and other local, non-professional actors were used.

Director Dennis Hopper had only a week to prepare to shoot scenes at Mardi Gras. This was a result of Peter Fonda getting the date wrong!Rip Torn was initially cast in the role of George Hanson. The part went to Jack Nicholson after director Dennis Hopper and Torn got in a heated dispute before filming.

The first cut of the film by Dennis Hopper, which took him 22 weeks to complete, had a runtime of almost three hours in length. The final film’s runtime was 96 minutes.

$1 million was spent to license the music for the film, which was about three times the budget for shooting the film.

Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

– What does the term counterculture mean to you? 

–What made EASY RIDER resonate with people when it first hit the big screen? Do those same ideals still resonate today? 

–Why has there been a long running cultural divide between young and old? 

–How has social media changed how the youth of today have challenged the “establishment”? 

–Would the response to the film have been different if Wyatt and Billy safely drove off into the sunset at the end of the movie? 

–How would you rate EASY RIDER? 

 

About AFI Movie Club

I hope the AFI Movie Club brings some inspiration and entertainment during this uncertain time. AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies where each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to bring the viewing experience to life. As a non-profit, AFI Movie Club is a member-powered organization, dependent upon the support of its movie fans. To support AFI Movie Club please consider becoming a member or donating.

AFI Movie Club is a newly launched free program to raise the nation’s spirits by bringing artists and audiences together – even while we are apart. AFI shines a spotlight on an iconic movie each day, with special guests announcing the Movie of the Day. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to find out how to watch the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming service credentials. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience.

AFI MOVIE CLUB

(Source: AFI News Release)