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Academy Launches “Action: The Academy Women’s Initiative”

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in partnership with E! Entertainment and Swarovski, announced today the launch of Action: The Academy Women’s Initiative, comprised of the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women, the Academy Directory and annual events, all designed to create opportunities for female filmmakers to connect, share their stories and celebrate inclusion. This year’s events will take place on October 15 in London and October 30 in Los Angeles, and will see the announcement of the first two recipients of the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women. Action is an extension of the Academy’s A2020 initiative, which seeks to support inclusion and increase representation within the Academy and the greater film community.

In partnership with E! Entertainment and with the support of Swarovski, the Los Angeles Women’s Lunch will bring together female filmmakers from across all corners of the filmmaking industry and feature an onstage conversation with comedian Hannah Gadsby and Emmy®-Award winning writer, creator, actor, producer Lena Waithe. In addition to the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women, the event will launch the Academy Directory: a tool for Academy members to identify and connect with each other and build a filmmaker community for guidance, support and hiring opportunities.

The Women of the Academy Lunch in London will feature a keynote by Academy Directors Branch Governor Susanne Bier and will mark the second year the Academy and Swarovski have hosted a gathering of female filmmakers in the UK. As a global multi-year partner of the Action initiative, Swarovski’s support extends from the Los Angeles event to presenting partner of the London event where the company will also support and award the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women to a UK-based filmmaker.

“As we continue to advocate for inclusion, we are honored to bring Academy members and the filmmaking community together to support women in all stages of their careers, especially emerging Academy Gold filmmakers,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “We are grateful that E! and Swarovski support our commitment to a more inclusive film community.”

“E! is a network that is for and about women, and it’s exciting for us to be a part of this celebration of female filmmakers and help launch new opportunities for women across the industry to connect, support and inspire one another,” said Jen Neal, Executive Vice President, Marketing, and Executive Producer, Live Events for E! Entertainment. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the Academy on this important initiative and look forward to the inaugural events.”

Nadja Swarovski commented: “Swarovski is committed to empowering women and to providing emerging creative talent with the support it needs to develop and thrive. We are delighted to support the 2018 Gold Fellowship for Women – we look forward to unveiling the winners in the UK and US, and to watching these young female filmmakers share their work with the world.”

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“Kung Fu Panda 4” — A Letdown for True Fans

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As a longtime fan of the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise, I eagerly anticipated the release of “Kung Fu Panda 4.” Unfortunately, this latest installment feels more like a blatant cash grab than a heartfelt continuation of Po’s journey. Despite its dazzling animation, the film falls short in delivering the magic that made us fall in love with the series in the first place.

A Recycled Plot

The storyline of “Kung Fu Panda 4” lacks originality. Po’s quest to save yet another endangered village from an ancient threat feels redundant and uninspired. Instead of the rich character development and emotional depth we’ve come to expect, we’re left with a series of disjointed action scenes and lackluster jokes. 

Neglecting the Furious Five

One of the most disappointing aspects of the film is its treatment of the beloved Furious Five. These characters, who played crucial roles in Po’s previous adventures, are now relegated to the background with minimal impact on the story. Their interactions with Po, once a highlight of the series, are reduced to mere cameos.

Stunning Yet Hollow Animation

While the animation in “Kung Fu Panda 4” is as visually stunning as ever, it can’t mask the film’s weak script. The vibrant landscapes and expertly choreographed fight scenes are impressive, but they feel empty and superficial without a compelling story. It’s as if the filmmakers hoped that impressive visuals alone could carry the film.

Flat Humor

The humor, which was a cornerstone of the earlier films, falls disappointingly flat in this installment. The jokes rely heavily on slapstick and recycled gags, lacking the wit and charm that made us laugh in previous movies. This reliance on tired humor only reinforces the sense that “Kung Fu Panda 4” is more interested in maintaining a profitable brand than in telling a meaningful story.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, “Kung Fu Panda 4” is a letdown for true franchise fans. It fails to capture the heart, creativity, and narrative depth that made its predecessors special. For those hoping for a return to form, this film may feel like a disappointing attempt to cash in on past successes rather than a genuine effort to continue Po’s journey. Let’s hope DreamWorks learns from this misstep and returns to what made “Kung Fu Panda” great in the first place.

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The Idea Man

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Disney’s latest documentary, “The Idea Man,” offers an enthralling and intimate portrait of Jim Henson, the mastermind behind the Muppets and a pioneer in the world of puppetry and children’s entertainment. This documentary not only honors Henson’s legacy but also delves deeply into the creative processes that made him a visionary in the entertainment industry.

“The Idea Man” begins by chronicling Henson’s early years, showcasing his initial forays into puppetry and television. The documentary paints a vivid picture of a young, ambitious Henson who dared to dream beyond conventional storytelling methods. Through rare footage and personal anecdotes from family, friends, and colleagues, viewers gain a comprehensive understanding of Henson’s innovative spirit.

One of the documentary’s strengths lies in its exploration of Henson’s multifaceted personality. Interviews with those who knew him best reveal a man driven by an insatiable curiosity and a profound desire to connect with audiences of all ages. The film highlights how Henson’s unique ability to infuse his creations with humor, heart, and a touch of whimsy made characters like Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Big Bird beloved worldwide.

“The Idea Man” delves into the meticulous craftsmanship that went into Henson’s work. The documentary showcases behind-the-scenes footage of Henson at work, providing an insider’s look at the creative process behind iconic projects like “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show,” and “Fraggle Rock.” These glimpses into his workshop reveal the painstaking detail and boundless imagination that characterized Henson’s approach to puppetry and storytelling.

The documentary also emphasizes Henson’s contributions to the broader landscape of entertainment and technology. His pioneering work in animatronics and special effects, particularly in films like “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth,” is explored in depth. Interviews with contemporary filmmakers and special effects artists underscore Henson’s lasting impact on the industry, cementing his status as a trailblazer whose influence endures.

“The Idea Man” does not shy away from the emotional aspects of Henson’s life. The documentary addresses the challenges he faced, both professionally and personally, and how he navigated the pressures of creative success. This balanced portrayal adds depth to the narrative, making it not only a celebration of Henson’s achievements but also a poignant reminder of his humanity.

Disney’s “The Idea Man” is a must-watch for fans of Jim Henson and anyone interested in the magic of creative storytelling. The documentary is a heartfelt tribute to a man whose imagination knew no bounds and whose work continues to inspire generations. Through a blend of archival footage, personal interviews, and expert analysis, “The Idea Man” offers a rich and engaging look at the life and legacy of Jim Henson.

For those searching for an insightful and inspiring documentary on one of the entertainment industry’s most influential figures, “The Idea Man” is an essential addition to your watchlist.

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Beach boys documentary

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**Rating: ★★★★☆**

Disney Plus’ new documentary, “The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony,” dives deep into the tumultuous, yet harmonious journey of America’s quintessential surf rock band. Directed with a keen eye for both nostalgia and narrative depth, the film offers an intimate look at the band’s rise to stardom, their internal conflicts, and their enduring legacy.

From the outset, the documentary captures the essence of The Beach Boys’ musical genius, spotlighting Brian Wilson’s unparalleled songwriting and the band’s signature harmonies that defined a generation. Archival footage, including rare studio sessions and candid home videos, paints a vivid picture of their creative process and the carefree California lifestyle that inspired their biggest hits. The inclusion of previously unreleased tracks and demos adds a layer of authenticity, giving fans a rare glimpse into the evolution of some of their most iconic songs.

Interviews with surviving band members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine, alongside insights from music historians and contemporary artists influenced by The Beach Boys, enrich the narrative. These personal accounts are heartfelt and, at times, poignant, particularly when addressing the darker chapters of the band’s history—Brian Wilson’s struggles with mental health, the impact of drugs, and the tragic loss of Dennis and Carl Wilson.

The documentary’s strength lies in its balanced portrayal. It doesn’t shy away from the band’s internal discord and the challenges they faced, yet it also celebrates their artistic achievements and cultural impact. The visual style is vibrant, with a seamless blend of past and present, creating a tapestry that feels both nostalgic and fresh.

However, “Endless Harmony” occasionally veers into fan-service territory, glossing over certain controversies and perhaps offering a more sanitized version of events. Despite this, the documentary succeeds in providing a comprehensive overview that will satisfy long-time fans while introducing new audiences to the magic of The Beach Boys.

In conclusion, “The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony” is a must-watch for music lovers and history buffs alike. It captures the spirit of an era, the brilliance of a band, and the timeless appeal of their music. Disney Plus has delivered a documentary that is as much a celebration of The Beach Boys’ legacy as it is a testament to the enduring power of their sound and soul.

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