TheVFM

How long is Ava Duvenay going to be on The Essentials?

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The movies she chooses are dreadful and dismal.  Never heard of half the pictures she picks and with subtitles, yet!  The only thing she wears is orange and black.  What is Ben or TCM thinking of in having this woman be a host on The Essentials?  I will skip TCM on Saturday night except for Film Noir with Eddie.................................

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11 minutes ago, TheVFM said:

The movies she chooses are dreadful and dismal.  Never heard of half the pictures she picks and with subtitles, yet!  The only thing she wears is orange and black.  What is Ben or TCM thinking of in having this woman be a host on The Essentials?  I will skip TCM on Saturday night except for Film Noir with Eddie.................................

Yeah, I've been trying to keep quiet about this. I'm all for variety. BUT...I don't think she's picking real Essentials. I think she's missing the mark on what an Essential classic film is. 

If they had asked her to do a series on multiculturalism in film, then yeah, she would be great. But most of her choices do not fit the Essentials format.

And when you compare her selections to Ben's, it is VERY jarring and seems like two different programs.

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26 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

And when you compare her selections to Ben's, it is VERY jarring and seems like two different programs.

I thought it was just me. I've been thinking the films, for the most part, are essential to Ms. DuVernay's life and cinematic experiences. Again, if presented that way fine.

I have not felt the films are in the true sense of the word essential either. Interesting, different, perhaps entertaining, yes. But essential? Not all of them.

I remember when RO and Alec Baldwin had their disagreement over whether or not the Marlon Brando version of Mutiny on the Bounty was an essential. That made for interesting viewing.

I think that sort of back and forth on why a film is essential could be more entertaining. Show the movie and then let the viewer decide.

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4 minutes ago, yanceycravat said:

I thought it was just me. I've been thinking the films, for the most part, are essential to Ms. DuVernay's life and cinematic experiences. Again, if presented that way fine.

I have not felt the films are in the true sense of the word essential either. Interesting, different, perhaps entertaining, yes. But essential? Not all of them.

I remember when RO and Alec Baldwin had their disagreement over whether or not the Marlon Brando version of Mutiny on the Bounty was an essential. That made for interesting viewing.

I think that sort of back and forth on why a film is essential could be more entertaining. Show the movie and then let the viewer decide.

But if the films are essential to her life and her cinematic experiences, then that's rather selfish.

I think Robert Osborne's goal with Essentials was to bring universally lauded films to new viewers of classic film. It wasn't to just pick films that were essential to his life and experiences. He made it all historically relevant, and something for everyone.

Ava Duvenay is not really doing that. I don't think she understands the format or the purpose of the series.

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14 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I think Robert Osborne's goal with Essentials was to bring universally lauded films to new viewers of classic film. He made it all historically relevant, and something for everyone.

Agreed! He did that with all his intros. I still the miss the guy.

 

14 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Ava DuVernay is not really doing that. I don't think she understands the format or the purpose of the series.

But that's on TCM. That's not her fault if they didn't call her attention to it. There had to be some discussion about all that before hand.

I kept thinking early on it should have been called Ava DuVernay's Essential Picks with Ben Mankiewicz.

Maybe that's an idea for a future series featuring film professionals!

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Yeah, I personally like many European films but Chantal Akerman is such a bore and I wouldn't consider a cinema essential either. I'm certain she was chosen more for her resentment politics than necessarily her movies (unless of course, she thinks three hours of a woman sitting in a room is essential cinema :wacko: ) A lot of Avernay's choices are much more identity politics chosen. I don't watch the series but I see there are a lot of ethnic type films that I don't think are necessarily the most important to cinema but are maybe just her personal favorites. I agree with Topbilled that the original point of the series was to program the essential films of cinema not just random stuff.

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Don't like what she chooses?  Don't watch it.  Have a nostalgic hankerin' for the good ol' days with Osborne and Baldwin?  Dig out your old DVDs.

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6 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Don't like what she chooses?  Don't watch it.  Have a nostalgic hankerin' for the good ol' days with Osborne and Baldwin?  Dig out your old DVDs.

Yeah, never criticize or discuss anything in a way I don't approve of ever. Just watch a DVD.

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Does very film she picks have a Black cast? How predictable. The new one on Sunday Silents is also foisting off her "essentials" that include dreary silent films with Black casts or that were made by women filmmakers. The 1912 CLEOPATRA is the most boring film I ever saw.

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7 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Don't like what she chooses?  Don't watch it.

I don't watch it..

However..Never a need to stop a discussion on why folks don't like the films.

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They really, really needed to let THE ESSENTIALS stay dead.

Either that, or re-brand UNDERGROUND and make it THE UNESSENTIALS...which, to be honest, it already pretty much is.

(although, I did love RABID)

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15 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

They really, really needed to let THE ESSENTIALS stay dead.

Either that, or re-brand UNDERGROUND and make it THE UNESSENTIALS...which, to be honest, it already pretty much is.

I thought about that, too.  Has The Essentials run its course?  Are there any essential movies that they haven't picked yet?  I agree that this season is not in the original spirit of the series.  I don't object to those movies being shown but I wouldn't call most of them essentials.  Create a different series, "Spotlight" or something.  It's more like an extended version of the monthly Guest Programmer night.  I wonder how many people are tuning in?  

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8 minutes ago, Peebs said:

I thought about that, too.  Has The Essentials run its course?  Are there any essential movies that they haven't picked yet?  I agree that this season is not in the original spirit of the series.  I don't object to those movies being shown but I wouldn't call most of them essentials.  Create a different series, "Spotlight" or something.  It's more like an extended version of the monthly Guest Programmer night.  I wonder how many people are tuning in?  

IF YOU WERE TO (oops, caps lock) do a search in GENERAL DISCUSSIONS on "THE ESSENTIALS" you would come up with 10+ years of posts from dozens of posters ranging from "Has this thing not run its course by now?" to "Oh God, it's STILL ON!?"

THE ESSENTIALS is about as popular as OSCAR MONTH here.

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...except of course for the post a couple years ago when TCM announced it was discontinuing THE ESSENTIALS where we were mostly firmly in the "OH THANK GOD, AT LAST IT'S DEAD!" camp.

an accurate recreation of the thread below:

ExemplaryBadHorse-size_restricted.gif

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Yeah, I think instead, TCM ought'a start a series called The ASCENTials.

(...hey, I've always enjoyed movies about mountain climbing, don't you?!)

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14 minutes ago, UMO1982 said:

Way too many hosts.... Too many hosts spoil the show

AH, so ya DIDN'T feel like usin' that old metaphor about "cooks" and "broth" here instead, EH?!

(...and btw...what did you think of my mountain climbing movies thing instead suggestion???)

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3 hours ago, UMO1982 said:

Does very film she picks have a Black cast? How predictable. The new one on Sunday Silents is also foisting off her "essentials" that include dreary silent films with Black casts or that were made by women filmmakers. The 1912 CLEOPATRA is the most boring film I ever saw.

To answer your question, no, every film picked by Ava DuVernay does not have a black cast, although some do.

Neither are the films picked by new Silent Sunday host Jacqueline Stewart mostly ones with black casts or made by women filmmakers, although some may be.

A look at the schedules for September and October reveals much more variety in their choices:

Essentials

9/7  Sounder - dir. Martin Ritt, starring Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield

9/14 Roshomon - dir. Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshiro Mifune

9/21 Les Rendez-Vous D'Anna - dir. Chantal Akerman

9/28 A Warm December - dir. and starring Sidney Poitier

10/5 Ashes and Embers - dir. Haile Gerima

10/12 West Side Story - dir. Robert Wise, starring Natalie Wood

10/19 Pather Panchali - dir. Satyajit Ray

10/26 Cabin in the Sky - dir. Vincente Minnelli, starring Ethel Waters and Eddie Anderson

Silent Sunday Nights

9/15 Two Arabian Nights - dir. Lewis Milestone, starring Wm. Boyd and Mary Astor

9/22 The Racket - dir. Lewis Milestone, starring Thomas Meighan

9/29 Cleopatra (1912) - dir. Charles L. Gaskill

10/6 The Symbol of the Unconquered - dir. Oscar Micheaux

10/13 Faust - dir. F.W. Murnau, starring Emil Jannings

10/20 The Phantom Carriage - dir. Victor Seastrom (Sjostrom)

10/27 The Haunted Hotel - ?

Putting aside the films that I'm not familiar with, here's what I see in these films:

Essentials -- Of the directors, 3 white American directors, 1 black American director, and directors from Japan, France, and India.  Of the casts, 3 black casts (or with black stars), 2 white casts, and casts from Japan and India.

Silent Sundays -- Of the directors, 1 black American director, 1 white American director (two films), and directors from Germany and Sweden.  Of the casts, 4 are white and 1 is black.

The question of whether the Essentials films are actually "essential" is a matter of opinion.  It looks like Ms. DuVernay is choosing films that she believes are important but aren't seen often enough, maybe including Pather Panchali and Les Rendez-Vous D'Anna.  At the same time, she's also including very popular commercial movies, like SounderWest Side Story, and Cabin in the Sky.  No, they're not necessarily the movies that prior Essentials hosts might have chosen, but we've already seen those choices.  Do we really need to see Casablanca, Citizen Kane, or Mutiny on the Bounty on The Essentials again?  It seems like Ms. DuVernay is trying to expand the viewers' horizons.  I might not choose, or even like, some of these films, but I'd sure say that Roshomon, West Side Story, and Sounder are "essentials" in my book.  I also like it that she's trying to feature possibly great movies that I haven't seen -- maybe I'll really love one of them, and it'll enrich my life.

I'd say much the same about the Silent Sundays line-up.  I'm not a silent movie expert, but I think Prof. Stewart is trying to show us some films that aren't the usual suspects.  Believe me, I love The Gold Rush and Sunrise, but I don't need to see them (again) on Silent Sundays.  I've heard of The Phantom Carriage, for example, but have never seen it -- now I'll have the chance because of Prof. Stewart's choice.

The movies that any of us might pick as "essential" can often be as much a reflection of our personal tastes as a judgment on what we think is historically significant.  For example, years ago, Martin Scorsese highly recommended a Jeanne Crain sorority-house drama called Take Care of My Little Girl.  Sounds cheesy, right -- like something that's not worth your time?  Well, for some reason, I remembered that title for years, and then finally had a chance to see the movie.  I loved it!  I've enjoyed that movie through multiple viewings, just because Scorsese brought it to my attention on some list of films that he was compiling.  It may not be Citizen Kane, but there was something about it that Scorsese really liked, and I agreed with him.

That's the kind of thing I hope for from The Essentials, Silent Sundays, and, for that matter, Noir Alley -- that the hosts will occasionally show me a film that's new to me and becomes part of my personal canon.  I think it's worth the time to take a chance on that result.

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

They really, really needed to let THE ESSENTIALS stay dead.

Either that, or re-brand UNDERGROUND and make it THE UNESSENTIALS...which, to be honest, it already pretty much is.

(although, I did love RABID)

The series ran its course YEARS ago. Hopefully this "revival" will be short term and they will learn from their mistake(s). But they don't seem to.

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1 hour ago, UMO1982 said:

Way too many hosts.... Too many hosts spoil the show

AGREE. The channel is top heavy with hosts now. Whose salaries could be used to rent NEW films!

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9 minutes ago, Hibi said:

AGREE. The channel is top heavy with hosts now. Whose salaries could be used to rent NEW films!

And even the ones I don't mind, I Fast Forward through. (except Eddie, but I've been missing NOIR ALLEY  a lot)

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Yeah, I rarely learn anything new. Sometimes I'll listen out of curiosity. Eddie's are different, they are more in depth because he knows the films he's talking about. Not reading from some script someone else has written....

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13 hours ago, TheVFM said:

The movies she chooses are dreadful and dismal.  

But, does she pick the films, or merely host the program?  Now, the guest programmer might have input to what's shown,  but do we know that for sure?  Or maybe "show biz"  isn't a world rife with illusion and deception. Like maybe THE WIZARD OF OZ was filmed during an actual tornado,  or CHARLTON HESTON actually parted the actual red sea!   

But the thing is, unless I see the 'tween movie blurbs announcing when "The Essentials" is coming on and what's going to be on it, I'm not sure what's up.  My cable guide only mentions the movie shown at a certain time and not if it's an "essentials" presentation or not.  So obviously, Ava hasn't been presenting anything that even sounded interesting to me since I've no idea who the lady is, or what she looks like.  And I'd have to a quote HIBI and ask---

"Eddie's are different, they are more in depth because he knows the films he's talking about. Not reading from some script someone else has written...."

Are you sure about that?  ;) 

Sepiatone

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