comedy

Hollywood’s Funny Women

Mae West

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In the beginning, there was Mae West — sassy, sexy, and smart. West’s early career in Vaudeville helped her develop a larger-than-life persona that came across on screen as wisecracking and worldly. West famously quipped, “I believe in censorship. I’ve made a fortune out of it.” Her work pushed the limits with censors, and West went to jail in 1927 to defend her right to free speech with her play, “Sex.”

Comedy in Hollywood films has often been in dominated by men. When women got to be funny, it was usually part of a romantic comedy or in some kind of domestic situation where the male actor still got the best lines. Yet the screwball comedies of the 1930s and ‘40s did have a group of actresses who gave as good as they got — Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard, and Katharine Hepburn held their own against the likes of William Powell and Carey Grant, dishing out one-liners and snappy comebacks. But, as World War II came to a close, film comediennes were once again relegated to bit parts and setting up the jokes for the male actors.

 

From the mid-50s to the 1970s, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett helped producers see that women could not only do physical comedy, but that they could be the main attraction — at least on the small screen. Their influence on film comediennes (both onscreen and behind the scenes as writers and businesswomen) for the next few decades cannot be underestimated. Without them, there would be no Tina Fey and Amy Pohler.

The 1980s and ‘90s saw actresses make the leap from television to the big screen. Lily Tomlin, Catherine O’Hara, Whoopi Goldberg, and Teri Garr were just a few of the actresses who successfully transferred original character development and comedic timing learned from years of sketch comedy and improv to quirky film roles.

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The 2000s have seen actresses like Margaret Cho,  Melissa McCarthy, Uzo Aduba, and Mindy Kaling bring new perspectives to American comedy. They have used their personal lives as inspiration for character-driven comedy and, in McCarthy’s case, shown that funny women can, indeed, bring in audiences and sell tickets just as well as male stars.

Want some suggestions for great female-led films? Check out NYFA’s 5 Movies Starring Female Ensembles.

Who are your favorite funny women in Hollywood? Let us know in the comments below!

 

The Evolution of Seth Rogen: From Teenage Comedian to Superstar

Seth Rogen is on something of a winning streak, and it seems that just about everything the Canadian-born comedian touches of late turns to gold. 

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Having come out of the gate swinging with strong performances in Judd Apatow’s “40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” — two of the highest-rated comedies of the 2000s — Seth Rogen’s career has gone from strength to strength as he further flexed his acting muscles and also added to an impressive list of writing, producing, and directing credits.

Given that he has also branched out from comedy in recent years, it is even more impressive that Rogen’s career is an accidental one. Initially he made a name for himself on the Canadian comedy circuit during his teen years, and was so successful that he became the main breadwinner of his largely-unemployed household by the age of just 16. As a result, he didn’t want to pursue any career other than stand-up comedy, remarking: “As soon as I realized you could be funny as a job, that was the job I wanted.”

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All this raises the question of how exactly Seth Rogen ended up blazing his current the trail. With his latest movie “Sausage Party” killing it from both a commercial and critical standpoint, we’re taking a look at the selected works that got him where he is today.

“Freaks and Geeks” (1999-2000)

While the NBC show was short lived and cancelled after only one season, it has since become a cult classic, launching the careers of numerous then-child actors. Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr and Jason Segel all got their start on this fan favorite.

As did Seth Rogen. “Freaks and Geeks” not only served as his debut acting gig, but also his first credit as a staff writer. Even more important were the connections he made on the show. The two went on to form an enduring friendship and working relationship, collaborating on the ultra-subversive “The Interview” in 2014.

The show also put Paul Fieg and Judd Apatow on the map, the latter of whom saw huge potential in Rogen and took him under his wing. “Obviously, I can’t stress how important Judd’s been to my career,” Rogen said in a retrospective 2009 interview.

“Da Ali G Show” (2004)

From one cult series to another, Rogen managed to land a staff writing position on the highly acclaimed Sacha Baron Cohen breakout series “Da Ali G Show.”

It was little-known that a young Canadian-American was working on a quintessentially British show, but it’s an important road mark for Rogen’s career; he went on to receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in conjunction with the other show writers.

This was all before Seth Rogen became a household name, a process which really began with…

“Knocked Up” (2007)

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“Whenever I see an opportunity to use any of the people from ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ I do it,” said Judd Apatow, who reassembled a lot of the old gang for his first-ever feature. “It’s a way of refusing to accept that the show was canceled. In my head, I can look at ‘Knocked Up’ as just an episode of Seth’s character getting a girl pregnant. All of the movies relate in my mind in that way, as the continuous adventures of those characters.”

Knocked Up” went on to become selected as one of the 10 best movies of the year by the American Film Institute, with Rogen’s lead performance in particular being singled out for praise.

“Superbad” (2007)

Few were convinced that another Rogen/Apatow outing would reach the same bar set by “Knocked Up,” yet “Superbad” raised the bar even higher.

The movie also propelled Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Michael Cera, and Jonah Hill into further stardom. Not bad for a screenplay that Rogen co-wrote when he was 13.

“Horton Hears a Who!” (2008)

This film kick-started Seth Rogen’s prolific voice acting career. The “Kung Fu Panda” franchise followed, along with “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 2009 — as well as the job of voicing the main character, Paul, in the Simon Pegg movie of the same name.

“The Interview” (2014)

Following the successes of “Superbad,” Rogen teamed up once again with Evan Goldberg to work on an idea they’d had a good five years prior: a subversive comedy involving one of the world’s most notorious living dictators.

While critics were polarized by the screenplay (involving an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un, changed following the elder Jong-Il’s death in 2011), this film is a notable point in Rogen’s career. He was the creator of a movie that almost triggered an international crisis, with threats of war and terrorism prompting an industry-wide discussion on the nature of free speech and political commentary. Sony was forced to pull the theatrical release.

“Steve Jobs” (2015)

In the critically acclaimed biopic of Apple founder Steve Jobs (not the Ashton Kutcher version), Seth Rogen showed the world he could act outside of the comedy sphere with his portrayal of Steve Wozniak. It’s an exceptionally multi-dimensional performance, and the real-life Wozniak reportedly felt honored to have been portrayed by him.

“Sausage Party” (2016)

And now we come to “Sausage Party,” Rogen’s latest foray into subversive comedy  — a project where many of the names mentioned above come together again for a Pixar-esque adventure that is firmly for adults. (And yes, the trailer above includes very NSFW language.)

The idea of an R-rated animation isn’t particularly new; 1974’s “Fritz the Cat” was one of the first. Yet it’s not something that has seen widespread adoption, and “Sausage Party” is the first R-rated CG animation. That said, with the runaway success of this movie and the likes of last year’s “Dead Pool,” we’d be very surprised if this doesn’t become a cinematic trend in years to come.

Rogen himself has stated that he “has ideas” for future R-rated animations, currently under active consideration by Sony.

One thing is for certain: we’re keenly anticipating the next trick up Seth Rogen’s multi-faceted sleeve.

12 of the Most Popular Movie Genres By Country

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Whether you aspire to make movies of your own or simply enjoy watching them, a love for great films is something people all across the world share.

As a cinematography student, even comparing a country’s favorite genre to their culture can prove to be an educational experience. Below we’ve provided a list of several countries followed by the top movie genre there, including some interesting info.

The Most Popular Movie Genres By Country

1. Brazil – Action

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Not only do Brazilians love Hollywood action movies, but they also can’t get enough of their own. Distributed by Brazil’s own Zazen Produções, “Elite Squad 2” became the top domestic film in 2010.

2. Argentina – Comedy

With movies like “Minions” (2015) and two Ice Age movies serving as the highest grossing films, it’s clear that people in Argentina prefer family-friendly comedy movies.

3. United States / Canada / Mexico – Comedy

Box office revenue from 1995 to 2016 shows that comedy has been the most popular movie genre in North America, with adventure a very close second.

4. Japan – Fantasy

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Of the 10 highest grossing films in Japan, seven of them fall into the fantasy category. Aside from “Frozen” (2013) and two Harry Potter films, the rest are anime fantasy films made by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki and his studio, Studio Ghibli.

5. Germany – Action/Adventure

Among the top grossing films of 2016 are “The Revenant,” “Deadpool,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and “Warcraft.”

6. India – Adventure

Action comedy is the genre that has seen the most success in the last few years. Bollywood filmmakers have also found box office success with drama films as well as romance.

7. Italy – Comedy

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Although the two highest grossing films in Italy are “Avatar” (2009) and “Titanic” (1997), the rest of the list is dominated by comedy films made in Italy.

8. France – Comedy

The two highest grossing 2016 films so far are “Camping 3” and “Les Tuche 2,” two comedy films distributed by French-owned Pathé. Disney’s “Zootopia” sits in third place at the time of this writing.

9. Sweden – Drama/Comedy/Action

Swedish moviegoers tend to prefer a variety of genres. Along with “Deadpool,” “The Revenant,” and “Zootopia,” one of the highest grossing films of 2016 is “En man som heter Ove,” even though it released the year before.

10. Australia – Action

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Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy films have kept their throne as some of the highest grossing movies of all time in Australia. So far, half of the top 10 most successful 2016 films are also action titles.

11. New Zealand – Action/Comedy

It looks like Kiwis can’t get enough action but also enjoy a few laughs during their film experiences. Recent top grossers include “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Finding Dory,” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

12. England – Comedy

Polls have shown that cinema-goers in England prefer comedy movies over anything else. The second most popular genre was action/adventure.