MikesFilmTalk Salutes Ellen Page

Cover of "Hard Candy"
Cover of Hard Candy

The first thing I ever saw Ellen Page in was the 2005 film Hard CandyHard Candy was like Sleuth  on drugs. Page turned in a tour de force performance that made me fall in love with her as an actress and fear her as a performer. It was plain that the young performer was already a seasoned actor and her co-star in the film, Patrick Wilson obviously had his work cut out for him.

Page was born February 21 1987 and she has been working professionally since 1997. If you look at her film and television credits you can see that this young Canadian actor has been busy. Not just working but working in the kind of films that makes sure folks notice you.

2007 was her busiest year to date, she worked in a total of five projects, three of which she was the ‘star’ player.

Juno , which had a wonderful cast: Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and J.K. Simmons, in which Page played a young teen who suddenly finds herself pregnant after her first sexual dalliance with Cera’s character. Ellen proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could pull off a comedic role. Her timing was spot on and in my opinion she acted Michael Cera off the screen.

In An American Crime she played the doomed Sylvia Likens in the ‘true story’ of an urban nightmare that ends in murder endured by two girls in the 1960’s.

In the The Tracey Fragments she played 15 year old Tracey Berkowitz in a ‘coming of age’ film in which she must find her missing brother.

She was also in The Stone Angel and she provided her vocal talents for The Batman television series as an uncredited ‘additional voices’ according to IMDb.

After 2007 she continued to work steadily and she amassed a further five credits. Then in 2010 she worked on the film Inception.

Cover of
Cover of Inception

It was when I was starting to write a review on Inception that I got sidetracked by Page. I had an idle thought about her part and performance in the film. The idle thought was this, ‘Well at least they’re letting play her age for a change.’

That one thought made me look at her ‘track record’ and boy was it  impressive. While Hard Candy and Juno got her noticed, Inception raised her value as an actor just by being in the film. 2010 was her second busiest year with four projects to her credit.

From that year on she has averaged two projects per year.

Now she is joining an already long list of stars who are putting their voices (and in this case her image) in a video game. In  Quantic Dream‘s  Beyond: Two Souls  she provides her voice and likeness as Jodie Holmes, the main character in the game. But this is not the first time that Ellen’s features have been used in a game.

Naughty Dog ‘s  The Last of Us features a character that is the spitting image of Ellen Page. Quite flattering if not a little off putting game wise. Watching the trailer, I kept thinking what is Ellen Page doing there?

It was even worse when watching the trailer for Beyond: Two Souls. Every time Jode Holmes opened her mouth and Page’s voice came out of it, I again had that ‘what’s Ellen Page doing there’ moment. I have a feeling it might actually distract the player from David Cage‘s newest game.

Blessed with a youthful appearance that most female actors would kill for. Ellen will be able to play those teen and young adult parts for quite a few years yet. It is a little sad that, so far, only Inception has let her play her age. She is rapidly approaching her mid-twenties and she must be ‘chomping at the bit’ to play roles a bit older than she has historically been cast for.

So Ellen Page, MikesFilmTalk salutes you. I can’t wait to see what you work in next.

Ellen Page at the Paris premiere for Inception...

**This is a new feature on my site. If you like it or have a suggestion as to who I should salute, let me know.

Do I Know You?

Oxford Literary Festival
{Paul Heiney Oxford Literary Festival (Photo credit: lizsmith)

I have, in my short time on this earth, done many different jobs. I have also done these jobs in many different places. As a result of all this ‘chopping and changing’ I have met a lot of folks.

Now I may not remember your name or where you came from or what town/city/company you worked for, but, I will always remember your  face. If I’ve worked with you or met you before, I will recognise you.

You would think that this would be a handy thing to have, this almost automatic recall of a face. It admittedly has been an overall good thing.

I came to England in 1982 just after a gut-wrenching divorce from my first wife. I was keen to get here and escape the bad memories my last base held. My first day here, I kept seeing this guy around the base. I knew that I knew him. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out from where or even when.

I was about to dismiss him as a mental mistake when he caught sight of me. “Hey Smithy, how the hell are ya.” The moment he spoke I knew it was Jerry. A guy who’d helped me get through Basic Training in the USAF. We had a great visit and my first day in a foreign country was made a bit easier by meeting an old mate.

Unfortunately as years went on my ability to always recognise a face let me down a few times.

I started working for the Her Majesty’s Ministry of Justice in 2003. I was a glorified ‘gate keeper’ for lack of a better term. My very first day, I parked up my car and started walking to the reception building. In front of the building a chap sat in his car with his window down. As I approached the car I realised that this fellow looked familiar.

Positive that I must have worked with this fellow before, I decided that the reason he looked so familiar was that I must worked with him before.

I approached him and his car with a big grin on my face. He turned and looked at me as I came up to his car. He had a tentative smile and he looked at me a bit expectantly. Just as I got within ‘hand-shaking’ distance of him I realised that I did not know him at all. Well not personally at any rate.

The man in the car was television presenter Paul Heiney. Just as he opened his mouth to either greet me or tell me to “bugger off” I made a sharp left without breaking my stride and detoured around his car and went in the building. My face was beet red with embarrassment when I realised that I had never worked with this man. I was grateful that the penny had dropped that I only recognised him from TV.  Goodness knows what he thought.

The next time I decided I recognised a stranger, it was written all over his face what he thought of it.

Roughly five years passed before I again saw someone who I was positive I knew. I was going into the Tesco’s supermarket about a mile from where I was then living. It was after work and I needed to nip in and get a few things. As I walked through the electric barriers I saw a familiar looking man in a long coat and fedora hat.

He looked to be a bit older than me, but once again, I was positive that I must have worked with this guy somewhere before. I made a beeline straight for him. Again I had that big ‘I know you’ grin on my face. He stood frozen in front of aisle one. As I got closer his eyes widened and he cocked his head, dog like, and peered into my face. As I got closer I realised two things.

Firstly that, no I did not know this man and secondly that he was about to either run, call security or get ready to defend himself from this grinning madman who he’d never before laid eyes on. It was then that I figured out who he really was.

I’d been watching a BBC dramatization all week about Steptoe and Son (a hugely popular comedy show from the 60’s and 70’s) and the older chap in front of me had played Wilfrid Brambell one of the original stars of the television sitcom. His name was Philip Davis and I had on the television the night before.

I veered off to the right of him, grabbed something off  a shelf and trundled on as if nothing had happened.

Since these two potentially embarrassing situations, I no longer trust my ‘face recognising’ ability. I do think though that the problem lies with England. It is only in this country that you can bump into celebrities in the strangest and least likely places.

On the day I married my second wife we had our reception in a little pub out in the middle of nowhere. I am pretty sure it was called The Hole in the Wall Pub. A very appropriate name. Halfway through the reception my father-in-law leaned over and told me that he had just had a word with the publican and that Trevor Howard was in the other part of the pub having a quiet meal with his wife.

English: Portrait of Trevor Howard. Portrait o...

And he was.

If I see anyone now that I ‘think’ I know, I just keep walking. I figure that if I really do know them, that they might recognise me. If not, well at least I won’t be arrested for ‘stalking’ anyone!

YouTube…The new TV?

 

I am a huge fan of YouTube. My daughter got me hooked on it, years ago. Channels like Failblog.org and others have become necessary viewing for me. So much so that I don’treally watch television any more. But I am of the belief that YouTube is the new television.Let me explain.

There may be some folks out there who have never heard of or even experienced YouTube. But the basic principle is this. Anyone who has access to a video camera and a computer – or a combination of both – can make videos and post them on the web via their channel on YouTube .

This can and does lead to an astronomical amount of videos featuring cute pets, babies, and toddlers. These type of videos tend to go viral. *viral basically means that HUGE amounts of people click on the video to watch it* The other type of video that usually heads into viral territory are the funny ones. You know someone falls, trips, screws up…well you get the idea, I am sure.

What fascinates me are the different kinds of videos available. Make-up channels, alone, with their self-styled guru’s must run into the thousands. Movie review channels, Game review channels, in fact just about any subject you can think of crop up as multiple channels. Comedy is very popular. Guys like raywilliamjohnson, kevjumba and nigahiga all use comedy as their channels format. All channels have subscriber counts that range from none to the millions. The highly popular channels (the ones with the most subscribers) propel their presenters into “celebrity” status.

But the principle of YouTube is the same for everybody. You film your stuff and people watch it, hopefully, and then subscribe to your channel. A lot of channels on YouTube seem to be trying to get partnered. Getting partnered, I understand, is a lot like getting into heaven; lots of folks want it but only a few get it.

The popular channels result in the presenter getting partnered. These partners then get money from advertisers (like television) and grants from YouTube. Not to mention freebies from companies who want the presenters to feature their products on their channel (like television again).

A channel’s popularity is judged by the amount of views each video gets and the amount of subscribers the channel has. Also each video has a “thumbs-up or down” to show how many folks actually liked or disliked the video. There is a comment box for viewers to say what they think about the video. This can result in trolling. Trolls are disagreeable folks who put nasty, mean, or just plain rude comments on channels. They will also give all videos they watch a thumbs-down.

Unfortunately because anyone can use YouTube it also has it’s fair share of strange, nonsensical, garbled, and offensive videos. These videos are the ones where the channel presenter cannot talk without swearing every other word or shouts so loudly you cannot really understand what they are saying. Of course mumbling or talking in an incoherent fashion also fall into this category. There do seem to be more of these channels than the really good ones.

That is where the problem of communication or the lack of it comes into play. If the presenters can’t communicate the point they are trying to make it becomes a waste of time to watch. Of course for a lot of presenters, practise does make perfect. But these channels generally never reach the dizzy heights of nigahiga or raywilliamjohnson.

Some of the popular presenters go on to do other projects. Projects that became open to them because of their status as a YouTube celebrity. It also leaves presenters open to that dual edged sword of fan/subscriber identification. Because the subscriber sees the presenter on a regular basis and in a more intimate setting than they would on the ‘box,’  they feel like they know them personally. Again a lot like television, where soap opera stars are accosted on the street because the public feel like they know them personally.

I implied that YouTube is becoming the new television in my title. I think to an extent it already is. With copyright issues becoming more prevalent and intrusive and lawmakers trying to control what we, the public can watch or post on the internet; I fear that soon, just like television, YouTube will be so controlled that we will no longer have a choice of channels we want to watch.

Just like television, YouTube will be controlled by governments and sponsors and we will have to watch what they deem fit.