Cinema du Jersey: From the Oscars to the Shore
Roots From the Garden
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 22:02
Marked by Jennifer Lawrence’s nose-dive on her way onstage to accept her Academy Award for Best Actress and a surprise appearance from Michelle Obama via the highest-quality Skype session that I have ever seen, the end of film awards season is upon us — just in time for midterms. Now that the Academy Awards are over, I have fewer excuses to watch Oscar-nominated movies in my spare time. But considering how obsessed with cinema I am, the fact that Seth MacFarlane’s semi-controversial jokes are (finally) over will not stop me from commenting upon one of the most sentimental wins of the night, which was that of Argo for best picture. More specifically, I am referring to Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech as a producer of the film, which he gave after being snubbed for a nomination in the category for best director — because the once-disrespected-actor-turned-two-time-Academy-Award-winner has a history with films taking place in New Jersey.
Though he has recently ventured into the world of directing, Affleck’s film career (I stress film because his appearance in the PBS television series, The Voyage of the Mimi, doesn’t really count) began with a variety of roles in filmmaker Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse. Now, you may be asking yourself what that nonsensical amalgamation of words means. The View Askewniverse is a fictional universe created by Smith as a director/screenwriter/actor that centers in New Jersey’s very own Monmouth County, where I happen to live. In case you’re not familiar with Smith, he plays Silent Bob in essentially all of his films that take place in this world. And now, if you have at least seen Mallrats, Chasing Amy or Dogma, then the wheels are probably turning in your head, and you can acknowledge that Smith is hilarious. The native New Jerseyan also wrote and directed Jersey Girl in 2004, which also stars Affleck, though is not included in the View Askewinverse. Unless you enjoy seeing movies that have been nominated for an award that recognizes the worst films of the year, do not watch Jersey Girl. It would be an understatement to say that it is far from good, and my goal isn’t to waste your time by suggesting bad movies. But hey, we all make mistakes — even if for some, those mistakes cost millions of dollars.
Notwithstanding that blunder of a film, my point is that, basically, the man that is predicted to be the next Clint Eastwood (in terms of his role as a director — not as an actor in spaghetti Westerns) was a major player in all of these great comedies that took place, and were actually filmed, in New Jersey.
There are also several award-winning movies of the past decade that are set in New Jersey: Garden State, The Wrestler and Cinderella Man, to name a few. War of the Worlds, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Tom Hanks throwback Big all take place in the Garden State. Looking back to 1975, Steven Spielberg’s classic thriller Jaws, which revolutionized the blockbuster and incited terror in beachgoers for months, took place in the fictional summer resort town of Amity Island and was shot in Martha’s Vineyard, but the events of the film were actually inspired by the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. Don’t let that scare you into avoiding New Jersey beaches, though, because those attacks occurred as a result of a heat wave and a polio epidemic that drove hoards of people to the Jersey Shore. Plus, I’ve swum in those waters for twenty-one summers and I haven’t been devoured yet, so take those odds as you will.
More recently, it was revealed that John McClane, the badass of the Die Hard franchise, is "the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey." (My dad was particularly excited about this quote because he grew up in Plainfield.) In fact, Bruce Willis himself was raised in New Jersey, as was the ultimate crime fighter of all time: Batman.
Yep, that’s right. According to the 1990 edition of The Atlas of the D.C. Universe, Gotham City is located on the southern coast of New Jersey. Take that, every other state. We’ve got Bruce Wayne.
Is it just me, or is every notable Bruce in history from New Jersey?
Allie Doughty is a senior in the College. ROOTS FROM THE GARDEN appears every other Friday in the guide.