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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Friday
Feb272015

The Likeliest Culprits in The Pearl Dress Thievery

Previously in Oscar Fashion Discussions
- Reader Poll Supporting plus Viola, Jessica, Scarlett
Reader Poll Actress plus Kidman, Blanchett,  Robbie

 

...and just when y'all thought we were done talking Oscar night fashions.

As you may have heard that amazing pearl dress worn by Lupita Nyong'o was stolen from her hotel room. My first thought was "but where could you even wear that?  Everyone will know and you're not going to look as good as Lupita anyway!" but then a more basic bitch realization: oh right, THOUSANDS of pearls. Supposedly 6,000 of them in all and unmarked and the dress is worth something like $150,000. Or, probably more than Lupita was paid for co-starring in 12 Years a Slave back before she was a household name, Oscar winner and instant fashion icon.

Theories abound but here are TFE's three best guesses as to the culprit. 

01. THAT CREEPER who was lurking around the actresses all night. Suspicious!*


02 THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. Consider the facts: She WAS at the Dolby that night. She IS cultivating a "Modern" bad girl image. She DOES have a thing for pearls.

01 URSULA. Her rep declares the allegations unfounded and insulting. "On the whole she's been a saint."

*Scarlett Johansson is now a character witness so it looks like he's off the hook.

Thursday
Feb262015

'Duplicity' or Con Artists in Love

Tim here. Tomorrow sees the release of Focus, a romantic drama about two con artists, played by Will Smith and Margot Robbie. Time will tell if it finds its audience – the critics are steadfastly ambivalent – but I would at least argue on its behalf, sight-unseen, that it's already gotten at least one thing right. There's a slick likeability to any generally good con artist picture, which openly confess to the thing that most movies try to hide at least somewhat: the reason we watch them is to be told enthralling lies. We go to the movies in the specific hope of being conned, and never more so than in the case of romances, which in Hollywood's view are games of people trying to trick other people into falling in love with them, while tricking us into believing that all these contrivances are true and meaningful instead of just skilled craftsmanship. I'm hoping against hope that Focus ends up being really great.

While we wait to find out, I'd like to take you back in time to the last great con artist love story (if we skip over American Hustle, which has other goals in mind), the wantonly under-appreciated Duplicity from 2009. It was writer-director Tony Gilroy's follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton, transposing that film's world of corporate espionage and skullduggery into the frame of a fizzy romantic comedy. It was also the second film to pair Julia Roberts and Clive Owen as a pair of sniping lovers after the acidic "everybody hates everybody" drama Closer. And Duplicity tanked, and was widely unloved, and even six years later, those facts still break my heart a little bit. 

More...

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Thursday
Feb262015

Eddie is a Danish Girl

Straight from the Oscar stage to the hair and makeup room...

In case you've forgotten The Danish Girl, which had a difficult development period going through different stars and directors (it went through, I kid you not, FIVE Oscar winning actresses before and three directors) is coming out late this year though we had originally been told 2016. That's presumably to give Eddie Redmayne a chance at back-to-back Oscars (I know it's so gross to mention this already. It can't be helped!). The biopic is from Tom Hooper (The King's Speech and Les Miserables) and is the story of transgender Einar Wegener and her transition and surgery to become Lili Elbe "The Danish Girl" with the encouragement of her then wife Gerda. Alicia Vikander, the wonderful Swedish actress from Anna Karenina and A Royal Affair, is playing Gerda so watch for her in Best Supporting Actress. NooooOOOoooooooooo Oscar talk. It can't be helped.

So let's see it's another biopic about a complicated marriage where the wife has to stand by her man who becomes not what she expected him to be after she falls in love with him? Way to mix it up, Eddie Redmayne! I kid I kid. I hope it's good and I hope Eddie is more sensitive and better at handling the difficult press that comes with this sort of thing (especially now that we have real trans actors playing trans roles on TV) than Jared Leto was. The film is really piling on the gorgeousness because Eddie & Alicia's co-stars are Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw and Matthias Schoenaerts. Costumes are by the superb Paco Delgado who was Oscar nominated for Les Miz and also did genius work on Blancanieves and fun subversive stuff for Pedro Almodóvar a couple of times.

Thursday
Feb262015

Black History Month: The Rise of Taraji 

Our Oscary spotlight on Black History Month continues with Matthew Eng on the currently very hot Taraji P. Henson

It’s one thing to nab yourself a lead role on a juicy, mega-hit network drama with a mind-blowing, week-to-week ratings surge. But to be the undeniable breakout star of said TV show, to act circles around your leading man and everyone else on screen, to inspire tepid critics to unanimously single out your performance, to remain the number one (some would say only) reason to tune in, and to snatch yourself an actual catchphrase within the pilot? That’s a whole other heap of achievements entirely.

Taraji P. Henson is having a great year, which is an especially exciting thing to write, because, to my mind, few working actresses (much less working actresses of color) deserve it more. Henson’s such a reliably loose, shrewd, and engrossing performer that she carries a certain kind of built-in assurance for audiences: no matter the part or project, you can be sure that at least one professional has showed up to work and you better believe she will be giving it her absolute all. This kind of noticeable, on-camera go-for-broke-ness can often be applied for better and worse, but Taraji’s almost certainly in the former camp; she knows when to reign it in and how to modulate this quality from scene-to-scene and film-to-film, while remaining an exciting and involving on-screen presence.

It’s strange then and somewhat disappointing that the performance for which Henson received her first and (so far) only Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is, in many ways, one of her most boring. Had Oscar voters not seen through the fraudulent "supporting" campaign for Kate Winslet, Taraji might not have been there at all for this true-blue supporting performance...

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Thursday
Feb262015

Red Carpet Lineup: Lead Actresses & The Aussie Invasion

It's the final poll of the 87th Oscars and our last red carpet lineup for awhile *sniffle*. In addition to those things this is your daily reminder that Julianne Moore won an Oscar. Because it needs to be repeated often as healing balm for our beleaguered actressexuality.

Who was best dressed on Oscar night? 

 

 

 

NATHANIEL: Please welcome back Anne Marie and Margaret to discuss these ladies (and five more, too). 

ANNE MARIE: Best Actress! Obviously, we must start by repeating the best news, which is that JULIANNE MOORE IS NOW AN ACADEMY AWARD WINNER. I get tingles when I write it.

MARGARET: BLESSED BE.

NATHANIEL: Thank you. This will serve as our daily reminder (Hee! Are you sick of the daily reminders yet?) But I have to say that beyond Juli as the season ran on I came to love this lineup abundantly. It's the best possible lineup we could have gotten given the media's reticence to admit that there were intersting and worthwhile performances happening all year long in all kinds of films. I even grew to love Felicity Jones in a way (I think she gets an unfair wrap as a coattails nominee when a lot of that movie depends on her emotional fluidity and stubborness. But I hate this dress. It's so off color and pale as to make her fade away.

MARGARET:  Felicity Jones' supportive-wife staple aside, how few 'types' there are! A really great array of characters, only improved by their great performances.

NATHANIEL: I even grew to love Felicity Jones in a way. Yes, it's a type. But I think she gets an unfair wrap as a coattails nominee when a lot of that movie depends on her emotional fluidity and romantic willfulness. But I hate this dress. It's burying her. It's so off color and pale as to make her fade away.

Reese & Rosamund & Aussie goddesses after the jump...

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Thursday
Feb262015

Women's Pictures - Vote For Your Favorite Female Filmmakers!

Hello, it's Anne Marie. Since the first month of "Women's Pictures" went so well (and because I have an extra week in February to fill), today I would like to hear from all of you charming readers and commenters. When I first asked for suggestions of female filmmakers on which to focus this series, you all chimed in with over 50 directors from 8 countries and 9 decades in movie history. We can't write about all of them (yet), so I've narrowed the list down to 10 Female Filmmakers. Please know that this is not meant as a list of the best 10 female directors. When winnowing down the original suggestions, I took into consideration size of filmography, ease of access to their films, and reader interest. The goal is to find 10 women within those restrictions who represent a variety of genre, vision, nationality, sexuality, and focus. And these 10 women are pretty incredible. 

Vote for as many as you like and tell us why in the comments

In alphabetical order, our ladies are...

Dorothy Arzner - Years active: 1927-1943. Arzner is best known as the "only female director during Hollywood's Golden Age" (more on that at the end of this post). Arzner was a lesbian proto-feminist credited with (among other things) inventing the boom mic, looking dapper in menswear, and dressing Katharine Hepburn in that bizarre Moth Gown. Best known films: The Wild Party, The Bride Wore Red, Christopher Strong.

Kathryn Bigelow - Years active: 1981-present. I mean, we all know who Kathryn Bigelow is, right? She's the only female director to win an Academy Award so far! (For The Hurt Locker in 2010.) Divorced James Cameron in 1991 and beat him for Best Director two decades later. Makes action films, war films, and defies silly questions about what kinds of movies women "usually make."  Best known films: The Hurt Locker, Point Break, Zero Dark Thirty

Jane Campion - Years active: 1982-present. For her film The Piano, native Kiwi Jane Campion was the first female director to win the Palm D'Or at Cannes, and became the second woman in the history of the Academy Awards to be nominated for Best Director. Most recently, she returned to the scene of her earlier triumph to be the head judge for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Best known films: The Piano, Bright Star, Sweetie

Sofia Coppola - Years active: 1999-present. Another fruit that fell from the ever-blossoming Coppola family tree. In 2004, Sofia Coppola became the third woman in Oscars history to be nominated for Best Director for her film Lost In Translation. Since then, she's taken on everything from historical fiction to memoir to true crime, all with a distinct pop art sensibility. Best known films: The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette.

Mira Nair - Years active: 1979-present. Indian director Mira Nair has had a globe-trotting career over the past few decades. She's made documentaries, big budget Indian movies, indie films set in the American South, period pieces, shorts and more. About the most consistent thing you can say about Nair's career is that she's consistently refused to be tied to just one genre. Best known films: Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair, Salaam Bombay!

Miwa Nishikawa - Years active: 2003-present. Miwa Nishikawa is the newest addition to this list, having only 7 films and a little over a decade of experience so far. However, while her movies haven't travelled much outside of Japan yet, she is already heralded as a strong new voice in Japanese film. (Thank you, reader BRB for the suggestion!) Best known films: Dreams for Sale, Dear Doctor, Wild Strawberries. 

Leni Riefenstahl - Years active: 1932-1958, 2002. Best known for her Nazi propadanda film, The Triumph of the Will. It was supposedly so well-made that when the US government requested that Hollywood re-edit the movie to show Germany negatively, they were told it couldn't be done. She pushed forward documentary film & experimented with genre. Best known films (besides that one): Olympia, Lowlands, Underwater Impressions.

Julie Taymor - Years active: 1999-present. This MacArthur Genius Grant recipient is a theater director-turned film director-turned theater director who turned off the dark (and the safety precautions) for Spiderman on Broadway. Before that, she turned lions into puppets for Disney's The Lion King. Her films are visually vibrant, beautiful, and totally bonkers. Best known films: Frida, Across The Universe, Titus.

Agnes Varda - Years active: 1955-2011. The only female member of the talented boys club that was the French New Wave. Varda was an artist before making her way to film, a journey for which she attributes her unique perspective. She's still alive and kicking (and occasionally at film festivals), but seems to be enjoying resting on her well-deserved laurels now. Best known films: Cleo from 5 to 7, Vagabond, The Beaches of Agnes. 

Lina Wertmuller - Years active 1965-2009. This Italian director was the first woman ever nominated for Best Director, when the Academy nominated her in 1975 for her film Seven Beauties. One of her films also holds the record for longest title (it was shortened to Blood Feud). A highly vocal political activist, many of her characters reflect her more extreme stances. Best known films: Seven Beauties, The Seduction of Mimi, Swept Away.

Who do you vote for? (You may vote for more than one.)

 

 

Coming in March: IDA LUPINO

The noir-actress-turned-writer/producer originally became a director out of necessity, but quickly made a name for herself by writing the kinds of films that the big studios wouldn't touch. Using her buddy Howard Hughes's money and support, Lupino started a production company, and a directing career that lasted two decades. Follow along as we watch a blonde bombshell turn herself into a behind-the-scenes bigshot.

March Schedule:

3/5 - Never Fear (1949) - Ida's first directing credit about a dancer who contracts polio. (Available on Amazon Prime)

3/12 - The Hitch-Hiker (1953) - A foray into film noir with a hitch-hiker holding two men hostage. (Available on Amazon Prime)

3/19 - The Bigamist (1953) - Ida Lupino and Joan Fontaine are married to the same man. (Available on Amazon Prime)

3/26 - The Trouble With Angels (1966) - Lupino's last feature film involves Rosalind Russell, Hayley Mills, and nuns. (Available on Amazon Prime)

Wednesday
Feb252015

Black History Month: Morgan Freeman Enters The Conversation

Our celebration of Black History Month is, naturally, also an Oscar History Celebration. Today Nathaniel looks at Morgan Freeman's original claim to fame.

When you think of Morgan Freeman what's the first thing that comes up? Given his revered stature in contemporary cinema the answer is undoubtedly pulled from the following character types: wise mentor, savvy professional, trusted friend, quiet confidante, brilliant academic, noble leader. Freeman brings such natural authority and wise but warm old men sass onscreen that playing God in the comedy Bruce Almighty wasn't even a stretch but a light bulb "of course it's Freeman!" moment. So it's a little startling to remember or discover that his first of five Oscar nominations -- he's the most celebrated black actor in Oscar history outside of Denzel Washington -- and indeed his breakthrough in cinema does not fit the Morgan Freeman mold in virtually any way. 

This ho said you wanted to meet me so here I am. 

No, Morgan Freeman's original claim to big screen fame was as a vicious pimp named "Fast Black" in a largely forgotten journalist-plays-with-fire drama called Street Smart (1987). [More...]

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