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


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CREED "I'm so here for Michael B. Jordan becoming a bona fide movie star. It'll just take the right project to put him in the public consciousness. Creed looks like it could be it." - Kate

STEVE JOBS "Isnt it too soon for a Jobs biopic?" - Amanda

SECRET IN THEIR EYES "I loved the original -- without the background of the Argentinian dictatorship a huge element of the plot tension gets lost. I wonder how they'll deal with that." - Felix

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Review: Magic Mike XXL

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad. It is reprinted here with in the Director's Cut version. i.e. it's longer this time...


When Magic Mike opened three years ago it was something of a risky proposition. Male stars exploiting their bodies for a young male star’s dream project loosely based on his own stripping career which he felt no shame about? Who would have guessed? Cut to three years later: Magic Mike and Friends (minus The Kid and Dallas “alright alright alright”) have returned to movie theaters with much teasing and blockbuster fanfare to a relatively new pop cultural context they helped create: male objectification is increasingly the norm. Just ask Chris Pratt, the ascendant superstar of the moment (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) who has acknowledged that his new body was key to his ascendance and that he’s all for it… the objectification.

This wondrous new world of happily exposed man-flesh makes Magic Mike XXL feel curiously demure. Usually sequels go for more-more-more but XXL (the title is a misnomer) downsizes even as the stages get larger. There’s less plot since it’s essentially a road trip movie but most curiously there’s much less nudity even if the women this time around seem a lot more eager to see it.

This withholding is smart and funny at the beginning of the film in a sensational opening dance number starring Mike alone in his workroom. [More...]

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Little Links of Horror

EW Marisa Tomei joins the cast of Empire as a lesbian billionaire - whoa. Please let her throw down with Taraji
Nicks Flick Picks is also on the halfway mark, year in review beat with a lot of movies I haven't seen (sigh)
Jane Fonda on her summer screenings and returning to work on Grace and Frankie - she got an acting coach!
EW Pride & Prejudice & Zombies photos. Yikes. What's with the lingerie ad costumes? 
Awards Daily thinks Scorsese's Silence might be ready just in time for Oscar. I personally hope he takes his time and we get it next year. I like having breaks from the Oscar regulars or Oscar just becomes too much like the Emmys! 

Slate thinks Rolan Emmerich's Stonewall looks too much like a cheap musical
Playbill reminds us that Magic Mike (2012) is being made into a stage musical. What isn't... but still I'd totally forgotten
Business Insider here's an area you never see covered: the weapons department on a studio picture. Terminator Genisys in this case
Comics Alliance new pics from Batman vs. Superman. One of them seems to have Superman surrounded by a bunch of zombies so....
Twitter cracked me up when looking at that picture 

Yes No Maybe So
Queen of the Desert trailer has arrived, asking the question "Who the hell is Gertrud Bell" - I can't give it its own post because there are too many trailers these past couple of days. But you should YNMS in the comments if you're in the mood. So jealous of Robert Pattinson when he's holding those lion cubs. Awww. 

Show Tune To Go
Showtunes to Cherish For All Time

These couple of weeks have all been about City Center productions for me. Every summer they do these amazing staged readings. Last week I saw Jonathan Groff and Ana Gasteyer do William Finn's "A New Brain" which is a terrific underperformed musical. (Gasteyer as it turns out was born for the musical stage, SNL aside). Next up is Sutton Foster doing "The Wild Party" so naturally I'm quite excited.  

In between those two shows, as you may have heard, Ellen Greene reprised her "Audrey" role in Little Shop of Horrors this week at a staged reading at City Center.  Jason went. I went. Joe Reid was wayyyyy up front (I was green with envy and confused since I bought my tickets the second they went on sale!). The New York Times Ben Brantley raved. Everyone was there. Or everyone will pretend to have been there years from now when people are still talking about this. 

Ellen, who is now in her sixties, was in fine form and wearing her original costumes no less. She was a shameless ham, milking her every line, pose, and big notes for maximum audience pleasure. Whenever a singer with a gargantuan voice has a signature tune that they've sung for decades the tunes always get a little more affected every time, possibly to keep them entertained. (Have you heard Jennifer Holliday do "And I'm Telling You" lately? It's just a series of abstract vowels and growls now, it's so weird.) Ellen nearly took "Suddenly Seymour" there but still brought the house down. "Somewhere That's Green" on the other hand was just so tender and yearning and funny... my god the goosebumps. That voice can still send shivers all over you of aural pleasure, innate empathy, belly laughs. She's a treasure.

FWIW Jake Gyllenhaal played Seymour and he was very funny when ad-libbing (it's a staged reading with limited rehearsal time so some flubbed lines allow actors to embellish or get the audience on their side) and his voice ain't half bad either. 

Ellen Greene's standing ovation was so epic and rumbling I feared the balcony would collapse and kill us all. Which would, come to think of it, be a fitting end for this grim comedy. The movie (be very grateful that her performance was preserved for all time) granted Audrey and Seymour a happy ending but they die in the musical. And then they sing their warning tale.

Whatever they offer you, don't feed the plant!

Picking a favorite song from this musical is impossible, I've listend to it so often over the years, but "Skid Row" is the one that doesn't get any attention that I cherish so here that is. 


Smackdown 1995. Pass it On!

The next Supporting Actress Smackdown is just three weeks and two days away on Sunday July 26th. Revisit the performances at home and get your votes in by Thursday July 23rd. I'll announce the panelists in one week. Please only vote on the performances you've seen -- the votes are weighted so it doesn't hurt the underseen or help the ubiquitous. This one will could be a squeaker with so many strong performances and memorable films. At least the way I remember it but it'll be fun to revisit these.

The Nominees...

And just for fun a handful of women who probably made some ballots that year but didn't make Oscar's shortlist included Globe nominees Kyra Sedgwick for Something to Talk About and Anjelica Huston for The Crossing Guard, SAG nominee Stockard Channing for Smoke, as well as Rachel Griffiths for Muriel's Wedding, Magda Szubanski for Babe, and (in our fantasies) Gina Gershon for Showgirls.


Tim's Halfway Toons: The year so far in animation

½way mark - part 3 of ? 

Tim here. We're spending the first few days of July looking back at the first half of the movie year, and now it's time to glance over the animated features of 2015 so far - about half of the total number of wide releases we should get, including the immediate carved-in-stone frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature Oscar until further notice. Here are some of the noteworthy achievements in the year's cartoons so far.

Best Design
Inside Out
's horizonless world inside the mind, full of bright and soft physical depictions of complicated psychological notions, providing a space for the thematic concerns and the grandiose adventure alike to both play out. Bonus points for the unstressed way that, from a sufficient height, it resembles the folds of the brain.

Funniest & Most Accurate Joke
The cat in Inside Out. My fellow cat owners understand why.

Most Creative Animation
The abstract through sequence in Inside Out, a simple but elegant mixture of styles and textures and depth that shows off without distracting from the movie itself.

Best Proof That There Are Other Good Animated Movies Besides Inside Out
The current last ever Studio Ghibli film, When Marnie Was There, is a catalog of all the things that studio does so well: generosity towards all its characters, complex young women dealing with real life issues, lush backgrounds that more resemble fine art than a movie. If this is really the end, the studio left on a high note.

Best-Looking Film That's Ugly as Hell
Strange Magic
, the misbegotten George Lucas production whose striking, photorealistic images are in service to designs that look like somebody got bored halfway through making Dungeons & Dragons fanart. Please forgive me for reminding the universe that Strange Magic exists.

Worst Ad Campaign for a Good Movie
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
is, for almost all of its running time, a charming throwback to the beloved TV show. It uses the surrealist jokes strung along a dizzy, fantastic narrative, with proudly old-fashioned 2-D animation that's severely colorful and defiantly flat, powerfully reminding us of the elegant pleasures of hand-drawn animation instead of the ubiquitous rendered models of CGI. Then, for about 15 minutes at the end, it morphs its characters into CGI effects interacting with the real world in what feels as much of a parody of garbage like The Smurfs as an attempt to hop on the bandwagon. Naturally enough, the trailers and TV spots drew almost exclusively from that last 15 minutes.

Unlikeliest Sure-Fire Way to Make Everybody Bawl Like a Child
The goofy-ass lyrics "Who's your friend to likes to play? Bing Bong, Bing Bong!" sound like something a three-year-old made up on the spot, because that's exactly what they literally are in the world of Inside Out. But I'll bet half of the people reading up are already misting up just thinking about that song. Also, I'm done talking about Inside Out.

Most Surprising Hit
Pretty much every box office analyst out there was set to write-off Home as the film that would finally murder DreamWorks Animation. There was even a two-part history right here at the Film Experience based on that assumption (which I otherwise remain very proud of). Instead, the film broke out to become one of the studio's biggest hits in years, after several consecutive underperformers and bombs.

Most Disappointing Hit
Sadly, Home is also tepid junk.

Best Movie That Hasn't Come Out in America
In the United Kingdom, Aardman Animation's Shaun the Sheep Movie had an enormously successful winter release that gained critical raves and an enthusiastic audience for its humor, invention, and warmth, a top-notch kid's movie that's smart and energetic enough for anybody. It's already on DVD in that country, in fact, which is how I know what I'm talking about. Here in the States, we have another month to wait. On the other hands, the Brits still haven't seen Inside Out, so it all comes out in the wash.

Previously: Best Lead Performances & Oscar Chart Updates in Acting


Women's Pictures - Kathryn Bigelow's The Loveless

If you're new to Anne Marie's 'Women's Pictures' it's a weekly series that takes on a new female director each month. Previously covered: Ida LupinoJane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Agnes Varda. - Editor

Kathryn Bigelow & Andy Warhol in 1981. Photo: Philippe LedruWelcome to Kathryn Bigelow month!

Considering that July is traditionally one of the bigger blockbuster months, it seemed like the perfect time to delve into the career of one of the most famous female directors currently working. Undoubtedly, Bigelow is most famous for being the only woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2008, she and The Hurt Locker unexpectedly became the symbols of art "fighting back" against bloated CGI behemoths represented by Avatar, directed by her ex-husband, James Cameron. The irony of this is that before making smaller, serious war movies, Bigelow had made her name (occasionally working with Cameron) on action flicks. So, pop some jiffy pop, lie back in your recliner, and let's get ready for some gun fights!

...But maybe not just yet. Surprisingly, 1981's The Loveless is virtually devoid of any explosions, catch phrases, car chases, or fun. Co-directed and co-written by Monty Montgomery (who would eventually produce Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady), The Loveless is a biker movie that falls into genre cliches even as it tries very hard to shed them.

Willem Dafoe (in his first credited film role) plays Vance, one of a gang of bikers who stop in a small town to fix a bike on the way to Daytona in the 1950s. The presence of the oversexed, understimulated bikers sends violent ripples through the stifled town, but the movie takes a long time to build to its climax. First, there are scenes of nearly shirtless Dafoe staring moodily into the distance while smoking. There are homoerotic knife games between gang members. There are downright voyeuristic shots of the biker boys as they leer at women. It's a sex-obsessed movie, is what I'm saying. Just not in the way I expected.

There is either a lot going on in this movie, or nothing at all...

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Halfway: Best Leading Performances of 2015 Thus Far

½way mark - part 2 of ? You can't see everything but you should see as much as possible if you're in the awardage business, or business of watching awardage, or business of watching awardage watchers and... well you get the picture. SEE MORE MOVIES. I know I need to and I see plenty.

Let's take stock of what's come out in theaters thus far (Jan 1st - Jul 1st for our purposes here). Even if conversations suggest otherwise in November through January each year we always pray that Academy members are regular moviegoers and don't just wait until their screeners arrive.

10 best lead performances from the year's first half...

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