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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
Oct312014

The Honoraries: Harry Belafonte, Beetlejuice (1988)... and Selma (2014)?

In our miniseries "The Honoraries" we're celebrating the four talents that'll be honored by the Academy at the Governor's Awards this year. Here's Nathaniel...

Or, rather, here's soon to be Jean Hersholt Humanitarian winner Harry Belafonte's immeasurable contribution to Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (1988) - included below since it seemed appropriate for Halloween. When I was a kid these Belafonte songs weren't new to me since my parents had a few of his records but I imagine for a whole swath of young moviegoers in the 1980s this was quite an introduction. Two of the movie's key scenes were basically handed over to his joyful voice and catchy songs.

"Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" was originally from Harry Belafonte's "Calypso" album, his third, in 1956. The song was a top five hit but the album was an even bigger sensation spending over half a year as the #1 selling LP in the country. "Jump in the Line" the Belafonte number that closes the film through Noni's floating dance was a cover recorded for his 1961 album "Jump Up Calypso".

Beetlejuice (1988) and political activism after the jump...

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Friday
Oct312014

Review: John Wick

Michael C here 

The screenplay for David Leitch and Chad Stahelski’s John Wick is so simplistic it rises above laziness until it reaches a kind of glorious absurdist joke. What “plot” there is (and I’m typing those quote marks as hard as I can) could be adapted into a book for beginning readers without much stretching:

See John Wick’s wife die. John sad.
John’s wife leaves John dog. John slightly less sad.
See Russian mobster kill John’s dog. John mad.
See John kill. Kill, John, kill!

To gripe about the thinness of the script is to miss the point. A movie like John Wick is all about getting to the good stuff. When the story is pared down to such a degree it’s a giftwrapped opportunity for filmmakers to show off their chops by filling all that empty space with creatively staged mayhem and wild, indulgent detours, two things for which I am always on board. On such occasions, I am more than willing to disengage higher brain function for 100 minutes, lean back in my seat and say “Show me what you got!” silly grin on my face, drool collecting on my popcorn...

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Friday
Oct312014

Horror Haikus for Halloween

Glenn here wishing you a happy Halloween! I’m not sure if you noticed, but this year has been pretty slim on mainstream horror movies. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been great ones out there worth seeking out, it's just that they're predominantly in limited release and on VOD. The three best horror titles of the year are all such films, the kind that audiences will likely (hopefully?) discover for years to come rather than immediately like The Conjuring. All three are feminist takes on the genre and deserve more eyeballs on them than they’ll ultimately get, but we can plug them anyway.

One is Under the Skin, which was released back in April and one that I really hope critics organizations remember in between trying to predict what Oscar will select. The second is Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, which is out now on home entertainment in its homeland of Australia, in cinemas in the UK, and out exclusively through DirecTV in the US before going to theatres and other VOD services in late November. If you miss it you’ll be missing one of the scariest movies in years. Your best actress roster may just take a shaking, too, if Essie Davis’ fraying mother impresses you as much as it did me. The last such title is A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which I saw at the Sundance Film Festival and labelled “one of the greatest and most hypnotically enthralling horror movies in some time.” It may be my number one film of 2014 now that it’s getting theatrical release next month.

Anyway, because I’m pumped for time – I have to go and watch the 196-minute Winter Sleep for Stockholm Film Festival jury duty – I thought we should celebrate these three incredible movies in the briskest way possible: haiku! Maybe you can join in with your own favourite films of the year? I’d love to hear them.

Under the Skin

Alien of space
Devouring souls of Scotland
Her sex killed by fire

 

The Babadook

A mother’s dark grief
Flesh texture of goose-pimples
Ba-ba-dook-dook-dook

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Chador at your door
Iran industrial wasteland
Get out while you can

Got a horror haiku of your own you'd like to share? Speak up in the comments!

Friday
Oct312014

Red Carpet Lineup: Interstellar Premiere

Are these Interstellar premiere ensembles simply Beyond (The Galaxy)? You decide. Hathaway and McConaughey are growing their hair out (yayyyyy/no!). Is Annie's dress representing for sci-fi's requisite AI? Is Matthew's gridlike suit a visual homage to Chris Nolan's regimented dreamscapes on Earth and in outerspace? Is the bottom of Jess's gown supposed to be like that or was this red carpet's surface covered in a thin layer of H20? 

Are these red carpet looks actually film spoilers? AhhhhHAaaaHHAAAu-huhhh?

Friday
Oct312014

Happy Halloween from The Film Experience! 

We didn't make October a big horror month at the blog like we've done in past years (gotta switch it up from time to time) but we'll be creepier and crawlier next year since we had a break in 2014... if the blog survives another Oscar season, that is. [cue: ominous music]

But for now, an OPEN THREAD. 

Which horror films have you seen the most in your lifetime? Do you always watch on on Halloween?

The only two horrors I've personally seen a ridiculous bunch of times (since I'm not a big rewatcher and it's hardly my favorite genre) are Psycho (1960) and Carrie (1976). I never tire of either. My third favorite is Rosemary's Baby (1968) though I've only see it thrice. Though several others are gold (Herzog's Nosferatu, Kubrick's The Shining, etcetera) those three just tower over all others casting creepy and unimproveable shadows. My teammates have a broader range of favorites as evidenced by our Top Ten Pre-Exorcist Horror Films and the Top Ten Post-Exorcist Horror films.

Happy Halloween !  

Be safe tonight. We only pretend that ghoulish fates await us on All Hallows' Eve.

Thursday
Oct302014

The Honoraries: Hayao Miyazaki

Welcome to "The Honoraries" a daily miniseries honoring the careers of the three Honorary Oscar recipients of 2014 (Maureen O'Hara, Hayao Miyazaki, Claude Carriere) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Harry Belafonte). Here's Tim...

It’s annoying when people who already won competitive Oscars get tapped to receive an a Honorary award, as in the case of Hayao Miyazaki (his win was in 2002’s Best Animated Feature category, for Spirited Away, and it was hugely deserved). But, on the other hand, it’s Hayao Miyazaki. His body of work is among the strongest of any working director, and his recent retirement has caused a fundamental shift in the landscape of international animation. I can’t imagine anybody who has seen more than a couple of his films (or even just one, if it’s the right one), could possibly deny that his talent is of a magnitude that even two Oscars is… well, it’s “fine”, but maybe three would have been okay, too.

And for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure, I am happy to take this small chance to tell you what makes him so wonderful. Not by focusing on one film, as other entries in the Honoraries have done (but if you want my picks for The One You Have To See, it would be My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, in that order. And that’s three, not one, but it’s Hayao Miyazaki), but by touching on some of the career-wide trends that have made all of his films, without exception, worthwhile and important and beautiful.

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Thursday
Oct302014

Calendar-Man v. Film Culture: The Bubble-Bursting Wars

With every studio hopping on the "universe building" trend that Marvel perfected for cinema -- too bad Pixar's early "all original concept / few sequels" success didn't translate to cross-studio trends -- cinema will be becoming a lot more like television. It already has, of course, with those annual editions of popular franchises playing like big budget TV miniseries with all their episodes smashed together for one bingewatch a year (think Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter). With the Star Wars universe now planning annual showings and Bond & Star Trek till and that planned resurrection of the entire original iconic movie monsters, one has to wonder if Original Content will finally be put down by the 2020s. Or will the bubble burst and audiences will grow tired of continuing stories with overly familiar characters and often padded multi-part stories with no resolutions. You know, the kind they can get at home on television for free?!

This comic panel has been slightly altered to better illustrate my argument.

All entertainment trends are cyclical. This is a fact, however much people valiantly argue year after year that whatever's hot right then will live on forever. But when exactly will the bubble burst?

I was initially very excited about the growing genre of superhero movies -- like many boys I spent countless hours in childhood and adolescence dreaming of seeing my favorite characters on the page in live action environments (X-Men, The Avengers, The Teen Titans, Cloak & Dagger, Green Lantern and Daredevil figured chief amongst my fantasies in this regard). But even though I wanted this, I'm already kinda bored of seeing it actualized especially since so much of it plays more like a nightmare (see the first film versions of Green Lantern and Daredevil - or better yet, DON'T, if you've managed to escape them).

Backstage blog handwringing and the superhero glut after the jump...

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