NOW PLAYING

in theaters


review index

new on DVD/BluRay


review index

HOT TOPICS



Welcome

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

 

Powered by Squarespace
Comment Fun

COMMENT(s) DU JOUR
JASON CLARKE INTERVIEW

"I loved Clarke's scenes with Edgerton in The Great Gatsby. I thought, oh now I'm watching men not boys, and now I'm watching actors not movie stars.-Adri

"He has become someone I look for in films because he always comes across with such honesty." -Henry

 

Keep TFE Strong

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

What'cha Looking For?
Subscribe
Sunday
Nov232014

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Michael C here with what I suppose is part one of my review of Mockingjay.

“I wish she were dead,” says Finnick Odair at the start of the third entry in the Hunger Games series. “I wish they were all dead and we were too,” he adds to include himself, Katniss, and all the tributes that remain in the clutches of the Capitol after the events of Catching Fire

If that seem like a dispiriting way to start an action blockbuster rest assured it perfectly establishes the tone of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, a grim, disjointed film that is short on thrills and long on misery. Francis Lawrence’s sequel progresses from torture to bombs dropped on hospitals to the wreckage of towns strewn with skulls, all of it scrubbed down to a bloodless PG-13. Our big reward for wading through this suffering is to see our beloved Katniss strangled within an inch of her life. 

I expect fans of the series will like it a lot...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov232014

Top Box Office Hits of 2014 - Outside the Franchises!

Amir here, reporting to box office duty. For those of us not living under a rock for the past four years, the success of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 this weekend comes as no surprise. Let’s skip right over it then, although it’s probably worth noting that its haul was significantly less than its predecessors. In order to restore some sanity in the midst of this sequel-dominated explotionapalooza, we’ll take a break from regular box office reporting to look at the year’s top ten non-franchise, non-CGI-driven, non-animated box office champs of the year thus far:

#1 Drama of 2014: GONE GIRL

That Top Ten
01 GONE GIRL $156.8 Jason's reviewpodcast
02 NEIGHBORS $150.1 Review & podcast 
03 RIDE ALONG $134.9
04 THE FAULT IN OUR STARS $124.8 Review
05 NOAH* $101.2 PodcastInterview
06 THE EQUALIZER $99
07 NON-STOP $92.1 Amir's Review
08 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL $91.4
09 TAMMY $84.5 Review
10 THE OTHER WOMAN $83.9

*Including Noah and not Lucy is a judgment call as there is cgi in both but Noah's draw isn't really a typical CG film's draw

#1 Comedy of 2014: NEIGHBORS

11-20: LET'S BE COPS, FURY, MONUMENTS MEN, GOD'S NOT DEAD, SON OF GOD, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY, NO GOOD DEED, IF I STAY, and ABOUT LAST NIGHT

On average, this list is on the same level of quality as the actual top ten but what is depressing is that increasingly it is becoming impossible for original films to perform as well as commodities that the public already recognizes. Currently the highest ranking wholly original film among this year’s biggest grossers is Neighbors at 15th. While sequels and adaptations can be traced all the back to the silent era, the box office snoozefest wasn't always thus. Even at the turn of the century, the top ten list featured, quite unbelievably, the following films: Cast Away, Gladiator, What Women Want, Meet the Parents and What Lies Beneath, followed by the likes of Erin Brokovich, Traffic and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Since then, the studio system has gone through a complete metamorphosis, on several levels that are both too long and too frustrating to write about in this weekly column, but I think we all lost something as our stars gradually turned from people into effects and the average age of those the films are marketed to decreased without control.

Anyway, speaking of Hidden Dragon, here are the year's best selling foreign hits so far:

#1 Subtitled Film of 2014: CANTINFLAS

Top Subtitled Pictures of 2014 Thus Far
01 CATINFLAS $6.3 (Mexico via Lionsgate) - Oscar Submission
02 THE LUNCHBOX $4.2 (India via Sony Pictures Classics) 
03 IDA $3.7 (Poland via Music Box Films) - Oscar Submission, Loved it
04 THE RAID 2  $2.6 (Indonesia/USA via  Sony Pictures Classics)
05 THE ADMIRAL: ROARING CURRENTS $2.5 (South Korea via CJ Entertainment) 
06 BANG BANG $2.5 (India via FIP)
07 KICK $2.4 (India via UTV) 
08 2 STATES $2.2 (India via UTV) 
09 GLORIA $2.1 (Chile via Roadside Attractions) - Oscar Submission last year, Loved it
10 JAI HO $1.2 (via Eros) 

As always, Indian films dominate the list, though with the exception of The Lunchbox, most of them failed to gain traction outside the target demographic of the Indian community. France has had an unusally bad year, but it's heartwarming to see a film as chilly and uninviting as Ida has done such impressive business. Meanwhile, the best foreign release of the year, Force Majeure, is inching its way toward the million dollar mark. So far it has grossed $429k.

What have you watched this weekend? And how many of these selective top ten hits have you seen?

Sunday
Nov232014

Golden Horse Gets a "Blind Massage"

It's your annual report of the Oscars of the Chinese world, the 51st annual Golden Horse Awards. Unfortunately this year had little crossover in terms of what made it into US theaters. There's generally at least a few winners/nominees that opened in the US. This year only one as far as I can tell - the Oscar submission The Golden Era though the Gong Li vehicle Coming Home will be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics supposedly at some point. 

It was a big night for Lou Ye's Blind Massage, a rough night for acclaimed festival hit Black Coal Thin Ice and just your regular Saturday night for Ann Hui who took home her third (third!) Best Director prize for the Oscar submission The Golden Era. It wasn't a good year for the internationally recognizable acting contenders:  Tang Wei (The Golden Era) and Gong Li (Coming Home) lost to the woman with the lowest profile and Chang Chen (Brotherhood of Blades) lost Best Actor. As far am I'm aware

Full list of winners is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov222014

Big Eyes, Big Questions, Big Night... Big Open Thread

He sells paintings. Then he sells pictures of the paintings. Then he sells postcards of the pictures of the paintings.

I've been thinking a lot about art vs. commerce tonight, having just seen Big Eyes in which it is kind of the theme. Only not. Because there is a lot of other things going on inside this movie. Including multiple tones. It veers so far into comedy towards the end that I think they'd be smart to campaign musical/comedy for the Globes. (I kind of wanted it to be a musical. And I think Colleen Atwood and Rick Heinrichs did too but we know Tim Burton doesn't like those.) Christoph Waltz will again be the egregious category frauder of the year since it's most certainly a two-lead movie (he's missing from the first 5-10 minutes but then it's the both of them or either/or throughout. Oscar may or may not bite but it would only bite this one as fresh December bait so smart release date they chose. So for the next month I will live in fear of people loving Waltz's shtick!

We aren't allowed to review it yet so I will shut up now

Tonight: INTO THE WOODS! Which we also aren't allowed to review and which will also surely bring thoughts of art vs. commerce as we see how they adapted Sondheim's popular but still fairly dark musical in the hopes of becoming an all quadrant Disney blockbuster.  

UPDATE: Still sorting out my feelings on INTO THE WOODS but have plenty of time. Loved the first act but the genius of the second act in the show is... not... clear (lost?) with the many changes made. Anna Kendrick was the MVP but the whole cast can really sing and they were all good (barring Johnny Depp on both counts) which is the #1 thing I need in musicals. Alas I have very complicated feelings about the movie musical (my most beloved genre) because I always have too many feelings going in. This is why I need original musicals to return. Less pre-movie feelings obsessiveness to brush away to get to true reaction. 

ANYWAY. WHAT'S ON YOUR CINEMATIC MIND? How ready are you for the holiday movies and these two films?

Saturday
Nov222014

Tweets o' the Week

Clash of the twitter threads. I recently started muting words on twitter on subjects I just had no interest in hearing about anymore and in some cases never did despite the rest of the world's inexplicably insatiable interest (my timeline is blessedly "Kardashian" free - you should try it! I'm missing nothing) and I've been so much happier.

Twitter is still a colossal time sucker in some ways but it keeps the pop culture conversation lively and my favorite thing about it is hearing smart people say amusing things that I didn't think to say - that I felt but never put into words (like the first tweet below). Anyway, here are a dozen or so tweets that amused or edified. Just because it's fun to share them.

 

 

More after the jump including Viola Davis, Janis Joplin biopic, Matthias Schoenaerts, Selma, and the greatest title card of all time...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov222014

Yes No Maybe So: Pitch Perfect 2

Margaret here...

Long have we waited. Our lands have been barren, our sleep fitful, our souls thirsting for what we have been promised. But hope may yet again have a life in our hearts, because the trailer for the Pitch Perfect sequel has been granted unto us. Aca-praise be.

Honestly, Pitch Perfect 2 is exactly the kind of movie where most of us know long before a trailer hits whether we're a yes or a no. (I'm a yes because when I saw the first one, it was at a three-dollar theater after a happy hour, and I was with resident TFE ray of sunshine Anne Marie. Five-star experience, would recommend.)

That said, the trailer calls irresistably for our scrutiny. Excited to join our acappella brethren and sistren for an evening of good/clean/goof fun featuring extensive cameos from the Top 40 of our recent past? Hop on board.

 

YES:
  • Who among ye can resist the bewitching call of pretty, pretty harmonies? Bless this team for hiring a group of actors who sound genuinely lovely when they sing.
  • Anna Kendrick is as good a leading lady for this mini-franchise as they could possibly have landed. She's such a star, and musical comedy sure is her sweet spot.
  • Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) licking Beca's nose! A+ character, will need much more of her in the sequel. She brought a welcome dose of genuine weirdness to the first movie and I hope this time around they let her comic chops roam free. 
  • So they cast David Cross as the gatekeeper/emcee of some kind of underground acapella speakeasy? Y'know, that.... sounds pretty right to me. 
  • There is a downright absurd suite of performance outfits we see on the teams, and I am all for it. Can't have show choir world championships without Scottish BDSM enthusiasts, a disco bowling league, prep-school altar boys, or Chili's hostesses. 
  • Ahhh ha ha ha the tagline for this is "The Pitch Is Back." I can't even be mad at that, that's High Cornball genius.
 

NO:
  • Pretty pretty harmonies notwithstanding, am I seriously hearing that damn Cups song right now. I'm pretty sure it only just left the Billboard charts/my brain after being beaten into us all for a solid two years and now it is coming back to taunt us all and when will it end, Anna Kendrick, when will it end?!?
  • This isn't a dialogue-heavy trailer but they still manage to squeeze in several jokes carbon-copied from the first movie. If they don't try to find new sources of humor, this is going to be one stale hour-and-a-half. 
  • Velour blazers on the boys' group are a big, loud no. Apologies, but if they're going to position that Skylar Whatsisface as a romantic lead there is going to need to be a strict moratorium on velour blazers. It is for the good of mankind that I speak.
  • Snooty European rivals have been done, and they have been done, and they have been done some more.
 

MAYBE SO:
  • This is Elizabeth Banks' directorial debut, which is a bit of a question mark. She produced the original and clearly gets what made it so beloved, plus her scenes playing commentator with John Michael Higgins are far and away the funniest parts of the first movie and of this trailer. Could mean good things.
  • Pillow fights, slow-motion group hugs, team mud-wrestling.. it looks like they plan to lean pretty hard into the rag-tag misfit sisterhood thing. Not inherently a bad thing but can often tip into triteness on the quick. 
  • For a minute there, Rebel Wilson was all over the place and totally happening. If she nails it here she might be able to kickstart that momentum again. I hope they give her more to do than recycle bits from the first movie..
  • Remember the career we all thought Hailee Steinfield was gonna have? Do you think that's still in the cards?

Suprise surprise, I'm still a yes. Who else is with me?
Saturday
Nov222014

Candid Kidman (and Naomi) in 'The Last Impresario'

Glenn here with a bit of a photography break. I had anticipated catching far more films at DOC NYC, the documentary festival that is wrapping up its season here in New York. One film that I was able to catch, a nominee for Best Documentary at the "Australian Oscars", was Gracie Otto's The Last Impresario. It is a delightfully portrait of the life and career of the so-called most famous man you have never heard of, Michael White, and an entertaining trip down the film and theatre industry's memory lane. Otto discovered White when visiting the Cannes Film Festival and sought to document him, looking at the way he changed London's West End with original productions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Oh! Calcutta! and many more, before getting into film production with the likes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

One of the film's best moments is when Otto is interviewing the man on a bench in one of the few quiet corners of Cannes when who should walk by but Mick Jagger. White and Jagger chat like old friends (which they are) while Otto's camera sheepishly looks away, afraid of the potential wrath of celebrity by intruding. The film is full of little moments like this, but for Film Experience readers, however, the highlight will likely be the albums of photos that White allows Otto access to (White was a fan of taking candid photos on a polaroid camera). Included amongst them are a plethora of celebrities as well as these shots featuring Nicole Kidman and one with BFF Naomi Watts (and frizzy red hair!). While I am unsure when the first two photos were taken, I recognise the dress in the third photo as what she wore to the red carpet Cannes premiere of Dogville!

How much do you love this gals and why haven't they made a movie together since Flirting (1991) ?!?