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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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JANE is the doc frontrunner

"Can we hav a tie w both Jane and Faces Places?" - Claran

"Jane was wonderful. Goodall's such a compelling presence that the talking heads even give off a freshness that that format has lacked in recent documentaries." - John T

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Interviews

new Claes Bang Actor
(Sweden's Oscar Submission)
Nikolaj Lie Kaas Actor
(Denmark's Oscar Submission)
Hana Jusic Director
(Croatia's Oscar Submission)

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Tuesday
Oct022012

Curio: Carole Bayer Sager's Friends

Alexa here. Carole Bayer Sager is best known as a songwriter. Anyone who came of age in the 80s will know the songs she helped create with the likes of Marvin Hamlisch and her ex-husband Burt Bacarach. Many of these figured prominently in film, like "That's What Friends Are For" (I remember Rod Stewart's version being used in Night Shift, although Dionne Warwick's version with her friends is more famous) and "Nobody Does It Better" (one of the best Bond songs). Carole won an Oscar alongside Bacarach and Christopher Cross in 1981 for the indelible "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)".

These days, less excited with songwriting, she has turned to oil painting.  She discusses her new work, mostly of large-scale abstractions and macro-like images of food, in October's issue of W magazine. While her abstractions are stronger, she has also painted portraits of her famous friends, many of which reveal an intimate side of figures we often don't get to see.  Here are a few from the film world she has captured. You can see all her work here.

Steve Martin and his wife Anne StringfieldNicole, Sunday Rose, and KeithStephen Spielberg

Tuesday
Oct022012

First & Last Season Six. Let's Play!

Season Six Commences! The first and last image (minus the opening and closing credits) from a motion picture.

first line

Throw it here, butter fingers." 

last line

PLAY BALL!"

Can you guess the movie?
 

Monday
Oct012012

Seth MacFarlane! Really?

 I can't say I saw this one coming. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has been named host of February's Oscars. Honestly I wouldn't even have guessed that if you'd let me guess 100 names.

Rule #1 of Oscar Host selection in the past has always been that the host was an instantly recognizable celebrity and household name, the kind of celebrity that even your grandparents would be familiar with: Whoopi, Steve Martin, Letterman, etcetera. It's never a behind the scenes creative, however famous his name or voice might be.

While MacFarlane is considerably less famous than past hosts that doesn't mean he won't do a fine job... his musical referencing will be a natural fit on Oscar night though the non-sequitor nature of his jokes (at least on Family Guy) might be a stranger fit. Are we in for another "Uma. Oprah"?

MacFarlane's selection is yet another example of the Academy's increasingly schizo "who are we?" identity crisis over the last handful of years. They can't stop themselves.

Are you a MacFarlane fan or were you hoping for someone with more star wattage? Who do you think they also considered before this left turn?

Monday
Oct012012

NYFF: "Bwakaw" is a Film Festival's Best Friend

Seventy year-old Rene (Eddie Garcia) is an elderly gay man who fits quite neatly into the crowded movie trope of "Grumpy Old Man." He doesn't have a lawn but he'd clearly want his neighbors to get off of it if he did. He doesn't seem to love anyone or anything other than his dog Bwakaw.

Eddie Garcia and Princess star in "Bwakaw", an Oscar contender from The Philippines

They say that a dog is a man's best friend but I don't think that it's usually meant quite so literally.  Rene is so grumpy that you aren't always sure he loves his faithful canine shadow. In one stinging heartbreakmidway through the film a veterinarian asks him "don't you ever touch your dog?" and it occurs to you that you've rarely seen him do so.

But Bwakaw isn't a demanding girl. She follows Rene everywhere he goes… except inside his house. She's been banned for making a mess the last time she was there and one imagines that was long ago; Rene doesn't let things go easily. He still sleeps, for example, in his boyhood home and he's still quite attached to all of his mother's things including her devout Catholicism though he isn't religious himself (This dichotomy informs several of the film's sharpest comic beats but that's a topic for a much longer piece.) So each night Bwakaw curls up sadly in the dirt at the bottom of the stairs leading to the sad man's bedroom and waits until morning to see her master again.

It's important to note here that Bwakaw the dog is a sandy girl. She'd be barely perceptible from Bwakaw the movie, with its terminally washed out light, colorless rooms, and graying characters, were it not for her happy trot and zest for life. Her name translates to "Voracious" though she's curiously slim and bony for a dog that likes to eat. 

Initially it's not at all clear why this film, a true gem from director Jun Lana and an absolutely worthy Oscar submission, is titled as it is. Bwakaw is not so much an active participant as a shadow, or a sidekick if you're feeling generous. For a good hour the film is little more than a perceptive character study -- not that those aren't welcome -- of a lonely gay man who's angry that he missed out on a full life.  In many ways Rene is a shadow in his own movie. Most of the colorful subplots, broad comedic bits, and vibrant personalities belong to other members of the cast.  Rene's "friends" (I use the term loosely given that he's consistently at odds with most of them) are two flamboyant gay men, a co-worker planning a trip to Canada, a rough taxi driver, a local priest who hears his confessions, and a woman losing her memory in a nearby old folk's home.

But when Bwakaw becomes ill Rene is finally shaken out of his ornery complacency and gradually begins to feel his life again instead of just planning for his death. The film beautifully and fluidly shifts to compliment his journey, letting more light and color and vibrancy into the images.


Many "feel good" inspirational movies boost the spirit synthetically by glossing over life's darkest moments or wishing them away with tunnel vision on the triumphant stuff. Rene's story, however harsh and lonely in its particulars, contains far richer inspiration at its core. Rene is so focused on mortality that he keeps forgetting to live but there's no point in climbing in the coffin before your time. Embrace whatever tiny happiness comes your way. Live. B+/A-

Related Pages
2012 Foreign Film Oscar Submissions Pt. 1: Albania to Italy
2012 Foreign Film Oscar Submissions Pt. 2: Japan to Vietnam
Foreign Film Finalist Prediction List just a little guesswork 

More NYFF
Lincoln's Noisy "Secret" Debut
The Paperboy & the Power of Nicole Kidman's Crotch 
Frances Ha, Dazzling Brooklyn Snapshot
Barbara Cold War Slow Burn
Our Children's Death March 
Hyde Park on Hudson Historical Fluff 

Monday
Oct012012

Monty, The Reluctant Pundit, Meets "Bernie"

Everyone knows that cats are psychic. Their mysterious moods including strange swerves from autonomy to neediness, and sudden flights of whimsy and imagination at war with narcolepsy suggest as much! Each year as longtime readers know I consult my beloved Monty on the Oscars. Last year he pretended not to care about Bridesmaids, a cryptic response that did little to help us determine the film's Oscar future (it ended the season with two Oscar nominations for Supporting Actress and Screenplay) but in 2010 he was absolutely prescient when it came to Fox Searchlight's 2010 collection: Yes to 127 Hours, Hell No on Conviction and zzzz to Never Let Me Go.

So I couldn't resist presenting him with the season's first tea leaves if you will. The For Your Consideration DVD of Richard Linklater's Bernie arrived on Saturday and straight to my fuzzy boy it went.

Oh no, NOT THIS AGAIN, DADDY.

At first he refused to look. I rearranged the film's FYC postcard and DVD to see if he would deign to comment.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct012012

Game Show

Are you ready to play? After a depressing September, it's time to have fun again. The Film Fun Experience. What's more fun than games?  Each morning will kick things off with a movie quiz, poll, or trademarked game.

First and Last had a very short fifth season -- I got too fancy with the audio clues when I was getting bored -- but after a long hiatus, I'm ready again. You?  "Secret Messages", "Who's That Girl" and other unique TFE puzzles will also return. Someone fire the starting shot. I'm so ready to go. 

Also coming up this week: Monty the Cat's first psychic proclamation of this new awards season, Revenge Season 2, the first Oscar party reports, and the second season of "Oscar Horrors"... a series devote to those rare horror films that have been nominated for the golden boy.