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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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Saturday
Oct182014

Foreign Oscar Watch: White God

With London and Chicago Fests ongoing, a few reports from each to cover more Oscar Submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. Here's our London friend David on Hungary's Oscar submission.

Let me start off, if you'll forgive me, by citing that oldest and meanest of acting adages: the one about never working with children or animals. That seems to be in the heads of every adult we see on-screen in White God, for every single one of them, without exception, treats an animal or a child badly in one way or another. Fortunately for the audience, the film is on their side. Violently so; be mean to a dog in White God and you'll be lucky if you don't get your bloody throat ripped out.

After a prelude in which Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is pursued through a deserted city by a hoard of dogs in what can only be described as a scene from the dogocalypse, we flashback to see what brought the poor girl to this point. Her mother's off abroad for three months, so Lili is being unloaded on her father, Daniel (Sandor Zsoter), a much older man whom neither woman seems to have a particularly sparkling relationship with. He certainly doesn't have much time for Lili, and even less for her beloved dog, Hagen; after a visit from the authorities demanding he pay the requisite fees for a mixed-breed dog, Dad abandons Hagen on the side of a road.

Cue the swelling orchestral score as the devoted mutt bounds hopelessly after Lili's weeping face, and we're left wondering if this is a Hungarian remake of Homeward Bound. Before long, an adorably bedraggled canine sidekick latches onto Hagen, and their escapades eluding the dog catchers could have come straight from the annals of Disney animation. The Hungarian streets of White Godare a shade harsher, and just as Daniel's financial restraints have depleted his compassion, so Hagen finds himself in even more degraded climbs, sold to a man looking for a return to the dog fighting ring; 'this one's still got a heart' the man says, before proceeding to grind that puppyish love out of Hagen - now, obviously, named Max - in a brutal training montage that recalls the brilliant confrontational realism of Amores perros.

As Hagen progresses towards realising the eventual canine collective, Lili is making her own journey, a more generic coming of age story where her own engagement with society's dangerous trappings is tested. Tellingly, the film heavily features her role in a school orchestra, and the resulting orchestral score provides the film with some fittingly grandiose accompaniment for the astonishing dog choreography in the film's bravura final act. It's in these last stretches that White God really makes its mark, a genuinely tense, delectably absurd climax that leaves the Hungarian streets cowering. Narrative notes collide with daring exuberance, but writer-director Kornél Mundruczó is careful to include sobering notes of the reality lingering behind the theatrics.

White God screened as part of the 58th BFI London Film Festival.


21 of 83 Oscar Foreign Submissions Reviewed: AfghanistanArgentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, Germany, HungaryIceland, Israel, ItalyLatvia, Mauritania, Norway, PolandPortugalSweden, Switzerland and Venezuela and The Foreign Oscar Charts

Friday
Oct172014

Birdman's Beating Heart: An Interview with Composer Antonio Sanchez

Birdman, the pitch-black comedy from Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu that recently took the festival circuit by storm, opens in theaters today. Among its most distinctive and arresting features is its drum-based score, composed by Grammy-winning jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez. A classically trained musician considered by both critics and peers to be among the foremost drummers, bandleaders and composers in contemporary jazz, the Mexico City native had never scored a film before his partnership with Iñárritu. Margaret caught up with him to discuss the project. The soundtrack was released on October 14, on Milan records.

Margaret: Since you’re a first time film composer, how did you get involved with Birdman

ANTONIO SANCHEZ: I met Alejandro [Gonzalez Iñárritu] a few years back—there’s a very famous jazz guitar player that I play with a lot named Pat Metheney—and Alejandro has been a big Pat Metheney fan for a long time. In fact, the first time I ever heard Pat Metheney was in Mexico City when Alejandro used to DJ this radio show back in the day.

Margaret: No way!

ANTONIO SANCHEZ: He had a radio show on WFM 96.9 in Mexico City that played really hip, modern music-- music you would not normally hear on Mexican radio stations. I became a fan really fast.

Years later I was playing with Pat Metheney in L.A., and Alejandro came to the concert. I met him afterward, we really hit it off, and we kept in touch. Last year he called me to say he was going to shoot a film in the next couple months and was thinking that the perfect film score would be just drums, solo drums. And while of course I was interested, I had no idea how it was going to work. Like you said, it was my first time scoring a film, and also just drums? I had no idea how that would sound 

[Dreams of EGOT & Internal Monologues after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct172014

How To Get Away With Turning Your Procedural TV Into Gay Porn.

I was going to quit How To Get Away With Murder with this fourth episode but I may have to keep watching from the sheer ridiculousness as well as the fascinating case study of Anything Goes in contemporary television. If you replace all the female characters on this show with gay men (as you could well do with only 1% of your imagination since all the characters are so broadly drawn) this would be the gayest show that ever existed. Sorry Queer as Folk, Sex & The City and Looking.

ABC had promised jaw-dropping with their promos for last night's episode once you heard 'Viola Davis's last nine words'. Those last nine words included the word "penis". Hey, they're the ones who said "jaw-dropping" not me! Naughty naughty. (For the record my jaw did not drop but it did open wide for a long chortle. It's either really terrible writing or A+ lurid paperback but either way it amounts to the same thing) Viola's quotable send-off turned out to be so gay and so trashy that it exemplifies the young series better than I could ever hope to.

The last nine-words were...

 

Why is your penis on a dead girl's phone?

The most important word in that sentence is penis because How To Get Away With Murder is obsessed with them. Let's recap their communal cock collection after the jump...

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Friday
Oct172014

Review: St. Vincent

 Here's Michael's weekend review of St. Vincent, currently expanding to more theaters...

There is a moment in Theodore Melfi’s St. Vincent where it looks like the film might deviate from the relentlessly predictable path it’s been traveling up to that point. Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) is the runty new kid at school, so of course he immediately picks up a squad of dedicated bullies, and of course they manage to locate him in a parking lot while he waits for the return of his crabby, neglectful babysitter, Vincent (Bill Murray). Movie law dictates that this is the cue for Vincent to swoop in to put a hurting on the bullies, thus revealing a new likeable side to this misanthrope, and sure enough Bill Murray’s seedy guardian shows up on cue. Only instead of intervening, he leans against his broken down old jalopy and lights up a cigarette, with Oliver getting the snot pummeled out of him all the while.

Is Vincent really going to just sit there and do nothing, we wonder? Does he side with the bullies? Does he think this will build character? Or is it that Vincent doesn’t think the eleven dollars an hour Melissa McCarthy’s single mom neighbor is paying him to watch Oliver while she works triple shifts covers rescue operations? Is it possible this guy is a genuine bum and not the cuddly curmudgeon we are expecting? 

More...

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Friday
Oct172014

Posterized: Naomi Watts

It's good to be Naomi Watts right now which is something of a surprise since last year it wasn't. But then the blonde Aussie's career has always been like that. Let's investigate.

Naomi Watts photographed by Mark Abrahams for More magazine

In the Posterized series, now beginning a new season so expect one each Friday, we look back at a star's career through their movie posters. Sometimes it's their giant sized faces and sometimes they don't appear on the poster at all. Such are the vagaries of stardom and advertisements.

In Naomi's film debut she didn't even get a name. The then 18 year old actress was billed as "Leo's Girlfriend" I couldn't find a movie poster of that one so we begin five years later when the actress, after a few TV stints debuted properly opposite her best friend Nicole Kidman in Flirting (1991) a terrific Australian coming of age movie you should seek out. A few random TV stints sprinkle her filmography but it's been mostly movies ever since. Out of kindness I'm not including Movie 43 (I'm assuming the hundreds of stars in that one want to forget it, right?) so let's look at the other 39 films. 

HOW MANY HAVE YOU SEEN? 

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Friday
Oct172014

What I have linked, I have linked.

Popwatch Julianne Moore tribute coming in January at the Museum of the Moving Image - let the coronation mark begin
In Contention Pedro Pascal for Ben-Hur and portrayals of Pontius Pilate on the screen
Salon what Gone Girl and Amazon's Transparent have in common
Interview talks to David Cronenberg
iTunes You can buy Norte: The End of History, The four hour acclaimed Philippines Oscar submission on iTunes now if you'd like.
Vulture talks to Kim Dickens from Gone Girl on claims that the movie is misogynist 

 

Awards Daily new trailer for Unbroken. I feel like there've been a lot of these
i09 compares Battlestar Galactica to Outlander given that they're from the same series creator Ron Moore
Criterion is releasing the classic The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant on blu-ray. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's movies are not available enough so this is great news
The Hollywood Reporter Clowns of America International (that's a real thing) is pissed about AHS: Freakshow's Twisty the Clown. In related news how come y'all didn't comment on the last AHS post. You led me to believe you were watching it!
Screen Daily Jane Campion developing a second season of Top of the Lake
Latino Review Actress Elizabeth Peña (Jacobs Ladder, La Bamba, Modern Family) has passed away at 55 
Towleroad Ezra Miller feels like surprise casting to me as The Flash in DC/WB''s superhero universe (unrelated: I'm enjoying the CW TV show of the same name thus far. It isn't great but it's light & fun, unlike Arrow which bored me silly)
Towleroad gays on television from ABC's hypersexual connivers & neutered comics to the wider queerness of premium and cable channels
Playbill that stage musical version of American Psycho is still happening and is now looking at fall 2015 on Broadway 

Awwww...
Times one thousand.

It's a teaser for the new Disney short Feast. This short apparently tells the life story of a Boston Terrier solely through his meals. It'll play before Big Hero 6 and we may be looking at a serious Best Animated Short Oscar contender. 

The Divas...
It's way too early to be thinking about Christmas but if you're an early shopper please know that Glen Hanson, an illustrator I just love, has designed a Liza Minnelli holiday ornament. Thanks to Boy Culture for the heads up. The proceeds go to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.  If you want one you purchase here.

In other Broadway news, a special tribute to Elaine Stritch is coming on November 17th with performances by (are you sitting down) Patti Lupone, Betty Buckley, Christine Ebersole, Michael Feinstein, and my personal favorite of the theatrical divas of a certain age, Bernadette Peters

So who is singing what? They're keeping that a secret naturally.  

Thursday
Oct162014

CIFF Foreign Film Oscar Report, Vol. 1: Afghanistan, Italy & Switzerland

Tim here. A week ago today, two things happened: the Academy announced the complete list of submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film race, and the 50th Chicago International Film Festival opened. That's put me in a position to see a lot of those submissions firsthand, and this week and next I'll be sharing my quick thoughts on several of the ones that the Film Experience hasn't otherwise looked at.

AFGHANISTAN: A FEW CUBIC METERS OF LOVE
In a grubby part of Tehran, a population of Afghan refugees ekes out a small living and strives to retain their culture and sense of worth while dodging the police. Against this background, a young Afghan woman (Hasiba Ebrahimi) and an Iranian boy (Saed Soheili) fall in love, only to find their relationship threatened when her father decides to flee Iran. So it's yet another Romeo & Juliet riff, although in this case the unexpected context gives it some freshness, and the film does good work balancing its depiction of the hard life of the refugees in an unfriendly place with the romantic plot. Ebrahimi and Soheili also have excellent, unforced chemistry with each other, making for an especially appealing representation of a stock scenario. It's a little minor and not too daring, but it's awfully moving.

Oscar prospects: Stranger things have happened, though central Asia hasn't done all that well here over the years, and the realist style is a little on the chilly side. I suspect it would have to be one of the films swept in by executive decision, and there are bigger-name titles that are much likelier to receive that boost.

Israeli divorce, Italian essay, and Swiss gays after the jump...

Click to read more ...