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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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COMMENT(s) DU JOUR
Amy Adams for Janis Joplin

"It's baffling to me that Amy Adams will potentially have as many nominations as Blanchett, Winslet, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Thelma Ritter, Deborah Kerr, Sissy Spacek, and Glenn Close. This is weird, right?" -Aaron

"What is happening with Nina Arianda's Janis film with Sean Durkin? It's still listed as "announced" on her IMDB. Are we to assumed that it is a lost cause?" -Ryan

 

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Tuesday
Nov252014

Cast This! Steve McQueen's Actressful Gangster Movie 'Widows'

The story: three armed robbers are killed during a planned heist, leaving behind three widows. Under pressure from the police and rivals to their late husbands' crime business, they team up to carry out the robbery themselves, enlisting another widow in the process. CEO of New Regency Brad Wilson, who financed 12 Years and will be producing again on this project, said it will be McQueen's "own version of a gangster film..[it] gives him the commercial jumping-off point, but then allows him to twist it into a Steve McQueen film."

Now, doesn't that just make you say "Oooooh"?

The film will take place in a modern-day American city instead of in the U.K., and will likely end up with a different title, but promises to be a showcase for four actressing talents. The plan is to be in pre-production by year's end.

Naturally, our question here at TFE is who should play the widows? Detailed character information is frustratingly scarce, but the parts are Dolly (the woman they turn to leadership), Shirley, Linda, and the addition to their group is Bella. The property has been dramatized three times with two British series (one in the 80s and one in the 90s) and an American mini in 2002 with Mercedes Reuhl & Rosie Perez. Did any of you see the latter?

My picks would be Michelle Pfeiffer for Dolly (Married to the Mob, you guys!), with Rosario Dawson, Jenny Slate, and Lupita Nyong'o filling out the rest of the team.

Make a case for your dream cast in the comments!

Tuesday
Nov252014

Stage Door: Emma Stone in "Cabaret"

Jose here. Earlier this year I reported back from the Kit Kat Club to share my impressions about Michelle Williams’ performance as Sally Bowles in the Roundabout Theatre production of Cabaret. Last night I went back to see what Emma Stone (Spirit-Nominated this morning) brought to the part...

Halfway through the first act of Cabaret, Sally Bowles realizes that life with her naive, new lover Cliff (Bill Heck) might be exactly what she needs. She sits with Cliff on a chaise lounge and for a moment she sees herself living the life of a wife and mother, satisfied with keeping home and raising her child. Suddenly, the Emcee interrupts this precious moment by bringing a microphone, its allure too powerful for Sally to resist, and drawn towards it as if under a spell, she performs “Maybe This Time”.

Onstage, the heartbreaking irony of this moment (Sally selling her soul to showbiz, while fooling herself into thinking she’s doing the opposite) is hard to detect if the actress playing her is too eager, or not eager enough; a delicate balance which I’m thrilled to report was beautifully achieved by Emma Stone.

Having already proved to be a truly magnetic screen presence, Stone brings her unusual sensuality to Sally Bowles by subverting the quirkiness that makes her so much fun to watch in movies. Gone are the traces of the goofy girl from Easy A, or the naivete of her Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. If anything, she’s taking on the introspective self-destructiveness of her Sam from Birdman, the same volatile qualities that make her appealing and scary. Her Sally is a teenager who has convinced herself she can fool others into thinking she can play with the grown-ups. Her levels of delusion are such that she fails to notice she hasn’t really fooled anyone but herself.

Stone is also smart enough to know that in the stage version, Sally isn’t the star, she’s part of the ensemble. To a certain degree she's also a memory conveyed by Cliff who “writes” the show as it goes by looking back at his Berlin experiences. Stone’s Sally, while not the star of the show, is so seductive that we miss her whenever she’s not onstage, partly because we want to see her again, and partly because we are afraid of what will happen to her when we’re not looking after her. The audience develops caretaker feelings towards her, combined with sexual desire, making for Stone’s most mature performance to date.

And can she sing you ask? While she is obviously no Liza (then again who is?), Stone successfully delivers her numbers, bringing a raspy, sensual quality to them. (She often sounds like Lindsay Lohan did in her pop star moment!). Stone knows that singing isn’t her (or Sally's) true forte, so she lets this be an essential part of the performance, delivering the last third of the title song completely out of pitch, furiously fighting against the notes coming from the band. If a man can’t restrict her, why does this song think it can?

 

Tuesday
Nov252014

Birdman Leads Spirit Nominations 2014. Discuss!

Sony Pictures Classics leads the nominations for the Spirit Awards this year with an incredible 15 nominations though Fox Searchlight's Birdman leads all films with 6 nominations. And rather ridiculously even at the Spirits we have to play category fraud with Alfred Molina dubbed supporting in the marriage drama Love is Strange while his screen hubby John Lithgow is declared lead. (sigh). But we're happy that Love is Strange did so well wtih 4 nominations including Best Feature.

In case you forgot last year's nominations and would like a comparison, you can see them here as well as the eventual winners. Of all the awards shows you'd think that Spirit Awards could at least be a little different but last year they weren't with Best Picture and all four acting prizes repeating on Oscar night. Will this year have a greater and thus more exciting and wealth-spreading disconnect? We'll see but given the nominees in the acting categories (many from presumed Oscar hopefuls, we could well see a four for four again. 

Complete list of 2014 nominees is after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov252014

Thanksgiving Break. Screener Madness. What's Left?

1/2 my screener stack. The ones that are coming with me for the holiday. Just in case. What do you still have to cram in before your film year is done? I imagine a lot given the Christmas release dates, damn these last-minute movies, amirite? This Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for screenings and screeners. I couldn't keep up without them given the writing and interviewing and blog prep and awards coverage necessary in December and January.

SCREENER SUGGESTIONS
Over at the Gurus of Gold, David Poland asked us to name three screeners we'd suggest that Academy / SAG / etcetera voters watch over the holiday break. The collective results aren't up yet but I went with:

  • Pride because it might end up topping the list of 'best movies of 2014 that people didn't watch or even hear about'
  • Nightcrawler because Jake Gyllenhaal did better work than some of the alleged frontrunners and I've been surprised to realize how few AMPAS voters have seen it from the anecdotal evidence I've collected at luncheons & parties. (Six more luncheons/dinners/parties to get through next week before they're not allowed to throw them anymore once voting begins)
  • Ida -Speaking of Jake. He showed up at his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal & Peter Sarsgard's FYC screening of the Polish hit I attended last week. I only included this one (which isn't exactly an underdog in its category) because I think Oscar voters should be thinking of it in other categories, too. 

How would you have answered that question? 

OSCAR BAIT MOVIES YOURS TRULY HAS LEFT SO SEE

  • Unbroken 
  • American Sniper
  • The Homesman

Otherwise I will try to rewatch a few that feel way fuzzy in memory (Grand Budapest for sure) and try to catch up with a handful or two of key films I missed this year before handing out the film bitch awards, like this sample pack...

  • Archaelogy of a Woman
  • Blue Ruin
  • Calvary
  • Fury
  • A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Skeleton Twins

I'm heading to Vermont for a "Friendsgiving" starting tonight but some posting will still be headed your way this week. What are your big plans this week?

Next up today: The Spirit Award Nominations

 

Monday
Nov242014

Curio: Black Friday at Gallery 1988

Alexa here with your weekly art appreciation. In addition to pie and turkey gorging, many this week will be loading up their carts at Black Friday sales. I prefer to load up my virtual cart, so the only Black Friday sales I'll be checking out are the online variety.  Gallery 1988, the pop-culture art gallery known for their annual Crazy 4 Cult shows, is holding their own holiday sale starting this Friday, with 30% most of the gallery inventory.

After the jump a selection of movie prints that are still available...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov242014

Lukewarm Off The Presses: Hugh & Amy's Musicals, Diana's Director, Lee's Horror, & Eddie's Operation

Five stories we didn't share in all the hulaballoo of our trip to Los Angeles, the recovery week's madness and now our Thanksgiving prep. Can't let these stories go unremarked upon since many of them are related to this year's Oscar race as well as 2015 and possibly 2016. Let's get ahead of ourselves! 

Barnum by way of Jackson / Amy to play Janis

1. Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum
When I was coming out of Into the Woods the other day and coming out of The Last Five Years back in Toronto, I was wracked with indecision about how I felt. My cinephile self was mounting a civil war with my inner musical theater geek who is deeply devoted to both shows. The former musical is among my top 3 favorite Sondheim shows (the others being Company & Follies) and the latter is literally my favorite original musical of the 21st century to date. The solution to this inner turmoil is surely ORIGINAL SCREEN MUSICALS. We haven't had one since Dancer in the Dark, right? So I'm absolutely excited to see Hugh Jackman belt out whatever tunes they're writing for him as P.T. Barnum in a new musical biopic about the circus pioneer called The Greatest Showman on Earth. Having seen Jackman absolutely slay audiences on Broadway as another flamboyant showman (Peter Allen in "The Boy from Oz"), this could be his Oscar ticket if the movie is good. The songs are by a composing duo you know from "Smash" but before you get too excited it's not from the composers behind the fictional musical "Bombshell," damnit!, but the composers behind the fictional musical "Hit List" which wasn't half as good. (Sigh)

Bette Midler as Janis Joplin (sort of) in The Rose (1979)2. Amy Adams as Janis Joplin
Should Adams be nominated (maybe) and lose (definitely) the Best Actress Oscar for Big Eyes this season she will join the "Biggest Actress Loser Club" that is currently a three-person tea party with Thelma Ritter, Glenn Close, Deborah Kerr. Fine company, don't you think? The solution is UNDOUBTEDLY a Janis Joplin biopic since Amy Adams has a great singing voice, considerable awards momentum, and is still young enough to be interesting to Oscar... for at least another few years. We're far enough away from Bette Midler's wildly acclaimed take on that iconic musician (by another name) in The Rose (1979) that the earlier Oscar run won't be an issue either. [More after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov242014

Beauty vs Beast: Guests Gotten, Hosts Humped

Howdy folks, it's Jason from MNPP here with a brand new round of "Beauty Vs Beast" and a brand new chance to pit the sorta-good against the sorta-bad, or the sorta in-between, and for us to choose our side with due diligence (at least with enough enough energy to click one way or the opposite). It was a slow creep realization when Mike Nichols died last week, what we'd lost - I'm not a Broadway person and as of late that's what I'd associated him with, so it was only once I started skimming back through his filmography, and once I read wonderful tributes like Nat's here, that my brain clicked into place that "Why yes, Jason, you've loved and been affected by a ton of this man's work for your entire life, duh." And so I've found myself going back and re-watching things I hadn't seen in many years - Working Girl (Sigourney MVP!) and Silkwood (probably my favorite Nichols film) and then today's piping hot dish of husband-wife combat for the ages...

 

 

If you're here in the US you'll probably spend sometime this week giving thanks to the turkey and stuffing for all the good stuff in your life, and I wouldn't blame anybody who placed these two performances on their Good Stuff Lists. Personally I'm Team George because 1) I've never been much of a Burton fan but I think he's phenomonal in this movie, and 2) I see way too much of myself in Martha, and that's the sort of thing you reflexively snap your eyes away from. You have one week to vote!

PREVIOUSLY Checking back in on the gorgeous ladies of 1870s society, last week's Age-of-Innocence Off ultimately sided with the poor unfortunate soul Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfieffer) over wily Winona's little Miss May; we do love a wounded bird. Said Murtada:

"Countess Olenska was way ahead of her time, a pioneer against vicious social mores. And she endured a false life despite getting a glimpse of a real one. Hasn't she suffered enough? She gets my vote."