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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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Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots

"With only a few scenes at her disposal, Samantha Morton was an amazing, amazing Mary Queen of Scots in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age". Don't expect that portrayal of the lady will ever be topped." -Ken

"Saoirse Ronan is an inspired choice for Mary. But... Who signed off on Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I? What is this madness." - BillyBob

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Jerome Reybaud Director
(4 Days in France)
Emmanuelle Devos Actress
(Retrospective)
Nicholas Galitzine Actor
(Handsome Devil)
James Ivory Director
(Maurice Restoraton)
Betty Buckley Actress
(Split)

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Wednesday
Aug242016

Critics Choice Confusion: Earlier still even after that "We voted too early!" scandal last season

My apologies that I've neglected to mention one significant but oddly motivated date change for this forthcoming awards season. But it is definitely worth discussing.

You may recall that The Broadcast Film Critics Association (of which I am a member) more commonly known as "Critics Choice" lost several members last season due a very unethical move. The executives opted to ignore the balloting and just polled critics informally about whether they would have included Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015) had they seen it in time. I've yet to understand what their thinking was since, without changing all the voting, that one unethical change was clearly doing to do nothing for the ceremony or their reputation beyond harming it. The Star Wars cast was never going to show up since they were all busy and they weren't nominated in the Action performance categories designed to honor such things. 

Now after that "we voted too early!" disaster, this season they've moved the voting and the ceremony earlier still....

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Wednesday
Aug242016

Review: Hell or High Water

by Eric Blume

With their new film, director David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Starred Up) and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) make one thing abundantly clear: they really, really hate banks.  Hell or High Water is a sort of southwest answer to The Big Short, a tale of rural Texas poor on a Robin Hood mission. 

Sheridan’s script was the winner of the 2012 Black List prize for best unproduced screenplay, a fact which feels surprising during the cliché friendly first half hour.  Brothers Toby and Tanner Howard are characters we’ve seen many times before, with a sibling dynamic that’s not new either.  Tanner (Ben Foster) is the wild bro released from prison, complete with a violent streak and true-blue redneck energy.  Toby (Chris Pine) is the tender brother, a taciturn and emotionally bruised man trying to make things right.  Together, they start robbing small Texas banks to secure money to save the family farm.  As Counterpoint we have two Texas rangers on their case:  Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), for whom this is the last big one before retirement(!), and partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham), the sage Native American sidekick. 

For about the first thirty minutes, you sit in fear that this is all the film will be, a simple chase to the inevitable populated with stock characters. The only hope it has is to somehow deepen.  Fortunately, it does...

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Wednesday
Aug242016

Judy by the Numbers: "Take My Hand, Paree"

This week's number is hands down the weirdest entry in Judy's filmography. It doesn't fit neatly into Judy's biography or star image; it really appears to be one of those things that happened because the timing was right. In 1962, Warner Bros released a UPA animated feature called Gay Purr-ee. It's a movie about Parisian cats that feels like An American in Paris meets The Aristocats as played by the Looney Tunes. In a bit of early celebrity stunt casting UPA cast two big voices for its dimunitive feline leads: Judy Garland and Robert Goulet. 

The Movie: Gay Purr-ee (WB, 1962)
The Songwriters: Harold Arlen (music) & E.Y. Yarburg (lyrics)
The Cast: Judy Garland, Robert Goulet, Red Buttons, Hermione Gingold, Paul Frees, Mel Blanc, directed by Abe Levitow.

The Story: Gay Purr-ee really needs to be seen to be believed. Done in the limited-animation style of UPA, the movie sets jittering characters against beautifully drawn backgrounds. As the casting of Mel Blanc may have tipped some readers off, the movie was actually produced and co-written by famous Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones. (Jones was fired from Warner Bros after making this film as he had violated his contract with them.) However, though the movie is occasionally stunning, it lacks the focused insanity of Jones's animated shorts.

Judy is credited with having brought her "Over the Rainbow" songwriters onto the film. Despite this, neither the film nor the soundtrack did well. When the film fizzled, Judy continued her successful touring schedule. However, another new opportunity was about to present itself to her.

Tuesday
Aug232016

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "The Get Down"

We cannot catch a break here at TFE Headquarters this week (honesty this summer. Uff) so this one will be brief. If you haven't yet seen Baz Luhrmann's latest, the first half of a first season of a show about the birth of hiphop called "The Get Down" have at it. Due to time constraints we've only watched the first episode but it delivered on the Baz-ness that we have so desperately missed.

Here's my choice for best shot with commentary after the jump...

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Tuesday
Aug232016

1984: Paris, Texas

As part of our celebration of the year of the month, 1984, Lynn Lee revisits the winner of that year's Palme d'Or, Wim Wenders' Paris Texas.

While it may not quite have the status of an iconic movie, there’s much about Paris, Texas that feels iconic.  A hybrid of those two most iconically American genres, the Western and the road trip—directed, natch, by a German and starring two European actresses—it bears the distinctive features of both.  The long stretches of silence, only occasionally broken by snatches of spare Sam Shepard-scripted dialogue or, as often as not, monologue.  Ry Cooder’s haunting slide-guitar score, which seems to meld with the harsh, lonely, yet strangely sublime landscapes of Texas deserts, highways, and roadside motels.  The lighting, especially at dusk.  The weathered countenance of Harry Dean Stanton—how does it manage to be at once so stoic and so expressive?—and the exquisitely sculpted planes of Nastassja Kinski’s face, as they quiver and dissolve in the movie’s most emotionally wrenching scene. 

That last aspect is at once the film’s ace and its Achilles heel.  By the latter I don’t mean Kinski’s acting (I think she’s fantastic, shaky Texan accent aside) or the writing of that particular scene.  Rather, I mean the conception of her character, Jane, and Jane’s relationship to Stanton’s wanderer Travis, which culminates in that scene.  

If the first two thirds of Paris, Texas are about Travis’ reconnecting with his brother and young son as he slowly comes back to life, the last third is dominated by his efforts to find Jane...

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Tuesday
Aug232016

Doc Corner: Reality Bites in 'Kate Plays Christine'

Glenn here. Each Tuesday bringing you reviews of documentaries from theatres, festivals and on demand.

There is so much to unpack within Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine, not least of which is whether the film ought to be considered a documentary in the first place. Greene pushes the concept of documentary as a malleable construct that audiences should question the authenticity of much further than his previous 'non-fiction' work, Actress. This time by altogether abandoning reality, he calls into question everything we see in a documentary. By making the audience ask what is and is not real in Kate Plays Christine, Greene is essentially making us question what is real in any documentary and consider the motivations and mechanics behind them.

Audiences have no doubt asked these questions before in famously are-they-or-aren’t-they works of documentary like Catfish, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and even this year’s Tickled

But those films, traditional narratives regardless of their factuality, are nothing on Kate Plays Christine. An altogether hypnotic film in which actress Kate Lyn Sheil sets about studying the life of Christine Chubbuck for a strange, absurdly amateur feature film about the seemingly forgotten Floridian newscaster who shot herself live on air in 1974 seemingly in an act of desperation and contempt for how far television news had succumbed to the mantra of “if it bleeds it leads”...

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