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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, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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Wednesday
May272015

Breaking: Cara Seymour to Guest Blog!

Sister Harriett. Hellcat Maggie. Pat Archer. Linda Houston. Mrs. Contie. Amelia Kavan. Marjorie Mellor. And 'Christie'...

One of the screen's best character actresses is taking over The Film Experience on June 9th. You've seen her in Gangs of New York, Hotel Rwanda, Dancer in the Dark, Birth, Adaptation, An Education, and American Psycho, among others. 

She wowed again as the unconventional nun "Sister Harriet" in Steven Soderbergh's Emmy hopeful "The Knick" (which just finished shooting Season 2). Now meet the actress behind the indelible characters.

Have any question for this fine talent?


Wednesday
May272015

HBO’s LGBT History: Common Threads (1989)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed films & miniseries produced and distributed by HBO.

Last week we looked at the quietly touching film Tidy Endings (1988), written and starring Harvey Fierstein and a must-see for Stockard Channing completists. We’re not going far this week, since much of HBO’s early LGBT output tried to grapple with the AIDS epidemic that had dominated the cultural conversation about gay men in the 1980s.

Did you know that films produced by HBO have won over 20 Oscars? This past year alone, HBO dominated both documentary categories with Citizenfour and Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 emerging victorious. It has been a stealth awards run which Sheila Nevins (currently the president of HBO Documentary Films but her involvement stretches back to 1979) has all but nurtured herself. 

Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989)
Written & Directed by: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman (based on the book, The Quilt: Stories From The NAMES Project by Cindy Ruskin)
Narrated by: Dustin Hoffman (who'd just won his 2nd Oscar)

HBO’s commitment to strong documentary storytelling goes back to the late 1980s; their first Oscar win came in 1985 when the American Undercover special Soldiers in Hiding won the Best Documentary Feature award, the first time it was bestowed to a pay cable service. Having hosted the then-surgeon general in their 1987 informative special, AIDS: Everything You and Your Family Need to Know…But Were Afraid to Ask, it’s not surprising HBO would help produce Epstein and Friedman’s Common Threads which won Best Documentary Feature at the 62nd Academy Awards, the year Driving Miss Daisy took Best Picture (how’s that for a double feature?). Common Threads continued the network’s commitment to mining urgent and contemporary social issues in their documentaries...

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Wednesday
May272015

Review: Far From The Madding Crowd

In Far From the Madding Crowd, a new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel, every eligible man wants Carey Mulligan’s winsome Bathsheba. But she cannot be tamed! (Funny how commitment phobia reads as strength in a female protagonist and weakness in a male protagonist). Or at least she won’t “settle” for less than what she’s already planned for herself. Nevertheless the wanting continues and the camera, observes her, often at a distance as with a memorable shot of Bathsheba laying back from her saddle, as if enjoying the tactile and visual sensations of the powerful creature beneath her and the vibrant foliage and sky above her.

(This review contains a general trajectory ending spoiler but it is based on a 151 year-old classic novel.)

Three bachelors and Bathsheba's issues after the jump... 

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Tuesday
May262015

Beauty Break: "Cinema Without People"

My favorite tumblr of the moment is called Cinema Without People which collects images from movies without the characters in them. Sometimes it's a perfect reminder of the skill of production designers, art directors, and set decorators such as the Goldfinger set.

(One of my favorite awards stats is the different ways that BAFTA and Oscar treat James Bond films and BAFTA rightly nominated this one for Art Direction.)

Other times it reminds you of great storytelling, auteur quirks, or the characters themselves through their very absence. It's nearly always haunting and beautiful. The very shy "about" portion of the tumblr simply declares that it was made with love for introvert film fans. I am not an introvert but I can still feel the love.

After the jump 10 more images that caught my eye that I just loved...

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Tuesday
May262015

"Are you a Catholic?" (Actually No, But I *Get* It)

For The Lusty Month of May, we're looking at a few sex scenes. Here's Nathaniel...

They like to say that people come into your lives for a reason. Also true of movies. When I saw Priest (1994) in its American release in 1995, I was just out of the closet but still very much struggling with having been a strict Mormon for then roughly 100% of my life. The movie is about a gay Priest (Linus Roache) who struggles with his vows .... and not just the sexual ones. It hit me in a seismic way. This had never happened to me before or since but I started crying at the end and actually couldn't stop until after the credits had ended. 

Where you are in life can dictate a lot about how you receive a movie. But this series is about sex scenes so let's narrow our focus. Today Priest's sex scene, which I had liked (okay, obsessed over - shut up) back then plays super tame. Why did it shock me then? I have the answer in 2015 watching it again...

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Tuesday
May262015

Laura Benanti Predicting "Supergirl" in 2013

We're celebrating 1979 this month so let's talk about one of its most underused / overtalented showbiz babies: LAURA BENANTI.

She's a Tony Winner (Gypsy) with great pipes, Broadway's Queen of Twitter (giving her 71 thousand followers more joy with hilarity than you can fathom if you don't follow her), and this decade she's been making inroads to television stardom with recurring characters on several shows including "Nurse Jackie" and "Nashville" but she's still without a big leading role which she more than obviously deserves!

She'll next be seen as Supergirl's birthmother in the pilot of "Supergirl" (2015) - currently having pirating problems -- so add psychic to her many gifts. See, In 2013 she stripped down into Supergirl costume at a Skivvies* concert! See the video after the jump...

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Tuesday
May262015

Review: Tomorrowland

Michael C here. Last week I was here to announce that one of my anticipated 2015 titles exceeded my expectations. This week I need to come to grips how another of my most anticipated could miss the mark so badly.

Like the theme park from which it takes its inspiration, the future in Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is not a tangible thing, but an idea, a gleaming Jetsons cityscape forever just over the horizon inspiring the better angels of our nature with its promise of utopia. It’s not “the future”. It’s THE FUTURE! 

Unfortunately, where Disney World can get away with organizing a collection or attractions around nothing but a spirit of uncomplicated hope, a movie needs to build a structure around those feelings, and it’s there that Bird’s film struggles. It aims to stir the soul but its impact is dulled as it gets lost in its scattershot, thinly conceived screenplay. Enjoyment of Tomorrowland depends on one's ability to appreciate its vibe of retro optimism enough to overlook how far short it falls of its lofty ambitions...

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