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Jessica Lange's Triple Crown 

"This article sums up why Jessica Lange is one of the best actresses ever to grace the screen. " - heikoS

 "Still think her two best performances are Men Don't Leave and Music Box. So disappointed in her Ryan Murphy collaborations." -Charlie G

 "Lange and Streep were born in the same year, won Oscars in the same year, and their immense talent has carried them through" -Jono

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Thursday
Jun232016

"Mr. Robot", "People vs O.J." Lead Television Critics Association Conglomeration Nominations

The Television Critics Association announced the nominees for their 34th annual TCA Awards yesterday, as Emmy nomination ballot deadlines loom (Monday). For those unitiated into the organization's particular mode of aggregating accolades, it may come as a bit of a surprise to see Bob Odenkirk and Sarah Paulson mentioned in the same acting category. The TCA loves a good buffet. Rather than divvy up the love by format, they scoop a big heaping of pick-and-choose onto their nominating plate; the tip-toppest acting bona fides of series, miniseries, talk shows, TV movies, and different genders all taste great so why not load them all onto the same plate?

Granted, they break up serials and self-contained shows for their Best categories but there's something thrilling about weighing Samantha Bee's achievement in fervent fact-boiling against Aya Cash's honest exploration of depression in a way that feels less competitive than it does conversation-raising. In fact, there's not a straight white male amongst the Individual Achievement in Comedy group, which is 5/6 women; its selection of nominees balks at the idea of institutional placeholders in favor of true grit. Inclusion, it appears, garners a compellingly reflective list.

Individual Achievement in Drama

  • Bryan Cranston, All The Way
  • Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
  • Sarah Paulson, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  • Keri Russell, The Americans
  • Courtney B. Vance, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Individual Achievement in Comedy

  • Aziz Ansari, Master of None
  • Samantha Bee, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
  • Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • Aya Cash, You’re The Worst
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Constance Wu, Fresh Off the Boat

Outstanding New Program

  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
  • Marvel’s Jessica Jones
  • Master of None
  • Mr. Robot
  • Underground
  • UnREAL 

Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials

  • All The Way
  • Fargo
  • The Night Manager
  • The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
  • Roots
  • Show Me A Hero 

Outstanding Achievement in Drama

  • The Americans
  • Better Call Saul
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Leftovers
  • Mr. Robot
  • UnREAL

Outstanding Achievement in Comedy

Program of the Year

What do you make of the TCA's kitchen sink approach to their nominations? By eliminating binaries, does its all-of-the-above inclusion cut straight to the heart of the talent, or does it winnow its window of worthy contenders?

Wednesday
Jun222016

YNMS: American Honey

Murtada here. The best thing about this lackluster summer movie season, might be the trailers for fall movies. This week sees one of our most anticipated, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey starring Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough and introducing Sasha Lane in the lead role. The film is about a young woman who joins a travelling magazine sales crew, and their adventures as they travel the midwest, party and maybe fall in love. There’s also some law-breaking.

Let’s deep dive with a Yes, No, Maybe so after the jump..... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun222016

Best Shot - Vote for the Next Movie!

In an effort to lure you all back to our Hit Me With Your Best Shot series -- participation has been down and we swear it's fun to do -- you get to pick two of the movies this month. Next Tuesday night's film is To Catch a Thief which is available to stream on Netflix but what do you want to do after that? The following choices are either about to hit streaming services on July 1st or they're already available to stream on either Amazon Prime or Netflix. 

 

TUES JUNE 28th
To Catch a Thief (1955, Alfred Hitchcock. US. 106 minutes)
Something light & summery as the weather becomes too hot too hot. Join Cary Grant and Grace Kelly on the French Riviera. Winner of Best Cinematography at the Oscars. [Netflix Instant Watch  | AmazoniTunes]

TUESDAY JULY 5th 
TUESDAY JULY 12th

Your Choice! See poll above. We'll announce the winners on June 28th.

TUESDAY JULY 19th
ZOOTOPIA (2016)
It's the second biggest global hit of the year and now that it's available for home viewing let's have a second look at this delightful animated comedy about a utopia threatened when predators go wild again. 

BEST SHOT SPECIAL: MONDAY JULY 24th to FRIDAY JULY 29th
Oscar Battles: Best Cinematography 1977

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND Vilmos Zsigmond
ISLANDS IN THE STREAM Fred J Koenekamp
JULIA Douglas Slocombe 
LOOKING FOR MR GOODBAR William A Fraker
THE TURNING POINT Robert Surtees 

Choose one or more of Oscar's 1977 Cinematography nominees for your "Best Shot" pleasure. We'll reajudicate the cinematography Oscar battle of 1977 over the final week of July. If this sounds crazy, please note that 1977 happens to be our "Year of the Month" and four of those five titles were also nominated for Best Supporting Actress so we'll be watching them anyway for the Smackdown so this is time management...albeit of an ambitious kind. That week at the blog we'll post our favorite image from each of those movies one a day along with links to whichever you've discussed at your blog, tumblr, twitter, or facebook. 

We'll reevaluate what to do with the 'Best Shot' series after this month when we see how this experiment goes!  

Wednesday
Jun222016

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Pt. 2: Firing Squads and Flop Sweat

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this Oscar-winning classic, Team Experience is revisiting the picture, tag team relay style. In Chapter 1, Nathaniel discussed our first look at George and Martha as they "welcomed" Nick and Honey into their home for a late night boozy marital bout. The first true bomb had just gone off when George realized that Martha had broken their "rules"... we rejoin the party now as George strikes back.

 Pt 2 by Daniel Crooke

My first wallop by Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was in my early years of high school after developing a formative penchant for emotionally explosive character dramas, iconic Hollywood movie stars, and Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Once I learned of this film’s existence, I snatched up the first secondhand DVD I could find. It may have proved a bad role model; I shouted and scowled around the house for days, hunched in doorways with a clinking tumbler full of iced tea. The drama was just too magnificent to leave on the screen and, especially in this section, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton have so much fun spitting poison that their hysterical wickedness becomes infectious.

Through my green teenage lens of inexperience, I thought George and Martha should divorce immediately, move on with their lives, and leave this self-destructive cycle in the rear view. Jesus, can you imagine their Tinder profiles? Now that time and experience have obliterated my preconceptions of the idyllic American relationship, I can plainly see that they need one another to survive. They’ve got an arrangement in their marriage that – however revolting or sadomasochistic it may seem to the outsider – more or less works for them.

32:11 ....As long as they stay within the bounds. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun222016

Complete the (Fishy) Sentence

Eager to see where you're at with this since you were so hushed about the review. Have at it in the comments.

Finding Dory is to Finding Nemo as _____ is to ________." 

(Don't feel the need to be too literal)

Wednesday
Jun222016

Judy by the Numbers: "Be A Clown"

Just as there are films that shine bright in a star's history, there are also films whose histories are controversial at best. The Pirate is an odd contradiction of a movie. As one of Judy Garland's most expensive films, it was also her first MGM bust. Released two years after childrearing had put Judy on hiatus, it was nonetheless stuck in preproduction for five years before that. While it landed Judy another hit song, the knockoff written four years later would become a classic. Though The Pirate was the loudest, brightest movie Judy had made to date, its most interesting sequences were left on the cutting room floor. What to do with The Pirate?

The Movie: The Pirate (1948, MGM) 
The Songwriter: Cole Porter
The Players: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, The Nicholas Brothers, directed by Vincente Minnelli

The Story: The Pirate must have seemed cursed from the start. By the time Vincente Minnelli started filming, it had already been stuck in pre-production hell since 1943. This meant that even though Minnelli tried to keep costs down, enough money had already been sunk into it that the budget ballooned to almost $5 million. Judy wasn't helping either - she reported sick to work 99 times. Then there was the issue of reshoots. The song "Voodoo" apparently enraged Mayer so much that he ordered the nitrate negative burned. The ending was a mess and had to be reshot. Then that ending got the boot in the South because it featured black men tapdancing

All of these production problems took their toll, and the resulting movie is a little bit of a beautiful mess. Nonetheless, there are three reasons to see this movie:

  1. It's the first A Movie appearance of the Nicholas Brothers
  2. Vincente Minnelli makes really beautiful color movies
  3. Judy Garland throws china like a red-haired Bucky Walters 

However, the scene that would make the film famous was "Be A Clown." As previously mentioned, it would become a modest hit for Judy, but the real hit came four years later when Judy's friend Donald O'Connor sang "Make 'Em Laugh" in Singin' in the Rain. Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed whipped up the song while trying to find a number for O'Connor. Luckily for them, Cole Porter was under MGM contract and wasn't feeling particularly litigious. While Judy would continue to sing the original throughout her career, ultimately Singin' in the Rain made Freed's version more popular. Even great talent couldn't keep The Pirate from sinking.

Wednesday
Jun222016

Best Shot(s): The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972)

Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Season 7 Episode 16


The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
Written and Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus 

When you watch a lot of movies you inadvertently end up drawing comparisons between films that you wouldn't have thought to put in conversation previously. It's as if you've accidentally become a guest programmer of a repertory theater or a local festival. Such was the case this week when I (not intentionally) watched Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) and The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972) nearly back to back and shook my fists to the heavens and cursed the name of anyone who ever regurgitated the lie that you have to "open up" stage plays to make them work on screen. 

Tears. not totally bitter yet but she's getting there.

Sometimes half the power of a text is in its site-specific constriction. So I went from George & Martha's messy drab campus housing with a bar (or at least its contents) in every room, to the stylish studio apartment of fashion designer Petra Von Kant which was paradoxically both over-decorated and minimalist, and both frozen in place and ever-shifting without explanation (Wasn't the bed over there in the last scene? Can these mannequins move around the room at will like the toys in Pixar movies?). I loved every second of both films and especially, perhaps paradoxically for someone who prefers short movies, the foreboding sense that there was no way to exit either film, ever, unless you accepted your fate and drowned in their contagious neuroses.

All it takes to make a play cinematic when it becomes a movie is great filmmakers. That's it. That's the whole formula...

Click to read more ...