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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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YNMS: "Room"

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Friday
Jul042014

Baby You're a Firework

 Happy Fourth of July !!!

Watch an unexpected but quite American movie, enjoy the fireworks and your long weekend, and we'll see you here again Sunday night.

(On Monday morning we continue our Halfway Mark celebration surveying cinematic achievements of 2014 thus far)

Friday
Jul042014

Review: Melissa McCarthy > Tammy

An slightly abridged version of this review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

One of the best developments of movie advertising this past decade is the use of single scenes as teasers. Remember when The Devil Wears Prada used the opening sequence, fashion magazine peons freaking out about the arrival of Miranda Priestley as a perfect hook? Do you want to see more? Yes Ma’am! 

Tammy employed a similar tactic at first giving you a peak at the actual movie instead of a greatest hits montage. The first tease was a single scene of Melissa McCarthy clumsily robbing a fast-food restaurant in a dumb paper bag mask: too large to clear the counter, too blind to lock a storage room door, too sweet to be threatening. “You want some pies? You want pies” It’s a very funny sequence promising a slapstick filled comedy about a bumbling amateur criminal. Melissa McCarthy is currently on top of Hollywood’s food chain after three consecutive smash hits (Bridesmaid, Identity Thief and The Heat) the first and last of which are top-notch comedies, continually funny, bracingly rude and totally rewatchable. 

Unfortunately, the robbery proves to be Tammy’s single best bit and, oops, we’ve already seen the whole thing. [More...]

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Friday
Jul042014

Beauty Break: Headdresses

I've been holding on to this picture of Sigourney Weaver as "Tuya" from Exodus for a couple of days without any idea what to say about it other than 'thank god Sigourney's signature directors still love her'. Between Ridley Scott (Alien) and James Cameron (Aliens), Lt. Ellen Ripley will always find her way back to decent roles on the big screen.

But I don't understand the casting of that movie at all. Everyone is SO white, like pasty white. Especially Joel Edgerton as Ramses. In The Ten Commandments that role went to Yul Brynner. Though Brynner was also white, a white Russian to be exact though that sounds alcoholic and we're not talking about how drunk looking at Yul makes me, he had that exotic visual flair that had Hollywood casting him in every conceivable ethnicity. Kind of the way Ben Kingsley who is Indian British is used now, only sexier.

Let's stick with the sexy.  The Film Experience loves a good headdress on the big screen. Here are some of the best.  

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Thursday
Jul032014

Halfway Pt. 1: What if They Voted on the Oscars Right Now?

Oscar Chart Note: I'm experiencing some coding problems with the charts so I apologize for the update delays. Until it's fixed, please to enjoy this hypothetical discussion as we begin our Halfway Mark Review...


Happy July! We're now officially done with the first half of the year. There are MANY films to come including the bulk of Oscar contenders given Hollywood's preferred release patterns. But that doesn't mean the film year hasn't already delivered enormous pleasure. All conscientous Oscar voters, cinephiles, and critics ought to keep a list so they aren't tricked into believing that the thing they saw 5 minutes ago is the only thing worth voting for six months from now.

Which naturally begs the question: If the voting was sprung on everyone right now, which films would AMPAS go for? It's worth jotting them down because they have a head start and they'd be smart to capitalize on it somehow. They need to settle in the mind and hearts as viable options as it were so that the forthcoming biggies will have to unseat them rather than trample them on their way to Oscar thrones.

I'm thinking mostly of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel and Ralph Fiennes as Best Actor. They'd both surely snag nominations if the voting were held today. But at this date, some 17 years into his career, Academy voters haven't yet fully embraced Wes Anderson. Comic performances are always trickier sells so Ralph Fiennes will need to capitalize on the fact that he's playing against type (in a way) and voters respect that. If Budapest hangs on for real Oscar play that should make the waters safe for all future Wes Anderson films (see also: David Fincher, David O. Russell, and Paul Thomas Anderson who all struggled to win attention until Oscar finally caught up with the critical passion and devout public fanbases and now they're automatically "in the conversation" before their films arrive.) 

Let's fantasize about what might be nominated if the voting were cut off right now when so few expected contenders have opened. My guesses as to the nominees go like so...

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Thursday
Jul032014

Tim's Toons: Celebrating Independence Day with Disney

Tim here. It’s Independence Day weekend here in the States, which means that most of you undoubtedly have something better to do than read about old cartoons. But if I promise to keep things short, hopefully you’ll indulge me in chatting up an odd little animated short perfectly timed to the holiday.

I have in mind Ben and Me, one of the oddest one-offs in the history of Walt Disney Productions. Released in November, 1953, it was the studio’s first two-reel animated short, and one of the initial releases under Disney’s own Buena Vista Distribution label, part of a package deal with the nature documentary The Living Desert. But more to the point, for our present purposes, it’s about how a mouse helps Benjamin Franklin write the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. We can wait a minute if you want to process all the ways in which that’s a perversion of history.

Okay, sure, there’s more to it than that.

Based on a 1939 children’s book by Robert Lawson, Ben and Me follows the life of Amos, a mouse voiced by Disney mainstay Sterling Holloway, who set off from his impoverished home in wall of a Philadelphia church in 1745 to make his fortune, ending up in the home of the absent-minded inventor and writer Ben Franklin (Charles Ruggles). Over the course of one night, the two are able to invent bifocals, indoor heating stoves, and the American news media.

Ben’s penchant for playing tricks on the mouse, sending him up on kites during thunderstorms and such, puts a wedge between them. Eventually, in 1776, they finally mend fences just about the time that Ben’s young colleague Thomas Jefferson (Hans Conreid) is having an impossible time finding the right opening for his otherwise-complete Declaration. More through accident than anything else, Amos ends up providing the legendary “When in the Course of human events…” The perversity having not let up, I will let you take another minute to process (it’s the 31-year-old mouse that bothers me the most).

Daft fantasy nonsense, for sure, but Ben and Me is actually pretty charming. Holloway and Ruggles are delightful in their roles, playing a kind of gentle riff on the traditional odd couple dynamic (Conreid, who voiced Captain Hook in the same year’s Peter Pan, is unfortunately distracting for that reason, but he’s not in it very much). It wasn’t an A-list project, and it lacks anything resembling the visual lushness of Disney’s contemporaneous features, like Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella – the latter of which obviously inspired Ben’s design; he looks exactly like the talking mice helpers from that film, though thankfully without their annoying pidgin English – but the simple style based on 18th Century painting brings the setting to life in a very specific, effective way. It’s not a colorful film, as such, but it has a clarity and warmth that fit the “historical bedtime story” mood.

Given Disney’s corporate proclivity for all-American nostalgia, it’s perhaps a bit surprising that the story ends up being so disinterested in any kind of soaring patriotism or overwrought long-view about Great Moments in History. It’s actually quite an ordinary platonic romantic comedy between a mouse and a man. Most of its energies are dedicated to building solid but hardly revolutionary cartoon sight gags out of 18th Century material (a lengthy printing press scene is by far the most ambitious part of the movie), but that ends up being enough.

At 21 minutes, it’s short enough that having genial humor built on a playfully impossible history lesson hasn’t run out of steam, while long enough to build character relationships with a depth that isn’t possible in a 7-minute animated short that only has enough time to plow through its gags. It’s not one of the timeless masterpieces of Disney animation, or anything equally silly, but it’s one of their best ‘50s shorts and a fun 4th of July pastiche that’s not really like anything else.

Thursday
Jul032014

Joe Manganiello and "La Bare"

It's not every calendar year that an actor gets two titles as diverse as "First Time Filmmaker" and "Hollywood's Hottest Bachelor" but that's just what Joe Manganiello has accomplished in 2014. His male stripper documentary La Bare premiered at Slamdance this past January and hit theaters just as the final season of True Blood was kicking off. Good timing and you have to hand it to him. I mean this in the nicest possible way but actors of limited range who understand both their niche and the unique window of time they have to make some sort of substantial showbiz mark and then maximize it deserve a loud round of applause. Well done. 

With La Bare, Manganiello manages to make a career move behind the camera that's also a not-at-all subtle reminder of his hunky allure in front of it. 'Oh yeah, he was in Magic Mike!' All of which slyly serves to remind us that there's more to him than werewolf Alcides ...and he's willing to show it. 

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