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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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COMMENT DU JOUR
40 Best Original Movie Songs of the 1980s

 

"'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' is like cocaine coated ear candy featured the cinematic MASTERPIECE, Mannequin." - Derreck

"This is an amazing list. It's a durn shame that the film version of 'Let The River Run' isn't available on any CD." - Charles

"Madonna sure had some 80's hits from films didn't see? Forgot about all those!" - Giggleta

 

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Monday
May192014

Beauty Vs Beast: To Covet A Heart

JA from MNPP here, with perhaps one of the least cut-and-dry editions of our "Beauty Vs Beast" competition yet -- in honor of Cate Blanchett being awesome at Cannes let us compare and contrast the beauties and the beasts (mostly the beasts) within the two wicked school-teachers at the heart of 2006's Notes on a Scandal.

Let's get our moral compromise on...

 

Well which is it gonna be, folks? The flighty pederast or the cruel closet-case? Choices, choices, choices. And please let us know what your reasons are for choosing what you choose in the comments. It's an up-hill battle loving either of the ladies.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we we were riding in hot on the back of Zac Efron (full stop) ... and Seth Rogen in the comedy-hit Neighbors - where did your loyalties fall? At 60% of the vote we kept it high and tight and Hollywood pretty with Efron, although Seth definitely put up a good fight - he's got surprising stamina, that one. MeIAmMariahTheElusiveChanteuse (aka Greatest Name Ever) captured the crude center of the conundrum:

"My heart is saying Seth, but my hole is saying Zac. So conflicted."

Monday
May192014

Oscar Predictions & Curiousities : Visuals & Score

I haven't forgotten about the Oscar charts. This first installment is the most time-consuming is all, as it sets the templates up for an entire years worth of handwringing and hiearchy juggling. With this latest update we only have the "big eight" categories left to do (minus actor & supporting actress which we've already surveyed). But here are a few thoughts on new charts that are up...

WarDaddy's (Brad Pitt) team in "Fury". The film is scored by Oscar-winner Steven Price

SCORE
I perhaps overstate the music branch's love for their favorite sons each year. It's not that that love isn't evident each year (stop to consider how many composers, for example, have 8 or more nominations and how rare that is in many other fields) it's that Hollywood's favorite composers are quite prolific so, John Williams & Alexandre Desplat aside (who never miss for a nomination)  aside, there's no guarantee that any of them will win traction since all of their rivals are also in the mix each year.

A few things to be curious about in 2014:

• Steven Price (Gravity) just won the Oscar on his first nomination so can he become a favorite? If so he's scoring Fury, the WW II tank drama with Brad Pitt in the lead this year. 
• Which Desplat score will they go for since they always have (at least) a few choices: Grand Budapest Hotel, Unbroken, or Godzilla? Or all three. Heh.
• It's been awhile since James Newton Howard (Maleficent) or Danny Elfman (Big Eyes) were in the mix. This year?
• Will Thomas Newman (Get On Up, The Judge) ever win the statue? He's the most nominated working composer who has never won with 12 failed attempts

CINEMATOGRAPHY
I would've given them their whole post but I can't even talk about this today. *sniffle* Gordon B Willis (RIP) 

Maleficent wonders which fairy tale Oscar wants to hear

COSTUME
The internet did a good job of spreading the fun factoid I once shared that Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods) and Sandy Powell (Carol) don't win the costuming Oscar unless the other one is nominated. So we'll have to look elsewhere for fun trivia this year. A few things I'm curious about this year:

• Milena Canonero is back! The three time Oscar winner  did wonderful work on Grand Budapest Hotel. Oscar tends to shun creative stylized work like that (what a shame that they passed up her instantly iconic work on The Royal Tenenbaums) when they can opt for period realism instead so that's kind of a longshot but wouldn't it be sweet?
• Will Oscar help Anna B Sheppard stretch? If they like her Maleficent costumes maybe she'll get offered movies outside the World War II genre, the box that Hollywood likes to keep her in (She also costumed Fury this year.
• Which of the rising crop of costume design stars is going to make it to an Oscar nomination first: Jane Petrie (Suffragette - I have it for 2015 but maybe it'll  be released this year), Kurt & Bart (Hunger Games: Mockingjay), or Steven Noble (Two Faces of January, Theory of Everything) ?

FILM EDITING 
It's too early to talk about this category really since, more than any other category, it depends entirely on what people like for Best Picture. 

Will AMPAS finally embrace the creative achievements in Wes Anderson's filmography

PRODUCTION DESIGN
My prediction for Grand Budapest Hotel is, I'll admit instantly, wishful thinking. (But it's early, so I'm allowed a few of those). It's perplexing that the art direction branch, like the costumers, often shun cool stylization such as the kind you often see in Wes Anderson features. But I'm hoping that the production designers can't help but recognize Adam Stockhausen's extraordinary range, hopping from pre Civil War realism (12 Years a Slave won him his first nomination) to Wes Anderson's fanciful dioramas with not only ease but confidence and panache. 

A few other things to be curious about:

• Is Oscar done with the Middle Earth films (last year they had their first miss in this category) or will they want to send the Hobbit trilogy away with a 6th nomination for Dan Hennah?
• Can Maria Durjovic (The Imitation Game) finally snag a nomination? She's done great work before and been egregiously snubbed (think Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and somehow the Oscar heat from Billy Elliott and The Hours didn't rub off on her either time
• Is Dennis Gassner a contender for his second win? He won the category for the very handsome Warren Beatty picture Bugsy (1991) but he's designed several completely gorgeous, classy and showy movies since then like, oh,  The Truman Show (1998), O Brother Where Art Thou (2000), and Big Fish (2003). Will Into the Woods be received well enough to make him a frontrunner?

 

Which Oscar fates are you most curious about for this season?

 

Monday
May192014

Remembering X-Men (2000)

It's Mutant Week! With X-Men Days of Future Past, the 4th X-Men movie upon us nearly upon us -- Yes, fourth, shut up...Last Stand and both Wolverine solo movies do not exist...lalala ♪ I can't hear you -- we should celebrate Marvel's homo superior this week, even if we have to do so by way of 20th Century Fox.

Herewith a retrofitted piece celebrating my choice for "Best Shot" from the first movie. (If you'd like to play the Best Shot game, post your choice by tomorrow night and I'll link up in the index) 

In some ways the original X-Men (2000) is a tentative and mediocre movie: the budget limitations are obvious, Halle Berry is as lost as you remembered (though Storm is a strangely minor character), and the central evil plot is just dumb. But in other ways it's undervalued and not just because of the downward spiral that followed after the sequel.

X-Men makes smart choices about narrowing its focus for a first film (centering on Wolverine & Rogue) and the one character it totally reimagines -- that'd be Mystique -- is a major success.

What's more director Bryan Singer actually makes use of the widescreen in his mise-en-scène. Too few filmmakers do, just shoving everything into the center of the frame or shooting everything in relentless close-up. Even action sequences are shot with a preference for top of head and chin shaving close-ups these days but, much like musical numbers, action sequences are more memorable and coherent when they include whole bodies in the frame. And even though Singer's compositional tricks get a bit repetitive, like the recurring out of focus introduction of characters in the background, which you can see above, they're aesthetically pleasing.

X-Men was lensed by Newton Thomas Sigel, who has shot all of Singer's movies since The Usual Suspects (1995). This is my favorite shot in the film, Wolverine lost in the X-Mansion, bewildered by the new sites. He sees his reflection multiplied, across the team uniforms. Isn't it a beauty, narratively speaking? And Jackmanically speaking, too.

What are your fondest memories of the first film? 

Monday
May192014

The Darling Buds of May: May Welland

[Editor's Note: In the interest of keeping things fresh, we aren't doing the traditional "May Flowers" series this year but this spin-off miniseries, spearheaded by abstew though I'll also be chiming in, featuring characters named that way. - Nathaniel.]

Full Name: May Welland Archer 

Film She Starred In: The Age of Innocence (1993) Martin Scorsese's adaption of Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (1920). 

Played By: Winona Ryder (real last name: Horowitz). Already a well-regarded and popular actress having previously worked with directors Tim Burton and Francis Ford Coppola, the then 21-year-old was Scorsese's first choice for the role.

Time and Location: The film takes place in the preferred setting of Scorsese, New York City. Although the drawing rooms and Opera houses of a 1870s Manhattan were a bit of a departure. May and her family also spend their summers in St. Augustine and when she and Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) marry, they Honeymoon in London and Paris (where she has her clothes made and a sculpture modeled of her hands).

First Appearance in the Film: May first appears at the 4 minute mark when professional snoop/gossip Larry Lefferts (Richard E. Grant) spies her controversial cousin Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) entering the Welland's Opera box. More...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May192014

Cannes - The Party Girls

What on earth do you suppose they were so giddy about?

 

Sunday
May182014

Box Office: Jon Hamm Swings & Misses (And, No, We're Not Talking About That Threesome On "Mad Men")

Amir is on holiday so I've reclaimed my number-sharing duty for tonight. It wasn't a fair fight but Godzilla squashed Jon Hamm (in his first big screen leading man gig) at the box office. Godzilla had the second biggest opening of the year.

01 GODZILLA $93.2 *new* Review
02 NEIGHBORS $25.9 (cum. $91.5) Review
03 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 $16.8 (cum. $172.1) 
04 MILLION DOLLAR ARM $10.5 *new* 
05 THE OTHER WOMAN $6.3 (cum. 71.6)

In other box office news: Belle (reviewed) which is now in its third weekend added over 100 screens and is nearing a 2 million dollar gross... not bad at all considering its low profile;  Noah finally crawled past the $100 million mark as it heads out of theaters; Captain America: The Winter Soldier will topple The Lego Movie to become the year's top domestic grosser sometime next weekend; and the week's best per screen average outside of radioactive monsters was for Marion Cotillard as The Immigrant which is sadly only on 3 screens.

What did you see this weekend?

I only caught Godzilla in theaters and opted for my Jon Hamm fix via Mad Men (another fine episode that made me so angry they're splitting the season in half but more on that in the next episode of Mad Men at the Movies).

I also tried out Penny Dreadful's first two episodes and I am... intrigued but unconvinced. It's handsome enough to look at and some of the peripheral players are super vivid and amusing, particularly Billie Piper as a consumptive prostitute and Simon Russell Beale as an Egyptologist who is like what would happen if you made Harold Zidler gayer, fussier and yet more over the top.  Among the three headliners which include Josh Hartnett (nice to see him again actually) and Timothy Dalton, Eva Green is the clear standout. She understands stylization and is so autoerotic and self-sufficient a performer in every way that she doesn't even need her co-stars or surroundings to be any good - I think largely of how completely brilliant she was in the otherwise lacking Dark Shadows - and she gets the big title centerpiece of the second episode, a seance, all to herself. But I'm still not sure about the show. Individual scenes range from meh to marvelous (the best being an unexpectedly tender frankenstein creation sequence) but it feels like it's trying way too hard for self-mythology even though its borrowed most of its mythology and we can obviously meet it halfway. I got a Carnivale vibe (and I don't mean that as a compliment). I'll give it one or two more episode before I make the DVR or skip call. 

Sunday
May182014

Cannes Diary Day 4 Pt 2: Hilary & Tommy Promote "The Homesman"

Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience

 

At today’s The Homesman press conference, Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank lived up to their public personas, the former as a well-meaning curmudgeon and the latter as diplomatic would be sweetheart. This dynamic was evident when Jones made the off-putting comment that editing is time consuming but “it’s not hard work” and Swank, spotting the possible faux pax in front of a room of international movie press, swooped in by clarifying maybe not for someone like him with his great mind and thoughtful vision, but she’d be lost and that editing is indeed hard work.

Well-trained in the art of dodging cringe-inducing questions, Swank managed to pivot from a meant-to-be-complimentary question about the disparity between her beauty in person and her plainness onscreen to an empowering impromptu speech about the subjectivity of attractiveness. She shared that some people have told her that they found her characters Maggie (Million Dollar Baby) and Mary Bee Cuddie (The Homesman), to be attractive because of their strength. Considering that the film tackles the issues of female subjugation and objectification, it was all the more uncomfortable when multiple professional journalists either commented on her physical appearance or prefaced their question with a comment on her physical appearance.

What did these reporters expect? She’s a movie star at Cannes promoting a film, the very definition of a glamorous day's work. And isn’t that a pretty tired narrative for Swank, dating back over a decade?

To Swank’s left, Jones bordered on ornery, not understanding a number of questions (giving unrelated answers or asking reporters to rephrase) or speaking in vague, sometimes dismissive, terms about cast and production (“The difficulty was the weather.” … “It’s not real research, we’re not curing polio.”).  As for both directing and acting on this film, he deadpanned:

As a director, I can tell you that I do everything I tell myself to do.”

Dodging the more thematic  and film-specific questions, Jones repeatedly answered “The movie speaks for itself,” without further explanation. On a rare upbeat note, Jones did spark to a question about the film’s music (plugging his son, the film’s music consultant) and went into a long-winded explanation about finding era-appropriate tunes and building wind organs.

In response to a HuffPo reporter’s line of questioning about women’s issues in the 1800s (when the film is set) relating to those of today, Jones said,

 I don't think there's a woman in this room that has never felt objectified or trivialized because of her gender. There's a reason for that and a history of that, and I think that's an interesting thing."

A smattering of applause. Jones won back a few of the hearts he may have lost.

 

Day 1 Arrival & Opening Night | Day 2 Grace of Monaco | Day 3 Mr Turner & Timbuktu  | Day 4 Amour Fou & The Blue Room |  Day ??? The Homesman Review