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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 | letterboxd

 

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Cannes Winners

"Marion Cotillard has had a movie in contention for what, the last 4 years or so? She will eventually win the prize, or more likely be head of the jury one day." - Tom

"Looks like Cate and Rooney are now a package deal for Oscars, no?" - John

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Sunday
Apr272014

Tribeca: On Distribution Anxiety and Stag Getaways

Tribeca coverage continues with Nathaniel on "Loitering With Intent" and "The Bachelor Weekend".

The way I see it, distributors pick up movies for one or more of four reasons, all of which are market driven. 1) The Shop-worn Genre. There's a reason so many low budget horror movies are made each year - the audience is faithful. There are virtually no other genres with audiences that loyal but faith-based movies are making a case for themselves right about now. Variations on this include any recognizable type, though: the murder mystery, the buddy comedy, sci-fi, etcetera 2) The Name Factor. If you can pin your marketing on recognizable faces or names in front of or behind the camera, you have a decent shot at getting media attention and then, goes the thinking, selling tickets. 3) Marketing Hook, Easily Identifiable. This is where  "high concept," the term being popularized in the 80s for movies you can sum up in one sentence, comes in. 4) Passionate Advocacy / Prestige. This one is harder to see coming but sometimes deep pocketed distributors do pick up films just because they love them and want them seen. Although even this passion is suspect because oft times the goal isn't wholly altruistic but part of the whole "prestige/awards" marketing hook and resume dreams.

But, real talk: The bulk of festival movies will never spend much time, if any, in regular movie theaters...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr262014

Tribeca: "Third Person," An Inconclusive Panorama of Trust Issues

Just a few more Tribeca reports to go. Here's Diana on "Third Person."


In another chapter on writer stereotypes (see also: 5 to 7), Paul Haggis’ Third Person opens on Liam Neeson’s hulking handsome frame sitting at a hotel desk, staring at his computer, with an open bottle of red wine and an ashtray heavily weighted down by burnt out cigarette ends. In the midst of the toiling and typing, he hears a child’s voice say, “Watch me.” This phrase becomes an iteration throughout the film, linking together three stories of loss and trust issues. You know how Paul Haggis likes to link (see also: Crash). To paraphrase author Michael (Neeson), all three are weak, but each have strong, albeit bordering on cliche, choices.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr262014

ICYMI, A Smackdown Addendum

Busy busy week but that was mostly the team running around catching Tribeca Screenings. (We'll finish the write-ups very soon). But other than the film festival, I hope you didn't miss these five key posts from the week that was.

A Year With Kate reaches the Spencer Tracy years
Podcast Gets Under the Skin the gang's all back to discuss Noah and Under the Skin 
Looking Back at Pocahontas Disney's ambitious epic 
April Showers: The Piano Holly Hunter was the surprise star of the week because we also finally got to...
2003 Supporting Actress Smackdown Renée vs. Shohreh vs Holly vs Patty vs. Marcia Marcia Marcia. (What a strange Oscar year that was)

Film Bitch Addendum
For those of you wondering which actresses I voted for back in 2003 (many of you weren't around these parts in those early early days), here was my ballot which only had a little Oscar overlap. FWIW, David Cronenberg's Spider got a one week qualifier in 2002 but back then I went only by NYC release since I wasn't privvy to Academy screeners. Of course AMPAS ignored it as they do most one week qualifiers but Miranda Richardson was all kinds of haunting in it x 3. Curiously my finalists list suggests that I thought The Lovely Laura Linney was equal to Marcia back then within the confines of Mystic River. No more. The only part of the movie that's aged well for me at all is Harden's performance.

 

Today's Retro Watch
Given the 2003 Smackdown discussion, it's a great time to look back at this classic Cold Mountain sketch from French & Saunders as they poke fun at Nicole Kidman's whispering & posing and the Zeéeeee's overacting in the Cold Turkey DVD commentary track

Friday
Apr252014

Will Renée Zellweger Ever Achieve 'Comeback' Status

We welcome back Matthew Eng (who has been studying abroad) with a response of sorts to yesterday's Smackdown just in time for the Zeéeeee's 45th birthday today.

Renée Zellweger at an Armani show in October last yearWhat is there left to say about Renée Zellweger that hasn’t already been said by nearly every snarky film blogger since the Oscar win that ignited an entire anti-actress fatwa? Of course, you can’t really blame those who vehemently turned against Renée based solely on the performance that won her what has to be—give or take Crash—the most-maligned win of the Aughts. But surely there were other forces at work here that contributed to Zellweger’s descent from perennial A-list awards darling (an astounding three Globes in three years) to seemingly-unemployable former ingenue.

Is it the implied greediness for awards, signaled not by the type of overly-gleeful, wild-eyed, “wanting it too much” acceptance speeches that have been catnip for the Hathahaters, but rather by a clear preference for shameless Oscar vehicles that initially worked in her favor (ChicagoCold Mountain) before the vehicles themselves soon revealed their own inadequacy and consequently watched their awards chances (and hers) all but fizzle out (Cinderella ManMrs. Potter)?

Or is it something else...?

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Friday
Apr252014

Smackdown: Internal Dramas & DVD Death

Just to give you all a sense of the challenge of the Supporting Actress Smackdowns, I thought I'd share some behind-the-scenes notes. A lot of prep work went into the years we've covered (19521968, 1980, and 2003). Only one of them was difficult to stick with (that'd be 2003 because the movies stunk). Of the years not yet covered (StinkyLulu hosted a lot of them) there are 39 years still aching to be Smacked Down!

1937 • 1938 • 1941 • 1943 • 1944 • 1946 • 1947 • 1948 • 
1951 • 1954 • 
1957 • 1960 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1970 •
1972 • 1973 • 1977 •
1979 •
1981 • 1984 •  1986 • 1987 •
1989 • 1991 • 1994 • 1995 • 1997 • 1998 • 2000 • 2001 •
2002 • 2004 • 2005 •  2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 

But here's where it gets tricky....

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Friday
Apr252014

Tribeca: Posturing Bank Robbing Beauties in "Electric Slide"

More from Nathaniel at the Tribeca Film Festival

Electric Slide
There's something about the Killer Films logo, that has me rooting for the film that follows every time. Christine Vachon's company has shepherded so many confrontational and interesting indie films and voices into the arthouse over the years that it has both a nostalgic pull AND an edge, and those things rarely come conjoined. 

Electric Slide, about a bank robbing loser in 80s Los Angeles, definitely has the confrontational edge part though it's not what you might call "interesting". The only likeable characters are way on the periphery (Vinessa Shaw is engaging despite very little to do as a furniture store employee) like the pretty bank tellers who really sell their brief moments of victimization and carnal attraction to Eddie. But as a film it's intensely narcissistic, less concerned with what you think of it, than what pose it's striking and whether you'd hate-fuck it. Eddie, the protagonist, is a slurry-voiced fey womanizer (Jim Sturgess, A-C-T-I-N-G, for better and mostly worse) who is a perpetual delusional fuck-up. Early in the film he speaks of Los Angeles as suffering from "Success Exhaustion" but he doesn't have that problem. He owes everyone money including a violent French gangster (Christopher Lambert in Eurotrash mode). He steals from wives he's sleeping with (Chloë Sevigny, owning her awesome wardrobe and Patricia Arquette, just owning). He takes up with a young beauty (Isabel Lucas) who is his only rival for empty vacant posturing, they're aspirational fashion models in place of characters. Or maybe that is their character in a soulless Bling Ring kind of way? Instead of repaying his debts withs his loot he keeps spending it. 

Electric Slide employs a countdown format with 10 'chapters' and though the film does become slightly more tense as it progresses what's actually happening in the scenes is so similar that the countdown is reduced to affectation rather than a storytelling technique. And much of the film feels arbitrary - you could remove any of its subplots or any single scene and it'd be the same film. Still, and all, the film is pretty to look at with enticing cinematography and interesting frame composition from debut director Tristan Patterson and his DP Darran Tiernan so I'd love to see another film from the pair. The production design (Michael Grasley, from Sympathy for Delicious) and costuming (Jennifer Johnson whose biggest gig in the past was Beginners) fetishize the 80s well, too. If it adds up to nothing more than a gorgeous hipster fashion editorial, so what? With so many indies so indifferently shot from either budget constraints or the lack of an eye for visual storytelling, sometimes surface beauty is its own reward. 

Visuals: A-; The Rest of It: C-