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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Learning the Power of Knowledge from "Pleasantville"

Back to school week continues with Abstew on Pleasantville...

Let's face it, sometimes school can be a real drag. When you're not trying to find your place among the social circles (which is just as much work as any assignment a teacher could give), there's the constant pressure of doing well academically so that you can go to a good college so that you won't waste your life! (Nope, no pressure at all...) When David (a pre-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire) isn't having imaginary conversations with pretty girls that are out of his league, he has to sit through bleak lectures that are so depressing in their statistics that it kinda makes you just wanna give-up:

For those of you going on to college next year, the chance of finding a good job will actually decrease by the time you graduate. The available number of entry level jobs will drop 31% over the next 4 years. Median income for those jobs will go down as well. Obviously, my friends, it's a competitive world. And good grades are your only ticket through. In fact by the year 2000...

...Contracting HIV from a non-monogamous lifestyle will climb to 1 in 150. The odds of dying in an auto accident are only 1 in 2,500. Now this marks a drastic increase...

...14 years ago when ozone depletion was just at 10% the current level. By the time you are 30 years old, the average global temperature will have risen 2.5 degrees. Causing such catastrophic consequences as typhoons, floods, widespread drought, and famine. Okay...who can tell me what "famine" is?

Yikes. No wonder David seeks out the simpler times captured in the 1950's sitcom world of his favorite show "Pleasantville". [more...]

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TIFF: The Last Five Years

Nathaniel's adventures in Toronto. Day 3

The first thing you see in The Last Five Years is a white brownstone. It looks almost like a ghost in the middle of a New York City block. As the notes begin to play, the camera drifts upwards to peer into windows and search for its movie star within them. No, that's not her.  Not her either. Ah, there she is. Anna Kendrick sings the entirety of "Still Hurting", moping around a dark apartment, crying. The camera moves around her (in strange patterns) and her voice is just beautiful. And then I realize I've forgotten to breathe and am gripping my armrest.

I have a strange relationship to modern movie musicals. We're about 14 years into the movie musical's modern resurgence after two decades of a major drought but it's still hit and miss as to quality and success (not necessarily related). I always desperately want them to be great since there are so few. The fact is, though it's grossly unfair, each of them bears far more responsibility in keeping an entire genre alive than any action, horror, drama, epic or comedy out there. I have trouble relaxing watching them because of all this pressure and only when the film is gobsmackingly great or confident (like a Moulin Rouge!) do the "ohmygodpleasedontkillthemusical" nerves subside and just let me thrill to what's in front of me. 


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Robert Wise Centenary: I Want to Live! (1958)

We're celebrating the centennial of director Robert Wise this week. Previously: Tim on "Curse of the Cat People" (1944) and Nathaniel on "Somebody Up There...". Now, David on Susan Hayward's Oscar vehicle, with an exclamation point!

Though the internet seems to increasingly denigrate the importance of punctuation, once upon a time it was vital to our sense of understanding language. Would I Want To Live! have any of the same feverish impact without that exclamation mark at the end of its title? Perhaps. But it signifies the bold stance of this cry for social justice in a millisecond. I mean, just look at this poster! Only Britain's notorious newspaper The Daily Mail has taglines that long these days.

That boldness is a quality more of the film's frenzied marketing than of the film itself; director Robert Wise, whose centennial we're marking this week, excised the closing rhetoric that producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz was insisting upon, sure that if an audience wasn't convinced of the film's social statement by then, a few platitudes wouldn't make a difference. As our series of pieces has and will demonstrate, Wise was an extremely adaptable filmmaker who transcended genre, but he often pursued work that aligned with his anti-establishment politics.

Never more so than here [More...]


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Curio: Movies By Color

Alexa here with your weekly fix of film art. I've always thought color impacts the mood of a film greatly: the pops of red in Pulp Fiction, the moody blue noir of Blade Runner, the dominant earth tones in The Big Lebowski. Along these lines, there has been a mini-trend lately of designers abstracting films according to their color palettes. My favorite is by designer Charlie Clark.  Clark's project, titled "The Colors of Motion," takes the average hue from each frame of a film and then presents the frames together as horizontal stripes or square tiles. Distilled down to their palettes, The Matrix becomes a sea of green and black, and Frozen becomes a patchwork of dark blues and browns.


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Beauty vs Beast: Crime Is Beauty

JA from MNPP here with another round of "Beauty vs Beast" for us to sink our teeth into - every Monday we ask y'all to choose sides between an appointed movie's "good" guy and "bad" guy, wherein we acknowledge that such distinctions are liquid (eyeliner). But as a wise and beautiful woman once said, "I'm scared rats are gonna come out and bite my new nylons." Oh and she also said, "There has to be a line drawn somewhere." And that line runs right down the middle of Baltimore's premiere hair enhancement clinic, the Lipstick Beauty Salon!

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is running a fabulous John Waters Retrospective here in New York right now, showing every single film the Pope of Trash, the Prince of Puke, ever made, and so it only seemed right and proper to celebrate this divine (ahem) ocassion this week with my fave of his films, 1974's Female Trouble. Meet our Teams!


Beauty, beauty, look at you, I wish to God I had it, too. Who will it be - the avant-garde artists or their deranged muse? You have a week to vote, and to let your opinions on the matter spill forth in the comments.

PREVIOUSLY Last week it was the eternal Lily Tomlin's 75th birthday and we jumped in the pick-up truck and gunned it to the big city with 1988's twin-comedy Big Business - did you go for Lily's pair of Roses or Bette Midler's twosome of Sadies? Well Rose started off strong... but at the last minute Sadie stuffed her in the janitor's closet and became the Joan Collins she always wanted to be. Said Nathaniel:

"As much as I love Lily, this film belongs to Bette's Sadie... especially via her awesome Dynasty fixation and possibly the best film use of her trademark eye flashing. TEAM SADIE!"


Robert Wise Centenary: Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)

For Robert Wise's centennial, we're looking back on a random selection of his films beyond the familiar mega-hits (The Sound of Music & West Side Story) which we are far more prone to talk about. Here's Nathaniel on the Paul Newman boxing drama...

The poster art for Robert Wise's 1956 biopic on Rocky Graziano reminds us that the more things change the more they stay the same. We're still getting taglines like "A girl can lift a fella to the skies!" (see: Theory of Everything) but Pier Angeli's role as Rocky's wife Norma in the Paul Newman boxing pic is actually fairly minor. She straightens him out primarily by giving him something consistent to hold on to in a life that's been previously totally adrift in noncommittal boxing matches for money and petty crimes. Not that his crimes were always petty, mind you, but we'll get to that in a minute. 

Up until Somebody Up There Likes Me Paul Newman had been doing minor TV roles and successful work on the stage. But his film debut in the biblical epic The Silver Chalice (1954) was an embarrassment. He won poor reviews and later stated...

 The moment I walked into that studio I had a feeling of personal disaster..."

Newman's Breakthrough after the jump...

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Dress for the part, Clueless-style

Continuing our Back to School week...

Hey all, Manuel here, reminding you that when it comes to prepping for back to school fashion, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) has had an app for that, even before Apple ruled product placement in Hollywood.

The year is 1995 and I remember watching Cher open Clueless by telling me that she actually has a “way normal life for a teenager.” She gets up, she brushes her teeth and she picks out her school clothes. So far so good. Except then we get a shot of her touchscreen (!) computer where she has her entire closet digitized (!). Way normal? As if!

This was mind-boggling to me. Not only because my “pick out school clothes in the morning” routine was restricted to making sure my uniform was nicely ironed (yes, I always looked on with envy to these American high school movies where kids were allowed to wear whatever they liked, never bothering with ties or blazers as I did), but because it seemed like a scene more at home in the Jetsons than in a teenage remake of a Jane Austen novel. This little scene, meant to index Cher’s wealth and fashion sense, works also as a wonderfully prescient scene about our digitized and app-ready world. (So much so that in 2014, Iggy Azalea's take on Cher's closet organizer looks quite at home in a tablet, while the world has finally created an app rivals Cher’s own! #ShareYourCher)

Needless to say, I could have used Cher’s fashion software. By the time I was a college freshman I barely had any idea how laborious choosing a collegiate-ready outfit could be with no school-approved shirts and grey pants to choose from. Last thing I wanted to be was a “fashion victim” let alone “ensembly challenged.” For if there’s something to be learnt about the fashion in Clueless is that it isn’t merely a cosmetic addition to one’s personality, but it can function as a confidence booster. It’s not the clothes that make the woman, of course, but a yellow plaid ensemble can go a long way.

Cher's outfits are truly things of late 90s beauty, it's almost hard to pick a favorite, but I've always loved that first ensemble; which one of hers do you love the most? Do you have a first day of school ensemble you still remember fondly? Or one you don't quite understand what you were thinking when you wore it?