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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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"Viola Davis "Holy S***, That Woman Can Act!"

"I just hope How To Get Away With Murder is more along the lines of "The Awesome Viola Davis Show" rather than "Alot of Young Pretty People...plus the Awesome Viola Davis. " - Kai Lor

"It's not as if Lorraine Toussaint is getting hounded for co-leads with Jennifer Lopez. We lament how "beneath" her Viola Davis' career is but let's not forget that none of her peers have it so great. At least Viola Davis has first dibs on Viola Davis parts." -Hayden

"Viola Davis is a beast! Maybe the best we have today.- Josh

Thoughts on her career?

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Thursday
Sep122013

TIFF: Paranoid Mano-a-Mano Hallucinating With "Pioneer" and "Enemy"

TIFF is still raging but most journalists are now running on fumes, including me! And NYFF press screenings start next week. Give me strength! I know I know... you're waiting on writeups for Oscar hopefuls like The Railway Man, Gravity, and Twelve Years a Slave which is A LOT to get through still in the next few days but here are two films from Norway and Canada which I wanted to discuss. They both pit wounded unraveling men against themselves and each other for our viewing pleasure.

Wes Bentley vs. Aksel Hennie in "Pioneer"

PIONEER
Paranoia thrillers aren't really my cuppa as movie genres go but this not so distant history expose drama from Norway is just gripping. It deals in part with the American and Norwegian battle over oil drilling contracts and pipeline off Norway's massive jagged coast. Not So Spoiler Alert: Norway won making it one of the wealthiest nations in the world. But the political history is the setting rather than the focus, as we follow one diver Petter (Askel Hennie) who gets caught up in the unethical goings on which happen to have a body count. Not-So-Spoiler Alert 2: Big Oil is corrupt business no matter what flag it's flying under.

It helps quite a lot that Pioneer's opening sequence is just superb, with tensions and character detail already in media res as we meet an American diver (Wes Bentley) squaring off with the Norwegian brothers (Hennie & André Erikson) he's competing with for a trial diving mission. The men are being tested for the ability to withstand the unwithstandable oceanic pressure situations and scientists look on and experiment with the air they're breathing to see what keeps them functioning and alive. Soon they're hallucinating. When their first mission begins, the movie gets even more tense with some of the alien beauty of the James Cameron filmography elevating its underwater sequences. Once we've come up for air, shaken and much worse for the wear, the movie levels off into more familiar paranoia thriller tropes but it's so moodily lit, engagingly scored (by Air!), and slippery with the shady 'who can he possibly trust?' twists, that I didn't care and by then I was already well-hooked. The American actors (Stephen Lang, already totally typecast as the "this is a dangerous mission and I am secretly evil!" guy -- I've seen him do it like 3 times recently, and Wes Bentley) aren't half as subtle as the Norwegian stars which makes for some weird cartoon vs. human tonal shifting within scenes but it's good and very accessible filmmaking. It's still in the running towards becoming Norway's next top Oscar nominee. B+ 

P.S. Speaking of Oscar submissions, Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman, Miss Bala herself, plays one of the divers wives and speaks Norwegian in the film. Who knew?

Jake Gyllenhaal Versus Jake Gyllenhaal in "Enemy"

ENEMY
Take Jake Gyllenhaal's lonely OCD decoder in Zodiac and bring along his evocative cinematography and color palette. Split him in two with one version schlumpy and Adam Goldberg like (out of date reference?) and the other cockier like Gosling on a motorbike. Mix in Eyes Wide Shut's plinking/cagey 'sex party'. Plop it down to in Talent Agency and University settings as nondescript/sterile as the stockbroker firm in American Psycho and throw a curveball with inexplicable Video-Store detours from ye olden times. Stir it all together for a Franz Kafka stew. Add a little sprinkling of Isabella Rossellini, and a final glaze of blonde love interests (Melanie Laurent & Sarah Gadon) who are both confusingly disappointed; You're sleeping with Gyllenhall, ladies. Cheer the fuck up!

Do all that and you might get this eery, compelling, off putting, possibly slight but mercifully tight (90 minutes. Huzzah!) cinematic adaptation of Jose Saramago's "The Double". I kinda dug it but I have no idea if it's any good or what happened or where I am anymore and what aiiiiiiiieeeeeeee that last sound/shot. WTF 

Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
Jessica Chastain at the Eleanor Rigby Premiere
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars

Wednesday
Sep112013

"Labor Day" in a Nutshell

If I'd have known that the poster to Jason Reitman's Labor Day, an adaptation of the Joyce Manard novel, hadn't made it online yet at this writing, I'd have snapped a picture of it. It's a beauty for its rarity. How many actual film stills are used for movie posters these days? It's usually either iconic floating heads or powerful star bodies. If not that then boring vertical / horizontal grids of star faces, or a mishmash collage.

Here's the freeze frame in question, that's only been slightly modified for the poster image...

Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin star in Labor Day

And that film still, the first image released, is truth in advertising. What's more -- and only faithful TFE readers will truly appreciate this -- it's the image that stopped me in my tracks during the movie and made me think  "That's my choice for 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' though I promise I don't play that game with every movie I watch. 

The image is the story in a nutshell...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep112013

Cool Girls Don't Look at Explosions

Michelle Pfeiffer in The Pfamily. Just two days away! Are you planning on seeing it this weekend? I was more excited when it called Malavita but I'll be there for my haphazardly committed girl. (Oh you feel like working two months biannually? Well, good to have you back!) Here are pics from the premiere to which I totally should've been invited. My pfeelings, hurt.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep112013

Cinematic History Lessons Courtesy of Half Nelson

Back to School Month - Here's Andrew "Abstew" on Half Nelson

What is History?

 

These are the first words spoken by Ryan Gosling in his Oscar-nominated performance in the 2006 film, Half Nelson. (Sadly, his only Oscar-nominated performance to date. I was so blown away by his work in this movie that I thought, for sure, he would have received at least another nomination, if not a win, by now) Gosling plays a Brooklyn middle school teacher named Dan Dunne that happens to wrestle (see where that title comes from?!) with a drug problem. Throughout the course of the film, he's even discovered by one of his students (an excellent Shareeka Epps as Drey) in a girls' bathroom stall, smoking crack – moments after a basketball game he just happened to be coaching.

Dan's struggles with addiction, while striving to be a better person, are the focus of the film and give an added depth to the "Teacher as Savior" genre. But I recently rewatched the film, focusing only on the scenes in the classroom. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep102013

Top Ten Olivias

Here's a top ten stream of thought quickie for you. Let's just say it's in honor of Olivia Wilde who has been bouncing around in my head since that Boogie Nights live read last week and who won the StarMeter award from the IMDb last night. Congratulations on being so eminently, um, searchable, Livvy.

Olivia Wilde in Rush

I have to admit I don't quite get her appeal but Congratulations! Her career is white-hot right now (Rush is playing at TIFF and winningly surprisingly strong reviews) and she's engaged to Jason Sudeikis. Without further ado, off the top of my head and just for fun... 

The Ten Greatest "Olivia"s

10 Olivia Pope on Scandal
I don't watch Scandal (forgive) and the one episode I did see was atrocious and made me wonder what everyone is smoking when they praise it (blasphemy?) but I've been rooting for Kerry Washington since the very beginning of her film career (Our Song, holla!) and don't really wish to jump ship despite a few stumbles. Plus, she's up for an Emmy in this year's small screen Best Actress competition for this role, which is really quite historic if you check, television wise. If you love Scandal PLEASE explain why in the comments. [TFE's Interview]

09 Olivia Hussey
Romeo & Juliet need, desperately need, to be played by very young actors to maximize the authenticity and resonance of their tragedy. But it wasn't until Franco Zeffirelli's gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous 1968 adaptation that people finally understood this en masse. I am on record as complaining about the constant revivals of Shakespeare on stage and in the movies. But Romeo & Juliet I especially don't understand any more at least in movie form. [more...]

Click to read more ...