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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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Wednesday
Nov272013

Reader Spotlight: Michael Bina

In the reader spotlight series we celebrate YOU, the reason The Film Experience keeps chugging along. Today we're talking to Michael Bina who just produced a well received short film! Let's meet him.
 

Nathaniel R: We met a couple years back at a guild screening for Coriolanus's tiny Oscar-qualifying run I believe? 

MICHAEL BINA: Yes, that’s right! I remember you... loved it?

Well, Vanessa Redgrave in it! Otherwise not so much. How long have you been reading the site?

I’ve probably been reading The Film Experience for a little less than a decade. I was a huge fan of the Academy Awards growing up, so I began reading Oscar blogs. I stumbled upon yours and loved your insight on films, and just the way you wrote about them. The site's great at showcasing all aspects of the industry (film, theatre, television).

I understand you recently produced a film that was honored by the Producers Guild ? I'm fuzzy on details. Fill us in!

Every year the Producers Guild of America has a Weekend Short Competition. So over the course of one weekend you have to write, shoot, edit, compose and complete a film no longer than 5-minutes. This year the theme was Romantic Comedy in honor of Laura Ziskin. The film I made was called ‘The Squeeze’, inspired by my little cousin who has a Lemonade stand every summer.

That sounds fun. Let's watch it!

 

MICHAEL BINA: I used my cousin in the film, and made him a mafia-loving kingpin who runs all these lemonade stands in Beverly Hills. One day, this cute little girl opens an opposing stand, basically killing his business. So he tries to take her down, but falls in love with her. We ended up as one of the Top 10 Finalists, winning Honorable Mention. James Franco and Tom Cruise’s producing partner Paula Wager were two of the judges, so it was surreal knowing that they watched a film I wrote and produced.

Nathaniel: Congratulations so much. Okay, name 3 movies you've seen a bajillion times.

MICHAEL Movies are always playing in the background while I write, so this is easy.

X2:X-Men United
Moulin Rouge!
... and lastly (I know it’s cheating) but the four Disney Renaissance films: The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.

Take an Oscar away. Regift it.

  I want to say The Artist’s Best Picture win to A Separation, which is my favorite movie of all time. But, instead I’m going to make one choice that affects three outcomes. Take Hilary Swank’s 2nd Oscar and give it to Kate Winslet for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This way Kate would lose for her work in The Reader, meaning the Oscar would have gone to Streep. Thus, Streep would have lost for The Iron Lady, meaning Viola Davis wouldn’t be Oscar-less! (And even if Streep didn’t win, it probably would have gone to a very, very, very deserving Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So to wrap up, do like we did on sunday's podcast. Name your favorite turkey, succulent ham, and something you're sweet on for dessert.

Turkey: Independence Day
Ham: Jim Carrey
Dessert: Emma Watson

Thanks, Michael, Happy Thanksgiving!


Previous Reader Spotlights

P.S. If you'd like to be a reader spotlight, stay engaged! Like us on facebook and follow Nathaniel on Twitter. Don't be shy.

Wednesday
Nov272013

Russell vs. Mansfield: A Guide to Recognizing Your Ja(y)nes

abstew here. Dame Judi Dench returned to theaters this weekend with the Oscar-buzzing Philomena. (She gets Oscar buzz for nearly everything she's in. She even makes it happen with James Bond films!)

I had a teacher that used to say

Ask me my three favorite actresses and the answer is: Judi Dench, Judi Dench, Judi Dench.

And as great as Dame Judi is in the film, Steve Coogan (who also adapted the screenplay) is equally strong as the investigative reporter helping Philomena, Martin Sixsmith. The two play off each other well in a salty, sweet relationship.

There's a scene in the film which is bound to catch the attention of cinephiles...

They enter the convent where Philomena's son was taken from her ('The Sisters of No Mercy,' as Sixsmith snarkly calls it) to investigate what happened. On the wall in the waiting room is an autographed photo of actress Jane Russell. Coogan stares at the picture and when the Sister he's meeting with comes in, he asks, "What's Jayne Mansfield doing here?"

"I think you mean Jane Russell," the Sister corrects him.

They then have an exchange where Sixsmith tries to remember which one is which and ultimately remembers that Jayne Mansfield (not on the wall) is the one who got her head chopped off in a car accident. Which seems to be the only thing people seem to remember about poor Jayne.

But it all made me wonder: How well do you, TFE readers, know your Jane Russells from your Jayne Mansfields? Below are 10 factoids. Try to guess which fact is about Jane Russell and which is about Jayne Mansfield. After guessing, click on the read more at the bottom for the answers!

 

MANSFIELD or RUSSELL? TEN FACTOIDS
Try to guess which fact is about Russell and which is about Mansfield. After guessing, click on the 'read more' at the bottom for the answers!

1. Born in Bryn Mawr, PA with the name Vera Palmer. 

2. Was a Playboy Centerfold in the early years of the magazine and appeared in every February issue of the magazine for 4 consecutive years

3. A censorship debate with the production code about the amount of cleavage displayed in the film delayed the release of her film debut 2 years after it was filmed. It didn't get a wide release until 5 years after it was filmed!

4. Won the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer - Female

5. Known for her curvy figure, Bob Hope once joked, "Culture is the ability to describe <this actress> without moving your hands."

The look of disdain on Sophia Loren's face is priceless!

6. Starred in television commercials for the Playtex Cross Your Heart Bra and the 18 hour bra line "For us full-figured gals".

7. Both actresses were each married 3 times and mothers to multiple children, but she is the mother of the Emmy award nominated star of TV's Law and Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay.

8. Formed a gospel singing quartet called The Hollywood Christian Group. Their song, "Do Lord" reached 27 on the Billboard charts.

9. Her signature color was pink. Her Beverly Hills mansion was painted the color and named "The Pink Palace". And long before Mary Kay representatives were doing it, she drove around in a pink Cadillac.

10. Has her feet and hands immortalized in cement in front of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

And now, a musical break before the answers. It'll be the gayest thing you'll see all day:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov272013

Team FYC: The Spectacular Now for Best Picture

[Editor's Note: In this series Film Experience contributors are individually highlighting their favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Deborah Lipp on The Spectacular Now.]


Dear Voters of the Academy: Think Small. I know it’s Oscar season, and I know you want to think Big Space (Gravity) and Big Epic (The Butler), but sometimes, small is beautiful. Sometimes, small is The Spectacular Now.

Consider the delicacy with which this movie sits inside the pocket of being young, and confused, and feeling alone, and makes you feel it too. Consider that Teen Romance Movie Clichés could fill an encyclopedia, and that this movie deftly steps past all of them, to arrive at an intimacy of both dialogue and unspoken moments that create a sense of presence so very rare in the movies.

The Spectacular Now has three genuinely striking performances: Its two leads (Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley) and a supporting turn by Kyle Chandler, playing disturbingly against type.

Movies about disconnected people can feel distant, but, as Aimee (Woodley) and Sutter (Teller) find each other, we feel close, and connected. With striking honesty, The Spectacular Now gives us sad and fumbling youth, the relief of having someone else there, and the painful knowledge that it isn’t enough.

previous FYCs

Tuesday
Nov262013

Review: Oldboy (2013)

Greetings, Dear Readers. Michael C. here. Since Nathaniel is on record as being emphatically NOT a fan of Chan-wook Park's original Cannes prize winner, I thought it fitting I, an enthusiastic Oldboy lover, would step in to review Spike Lee's hotly anticipated English language remake.

One of the smallest changes to Spike Lee’s American remake of Oldboy is the most revealing. A subplot involving hypnosis has been excised from the film. No doubt the filmmakers decided mass audiences wouldn’t accept such an outlandish plot device, but therein lies the fatal error. An Oldboy that comes anywhere near plausible reality is no Oldboy at all. 

Park Chan-wook’s original version pulsed with bonkers confidence, dancing on the edges of sanity, and, when need be, careening right over the cliff. In dragging the remake closer to the director’s realism comfort zone, this version has drained the story of the operatic pitch it requires.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov262013

Sondheim to Streep "Don't F*** It Up!"

I am normally loathe to share soundbyte interviews from TV  -- especially when I have full delicious ones to offer with a whole slew of actors (soon, darlings, soon) -- but this little bit with Meryl Streep explaining what it's like to play Violet Weston is choice. The 'shiv in her hair' reference is perfect. But mostly I dug her enthusiasm about Into the Woods. Hey I'd squeal too if Sondheim wrote a new song for me!

He only asks that Meryl not fuck it up. (That's all we ask too) Which delights her. Because Meryl is delightful. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov262013

Is Frozen the Closest We Will Get to 'Wicked: The Movie'?

Glenn here, asking you to consider, if you will, a fantasy movie about two young women in a magical faraway kingdom, one of whom was born with a severe affliction. When her “powers” go wrong, everybody in their homeland believes she’s a monster. Wicked, you could say.  

That’s the plot to Disney’s new musical, Frozen. It could, of course, easily be the logline for Wicked: The Movie if the powers that be had been smart enough to get the film adaptation of the massive Tony-winning Broadway musical off the ground. The failure to do so remains baffling and there's been just too much other Oz-related product on the market lately that it would risk brand-damaging saturation to make it now. At least Les Miserables showed that film versions of famous musicals can still be hits decades after the fact so maybe we will get one someday. Until that someday occurs, however, at least we have Frozen. A film that feels so obviously indebted to Wicked (yes, despite being loosely adapted from Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen), so much so that they even cast Idina Menzel and got her to sing a big mid-film song about embracing the dark side that could have been called “Defying Gravity Part 2”.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov262013

Spirit Award Nominations. Discuss!

Oscar Best Picture hopefuls 12 Years a Slave and Nebraska ruled the Spirit Award nominations this afternoon with seven and six nominations respectively. All is Lost was a distant third place with 4 nominations. A bunch of other critical darlings managed 3 or less in a year that seemed to be about spreading the wealth... as least at the nomination stage. (Nominations for Enough Said but NOT Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in it. Hmmm. Best Feature for Frances Ha but only one other nomination? Curious though at least it was for the very deserving editing.

Complete list of nominees is after the jump... 

Click to read more ...