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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Friday
Sep252015

Review: Stonewall (2015)

First screened at TIFF. This article was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad


This one's for Judy!"

… so went a legendary scream (along with brick throwing) as the Stonewall riots began. We can’t know exactly what happened that night, but as the famous saying goes, “when legend becomes fact… print the legend.” Judy Garland, The World’s Greatest Entertainer, had died a week earlier on June 22nd, 1969. Her remains were brought to New York City on June 26th where tens of thousands of people lined up to pay respects, and her funeral, which barred the public, took place on June 27th. The theory goes that the gay community, which had always idolized her (as any sentient human with taste should, then or now) was even more on-edge than usual when the police came to raid Stonewall on the night of June 28th, 1969.

Fact: All hell broke loose. The rest is (much argued about) ‘history’...

Judy grief as combustive fuel is one of the legends at any rate. And one that I heard a lot as a baby-gay whenever people brought up Stonewall. Stonewall was not the true beginning of gay liberation (political groups had been forming since the 1940s to pursue our future rights), but it remains a super handy symbolic one. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep252015

Tim's Toons: A Genndy Tartakovsky Primer

This weekend sees the release of 2015's latest animated feature, Hotel Transylvania 2, and it is somewhat hard to get excited for it. Being an animated sequel will do that. 

Being a movie where all the shots were being called by Adam Sandler will do that, too. Being an animated sequel under the control of Adam Sandler in the same calendar year that witnessed the deeply repugnant Sandler vehicles The Cobbler and Pixelswill do that most of all. But let me put on my bravest face and try to tell you about the thing that is noble and interesting about Hotel Transylvania 2 despite all the obvious ticks against it: it's a Genndy Tartakovsky picture.


"And who is Genndy Tartakovsky?" you may now be asking yourself
. I very much hope you are, since answering that question is the reason we're here now. The simple answer is that Tartakovsky is one of the great stylists in contemporary American animation.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep252015

NYFF: Journey to the Shore

Manuel here kicking off TFE's New York Film Festival coverage. The festival begins today but they've pushed back the "official" opening The Walk (2015) to Saturday due to the Pope's visit.

So let's start with a moody melodrama from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, better known for his successful horror and thriller pictures (Cure, Pulse, Retribution).

Journey to the Shore is a ghost story. This is an economical description of its plot and an acknowledgment of its genre. But it is also, its thematic concern. Mizuki (Eri Fukatsu) is mourning and missing her husband, Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano). He’s been gone for three years. We don’t quite know what’s happened to him and he doesn’t really explain himself when he appears out of nowhere in front of his wife at their apartment. Her prayers, which she’s been dutifully writing down pleading for his return, have perhaps worked. Yusuke then asks his wife to take a trip with him; like all ghosts (for what else could he be?) he has unfinished business to attend to. There’s at first a playfulness to Kurosawa’s setup: well-versed in ghost stories, his audience surely looks for dead giveaways (can he be touched? can others see him?) and much of those first scenes tease these questions out, even at one point offering the suggestion that Mizuki, in her grief, has dreamed this all up.

But that is not really the point. Yuzuke is not quite a ghost but he’s also not quite alive, and the film makes it clear soon enough that this should not be our concern. Instead, the emphasis is on Yusuke and Mizuki’s relationship. As they make their way to the “shore” of the title, Mizuki is offered glimpses of where her husband spent the last three years of his life. This gives the film an episodic feeling and there are some set pieces that work better than others (a stay at a newspaper delivery warehouse is eerie and soulful in the ways the entire film aims for, while a stay near a waterfall where the dead presumably travel to is much too schematic, using another couple to comment on our central pair).

I won’t spoil much else about Kurosawa’s film which is focused, in any case, more on mood than on plot. As I said, it is a ghost story and perhaps even from this all-too-brief summary, you can tell where the film is headed. Ghost stories, after all, are about our inability to move on. That Kurosawa literalizes much of this subtext is precisely the point but ultimately it’s unclear what we’re supposed to get from this stylistic move, especially when the film’s most captivating scenes exist outside of the film’s ghostly parables (a confrontation between Mizuki and one of her husband’s female colleagues is exquisite precisely because it is all subtext, every line laced with hidden implications, every look a tacit accusation).

Gorgeously shot and languidly paced, Kurosawa’s film was, I have to admit, a bit of a drag, its ideas both too blunt and too obscure, and try as it might, it never quite moved me, even though plenty of tears were shed on screen.

 

Journey to the Shore plays NYFF on Tuesday September 29th and Thursday October 1st.

Friday
Sep252015

What's on your cinematic mind?

You've been suspiciously quiet. Have you hibernated through summer -- f*** u bear schedule -- to emerge refreshed for the best film season? 

What movie are you thinking about right now? What are you seeing this weekend?

Friday
Sep252015

Beauty Break: Alexander Fehling

In a very stacked weekend for new releases -- 10 of them in total with names as big as Anne Hathaway, Andrew Garfield, Robert de Niro, and Ryan Reynolds -- plus expansions for the mountain climbing spectacle Everest and the hotly buzzing Emily Blunt & Benicio del Toro cartel thriller Sicario -- let us draw your attention to one of the smallest, but not the least of the new films and stars. Germany's Foreign Oscar contender Labyrinth of Lies arrives by way of Sony Pictures Classics. Yes, it's a Holocaust drama* but here's something much less sober to contemplate: the beauty of its leading man Alexander Fehling who you may already recognize from Inglorious Basterds (2009) or Young Goethe in Love (2010) and who you'll see very in just over a week on the season premiere of Homeland's 5th season as he joins that series as legal counsel Jonas Happich, Carrie Matheson's new love interest.

But we saw him first, Carrie!  [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep242015

This is a rhetorical question, right?

We'll come tonight if you'll be there, Carol. Jeezus.

On a scale of 1-20 how sick are you of waiting for the new Todd Haynes masterwork*? I finally get to see this on Monday... so Cate is just teasing me with this gif (with its "Sunday" nonsense) which I stole from The Tracking Board**

For the record icymi: Carol has an earlier release date than it once had and now arrives in limited release on November 20th. It screens as part of the New York Film Festival in October. 

*presumed, but it's Todd Haynes so such presumptions are historically based.

** The Tracking Board lists Carol as a movie they'll skip in theaters and watch on Netflix later. They are either a) insane or b) have never experienced a Todd Haynes movie on the big screen and either way we feel terribly for them. 

Thursday
Sep242015

Interview: 'Stonewall' Star Jeremy Irvine on LGBT Youth, Method Acting and That Infamous Trailer

Jose here. When I show up at the Stonewall Inn to speak to Jeremy Irvine I see him hanging from the scaffolding outside the historical locale with his co-star Jonny Beauchamp, they’re all smiles and jokes, their camaraderie is evident and I’m slightly surprised they’re not acting more solemnly given they’re carrying the weight of representing one of the most-talked about movies of the year. I expected to find them seated Congressmen-style, preparing grandiose statements about social issues. Expectations are indeed the operative concept at hand when discussing a film that has generated so much controversy even before opening, so I’m glad Irvine is able to find some levity. When I meet him again inside, he’s devouring a scone, “it’s a muffin actually”, he explains, as we sit in one of the booths of the legendary tavern. “That’s what you do in New York isn’t it? You drink coffee and eat muffins” he says with a smile.

Irvine became an overnight star with his leading role in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, and went on to appear in adaptations of famed novels Great Expectations and The Railway Man, I was surprised to see him land the lead in Roland Emmerich’s period piece, but it’s evident that he has an extremely likable quality, that leads filmmakers to think of him as a perfect audience surrogate, who they use to traverse through oft dense plots. Despite his succession of leading roles, Irvine has kept a very low profile and has confessed to prefer spending time in a pub with his mates, than attending big Hollywood premieres. Perhaps that’s why he seems so at ease at the Stonewall, where he proves to be quite candid and open about touchy subjects like the film’s infamous trailer and how he approaches people’s expectations.

JOSE: War Horse, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death and now Stonewall. What’s your fascination with period pieces?

JEREMY IRVINE: I don’t know! Apparently I like costumes (laughs). I don’t go after specific genres really, if I read a script and I’m still thinking about it a few weeks later, then that’s a pretty good sign. When there’s something that connects with you, you just know. Actually when I got the script for Stonewall, I’d just done three movies back to back. I had just finished shooting a movie in Budapest and I said to my agent “I need a break”, and then a couple of days later they sent me the script and said “you have to read this”.

[More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep242015

TIFF Review Index

Let this serve as the official TIFF Review reference guide since the festival closed up shop Sunday night after the Free screening of the People's Choice winner Room. We hope you enjoyed reading along with our reviews. Amir and I saw about 50 movies between us but we'll have to wrap up now as NYFF screenings have already started and Oscar charts MUST be updated and so on.

Fall Film Season is finally upon us!

3 of my favorites of the 29 I saw...

37 Films Reviewed
45 Years British marital drama (Nathaniel)
3000 Nights Palestinian prison drama (Amir)
Anomalisa Existential stop-motion dramedy (Nathaniel)
Arabian Nights: Vol 2 Portugueuse art film with politicial satire vignettes (Nathaniel)
As I Open My Eyes Tunisian music drama (Nathaniel)
Baba Joon Israel's immigrant family drama & Oscar submission (Amir)
Bang Gang French teen sex drama (Nathaniel)
The Clan Argentine true crime drama (Nathaniel)
Closet Monster Canadian LGBT drama (Nathaniel)
Dégradé Palestinian hair salon set female drama (Amir)
Demolition Canadian grief dramedy (Nathaniel)
Desde Allá Venezuelan LGBT Drama & Venice winner (Amir)
Dheepan French Immigrant drama, Palme d'or winner (Amir)
The Dressmaker Australian revenge dramedy (Glenn)
Embrace of the Serpent Black & White Colombian Amazon journey (Nathaniel)
Eva Doesn't Sleep experimental Argentine corpse drama (Nathaniel)
The Family Fang US Dramedy about a performance art family (Nathaniel)
Girls Lost Swedish LGBT Teen Drama (Nathaniel)
Granny's Dancing on the Table Swedish animated/live-action hybrid (Nathaniel)
The Here After Swedish School Drama (Nathaniel)  
Homesick Norwegian incest drama (Nathaniel)
I Saw The Light US musical biopic (Nathaniel)
Invisible Filipino immigrant drama (Nathaniel)
Love French 3D sex drama (Nathaniel)
Much Loved Moroccan docudrama on sex workers in Marrakech (Amir)
Mustang Turkish coming of age drama (Amir)
Phantom Boy French animated adventure (Nathaniel)
Room US family/crime drama, and People's Choice Winner (Nathaniel)
Spotlight, US journalist drama (Nathaniel)
Stonewall US gay history drama (Nathaniel)
Taxi Jafar Panahi's comedy & Berlinale Winner (Amir)
Truth US TV news political drama (Nathaniel) 
Victoria German continuous shot crime drama (Nathaniel)
The Wave Norwegian disaster epic (Nathaniel)
The Witch this year's Sundance horror sensation (Nathaniel)
Youth Showbiz drama (Nathaniel) 

upside down, VICTORIA turned me, inside out. and round and round

Other TIFF Articles
Best Actress Contenders (Nathaniel)
Red Carpet Opening Weekend (Jose)
Red Carpet Post-Venice (Jose)
Victoria's Single Take / Birdman Comparison (Sebastian)
People's Choice and Other Awards (Nathaniel)
Women He's Undressed - The Interview (Jose) 
IndieWire Critics Poll (Nathaniel) 

TIFF Juries of One
I polled the podcasters who stayed the whole fest. Here's what they said...

  Nathaniel R Joe Reid Nick Davis
Film Room Son of Saul Arabian Nights
Director Cirro Guerra, Embrace of Serpent Ridley Scott,
The Martian
Laszlo Nemes,
Son of Saul
Actress Charlotte Rampling,
45 Years
Cate Blanchett,
Truth
Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Dheepan
Actor Jacob Tremblay,
Room
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation Frederick Lau,
Victoria
Supp. Actress Kate Dickie,
The Witch
Julianne Moore, Maggie's Plan Ghalia Benali, As I Open My Eyes
Supp. Actor Stanley Tucci,
Spotlight
Scoot McNairy, Our Brand is Crisis Abdella Didane,
Much Loved
Craft Contribution Sound,
Victoria
Cinematography,
Son of Saul
Cinematography,
The Assassin
  Cinematography, Embrace of Serpent Art Direction,
Room
Sound,
Son of Saul
  Score,
Spotlight
Costumes,
 The Danish Girl
Camera Operator, Victoria