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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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Monday
May132013

Reader Spotlight: Daniel Massie

We're getting to know The Film Experience community one-by-one. You can read a bunch of past interviews here. Today's "Reader Spotlight" is Daniel, an art student from Scotland. You can follow him on twitter here.

Nathaniel: When did you start reading TFE?

DANIEL: Around two years ago. My best friend Scott read it before I knew of it. We are both award season fanatics and general cinephiles, so it was great to plug into a smart, energetic, personable blog that obviously loved the movies as much as we did. Now it's a site I regularly 'touch base' with.

Nathaniel: What's your first movie memory?

DANIEL: I don't remember the movie that well, or at all really. But it's effects have rippled far into my life. I was 4 and my dad and I watched Arachnophobia. My mum tells me that I was beside myself after watching it, and I have been insanely + irrationally terrified of spiders ever since. How bad could it have been?

Favorite directors?

I'm not a huge follower/fanatic of directors, I drool at the mouth for performers more, but I'd say some favorites are:  Lynne Ramsay - I died for We Need To Talk About Kevin, it blew me away. Shes an Artist -visionary, brave + hard as nails;  Steven Soderberg - It makes me ill that he isn't a household name. His work is exciting + engaging. Never boring; Todd Haynes - "SAFE", that's all; John Cameron Mitchell - I liked Shortbus a lot, but Rabbit Hole was something truly special, and I think his vision/direction had a lot to do with that.

Shout-outs to Ang Lee, Jane Campion + Darren Aranofsky

What's your movie diet like?

In a normal year around 70 in theatre and on DVD around 60, being the ones I missed, and ones I've yet to see from past years. I'm very fortunate that even though I live in a small Scottish town, near a fairly small city, we get an excellent selection of smaller films. Very lucky indeed.

If you were in charge for a year, what movies would you get made?

Oh yes, I'm Megan Ellison for a year. I'd start with Lynne Ramsay's Moby Dick adaptation, however much she wants, it's a deal. Anything that has Allison Janney in a demanding lead role. Any film that promotes a feminist worldview. Hollywood needs it.

You recently did an art project called "perform/reperform" inspired by Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton I take it? Tell us about it.

Two photos from "Perform/RePerform" 2012

I am obsessed with certain actresses + performances. They enter into my conscious + I end up acting out the part in little ways day to day, whether its the voice or walk or what have you. This project was about that process. The emulation of a character, of an actress and of a moment. Based on my personal loves at that time. It is a scene(s) re-performed, documented + then re-photographed. But I'd also say that a good chunk of the reasoning behind it is my desire to promote my favorite actresses to a new audience. I love them so much, I want the Same for others. I'm an ultimate fangirl.  

Have you ever parted ways with someone because of your passion for movies?

That's yet to happen. But they'd have to know that when award season comes around, my priorities, thoughts and passions are firmly on the golden statues and nothing else!

I heard that.

 

 

Sunday
May122013

P.S. Katharine Hepburn's "Guess Who" Oscar

Andrew here, shining a final light on Katharine Hepburn, a postscript to TFE's generous Katharine Hepburn week despite our host never having been a huge fan. Nathaniel’s write-up on Katharine’s twelve Oscar nominations nailed one of the key oddities of the icon's Oscary career. Her win in 1967 for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was only the second Oscar she picked up, a full 35 years after her screen debut. For perspective, by that time her biggest peers of the day - Bette Davis, Olivia De Havilland and Ingrid Bergman had already picked up dual statues.

It must have seemed unlikely by then that Katharine was ever going to get a statue to keep her Morning Glory trophy company, especially since with Spencer Tracy’s declining health she was working less and less. Consider: she'd made 15 films in the thirties, 11 in the forties, 7 in the fifties but Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner  in 1967 was only her second film that decade. I'd argue that this win marks the only legitimate sentimental win for Kate, though Oscar's love for sentiment is not something new to any of us.

Like all of her Oscar wins, Katharine was not there to accept the prize but in Garson Kanin’s memoir of Katharine and Spencer ("Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir") he included a bit about her finding out the news.

She was in France, making The Madwoman of Chaillot when the news came through by telephone. Her housekeepers, Willie and Ida, phoned her from Hollywood, awakening her just before 7. A.M., French time.

“You won, Miss Hepburn!” they shouted. You won the Oscar!”
“Did Mr. Tracy win it, too?” she asked.
There was a pause before Willie replied, “No, Madam.”
“Well, that’s okay,” she said. “I'm sure mine is for the two of us.”
The following day, Gregory Peck received a cable:

IT WAS DELIGHTFUL A TOTAL SURPRISE I AM ENORMOUSLY TOUCHED BECAUSE I FEEL I HAVE RECEIVED A GREAT AFFECTIONATE HUG FROM MY FELLOW WORKERS AND FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH BEING SPENCER STANLEY SIDNEY KATHY AND BILL ROSE. ROSE WROTE ABOUT A NORMAL MIDDLE AGED UNSPECTACULAR UNGLAMOROUS CREATURE WITH A GOOD BRAIN AND A WARM HEART WHO’S DOING THE BEST SHE CAN TO DO THE DECENT THING IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION. IN OTHER WORDS SHE WAS A GOOD WIFE. OUR MOST UNSUNG AND IMPORTANT HEROINE. I’M GLAD SHE’S COMING BACK IN STYLE. I MODELLED HER AFTER MY MOTHER. THANKS AGAIN. THEY DON’T USUALLY GIVE THESE THINGS TO THE OLD GIRLS YOU KNOW.

How ironic that last line seems now considering, as Nathaniel says, she gained two more awards at such an old age. By that age Oscar has always fallen out of love with actresses which is one of the reasons I’ve never much minded that her Dinner win is wrapped in sentiment. Of her twelve nominations it’s the least showy of her roles, a steadfastly reactive role but for that delightful “firing” scene. it’s mere happenstance that her birthday fell on Mothers’ Day this year but even if the performance does not rise to the top in the annals of great Katharine Hepburn performance it takes on a lovely, if sentimental, meaning as a reminder of great mothers everywhere. Kate had no children herself but between domineering mothers in Suddenly Last Summer, drug addled ones in Long Day’s Journey into Night and generally perfect ones in On Golden Pond, Christina Drayton in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is perhaps her best one. True, that stands as little reason to hand out Oscars but who’d have imagined one year later she’d be breaking the record for most Best Actress wins?

In 1967 this second Oscar must have seemed like the ultimate reward to an actress who was already a legend and that acceptance telegram does read as particularly charming. Happy birthday, Kate.

Sunday
May122013

Review: "The Great Gatsby"

This review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad


"Gatsby. What Gatsby?"

Daisy asks with a rush of girlish 'it can't be!' alarm, her nerves far overpowering the tiny glimmer of hope you think you hear in her voice. Which is as sensible a reaction as anyone could have when hearing about the arrival of another Jay Gatsby in movie theaters. You don't mean THE GREAT GATSBY, do you?

The F Scott Fitzgerald classic is a tough book to crack for filmmakers, its power so tied to its gorgeous (slim) prose, its subtle and cynical evocations and condemnations of American wealth and unspoken caste system. Further complicating adaptations is that the story is subjectively narrated. It's all told by Nick Carraway and his is, despite blood ties to the wealthy, an outsider's point of view. It's an easy book to love but a difficult one to adapt. But Hollywood keeps trying once every thirty years or so. 

The story, if you are unfamiliar (though you won't want to admit that out loud) follows the attempts of the elusive mysterious extremely wealthy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) to win back his lost love Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who he abandoned many years earlier while penniless to seek his fortune. More...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
May122013

Happy Mothers Day! (What's the Last Movie You Took Your Mother To?)

Did you call your mother yet? I was just talking to mine. Before we hung up, apropos of nothing, she says...

I was watching Turner Classic Movies this week. Sometimes I think of you when I watch."

Which... well, from my mother that's like a huge bouquet of flowers and hugs since she isn't super verbally affectionate. When pressed about which movie(s) she couldn't remember. "You know... that actress"

Was it... Barbara Stanwyck? I asked, trying to help with the first name that popped into my mind. "No. But I've seen lots of her movies. I didn't used to like her but now I do." 

Her current obsession is The Pirates of Penzance (1983) with 'that great new actor Kevin Kline' (new, mom?). She has apparently been buying up his filmography on VHS at garage sales and also likes French Kiss (1995) "except for the awful language!" Last time I visited she wanted to see Snow White and the Huntsman and then closed her eyes for half the movie.

What peculiar movie tastes does your mom have? What's the last movie you took her to?

Sunday
May122013

Posterized: How Many Hepburns Have You Seen?

We end our Katharine Hepburn theme week on The Great Kate's birthday, today! Katharine Hepburn made 43 motion pictures in her 62 years on the big screen. How many have you seen? I've collected the posters here of only her Oscar nominated roles, 12 of them in total, because 43 is too many for an episode of posterized. Let's get all the Hepburn/Oscar talk out of our systems. Starting now...

Two things are thrown into sharp focus when looking at that sprawling Oscar track record stretching from 1932 to 1981. First, that though only Meryl Streep has ever bested her for Most Lead Actress nomination (14 versus 12) at least a couple of Hepburn's nominated roles would probably have been considered "Supporting" by today's much looser non-definition of the category (i.e. anything goes). Second, though four Oscars is still the record for any actor, male or female, her reputation as an Oscar magnet is arguably over stated since AMPAS weirdly didn't become OBSESSED until after she'd passed the age by which they usually start ignoring great actresses! A full 2/3rds of her nominations came after she turned 40 and 75% of her wins were after the age of 60! This is rather shocking considering that only 8 Best Actress Oscars have been handed out to women over the age of 60. Three of those eight times the name being read out was "Katharine Hepburn".

10 more films and mucho Oscar history after the jump

Click to read more ...