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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Which screenplays are most quotable?

"Inside out FTW. 'I loved you in Fairy Dream Adventure Part 7. Okay bye. I love you!'" - Teppo

"My number one that I now say whenever the occasion is delivered by Carol: 'It will get ugly. And we are not ugly people...'"- Jones

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Monday
Oct132014

75th: Absence of Melinda

Two time Oscar nominee Melinda Dillon turns 75 today. Since we don't like any major actresses to totally fade from public consciousness when they stop working, let's look back. Though her last working year was 2007 her most recent high profile gig goes back much further to a SAG nomination as part of the ensemble of Magnolia (1999, pictured left) in which she played wife and mother to Phillip Baker Hall and Melora Walters. 

Though she'd been working for a decade before it in small parts (TV guest gigs and improvisational comedy) her first real claim-to-fame came as "Memphis Sue" Woody Guthrie's wife in the Best Picture nominated bio Bound for Glory (1976). She received a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Acting Debut" (a now long defunct category) even though it wasn't her debut. Dillon's breakout led to bigger parts and two well-regarded Oscar nominations though curiously the Globes, who had first honored her, skipped her both times when her major hits rolled around. Her first Oscar nod made actually history: as the wide-eyed young mother in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1976) she was and will forever remain the first actor to ever receive a nomination for a Steven Spielberg film (it wasn't until The Color Purple when anyone else followed). Later she was nominated as a particularly fragile soul and key character at the heart of a war in Absence of Malice (1981) between journalist Sally Field and businessman Paul Newman (also Oscar-nominated).

Melinda Dillon as "Teresa" in Absence of Malice (1981)

Though Dillon's heyday preceded the birth of my own film/actress obessions I remember getting the sense that she was a critical darling, the kind of actress with a devout if not populist following. By the time I was watching movies regularly and passionately though the roles were all mom roles sometimes with lots of screentime as in A Christmas Story (1983) and Harry and the Hendersons (1987) and sometimes on the peripheries as in those very blonde family flashbacks in Prince of Tides (1991) or "Merna" in To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar (1995).

If you're familiar with her work what's your favorite of her performances? If she could be coaxed out of her retirement what would you have her do?

Monday
Oct132014

Beauty vs Beast: The First Scream Cuts The Deepest 

JA from MNPP here, with our second week of Final Girl themed "Beauty vs Beast"'s leading up to Ye Olde All Hallows - I didn't intend for this to also become a Wes-Craven-a-thon but whatcha gonna do, the man scribbled his name all over the genre in permanent marker, so here we are heading to the sleepy little hamlet of Woodsboro and the film that reinvigorated a slashed-to-ribbons genre for a new generation (my generation) - 1996's Scream. (And my apologies if this spoils a movie for you but I consider 18 years past-due on that sort of thing.) Let's meet our foes!

 

I don't know if putting the tag-team queer-vibe between Billy & Stu counts as plus or a minus for you -- it's a plus for me but I'm probably mentally disturbed so I'll leave just that to y'all to discuss in the comments. You have one week!

PREVIOUSLY Last week it was Wes Craven's 80s horror classic we tackled - in a battle between A Nightmare on Elm Street's dream duo we came down on the side of good (but just barely) - hall-pass-hating Nancy (Heather Langencamp) defeated the nightmare-man Freddy Krueger once again, but with just 52% of the vote. (I personally like to think some of those votes were for her awesomely drunk mother played by Ronee Blakely.) Said Rob:

"Nancy, aka Heather Langenkamp, is great! Not particularly a shining thespian but a charming and sincere one. Rooted for her all the way."

Monday
Oct132014

NYFF: A Second Look At Foxcatcher

The NYFF concluded last night but we've got a couple more pieces for you. Nathaniel reviewed Foxcatcher briefly at TIFF and here's Michael's much more positive take on it...

If it’s true that great storytelling unfolds in a way that is both surprising and inevitable, then Bennet Miller’s Foxcatcher appears at first glance to be missing half of the equation. The most surprising thing about the spare script by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman is how shocking it isn’t. We can see the impending tragedy coming from miles away. Only the film’s characters seem blind to the descending shadows. Tremendous piles of money have a way of obscuring vision like that.

Based on the real events leading up to a 1996 murder, Foxcatcher’s first images show the incredibly rich at play with their pets, sitting atop thoroughbred horses, surrounded by hunting dogs, etc. It’s appropriate for a film about the unfathomably wealthy John du Pont’s attempts to keep champion wrestlers Mark and David Schultz as his own personal possessions. 

Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) doesn’t require much convincing to take du Pont up on his offer...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct132014

Viola Davis, Vanquisher of the Unspeakable

Manuel here with your daily reminder that this is Viola Davis’s world and we’re just living in it. Remember Jessica Chastain (she, champion extraordinaire of actresses all around) telling us that "Viola Davis is one of the greatest actresses in the world"?

Well, it shouldn't surprise us, but Ms Davis is as graceful a person as she is a performer. She was one of several women celebrated by Variety this past weekend at their “Power of Women” luncheon. The roster alone should get you excited: Davis, Reese (don’t call it a comeback) Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda, and producer Donna Langley. That they all got beautiful covers and editorial photo shoots is just an added bonus for us readers.

But it was Viola, being recognized for her work with the Hunger Is initiative, who once again showed us why she’s so fearless and magnetic on and off camera. Her speech below is a brave and touching call to action, and I won’t shy away from mentioning that it made me shed a tear or two. As she notes, she’s intent on getting rid of the word “unspeakable,” for everything should be spoken about, including one’s shame and one’s maybe-not-so-happy childhood. Watch her follow her own advice:

What can one say after that? Do you also wish we knew what it is that Viola's husband says to her every day? Are you just as happy that Davis is being feted left and right these days? 

Monday
Oct132014

A New Season Begins

Let's pretend we've been off air for a few month and TFE's fall season starts tomorrow, 8 AM EST with a special Tuesday Top Ten day, reviews as Lists, or Lists as Lists, or Picture Lists or whatever -- top tens all day. Throw some confetti (TFE has, strangely, a devout but possessive following. Don't keep things you love to yourself: share, tweet and like your favorites! Donate a cup of coffee a month - see sidebar) 

Whenever I announce a new season, I like to illustrate with ruthless programmer Diana Christensen even though she'd immediately cancel us for our ratings share and low episode counts 

The Semi-Regulars
Mondays
 Monologues | Stage Door | Beauty vs. Beast
Tuesdays Top Ten | Curio | NEW OR RETURNING SERIES 
Wednesdays NEW OR RETURNING |  A Year With Kate - only 11 episodes left! 
Thursdays AHS: Freakshow | NEW OR RETURNING |  Tim's Toons 
Fridays Posterized | Michael's Weekly Review 
Saturdays Meet the Contenders | Nathaniel's Weekly Review 
Sundays Box Office | Podcast

(This was one of the first blogs to treat itself like a tv network way way back when but now it's the norm across the web. Every one and all the corporate sites have recurring series now.) That's the basic building blocks of our network. We try for three regular series Monday through Thursday and two Fridays through Sundays) but as you know the site offers lots more than that: daily news items, trailer analysis, lotsa lotsa Oscar coverage, anniversary celebrations, occasional celebrity guests, and multiple surprises and special detours. I'm dying to relaunch  "Actressland" (which isn't meant to be standalone comics once a year like it has been but a continuing weekly story - stay tuned!). I know that smackdowns & best shots (♥) have devout fans but there's just no way to juggle them during the constant barrage of Oscarifficness so they return in March 2015.  

NEW INTERVIEWS
Lots coming up in the next few weeks including Guillermo del Toro, Patti Smith, Patricia Arquette, Chadwick Boseman, Birdman's composer, Noah's costume designer, and many more. Before the big wave of contenders catch up with some past chats since you probably missed a few. This year we've interviewed Guardian of the Galaxy's screenwriter, Pride's director, The director of an indie called Test, and stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton (that was a popular one!).

Last year's Interviews ICYMT
Oscar Winners: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club); Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club); Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a SlaveOscar Nominees: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Costume Designer Michael O'Connor (Invisible Woman), Costume Designer Patricia Norris (12 Years a Slave): Globe Nominees Director Asghar Farhadi (The Past); Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) ; Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said) ; Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks); And Still More Fine Talents!  Colin Farrell (Saving Mr Banks); Jonathan Groff (Frozen); Brie Larson (Short Term 12); Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave); Joanna Scanlan (The Invisible Woman); Director Yen Tan (Pit Stop); Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave

Which was your favorite interview last year and who do you hope we snag this time around?

Sunday
Oct122014

Box Office: Gone Girl Keeps Her Money

Amir here, returning to box office duty. I had to discard my long, passionate obituary for every cinephile’s favorite math-themed website, Box Office Mojo, because thankfully it’s back on air. The scare is (seemingly) over. We can all feast our eyes again on that old-school, colourless, eyesore of a design we know and love. 

TOP TEN WIDE
01 GONE GIRL $26.8 (cum. $78.2) Jason's Review
02 DRACULA UNTOLD $23.4  NEW
03 ALEXANDER AND THE ... DAY $19.1 NEW
04 ANNABELLE $16.3 (cum. $62.1)
05 THE JUDGE $13.3  NEW
06 THE EQUALIZER $9.7 (cum. $79.8) 
07 ADDICTED $7.6  NEW
08 THE MAZE RUNNER $7.5 (cum. $83.8) Review
09 THE BOXTROLLS $6.6 (cum. $41) In praise of Laika
10 LEFT BEHIND $2.9 (cum. $10.9)  

Gone Girl kept her cool and slit Dracula’s throat to stay at number one. Dracula Untold – ugh, that title – was one of four new wide releases that failed to overcome Fincher’s film. There was also the children’s film Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and the much maligned TIFF opening film, The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr. sans the lucrative iron man suit. If those titles sound unappealing, wait till you get a hold of Meet the Mormons, yet another Christian film entering the top ten, making this a truly exemplary year for the little genre. This one is a documentary financed by the church of LDS, so you know it’s going to be even-headed and nuanced.

Still, all isn’t lost. You’re not alone in thinking this year’s highbrow film season is off to an unusually slow start, but there are good things to see out there, as Nathaniel highlighted the other day. Pride, Whiplash, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and if you’re a Canadian reader, Mommy, are all playing and doing relatively strong business on few screens. Entertain yourselves with those, or Bill Murray’s St. Vincent (with the weekend's highest per screen average), or this wonderful little documentary called The Overnighters.

Anyway, I’ve mostly been busy with screeners for next week’s films with hit or miss results. What did you watch this weekend?