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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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Silence of the Lambs Retrospective

"Don't help the man with the broken arm! Don't get in his van! Too late... She does it every time. Which is why this is such a good movie: it really makes us care, and even when we know what's going to happen, we hope it won't."- Edward

"Such a great BP winner. I remember seeing it when I was a teenager and even then I noticed the eyelines being so close to the camera, and the way Clarice was framed in a male-dominated world as though she was being watched and judged." - MSD

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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?

Sunday
Oct122014

Birdman Conference & Party: Egos, Creative Challenges and "A Critical Presence"

Choosing Birdman as the closing night film of the 52nd New York Film Festival was a smart move. Premiering in the slot right after it would have been a truly humbling experience for another film. Not that I wish to inflate Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's ego any further.

Iñárritu, Norton, Watts and Amy Ryan at the premiere

In the press conference that immediately followed our screening yesterday he admitted that it's already enormous. "Inquisitor. Tyrant. Dictator" are just three of his names for his own ego and the idea for Birdman was to explore the inner struggle with ego and the creative process. Innaritu says he starts most creative projects thinking  "This is great, fantastic, very genius!" and shortly thereafter has a bipolar switcheroo "You're a stupid asshole. This is a piece of shit, no one would care about it!" He thought this creative struggle would  be a cool thing to dramatize on film though he didn't mean it to be specifically about the ego of actors. He actually thinks they don't have big egos. "Politicans have bigger egos...even my dentist!" he added spontaneously to much laughter in the room. "He's an asshole. He makes me suffer and I pay him."  

Michael Keaton's internal creative struggle takes a slightly different turn "I go through, 'Oh you're the greatest, you're wonderful. And then 20 minutes later... no, you're actually more than that Michael!"

Throughout the conference the actors found ways to keep the mood light and funny. Somehow Naomi Watts became the favorite member of the cast to tease, which was interesting because the actress she plays onscreen is riddled with insecurity. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct112014

YNMS: Tomorrowland, American Sniper, Black Sea

Tonight is the "Closing Night" of the New York Film Festival (Birdman and I'm happy to report that it's wondrous) though there are screenings tomorrow making the title only honorary, really. We'll wrap up soon with Inherent Vice and Birdman thoughts and things we learned at the fest. All the screenings and the first wave of Oscar seeking interviews (coming at'cha soon) have left us seriously behind on the matter of movie trailers / teasers so here are three which you may well have seen already but let's discuss in abbreviated Yes No Maybe So fashion.

TOMORROWLAND
Yes - This does what teasers, hell trailers themselves, should do: intrigues but doesn't give the game away. If only full trailers would follow suit. Come on studios: Help moviegoers rediscover a little something called curiousity. 
No - It's not really fair since he's had a couple of low key years but I'm feeling Clooney fatigue for some reason. Was it the wedding?
Maybe So -According to the vague summaries the story, about a futuristic utopia created by technology, is actually led by Britt Robertson (seen here discovering it via a magic pin) with Clooney in co-lead position as a former whiz kid she enlists to help her get back to this magical place and something something. Like I said: Vague. That's the best kind of pre-release info.

 

AMERICAN SNIPER
Yes - Trailers that are essentially one scene clips with flourishes round the edges to convey a movie are big "yes" moments. This scene, a sniper trying to decide whether to kill a woman or child is properly lose-lose upsetting. 
No - that tagline "the most lethal sniper in US history" paired with "12.25.14" is gross. Thanks for the coal in the stocking, Warner Bros! Merry Christmas to you, too.
Maybe So - It's a Clint Eastwood film. As you know his aesthetic is way too dreary for me to fully enjoy (even the recent musical was dreary!) but this kind of film can get away with dreary and probably should. Don't know about the banal easy juxtaposition of "American family life!" shoved aggressively into this Middle Eastern war zone via all those inserts but I like how mundane Bradley Cooper's voice sounds in this context.

BLACK SEA
Yes - Two obvious things. 1) Submarines and ocean settings in general often make for fine thrillers given the claustrophia or 'all alone in the world' madness. And 2) Jude Law, for all of the unevenness of his career, is always watchable. Isn't it great that "he's a liability" is voiced over our glimpse of Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, The Place Beyond the Pines)? He's anything but a liability in movies but of course he is just that in context since he's so good at playing shifty/dangerous characters. Scoot McNairy is also in it.
No - A cuisinart presentation of the whole movie, albeit without grotesque spoilers just general spoilers that the men turn against each other. But we kinda figured that with the pitch in the first minute. Still, where is the hook to care about this? Or is it assumed we will through that blaring music and fast-cutting.
Maybe So -  Kevin Macdonald. Is the jury still out on him (The Last King of Scotland, The Eagle, State of Play, How I Live Now) or does everyone just expect a range from *shrug* to 'quite watchable' but never great?