Oscar History
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Thursday
Jun112015

Women's Pictures: Agnes Varda's Cléo From 5 to 7

 Cléo from 5 to 7 is easily Agnes Varda's most famous film. In a retrospective honoring Varda at the 2013 AFI Fest - my introduction to the dimunitive director - iconic photos of Corinne Marchand, ice cold in her black shades, were spread across signs and billboards on Hollywood Blvd. The highlight of the festival was a discussion with Varda before a screening of the film. During the discussion, Varda expressed disappointment that, of all her films, Cleo from 5 to 7 was the best-remembered. In a way, it's not so surprising. As Varda herself noted, the film was the result of a request by some of the New Wave directors that she make another fiction film in 1962. As a result, Cléo from 5 to 7 is actually the most easily categorizable film in Varda's ouvre. This is pure French New Wave, cerebral and cinematic, but containing those artistic flourishes that can only belong to Agnes Varda.

Cléo from 5 to 7 takes place over the course of a single afternoon, as a young singer (the eponymous heroine played by Corinne Marchand) waits to hear the results of a biopsy. Cleo is shallow, vain, and beautiful, kept by a rich gentleman who visits infrequently, and surrounded by sycophantic showpeople, superstitious assistants, and equally shallow friends. The mundanities of Cleo's life gain sudden symbolic importance with the shadow of death looming over her. A pop song becomes an anthem of discovery. A hat becomes an emblem of vanity. A walk down the street becomes a war between observer and observed. [More...]

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Thursday
Jun112015

FYC: Ruth Wilson for Best Lead Actress, Drama

Each member of Team Experience was asked to celebrate a dream pick for the Emmys. Here's Jose...

At first, Ruth Wilson’s Alison Bailey in The Affair seems to be the kind of person you'd never really notice. And yet for some strange reason we, like the male lead (played by Dominic West) are immediately drawn to her, perhaps because of how she seems careless and worried at the same time, or perhaps because of her effortless beauty which she seems to carry with shame, as if she’s concealing something. Whatever the reason, Alison owes her appeal to the magic of Wilson who in less than a year had a two-punch breakout success with this show (for which she won the Golden Globe) and her Tony nominated Broadway turn in Constellations.

Wilson is a two time Olivier Award winner so her breathtaking ease onstage was no surprise to people who knew her work in the West End, audiences on our side of the pond however were given the opportunity to discover a fresh new face that Hollywood had been using for silly or underchallenging supporting roles in films like The Lone Ranger and Saving Mr Banks. What remains most surprising about Wilson is that without any physical transformation she makes you truly believe she is the two very different women she's playing in The Affair and Constellations.

The same is true even within The Affair, which often repeats events from two sides (a "he said/she said" kind of thing) so Wilson has to approach each scene in a two different ways. When the events are seen through Alison's perspective they carry an aura of both helplessness and tenacity in the face of adversity, but those same moments seen through the eys of her lover, sometimes practically turn her into a femme fatale.

Whichever version of events you believe, trust this: We are only starting to discover what Wilson can do.

Thursday
Jun112015

Lost in La Linka

Recommended Randomness
Movie City News there's been a lot of talk of the sexism of Hollywood hiring in terms of the directors chair. David Poland decided to investigate (albeited in a limited sample way) which studio jobs since 1999 went to previously indie directors. He's since added 2000 and 2001.
VF Hollywood Courtney Love interview excerpts - good stuff on her small role in Empire which she hopes to return to for Season 2
Deviant Art Awesome Seussified illustrations via Dr FaustusAU: Mad Max, Alien, The Exorcist and more 
TimeOut NY talks to Patti Lupone. Did you guys see her on Penny Dreadful. She was surprisingly effective in straight horror drama, no comedy or singing necessary 


MNPP honors the awesomeness that is Simon Russell Beale on Penny Dreadful (I also totally love that performance - S2 is just running circles around S1)
"New York is Dead" My pocketbook can take no more Kickstarter but I would love to see the Gayby stars (besties Matthew Wilkas and Jenn Harris) in this comic series. Sounds morbidly perfect for them
Gene Kelly's Butt is my new favorite tumblr. How come noone told me about this one before? It's a cheeky wonder
Vulture Amy Schumer photobombs a random couples engagement photo in Central Park - lucky guys!

News Catch Up
Variety in news that will surprise no one Hungary has selected Son of Saul as their Oscar entry this year. It's our first "official" player
THR Emmy Nominations will be announced at 11:30 AM EST instead of the customary morning show frenzy. Will this set off a chain reaction? (I always love the early morning thing myself)
Variety Jaden Smith is joining Baz Luhrmann's Netflix series (ugh) as a graffiti artist
Pajiba the actresses who've admitted they want to play Captain Marvel from twins Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard and onward
MTV Joseph Gordon Levitt promises that the Sandman movie will be faithful - i.e. not an "action flick" like other comic book movies
Empire Danger Danger. Terry Gilliam finally has funding for Don Quixote. Do we really need this? I once read a very convincing argument (I forget which critic -sorry) during the release of that 2002 documentary about his spectacular failure to get that made that his entire career was already Quixote myths so it was for the best that he didn't go for the redundancy

Must Read
"AS IF..." you haven't already read this. But just in case you missed it. Vanity Fair has excerpts from an upcoming book on the Oral History of Clueless that seminal teen flick which is now (gulp) 20 years old. Somehow Paul Rudd still looks basically the same but the rest of us who loved it and everyone else involved have aged. I love that one of Amy Heckerling's inspirations for it was the positivity of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

For about a hot minute yesterday I thought "ooh, we should do a 'top ten lines from Clueless' article" but by the end of the hot minute I had thought of 50 with no end in sight so perhaps we'll have to wait until its 25th to come up with that. Daunting... as perfection tends to be.

Wednesday
Jun102015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Amadeus" (A Visual Index)

For this week's Best Shot topic, Milos Forman's scrumptious musical duet between jealous Salieri and genius Wolfgang. It was called Amadeus and it was very very good and very very popular -- raking in big box office, too. Though it never landed in the box office top five it had major legs and ended its reign as the 12th highest grosser of 1984.

The music drama won 8 Oscars (from 11 nominations) but curiously one of the prizes it lost was cinematography! The DP was Miroslav Ondrícek who had also been nominated for the previous Milos Forman picture Ragtime (1981).

Amadeus is so visually luxurious that I figured it would be a hard assignment and these eight images surprised me and I can't wait to dig into the articles. Unfortunately I had a computer mishap -- something is not working about my screengrab program (argh-the timing) -- so my own pick for Amadeus will have to wait. But please do read these articles and consider the visual choices. I'm not even going to attempt to put these in chronological order. It's a massive three hour film with lots of performances and difficult to place shots from the luxury overload. Today's Best Shot choices, from brave cinephiles round the web who dare to play this game, are presented in the order in which they were sent to me.

11 BEST SHOTS - AMADEUS (1984)
click on the photos to be taken to the corresponding article 
Next Wednesday: MAGIC MIKE (2012)... grab your singles and pick a shot to shove them into 

Forman wisely draws a visual (and comedic) parallel between the two appearances of the mask.
-The Entertainment Junkie 

When all you can do is seethe in your utter failure...
-Drink Your Juice Shelby 

In a film with such a lavish production, a quiet, almost bare scene caught my eye...
-Sorta That Guy

Hard to pick a shot because its best visual moments come from clever cutting and juxtapositions...
-Coco Hits NY

'It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God...'
-54 Disney Reviews

Thematically, I can't think of a more blunt message statement... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy

VIDEO ENTRY
-Movie Motorbreath 

If every Oscar winner was as loose and irreverent as Amadeus...
-Serious Film 

This resplendent film earned every one of its 8 statues.
-Film Actually

The perfect metaphor for the movie's dynamic...
- The Expert Newbie *first entry* 

"I'm frightened!!!" Yet she was fearless. Cynthia Nixon at 18
-Paul Outlaw

Finis

Wednesday
Jun102015

Snack Break 

My brain is not working today. I looked at this photo of Jimmy Stewart and Norma Shearer on tumblr and assumed Jimmy was checking his phone and Norma was trying to sneak a peek at what bitchy thing Lucille Fay LeSueur had just texted him from the set of Ice Follies of 1939 and th--- oh, uh, 1939. Right. D'Oh!

Time to step away from the computer perhaps? Snack break. See you late late tonight for the AMADEUS (1984) roundup and two barking mad composers.

Wednesday
Jun102015

HBO’s LGBT History: And the Band Played On (1993)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions... 

Last week we looked at a biopic of one of the most reviled political figures in twentieth century American history in Citizen Cohn. This week we continue our collection of HBO AIDS films (notice that every single film we’ve discussed so far has been centered on the epidemic: from the Harvey Fierstein chamber piece, Tidy Endings, to Epstein & Friedman’s Oscar winning doc, Common Threads and even that James Woods’-led biopic which structured itself around Cohn’s own battle with the disease) by looking at And the Band Played On, a film you should all watch if for no other reason than to see the eclectic cast Aaron Spelling (yes, he produced it!) assembled.

Lily, Sir Ian, and a troubled production history after the jump...

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