DON'T MISS THIS!

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF
50th Anniversary Rewatch 

Oscar History
Welcome

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

Like The Film Experience on Facebook

Powered by Squarespace
What'cha Looking For?
Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Beauty vs Beast: Summer or Tom?
VOTE

 "Both are insufferable." -Jim

 "She was so mean to that sweet boy. Ack." -Brooke

Keep TFE Strong

 

LOVE THE SITE? DONATE 

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

Subscribe
Saturday
Dec062014

Team FYC: "Only Lovers Left Alive" for Hair & Makeup

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Tim on Only Lovers Left Alive.

From Gary Oldman’s transformation into a desiccated gargoyle, to a 7-year-old wearing plastic fangs, vampires have long been an inspiration for disguising human beings as immortal bloodsuckers. And with Only Lovers Left Alive, the hair and makeup designer Gerd Zeiss has made a terrific addition to the annals of the cinematic undead.

Director Jim Jarmusch’s vision for the film was more about characters detached from time than horror, and so the vampires played by Tilda Swinton,Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowsa, and John Hurt haven’t been designed to look like animate corpses, so much as people who are very, very tired, and very, very old. Swinton’s pallid flesh and stringy, wild straw-colored hair are maybe the most immediately impressive work of design, instantly communicating the idea of decades and centuries spent in the dark and isolated from the world, a feeling that she is herself starting to fade away. It doesn’t necessarily communicate illness or decay, so much as a kind of thinness and used-up energy.

Tilda is the film’s showiest vampire, but all of them suggest the same principles of fatigue and being removed from the entire history of human fashion, out of some combination of disinterest and being out-of-sync with the times. Hiddleston’s lanky, unwashed hair does that one way; Hurt’s craggy, sallow face does it another, particularly later in the film, as he grows increasingly worn-out and weak even by this film’s standards. And Wasikowska stands in contrast to them, with overly bright, scrubbed flesh that speaks to her character’s far different priorities and interests, even before the plot starts to make those differences manifest.

In its sole important human character, played by Anton Yelchin, the film even finds space for a wannabe vampire poser, though he isn’t aware that’s what he’s doing. But the calculated sloppiness of his hair and his unfortunately scruffy face illustrates the mind of someone who wants to project an image to the world, even as Hiddleston and Swinton suggest those who no longer care in the slightest what other people think of their appearance.

Of fancy prosthetics and architecturally elaborate up-dos, there are none, But Only Lovers Left Alive gets far more mileage out of the small details of its character makeup than most movies relying on enormously fanciful monsters ever could hope to. It draws us steadily and invisibly into the characters’ history and worldview and mood, using their appearance to suggest their backstories in ways that would be clumsy and obvious put into dialogue. It’s an essential reason that the film is one of the deepest and emotionally involving vampire movies of recent years.


previous fycs

Saturday
Dec062014

Boston Critics Regain Their Mojo: Pierce 'Snow' and 'Skin'

CORRECTION & APOLOGY: I had originally stated these were the winners for the Boston Society of Film Critics, a group with a long fascinating history. Unfortunately, as is all too common these days these prizes are from an upstart critics group from the same city, the Boston Online Film Critics Association*.

The young BOFCA (now in its third year) seem to have issued some sort of challenge to the far more famous BSFC. The BSFC has had a place of honor in critics circles in that, for many years of their history, they seemed less interested in the Oscar race than actually offering an opinion on the best of a given film year which is, we unfortunately need reminding, the entire purpose of critical year-end prizes. In recent years their choices have seemed as Oscar driven as 90% of the critics groups that exist today. So perhaps the younger organization will remind them of their roots in iconoclastic choices?

The new group has taken the entire year into account, and given December the shrug but for two prizes for the Belgian film Two Days One Night (adding another feather in Marion Cotillard's cap after her NYFCC win). 

PICTURE: Snowpiercer
DIRECTOR: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
ACTOR: Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Edward Norton, Birdman
SCREENPLAY: John Michael McDonagh, Calvary
FOREIGN FILM: Two Days One Night

DOCUMENTARY: Life Itself
ANIMATED FILM: The LEGO Movie
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Birdman 
EDITING: James Herbert & Laura Jennings, Edge of Tomorrow
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mica Levi, Under the Skin

 THE BOSTON ONLINE FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NAMES THEIR TEN BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR:

  1. SNOWPIERCER
  2. UNDER THE SKIN
  3. BOYHOOD
  4. ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
  5. THE BABADOOK
  6. TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT
  7. BIRDMAN
  8. CALVARY
  9. INHERENT VICE
  10. SELMA

 * P.S. Again my apologies. I would not have given this organization and entire post to themselves had I realized they were a new group. The fact remains that no matter how interesting your choices, each city does not need multiple competing critics groups. And the proliferation of so many new groups, correctly or incorrectly, suggests that they are formed by people who cannot get into the pre-existing group. I don't know if this is the case in Boston but with the walls having all but vanished between Print and Online there seems little point in "Online" organizations these days as all former print sources are now online. 

 

Friday
Dec052014

Monty the Cat Pundit Smells a Jennifer Aniston Surprise!

Monty is getting on in years and has all but retired from Oscar punditry. When I show him my swag in the hopes that he'll reveal some innate feline wisdom about awards season these days he looks away with disdain, grumpier than ever. He's even ignored all the boxes which must be like an alcoholic strolling past an open bar without stopping.

But FINALLY engagement. This week he lept with glee into a box containing various Into the Woods substances (I wasn't quick enough with the camera but he obviously approves. Does this mean that Into the Woods can muscle into the Best Picture race after all (it's kind of a toss-up right?) or is it just a reminder that Monty has a thing for musicals? His first Oscar call ever was Best Original Song for Björk in Dancer in the Dark (2000) when he was just a 2 year-old. He would race to the CD player (remember those?) whenever it came on and plant himself there.

And tonight, the most curiousity yet this season as he began circling one of three new packages He would barely let me touch it. What's it for?

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec052014

Oscar's FX Finalists: From Bucky to Bilbo

MURPH !!!!!!!

The Visual effects Oscar finalists have been announced after that branches bake-off ritual wherein they screen visual effects reels from various films. Ten films remains standing but only five can become Oscar nominees so it's superheroes vs. mutated monsters vs aliens vs. hobbits vs giant fucking robits vs. maimed fairies for that coveted honor.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Godzilla
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Maleficent
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Transformers: Age of Extinction
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Other than Maleficent the female led fx hits all missed the cut from Lucy to Mockingjay Part 1 through longshots like Divergent. Critically panned mainstream movies like Into the Storm and Amazing Spider-Man 2 also didn't make it. Perhaps more surprisingly Oscar-hopefuls like Noah, Birdman and Into the Woods were also discarded. (Maybe the visual effects branch also didn't understand what was happening to the Witch in her final scene?) But the missing film we'll shed a tear for is TFE's endorsed visual effects contender Under the Skin. But then this branch never listens to us. Our suspicion is they don't view their own specialty as an art -- because they continually avoid emotionally expressive stylized vfx work - but view it as a technical craft with the two and only goals being first large-scale spectacle and second, computer generated versimilitude. 

May the best effects become Oscar nominees on January 15th and by best we mean the Apes, the good Captain, Interstellar and Godzilla. Certainly three of those are likely to make it but my beloved Winter Soldier is a longshot with those infuratingly ubiquitous hobbits and transformers being renewed for so many seasons over the years. 

What do you think the five nominees will be and who do you think deserves the win? It's a tough call with so many great looking films around. 

Friday
Dec052014

Team FYC: Tom Hardy in Locke for Best Actor

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's David on Tom Hardy in Locke.

You hear Tom Hardy’s Ivan Locke before you see his face. Hardy has spoken about the mistaken origins of his attempt at a Richard Burton-esque Welsh brogue, but the dialect is the least important aspect of how the choice functions in acting. Locke’s accent makes his voice measured and plaintive, remaining a calmly placating force across his telephone conversations as he journeys across the British Isles one fateful night.

Steven Knight’s surprisingly tense script sets the groundwork for the surprising tension of Locke, but it’s Hardy’s performance that creates the compelling emotional drama out of events as mundane as a concrete pour. Any singular character piece like this inevitably relies heavily on its sole performer, and Hardy proves himself both actor and star, contorting his charisma so that Locke’s passion for his abandoned job and his complex dedication to both his wife and the other woman he is travelling to see are clear just by the way Hardy’s eyes shine. 

Knight’s chamber play doesn’t even allow Hardy the luxury of standing up once he enters the car at the beginning, limiting the actor even further. It’s a remarkable acting challenge, but the emotional delicacy Hardy is able to develop from just his voice, face and hands is an incredibly graceful experience. Locke is a character defined through his relationships to the people on the end of the phone (and a ghost in the backseat), and the way Hardy softly modulates his voice across the course of seismic emotional shifts creates an intimacy that Knight’s script might otherwise have precluded through its decisive audio choreography. Simply watching the contours of his face and how different they have become by the film’s end is more compelling than the majority of films released this year.

Other FYCs 
Original Screenplay, The Babadook
Original Score, The Immigrant
Supporting Actress, Gone Girl
Visual FX, Under the Skin
Cinematography, The Homesman
Outstanding Ensembles

Friday
Dec052014

Interview: Liv Ullmann on 'Miss Julie', Jessica Chastain ...and Carrie Bradshaw?

Jose here. The first thing I tell Liv Ullmann is that I remember being ten years old and having my father introduce me to the work of Ingmar Bergman. 

That Swedish legend directed her in more than ten films including Persona, Cries and Whispers, and Face to Face for which she was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. She offers me a warm smile, touches my shoulder and says “oh, thank you”. During our conversation I realize how much she “talks” with her hands, which she uses to draw figures on a table, to mimic camera moves and also to touch her face in an expression of awe, as she talks about the work of the actors she directed in her adaptation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie (opening today in NYC).

She hadn’t directed a film in almost fifteen years (since 2000’s Faithless), but was compelled to return behind the cameras when she was given carte blanche by producers who asked her to make a film about a femme fatale. She chose Strindberg’s classic because she felt there was much that still hadn’t been said about the title character. As played by Jessica Chastain Miss Julie is a rebellious soul who pretends to be in control, but has little self awareness. She finds her true self through the way she treats her servants John and Kathleen, played by Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton respectively.

Ullmann moved the story to 1890 Ireland where she felt the socio-economic inequality between the characters made more sense than in Sweden. She unleashes the three characters in a castle straight out of the most existential version of Hamlet and infuses the text with color, both literal and figurative, to make the most compelling version of Miss Julie to be put on screen, a tribute to Bergman, Strindberg and a reminder that Ullmann’s work both behind and in front of the camera is always a pleasure to watch. She talked about her cast with passion, explained her thoughts on conveying physical space on film. And she even talked some Carrie Bradshaw! [after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec052014

Team FYC: The Babadook for Original Screenplay

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Michael on The Babadook

Years of horror films have trained audiences how to guard against all the tricks of the genre, but Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook gets around those defenses and needles us in ways for which we aren't prepared. Kent understands that all great horror touches on some form of primal terror. Something deeper than the surface shocks. The Shining had our fear of isolation. Jaws had our helplessness in the face of nature's power. The Babadook taps into our dread of our own offspring. The fear that they might destroy our life and the fear that we may hate them. Kent’s film burrows so far under the skin you can practically hear it scrape against bone.

The Babadook's screenplay does so many things so effortlessly it’s easy to miss the scope of her achievement. Part of the reason the scares are so effective is that the film has been so convincingly grounded in reality before the horror elements creep in. If the haunting had never materialized the story could continue quite well as an affecting portrait of a struggling single mom. Kent also lands a killer ending, one that manages to leave the audience both satisfied and thoroughly unsettled. Count on your fingers how many other modern horror films pull off that trick and you will have enough digits left over to cover your eyes when The Babadook gets too terrifying.

The Babadook has been widely heralded as one of the best horror films of the new century, if not the best, yet it is all but certain to be ignored by the Academy. It deserves to join the slim ranks of Best Picture nominated horror titles alongside The Exorcist, Jaws and Silence of the Lambs, but since that is not going to happen, the least they can do is recognize Kent’s achievement in conceiving of Mr. Babadook in the first place. And after all, wouldn’t it be fitting if the story of a monster who lurks on the printed page found its recognition in the writing category?

Related
We talked to Jennifer Kent about her brilliant debut

Other FYCs 
Original Score, The Immigrant
Supporting Actress, Carrie Coon in Gone Girl
Visual FX, Under the Skin
Cinematography, The Homesman
Outstanding Ensembles