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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 

 

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Friday
Feb072014

Sharon Needles Does Anjelica Huston

Photo via April Wahlin

Sharon Needles, who you know and love as champion of RuPaul's Drag Race a couple of years back, donned an Anjelica Huston The Witches mask in performance the other night. Just in case you bitches weren't already in love with her. 

The new season of RuPaul's Drag Race starts the last week of February and those queens have nearly insurmountable odds against them. How does one follow Sharon Needles and Jinkx Monsoon, exactly?

Related: Anjelica Huston in The Witches, an appreciation

Friday
Feb072014

USC Scripter Prize

As discussed on the podcast this past Monday, we like it when guilds and specialty groups have slightly different rules of eligibility than the Oscars. This prevents everyone from choosing the same five everything and draws attention to other noteworthy accomplishments. For example, The Spectacular Now and What Maisie Knew, two good films that haven't been mentioned at all for months, won nominations at the USC Scripters.

The Scripter Prize is basically a version of Adapted Screenplay but the nominees are determined by a small panel each year (Leonard Maltin was on it this year) and the award goes to both the screenwriter and the original author. Naturally the original authors don't always show; we won't be hearing an acceptance speech from Henry James should What Maisie Knew surprise. The Scripters require that you're actually be based on previously published material, not just "previously established characters" which is the sequel-friendly insanity that started just in the past ten years or so and by which the Before Sunset and Before Midnight films won well deserved Oscar nominations albeit in the wrong categories. The only thing those films are "based on" is the imagination of Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke.

This year in addition to Spectacular and Maisie they selected three Oscar nominees 12 Years a Slave, Philomena, and Captain Phillips. Have you read any of these books and which would you vote for? The winner will be announced tomorrow. Their winner matches Oscar's just under 50% of the time... though like all awards bodies they seem to be moving closer to correlation of late. 

Thursday
Feb062014

A century of tramping

Hi all, it’s Tim, here to celebrate a milestone of particular significance in the history not just of movies, but of pop culture generally. This weekend marks a centennial of one of the most iconic figures of the modern world: silent comedian Charles Chaplin’s legendary Little Tramp, who premiered in a pair of short comedies that released 100 years ago by Keystone Studios. The second to be shot, but the first to be released, was the half-reel comic short Kid Auto Races at Venice, Cal. on February 7, 1914; two days later, it was followed by the single-reel Mabel’s Strange Predicament, during the production of which Chaplin threw together a costume on the fly made of too-large shoes, baggy pants, a tight jacket, and a bowler hat. Within months – if not, indeed, within weeks – the character thus assembled through a quick burst of inspiration had become a sensation with audiences, and by the end of 1915 would be firmly entrenched as the most internationally beloved face in movies.

The Tramp, at the time of his birth, bears very little resemblance to the figure that he’d become over the next few years as Chaplin gained more artistic autonomy and developed a clearer sense of what he wanted to do with the character. In Kid Auto Races, he’s a belligerent bystander trying to ruin someone’s newsreel footage of the race (in addition to its freewheeling violation of the fourth wall, the film is claimed to be the first time that a movie crew was shown in a movie) – you can see on the faces of the race bystanders (the film was shot guerilla-style in an afternoon) that they’re a little confused and a lot delighted by the weird little figure. In Mabel’s Strange Predicament, he’s a drunken lech in a hotel lobby trying to assault a pajama-clad 19-year-old Mabel Normand (who also directed), forcing her to hide under a bed. The Keystone slapstick comedy formula was not, after all, very sophisticated: it was built on the twin pillars of people falling down, and people getting hit in the face. In the early going, Chaplin’s gift wasn’t to subvert these tropes, but to execute them as flawlessly as possible, and the Tramp made for an easily-mocked figure whose pratfalls were played with acrobatic skill that remains fresh and wildly physical, even after a century.

Somewhere along the line, though, Chaplin began to find something fuller and richer to do with the character, and that’s the Tramp we know and love today. The put-upon everyman with an eternal sense of optimism, who no matter how often he got knocked down, was always ready to dust himself off and trudge on to the next fight. Which he’d also probably lose. He represents the best instincts of humanity found at the lowest rung of society, a pathetically admirable figure. The early Tramp is a loser that we laugh at because he’s also kind of a jerk; the late Tramp is a loser that we laugh at because he let us laugh at our own failings without criticism.

That overwhelmingly generous human spirit animates all of the late silent masterpieces: The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times. They’re funny, though not by any means the funniest of all silent comedies; but they are probably the sweetest and warmest. They are the works of an artist who could look at the world and say, “this is wrong”, but instead of being angry and depressed about that, follow with, “and here’s how we can make it better”. That has been the Tramp’s legacy: he is cinema’s finest portrait of our best selves as humans. On his one-hundredth birthday, I’m happy to remember all of the great experiences I’ve had watching his stumbles and small triumphs, and I’m pleased to think of all the films in his lengthy career that I still get to see for the first time.

Five Essential Little Tramp Films
The Floorwalker (1916, two-reel) - YouTube
The Pawnshop (1916, two-reel) - YouTube
The Immigrant (1917, two-reel) - YouTube
The Gold Rush (1925, feature)
City Lights
(1931, feature)

Five titles, of course, is barely even scratching the surface, so I'll throw it out there: what's your favorite Little Tramp movie?

Thursday
Feb062014

What is the Greatest Movie Ever Made Based on Toys or Games?

With The LEGO Movie winning rave reviews from critics (no, really) and looking to dominate the weekend, it's time to ask:

What's the best movie ever made based on toys or games? 

My vote would probably go to Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! (1996) which I found so deeply silly on first viewing that I got the giggles in the theater and could not stop... even during the less funnies. We quoted it for months afterwards. Or at least we froze our faces awkwardly and barked "Ack" at each other when it seemed appropriate... which was all. the. time. 

But then there's Clue. Soooo.... tough call?

Any other contenders? First person who says Transformers has to do all of our household chores for a week. 

Thursday
Feb062014

"Budapest" in Berlin: Fun Press Quotes from the Cast

The 64th Annual Berlinale began today and though The Film Experience can't be there (we're still recovering from Sundance) we are watching from afar. The events began early today with jury introductions and the press conference for Opening Night Gala film Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. The conference was fun if not exactly informative. Wes Anderson kept getting questions about the aspect ratio (it's apparently square like a 30s movie) and questions about his influences and where his ideas spring from that he didn't really answer but for generalities. He watched a lot of Ernst Lubitsch for this one and admitted that he loves Stanley Kubrick and his "systems", too, whatever that means. I wouldn't have ever grouped Lubitch and Kubrick, myself, but I'm pleased that someone out there can alchemize them. 

Herewith the best moments featuring Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and more...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb062014

Top Ten: The Best of Kristin Scott Thomas

DON'T LEAVE! Don't check out of the movies now. 

I'd like to speak to your manager."
-Kristin Scott Thomas as "Crystal" in Only God Forgives

As you may have heard the great Kristin Scott Thomas, who first broke through as Hugh Grant's deliciously tart unfortunately platonic friend in 4 Weddings and Funeral and was Oscar nominated way back when for her ice hot sand- blasted eroticism in The English Patient and who has elevated countless films since has rather casually tossed off a 'good riddance' to cinema

I just suddenly thought, I cannot cope with another film. I realised I've done the things I know how to do so many times in different languages... I can't do it any more. I'm bored by it. So I'm stopping

Oh come on Kristin, Only God Forgives wasn't that bad. [More...]

Click to read more ...