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

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Tuesday
Sep292015

Curio: For the Love of VHS

Alexa here with your weekly arts and crafts. My VHS collection in the late 90s rivaled any film collection I would ever have. Before the days of streaming, a large collection of VHS tapes was essential to my viewing habits. How else would I support a sudden need to see Parting Glances or My Man Godfrey with only a local Blockbuster to serve me? A brief foray into ungainly LaserDiscs passed in the blink of an eye, and soon I had a wall of 800+ tapes.  Alas, those days have passed, and all those tapes made their way to various thrift stores where, apparently, people are making new use of them.

Upcycled VHS products are all over etsy, as are other crafty odes to the tapes. After the jump, some more favorite curios to make those of you as old as me nostalgic for the plastic rectangles...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep282015

NYFF: Cemetery Of Splendour

Jason on the the latest from beloved Thai director Apichatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul.

From what I gather, Weerasethakul is a filmmaker easiest approached with a road-map - an iconography of expectations, of mood and mise-en-scene, to guide you gently into the good night of his magical thinking. That is to say it's best to know what you're getting into. You're best served with a reference point, a friendly little ghost to hold your hand and lead you through the invisible world he's maneuvering his camera through.

It's a world that's not just off frame, to the left or right as you might expect. It's more as if it's sitting in the seats both left and right of you in the theater, occasionally grabbing at your popcorn, maybe whispering a lightly dirty joke in your ear before resting its head on your shoulder. It's comforting... but also a little invasive. He wants all of you.

I went in alone. Cemetery of Splendour, Weerasethakul's newest film, was my first. Hey, everybody had a first at one point, right? That's what makes it first. And just like losing one's virginity I found myself bewildered, a little bit sweaty, and ultimately ashamed at myself for putting it off for so long. That's what I was afraid of? Yeah it was a little bit weird but it went down fine, and I look forward to another spin.

Splendour tells the story of a somnambulist pack of soldiers, mysteriously struck sleepy-time by their surroundings, housed in a former school and taken care of by both some friendly local women (never unfriendly enough to not give a giggling poke at their engorged dream members) as well as a series of glowing candy-cane-shaped lamps, arcing gracefully over their beds while offering the jungle (and the film) a singular neon surrealism. It's rumored that the soldiers were digging up the earth for fiber-optics cables when they were struck ill and these lamps are like living heads of those wires, War of the Worlds-style, risen up to keep a slow colorful creepy watch over their slumber.

The film slowly (I'll have to bust out my thesaurus to find variations on "slowly" and "dreamily" for this review) closes in, in its medium-to-long-shot manner, on one sleeping soldier, and one nurse-type - Itt and Jen, who manage to form a sweet and easy rapport in between the comatose moments. He usually wakes up to her massaging some part of him, which is really the quickest way to a man's heart, no matter what the foodies say.

I don't want to trace out the road-map for you any further. I think if you've already wandered in Weerasethakul-Land you basically know your way around, and you know the journey - one taken half-drifting along just an inch or two above the ground as if you, like Jen, have one leg shorter than the other - itself is the destination. What a lovely journey though - a series of small escalating emotional catharses that moves through like clouds, like a slight breeze through the fanned trees, giving prayer to the benevolent specters milling about in the underbrush.

 

Cemetery of Splendour is screening at the New York Film Festival on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1. If you're interested in Weerasethakul, check out Nathaniel's reviews of his Palme d'or winner Uncle Boonmee.

Monday
Sep282015

Beige & Slate Blue: Nancy Myer's "The Intern"


Kyle Stevens, author of 
Mike Nichols: Sex, Language and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism is here to review Anne Hathaway's latest.

 The Intern follows 70-year-old and retired Ben, played by Robert de Niro (who has never seemed more like a Bobby). Having enjoyed a happy and prosperous life, Ben now finds himself so uninspired by endless leisure activities that he decides he deserves another go on the merry-go-round. He lands the film’s titular position at a women’s clothing startup created and run by Anne Hathaway’s Jules, who, we are told, is a difficult woman to work for despite all evidence to the contrary. Ben and Jules become friends, as Jules realizes that even an old be-suited, briefcased, handkerchief carrying man—the icon of conservative, 1950s patriarchy—may have worth. Disturbing as this is, especially at first, The Intern gives us a real man-woman friendship—that rarest of on-screen sights, even if it is here rendered “safe” by Ben’s age.

De Niro and Hathaway shine, particularly in a hotel scene that gives them time to plumb the depth of writer and director Nancy Meyers’ characters. Meyers is one of our best character writers, but The Intern’s frenzied workplace setting doesn’t afford us time to fall in love with her creations as we did in, say, Something’s Gotta Give (2003), where Meyers simply put the camera in front of Diane Keaton and let her go. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep282015

Beauty vs Beast: Fourth Rock From the Sun

Hi there everybody, Jason from MNPP here with this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast," wherein we ask you to choose your poison -- good against bad, hero versus villain. Well... except this week. We're using the occasion of Ridley Scott's film The Martian, which is out in theaters on Friday, to take a look back at two of my favorite movie visitors from Mars...

And as it turns out they're all positively wicked, the lot of 'em. Whatcha gonna do? Man and movie-kind's been almost always terrified of that red dot in the sky since time immemorial. So I guess think of this week's question this way -- who do you think you'd stand a better chance against? The Tripods from War of the Worlds (you're fine with either version) or the Martians from Tim Burton's Mars Attacks? And tell us why in the comments...

PREVIOUSLY Last week we wandered dreamily around a Tokyo hotel with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation - but who'd we end up bringing back to our room? By the narrowest of margins (less than 2%) it was Bill we wanted whispering in our ears. Said STinG:

"I feel like when a movie that is semi-autobiographical to Sofia Coppola still intellectually favors the Bill Murray character for his unspoken existential pains than her still interesting surrogate in Charlotte. Well, it's no contest for me. Bobs all the way!"

Monday
Sep282015

6 Questions. Best Actor / Supporting Actor Races

The Oscar prediction charts are revised for ACTOR and SUPPORTING ACTOR and boy is the competition ever on. Here are 5 questions for you to discuss in the comments and as you consider your own predictions at home. 

1. Is Best Supporting Actor actually stronger than Best Actor this year?
With the decision of Spotlight to run its two arguable leads as supporting (it is an ensemble film so this makes a kind of justified sense... even if a "convenient" kind) and excitement for Johnny Depp's Black Mass star turn already dying down (or is this just our imagination?) the Best Actor race suddenly looks a little thinner than expected and the Supporting Actor race a lot fuller. The category confusions that crop up every year now as well as Hollywood's deep love of all star male ensembles have made things a lot harder for true supporting players of the male persuasion. Years ago, for example, I'd guess that Stanley Tucci had a slam dunk case for his scene stealing in Spotlight and Chiwetel Ejiofor had a real dark horse opportunity as the sympathetic home base of The Martian (think Ed Harris's nominated role in Apollo 13) but I couldn't fit either of them into even the top 15. 

2. Will young actors be in the mix for a change?
While Oscar's love of young women and resistance to young men is well documented on this site (and in any perusal of Oscar stats) two of the most well regarded performance from the recent festival circuit were Abraham Attah, who is only 14, and Jacob Tremblay, who is only 8, who lead Beasts of No Nation and Room respectively. In almost all cases male leads who are very young go supporting with Oscar voters (think Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People, River Phoenix in Running on Empty, and Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense) though their female counterparts are harder to predict in terms of which category they might find traction in. Still I wonder if anyone will believe Attah as "supporting?" In the recent IndieWire TIFF poll we discussed -- which provides a good example of how few critics care about "category" distinctions -- Tremblay was very high up in the supporting votes (despite being the only male star of his two-hander movie) whereas Attah was high up in the leading charts despite playing opposite a pretty big star of the same gender in Idris Elba, who himself had extremely few leading votes (they were mostly supporting) which suggests to me that people won't ever think of Attah as supporting Elba but the other way around. 

3. Both male acting categories won't clear up until...?
Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight starts screening. Or perhaps you think the key film is another film entirely.

4. Which actor do you think has a better shot at winning (if nominated) than he does at actually being nominated?
My guess is Harvey Keitel in Youth. His film director/best friend feels like a supporting character, at least until he takes over the movie for about 20 minutes or so. You could make an easy case that he's more overdue for Oscar gold than the Spotlight boys for example. But maybe you feel this odd distinction goes to someone else in either lead or supporting - Dicaprio perhaps.

5. Do you think Oscar statistics will get a shake up this year?
The last time two men from the same film were nominated in the same category is quite a long time ago now though it didn't use to be all that rare. Two supporting actors happened in Bugsy (1991) 24 years ago. Two lead actors happened in Amadeus (1984) 31 years ago. Three supporting (male) actors nominated for the same film happened thrice, first with On the Waterfront (1954) and then twice over with The Godfather parts 1 and 2 (1972/1974)... could Hateful 8 or Spotlight actually make it a fourth? (Since 1991 the only category that has seen any double nominations in acting -- and it's happened a lot -- is Supporting Actress.)

6. If you had to vote for your own supporting actor ballot RIGHT NOW (preferences not predictions) who would you include?
It's a tough call but I'd be looking at these 11 names (Brolin, Del Toro, Elliott, Ejiofor, Tucci, Schreiber... and the guys from the best of summer in review) and these 2 if I decided to allow for the supporting distinction (Keaton & Keitel), category distinctions I'm still having internal debates about.

Monday
Sep282015

YNMS: The Big Short

Manuel here. Every year there are a number of late-breaking releases that suck up all the oxygen in the room, commanding every conversation because of their timeliness. Of course, every year also sees a number of well-made films get lost in the shuffle. Adam McKay’s The Big Short, set to close out the AFI Fest, is obviously hoping for the former. Based on the true story and best-selling book by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Moneyball), the film is set against the ticking bomb that was the collapse of the housing market. Does it stack up to other Fall prestige releases? Let's find out by putting it to our patented Yes, No, Maybe So test:

YES

“There’s some shady stuff going down.”

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep282015

NYFF: Everything is Copy

Manuel here continuing our NYFF coverage with a documentary about the late great Nora Ephron, Everything is Copy. An HBO documentary, it played to quite the packed house last week with nary a dry eye in the house by its end.

Nora was…

 Kind. Open. Generous. Witty. Interesting. Funny.
Ambitious. Mean. Tough. Malevolent. Judgmental.

You’d expect the first half of those adjectives to make an appearance in the touching portrait of Ephron by her son, Jacob Bernstein. That Everything is Copy includes the latter half is what makes it a pricklier and much more fascinating exploration of the late writer and director. 

Quotes from Spielberg, Streep and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...