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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 | letterboxd


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"I must be the only one who completely disliked Under the Skin..." -Benji



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Burning Questions: Should We Still Reference Mr. Smith?

Serious Film’s Michael C here. With the Fourth of July around the corner it’s a perfect time to examine a classic piece of Americana that has recently re-entered the national conversation.

Last week the movie on the front pages of America's newspapers wasn’t Man of Steel or World War Z. It was a 1939 Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart. There wasn’t, alas, a nationwide burst of interest in cinema history. Rather, it was the story of Texas state senator Wendy Davis holding the floor in a dramatic 13-hour filibuster in opposition to a bill proposing draconian restrictions on abortion rights. Journalists had to reach back nearly three quarters of a century to the thrilling filibuster climax of Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington to capture the drama of the incident. Just as Capra's It’s a Wonderful Life is synonymous with sob-inducing Holiday sentiment, so too is Jimmy Stewart’s wide-eyed senator intertwined with courageous political underdogs.

Of course, Capra isn’t such a high pedestal in critical circles as he is in the popular culture. Despite three Oscars for directing, he is often considered corny and clunky, his films hampered by starry-eyed idealism. So with the subject fresh in the news, it seems appropriate to ask if we should update our cultural touchstones.

Is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington still relevant? Was it ever? [more after the jump]

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Posterized: The Almodóvar 19

It was with great shame Friday that I realized I'm So Excited had landed and I hadn't done that  Entire Retrospective of Pedro Almodóvar's Filmography that I suggested I'd be doing all spring. And here we are in July. My plans are always much larger than the hours filling each day as you know.

I know a lot of people aren't crazy about the new picture I'm So Excited (reviewed) which is a very silly raunchy gay comedy but I laughed a lot. (LAST DAY TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY CONTEST TODAY!) I'm going again with friends this weekend because what better way to celebrate America's Independence than... uh... catching a Pedro movie! Support your world class auteurs so that all movies without superheroes don't end up going straight to VOD by 2017.

Herewith the Almodóvar Filmography with a few notes...

How many have you seen?

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What movie...

... Is on your mind right now. Tell us! (And how did it get there?)


The Halfway Mark Pt 1: Pictures & Screenplays

We're halfway through the calendar, if not the film year exactly given the backloaded release schedule. So, let's take stock as to where we've been. Herewith my choices for Best thus far... which means I'm hoping that AMPAS and all awards groups will give them a try before the mad traffic jam of year-end Oscar vehicles.

Disclaimer: But first of all... did I miss anything? Sure. You can't see everything though I see my share (full list). My biggest 'oops' for 2013 is definitely Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley's docudrama about her family history which most people I trust at least like and some love. But I also wish I'd seen the Israeli Oscar submission Fill the Void which didn't compete for the foreign film Oscar but did win a release and great reviews.


Original Screenplay

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June. It's a Wrap

June is always the toughest month for me to wrap my head 'round. It's my busy birthday month, the summer hits, the blog dips. And when it's over I'm all like "What? The year is half over?!?!?" In the last week of June we celebrated Gay Moments in Cinema and though it wasn't planned we gave equal time to movies before gay liberation (Suspicion, All About Eve, The Maltese Falcon) as after (My Beautiful Laundrette, and My Own Private Idaho) which is kinda how we always do here at TFE, spanning all eras of movies. We can't be penned in by the now! I didn't have time to revisit but I myself kept thinking about Weekend, that recent gay romantic drama that instantly seems to have seized hearts, gay and straight, around the internet. I couldn't be prouder of that movie if it was the last movie on earth. Where do you hope gay cinema goes in the future?  

 Anywhay herewith a handful of highlights from the month that was in case you, like many people during the summer, don't get to your favorite blog (oh you know you "like" us) as often as you'd like...

Coming in July:

  • QUEUE 'EM!: We'll be talking about Dead Ringers (1988), Mary Poppins (1964) so get familiar (or familiar again)
  • SEE EM?: We'll be visiting the multiplex for The Lone Ranger and The Wolverine and the arthouse for Oscar hopefuls Fruitvale Station and Blue Jasmine among other new releases. 
  • SUGGEST IT: Want somethin'? Say so. 




Reviews: I'm So Excited & The Heat

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

and i know i know i know i know i know i want you i want you ♫

Here's a film you'll never see on an airplane. Pedro Almodóvar's latest, I'm So Excited!, takes place (almost) entirely aboard an airplane like some lost "bottle episode" of an aborted Almodóvarian sitcom. But the stewards and pilots are less concerned with fastening your seat belt than unzipping your pants and more interested in spiking drinks than pouring them. It's arrived just in time for Gay Pride Weekend and what great timing; this is by far the gayest thing Pedro has done since Bad Education (2004) in which Gael García Bernal famously both tucked his junk for drag duties and showed it off in wet underwear poolside.

I think it was the internet critic David Poland (of Movie City News fame) who dubbed that earlier film "fag noir" and took some heat for that but I personally don't think Almodóvar would have minded. In fact, for a long time I miscredited the tag to Pedro himself. Pedro's characters are often outrageously hedonistic from nympho nuns to homicidal hotties to transgendered hookers and even the sanest among them act on melodramatic or comic impulse without shame or apology. In short, to appropriate a quote from Rich Juzwiak they're 'as faggy as they want to be'. And that's just the ladies! [more...]

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Great Moments in Gayness: "Suspicion"

Team Experience is celebrating Gay Pride with their favorite moments in gay cinema history... Here's Deborah Lipp (from the great TV site 'Basket of Kisses') with an unusual choice..

Happy Gay Pride Weekend Everyone!

My favorite gay cinematic moment is not a gay movie, not a gay scene, not explicitly erotic, not much of anything. I love it for the electrifying presence of gayness in a movie from 1941. I am speaking about Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion.

I've almost never seen this movie mentioned when discussing gayness in movies, not even when discussing gayness in Hitchcock movies. People talk about homoeroticism in Strangers on a Train or the mad lesbian love of Mrs. Danvers for Rebecca, but Suspicion is overlooked.

Johnnie (Cary Grant) and Lina (Joan Fontaine) visit Johnnie's friend Isobel, a writer of murder mysteries. Also attending dinner is Phyllis. Based on their familiarity and the way they serve dinner, it is obvious the two women live together. Moreover, while Isobel ("Izzy") dresses as a British lady should, Phyllis ("Phil" to her partner) is in a man's suit and tie, with a man's hairstyle 

And this is what's so glorious. Phil and Izzy aren't dangerous. They're not villains. They're not the subject of a joke, nor exaggerated, nor horrifying. They simply are. A butch/femme couple, in 1941, relaxing at home, entertaining a straight couple, chatting about books. Fifty years later, Basic Instinct inspired protest from the LGBT community, because it was still almost impossible to see gays and lesbians in a movie unless they were killers or crazy, suicidal or deranged or tragic or pornified, or—best case scenario—the wacky sexless neighbor.

Phil and Izzy are just an ordinary gay couple. They're not in the movie because they're gay, and their gayness is never mentioned. That they're butch/femme—probably the least-represented type of queer couple in the media—just adds to my pleasure.

I love Phil and Izzy so much.