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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 | deviantart 

 

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Which screenplays are most quotable?

"Inside out FTW. 'I loved you in Fairy Dream Adventure Part 7. Okay bye. I love you!'" - Teppo

"My number one that I now say whenever the occasion is delivered by Carol: 'It will get ugly. And we are not ugly people...'"- Jones

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Friday
Sep262014

NYFF: Maps to the Stars, Or: Julianne Moore is God, Again

The New York Film Festival has begun. Here's Nathaniel on the latest from David Cronenberg which won Julianne Moore the Best Actress prize at Cannes earlier this year.

Let's not bury the lede. At a key moment in Maps to the Stars when the actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore) gets some bad news that she's more or less been expecting/dreading, she is in a Buddha pose in yoga pants. Her eyes struggle to hold back tears and her body struggles to pretend it's relaxing when she lets out a sudden wail. You think the wail will descend into Julianne Moore's familiar crying jag (You know how she loves to do). Instead the wail abruptly stops. Fans of Julianne Moore won't be able to silence their own screaming so quickly. I, for one, felt euphoric watching her. For those of us whom we have famously dubbed "actressexuals" - the word originated at this blog though it's now escaped our small pfeiff fiefdom and entered the greater internet -- major achievements from our favorite stars can feel, however absurdly, like personal triumphs. Or at least like just rewards for enduring loyalty. Especially if you've worried that the magic has dissipated with familiarity, poor career decisions, lesser roles and/or medicore films.

This year, with Maps to the Stars and Still Alice (previously reviewed), the Julianne Moore I first fell for, the actress who inspired my whole career path (newbies might not know that this site emerged from a zine I started in the 1990s with issue #1 dubbed "Julianne Moore is God," pictured left) came roaring back into full power.

Pity, then, that the movie can't quite keep up with her or harness her brilliant satirical embodiment of all that is self-absorbed, self-loathing, self-medicated, and self-serving in modern Hollywood celebrity. [More...]

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Friday
Sep262014

NYFF: A Swarm of Surrealism

Our coverage of the 2014 New York Film Festival, which opens today, continues - here's Jason with an askance look at some of the unsung heroes of The Wonders and their cinematic precedents...

Earlier this week Glenn wrote up a review of Alice Rohrwacher's really very fine film The Wonders, which I also heartily endorse. I was sitting next to him at the press screening and besides being communally delighted (that sounds dirty but I mean it in the most innocent way possible) by the movie together we squirmed, writhed, and let out little moans of discomfort (alright it sounds dirty again, just bear with me here) when the screen repeatedly filled with bees - so many bees! If I'd given it any thought beforehand I might have skipped the film because despite not having an allergy I am a total melissophobic and watching them crawl on human skin is akin to water torture - you might know me as a horror movie fan, a badge I wear with pride, but nothing will make me cover my eyes and climb backwards in my seat quicker than a plain ol' minding-his-own-business honey-bee. Know the real enemy.

That said there's a surrealistic beauty to ways the bees are shot in The Wonders (there's a reason that the poster uses the imagery), and also another animal in the film (which I won't name since it contributes a nice jolt of WTF), and all this got me thinking about the use of animals as surrealist props. It's got a long, sometimes sordid (think of Jodorowsky blowing up all those poor frogs in The Holy Mountain or the tortoise being slaughtered in Cannibal Holocaust) history - I'm sure there have been plenty of dissertations written on it but what I think it comes down to is the unfathomable interior life of The Beast - we cannot know what is going on behind the eyes of these creatures, and so they will always remain strange, the Other. They're a nice short-cut to Uncanny Land, in other words.

And now, because I agree with Nathaniel that lists are super fun, here are the 5 fun instances of animals being used to inject a little surrealism into a film.

The Giraffe in The Great Beauty

The Escaped Zoo Animals in Twelve Monkeys

The Cat Attack in Let the Right One In

Chaos Reigns: The Fox in Antichrist

The Elephant Funeral in Sante Sangre

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Name some of your favorites in the comments!

Friday
Sep262014

Ellen Page

Photographed for W Magazine by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

Yum.

Friday
Sep262014

NYFF: '71, Your Opening Weekend Nightmare

The New York Film Festival begins tonight. Here's Nathaniel on the Irish thriller '71 starring this year's breakout actor Jack O'Connell (see also: Starred Up, and Unbroken)


Rookie soldier Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is already breathing heavy when '71 begins. He and his fellow soldiers are deep in military drills, managing obstacle courses, target practice and running hard miles. Introductions are brief and rote as they meet their commanding officers, only one of whom drops the protocol for a little personality. Lt. Armitage (Sam Reid) attempts to win the new recruits over by admitting that's he's green in his position, too. This isn't comforting to everyone. Just as soon as we've begun the new soldiers get their orders and learn that they're not flying out but staying put in Ireland.

You aren't leaving this country." 

For some that sentence will be literal, and a fatalistic omen. But which country are we talking about? Whose country? Belfast in 1971, where the story takes place, was deep into "The Troubles," a bloody and decades long conflict over the identity of Ireland itself. [more...]

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Friday
Sep262014

Thinking Outside the Shortlist for Women in Comedy

Margaret here with a guessing game for you: a studio comedy is in production, and the lead is a woman. Who gets cast? If you're a Hollywood executive, the answer is Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig or Jennifer Aniston. Looking at today's top-grossing movies, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there are only four comic leading ladies; the studio focus on bankability keeps them sticking to a pretty rigid shortlist.

Actress Wendi McLendon-Covey, known best for her work in Bridesmaids and Reno 911!, thinks that shortlist should be a little longer. Earlier this week she took to a guest column at Laughspin to stump for her favorite comic actresses, and pitch a host of new projects.
I am in no way saying that the women on the funny-lady short lists aren’t funny; they absolutely are! This is just a gentle reminder that there are other bankable comediennes out there, and that creative casting pays off, (Orange is the New Black, anyone?) because it can oftentimes elevate so-so material. Casting is like dessert: no one really knows what they want until you roll the cart by and show it to them.

Orange Is the New Black's cast of unknowns spun comedy gold. It can happen again.

McLendon-Covey's suggestions include: casting that all-female Ghostbusters reboot with Carrie Brownstein, Michaela Watkins, and Regina Hall; bringing together Laurie Metcalf, Jane Lynch, and Shondrella Avery as state college professors competing for the same research grant; pairing Gabourey Sidibe and Edi Patterson as proprietors of a marijuana dispensary / cat sanctuary who are looking for love; and putting Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski together as process servers who go around breaking hearts. 

(Personally, I would love a movie where Kate McKinnon, Danielle Brooks, Christine Baranski, and Casey Wilson all have a bottomless mimosa brunch with me. Selfish? Probably.)

McLendon-Covey may be spitballing, but her point is clear: we may have gotten Hollywood to stop asking the monstrously tedious question "Are Women Funny?", but it still needs a kick in the pants to get past the idea that only a handful of women can be funny at a time. 
 
Would you want to Kickstart any of these projects? Which funny ladies would be in your dream cast?
Thursday
Sep252014

NYFF: Entering the Third Dimension with 'Goodbye to Language'

The New York Film Festival is finally about to begin and here is Glenn on one of the must-sees of the fest, Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language.

Much like the film itself, you’ll have to bear with me here. If I get lost or end up on tangents then don’t worry – it’s not only to be expected, but probably the intent. This will probably be messy, but this is a film titled Goodbye to Language so I feel it’s a safe zone, yes? You see, there is a lot to talk about. How about the use of 3D that is perhaps the best I have ever seen. And then there’s the bravura directions that director Jean-Luc Godard goes even once you think you may have his shtick down. And that’s before we get into the concept of subjectivity of ideas. For all I know, the various ideas that I took from Goodbye to Language might not be at all what Godard intended. But therein lies at least part of the film’s brilliance and the wonder of art: you don’t necessarily have to be right to be valid.

Many people won’t like this movie, and even somebody like me who thinks the film is an incredible example of filmmaking has to see their point of view. It’s a tough film if you’re not on its wavelength, but that very instinctual desire to mess with audience expectations is part of why I loved it so much. I have not seen any of the director’s recent cinematic experiments (in fact, the most recent film of his I have seen is King Lear with Woody Allen, Molly Ringwald, Leos Carax and Julie Delpy from way back in 1987), but the title alone suggests something along the lines of Film Socialisme which took a liberal stance on the use of subtitles, and audiences would be smart to know what they’re getting themselves in for before sitting down rather than complaining about the film and its director. This is an experimental film by its most pure definition. Godard is experimenting with the concept of narrative and if viewed and critiqued in the same way as a more traditional film then people are doing not only themselves a disservice, but the film as well.

You can't imagine how amazing this shot is in 3D!

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