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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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Amy Adams for Janis Joplin

"It's baffling to me that Amy Adams will potentially have as many nominations as Blanchett, Winslet, Maggie Smith, Vanessa Redgrave, Thelma Ritter, Deborah Kerr, Sissy Spacek, and Glenn Close. This is weird, right?" -Aaron

"What is happening with Nina Arianda's Janis film with Sean Durkin? It's still listed as "announced" on her IMDB. Are we to assumed that it is a lost cause?" -Ryan

 

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Sunday
Jan062013

"The Grandmaster"'s First Screening / Press Conference

It seems like we've been hearing about Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster for about a decade now. But it finally exists as a "completed" project. No more tinkering. The movie will premiere at Berlinale next month. With a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes (or 2 hours and 13 minutes depending on which report you read). The movie has now been screened and press conferenced... in China. Here are the stars earlier today at that first post-screening press conference. 

Chang Chen, Zhang Ziyi, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai meet the press

The entire team at the press conference. Wong Kar Wai, cast, and key crew

Tony, a frequent overseas correspondent among TFE readers, writes...

Very enthusiastic first wave of response! Apparently more straightfoward, no fragmented, mosaic-style narrative structure. Every frame is desktop picture pretty (obviously). Zhang Ziyi's performance singled out. More than one critic mentioned the first 2/3 of the movie is especially fantastic."

Hmmm. I worry about the last sentence. Generally you have to end strong to not win mixed reviews. Let's end with a newish picture of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (aka one of the greatest movie stars in the universe) in the title role.

Can't wait! Wong Kar Wai and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai haven't made a movie together in so long and with so many masterpieces and/or damn strong pictures behind them (2046, In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Chungking Express, etcetera...) it'll hopefully be a worthy reunion

Sunday
Jan062013

Drowning in Oscary Waters All Over the World

It's less than 4 days until we're drowning in it! I was called to task a bit for the tsunami image from The Impossible that greeted my first "days until" Oscar nominations post a week ago. I understand the charge of insensitivity and I'll admit it was a weird judgment call. But I have been feeling not just metaphorically deluged. There is so much literal fear or water / drowning on screens this film season. Have any of you noticed? It didn't hit me at first since it's not a particularly visceral fear for me... I've always loved the water.

Let's recount each dive in this year...

If Steven Soderbergh had filmed Life of Pi this would be the entire color palette!

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild -for Hushpuppy drowning is the end of the world, hurricanes as apocalypse. Those shots of drowned animals and her thoughts about them having no daddies? Heartbreaking. 
  • The Impossible - tells a true story of survival from the 2004 Thai tsunami. I still think it odd that it's visual effects and makeup did not make the finalists list for Oscars.
  • Skyfall -Adele's killer theme song kicks in just as James Bond plunges into the water, presumably to rest in a watery grave... or at least to sink into the trippy watery grave visuals of the opening credits
  • Oslo August 31st - this critical darling drama about an addict in recovery basically begins with the protagonist going all Virginia Woolf by loading his pockets with rocks and walking out into the water
  • Life of Pi - at the center of an ungainly expository drama, is a miniature visual masterpiece about a shipwreck and a tiger and boy sharing a boat alone in the vastness of the ocean
  • Jeff Who Lives at Home - stacks its coincidences one on top of the other to lead to a drowning rescue scene
  • The Dark Knight Rises -- death by exile (SPOILER) exile being an icy watery grave
  • Rise of the Guardians -- begins with an icy drowning
  • Moonrise Kingdom features a big storm and flood
  • Amour - has flooding but in which context we shouldn't say
  • Rust & Bone - Marion Cotillard loses her legs in a killer whale accident in France's Sea World and there is also a drowning terror sequence
  • Zero Dark Thirty -the waterboarding torture sequence is what keeps everyone talking though it's a tiny part of the movie. But still: horrific.

 

Last night, the Film Society at Lincoln Center showed two of the foreign language finalists (sort of*), Iceland's The Deep and Norway's Kon-Tiki, a double bill that was the equivalent of being tossed into the deep-end of this reccurrent theme. Both are true stories about men surviving the unsurvivable on ocean journeys. 

Iceland's Oscar entry The Deep comes from Baltasar Kormakur (of 101 Rejkvjavik, Hafid/The Sea, and Contraband fame). It's both poetically moody and crudely matter of fact somehow. It's steeped in the inky blackness you'd expect from an ocean story at night. (I'm so pleased my screener didn't work because I can't imagine being able to see it at all outside of the movie theater). Hell, even before we hit the water we're in Iceland at night so you can image the darkness. We follow a group of fishermen around as they drink and drink prior to their next voyage. The awful shipwreck occurs relatively early into the movie and for such a simple reason it's surprising that any fishermen live to die from old age. The drowning sequences were, for me, horrific in their calmness, like watching people casually negated as the darkness envelops them. The Deep unfortunately loses its frost-bitten footing  post-ocean trauma when there's a surprising amount of the movie left and we move into a sort of barely there invegistave procedura. But I appreciated The Deep for being very Icelandic (memories of volcanic eruption and a harsh life on the inky sea inform the drama throughout) and as a sort of shoestring non-magical-realist counterpoint to Life of Pi when a fat man begins to converse with a seagull, his only company.

Thor Heyerdhal (the real version) and Thor Heyerdahl (the movie version) played by Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen Norway's entry Kon-Tiki dramatizes the once very famous balsa wood raft ocean voyage of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. I say 'once' because two of my friends in their 20s that I spoke to about the movie had no idea who he was or that it was a true story. I knew the whole story from childhood since my parents had a thing for National Geographic magazines (we had a huge collection) and PBS documentaries -- I think I must have even seen Heyerdahl's self-mythologizing Oscar winning doc Kon-Tiki as a child at some point since the story was so familiar.

I sat down all excited to see the most expensive Norwegian movie ever made about one of the most famous Norwegians who ever lived about a story I knew and was immediately disappointed when everyone began speaking in English -- even in scenes set in Norway or between an entire cast of Norwegians (and one Swede). We definitely got off on the wrong foot this movie and I. As it turns out the filmmakers shot each scene twice, once in Norwegian and once in English and the version that's hitting Stateside theaters is, in fact, NOT the Oscar-competing film but it's English-language doppelganger. So most of us will never get to see the film that Oscar voters saw.

I came for a Norwegian adventure movie and got a strange hybrid film that seemed like a big budget Disney movie that had appropriated a foreign story. Maybe the acting was better in its native tongue? There was something about the coloring book simplistic character arcs and super accessible Movie-Movieness that made this very true story feel artificial, negating much of its power. As eye candy, though, the movie is really something, with the amazing beauty of both the Ocean and towheaded shirtless Norwegians exploited throughout. (And just like The Deep it makes an interesting counterpoint to Life of Pi . As in Ang Lee's picture there are scenes featuring bioluminscent marine biology, violent animal deaths, and mass flying fish suicides on a boat). C+

Sunday
Jan062013

With Six You Get Link Roll

Imgur Les Miz synopsis with emoticons. 
Salon "welcome to the new civil war" On Lincoln, Django Unchained and modern political divides
MNPP 10 little reviews. It's the only way to keep up this time of year. The Perks of Being a Wallflower really does grow on you. I liked it so much better a month after watching it!
The Envelope on the continuing difficulties inherent in the Best Foreign Language Film category: so much French language, preferenced true stories, never any Asian films.
Timothy Brayton plans to review every English language feature-length adaptation of Les Misérables. Bon chance, Tim! 
Boston Globe Ty Burr's top ten with many of the usual suspects but a nice honorable mention shout out to Leslye Headland's Bachelorette 

I'm so far behind. Lots more coming soon. Have patience!

 

Sunday
Jan062013

Loretta Young, Ruffled

Happy Centennial to Loretta Young!  (January 6th, 1913 - August 12th, 2000) She was my mom's favorite actress as a little girl which is how I know her name. 

So many ruffles! How can Loretta breathe in there?

Well that and my encyclopedic attention to the Best Actress category in theory long before I'd seen almost any of the movies as a kid. The Farmer's Daughter was literally the first of the 1940s Best Actress winners I ever saw -- entirely because of my mom's love for it -- but I have to admit that I don't remember the movie at all now. (FWIW my favorite Best Actress win of the 40s is a tight race between Crawford's Mildred Pierce and DeHavilland's The Heiress)

We name-checked Loretta very briefly on the recent podcast (Part 1 & 2) because my mom was so happy with the book I gave her as a gift recently. My mother is very conservative so perhaps it was Loretta's devout Christianity in the middle of the Sodom & Gomorrah --aka Hollywood -- that was a draw? Or maybe its was regional pride -  Loretta Young was one of the few big movie stars from Utah, where my mom was born and raised.

The book is called "Hollywood Madonna Loretta Young" (by Bernard F Dick) and is apparently the first biography of this Leading Actress of the 40s. In addition to film stardom, she had a secret love child with Clark Gable and found major television stardom in as the host / sometime star of the long running drama series "The Loretta Young Show" (1953-1961)

Have you seen any of her films?

Loretta Young is naturally being celebrated this month here and there. Her official website is tracking the celebrations and screenings if you're interested in checking her work out. I've got to catch Come to the Stable (1949) one of these days. Such a major hole in my Oscar viewing what with its seven nominations (among the highest for a film that missed a Best Picture citation) and it's a nun movie for Christ's sake  -- Oscar subgenre alert! Frustrated that Netflix doesn't have it.

Saturday
Jan052013

National Society of Film Critics Loves Amour

National Society of Film Critics is the last of the three big critics' groups to announce their annual winners and they have followed LAFCA's footsteps in giving their top prize to Michael Haneke's Amour. It's yet more fuel in the film's fire as Sony Pictures Classics awaits the Academy's nominations on Thursday, though with the voting deadline already passed, this prestigious honour will have no persuasive power on Academy voters.

As with LAFCA,  Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master came in second in the top category, but this wasn't the only place where NSFC agreed with their Los Angeles counterparts. Emmanuelle Riva and Amy Adams also topped the lead and supporting actress categories, respectively.

Daniel Day-Lewis and Matthew McConaughey were the winners in the male acting categories. McConaughey, whose award was shared for Magic Mike and Bernie, has been a critical favourite all season - he won NYFCC's prize for the same two films as well - and is still lurking right around the nomination zone despite missing out on SAG and Globe nominations.

In the nonfiction category The Gatekeepers just edged out This Is Not a Film to the top prize, ahead of a distant Searching For Sugar Man at third. Jafar Panahi's film also managed a citation for Best Experimental Film. Tony Kushner and Mihai Malaimare Jr. rounded out the winners with prizes in the screeplay and cinematography categories, respectively.

Full list of winners after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan052013

Things to Ponder Before Making Finally Final Oscar Nom Predix

I'm trying to decide how much to alter some of my current predictions when I post my final predictions (Tuesday night).  Here are some things I'm pondering. Ponder with me in the comments. It's a Ponder Party!

The Academy ♥ Tarantino? OR...
The Internet ≠ The Academy
The Globes ≠ The Academy
Quentin Tarantino is indisputably a god of the internet. Were the internet a person it would be his insatiable whore, his dresser, his boyservant, his entire yes man entourage. But the Academy is not the internet. They never have been. (If they were Chris Nolan would have five directing nominations and not zero and The Social Network and Brokeback Mountain would have trounced The King's Speech and Crash). Consider: zero nominations for Kill Bill Vol. 1 (my choice for his best film and unarguably worthy in technical fields even if you don't much care for it as a whole). Zero nominations for Kill Bill Vol. 2. One measly nomination for Jackie Brown. "But they loved Pulp Fiction (7 nods, 1 win) and Inglorious Basterds (8 nods, 1 win)" - shouts everyone in the universe. They did, it's true. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan052013

"Come to bed, Laura Brown"

Programming note: Actressexuals unite! We'll be celebrating The Hours 10th anniversary Friday, January 18th through the 22nd. We'll look back on its Globe winning night, it's Holy Trinity of Actresses and much more. (Suggestions welcome in the comments). Pass it on and join in the fun - we'll link up to any off-blog celebrations of this great film that week, too.

P.S. The Hours is available on Netflix Instant Watch making things much easier for discussions that week!