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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, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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Jessica Lange's Triple Crown 

"This article sums up why Jessica Lange is one of the best actresses ever to grace the screen. " - heikoS

 "Still think her two best performances are Men Don't Leave and Music Box. So disappointed in her Ryan Murphy collaborations." -Charlie G

 "Lange and Streep were born in the same year, won Oscars in the same year, and their immense talent has carried them through" -Jono

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ICYMI November Is A Wrap

We hope you had a lovely holiday and that at some point this weekend you found time to give thanks for all the goodies this movie year has brought you this year. The most important film event in the last half of November was the death of entertainment giant Mike Nichols, who we celebrated with both a tribute to his collaboration with Meryl Streep and a group effort highlighting individual idiosyncratic favorite performances from his high-quality actor-friendly filmography.

Here are a few more highlights from November, you may have missed if you're just joining or rejoining us..

Laura Dern. photographed by Carolyn Cole

• Nathaniel sat down with the essential Laura Dern, one of the world's best screen actors, to talk Wild, psychotic women, and what the hell happened to her role in The Master
• Aca-yes, please. Margaret took a look at the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer
• We talked Spirit Award Nominees
• 'Quick Impressions', a new series celebrating the working actor, like "voice matching" Sean Patrick Doyle, debuted and we're glad you seem to like it
• Nathaniel suggested ensembles SAG ought to look at and interviewed the fine Australian actor Jason Clarke from one of them.
• Amir shared the top Box Office Hits of 2014 that were not franchises
• And the Podcast returned with The Theory of Everything and an AFI wrap-up

More highlights from early November here...

Coming in December:
It's campaign season so expect lots of coverage of the hunt for Oscar nominations, our team's FYCs, precursor madness with the Globes "Critics Choice" and SAG, and celebrity interviews. We'll also kick off the Year in Review festivities and the Film Bitch Awards -- your favorite party, yes? (say yes) -- and talk Christmas releases from Annie to Selma. December also means that we'll reach the end of "A Year with Kate" as Anne-Marie hits Love Affair.  


Box Office: Thanksgiving games

Tim here with your box office report for the holiday weekend. And a soft weekend it was, with the two new wide releases - Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2 - both face-planting (the former marking yet another underperformance DreamWorks Animation can't afford right now), and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay 1.0 making a huge amount of money that's still sufficiently less huge than its predecessors that it feels kind of underwhelming. Which is a bizarre thing to say about a movie making a huge sum of money by any standard you could possibly come up with, but such is the bigotry of high expectations. The saggy box office of 2014 continues its relentless march of mediocrity.

While the Hunger Games hold steady in the #1 slot, and almost certain to do it again next week, the most exciting story is about a different game altogether: The Imitation Game, which opened to $482,000 for the three-day weekend at 4 locations. This gives it a mindblowing per-screen average of $120,500, the second-best of the 2014 after The Grand Budapest Hotel in March.

01 THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1 $56.9 (cum. $225.7) Michael's Review
03 BIG HERO 6 $18.8 (cum. $167.2) Tim's Review / Nathaniel's Take
04 INTERSTELLAR $15.8 (cum $147.1) Michael's Review / The Podcast
06 DUMB & DUMBER TO $38.3 (cum $72.2)
07 THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING $5.1 (cum. $9.6) Nathaniel's Review
08 GONE GIRL $2.5 (cum. $160.8) The Podcast /  Jason's Review
09 BIRDMAN $1.9 (cum. $17.2) The PodcastNathaniel's Review
10 ST. VINCENT $1.8 (cum. $39.3) Michael's Review
11 BEYOND THE LIGHTS $1.6 (cum. $12.8)
12 FURY $1.6 (cum. $81.9) Michael's Review

excluding wide openers losing theaters
01 FOXCATCHER $1.0 72 locations (cum. $2.1) Nathaniel's Review / Michael's Review
02 WHIPLASH $.50 179 locations (cum. $4.0) The Podcast / Michael's Review
03 THE IMITATION GAME $.48 4 locations NEW The Podcast / Meet the Contenders
04 ROSEWATER $.36 216 locations (cum. $2.6)

It was a solid weekend overall for the Oscar hopefuls - The Theory of Everything's wide-release expansion more than doubled its whole take in limited release in just three days, while Foxcatcher, still rolling out, had the highest per-screen average of any film to make more than a million for the weekend. Nothing to set the world on fire, but solid performances for the adult-skewing titles. And much the same can be said for the sturdy if not awe-inspiring $27,000 made by The Babadook during its first three days in release at three theaters - and while it has a legitimate shot at precisely no Oscars whatsoever, it's still a top-shelf scary movie that everybody with even a slight affection for horror cinema owes themselves to see at the first opportunity.

What did you see this weekend? Does anyone else think this impressive start augurs well for The Imitation Game with audiences and the Academy?


Interview: Jennifer Kent on Her "Babadook" Breakthrough and What She Learned From "Dogville"

It's been a banner year for female directors. Two female directors have continually been in the Best Director Oscar discussion, they continue to make inroads in indie cinema (see the Spirit Award first feature and first screenplay citations!) and in many countries outside of the US. And that's not all. The year's most impressive debut stint behind the camera arguably belongs to Jennifer Kent (pictured left) whose controlled, creepy, beautifully designed and acted Australian horror film The Babadook has been winning raves. After a stint on Direct TV it's just hit US theaters, albeit only three of them. May it expand swiftly to unsettle every city.

When I spoke with Ms. Kent over the phone we were experiencing and ungainly time-lag and accidentally talking over one another. A time-lag also happened when I watched her movie the first time; its unique slow build had me more frightened after the movie finished than while I was watching it. It sticks. The tag line is true

You can't get rid of the Babadook.

I mention that I'm pre-ordering the Babadook book as I'm telling this story about how the movie continues to haunt me. "Then you'd better not," she says laughing as we begin our conversation about debut filmmaking, snobber towards horror films, what she learned from Lars von Trier, and the miracles of Essie Davis' lead performance.


NATHANIEL: Have you had a lot of weird reactions to the film?

JENNIFER KENT: Yeah, I have. I’ve had the gamut of reactions from people seeking a roller coaster ride with jolts and scares. They've been like  'Ripped off. This isn’t a horror film!' to people like yourself. What’s most surprising to me is -- more than a  couple of people have said ‘I really didn’t like but I saw it again.' Why would you see it again?  And then changing their minds about it. [More...]

Click to read more ...



Abstew's Cinematic Thanks

Editor's Note: I asked Team Experience to tell us what they're thankful for this year during the holiday weekend. Here's abstew in the cinematic spirit.

abstew here. Thanksgiving may be only once a year, but it's always a great time to appreciate the greatness of film. Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this year...

For Oscar Issac's camel coat in A Most Violent Year - practical and stylish winter wear while waging a war
For Tilda as a love-struck octogenarian socialite. Tilda as a yak-haired vampire. Tilda as a dentured dictator. Proving the existence of extraterrestrial life because, quite simply, Tilda Swinton is a shape-shifting, otherworldly being. 

For two favorite breakout stars: Jack O'Connell (dynamic in Starred Up and 71; I'm eagerly awaiting Unbroken) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (compelling in two very different films, Belle and Beyond the Lights). I'm excited to see what new opportunities come their way for years to come.
For Miles Teller's epic finale drum solo in Whiplash
For Rose Bryne's hilariously spastic take on the line, "Keep it down!" in Neighbors
For Eddie Redmayne's freckles
For the achingly sweet, yet realistically grounded love of John Lithgow's Ben and Alfred Molina's George in Love is Strange

For Uma Thurman bursting in and stealing an entire two-part film in a single scene. "Would it be alright if I show the children the whoring bed?" 
For Emmanuel Lubezki's faux single-take cinematography in Birdman, perfectly translating the immediate, kinetic energy of the theatre into a cinematic equivalent.
For Eva Green's fully committed, go-for-broke performances, elevating everything she's in from the big screen (300: The Rise of an Empire) to the small screen (Penny Dreadful).
For Star Lord's "Awesome Mix Volume 1" cassette tape
For the return of Rene Russo
For the look of Angelina Jolie's Maleficent (if only the perfect character design wasn't wasted on the film...)

For the mouth-watering food porn in A Hundred-Foot Journey and Chef 
For Wes Anderson's candy-colored, intricately detailed world of The Grand Budapest Hotel

For TFE's series Hit Me With Your Best Shot. The single best opportunity to view and explore a film in ways you hadn't thought...and then to gain even more insight after reading what others have posted. If you haven't participated, you should when it returns!

And that I live in NYC, home of the Tribeca Film Festival, NYFF, NewFest and countless other film festivals. That there are still single screen theatres like the Zeigfeld and Paris where it feels like an event to go to the movies. And, most importantly, that I'm actually given the opportunity to see every movie (not just Hollywood blockbusters) in the theatre the weekend they are released.

And finally, for Nathaniel, Team Experience, and everyone who reads and comments. I'm beyond thankful that we have such a wonderful place to share our cinematic obsessions and affections.

 -Andy (abstew)

More Thank Yous: Nathaniel, Amir, Manuel & Jose


Meet the Contenders: Benedict Cumberbatch "The Imitation Game"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, THE IMITATION GAME.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game

Best Actor

Born: Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was born 19 July 1976 in London, England 

The Role: Norwegian film director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) makes his English-language film debut with this film starring Cumberbatch as real-life British mathematician Alan Turing, who during WWII was in charge of a team that cracked Germany's Enigma code, thus making it able for the Allies to win the war. The film jumps back and forth between three periods in Turing's life, primarily focusing on his work during the war, his early days as a lonely youth in boarding school, and his post-war conviction for gross indecency after admitting to his homosexuality.

The film had been in development for a few years since Graham Moore's script topping the annual Black List in 2011. At one point Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to star and directors such as Ron Howard and David Yates had shown interest before eventually landing with Tyldum and Cumberbatch.  

Click to read more ...


Manuel's Thanks

Editor's Note: I asked Team Experience to tell us what they're thankful for this year during the holiday weekend. Here's Amir in the cinematic spirit.

Manuel here. This year I'm thankful...


For cinematic girls, be they Gone or Wild
For is & Hers performances, be they in quirky suicide dramedies (The Skeleton Twins), Detroit-set vampire films (Only Lovers Left Alive), or fragmented grief studies (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them).  
For Queer triumphs, be they cross-cultural (Lilting), poignantly local (Love is Strange), or deliciously dangerous (Stranger by the Lake). 
For Oscar-winning actresses on stage, be they doing Genet (Cate Blanchett in The Maids) or Sondheim (Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd).


For "Lone female" roles in Hollywood hits elevated by their performers, be they comedic (Rose Byrne in Neighbors) or action-packed (Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow
For witty nonfiction books by funny ladies, be they by harried working moms (Yes Please) or cripplingly anxious oversharers (Not That Kind of Girl)
For successful second acts by known commodities, be they stage-bound (Roundabout's Cabaret) or small-screen obsessed (The Comeback).


For Angry Julia, be she furrowing her brow along to Larry Kramer's words (in The Normal Heart) or losing an Emmy shortly thereafter. 
For funny ladies on the small screen, be they vice-presidents (Veep), convicted gals (Orange is the New Black), or eponymous protagonists (Jane the Virgin). 
For Hedwig's return to Broadway, be he played by a Broadway supernova (Neil Patrick Harris) or one in the making (Andrew Rannells).  
For Meryl Streep, be she terrorizing Blunt or making unconscionable demands (The Devil Wears Prada Into the Woods)


- Manuel

Related: Nathaniel gives thanksJose gives thanks, Amir gives thanks.