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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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Tuesday
Dec302014

Luise Rainer (1910-2014)

Luise Rainer, Oscar's first back-to-back Acting winner for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937) was, for the past handful of years, perhaps better known for outliving everyone than for her brief movie stardom. She was just two weeks shy of her 105th birthday when she passed away early this morning of pneumonia. She is survived by her daughter and two granddaughters.

She was recently name-checked not so flatteringly in the Hollywood bio Hitchcock (2012) but the actress, still very much alive at the time, could surely roll with it. The outspoken import lived through tumultuous times, beginning her acting career on the German stage and screen before fleeing as Hitler consolidated power (she was Jewish) and then being sold to the American public as "The Viennesse Teardrop" because German wouldn't do back then. She quickly becoming a star while briefly marrying (unhappily) the playwright Cliff Odets who had several tumultuous affairs with famous actresses (as portrayed in Frances, 1982).

The outspoken diva was very vocal about what she thought of Hollywood, her unsatisfying career, and "The Oscar Curse" which she doesn't believe in though she admits that the back-to-back Oscars weren't at all helpful. The adulation prompted Hollywood to just throw her into anything, with no worries of miscasting or her own creative satisfaction.

Her career ended as swiftly as it began as she fought with the powers that be for more choice in her films. Soon she left Hollywood for New York and then London where she settled for good. 

I had a seven-year contract that I broke and went away. I was a machine, practically, a tool in a big, big factory, and I could not do anything. I wanted to film Madame Curie, but Mayer forbade me. I wanted to do For Whom the Bell Tolls, but Selznick took Ingrid Bergman and brought her to Hemingway and I didn't know Hemingway. And so I left. I just went away. I fled; yes, I fled."

She flew away to, by all reports, a happier life outside the spotlight. Her remarkable longevity and semi-regular all smiles appearances over the years suggests that she enjoyed it. 

Tuesday
Dec302014

The Year in Review: Orphan Posts

This episode of year in review is super-needy and self-indulgent. You have been warned!

While we can generally count on you, the devoted readership, to comment at least a little bit on everything, mysteriously these written efforts went unloved.  At least visibly. Perhaps you loved them in silence? Or maybe you just missed them. If little orphan Annie can get a makeover and third filmed chance to find her sugar daddy (warbucks/stacks) these posts deserve a second chance!

• James Chinlund, Visionary Designer he made the ape forest in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the tree spaceshipwhatsit in The Fountain. He is genius.
• Hong Khaou on Lilting I suspect this beautifully lensed and touching LGBT film starring Ben Whishaw hasn't yet found its audience because we posted about it a few times and always *crickets*.
• Beloved Sisters Germany's 3 hour Oscar submission is a romantic costume drama about an unconventional love triangle. It actually opened for Christmas just after missing the foreign film Oscar finalist list
• Blow-Up's Best Shots my favorite series to run is "hit me with your best shot" (returning in March!) but I'll admit I never have a clue which episodes will really grip you. I thought for sure this Michelangelo Antonioni episode would be a hit and it was very nearly the least popular Hit Me selection in years.
 

• and a few posts each from...
Tribeca & Sundance & TIFF & NYFF but, then again, commenting on film festival reviews is always lighter. This might not mean anything since those films are completely unknown entities when they are first written about. Even the ones that later spark much conversation like Obvious Child. Do you like the film festival coverage that we've really amped up the past two years? Please do let me know as it is a budget point for the site and money is always tight.

Finally... sometimes I think these two posts here and here were my favorites of the year which is perhaps not a good sign as to my mental health. But thanks for commenting on them!  No, no. I amend: This was actually my favorite post of the year. It shoulda gone viral. *sniffle*

 

Tuesday
Dec302014

Farewell to Hepburn Tomorrow

Don't cry just yet, Kate the Great fans. While it's true that there is only one wrap-up episode left TOMORROW in Anne Marie's mammoth undertaking "A Year with Kate"* in which she reviewed every performance in Katharine Hepburn's fascinating career, we have exciting news. We're making it into a book! Details are not yet concrete but if you would like to be included in updates about pre-order and other 'Don't Miss It' news, please fill out this form at our Facebook page!

Anne Marie's last episodes airs tomorrow Wednesday December 31st. But until then... take a peak at any you missed. Some chapters will be substantially rewritten for the book.

1930sA Bill of DivorcementChristopher StrongMorning GloryLittle WomenSpitfireThe Little Minister, Break of HeartsAlice Adams, Sylvia ScarlettMary of ScotlandA Woman RebelsQuality StreetStage DoorBringing Up BabyHoliday,

1940sPhiladelphia StoryWoman of the YearKeeper Of The FlameStage Door CanteenDragon SeedWithout LoveUndercurrentThe Sea Of GrassSong of LoveState Of The Union, Adam's Rib

1950s: The African Queen, Pat & Mike, Summertime, The Iron Petticoat, The Rainmaker, Desk Set, Suddenly Last Summer

1960s: A Long Day's Journey Into Night, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, Lion in Winter, Madwoman of Chaillot

1970s: Trojan Women, A Delicate Balance, The Glass Menagerie, Love Among the Ruins, Rooster Cogburn, Olly Olly Oxen Free, The Corn is Green

1980s: On Golden Pond, Grace Quigley, Mrs Delafield Wants to Marry, Laura Lansing Slept Here

1990s: The Man Upstairs, This Can't Be Love, Love Affair, One Christmas

* "A Year With..." was such a success we will be returning to it annually albeit not always in strict One Writer / One Actress / One Whole Career Mode. Finding subjects easily divvied into 52 episodes isn't as easy as it was with Kate (who made exactly 52 films!). Anne Marie is taking a well deserved month-long hiatus but she will return with a less ginormous undertaking in February.

 

Monday
Dec292014

Interview: Yves Belanger on Shooting Reese's Face as Landscape in "Wild"

I didn't come up with this analogy but it's a good one: Yves Belanger is like Ginger Rogers to Reese Witherspoon's Fred Astaire in Wild. He does it backwards. While in heels. While carrying tons of camera equipment! 

One of the most beautiful film experiences you can have this year is taking a cathartic hike with Wild. The adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's popular memoir has been praised extensively for its heartfelt actressing but less attention has been paid to the indelible contributions of the men recording and dramatizing the journey. In addition to a fantastic sound mix and accomplished editing, the cinematography by Yves Belanger contributes greatly to this film's evocative journey.

Wild is Belanger's second film with Jean Marc-Vallée and I talked to him about his director, his rapport with Reese and capturing the human face as landscape.

NATHANIEL R: I understand you've known Jean-Marc Vallée for a long time so why did it take so long to work togther? It must be going well since you've at work on your third consecutive feature together.

YVES BELANGER: I met Jean-Marc in 1991. He was starting as a young director in commercials. They matched us together but when he did his first feature, I don't know why, he took someone else. With C.R.A.Z.Y. it was like bad timing - we spoke about it but the money comes very fast and when he was ready to do it I couldn’t. Since Dallas Buyer's Club we are back together. 

Both of your films together have major movie stars. Do you feel you've gone 'full Hollywood' ?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec292014

Beauty vs Beast: Tilda vs Tilda

Jason's on vacation but while he's away I thought we'd have a funhouse mirror episode of his Beauty vs. Beast series to celebrate another great year for Tilda Swinton and.... uh... Tilda Swinton. What an inimitable career she's had. So this week we're pitting two of the most memorable women of 2014 against each other, an ancient beauty who literally owns The Grand Budapest Hotel and a beastly politician who acts like she owns the Snowpiercer and all of its passenger citizens.

You have one week to vote. Make your case in the comments and may the best Tilda win!

 

 

Monday
Dec292014

Reviewish: Into the Woods, Musical Numbers Ranked

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Once upon a time Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical classic Into the Woods. The first act brings together classic fairy tale characters into one comic misadventure and the second act debunks the “happily ever after” myth and transforms the whole play into a masterpiece about virtually all the Big Stuff: growing up, parenting, marriage, death, rebuilding after great loss.

Cinderella's family mocking our movie musical anxiety

When it comes to lines we can repurpose to talk about the prospects of a film version, Little Red said it best:

It made me feel excited. well, excited and scared.

Isn’t that how devotees of the movie musical feel each time a new one arrives? A bit of background to justify the high-anxiety. The live-action movie musical died alongside Bob Fosse's alter ego in All That Jazz (1979). The genre was six feet under for two full decades despite intermittent attempts at excavating its exquisite corpse (Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies). The Disney animation renaissance of the 1990s renewed interest and the genre was successfully reborn at the turn of the century by the one-two-three-four punch of Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. That's a four consecutive high quality film run that this ancient-newborn genre has yet to match since. And why is that exactly? Some people blame the lack of strong directors who are skilled in the form, others the resistance to new blood (nearly all modern musicals are adaptations). Still more culprits are Hollywood’s frequent miscasting since musical skill is considered optional.

But The Witch (Meryl Streep) would like us to stop bitching and get on with this review...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec292014

Lead Actress Chat-a-long

Epix only uploads tiny pieces of this for viewing but someone has uploaded their whole Best Actress roundtable. The Supporting Actress version was up briefly before being pulled so watch it while you can. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Emily Blunt, Shailene Woodley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Jessica Chastain.

 

They talk for about 10 minutes at the beginning about singing and musicals -- someone needs to cast Gugu in a traditional musical straightaway!  

UPDATE: Though the special presentations are not available in full for embedding, you can see all five of them here at the Epix site.