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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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COMMENT(s) DU JOUR
what did you see this weekend?

"Well, I saw MOMMY on Saturday, and it kind of spoiled my Sunday movie-going, it was so good. " - Bill

"THE SKELETON TWINS. Darker than advertised." -Charlie G

"MAPS TO THE STARS at the cinema. It's certainly very "Cronenberg", satyrical and darkly funny...and Julianne Moore is absolute dynamite. It must have been so much fun for her! - Carlos

how about you, dear reader?

Beauty vs. Beast

 

 drink your milkshake and... 
VOTE! 

 

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Monday
Oct012012

NYFF: "Bwakaw" is a Film Festival's Best Friend

Seventy year-old Rene (Eddie Garcia) is an elderly gay man who fits quite neatly into the crowded movie trope of "Grumpy Old Man." He doesn't have a lawn but he'd clearly want his neighbors to get off of it if he did. He doesn't seem to love anyone or anything other than his dog Bwakaw.

Eddie Garcia and Princess star in "Bwakaw", an Oscar contender from The Philippines

They say that a dog is a man's best friend but I don't think that it's usually meant quite so literally.  Rene is so grumpy that you aren't always sure he loves his faithful canine shadow. In one stinging heartbreakmidway through the film a veterinarian asks him "don't you ever touch your dog?" and it occurs to you that you've rarely seen him do so.

But Bwakaw isn't a demanding girl. She follows Rene everywhere he goes… except inside his house. She's been banned for making a mess the last time she was there and one imagines that was long ago; Rene doesn't let things go easily. He still sleeps, for example, in his boyhood home and he's still quite attached to all of his mother's things including her devout Catholicism though he isn't religious himself (This dichotomy informs several of the film's sharpest comic beats but that's a topic for a much longer piece.) So each night Bwakaw curls up sadly in the dirt at the bottom of the stairs leading to the sad man's bedroom and waits until morning to see her master again.

It's important to note here that Bwakaw the dog is a sandy girl. She'd be barely perceptible from Bwakaw the movie, with its terminally washed out light, colorless rooms, and graying characters, were it not for her happy trot and zest for life. Her name translates to "Voracious" though she's curiously slim and bony for a dog that likes to eat. 

Initially it's not at all clear why this film, a true gem from director Jun Lana and an absolutely worthy Oscar submission, is titled as it is. Bwakaw is not so much an active participant as a shadow, or a sidekick if you're feeling generous. For a good hour the film is little more than a perceptive character study -- not that those aren't welcome -- of a lonely gay man who's angry that he missed out on a full life.  In many ways Rene is a shadow in his own movie. Most of the colorful subplots, broad comedic bits, and vibrant personalities belong to other members of the cast.  Rene's "friends" (I use the term loosely given that he's consistently at odds with most of them) are two flamboyant gay men, a co-worker planning a trip to Canada, a rough taxi driver, a local priest who hears his confessions, and a woman losing her memory in a nearby old folk's home.

But when Bwakaw becomes ill Rene is finally shaken out of his ornery complacency and gradually begins to feel his life again instead of just planning for his death. The film beautifully and fluidly shifts to compliment his journey, letting more light and color and vibrancy into the images.


Many "feel good" inspirational movies boost the spirit synthetically by glossing over life's darkest moments or wishing them away with tunnel vision on the triumphant stuff. Rene's story, however harsh and lonely in its particulars, contains far richer inspiration at its core. Rene is so focused on mortality that he keeps forgetting to live but there's no point in climbing in the coffin before your time. Embrace whatever tiny happiness comes your way. Live. B+/A-

Related Pages
2012 Foreign Film Oscar Submissions Pt. 1: Albania to Italy
2012 Foreign Film Oscar Submissions Pt. 2: Japan to Vietnam
Foreign Film Finalist Prediction List just a little guesswork 

More NYFF
Lincoln's Noisy "Secret" Debut
The Paperboy & the Power of Nicole Kidman's Crotch 
Frances Ha, Dazzling Brooklyn Snapshot
Barbara Cold War Slow Burn
Our Children's Death March 
Hyde Park on Hudson Historical Fluff 

Monday
Oct012012

Monty, The Reluctant Pundit, Meets "Bernie"

Everyone knows that cats are psychic. Their mysterious moods including strange swerves from autonomy to neediness, and sudden flights of whimsy and imagination at war with narcolepsy suggest as much! Each year as longtime readers know I consult my beloved Monty on the Oscars. Last year he pretended not to care about Bridesmaids, a cryptic response that did little to help us determine the film's Oscar future (it ended the season with two Oscar nominations for Supporting Actress and Screenplay) but in 2010 he was absolutely prescient when it came to Fox Searchlight's 2010 collection: Yes to 127 Hours, Hell No on Conviction and zzzz to Never Let Me Go.

So I couldn't resist presenting him with the season's first tea leaves if you will. The For Your Consideration DVD of Richard Linklater's Bernie arrived on Saturday and straight to my fuzzy boy it went.

Oh no, NOT THIS AGAIN, DADDY.

At first he refused to look. I rearranged the film's FYC postcard and DVD to see if he would deign to comment.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct012012

Game Show

Are you ready to play? After a depressing September, it's time to have fun again. The Film Fun Experience. What's more fun than games?  Each morning will kick things off with a movie quiz, poll, or trademarked game.

First and Last had a very short fifth season -- I got too fancy with the audio clues when I was getting bored -- but after a long hiatus, I'm ready again. You?  "Secret Messages", "Who's That Girl" and other unique TFE puzzles will also return. Someone fire the starting shot. I'm so ready to go. 

Also coming up this week: Monty the Cat's first psychic proclamation of this new awards season, Revenge Season 2, the first Oscar party reports, and the second season of "Oscar Horrors"... a series devote to those rare horror films that have been nominated for the golden boy.

Sunday
Sep302012

Box Office: Hotel Transylvania vs. Looper

The animation business is a good one to be in. Sure, the movies cost a lot to make but profit margins can be something else with global family appeal and franchising / merchandising opportunities. Hotel Transylvania took a bite out of Looper's grosses but one guess as to which film people will still talk about next year. (Perhaps Looper will be one of those rare films that doesn't drop much at all in its second weekend?) 

But the weekend's big story might just be strong showings for Pitch Perfect at only 300+ locations and a promising 100 theater expansion for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. In very limited release Robot & Frank just crossed the $3 million mark... almost entirely on word of mouth. Have any of you seen it?

Box Office Dozen
01 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA  $43 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*
01 LOOPER $21.2 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*  REVIEW
03 END OF WATCH $8 (cum. $26.1)
04 TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE $7.5 (cum $23.7)
05 HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET $7.1 (cum $22.2)
06 PITCH PERFECT $5.2 *NEW IN LIMITED RELEASE* 
07 FINDING NEMO 3D $4 (cum. $36.4 this time around)
08 RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION $3 (cum. $38.7)
09 THE MASTER $2.7 (cum. $9.6) Team Experience
10 WON'T BACK DOWN  $2.7 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*  

What did you see this weekend? Did you love it?

Sunday
Sep302012

Review: "Looper"

An abridged version of this review was originally posted in my column at Towleroad 

"Time travel hasn't been invented yet," Joseph Gordon-Levitt warns us from 2042 in LOOPER's voiceover. "But in the future it will be." In 2072 crime lords send their victims back in time to be killed by "loopers"  like Joe since it's the only way to get away with murder. (Apparently infallible forensic science has also been invented in the future!). 

Loopers dispatch their prey unceremoniously with a crude descendant of the shotgun called a  "Blunderbuss" which is useless at long distances but impossible to miss with up close. When each Looper's contract expires, his older self is sent back to his younger self for execution which is called "Closing the Loop". In this case that's Bruce Willis sent back in time to meet his death at the hands of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Bruce Willis drag. (Joe's makeup effects, though extraordinarily non fake-looking are initially distracting -- JGL doesn't look like that!

Nothing kills genre films quicker than exposition. When you have to pass out glossaries to the uninitiated or explain the rules over and over again, a story can sputter and die or, at the very least, bore you stupid the second time throughLooper, however, is a wonderfully nimble exception given the size of the learning curve. More...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep302012

Married Ladies

Congratulations to Anne Hathaway on her wedding to the very lucky Adam Shulman. I don't know what I was thinking this morning when I didn't give her her own post. I have so many feelings.

Over the years my mortal fear of my favorite actresses "settling down" has mellowed. I blame The Bening in both cases. Never has an instant favorite of mine vanished as quickly as she did from the scene once she was pregnant with Warren Beatty's children. Then, years later, she came back to us better than ever; best case scenario! Other actresses seem to lose their drive as soon as marital and parental bliss hits (La Pfeiffer).

But it is what it is. You can't keep them locked up only releasing them from their gilded cage for the cameras and our entertainment. Turns out that's illegal!

More pics and "status" lists just for fun after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep302012

What Compels You To Watch Bad Movies / TV?

I am officially cured of my pneumonia (and there was much rejoicing) but in my final few days of laying around feeling sorry for myself I found myself watching bad movies and television with abandon. Do you do that when you're under the weather? Does the brain demand a vacation when the body shuts down?

A few days ago The Boyfriend and I watched Real Steel and in my medicated delirium I really enjoyed it. Particularly the scene in the junkyard when "Atom", our robot hero, defeats a brutish robot boxer who was so ugly he was cute. He was made of old used parts like mismatched fender biceps and a sledgehammer fist. He malfunctions and turns on himself. The boyfriend sighed dramatically, utterly pained by the movie.

If only *I* had a sledgehammer for a hand to beat myself to death with right now."

Heh.

He demanded we watch Melancholia for a third time immediately thereafter for a palette cleanser which made for the strangest double feature imaginable.

Last night I watched Revolution a second time -- glutton for punishment! -- and it remains so so terrible. The leading actress is either one of the worst ever asked to carry a series or the writers don't understand that whiny repetitive stubborness is not necessarily an appealing character trait. Why do I give genre shows so many chances? Do you share this weakness? Or maybe you have another... 

I chased Revolution with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for which I blame Brooke Smith, the girl in the pit, who was playing a dangerous madame. I always love Brooke Smith but I do not love bad television. Tonight to rescue me from bad television for the forseeable future Revenge and Homeland return. Come to me awesome psychotic series, come to me!