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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Oscar Interviews
Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman)
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Monday
Aug102015

Review: Fantastic [sic] Four

Tim here. The best and maybe the only compliment I can pay to the new Fantastic Four, the third unsuccessful attempt at bringing the oldest of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's creations at Marvel Comics to the big screen, is that it's not obviously the worst one yet. Its insipidities, and it is very insipid, aren't inherently worse than those of the ghastly 2005 big-budget version. That film heralded the end of the "brightly colored larks that are wholly insubstantial but also not much fun" era of comic book movies; time alone will tell if its 2015 sibling will similarly ring down the curtains on the "ludicrously dark and serious-minded exercises in bitterness and misery" era, though I think we should be hopeful.

How much of the film's misery and internal confusion is due to the awkwardly visible fencing match between director Josh Trank and the executives at 20th Century Fox is beyond our ability to say for certain. It does feel like a movie that wants to be anything other than what it is. There were rumors that Trank was hoping to make PG-13, summer-friendly body horror, and there are vestigial traces of that conception; it would have been better for the film to have gone all the way, for at least then the bleakness of tone would have felt like it had some actual purpose. [More...

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Monday
Aug102015

Ingrid's First Oscar Nomination

We continue our Ingrid Bergman Centennial with Andrew Kendall on For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)

It's difficult to speak of Ingrid Bergman without consider her place in Oscar history. She's one of the few people to win three acting Oscars. And, she's fourth (only to Kate, Meryl and Bette) when it comes to Oscar's Actress Hierarchy. For modern fans, then, the celebrity of that first nomination is a curio regardless of its quality. When did Oscar first bite? For Ingrid it came four years (and five films) after her Hollywood debut. Not for that year's best picture winner Casablanca, but for the adaptation of For Whom the Bell TollsCasablanca, and Ingrid's "Ilsa," have endured as such integral parts of film culture that her work in For Whom the Bell Tolls immediately faces the scrunity of living up to it. Why the vote for this over her work there? 

But, it’s essential to remember that films and awards as creatures of their time. At the time of its production Casablanca was merely a minor World War II drama and literary adaptations were all the rage (from 1937 through 1942 every Best Picture winner was an adaptation of a recently pubished text). The adaptation of the literary triumph of 1940 was the bigger ticket. Ingrid was desperate for the role and Hemingway also loved the idea.  In a 1971 interview Bergman revealed that Hemingway, a writer typically averse to being too involved in adaptations of his work, lobbied significantly for Bergman to get the role even reportedly sending her a copy of the novel with the inscription

You are the Maria in the book”.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug102015

Links

BuzzFeed Netflix not legally responsible for your 'viewing history' - it's so funny that people thought they were
The Hairpin Mission: Impossibly Silly "I Still Don't Understand How Tall Everyone Is"  
Interview Director Marielle Heller talks about the ratings and sexuality of her daring debut The Diary of a Teenage Girl 

Towleroad George Takei once asked Gene Roddenberry about including gay characters on Star Trek. Interesting historical response but what's their excuse now since that franchise is still alive?
IndieWire How to apply for a Women of Color directors and screenwriters 10 day retreat
This is Not Porn Cute. Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg take a break during Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 

Tim is the Best
Antagony & Ecstasy revisits Dog Day Afternoon... (great films often generate great writing about film)
Antagony & Ecstasy also revisits the very first unreleased Fantastic Four (1994) and claims its still the best adaptation of Marvel's first family (bad films often generate great writing about film) 
.... moral of combining them: Timothy Brayton often generates great writing about film.  

Off Cinema 
Laughing Squid a feline feeding machine to let your cat be more self-actualized indoors
Gothamist sad news: Annie Lennox's daughter's boyfriend has gone missing after a tandem kayak accident 

"Clobberin' Time"
There's a lot of handwringing going round about what exactly happened between Josh Trank and the studio and the source material to make Fantastic Four so bad. Film School Rejects even felt it needed a six-year timeline. But there's also post-mortems about the opening weekend which are lower than usual for superheroes.Variety argues that audiences are getting wise to money grabs (with tanking reboots like FF and diminished returns for Spider-Man) and studios need to think harder about repackaging known brands. But I personally don't know if that's the case -- I mean audiences are still putting up with needlessly padded "part 1 and part 2" finales which everyone knows are not artistically motivated decisions aimed at providing them with the best possible movie. So until audiences start bailing on those, I'm not eager to give them too much credit for protecting their wallets against Hollywood's 'screw-quality / make another billion quick' tactics. 

Monday
Aug102015

TCA Awards and "The Fosters"

Here's a little 'In Your Face, Emmys!' news. The Television Critics Association has handed out its awards and all three of its big winners (Empire, The Americans, and Inside Amy Schumer) are NOT actually nominated for the Emmy top categories of Best Drama and Best Comedy. (To be fair, Inside Amy Schumer is not eligible for the Comedy category at the Emmys because it competes in variety series. But still...)

  • Program of the YearEmpire (Fox)
  • DramaThe Americans (FX)
  • ComedyInside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
  • New ProgramBetter Call Saul (AMC)
  • Individual Achievement in Drama: Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC)
  • Individual Achievement in Comedy: Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
  • News and InformationLast Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
  • Reality ProgrammingThe Chair (Starz)
  • Youth ProgrammingThe Fosters (ABC Family)
  • Movies, Miniseries and SpecialsThe Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst (HBO)
  • Career Achievement Award: James L. Brooks
  • Heritage AwardLate Show/Late Night With David Letterman (CBS)
  •  

    It's also worth noting that only one of its winners also won the same category last year (The Fosters for "Youth Programming"). Let that be another reminder that Emmy needs a quality control Executive Committee type panel since their top categories are usually unmoveable from year to year as if nothing ever changes on TV when we all know it is quite an evolving artform. 

    This news provides the perfect opportunity to talk about The Fosters. Do any of you watch it? It's my guilty pleasure. I say "guilty" because even though I admire much of it, enough of it embarrasses me to feel guilt. At heart it's a weirdly overemphatic treacly progressive lesbian utopia series painted with way too broad strokes but it's also damn addictive and a super warm family drama with moments of incredible charm, organic humor, and even insight. It works.

    Everyone says this is the golden age of television but I personally think the opinion is overstated. Certainly it's the golden age of premiere channel television but one genre of TV that I think is still leagues behind 1990s television is the regular people/family drama genre. Certainly none of them approach the amazing quality of 1990s shows like My So Called Life or Once & Again. And that's largely because today's family dramas are really obsessed with DRAMA in all caps -- is it the desperation from knowing their are 500+ more channels you could flip to? --  and feel the need to have every character have some major life crises or decision in each 45 minute episode. I call this The Brothers & Sisters Efect. That show became more and more unwatchable each season despite so many winning elements. It wasn't content to dramatize the fascinating details of basic human interaction and family role dynamics. Instead, it always had to be Life or Death in each episode. The Fosters has the same exact problem. You'll be really into some simple conflict that is beautifully truthful and then they'll gild the lily by constantly returning to deeply aggravating storylines (the less said about the incest storyline the better but the writer's room relies on it so much over two seasons now that you'd think they think it's the best thing they've ever come up with when it's actually the worst) or throwing up some ridiculous gotcha! "danger" like shootings or car accidents. 

    Sunday
    Aug092015

    Say What? Law & Keaton in "The Young Pope"

    Manuel here, sharing a hilarious set of pics from historic Villa Pamphili in Rome.

    click to embiggen

    Add dialogue or caption: What do you think is happening in these behind-the-scenes pics of Paolo Sorrentino’s Jude Law-led HBO show, The Young Pope? Is Diane Keaton auditioning for a Sister Act spinoff?

    Is Law just as amused as we are by his casting as a celibate pope?

     

    Sunday
    Aug092015

    Ricki Rendazzo, Reed Richards, and Bubbles Bursting

    Meryl Streep? Tom Cruise? Pac-Man? Vacation? It's like the 1980s all over again in movie theaters. It was a weak weekend overall with a ton of miniscule new releases and underperforming wide newbies. Meryl Streep had her worst opening weekend in a film sold on mostly on her presence since Prime (2005) before she regained her box office clout with The Devil Wears Prada. The only true success story this weekend was the word of mouth for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which held on to #1 for another weak. It is definitely a fun summer picture but the "best in the series!" reviews feel like a bit of an overstatement. It's not quite as ambitiously staged and exciting as Ghost Protocol, but it's better than the other action films around it which makes it seem that much better. That opera scene with at least four simultaneous agendas in play and all the deadly assassins totally confused by each other sure is a kick, though, don't you think?

    Click to read more ...

    Saturday
    Aug082015

    Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Ingrid Bergman Transforming

    All month long we're celebrating Ingrid Bergman's centennial. Here's Jason on Bergman taking charge of her own career...

    By 1941 Ingrid Bergman had followed up her first Hollywood foray Intermezzo (which abstew so beautifully introduced this series with on Thursday) with two more movies where she played, and these are her words, "a Hollywood peaches-and-cream girl," meaning the nice nicer nicest girl you ever did see, and she was fed up with it. In Adam Had Four Sons she was "the nice housekeeper" and in Rage in Heaven she was "a nice refugee." She wanted to actually be an actress, and act, and challenge herself. Producer David O. Selznick thought he had the winning formula though, and wanted to keep the ship steady. In her autobiography Bergman said of Selznick:

    "David believed the Hollywood legend: the elevator boy always plays the elevator boy, the drunk's a drunk, the nurse always a nurse. In Hollywood you got yourself one role and you played it forever. That's what the audience wants to see, they said, the same old performance, the familiar face."

    Selznick loved her already familiar face though and he was lining up projects left and right for her -- next on her plate was a remake of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde...

    Click to read more ...