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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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Thursday
Dec182014

Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo to Star in Romantic Drama 'Americanah'

Earlier this year Lupita Nyong'o acquired the rights to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's award-winning 2012 novel Americanah, signing on to star as Nigerian émigré Ifemelu, as well as produce along with Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment. David Oyelowo has also signed on to star as romantic lead Obinze. The book is divine: beautifully written, emotionally complex, swooningly romantic and often bitingly funny. It's also full of razor-sharp insight on immigration and cultural identity, the shifting concept of home, and blackness in America, Nigeria, and Britain.

The project is guaranteed to be a meaty opportunity for Nyong'o and Oyelowo, but is still several steps away from production. Some questions:

1. Should we worry that the project doesn't yet have a script? I'd say no, in part because of my love for the source material, but largely due to the strength of Plan B producing. They've got a respectable filmography, and the last couple years have been a serious hot streak (Moneyball, 12 Years a Slave, Selma). They shouldn't have trouble attracting top-drawer talent. With the right team in place, this could be someone's shot at a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

2. Who should direct? It's only natural that Ava DuVernay's name should come to mind, given her skill with romantic drama and epic political context. It would make hers a 3-for-3 David Oyelowo filmography, and she certainly already has the in with Plan B Entertainment. But since the story is so indivisible from the non-American experience, and so specifically Nigerian in perspective, perhaps a Nollywood director might be a better choice. Perhaps Biyi Bandele, whose adaptation of Adichie's novel Half of a Yellow Sun came out earlier this year to mixed reviews, would be interested in another shot at the author's work?

3. Will Beyoncé help with the movie's PR? When Beyoncé dropped her secret album last year, she gave Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a major profile boost by sampling her TED talk "Everyone Should Be a Feminist on the song "***Flawless", which sent Americanah rocketing up the Amazon sales charts. (To be honest, that's also how I first heard of the book.) Maybe the movie release can be preceded by a tie-in Beyoncé single that samples dialogue from the movie? Harness the power of Bey and you have the makings of a serious box office hit on your hands.

It's impossible not to admire Lupita Nyong'o's initiative and savvy in carving out her career, snapping up the rights to an interesting project herself and then backing that up by attracting major talent and industry clout. No production date is set; join me in hoping that this moves forward smoothly.

Have you read Americanah? Who else do you think should be brought on to the production?

Thursday
Dec182014

ICYMI: Missi's Memoirs, Bellucci's Bond, Freakshow's Find 

Christian Bale moonlighting as Natalie Portman's hairdresser

7 Highlights You May Have Missed
Grand Budapest sounds as good as it looks
Bellucci + Bond. Where does the Italian goddess stand in the Bond Babes Age Stats?
A Year With Kate: Love Affair *sobbing* The series is almost over.
From Freakshow to Magic Mike XXL - meet actress Kathy Deitch
Reader Questions Podcast Globes & SAG discussed
Rhett vs. Ashley! Do you give a damn on Scarlett's 75th anniversary?
Knight of Cups trailer. Like flipping through Chivo's Instagram

But Most Importantly...
One more round of applause for this week's Celebrity Guest Blogger, Missi Pyle. Her long-legged box office hit Gone Girl, with features Missi memorably nailing Nancy Grace journalism, comes to DVD on January 13th! (Will it get any Oscar nominations that week?).

2015 should be a good year for Missi fans since she promises she has a new album and a handful of indies wrapped. Missi was also kind enough to share thoughts and advice on being a working actor, reveal her all time favorite movie (and a few favored actors), offer up a bunch of silly photos, and share her HILARIOUS memoir from the 84th Academy Awards.

Basically Missi is everything, okay?! Okay. 

As you can imagine, dear readers, I'd love to do make the One Day Celebrity Blog Takeover thing a quarterly event but it's tough to find goddesses as awesome and generous as Missi & Melanie & Dana & Leslye who are not just talented but also into talking movies/tv as showbiz fans. Who will be our next victim? We'll find out together in 2015. Stay tuned!

Thursday
Dec182014

News of the Century: "Bombshell" From Smash Is Happening. June 15th, 2015

FAKE AD FROM THE TV SHOW. BUT THERE WILL BE A REAL ONE IN 2015.

That's right show queens, "Bombshell" is finally getting a stage production. [src] It's a one night only benefit event in NYC so who knows if it will be way above our pay grade but you have to start somewhere.

The Film Experience's troubled marriage to "Smash" the ill fated NBC series about the making of a Marilyn Monroe musical named "Bombshell" lives on! It's impossible to get a full divorce actually from that show and especially the show within the show because social media has guaranteed that all TV series with a devout following remain somehow in the pop culture conversation like they're still on the air.  I can't tell you how many times someone mentions Smash in my twitterfeed (#notcomplaining) and my eyes always flash a bit, like an ocular exclamation point. 

There's no word yet on casting but if Megan Hilty isn't playing Marilyn at this one night only event there's really no point in that day in the world's timeline even existing. This is our only mandatory requirement*. Otherwise proceed, producers. Our hearty gratitude and possible our dollars, depending on ticket prices, await you.

*Requirements are different than wants but we got a string of those too if you need 'em.

Thursday
Dec182014

National Film Registry Adds 25. How Many Have You Seen?

Ah the National Film Registry inductees! One of the most important December cinematic traditions that I always forget about. I wish it were in March each year -- since it's not any kind of "year in..." since film works aren't eligible for induction until they're ten years old. Placed it March it would also serve as a nice salve to the sometimes wounding notion that the Oscars are the only barometer for American movies that are deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" I wish too that this annual honor were more practical (restoration, anyone?) and less symbolic in nature. 

THE TWENTY-FIVE 2014 INDUCTEES
Which have you seen and which will you be seeking out?(presented in chronological order)

Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day(1913)
The oldest surviving film featuring African-American actors. But no title cards, credits, or script has survived. 

Shoes (1916)
Directed by Lois Weber, a female film pioneer. This one is about a desperate girl trying to support her parents and brothers who sells her body for a pair of shoes!

Unmasked (1917)
Another female silent director Grace Cunard who also acted in the short with co-director Francis Ford

The Dragon Painter (1919)
A US/France coproduction 

More films after the jump filled with Satan-worshipping neighbors, chocolate rivers, and rugs that tie the whole room together...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec182014

The Interview Cancelled. And Other Outrages.

If you slept through the day yesterday what you missed is that Sony pulled the Christmas day release of the comedy The Interview (starring Seth Rogen & James Franco) after major theatrical chains refused to show it after mass murder threats on movie theaters showing it. Naturally the outrage machine revved up with infinite "the terrorists have won" responses (from both liberals and hard righters), snarky tweets, and lots of 'what would happen if' warnings and truly unfortunate comparisons.

Response to the removal of the movie registers strongly for future unearned martyrdom / canonization probability which is more annoying than it is terrifying. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec182014

Stage Door: Christmas With the Crawfords

 Feeling the holiday spirit yet?

Jose here. It’s Christmas Eve in the Crawford household, and Joan (Joey Arias), and her children Christina (Chris March of Project Runway) and Christopher (Adam Davidson) are getting ready to receive a very special guest: Miss Hedda Hopper (Sherry Vine) who will broadcast a holiday special live from their home. As the perfectionist actress stresses to her children how important it is that they make a good impression - no wire hangers to be seen anywhere! - it becomes obvious that the holidays here are a truly special occasion, as many famous guests show up throughout the night (most of them mistakenly ringing the Crawford bell on their way to a party at Gary Cooper’s house).

Last seen in New York, twelve years ago, Christmas With the Crawfords is a hilarious parody that will certainly appeal to actressexuals who don’t mind their favorite divas being ridiculed. As with any good parody, the work seen on this show makes it clear that its creators are not in it for the cheap jokes, or the easy targets, but their higher purpose is to highlight what is it that made these people so fantastic, that to exaggerate their unique traits feels like the highest form of tribute.

Among the featured guests and performers are Connie Champagne as Judy Garland (her rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is equally funny and devastatingly sad) and Flotilla Debarge as Hattie McDaniel (don’t ask…), and truly to reveal all the guests that show up would be to rob the show of some of its magic. At its center this is a showcase for the astonishing Arias, who with thighs-to-die-for and shoulder pads for days, epitomizes the harsh/sweet duality that made Joan Crawford so enigmatic.

Arias moves across the stage with grace and poise, and his chemistry with March is unbelievable. One could see these two go at it forever, both being highly talented comedians who know the importance of choosing the right moments to deliver their punchlines. The production design by Andrea Purcigliotti features an anachronistic, but effective reproduction of the “big eyes” portrait Joan received from Walter Keane, and with nods to films Crawford made much later than the 1944-setting of the show, Crawford-ites will be in for a real treat. A Christmas miracle of sorts…

Christmas With the Crawfords plays at the Abrons Arts Center through December 27.

Wednesday
Dec172014

Quick Impressions: "Younger Ethel Darling" in Freakshow / "Song & Dance Girl" in Magic Mike XXL

KATHY DEITCHNew Series! In Quick Impressions we're looking at the working actor in key movie scenes. There are showbiz dreams embedded in nearly every frame of your favorite tv shows and films. Consider this series a celebration of SAG card-holders everywhere and double duty advice column for casting directors and aspiring actors.

 
For today's double-plus-good episode we talked to a young actress of stage and screen who I know you've already spotted on the very popular American Horror Story: Freakshow. KATHY DEITCH did flashback duty as "Younger Ethel Darling," for Kathy Bates's doomed Bearded Lady. But all is not misery because get this: next summer Deitch will also be getting more than her fair share of testosterone... albeit in a far more enviable way. She'll be partying with your favorite strippers on the big screen in the eagerly awaited sequel Magic Mike XXL

She tells us about her career-changing moment, fangirling it out while meeting Matt Bomer, and how to prepare for your big break in this exuberant conversation after the jump...

Click to read more ...