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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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Freakshow Episode 2

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Monday
Oct292012

Hurricane Sandy Open Thread

To all our Eastern Seaboard US readers, stay safe! "Sandy" is raging toward us. Should I lose power there are are a few posts ready to be published. The storm begs a movie question... What movie scenes or entire movie sequences come to mind when you think about stormy weather? 

 

I mean besides Dorothy & the twister and her sudden transport to Oz... which has never and will never be bested in human movie history... especially once you include her technicolor recap of the events. Which is like the best in-movie "previously on..." moment ever.

♫  It really was no miracle.
What happened was just this. 

The wind began to switch,
the house to pitch
And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.

Just then the Witch,
to satisfy an itch
Went flying on her broomstick,
thumbing for a hitch. ♩♪

My god, I just love that movie so much, don't you? Judy. Judy. Judy.  Any chance to think of her is welcome. Even if it means violent house threatening weather.

But oddly the first thing I thought of out in the rain today was the climax of Four Weddings and a Funeral when Andie MacDowell was all...

My brain is so weird.

Before I embarrass myself further, I'll turn it over to you. Favorite stormy movies?
 

Monday
Oct292012

Joss Whedon "Endorsing" Mitt Romney

One week from tomorrow we choose America's future. Every time I see a statistical tie or tight race type of poll I hear Giles' weary dismay on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The earth is doomed."

Hee!

Sunday
Oct282012

Oscar Horrors: Drew's Great Aunt Ethel

Here Lies... "Mrs. Warren" the bedridden matriarch of a Victorian mansion that's haunted by a serial killer.

Hasn't Team Experience been doing a great job with the Oscar Horrors series? I figured, after passing out all these assignments, that it was time I chimed in, so I filled in one of my own Supporting Actress viewing gaps with Ethel Barrymore's Oscar nominated work in The Spiral Staircase (1945). This black and white horror flick, an early member of the neverending serial killer subgenre, is set almost entirely in an old mansion where our mute protagonist Helen (Dorothy McGuire of Gentleman's Agreement fame) works. It's not at all clear what her job is since she's neither nurse nor maid nor cook, those duties being performed with "hey, I'm in this movie, too!" gusto by How Green Was My Valley mama Sara Allgood and the Bride of Frankenstein herself, Elsa Lanchester.

We first meet "Mrs. Warren" twenty minutes into the picture. Nurse Barker (Allgood) warns Helen that their boss is in a mood...

She's sly, too. Even with her eyes closed she seems to be watching you like an evil spirit."

...but the nurse's warning doubles as an impossibly truthful, succinct and funny description of Ethel Barrymore's entire performance. I half imagined Nurse Barker tweeting it with the hashtag #ItsBarrymoreBitch 

"Do you like scary movies?"

Ethel Barrymore died 17 years before her great niece Drew Barrymore was born but I kept thinking of Drew during the movie. Perhaps it was the through line of Barrymore Girls & Acclaimed Performances in Horror Flicks? Drew Barrymore was, infamously, the first kill in Scream (1996). Tough demanding Mrs. Warren might have rescued poor Casey by insisting she hang up that phone immediately and hide under her bed.

In horror parlance Ethel's "Mrs Warren" is no Victim or Final Girl but something like a cross between Psychic "Tangina" and overbearing monster mom... "Mrs. Norma Bates" ? Barrymore makes excellent use of her eyes and modulation of her voice but it's a very limited role consisting of essentially the same three point scene on repeat: 

 

  1. Sassy Rudeness #ItsBarrymoreBitch
  2. Fade into Ill Health/Sleepiness
  3. Sudden Snap Back to Life for either:
    a) Ominous Pronouncement: "There's been another murder hasn't there? No one told me. I always know everything."
    or...
    b)  Direct Warning: "You're not safe here my dear. Leave this house at once."

 

The Spiral Staircase is something of a predictable dud now since horror movies have been so endlessly dissected, parodied, and Screamed in the last few decades and this is an old school blueprint -- the women here are always doing stupid things like walking into dark basements when they hear noises / feel a draft! --  but it's worth a watch for its quartet of Supporting Actress: domineering Ethel, put-upon fussbudget Sara, drunk funny Elsa and emotional hussy Rhonda Fleming. They all run circles around McGuire, a Damsel in Distress with only her muteness as a defining characteristic, but someone's got to keep your pulse up when you're watching a horror movie. Actresses to the rescue!... in the case of Ethel Barrymore, quite literally.

previously on Oscar horrors

Sunday
Oct282012

"Argo" is a Fake Movie but its Box Office is Real

Argo F*** yourself!"

That's what I imagine Ben Affleck and team were saying to their box office competition this weekend. In the Best Picture hopeful's third weekend, it climbed to the top of the charts which is a fine very good extremely significant sign that it's going to have legs and thus a indefatigable sturdy stride towards February's Oscar ceremony. Those getting f***ed included Cloud Atlas (some are wild for it -- see below -- some think its silly but the nearly 3 hour running time and gargantuan budget have made profit a ridiculously ambitious dream), and Chasing Mavericks... When was the last time Gerard Butler had a real hit? Was it The Ugly Truth? The specialty box office was good for The Loneliest Planet (reviewed) and The Sessions which will continue to expand as it moves into awards season.

Did you know that ARGO was inspired by this Wired article by Joshuah Bearman?

Box Office 15
01 ARGO  $12.3 (cum $60.7)
02 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA $9.5 (cum. $130.4)
03 CLOUD ATLAS  $9.4 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE* 
04 PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 $8.6 (cum. $42.6)
05 TAKEN 2  $8  (cum. $117.3)
06 SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D $8 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE* 
07 HERE COMES THE BOOM $5.5 (cum $30.6)
08 SINISTER $5  (cum $39.5)
09 ALEX CROSS $5 (cum $19.3)
10 FUN SIZE $4 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*

a rather, uh, "enthusiastic" text received from Beau. Some people just go crazy for this movie!

11 PITCH PERFECT $3.9  (cum $51.3) podcast fun
12 FRANKENWEENIE $2.4 (cum $31.7) capsule | notes on the original short
13 CHASING MAVERICKS $2.2 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*
14 LOOPER $2.1  (cum $61.5) Review
15 SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS $1.4 (cum $11.9)

What did you see this past week? 

I saw Anna Karenina but Cloud Atlas eluded me in part because I am allergic to three hour movies, in part because I haven't rushed to see it because I disliked every single film the Wachowski Siblings made after The Matrix (which I didn't even love as much as Bound so it's frankly been all downhill with them since their debut). But mostly I missed it because my favorite theater stopped showing movies at 2 pm today (!) -- presumably due to Hurricane Sandy (quite the troublemaker)  -- and the subways are also closing up tonight which is big trouble. Boo. Thankfully I have screeners to keep me company and Sunday night is always good television (Revenge + Homeland. Holla!)

Sunday
Oct282012

Say What, Princess Nicole?

I asked you to amuse us by adding a caption or dialogue to this photo of Nicole Kidman on the set of Grace of Monaco

You obviously like Say What better when I choose a winning caption or dialogue but I'm stuck this time. Help me pick the winner!

Sunday
Oct282012

Horror Movies For Pets

Monty, my reluctant feline Oscar pundit, is usually bored by movies but these would absolutely terrify him!

More Horror Movies For Pets at Pleated Jeans. Funny stuff.

Saturday
Oct272012

Oscar Horrors: Martin Landau in 'Ed Wood'

Oscar Horrors continues was Beau looks at one of his favorite performances of all time.

HERE LIES.. Supporting Actor Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's 1994 masterpiece, Ed Wood.

Martin Landau. Holla.

Martin Landau's performance in Ed Wood is a joyous celebration of its time period. The manic energy with which Landau performs as Bela Lugosi mirrors Tim Burton's marvelous pacing and infectious love of the genre in this, his career-best. Bela Lugosi was a legend. He is primarily known today for his signature role, Dracula, but Lugosi was in fact a very ambitious actor. (He has said in several interviews that he always wanted to be the lead of romantic comedy.) His failure to diversify reflects a typecasting and stereotyping in 1950s Hollywood that helped set the foundation for how business is done today. It's not a matter so much of whether or not Lugosi was good enough to try different roles. It's about the compartmentalizing of the personality, boxing it up, shipping it out. Maintaining hold.

Landau's gruff drug addicted depiction of Lugosi is a treat. My generation is not well acquainted with the works of Ed Wood or b-movies from the 1950s and I'm no exception, so  I couldn't take as much enjoyment from the reenactment of certain moments as I might be able to, in say, the upcoming Hitchcock in terms of Psycho. The central joy of watching these kinds of mimick'ed performances is seeing an actor that you're familiar with side-by-side with a legendary performer -- two contrasting takes -- but it's not the only joy. Landau understands that to successfully play Bela Lugosi is not to simply imitate or mimicking him, but imbibe him. You can get drunk so easily watching Martin Landau drink a case of Bela Lugosi. His Oscar win is one of the best choices the Academy ever made in Best Supporting Actor.

"Look into my eyes"

Tim Burton's direction eerily mirrors and compliments the ferocity with which Wood approached each and every project. The beautiful thing about Ed Wood, is the fact that this man who was completely oblivious to the fact that he had no true talent still managed to let his passion drive him through his life. In a very interesting way his story is not so much a cautionary tale for storytellers, but a map. In the 21st-century with production values taking precedence over narrative structure and any of the foundational building blocks of great films young independent filmmakers are looking to one another to trust in each other to build themselves up. With the advent of video-on-demand, filmmakers are discovering new outlets in order to release their product and story out into the world. You can market it a certain way. You can advertise a certain way. You can sell it with your passion for the project. One could go so far to abel Ed Wood as much of an auteur as Alfred Hitchcock or Howard Hawks. There are distinct notes, unique trademarks and fingerprints that are over every single frame in his films. Andrew Sarris would drop dead reading this, but it's true. Ed Wood is a hero to the American cinema because of his love for it.

Landau's contribution to the film is the spark that reignites Ed Wood's fire. And for that, in a very roundabout way, I am eternally grateful.

 

Oscar (ACTING) Horrors
[S2]
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Angela Lansbury
Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte - Agnes Moorehead
Shadow of the Vampire - Willem Dafoe
Rebecca - Judith Anderson
[S1]
Rosemary's Baby - Ruth Gordon
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane - Bette Davis
Carrie - Sissy Spacek
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Fredric March