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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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Yes No Maybe So - Big Eyes

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Thursday
May102012

Juliette or Guilietta?

Have you heard that Juliette Lewis will be starring in a film called The Days of Mary (2013?) loosely based on Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning Nights of Cabiria (1957)? It feels like her first lead role in ages so we hope it actually happens.

 

 

It's now in Reno -- practically Rome's twin ! (kidding) -- and Juliette is a girl looking for love in, we presume, the wrong places. Bad things tend to happen in movies where Juliette is entangled romantically: mass murder (NBK), end of times chaos (Strange Days), thumbsucking (Cape Fear) but this project doesn't feel as shocking / sacrilegious when you remember that Nights of Cabiria has already been reimagined once as Sweet Charity (1969) starring Shirley Maclaine.

Okay, wait, we need to remake reboot reimagine that poll now...

 

 

Have you seen Nights of Cabiria and Sweet Charity? If not, get on that, will ya?

Wednesday
May092012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "The Exorcist"

The Hit Me With Your Best Shot series is deceptively simple. Choose a single shot from a pre-selected movie that you think is best, best being in the eye of the beholder. Tonight we're looking at The Exorcist (1973). And for me at least, it's the first time I've looked at it. That's not quite as shocking as your 12 year old daughter's head spinning 'round 180º, but maybe it's close.

Nearly every horror classic I've seen I've resisted in some ridiculous way: I saw Halloween at a sleepover movie marathon but it took my horror-loving friend five holidays to convince me; I first saw Silence of the Lambs because I had five nightmares about it beforehand and wanted them to end; I can't remember what prompted Rosemary's Baby but I'm willing to bet that I rented the video five times before actually watching it. And so on. 

If I was ever going to watch The Exorcist, the power of blogging would have to compel me. And so it did.

And here we are in the haunted upstairs bedrooms of actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and her daughter Regan (Linda Blair). The first thing that impressed me about the  movie was how rooted in character it was. Director William Friedkin and the novelist screenwriter William Peter Blatty spend more than half hour with the four main characters before the devil (The Devil?) crashes the party. The first shot that I truly loved foreshadowed the horrors to come in a wonderfully lived-in nonchalant way. After Chris MacNeil unleashes a stream of profanity on an angry phone call (including, pointedly, several "Jesus Christ!"s) we cut to the middle of the night when she's woken by a phone call. I love that the shot starts in the dark and when Chris flips on the light the only face that's really illuminated, given her bleary banged face, is Regan's in a photo on the bedstand; the young girl looks actively worried for her mother which is a brilliant set decoration move. Chris hangs up the phone and the camera tracks her movements to the right until we and she realize that her daughter has crawled into bed with her. It's the first time Regan is essentially split in the film, surrounding her anxious still oblivious mother.

Chris: What are you doing here?
Regan: My bed was shaking. I can't get to sleep.

Here in a sweet mother/daughter moment, Regan's telling us where all the horror will be found. The next voice we here, overlap edited over the end of this shot but just barely is the devil's if you want to get metaphoric about it is Captain Howdy's (The Devil's) who is banging about in the attic. Oh Chris, soon to be overwhelmed Chris, it's not rats. 

The Exorcist builds beautifully towards its truly grotesque last act but at least half of the reason it's so effective is that it never forgets who is terrified while it's terrifying us. My second favorite shot in the film is a beautifully quiet character beat for the title character(s) in the "intermission" of the exorcism. 

The Exorcist(s): Father Karras and Father Merrin

One of the movie's most disturbing famous images is "Help me" scrawled on Regan's stomach from the inside.  If Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) were to remove his clothing, wouldn't we see a similar cry for help from his private hell?

It's these quiet glimpses of internal terror that really sell the movie for me, whether it's Ellen Burstyn's increasing impotent understanding (when no one else has accepted it -- not even the priests) or Father Karras's personal doubts. This silence, this vacuum, lets the terror flood in, often courtesy of the Oscar winning sound work. In the shot above we still hear Regan's possessed wheezing from inside the bedroom, less shocking but even more unsettling than her loud profane outbursts.

This push and pull between external and internal terror, room-shaking chaos and sudden absences of sound but for Exorcist chanting to fill the void powers, for me, the most hypnotic shot in the film. The room suddenly goes quiet and we see Regan lift off the bed in crucifix pose until she's nearly touching the ceiling. A simple familiar image, yes, like you'd see in a magic show. But somehow alien and unnatural, too. Only the exorcists can break this unholy spell.

The Power of Blog Compels Them
Movies Kick Ass is Hollywood the devil?
The Tomas Experience "as sure as the sun rises, you can find evil anywhere"
Film Actually the mysteries of faith and science
The Sketchy Details Regan split in two
Antagony & Ecstasy a single mother's personal hell
Cheerful Cynicism the slow burn is the best part 
Cinesnatch has mixed feelings about the movie 
Okinawa Assault colours and threats 
Encore's World is moved by the mother/daughter bond 
Beau McCoy "The Exorcist and Nothingness" 
Stranger than Most find horror in the hospital
Pussy Goes Grrr "body and soul" and Linda Blair's eyes

Next Wednesday: Edward Scissorhands (1990)... will we catch you dancing in it?
Previously: Pariah (2011), Raise the Red Lantern (1991),  Serenity (2005)

Wednesday
May092012

Complete the Sentence on This Wet Afternoon

"The last old movie I saw was __________________ which I watched because ________________________ and it was ________________ ."

 

I'll start: The last old movie I saw was Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) which I watched because Kim Stanley was Oscar nominated in a supercalifragilistic Best Actress year and the film was stagey but good... only I kept wishing Hitchcock had directed it to amp up both the perversity and the tension. I would totally endorse a remake for one of today's finest actresses because Myra Savage was one crazy bitch.

Wednesday
May092012

6 Thoughts I Had While Staring at Tom Cruise's W Cover

The Rock of Ages push has begun...

• The model to the left must have heard our theory about Tom Cruise's magic sperm: it unlocks great actressing powers ... time-delayed. The effect is only triggered once you are no longer in contact with the stuff (see Mimi Rogers, Penélope Cruz, and Nicole Kidman who all began to do magical work after dumping him)

• Dragon tails are the new nipple clamps.

• Of all the movie stars who have ever worn guyliner, Ewan McGregor wins.

• Why do they photoshop movie stars -- who, generally speaking, are the best looking people on the planet -- to the point where they're barely recognizable? No matter what you think of Tom Cruise he looks pretty great for someone hitting the half century mark.

• What do you suppose the model to the right is whispering in his ear? I'm guessing "Xenuuuuuuuu"

• If Paul Thomas Anderson's 2012 release The Master is really a thinly veiled Scientology movie, do you think it was inspired by his time with Cruise on the Magnolia set. And if so, is Mr. Cruise going to be pissed?

Wednesday
May092012

Smash: "Tech" & "Previews"

Smash recently announced that its creator and season 1 showrunner Theresa Rebeck was moving on. and Josh Safran (who ran Gossip Girl) is moving in for Season 2. What this means for the show we'd rather not speculate because Smash is such a fragile series. Tweak it this way it becomes a great series rather than a good one. Tweak it that way and it all falls apart. Expectations were too high to avoid studio interference but what the show needs is someone who embraces the core of its appeal and doesn't worry about appealing to every demographic. (Even Marilyn Monroe herself was hardly a universally beloved / respected movie star.) Shows that know themselves first and foremost tend to be the ones that people come to and adapt to, not shows that try to adapt to that  mythical monolithic audience.

Happy Birthday.... Mr. Director ♫

1.13 "Tech"
Despite various complaints about the direction of Season 1 I think the show actually has a pretty good handle on forward momentum. more after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May082012

"Maleficent" - Now With More Mike Leigh!

Had a private double take giggle last night when I read the news of Maleficent's latest cast members. Maleficent herself Angelina Jolie and Sleeping Beauty Elle Fanning will be joined by Brit prestige actors like Oscar nominee Miranda Richardson (who will be play the fairy queen aunt of Maleficent), Sam Riley (Control), Kenneth Cranham (Made in Dagenham), and.... wait for it... Mike Leigh thespian goddesses Imelda Staunton & Lesley Manville as Beauty's protectors (two pixies instead of three fairies).

Imelda and Lesley will protect Sleeping Beauty in "Maleficent"

Suddenly I was picturing Mike Leigh in the director's chair!

Imagine the gritty British realness. Picture Angelina Jolie rehearsing for six month to suit Leigh's process. Hee. The insights into Maleficent's psyche- the grotty castle home she's lived in for decades, centuries worth of raven droppings, her unspoken trauma from past society shunnings, the weight of the horns on her head and how it's left her with a permanently sore neck. Imagine Angelina and Miranda diagramming their entire history as relatives in a quiet rehearsal space and writing their own lines. The pixies vibe would include stunted maternal instincts and adoptive parent sorrow "We have to give the wee lass back?!?".

Mike Leigh's Maleficent wouldn't break $200 million but I'd buy several tickets. 

In the eternal "Pink... no Blue" fairy godmother debate, we figure Imelda gets the pink if she wants it.

She owns the pink. 

P.S. If they were to add a third fairy godmother, excuse me "pixie" who should join Imelda & Lesley to raise narcoleptic Elle Fanning? Cast it in the comments! 

Tuesday
May082012

Les Línkables

TMZ life imitating art - Shawarma sales skyrocketing in LA after The Avengers opening.
Coming Soon has a new photo from the set of Les Misérables. I'm choosing to interpret this set as an homage to Moulin Rouge!'s greatness
Acidemic would like you to know that 1933, not 1939 was the greatest year at the movies.
Playlist Maybe Edgar Wright is going to make that Ant-Man movie after all.

Antagony & Ecstacy looks back at Ang Lee's Hulk (2003) in the wake of the new green giant fever sweeping the nation. Really interesting piece.
In Contention Gene Kelly centennial tribute hosted by the Academy next week in LA. Someone go and tell me all about it. We'll celebrate his centennial here in August (the actual month of his birth)
Movie|Line Jessica Chastain finally passes on a movie. Hee!
SuperPunch has photos of Wal-Mart's The Avengers set. I include this only because its rabidly sexist. I believe when the camera spun around the heroes in that highly publicized shot it was The Black Widow and not Loki who was part of the heroic team. (sigh) 
Kenneth in the (212) Fun couples: Woody Allen and... Lindsay Lohan? 

P.S. This is the best thing that Kate Beckinsale has ever done.

 

Told ya!

Off Cinema.
It's sometimes worth stepping out of the movie theater. Rarely but still...
The Realist for those of you who've spent too much time on Facebook
Playbill weirdest music news of the week. Twisted Sister's Dee Snider recording an album of showtunes with Broadway friendly guest stars

Tuesday
May082012

Burning Questions: When Will America Get Animation For Adults?

Day of the Dead comes with Lively ColorMichael C. here. Eyebrows were raised when Pixar recently announced their slate of upcoming films. After two projects we already knew about – a dinosaur focused film now titled “The Good Dinosaur” (May 30th, 2014) and the film that takes place inside the mind – there was a new project, intriguingly described as Untitled Pixar Movie About Dia De Los Muertos.

The idea of the full resources of Pixar set to work on an animated film about the Mexican Day of the Dead is enough to get any film lover’s expectations soaring. Obviously, there is no promise the film will be any more artistically daring than the spooky yet family-friendly likes of Henry Sellick’s Coraline. But for now it is reason enough to hope we will soon have an affirmative answer to the question animation lovers have asked for decades:

When will mainstream American cinema finally accept adult animation?

I will not subject you to another rendition of that familiar tune about the rest of the world not holding our country’s prejudices about cartoons being just for kids. Suffice it to say the end of American animation’s extended adolescence is long overdue. 

Disney appeared poised to take the plunge back in the Nineties. I am still stunned anything as mature as the tortured Catholicism of Hunchback’s “Hellfire” sequence found its way into a film with Happy Meal tie-ins. More after the jump

 

Click to read more ...