IN THEATERS

HOT TOPICS

DVD / BLURAY / STREAMING

Welcome

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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

Powered by Squarespace
What'cha Looking For?
Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Q&A: Which Oscar nominees will be back soon?

"I like your 2026 predictions for longevity (Bale, Vikander, Hardy)" - Bella 

"I can understand saying McAdams, but I actually think this will ignite an improved career for her and she'll get another nomination within the next five years." - Philip

Keep TFE Strong

 

LOVE THE SITE? DONATE 

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

Subscribe
Sunday
Dec072014

Team FYC: Enemy for Production Design

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Jason on Enemy.

Toronto is a city always standing in for other places; I grew up about two hours from it and I've visited many times (I love that I saw David Cronenberg's Crash, filmed in that city, on a downtown screen there since it wasn't playing anywhere closer to me) and I've always described the town as "New York City, but clean." It is a bit sterile, a lot cold (I refer you to Cronenberg again - where else could he possibly call home?), a bit personality-free. So what better place to set Denis Villenueve's Enemy, a dark nightmare of doubles, then?

Jose Saramago's novel The Double, on which the film is based, is of course set in Portugal but more importantly it spends big chunks carrying its characters off to the countryside; Enemy however never makes it out of downtown Toronto -- there is no "out of Toronto." The city seen from far above floats between the Great Lake on one side and tundra or mist or maybe just the edge of the known world on the other; meanwhile the streets are webbed with trolley-wires and the buildings all seem like computer renderings half-finished. We see people walking the streets but they have all the presence of the ghosts haunting The Matrix, and the expressways seem to endlessly circle around in a Truman Show like loop.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec072014

The Not Grammys Experience

John Waters, Grammy Nominee !This isn't The Music Experience but we should glance toward the Grammy nominees. Among the "record" and "song" of the year categories, which are kind of like the actress and actor to "album of the year"'s best picture --it's a tortured analogy, just go with it --  my votes would go to... no, I can't do it. No preferences. I like most of them but, frankly, they all remind me of other better songs especially "Chandelier" which is like "Umbrella: The Sequel" and "Fancy" which is like a weaker and more annoying Stefani track. Plus I thought "All About the Bass" was a two-for-one Novelty Song download deal with Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" -- I had no idea it was respectable music! What would the Best Picture equivalent be at the Oscars?  I can't even imagine... 

But, again, not a music guy. Outside of movie music as an extension of a my cinephilia and musical theater as an extension of my inner soul (Proud Show Queen and I don't care who knows it... Haters gonna hate hate hate. Shake it off!) I don't think about music that much except to think "What should i put on my gym playlist to help motivate the exercize that I'm not going to do no matter how great the playlist is?!?"

Actors or Directors among the Grammy-nominated this year

  • James Franco (Spoken Word nominee for "Actors Anonymous")
    I think it's worth noting that Franco has yet to win a major prize beyond a Golden Globe but he has now been nominated for the Oscar, the Emmy, and the Grammy Clearly has his sights set on a Tony at some point, too.  
  • Cheyenne Jackson (Principal Soloist for San Francisco Symphony's version of "West Side Story" nominated for Musical Theater Album)_
  • Neil Patrick Harris (Principal Soloist for "Hedwig" revival nominated for Musical Theater Album)
  • John Waters (Spoken Word nominee for "Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America")

MOVIE RELATED CATEGORIES which are always a curious mix of Oscar years given differing eligiblity periods are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec062014

Screener Adventures From Big Hero to Budapest (Pt. 1)

Herewith a collection of fractured thoughts to along with my fractured toe (a piece of advice: never stub your toe so violently that your toe is swollen and purple by the end of the night and you have trouble walking for a week afterwards). I'd never have time for full articles on any of these so let's race through.

The Homesman 
Contrary to popular belief I am more than willing to praise the Swankster when she deserves it. While it's true that I was very hostile ten years ago during the Million Dollar Baby year (I struggle with hostility in any category in any year wherein the least of the five seems to have a free ride to gold... even if they've already won!) I supported her first Oscar win and you can't ever take Boys Don't Cry away from her. What we have here in  Tommy Lee Jones peculiar feminist western is her second best performance. I found her unflinching stillness whenever menfolk dismissed her as "plain" to be quite moving and she plays the saddest piano of all time, a cloth fascimile she drapes in front of her. That said, though I loved several elements of the film and found the concept and even the difficult structure intriguing, I don't think the film manages to come together well. Its parts are greater than their sum. No spoilers here but I'm a wee bit surprised that Swank has garnered as much Oscar buzz as she has - despite still being a longshot - given that her role is not as large or as fulfilling as you assume it will be in the first act.

The Skeleton Twins 
Not quite sure how I missed this one earlier in the year but it was a huge success with my friends when we finally screend it. And that "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" musical number slays - just perfection. The comedy, though, is surprisingly dark and the tone a mite unstable so it's easy to see why the movie never quite broke out despite gathering some devout fans and a lone Gotham Award nomination. It hesitates at the edge of its drama sequences as if to say 'for your consideration: serious acting from funny people' and teeters near its comic sequences like 'do we really want to do this?' before caving; you can't not let Wiig and Hader be funny. Still that "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" musical number just slays. Is anything funnier than slow burn Kristen Wiig silliness? 

Big Hero 6
While the adults talked in the other room on Thanksgiving I played this one for my friends's kids to keep them occupied. I was pushing for The Boxtrolls but, I don't know if you know this, kids turn out to be kind of stubborn; they like what they like. They were already obsessed with Baymax and rather than watching something new, they wanted the inflatable super-nurse again. I watched a few scenes again but remain only a mild fan of it. It wouldn't be on my final ballot in this competitive Animated Feature year. Nevertheless turns out it's hilarious and endearing to say goodbye to little kids after they've watched this movie. They all want to do a fist bump and will giggle like little maniacs if you play along and do Baymax's robotic jazz finger trill as their parents button them up for the cold outside. 

The Babadook
At the risk of turning this blog into The Babadook Experience (What? We like it). I'll be brief. This movie is really good. It's one of the very few movies this year that my best friend, who it might surprise you to hear does not much like movies, was willing to see and he loved it. He's been whispering at me randomly in a croaky voice "ba-ba-doooooook" without warning. The movie was just as creepy the second time but way more fun since I wasn't watching it alone. But Thanksgiving was a really really weird and, let's face it, unfortunate time to release it since a) it's probably not Oscar eligible given the Direct TV premiere and b) it could have used October's creepy crawly box office friendly trends. It makes no sense to me at all. It's not like it would have been forgotten for top ten season with a debut that was simply one month earlier? 

Grand Budapest Hotel
My friends all wanted to see this one so we rented it from Netflix before I even got the FYC screener. I can't quite figure why I was so stand-offish about it back in March when I named it Wes Anderson's second worst (just slightly better than The Life Aquatic). While I still wouldn't call it his best as so many critics did during the initial Budapest love-in (The Royal Tenenbaums remains untouchable IMO) it's so much better than I had understood. So I stand corrected, which is not something I'll admit to every day when it comes to the movies -- for example I'm totally right about Inherent Vice. I don't care how many top ten lists it makes: Blech!. On second viewing of Budapest the manic energy no longer grates or feels oppressive but intermittently flavorful and in service to its idiosyncratic comedy. And the pieces which always struck me as glorious: Ralph Fiennes out-of-time elegance and superbly pitched performance (it's a real pity he's not locked up in that Best Actor race; he should be) and the exquisitely scrumptuous production design and costumes are even better on repeat viewings.

Normally eye candy movies are better on the big screen but this one played much better for me at home. Go figure. 

Have you changed your mind about a movie recently or been surprised by one you thought you'd be cooler to? 

Saturday
Dec062014

Team FYC: Citizenfour for Editing

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Glenn on Citizenfour.

Only one documentary has ever been nominated for an editing Oscar, which is actually rather shocking given the pure logistics of the craft. How much footage of various and how many points of view they have to juggle, not to mention how quickly the sands of reportage can shift in a film that doesn't have a clear start and finish. That one film was Steve James' Hoop Dreams, which followed the schooling and personal lives of two aspiring professional basketball players. It was one of the first documentaries I recall being truly gobsmacked by, flawed by the fact that they turned 250 hours of raw footage into a 170-minute film that just worked. It made me look at documentaries and the art of editing differently.

Controversially denied the documentary Oscar that almost everybody thought he deserved in 1994, Steve James is in heavy (some may say unbeatable) contention 20 years later for Life Itself about the life of Roger Ebert, Hoop Dreams' biggest critical champion. Surely the irony isn't lost on James that his biggest competitor is Laura Poitras' Citizenfour, a compelling, nerve-wracking doc experience that charts the growing scandal of the American government's NSA spying network and its whistleblower, Edward Snowden. It would be some sort of twisted logic if Life Itself trumps it in the documentary category.

While I am not a fan of Life Itself, even its most ardent supporters would surely agree that one area in which Poitras' box-office hit has its star-studded competitor easily trumped is in the editing room. It was the mission of editor Mathilde Bonnefoy to collate and compile hours upon hours of research, investigation, news footage, and, of course, the film's centerpiece Snowden interview into a tight 114 minutes. It's a work of art to see Bonnefoy and Poitras so expertly know when to show us glimpses of Snowden's rapidly claustrophobic world (the hair gel sequence!) and when to pull back and reveal the bigger picture. When to see the story from the world's POV and when to give audiences the intimate portrait that allows the film its unique selling point.

Citizenfour is not exactly an unbiased picture; Poitras was specifically chosen by Snowden to tell the story of the NSA. Yet it's a miraculous feat of the craft that allows so many angles to be shown whilst letting a breaking story unfold as it happens. Bonnefoy ought to be a nominee alongside the prestige period dramas and Hollywood action movies that the Academy so frequently nominate.

Related
Film Experience Podcast | Documentary shortlist | Glenn's review

Other FYCs
Makeup and Hair, Only Lovers Left AliveBest Actor, Locke | Supporting Actress, Gone Girl | Visual FX, Under the Skin | Cinematography, The Homesman | Outstanding Ensembles | Screenplay, The Babadook |  Original ScoreThe Immigrant 

Saturday
Dec062014

Meet the Contenders: Kristen Stewart "Still Alice"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new limited release, the Julianne Moore awards hopeful, STILL ALICE.

Kristen Stewart as Lydia Howland in Still Alice

Best Supporting Actress

Born: Kristen Jaymes Stewart was born April 9, 1990 in Los Angeles, California

The Role: Adapted from Lisa Genova's bestselling novel, filmmakers and husbands Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (Quinceañera, The Last of Robin Hood) wrote and direct this film about a 50 year old Columbia linguist professor (Best Actress frontrunner, Julianne Moore) that is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. Stewart plays her daughter, Lydia, the black sheep of the family that moved to LA to become an actress despite her mother's frequent requests for her to go to college. When Alice's mind begins to deteriorate more rapidly, it is Lydia that takes the most responsibility for her mother's health establishing herself as caregiver.

Click to read more ...