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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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"I didn't even notice the stars at first but that's why I like it. Tag line is clever. I hope Burton gone substance over style (while being stylish) with this one." - Jija

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Oscar Horrors: Looking into PSYCHO

Here lies… a film no other man could have made – Psycho.

Matt here! Alfred Hitchcock directed Psycho just after he made Vertigo and North by Northwest, two gigantic Technicolor productions for Paramount. Imagine the pitch he made – Shoestring budget, black & white, killing off Janet Leigh after 40 minutes, main character’s a schizophrenic taxidermist motel-owner. He shot it in a few months on the Paramount lot using a television crew, paying for everything himself.

The rest is history. After spending roughly $800,000, it has grossed over $50 million and had enormous cultural impact. Recently, it placed 34th in Sight & Sound’s “Greatest Films of All-Time” critics poll. In 1960, it was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Director. One single bathroom sequence revolutionized expectations for audiences, filmmakers, and censors. What business does a true-blue, low-budget horror flick have in the pantheon of cinematic art?

While Psycho may not be Hitchcock’s greatest film, it is the apex of his directorial control, his auteurist posture. More...

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Where My Girls At? Susan, Tilda, Uma, Sir Ian

The Man Who Loved Actresses Too Much. That's the title of my forthcoming memoirs. Because I love too many actresses I often lose track of their upcoming film projects so let's look at some recent casting notices (by recent I mean I'm sorry I didn't mention them earlier this month!) involving ladies I, and hopefully you, love. 

Susan Sarandon, currently co-starring in Cloud Atlas, has been working consistently since her career peak (1988 through 1995) but her parts haven't been so great or the films have left one wanting. Can The Last of Robin Hood reinvigorate her career or spark passion in her fanbase again? The Hollywood bio film is from the indie directing team of Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (full disclosure: I used to be friendly with Glatzer) who previously made The Fluffer and Quinceanera. It's about Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) affair with a 17 year old actress at the end of his life who he first seduced when she was all of 15. Sarandon will play the young actress's stage mother. Here's why I'm hopeful - the mother Sarandon will play actually wrote a book about this love affair called "The Big Love" so her role could be substantial -- though I'm unclear as to whether this film is based on that or wholly original.

Julianne Moore is a screen queen I never lose track of, per se, but sometimes the projects disappear! Does Being Flynn really exist? Did Shelter? What happened to that period-noir-detective-with-addiction-issues series she was going to star in for HBO? Given the populist genre of her next project, it's less likely to disappear. She's about to reteam with Liam Neeson as screen husband for the thriller Non-Stop. Neeson is an US Air Marshall and they're fighting a mysterious enemy who is texting him. Oh please let it be Amanda Seyfried! #AwkwardChloeReunioin

The ginger goddess will also co-star in Dan Fogelman's directorial debut, a dramedy called Imagine.  Fogelman's credits include writing one of Julianne Moore's best screen jokes for Crazy Stupid Love, well, and the rest of the movie, too. The film stars Al Pacino as a former rock star who discovers he has an adult son (played by Jeremy Renner). Julianne Moore will play the hotel manager where Pacino lives. 

Uma Thurman needs a strong director -- nothing wrong with that if you're great when you get 'em -- and she's had a rough go of it, screen-wise since the Kill Bill series. Wising up now, she's joining Lars Von Trier's increasingly star-studded "porno" Nyphomaniac.  There's no word on what her role will entail (though most believe it's the same role that Nicole Kidman vacated) but it's not the title role. That would be Charlotte Rampling, who isn't shy about onscreen eroticism (see: The Night Porter or Under the Sand). update: LOL. My wishful thinking substituted Charlottes Charlotte Gainsbourg, who is a von Trier favorite (Antichrist, Melancholia). Uma doesn't trade on her own erotic appeal nearly as often but she should. Beyond Tarantino's oeuvre I'd argue that her best performance is in the very libidinous Henry & June. To this day I'm still certain she caused the NC-17 even though she (mostly) kept her clothes on.

Uma's been low key enough lately that I blinked and missed the news that she had her new baby in July and named her "Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson"! Take that, Gwyneth.

Tilda Swinton is supposedly filming the new Terry Gilliam film The Zero Theorem right about now. The film is about a computer genius (Christoph Waltz) seeking the answer to whether life has meaning or not. I can solve the puzzle for him. Tilda Swinton exists and that is an inexplicable miracle so life obviously has meaning. The meaning being TILDA.

Sir Ian McKellen, who we'll soon see reprise his Oscar-nominated Gandalf role, is the star of the most hilarious news you'll read all week: Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi will be co-starring in a British sitcom about two senior gays living together called "Vicious Old Queens". This seems like it couldn't be true but it is, hunty, it is! The title and stars alone make it a must-see but -- even better -- British series tend to be short which still leaves plenty of time for the drama queens to make their film appearances, too. If the show is half as good as the casting and title, we all win.

Are you excited about any of these projects?

Which actress have you recently lost track of?


Princess Leia "I'm Going to Disneyland!"

she'll fit right in.

The news travelled 'cross the web faster than hyper speed earlier tonight. Princess Leia has found a new home at Disney, the Mouse House having purchased all things Lucasfilm for a wee $4 billion and stock.

One day Disney will own the entire world but it's okay because corporations are people. And you'd totally be okay if one person owned the entire world, right??? Pray that your future corporate overlord will be a benevolent dictator... who giggles a lot and wears mouse ears.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Quest For More Billions, or whatever they'll eventually name it, is aiming for a 2015 release. That's quick. I hope they have a screenwriter already typing away. And I hope that screenwriter's name is not George Lucas.

The best part of this news is the Star Wars ride possibilities at amusement parks are endless. The worst part of this news is that the Star Wars franchise is already so over-exposed and now it'll be even worse! What Disney's done to Tinkerbell depresses me virtually every day and what horrible ubiquitous personality-changing fate might lie in store for Leia or the Ewoks or Jabba the Hut or (gasp) Jar Jar Binks.

If the new film is not set too far into the future following Return of the Jedi, will Princess Leia resurface and if so who on earth could play her? Let's do an impromptu Cast This! Ideally though, they'd go with all new characters and let Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford do cameos as their classic trio many years on.


Oscar Horrors: Margaret White Burns in Hell

Just one more day of Oscar Horrors! On this penultimate day of the series, JA has an incredible take on one of our shared favorites, "Carrie". -Nathaniel

HERE LIES... or rather, HERE BURNS IN HELL... Margaret White, Piper Laurie's Supporting Actress nominated performance in Brian DePalma's 1976 film Carrie.

JA from MNPP here - the only thing more shocking to me than the fact that Piper lost the Oscar for Margaret White is the fact that nobody's covered this performance for this here Oscar Horrors series yet. You could just sit back and quote her lines and be done with it - "I can see you dirty pillows." "Pimples are the Lord's way of chastising you." "I liked it. I liked it!" What a grand time it'd be! It would be like any given evening in my house, really. But give me an excuse to watch Carrie for the 50th time, and I will bite.

Piper lost the Oscar to Beatrice Straight's very brief role in Network; I won't diss Straight because I like her and I like that performance (and I like her a few years later in Poltergiest even more)... but come on. 

Rewatching the film today I was reminded what a note-perfect line Laurie walks. Dances, really. In sensible witch shoes. Her Margaret White should be what you see when you look up "Jesus Freak" in the dictionary.

But while she's often criticized for being over the top (and it's not as if director Brian DePalma backs off that angle -- when Carrie tells her mother she's going to the prom, Piper repeats the word aghast - "Prom?" - which DePalma then gooses with some ever-so-subtle lightning and thunder) what I noticed today is it's Margaret's smallness and fear that reveals themselves between the hysterics, and become disturbingly palpable. She is in a battle with herself, the beleaguered Christian, trying to be all the God Warrior she can be, but her beaten-down daughter, meekness personified (Sissy Spacek giving one of the finest performances ever put on screen, if you ask me), begins to beat her back at every turn and she's entirely befuddled by it. You can sense she's felt this before - when her husband, the one with the stinking roadhouse whiskey on his breath, also driven nuts by her zealousness, up and took off. It must be the Devil! You can see the parts clicking into place in Laurie's performance as her confusion turns into its own sense - this is what she is here for. Calmness washes over her; she has found her life's meaning. And it's a serenity that's terrifying.

And that's the thing with this performance and why it continually rings true to me - in the twenty minutes or so of screen-time that Laurie has, she simultaneously charts not just a broad portrait of religious fervor driven way off the deep end, but the pinpoint center wherein stands a very small very frightened woman, deranged by her own terror of abandonment. Once was enough, twice is too many, and she will drag her daughter straight to Hell before she ever lets go.



Curio: Rosemary's Bric-a-brac

Alexa here. This Halloween I am taking advantage of the fact that I'm pregnant by dressing as my favorite film heroine, Rosemary Woodhouse. Some may find it in bad taste to dress as the mother of the devil's spawn when you are with child, but I'll use any excuse to celebrate Polanski's masterpiece Rosemary's Baby (1968), which has its Criterion release today.

Rosemary paper doll by Ana Camamiel.

I've ordered my copy, and while I'm at it I may buy one of these these great Rosemary curios I stumbled upon while searching the web for my costume pieces. Tannis, anyone?  

Three more vintage pieces...

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To Link or Not to Link...

Gawker on Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, just issued in a deluxe Criterion version
BBC Skyfall wins the best Bond opening ever overseas. Remember when we didn't even know if we would get any more James Bonds due to legal issues and rights and studio problems?
The Guardian on Daniel Day-Lewis' infamous ghostly father sighting all those years ago when he played Hamlet on stage (he has not returned to the stage since) 

In Contention George Clooney lines up a very starry cast for his next Oscar attack, the World War II drama Monuments Men: Craig, Blanchett, Goodman
AV Club Mike D'Angelo on the directors cut of one of my favorite films Little Shop of Horrors (1986) 
The Film Doctor 8 notes on Cloud Atlas
Cinema Blend Cloud Atlas karmic interconnectivity infographic
Towleroad Madonna visits Ellen Degeneres! 
Coming Soon Tom Cruise isn't done with the Mission: Impossible franchise yet. And here I thought they brought in Jeremy Renner to replace him. 

CHUD has a 1688 word review of the new Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning movie with 80s action icons Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren returning and refuses to say whether they walk around with asses out as they so famously did the first time. 1688 words and no time for ass? That's just mean.
Movie|Line Ugh. I was totally going to do this Grease-centric Hurricane Sandy thing but a ton of sites beat me to it. I type so fast but I don't have all the time in the world or a huge paid staff to jump on everything. BOO.
Tom & Lorenzo Mad Men filming in Hawaii, eh? Jessica Pare and Jon Hamm in cute bathing suits. Oh I have to share the photo... I can't just link!

Lovely! I've never been to Hawaii, have you? It's nice to dream of Hawaii in the aftermath of dismal, windy, grey, wet destructive Hurricane Sandy.



Review: Free Pass for "The Sessions"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad...

When Madonna's "Sex" book turned twenty last week, a common thread of blog coverage was 'tame by today's standards' and I wondered which new standards other people were living by that I wasn't privy to? I'm not talking about private culture -- people have been seeing strangers naked long before Grindr or easily clickable pornography -- but about mainstream entertainment. Which mainstream female celebrity has been running around aggressively in her birthday suit lately? We've hardly made great strides at accepting female sexuality since then. Proof positive: the current political debates. The male body has, on the other hand, become more commonly objectified two decades on but penis sightings are still as rare as they were in the "Sex" book and people continue to make a big flaccid point of being shocked whenever they're visually reminded of their existence... especially in the movies. Find even one article about Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Eastern Promises or Shame that doesn't mention Jason Jr,  Viggo Jr. or The Fassmember; tough assignment. 

This longwinded preface isn't as off-topic as it sounds for a review of THE SESSIONS. The sexually-minded lightly funny new drama stars Oscar nominee John Hawkes (Winter's Bone) as Mark O'Brien, a paralyzed man who dreams of losing his virginity from the discomfort of his iron lung. 



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