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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

"The trailer won me over with two phrases:
1) "Lady art doesn't sell".
2) "I've been lying to my daughter".
- Adri

"A Tim Burton movie with the title Big Eyes that features neither Ricci, Ryder, Keaton nor Bonham Carter just doesn't seem right..." -Paul



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"Skyfall" and Art Direction

A new vlog from the set of the new Bond picture Skyfall has emerged (included below). The chief discovery: Dennis Gassner wears berets. Gassner, who hails from Canada not France, is someone whose work I've long admired. I first learned his name when he pulled off the semi-rare trick of a double Oscar nomination in one category competing with himself for Best Art Direction with Bugsy (1991) and Barton Fink (1991), two absurdly handsome films. Bugsy won but it's oh so satisfying that both nominations were deserved. 

The narrative of this, it's going to be groundbreaking. It's going to be a new chapter. So it's really about finding things that are different and exciting for the audience to look at."
-Gassner on designing Skyfall 

Other credits include The Golden Compass, Road to Perdition, The Man Who Wasn't There, Big Fish. In short he's up there with the best of 'em like Rick Heinrichs, David Wasco, and Dante Ferretti.

But obviously James Bond movies don't court Oscar favor. The entire franchise only has 9 nominations and 2 wins if you can believe it. There's been zero Oscar attention for 30 years! For Your Eyes Only's (1981) song nomination was the last for the franchise. Not even the major critical / audience revival that was Casino Royale (2006) won any attention from the Academy so the conversation ends there even with Gassner designing its look.

Useless Trivia of the Day: only one James Bond movie was ever nominated in the Art Direction category and that was The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) which is Oscar's favorite James Bond film (3 nominations).

Have you ever worn a beret?  


Mad Men @ The Movies: Born Free, Feeling Trapped

In this series we explore the connections between Mad Men and the cinema. Season five has, thus far, not used the movies as much as they have in previous seasons. Though it's also possible that blogging concurrently with airings could result in missed references. Needless to say, I am behind so let's discuss the past couple of weeks of Mad Men.

Driving lessons for sad Pete Campbell

5.5 "Signal 30"
This episode focused on Pete, one of the show's least likeable characters who has, over the course of five years, grown more sympathetic and even more admirable while not really becoming more likeable per se. It's a nifty balancing act that actor Vincent Kartheiser performs tremendously well. Other than fame and fortune, this has been a thankless character for him as his fellow cast members have reaped abundant nominations (if strangely no wins) and increased big screen traction. If they have any sense this will be Kartheiser's Emmy submission episode for Season Five. A repeating motif in which Pete had to watch those old scare-tactic car crash documentaries they used to show in Drivers Ed courses was also stealthily employed. (Now that he's a suburban husband, he has to learn to drive.) Even though Pete was foolishly attempting to cheat on his wife Trudy (so charming even Don Draper is a fan!) with a teenager, and even though he got a well deserved beat down (literally) from Lane, the episode managed the miraculous feat of making you feel altogether bad for him as he struggles to grow up; Pete still looks like a little boy but he no longer feels like one.

Mrs Ken Cosgrove, Mrs Pete Campbell, Mrs Don DraperAging has been a theme of this season, from fatigue to illness to a widening gap between the younger and older characters mindsets. Great, great episode that even managed to thread in a B plot for the oft underused Ken Crosgrove (Aaron Staton) and also a key one for Janie Bryant's always thrilling costume design. (Fact: Janie Bryant never winning the Emmy for Mad Men should be a true embarassment to the entire television industry.) A 

 5.6 "Far Away Places"
Movie Theater Scene Alert! It's always a delight when Mad Men takes us inside a movie theater. Don Draper used to play hooky there in the early seasons and last year he and Lane got drunk and went to a monster movie together. Strangely the very next movie theater scene within the series also involves a character behaving badly. The cinema corrupts them!

The episode begins with Peggy fighting with her boyfriend who wants to see a movie that night. 




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Adam Yauch (1964-2012)

Michelle Williams, Kelly Reichart and Adam Yauch at a Meeks Cutoff party. Photographed by Nicholas Hunt © PatrickMcMullan.comAdam Yauch, MCA of the Beastie Boys, has passed away at 47. I've been reading a few fine obits but I don't have much in a personal way to say. I liked the band a lot though I couldn't call myself a devotee; they (hip)hopped in and out of my life but were often somewhere to be found on my mix tapes (remember those?)

It's a major loss to both the music and movie worlds. Yauch took up many causes in his lifetime from the Right (To Party) to Free Tibet to Independent Film as a founder of Oscilloscope Laboratories. Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams careers just wouldn't have been the same without the fine job Oscilloscope did pushing the moving Wendy & Lucy and the unsettling Meek's Cutoff to audiences.

Favorite Beastie Boys song? I have two.

The runner up is "Intergalactic" and Adam Yauch himself directed the video (under the pseudonym of Nathanial Hörnblowér)

But my absolute favorite of their songs was one that never quite caught on called "Alive". I listened to it incessantly, loved its progressive politics being fused so effortlessly to clever rhymes and beats. The song took on the 1% before it was a thing to do so, and spoke out against homophobia and racism and generally dickery -- "who in the world do you want to fight? it's against the system we should unite" -- this song meant so much to me in 1999.

Yauch directed this one, too.

Well you can shuffle number but facts is facts
So many billionaires while so many lacks
So before the poor decide to react
Well Come on party people and share up your stacks
Now i'm a break it down to the brass tacks
Do the Biz Mark dance and the cabbage patch
You try to turn the key but then you broke the latch
Sneak into my files for some rhymes to snatch
I'd like to have a say i'm the income tax
Don't wanna help build bombs and that's the facts
No money for health care so what's the catch
The man got you locked with no key to the latch
Mike and Adam have got my back
You bring the mics and we'll bring the rap
Turn on the P.A. and rock your shack
Don't smoke cheeba can't stand crack 

Dip dip dive so-socialize
Open up your ears and clean out your eyes
If you learn to love you're in for a surprise
it could be nice to be alive


The Power of Blog Compels You

Remember to join us for The Exorcist discussion next Wednesday night.

If you've never participated in the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series, it's a good time to start. Just post your favorite single shot from the pre-selected movie to your web home wherever that me and tell us why you chose it. We'll link up.

Wed 05/09 THE EXORCIST (1973) ~currently available on Netflix Instant Watch
Wed 05/16 EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) ~currently available on Netflix Instant Watch
Wed 05/23 POSSESSED (1948)

"Hit Me" could use some fresh blood so tell your movie-loving friends to join in, too. Doesn't everybody love The Exorcist? (Well except for me since I've never seen it. gulp)


The Link Initiative

The Avengers Initiative
Wired the physics of the Hulk's jump
Monkey See suggests some other team-up films that should follow The Avengers. Love the ending. Hee!
Guardian have you heard this ridiculously whiny Samuel L Jackson story? He's incensed that AO Scott gave The Avengers a thumbs down. I like AO Scott. The New York Times critic was at my screening and patiently waited in line. NY 1's Neil Rosen thought himself way too important to wait and just walked to the front. How do you like them apples? 
Scanners Jim Emerson sounds off on this same controversy (the Jackson vs Scott thing not Rosen's apples!) 

Not Relation
Empire Joseph Gordon-Levitt may headline a remake of Little Shop of Horrors (1986). Uh, good luck finding another Ellen Greene.
Coming Soon Sharlto Copley (District 9) is lining up a lot of movies. He next stars in Old Grave then Old Boy (the two films are not related) and now maybe Maleficent with Angelina Jolie
Details The Friday Night Lights movie is on! Squeeeeeeee
Cinema Blend Kellan Lutz will play a motion capture animated Tarzan in another adventure for the vine swinging ape man
The Wrap in the most important news of the century Demi Moore changes her twitter handle. She's no longers Mrs Kutcher 
Towleroad Anna Paquin "being bisexual is actually a thing"
Next Movie summer blockbusters reimagined as indies via their posters 

California readers take note: There's a three benefit celebrity-hosted performance of The Last Five Years in Hollywood this weekend. It's easily one of the five best original musicals to emerge in the last 10 years and you can buy tickets here. I can't imagine how it will quite work in terms of cumulative emotion with a rotating cast -- it's a two person musical in which the lovers tell their story forwards (the man) and backwards (the woman) simultaneously but it so transcends its gimmick. If you've never seen it, go. If you're not near Hollywood, give the CD a chance if you love musicals. 

I use to want to see it made into a movie but it's probably better left untouched since it's so very much a stage piece.


Maggie Cheung, DJ?

 Every once in a while I remember to miss Maggie Cheung muchly. But she's been gone so long now. We haven't seen her onscreen since 2004 when she cameo'ed in 2046 and grunged her way through Clean as a drug addicted wife in the rock scene. I understand she returned to screens briefly for two Chinese films in 2010 but neither of them crossed the pond. 

Well yesterday in Taipei she cut the ribbon at the new Louis Vitton flagship and look how fresh and kicky she looks ===>

Tony, one of my most trusted reader sources for international film star news, pointed this story out to me and translated a bit of the attached video. I'll let him explain from here:

She even served as DJ of the evening! Wouldn't you just LOVE to know
what kind of music she plays?!

 The host of the event very tentatively asks her about when we might see her on the big screen again. Her answer: 'When the right script comes along, I don't rule out the possibility to work again.'

Arrrrg. Somebody send Ms. Cheung the RIGHT script, please!!!"

I second that. It doesn't even need to be in Chinese, filmmakers. What the hell are all you auteurs waiting for? She speaks English and French (witness her fine work for Olivier Assayas in Clean and Irma Vep) as well as Cantonese and Mandarin so there are a LOT of filmmakers who are missing out and failing us.

Get on it, people. 

If you've never experienced the Maggie Magic here's your quintuple feature assignment. Program yourself a mini Maggie fest:

THE HEROIC TRIO (1993)... because it's insane
COMRADES: ALMOST A LOVE STORY (1996)... melancholy swooning
IRMA VEP (1996) ...Maggie plays herself
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2001) of the greatest films of all time
HERO (2002) ...for the ravishing color and action


"Gravity" is Now Test Screening

One of 2012's most anticipated features, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, is far enough along now that it's test screening. All we know (and want to know!) of its plot is the synopsis which goes like so "The lone survivor of a space mission to repair the Hubble telescope desperately tries to return to Earth and reunite with her daughter."

Sandra and Child and George Clooney on the set of "Gravity"

I heard from a Film Experience reader in California shortly after he exited a test screening and I thank him for not telling me plot details! (I can't be the only one who wants to be surprised at the movies anymore). He guiltily prefaced things with "I know I'm not supposed to speak about the movie" but he was too excited not to share calling Cuarón "insanely monumental" though he confirmed my suspicions that the film will prove divisive. 

Gravity is Cuaron’s masterpiece. It’s gonna be divided. Half will think it’s a self-indulgent borefest and half will think it’s amazingly brilliant. The movie is 80% just Sandra Bullock!

He went on to say that he thinks its her best work, particular in the final fifteen minutes (from which he assumes they'll draw an Oscar clip should that time come) but that the film is Cuarón's. He called likely nominations for Visual Effects, Picture, Director, Editing ("breathless" action), and Cinematography which he calls "amazing". Regarding the latter, though, did anyone expect less from eternal Oscar bridesmaid Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life, Children of Men) and Michael Seresin (Midnight Express)? 
Sandra on set. Bruise makeup?
You'll recall that the ambitious project had great difficulty finding its film-carrying female lead (supposedly Angelina Jolie turned it down twice and Natalie Portman once). So as for Best Actress...
If this is a runaway crowd pleaser, then count Bullock in."
Are you counting Sandy and Gravity in?



TFE's Readers Assemble

My brain is all occupied with superhero roll calls -- I'm currently writing my review of The Avengers -- so while I type away do share your random movie thoughts...


  • Whats on your cinematic mind?
  • Which movie superhero are you least sick of? (They just won't go away!)
  • If you had to be rescued by a superhero who do you hope it would be? 
  • If you're seeing The Avengers this weekend we'll talk about it soon when the review goes up but if you aren't, what will you see as counterprogramming?