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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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SAG Ensemble Predictions

"How is no one talking about the kids from IT????? They were amazing" - David

"I think Girls Trip makes it. Or st least Tiffany Haddish gets a nod. Right now, I’m thinking both?" - Roger

"In terms of crazy nominations that will never happen in a million years, I'd be elated to see something like The Beguiled or mother! nominated." - Film Junkie

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Thursday
Jul212016

Pick Your Poison: The Hallmark Homages of Stranger Things

Daniel Crooke here. For the past two weeks, I've walled myself off from any pop cultural offering that doesn't include the letters LGBT while working around the clock at Outfest Los Angeles, our seminal, international queer film festival here in the City of Angels. Naturally the only external filmic force strong enough to infiltrate this border includes the words Winona Ryder. Slay, queen, slay.

I too have taken a long, hungry taste of the ananchronistic (and extra-colorful) Kool-Aid that is Netflix's '80s-set Stranger Things, the sci-fi outing that investigates a humdrum Indiana small town as a local young 'un mysteriously disappears in their midsts without warning. Much has been made of the homage-heavy layers that bake into its Spielbergian, Carpenteresque, Lynchian, and Stephen King-adjacent baklava; although the reason it succeeds beyond the hat-tip recipe can be found within the rich, nitty gritty filling of its heart-achingly true familial dynamics, of which Super 8 would have been smart to expand upon beyond the basic ingredients. So let's take a big bite and revel in its delicious influences. My personal favorite so far - despite Ryder's irresistible parallel to Melinda Dillon's momma bear on a misson from Close Encounters of the Third Kind - goes beyond bicycles and plunges the references to disturbing depths.


Jonathan's secret photo shoot in the woods recalls Blue Velvet's voyeuristic view from the closet; despite their quests for homegrown veracity, neither he nor Jeffrey were invited to the peep shows of a teenage pool party or a transgressive Rossellini-Hopper assault, but they've shown up in the shadows nonetheless. And yet we're still glad to be in on the drama. We've spent some time getting to know the traumatic roots of their curiosity via their displaced family units but these Peeping Toms challenge that sympathy through sensually clandestine invasions of personal space.

Apart from the bedroom posters of The Thing and Evil Dead, which Stranger Things visual reference sets your bicycle afloat?

Wednesday
Jul202016

Garry Marshall (1934-2016)

One of Hollywood's key figures passed away yesterday at the age of 81. His work in the past five years has consisted of a string of critically lambasted all star romcoms (Valentines Day, New Year's Eve, Mothers Day) and the day before he died one of the many actor he made famous (Scott Baio of Happy Days Joanie Loves Chachi fame) embarrassed himself on national television at the RNC. To put it bluntly, the last few years have not been kind but this is not the legacy that the beloved Garry Marshall deserves. We need to look a little further back. While he was never exactly a critic's darling - let's not rewrite history -- his work often resonated wildly with the public on screens both small and large. And that, my friends, is no small thing with or without a shelf of showbiz trophies.

He was a mammoth figure in comedy television, first, coming up as a writer on seminal shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and famous properties like The Lucy Show. After developing The Odd Couple for television (1970-1975) he created three true pop culture behemoths in Happy Days (1974-1984), Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) and Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), the latter introducing the public to Robin Williams with whom they fell madly in love.

In the movies, and this is also no small thing, he was irreplaceable when it came to the careers of mainstream superstar actresses in both the 1980s and 1990s. He directed one of Goldie Hawn's most enduring hits (Overboard), one of Bette Midler's melodramatic bests (Beaches) and he was instrumental in the superstar blossoming of both Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) and Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries). He also guided Michelle Pfeiffer through one of her most controversial roles  (Frankie & Johnny) but even though everyone argued miscasting she made fine work of it. He even tried to help Lindsay Lohan along (Georgia Rule) but it's hardly his fault that that didn't take. He was not without his missteps of course (Raising Helen, The Other Sister, Exit to Eden) but who isn't? 

My personal favorite Garry Marshall movie, BEACHES (1988)Laverne & Shirley starring his sister Penny (who also became a director)

Do you have a favorite film or television show from his resume? There are a lot of choices as his work was so deeply embedded in our pop culture for decades on end. 

Wednesday
Jul202016

What's on your cinematic mind?

Do tell in the comments. We're searching for inspiration... 

Wednesday
Jul202016

Beauty Break: Natalie Wood Forever

My first true actress love as a wee boy watching her movies on TV whenever they'd pop up. She would have been 78 today. Happy Birthday in the Cosmic Cinema Pantheon, Natalie. Here are 12 glorious photos of her and a few listicles...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul202016

Judy by the Numbers: "Get Happy"

In 'Judy by the Numbers' Anne Marie looks back at Garland's career through key songs

By the time Judy Garland turned 28, her entire adult life and her entire star persona had been a product of MGM. In 1950, Judy Garland's image - as cultivated by MGM and the Freed Unit - was of an exuberant talent, small in stature but big in heart and voice; a buoyant box office sensation. However, the reality was different. In the 13 months between the release of In The Good Old Summertime and Summer Stock, Judy Garland fought drug addiction, rehab, an increasingly strained marriage, an unsympathetic studio, and a suicide attempt that made headlines worldwide. Filmed before her attempt but released two months after it, Summer Stock is a record of the conflict between the image of Judy Garland and the reality of Frances Gumm.

The Movie: Summer Stock (1950)
The Songwriters: Harold Arlen (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Eddie Bracken, Gloria de Haven, directed by Charles Walters 

The Story: "Get Happy" is the number that shouldn't be from the movie that shouldn't exist. Neither Judy Garland nor Gene Kelly was supposed to be in Summer Stock.  Judy had just dropped from Annie Get Your Gun and entered rehab, and Gene's star was rising with Arthur Freed. However, Joe Pasternak coaxed them into another picture, a return to form based on the old Rooney/Garland "let's put on a show!" model. Though it was intended to be a triumphant return, ultimately Judy lags through much of Summer Stock, which needs her energy to carry through a plodding plot. She looks and sounds a little slower, though sources disagree on why - either she was recovering from rehab or further spiralling into addiction. 

In this context - and even out of it - "Get Happy" is a shock. Filmed months later at Judy's insistence, with design and directorial help from husband Vincente Minnelli, the number shows Judy shining like she hasn't in a while. She's sexy, she's witty, she's beaming, and she's urbane in a way that sticks out from her nostalgia-laced image. Even without the maelstrom of malady surrounding her, this would be a defining number for Judy. With this backstory, "Get Happy" takes on another meaning too - the "fix." If Summer Stock is the movie where Judy Garland's facade slipped, then "Get Happy" is the number that restored it, at least temporarily. Don't worry about the exhaustion! Judy's back, and better than ever. Forget your troubles!

The fix was a public one only. Though Summer Stock was a success, Judy and MGM parted ways in 1951. Divorced from the studio that had raised her, Judy Garland would find the 1950s to be both happy and heartbreaking. She would live out private struggles in public, and her image would change from child star to musical maiden to something more complicated. For some stars, the tragedies of their lives become as image-defining as their successes.

Tuesday
Jul192016

Best Shot(s): Disney's "Zootopia"

Each year we throw an animated movie into the mix of our Best Shot season. It's a handy reminder that Best Shot is about more than just camera work and lighting actors and sets but how filmmaking teams choose to tell the stories they're telling. But even if we think of it only as a celebration of cinematography, animated films have been upping their game there, too, famously hiring high profile cinematographers as consultants as CG animation really took over the world in the last 20 years.

Since we're counting on Zootopia,  one of the year's most beloved films, to be one of the nominees (though it's too early to say "frontrunner") for Best Animated Feature we give it pride of place here today now that it's out on BluRay and DVD. My own choice will come tomorrow due to a last minute screening. But please do enjoy these Best Shot articles from around the web today.

ZOOTOPIA
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush 
Production Design by: David Goetz and Dan Cooper
Lighting: There are over 45 people listed in Zootopia's credits with "lighting" in their title. 

There are so many great things about this film, but it's its world building I'd like to focus on...
-Sorta That Guy 

People say the messaging is too heavy-handed... I would like to introduce you to something called a FABLE!
- Rachel's Reviews 

It's so damn noir... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

Despite how simple and brief, it still manages to be the defining moment of the film...
-Conman at the Movies *new participant*


The film’s lesson of appearances vitally works in both ways...
-Film Mix Tape

Judy and Nick’s arc is great. And for me, it culminates here...
- Storyphile 

I have a lot of feels about this masterwork...
-Anna, Look! *new participant*

 

Next Week's Special Party (Monday-Friday)
1977's Cinematography Nominees. Pick one of the five films and join us. Details here!