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 


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What'cha Looking For?

Curio: Clay Creations

Alexa here. With Frozen being the only thing on my young daughter's mind these days, I've been searching for some non-Disney-manufactured goodies to please her. (Yes, I'm stubborn that way. If we saw the film why not just buy the related merchandise, you ask? Because I'm a curmudgeon.) In my search for the perfect handmade Olaf I fell down an etsy rabbit hole of clay creations.

Some selections from my excursions...

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Sundance: Puccini Goes Avant-Garde

Sundance coverage continues with Glenn on "The Girl from Nagasaki"

Avant-garde cinema isn’t for all audiences. The Girl from Nagasaki proves that it’s not for all directors, either. For whatever virtues Michel Conte has as an artist and a photographer (of which I am unfamiliar), filmmaking may not be of the same league. His debut feature, co-directed alongside his wife Ayako Yoshida, is a wild re-interpretation of Puccini’s famed Japanese-set opera, Madame Butterfly that dissolves into an assault of seemingly meaningless imagery; an experimental, visually symphonic and unfortunately misjudged piece of cinema.

Taking the story of Cio-Cio San and her breakdown at the absence of her American soldier husband and father of her child, Conte’s film at least fails while attempting something bizarrely different. Sadly, in his effort to turn the table on the conventions of narrative film, he has crafted a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster with bits and pieces grafted from the likes of Peter Greenaway, Tarsem Singh and Alejandro Jodorowsky and yet which lacks the profound power found in those artists’ works and compositions. Including crucifixion and BDSM fetish imagery, performance art and meta stylisation, it can’t help but feel like a confused hodge-podge of ideas that never form into a compelling whole.

Beginning with what appears to be a (admittedly impressive) visual effects company demo-reel of the explosion of the nuclear bomb over Nagasaki, it’s worth it as a work of intriguing technological ideas – and in 3D no less – but Conte falls too often into the sort of ridiculous embellishments that people mock experimental cinema for. I’m not sure what the director was trying to say with repetitive sequences of Geisha women rolling around in slick paint, but I assume he got the idea from a fashion photography layout. At the opposite end, a sequence involving David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is particularly laughable for its bonkers and obvious use of symbolism. By the time Cio-Cio’s descent into mental breakdown occurs in the third act there is little to distinguish it from the rest of the movie.

Unlike some of the giants of avant-garde cinema like Luis Buñuel’s kinetic and disturbing Un Chien Andelou, Bruce Conner’s own nuclear bomb montage Crossroads, or Sidney Peterson’s The Petrified Dog, Conte’s film wears out its welcome all to quickly around the time Christopher Lee (!!) emerges amidst a dinner party of faceless Japanese geisha mannequins. The images, some intoxicating and beautiful, rarely feel as if they hold any weight or new insight into the tragic operatic tale. I’ve had Malcolm McLaren’s delicious 1984 “Madame Butterfly” in my head ever since seeing it, and at only six minutes long it still proves to be a radically more satisfying twist on the Puccuni original than The Girl from Nagasaki

Grade: C-
Distribution: Unlikely, although even whilst disliking the film I would applaud anybody for taking it on board. 


Sundance: Mark Ruffalo is a Bipolar Bear

Sundance coverage continues with Nathaniel on Maya Forbes' "Infinitely Polar Bear"

Remember when people used to dump on Silver Linings Playbook for reducing mental illness to cutesy romcom obstacles? That! Only this time the drubbing is fully earned. A disclaimer before we begin: I am preternaturally disposed to enjoy Mark Ruffalo's Ruffalosity in any of its varieties or sizes so I queued up for Infinitely Polar Bear, despite my gut instincts warning me away. (One must always be weary of star vehicles at indie festivals because a famous face alone can win a movie a prized festival slot. If a movie made by unknowns and starring unknowns gets into a festival there's generally more reason to hope that it got there on pure merit.)  [more...]

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The Stir Laura Linney had a baby despite none of us knowing she was pregnant
The Wire Joe Reid plans to see all 58 Oscar nominated movies from 2013 
LA Times George Clooney pretends to be pissed about Tina Fey's Golden Globes joke 
Gawker loves the idea of Detroit getting a bronze Robocop statue. It needs a hero! 

Film School Rejects
as I predicted Margot Robbie is wracking up the roles in the wake of Wolf of Wall St
Interview Magazine Kanye West interviewed by Steve McQueen. Expect quotables 

/Film what's going on with Nicolas Winding Refn's Barbarella TV series? 
previouslytv "your crotch is not that interesting" on HBO's Looking 
Vulture on the new and improved Lady Edith on Downton Abbey 
Coming Soon Jason Isaacs is joining the Rosemary's Baby tv miniseries as Roman Castavet (good part!) ... and word is that Zoe Saldana may get the famous pixie cut for it

Looking premiered and I missed it. But more when i catch up with it

a chain reaction
NY Times has a piece about why it might be better for the cinema if there were less movies each year. It's an interesting article that I mostly agree with though I wholeheartedly wish that Manohla hadn't felt the need to diss Iron Man 3 which is hardly the best example of junk blockbusters out there -- at least it was trying something vaguely new, making a Tony Stark movie rather than an Iron Man movie essentially. But let's not get distracted. Her piece was provocative asking for curation over consumption for programmers and money people. 
The New Yorker disagrees, arguing that we only get the great discoveries because so many indie films are made. You can't predict which new artists will actually deliver. 
The Front Row takes this as an opportunity to talk about what the purpose of film criticism is in the internet era and then
Mark Harris comments, too
...all of which gives us plenty to think about. 


Sundance: With "Boyhood", We Can Officially Crown Richard Linklater King of Longform Cinema

Our Sundance Film Festival continues with Nathaniel on Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" 

Life can sneak up on you. Individual moments may linger and shape us but most of life's power is cumulative. It's all in the daily living. When narrative art wants to approach the impossibly grand subjects of Life Itself or at least whole huge swaths of it like Falling in Love or Coming of Age or Starting Over, it's usually in the form of a snapshot: one season, one day, one year, one life-changing event. Richard Linklater's incredible Boyhood, 12 years in the making and longer still gestating before that, starts small. When we first meet Mason Jr (Eller Coltrane) he's a boy of 6 or 7, and not that much different than any little boy... staring at clouds, playing outside, fighting with his sister. But Boyhood has much larger scope and Linklater wanders right out of the singular snapshot and bicycles straight for the mosaic. And what a mosaic! [more...]

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PGA Shocks With a Best Picture Tie

My head is spinning as fast as Sandra Bullock's  tiny white spacesuit body during Gravity's terrifying opening calamity. The Producers Guild of America, which could have ended the Oscar race with a win for American Hustle, which had been gaining strength via high profile Globe and SAG wins, opted out. They looked elsewhere, two elsewheres to be specific: Gravity and 12 Years a Slave tied for their top prize. [more...]

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