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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Which screenplays are most quotable?

"Inside out FTW. 'I loved you in Fairy Dream Adventure Part 7. Okay bye. I love you!'" - Teppo

"My number one that I now say whenever the occasion is delivered by Carol: 'It will get ugly. And we are not ugly people...'"- Jones

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Stage Door: 'As One' by Kimberly Reed

Glenn here to discuss the latest excursion to the live stage.

It can be easy to bemoan the fate that befalls many female filmmakers. Lord knows I have often found myself lamenting the post breakthrough careers of the likes of Patty Jenkins, Courtney Hunt and others. Those filmmakers for whom a great early work somehow doesn’t permit them the same carte blanche movie projects as male directors like, for example, Marc Webb who got The Amazing Spider-Man off the back of a slight, but popular romantic comedy whereas Kimberly Peirce won her star an Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry and yet it took nine years for a follow-up. Still, as frustrating as it must be to them and to moviegoers when (I assume) financing doesn’t come to them quite as quickly or as robustly as it might another, we thankfully live in a society that doesn’t mean they have to sit around idly letting their creative juices stop flowing. One of the benefits of the expanding TV universe, for instance, is a greater opportunity for female directors like Jodie Foster, an Emmy nominee for directing an episode of Orange is the New Black, and Jennifer Lynch, for whom Teen Wolf and Psych have allowed more opportunities than film ever has.

This is basically a far too long roundabout way of getting to Kimberly Reed, the director of the fantastic 2008 documentary Prodigal Sons. That film’s autobiographical nature wherein Reed documented her small town high school reunion having since transitioned only to then be simultaneously confronted by the realization that her adopted brother is the biological grandson of Hollywood royalty was perhaps suggesting that film wasn’t always the direction she wanted to take her career. Yet it was an exceptionally good movie, and one that deserved to breed a wider voice for Reed and issues of transgender (six years later and it has finally reached the mainstream). For what it’s worth, I only cottoned on to to Prodigal Sons after having read about on The Film Experience.

While I am unaware of what Reed has been doing in the intervening years, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she was one of the names behind As One, an intimate chamber opera that played this past weekend at BAM in Brooklyn. Many artists will find any means necessary to tell the stories that are inside them and whether Reed had a hard go of it getting a second film off the ground or not, the emergence of her point of view in any creative outlet is something to cherish.

More after the jump...

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Robert Wise Centenary: Star! (1968)

For Robert Wise's centennial, we're looking back on a random selection of his films beyond the familiar mega-hits (The Sound of Music & West Side Story) which we are far more prone to talk about. Here's Manuel discussing Star! (1968).

With its succinctly confident title (exclamation mark and all) Star! is that other Julie Andrews/Robert Wise musical. The film is a biopic of Gertrude Lawrence,  a celebrated English performer who rose up from music halls to become a famed fixture on the West End and Broadway (see why Andrews seemed like such a great fit?). At 176 minutes, the film tests the patience of even those of us enamored with Andrews, musicals, and showbiz dramas.

Much like the very form that made Gertie a star, the film feels like a revue musical more so than a cohesive narrative of or about Gertie’s life. Parents, children, husbands, friends and lovers, come in and out of focus but rarely stay for long enough to create any sort of tension, especially as the movie is intent on barreling through Gertie’s life to give us (count ‘em!) fifteen full musical numbers.

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Learning the Power of Knowledge from "Pleasantville"

Back to school week continues with Abstew on Pleasantville...

Let's face it, sometimes school can be a real drag. When you're not trying to find your place among the social circles (which is just as much work as any assignment a teacher could give), there's the constant pressure of doing well academically so that you can go to a good college so that you won't waste your life! (Nope, no pressure at all...) When David (a pre-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire) isn't having imaginary conversations with pretty girls that are out of his league, he has to sit through bleak lectures that are so depressing in their statistics that it kinda makes you just wanna give-up:

For those of you going on to college next year, the chance of finding a good job will actually decrease by the time you graduate. The available number of entry level jobs will drop 31% over the next 4 years. Median income for those jobs will go down as well. Obviously, my friends, it's a competitive world. And good grades are your only ticket through. In fact by the year 2000...

...Contracting HIV from a non-monogamous lifestyle will climb to 1 in 150. The odds of dying in an auto accident are only 1 in 2,500. Now this marks a drastic increase...

...14 years ago when ozone depletion was just at 10% the current level. By the time you are 30 years old, the average global temperature will have risen 2.5 degrees. Causing such catastrophic consequences as typhoons, floods, widespread drought, and famine. Okay...who can tell me what "famine" is?

Yikes. No wonder David seeks out the simpler times captured in the 1950's sitcom world of his favorite show "Pleasantville". [more...]

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Monday
Sep082014

TIFF: The Last Five Years

Nathaniel's adventures in Toronto. Day 3

The first thing you see in The Last Five Years is a white brownstone. It looks almost like a ghost in the middle of a New York City block. As the notes begin to play, the camera drifts upwards to peer into windows and search for its movie star within them. No, that's not her.  Not her either. Ah, there she is. Anna Kendrick sings the entirety of "Still Hurting", moping around a dark apartment, crying. The camera moves around her (in strange patterns) and her voice is just beautiful. And then I realize I've forgotten to breathe and am gripping my armrest.

I have a strange relationship to modern movie musicals. We're about 14 years into the movie musical's modern resurgence after two decades of a major drought but it's still hit and miss as to quality and success (not necessarily related). I always desperately want them to be great since there are so few. The fact is, though it's grossly unfair, each of them bears far more responsibility in keeping an entire genre alive than any action, horror, drama, epic or comedy out there. I have trouble relaxing watching them because of all this pressure and only when the film is gobsmackingly great or confident (like a Moulin Rouge!) do the "ohmygodpleasedontkillthemusical" nerves subside and just let me thrill to what's in front of me. 

more...

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Monday
Sep082014

Robert Wise Centenary: I Want to Live! (1958)

We're celebrating the centennial of director Robert Wise this week. Previously: Tim on "Curse of the Cat People" (1944) and Nathaniel on "Somebody Up There...". Now, David on Susan Hayward's Oscar vehicle, with an exclamation point!
 


Though the internet seems to increasingly denigrate the importance of punctuation, once upon a time it was vital to our sense of understanding language. Would I Want To Live! have any of the same feverish impact without that exclamation mark at the end of its title? Perhaps. But it signifies the bold stance of this cry for social justice in a millisecond. I mean, just look at this poster! Only Britain's notorious newspaper The Daily Mail has taglines that long these days.

That boldness is a quality more of the film's frenzied marketing than of the film itself; director Robert Wise, whose centennial we're marking this week, excised the closing rhetoric that producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz was insisting upon, sure that if an audience wasn't convinced of the film's social statement by then, a few platitudes wouldn't make a difference. As our series of pieces has and will demonstrate, Wise was an extremely adaptable filmmaker who transcended genre, but he often pursued work that aligned with his anti-establishment politics.

Never more so than here [More...]

 

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Monday
Sep082014

Curio: Movies By Color

Alexa here with your weekly fix of film art. I've always thought color impacts the mood of a film greatly: the pops of red in Pulp Fiction, the moody blue noir of Blade Runner, the dominant earth tones in The Big Lebowski. Along these lines, there has been a mini-trend lately of designers abstracting films according to their color palettes. My favorite is by designer Charlie Clark.  Clark's project, titled "The Colors of Motion," takes the average hue from each frame of a film and then presents the frames together as horizontal stripes or square tiles. Distilled down to their palettes, The Matrix becomes a sea of green and black, and Frozen becomes a patchwork of dark blues and browns.

more...

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