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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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TOM JONES + LIZ TAYLOR + SIDNEY POITIER
deep dive podcast with the '63 smackdown 

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Guest Actress in a Drama
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"Something I thought I'd never say, but Alexis Bledel deserves the Emmy" -Arlo

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Wednesday
Apr062016

RPDR S8.5: Like a *Blank*

Chris here, filling in for Nathaniel's weekly recap of RuPaul's Drag Race. This week was everyone's perennial favorite: Snatch Game! Past seasons have made this celebrity impersonation challenge a complete game changer, catapulting contenders like Jinkx Monsoon and Chad Michaels straight to the finals. In fact, only one Snatch Game winner has ever placed less than fifth place: season three's Stacy Layne Matthews (performing as Mo'Nique via her Oscar-winning Precious performance).

You could easily argue that this challenge is more anticipated than the season finale's crowning, and after last season's unmemorable edition, fans were hungry for this year's queens to bring the laughs.

S8.05 "Supermodel Snatch Game"

And it brings me no joy to tell you that the episode was an unfortunate dud.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr062016

Tveit Me, Baby. Or Leave Me

We didn't do our usual Stage Door column this past Monday (on account of no theater trips this week) so let's talk Aaron Tveit since we're focusing on male actors for a change this month. While he originally made his mark in stage musicals (including in the DiCaprio role in Catch Me If You Can) the small screen seems to have eaten up his time since. Nevertheless this week's "Miscast" benefit concert reminded us of his inarguable charisma. (More on that concert in a minute)

 

He hasn't done enough movies given how perfect he was as Enjolras in Les Misérables (2012) but at least we got to see him do Grease Live early this year. Unfortunately he's highly vulnerable right now at falling into the trap that many stage stars do where they end up wasted in TV genres like political, hospital, lawyer, or cop shows  that actors with far less broad-ranging gifts could play just as well as they do. Their musical gifts end up completely invisible/wasted. See most of Mandy Patinkin's & Audra McDonald's TV careers. (Obviously Patinkin is excellent on Homeland but his TV career has been... strange)

The gold standard for current stage stars trying to make it on TV is arguably Sutton Foster...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr062016

HBO’s LGBT History: Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures (2016)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we talked about race in HBO’s LGBT properties while briefly discussing Dee Rees’s Bessie. If there’s one thing media in general (but gay media in particular) needs to work on is intersectionality: ay attempt, for example, at framing the gay rights movement as “the new civil rights” movement not only suggests the plight of black people in America has been “won” but it refuses to understand how they intersect in sometimes very troubling ways. This week we're jumping on HBO's most recent release, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, which aired just this past Monday and which I got to see last week in the big screen. Not only is the doc wonderful, featuring candid interviews with those who knew (and posed for!) him, but it dovetails nicely with these issues of sex and race that we keep discussing.

The film borrows its subtitle from the famous words Jesse Helms used during a congressional hearing about Mapplethorpe's "pornographic" pictures: "Look at the pictures!" he implored, arguing that one couldn't deny the fact that they were not art. Cannily, this HBO documentary lets us admire plenty of Mapplethorpe's pictures—I didn’t count but the doc is exhaustive, showing us hundreds of photographs, scanned and offered up to us for close inspection. 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr062016

Beauty Break: Olympic Actors

As Google reminds us today is the anniversary of the very first Olympic games way back in 1896. What better time than now then for a beauty break featuring actors (this is the Film Experience after all) with Olympic history. Know this going in: Hollywood was OBSESSED with swimmers for a long time.

Let's kick it off with the original Flash Gordon Buster Crabbe. Here are eight Olympic Beauties with acting careers after the jump...

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Wednesday
Apr062016

Interview: Chris Cooper on 'Demolition', Creating Characters, and His Favorite Actors

April is Actor Month at TFE. Here's Jose in conversation with one of our best.


In person, Chris Cooper exudes the same suave charm he has onscreen, when we sit down to discuss his work in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition and I refer to him as “Mr. Cooper” he shakes his head and says “call me Chris”. From his oddly approachable John Laroche in Adaptation, to his tough but sensitive Tom Smith in Seabiscuit, Cooper has perfected the art of creating “the memorable everyman”. In Demolition he plays Phil, a man who must cope with the death of his daughter in an accident, and has to learn how to forgive his son-in-law Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) for having survived. Most of Cooper’s scenes involve harsh encounters with Gyllenhaal’s character, who has lost all sense of societal propriety rather than paying tribute to the legacy of his wife.

When I speak to Vallée about the qualities his cast brought to the film, he explained “I observe and try not to interfere with the actors, they use all the space around them, they put stamina and spirit into it”, you can see this in the way with which Cooper in particular moves as if he’s completely unaware that his character exists at the service of a story. He couldn’t seem more comfortable in this fictitious man’s skin if he tried. I spoke to Chris about his process, how he uses external elements to discover the men he plays, and to celebrate Actor’s Month we ended up discussing his favorite thespians.

Our conversation follows...

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Wednesday
Apr062016

Judy by the Numbers: "It's A Great Day for the Irish"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Have you heard the good news? April is Judy Garland month on TCM! Check your local listings to see the movies surrounding the numbers we've discussed, and the ones we haven't gotten to yet!

Before the end of 1940, young Judy Garland got two major kudos from Metro Goldwyn Mayer. First, her weekly salary was increased from $600 to $2,000. Second, MGM made her the top-billed star of another Freed Unit musical. No longer just Mickey Rooney's mooning gal pal, Judy Garland would finally get to play another leading role - in fact, in this movie she'd do it twice!

The Movie: Little Nellie Kelly (MGM 1940)
The Songwriter: Roger Edens
The Players: Judy Garland, George Murphy, Charles Winniger, Douglas McPhail, directed by Norman Taurog

The Story: Little Nellie Kelly was based on a hit George M. Cohan musical from 1922. However, any Cohan fans looking for a trip down memory lane would have been sorely disappointed - the movie only contained 2 of Cohan's original songs. The rest of the film was filled to the brim with the Freed Unit's usual tricks: a few well-loved showstoppers (including "Singin' in the Rain"), a smattering of the original show's material, and of course a Roger Edens song handcrafted for Judy Garland's talents.

Little Nellie Kelly had Judy Garland working double duty - literally. Judy played two Nellie Kelly's, a young mother (with a questionable accent) from Ireland, and later her starry-eyed daughter. Judy sings as both (mostly as the daughter) and even includes a rousing parade song with her Babes in Arms costar George Murphy. Fortunately for MGM, Judy Garland proved that even without Technicolor or Mickey Rooney, she was a star in her own right. Little Nellie Kelly grossed just under $1 million in the US (a solid gross then) proving Judy Garland could carry a movie. She could even do it twice.