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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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Personal Ballot: Best Supporting Actress

"Must admit to not having seen "20th Century Women" yet. I'm already an Elle Fanning admirer. So I'm looking forward to seeing whether she or Greta Gerwig can shake up my list." - Ken

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INTERVIEWS

Pablo Larraín (Jackie)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Gael García Bernal (Neruda)
Billy Crudup (20th Century Women)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival

 

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Friday
Jun192015

The Troubled Musical Tribute to 'Amy'

Glenn here offering some thoughts on films at the Sydney Film Festival. Here he is discussing the music documentary 'Amy'.

Given what director Asif Kapadia was able to accomplish with the otherwise (to me) uninteresting world of vroom vroom speed racing in Senna, logic would dictate that when handling a subject of great interest to me that the results would be even more outstanding. That doesn’t quite prove to be the case with Amy, another scrapbook collection of archival footage presenting the life of somebody who lived fast and died young, Amy Winehouse, but one which lacks quite the same verve of the director’s predecessor.

Kapadia is in the unique position of making a documentary about somebody whose life isn’t just rife for the Hollywood biopic treatment, but which actually feels like it already has been. Is her story not almost note-for-note for Mark Rydell’s The Rose with Bette Midler? It’s curious as a viewer of a documentary to feel as if I’d seen it all before in a fiction film (albeit one highly inspired by a real life person) and being disappointed because it comes off second best.

The Rose, Kurt Cobain and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun192015

182 Days Until "Carol" Opens

This screenshot from Carol lies. The first Todd Haynes movie in 8 years is opening on December 18th, not the 21st. Anyway the screenshot is pulled from new footage which is mixed in with other footage and interviews from Cannes from Film4 which you can see below

And because we're thinking about HOW VERY LONG IT IS UNTIL WE SEE CAROL here's the holiday calendar just to lament, as is our tradition, that early December is empty but late December is crowded (sigh). 

THANKSGIVING

The Good Dinosaur
Victor Frankenstein
Midnight Special 

DECEMBER DATES

04th Krampus (Horror Comedy)

Why is this weekend so empty?

11th In the Heart of the Sea (Ron Howard)
        The Lady in the Van (that lady be Dame Maggie Smith)

Why is this weekend so empty?

18th Carol (Todd Haynes)
        Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Episode VII)
        Sisters (Amy Poehler & Tina Fey) 

I mean obviously Carol breaks all opening weekend box office records this weekend

23rd Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

CHRISTMAS

Two of the Hateful Eight: Demian Bichir & Kurt Russell

25th Point Break (Remake)
        Concussion (Will Smith in a drama about football brain injuries)
        The Hateful Eight (Tarantino's latest bloody western going the Django route)
        The Revenant (Inaritu's directs Leo DiCaprio & Tom Hardy)
        Snowden (Oliver Stone & Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
        Joy (David O. Russell & Jennifer Lawrence)

31st Nothing scheduled yet but this is traditionally the weekend wherein sometimes great movies are sacrificed to the whims of "Oscar qualifying" contracts and get no real support from their distributor

There are still several films with major stars and/or possible critical darling appeal without US release dates: the new version of MacBeth, Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert, Jean-Marc Vallée's Demolition, Luca Guadagino's A Bigger Splash, James Vanderbilt's Truth, the Lance Armstrong bio The Program and the Hank Williams bio I Saw the Light. Some of them will surely end up in December but we hope against hope that this year is light on the stupid "Oscar Qualifying" releases. 

Thursday
Jun182015

Coming Soon... (with Ann Dowd)

Today's celebrity guest blogger has been the great Ann Dowd (The Leftovers). Now it's time for her to say goodbye - Editor 


-by Ann Dowd

Before I leave you, sorry to say I can't reveal what I'm doing right now. All I can say is that I'm writing to you from a set. I can't disclose any more details than that. But here are four upcoming projects that I am free to talk about.

photo via twitter

Our Brand is Crisis 
This movie is based on a documentary about Pedro Gallo (played by Joaquim de Almeida) who is running for President of Bolivia for the second time.  The first time he was president he moved too quickly on the economic front and the country suffered tremendously, particularly the poor. So he hires a political consulting team (it was originally Jim Carville and his team) to get him re-elected. I play one of the consultants so most of my scenes are with that team: Sandy Bullock, Anthony Mackie, Scoot McNairy and Zoe Kazan. David Gordon Green, who directed it, was extraordinary. We shot in Puerto Rico and New Orleans and it was a wonderful experience, hands down.

Viggo with screen kids in "Captain Fantastic"Captain Fantastic
I play Viggo Mortensen’s mother-in-law. My daughter was dead and my grandchildren are being raised in the woods and learning to survive. Wonderfully written and directed by Matt Ross.

The Big and the Small
We shot this indie in Alabama. Its about a kid who has never had a home but he’s a beautiful artist and he’s trying to find his way. I play a police officer - she’s very quirky— who is bound and determined to help him.  

Oppenheimer Strategies
Richard Gere is just phenomenal in this. I don’t even know how to describe it but Oppenheimer is kind of a pathological liar and it’s about the connections he makes and what he brings to fruition. It’s from Joseph Cedar (who directed the Israeli Oscar nominees Footnote and Beaufort). I have a small role but I was thrilled to be a part of it. I play a woman from the State department who is trying to clock what Oppenheimer is up to.

 

So much has happened since Compliance (2012). I feel so fortunate to be working this much and on such wonderful characters like Patti on The Leftovers. I am very grateful that people are interested and that I would be asked to share my experiences.

Thank you all so much for reading and I wish you all the best.


Previously
: Patti and The Leftovers, Falling in Love with Acting, Mothers & Imagination, Six Key Roles

 

Thursday
Jun182015

Ann Dowd: Quick Notes on Six Roles

The Film Experience is proud to turn today over to the great actress Ann Dowd. Enjoy... 

The cast of "Garden State"

- by Ann Dowd

Nathaniel tells me these are his favorite characters from my filmography and since I've taken over The Film Experience for the day, here are quick notes on each.

"Olivia" in Garden State (2004)
Loved. Zach Braff really had it together- wrote, directed, starred in. He was very clear about what he wanted which is always a pleasure.

"Cookie Kelly" in Freaks and Geeks (2000)
Hysterical. Writers, actors, everybody was talented and young and funny. I love that role - she was delicious and twisted.



 

"Sister Maureen 'Mo' Brody" in Nothing Sacred (1997)
Sister Maureen was a wonderful role, so well written, a lovely cast. I have two aunts who are Catholic Ursuline sisters so I know something about that world – how educated they are, how generous and caring and complicated they are. The way the role was conceived by Bill Cain reflected the truth about that world and it was a pleasure to work on it. 

"Sandra" in Compliance (2012)
Another beautifully written role. I have tremendous empathy for that character, not having a guidance system of her own. How derailed her life became. Great director Craig Zobel.


"Estabrooks Masters" in Masters of Sex (2013)
Oh my gosh, what I remember most about the first season is just the feeling of hitting that ground running. Michelle Ashford's writing is great. A really terrific cast - Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald. The stories were very strong and I love the character of Estabrooks. She's clear and unfaltering and also able to admit her mistakes, apologize and then move forward. Loved her.

 

"Patti" in The Leftovers (2014)
We already spoke at length about this role but there was a lot of camarederie on set with Amy, Liv, and Justin. The atmosphere was so surreal -- keep in mind that sometimes we were shooting in the middle of the night in the cul-de-sac somewhere 45 minutes out of the city -- no sense of time or space. On one of the first days of shooting the first A.D. Vebe Borge didn't speak in solidary with the Guilty Remnant. How's that for commitment?

Thursday
Jun182015

Ann Dowd: Playing Patti on "The Leftovers"

The Film Experience is proud to turn the site over to Ann Dowd for the day. Enjoy...

As Patti Levin on "The Leftovers"


-by Ann Dowd

Finding the character of Patti on The Leftovers was a fascinating experience. I remember having a lot of questions about her when I first read the script. It was scary at first, it was daunting the not speaking. “What is this about? How are you going to play this?” There are always so many questions for an actor. You think “Where is this person? How am I going to find her?” And then the thought came, "Take a breath, settle down, The information will present itself." And sure enough it did.

There are always clues when you’re searching for a character. Not speaking actually turned out to be an incredibly powerful position to be in and here's a clue: make sure you know what the character wants because you are not going to be able to tell anybody with words so it has to be in your whole being. Other clues turned up each time, episode by episode: what she responded to, what she didn’t respond to, her intense aggression toward Kevin, trying to understand why.

It’s a process and in those first episodes, I had just enough to do to slowly put that picture together. [More after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun182015

Mothers & Imagination

The Film Experience is proud to turn the site over to Ann Dowd for the day. Enjoy...

- by Ann Dowd

As I’ve said I did not grow up in an environment where acting was a viable career choice. I remember once when I was a teenager seeing Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet and having to go to bed afterwards … from grief! Can you imagine? I had not read it and when I saw the tragedy happening I said  “NO NO NO” I just knew that there was no way Romeo would not get the message that she wasn’t dead, that she was just sleeping. But when it went in that direction — I just was “THIS CANNOT BE TRUE”. I had to go to bed. My mother said “That’s it — No more movies! That’s the end of it.” 

Later when I became an actor she was less than thrilled. I think deep down she saw it coming, mothers are smart that way, but I know she hoped the desire would fade and I'd stick with medicine. She felt that it was such an unstable life.  But she’s wildly supportive now. She’s on board now. I love her to bits.

Of course it will be different for my children if they are interested since they grew up in the environment. My husband is also an actor and he's the chair of the acting department at CAP 21. It’s a musical theater school, a great school. I'm not teaching at the moment because I'm not able to commit to a schedule but one of my favorite things was to teach Chekhov and Tennessee Williams. I hope to do it again because it’s a lovely thing when you’ve been at acting for awhile and you can understand enough of what the students are going through and be of use to them.  

My oldest boy doesn’t have an interest in acting. My girl, who is 17, does. My littlest one came into the world singing and dancing. Living in New York our children are exposed to a lot: Music, plays, books. We remind them that there are other ways to negotiate the world besides technology. Keeping your imagination alive and well is a big thing in our house. 

Previously: Playing Patti on The Leftovers and Falling in Love with Acting 
Next: A Few Key Roles

 

Thursday
Jun182015

Falling in Love with Acting (and Advice for Young Actors)

The Film Experience is enormously proud to hand the site over to Ann Dowd (The Leftovers, Masters of Sex). She will be guest blogging all day. - Editor.

As Patti on "The Leftovers"

-by Ann Dowd

The awareness, the love story, for me began in high school. Acknowledging it came later. I’m talking about falling in love with acting and committing to the life with all its ups and downs.

You know, you do a play in high school and you think “Wow, this is kind of great.” For me it was playing Adelaide from Guys & Dolls -- it just about did me in with joy. But it never occurred to me, and I’m sure this is true for many others who didn’t grow up in a theater environment, that you could choose to be an actor.  It just wasn’t an option. 

I was in premed for four years in college. But I also took acting classes each year and that's where I found peace and some sense of fufillment. There it was, that feeling again, a deep love. The role that changed my perspective on whether or not I could really be an actress as a life choice was Sonya in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. It was that quiet voice again which said, "I want to live in her life."

It’s a simple thing, from my perspective now years later, about knowing whether you want to do this and whether you can commit for life.  And that’s in this question: 

Can I step into the life of another human being in an open and truthful way without judgment?

There’s a connection that happens when you’re acting that transcends just about anything. When that happens — and it doesn’t always —  but if it’s deep and it happens enough there’s an awareness that you could really live this life with all its ups and downs. So I made the change in senior year of college, auditioned for an acting school, got in, and essentially never looked back. It was very hard, many ups and downs. But there was never a question of “can I do it?” It was that I had to do it. Plain and simple — it was the only thing that made sense to me. 

Returning to Chekhov years later on Broadway in "The Seagull" with Kristin Scott Thomas and company

For Those Starting Out
Many young actors starting out want advice — “how do I get an agent?” is usually the question — and I'm afraid I don't have much advice on that issue.  When I look back now 30 years, when I think of what a young actor needs to be successful in this business, for me it comes down to the following: a fierce energy, a single mindedness, a refusal to consider failure or giving up as an option, and an unshakable belief that you have a rightful place in this work. Youth has that in it's favor. 

And I can offer this: stay deeply connected to your love of acting. Put your head down and keep going, even if there aren’t roles, or if they go well or don’t go well. In the moments when you’re alone, slow it all down. Step away from technology as much as you can, observe and listen to life as it unfolds. Live your life. Work on your relationships. You will need all of those things as actors. You need perspective. If you have personal issues, seek the help you need to get through them — you need an understanding of suffering and pain but you do not need to spend your life doing that to make the work good! 

Attend to your life in other words. Know and believe that it’s going to work out. If you love what you’re going to do and you do the work to get better as an actor,then you’re going to get the support you need.  

I know that sounds naive but I honestly believe it’s true.

Next: The Leftovers