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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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Silence of the Lambs Retrospective

"Don't help the man with the broken arm! Don't get in his van! Too late... She does it every time. Which is why this is such a good movie: it really makes us care, and even when we know what's going to happen, we hope it won't."- Edward

"Such a great BP winner. I remember seeing it when I was a teenager and even then I noticed the eyelines being so close to the camera, and the way Clarice was framed in a male-dominated world as though she was being watched and judged." - MSD

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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...]

 

Click to read more ...

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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Monday
Sep082014

Beauty vs Beast: Crime Is Beauty

JA from MNPP here with another round of "Beauty vs Beast" for us to sink our teeth into - every Monday we ask y'all to choose sides between an appointed movie's "good" guy and "bad" guy, wherein we acknowledge that such distinctions are liquid (eyeliner). But as a wise and beautiful woman once said, "I'm scared rats are gonna come out and bite my new nylons." Oh and she also said, "There has to be a line drawn somewhere." And that line runs right down the middle of Baltimore's premiere hair enhancement clinic, the Lipstick Beauty Salon!

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is running a fabulous John Waters Retrospective here in New York right now, showing every single film the Pope of Trash, the Prince of Puke, ever made, and so it only seemed right and proper to celebrate this divine (ahem) ocassion this week with my fave of his films, 1974's Female Trouble. Meet our Teams!

 

Beauty, beauty, look at you, I wish to God I had it, too. Who will it be - the avant-garde artists or their deranged muse? You have a week to vote, and to let your opinions on the matter spill forth in the comments.

PREVIOUSLY Last week it was the eternal Lily Tomlin's 75th birthday and we jumped in the pick-up truck and gunned it to the big city with 1988's twin-comedy Big Business - did you go for Lily's pair of Roses or Bette Midler's twosome of Sadies? Well Rose started off strong... but at the last minute Sadie stuffed her in the janitor's closet and became the Joan Collins she always wanted to be. Said Nathaniel:

"As much as I love Lily, this film belongs to Bette's Sadie... especially via her awesome Dynasty fixation and possibly the best film use of her trademark eye flashing. TEAM SADIE!"

Monday
Sep082014

Robert Wise Centenary: Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)

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 Nathaniel on the Paul Newman boxing drama...

The poster art for Robert Wise's 1956 biopic on Rocky Graziano reminds us that the more things change the more they stay the same. We're still getting taglines like "A girl can lift a fella to the skies!" (see: Theory of Everything) but Pier Angeli's role as Rocky's wife Norma in the Paul Newman boxing pic is actually fairly minor. She straightens him out primarily by giving him something consistent to hold on to in a life that's been previously totally adrift in noncommittal boxing matches for money and petty crimes. Not that his crimes were always petty, mind you, but we'll get to that in a minute. 

Up until Somebody Up There Likes Me Paul Newman had been doing minor TV roles and successful work on the stage. But his film debut in the biblical epic The Silver Chalice (1954) was an embarrassment. He won poor reviews and later stated...

 The moment I walked into that studio I had a feeling of personal disaster..."

Newman's Breakthrough after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep082014

Dress for the part, Clueless-style

Continuing our Back to School week...

Hey all, Manuel here, reminding you that when it comes to prepping for back to school fashion, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) has had an app for that, even before Apple ruled product placement in Hollywood.

The year is 1995 and I remember watching Cher open Clueless by telling me that she actually has a “way normal life for a teenager.” She gets up, she brushes her teeth and she picks out her school clothes. So far so good. Except then we get a shot of her touchscreen (!) computer where she has her entire closet digitized (!). Way normal? As if!

This was mind-boggling to me. Not only because my “pick out school clothes in the morning” routine was restricted to making sure my uniform was nicely ironed (yes, I always looked on with envy to these American high school movies where kids were allowed to wear whatever they liked, never bothering with ties or blazers as I did), but because it seemed like a scene more at home in the Jetsons than in a teenage remake of a Jane Austen novel. This little scene, meant to index Cher’s wealth and fashion sense, works also as a wonderfully prescient scene about our digitized and app-ready world. (So much so that in 2014, Iggy Azalea's take on Cher's closet organizer looks quite at home in a tablet, while the world has finally created an app rivals Cher’s own! #ShareYourCher)

Needless to say, I could have used Cher’s fashion software. By the time I was a college freshman I barely had any idea how laborious choosing a collegiate-ready outfit could be with no school-approved shirts and grey pants to choose from. Last thing I wanted to be was a “fashion victim” let alone “ensembly challenged.” For if there’s something to be learnt about the fashion in Clueless is that it isn’t merely a cosmetic addition to one’s personality, but it can function as a confidence booster. It’s not the clothes that make the woman, of course, but a yellow plaid ensemble can go a long way.

Cher's outfits are truly things of late 90s beauty, it's almost hard to pick a favorite, but I've always loved that first ensemble; which one of hers do you love the most? Do you have a first day of school ensemble you still remember fondly? Or one you don't quite understand what you were thinking when you wore it? 

Sunday
Sep072014

TIFF: Vignettes with Mike Leigh

Nathaniel's adventures at TIFF. Day 2

Day 2 was just magical from start to finish with 3 great movies and 1 solid one. Two of the films you've already read about here in Sweden's stellar Oscar submission Force Majeure and Norway's Out of Nature about one man hiking around in the wilderness on a long weekend. I like to think of the latter as Norway's counterpart to Reese Witherspoon in Wild - which I'll be seeing soon - though I doubt Reese takes her clothes off for a wank and runs around starkers. Day 2 was something of a vignette day since I will remember it primarily as the day I saw Mike Leigh twice and hid from the rain with him (long story - save it for the podcast!), the day I scarfed down melted cheese sandwiches with Nick & Joe in an highly unglamorous take-out setting, and a day of not one but 2 great movies composed of vignettes.

WILD TALES. an amazing Argentinian delightVignette films, like their cousin the omnibus, are tough beasts to pull off because you're essentially asking the audience to reinvest in the movie every 20 minutes or so, as if they've stumbled into a short film festival. They're also bound to feel uneven with some segments much richer than others. But here's two films that pull it off with real aplomb...

Argentina's Wild Tales is directed by Damián Szifrón but produced by TFE's favorite Pedro Almodóvar who I imagine is just thrilled with the results. It seems like a movie he would love what with its colorful characters, amusingly melodramatic and twisty stories, and at least three vivid female characters though it's not as actressy as his movies. Let's just say everyone in this six story movie is ...on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown, and not just the women. Wild Tales was a big hit at Cannes earlier this year and it might possibly be Argentina's Oscar submission. It's easy to see why since the title is accurate. You feel like anything could happen primarily because not so very many minutes into the terrific opening vignette, it does. It starts just like any movie might with a beautiful woman being chatted up by a handsome older stranger as their flight takes off. But then they realize they have an acquaintance in common. Another passenger overhears them, interrupts and...

No, I shan't tell you more because this movie is best seen cold as the surprises are half the fun. Let's just say this free-fall into insanity sets the tone for the whole film which plays like a highwire act of dark comedy, violent thrills, and romances gone awry. Of the six segments, of which only one is just "good" (that'd be the one starring Argentinian cinema's Mr Ubiquitous Ricardo Darin), I had two favorites. The third vignette takes place on a long stretch of dusty highway where two men piss each other off while driving. Neither of them can let any affront go. It's a stretch of cinema that should make the majority of the world's action directors ashamed of themselves for not bothering to pack in as many thrills and cleverly choreographed beats into 2 hours that Szifron manages in 20 minutes. The final sequence centering on a wedding reception that goes sour and descends into utter chaos is also pretty damn great, and funny too. Don't read anything more about it and if gets released, jump in. A-

VENICE GOLDEN LION WINNER!
Sweden's A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting On Existence comes from one of Mike Leigh's favorite directors Roy Andersson. Hence the first Mike Leigh sighting of the day since he came to the show with Mr Turner's primary non-Timothy Spall Oscar contender Marion Bailey. The room was jam-packed with press many of whom were laughing out loud and very frequently which is not all that common in critics screenings, I have to tell you.

A Pigeon... which does indeed include pigeons sitting on branches (albeit mostly offscreen),  bills itself as the final part of a trilogy of what it means to be human. And it starts with three short scenes called "Three Encounters With Death" which are beyond hilarious. I will never forget the ancient little lady hanging tightly on to her purse because she wants to take it with her when she goes. Every scene in the film is its own little continuous shot vignette in which the camera does not move but the things within the frame do, albeit sometimes very slowly. The two most frequently recurring characters are gag salesmen who keep announcing that they're there to help people have fun but are the glummest downers you ever did see, perpetually frowning, failing, frumpy and shuffling as if they're zombies across Andersson's often brilliant mise-en-scène . Not that anyone in the frame looks "alive" per se, since Andersson's figures are nearly all chalky white with a touch of ginger in their hair. The salesmen turned out to be my least favorite running gag in the movie and definitely wore out their welcome a bit though they're super funny at first. My favorite recurring bit was the generic repetitive dialogue heard whenever anyone onscreen answers a telephone. As if all the disconnected oddness weren't perplexing enough, there are three amazing period piece scenes involving warring soldiers, a musical number in a diner, and a slave ship (a very disturbing sequence).

Andersson strikes me a singular director, but there is one comparison point I feel comfortable sharing. I kept thinking of Jacques Tati, because the longer you stare at the sometimes crowded sometimes spare shots, the funnier they become and the bigger their comic payoffs whenever anything changes within the frame you've been visually searching for more things to discover or giggle about. I'm still scratching my head over this film but I'm already kicking myself for having missed Andersson's previous films. Several people have told me that I would love them. They were right and I am a fool for taking so long to get to them. A-

one of many screamingly funny but morbid scenes in "A Pigeon..."

Can you tell that I'm having a great great festival this year?