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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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Team Experience's Emmy Ballot

"Love the premise of Feud, but the execution of it? Oof. Molina, Davis and a smattering of technical nods (ex. those opening credits!) would be more than generous, IMO." - Mareko

"Not enough Orange is the New Black mentioned." - Brad

 

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Friday
Feb192016

Rest in Peace Harper Lee (1926-2016)

The world has lost one of its most important literary and cultural figures with the death of author Nelle Harper Lee. There’s very little to say about the importance of “To Kill a Mockingbird” that hasn’t already been said, both today specifically and in the nearly fifty six years since the novel’s publication. Having attended both high school and college in Georgia, I saw firsthand how much the novel rattled the consciousness of the deep South to its core. It’s still banned and its literary merits are still contested in many places in the South, demonstrating how much weight and resonance the novel still carries—we often turn away from truths that are too ugly to face.

Gregory Peck and Brock Peters in Robert Mulligan's 1962 Film Adaptation of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Though her impact in the realm of literature is clear, she also helped to shape the world of cinema. The 1962 screen adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird (which netted three Oscars, including a Best Actor trophy for Gregory Peck and a Best Adapted Screenplay prize for Horton Foote) left an indelible mark on the medium. She was also an uncredited researcher on her friend Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, which has been adapted many times over—most notably in Richard Brooks 1967 film.

For cinephiles, it’s hard to consider Harper Lee without thinking of Catherine Keener’s staid, impressive and underrated portrayal of the prize-winning author in Bennett Miller’s Capote. She played Lee as smartly observant, terse but incredibly perceptive. The scene on the train where Lee quietly picks up on the fact that Capote has paid the ticket agent to compliment his work is one of the film’s choice moments and is a wonderful (albeit fictionalized) window into the friendship of these two authors.

For what she gave to the world of literature, American culture and (inadvertently) the world of cinema we all love, we say to Nelle Harper Lee—thank you and farewell. Today will certainly not be the last time her name is spoken.

Friday
Feb192016

Breaking News: The Academy Makes Yet Another Diversity Blunder / Plays Favorites in "Original Song"

News just broke that performances of Original Song nominees Youth's "Simple Song No. 3" (read our interview) and Facing Extinction's "Manta Ray" have been nixed from the Oscar broadcast, the producers citing "time constraints" for the always lengthy show. Performances of the other three nominated songs by Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, and Sam Smith are still in play.

TFE must express rage at yet another stupid Academy blunder. This sends an incredibly bad faith message to nominees -- if you're not famous pop stars, your nominations are "lesser than". And in a year where the Academy has been the subject of immense criticism for their lack of diversity they've essentially excluded the sole trans nominee (Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons fame who co-wrote and sings "Manta Ray") from valuable air time.

As a longtime fan of Antony and as a member of the LGBT community this enrages me. Diversity is about more than just skin color.  Here's J Ralph & Antony's nominated song. And do yourself a favor and get acquainted with Antony Hegarty's music because it's brilliant.

Antony Hegarty

Friday
Feb192016

Interview: David Lang on "Simple Song No. 3" and Storytelling through Music

Lady Gaga may have understandably hogged the media's coverage of this year's Best Original Song category but she's not the only Grammy winning composer in the mix. Diane Warren (the main writer of "Til It Happens to You") and The Weeknd "Earned It" are also Grammy winners. So is David Lang, an eclectic composer best known for his classical work. He's nominated for "Simple Song No. 3" from Youth, the lynchpin song of the whole movie. Like Jane Fonda's movie star in the same film, his song is hyped consistently by the story and characters before we fatefully cross paths with it.

Lang hasn't worked in movies too often, though he did contribute to the incredibly memorable music in Requiem for a Dream (2000). After his elevating and Oscar nominated work on Youth, we're hoping he spends more time composing for our screens.

When David Lang sat down to talk to The Film Experience I warned him that I know next to nothing about music. The good humored composer joked, absurdly, that he barely knows anything either. Lang is one of very few Oscar nominees in the Academy's history to have won a Pulitzer Prize before their Oscar honors. (Here's our talk edited slightly for length and clarity.)

NATHANIEL:  Famously you wrote "Simple Song No. 3" before Sorrentino's screenplay was complete. How quickly did you write it? Did Sorrentino ask for several iterations?

DAVID LANG: I work pretty fast. The way this worked was I made a version of the song and I would get a singer to sing it and send the demo to Paolo. I basically sent him three versions of the song. I probably spent much more time having these philosophical conversations with him and reading the script and having dark neurotic nightmares about it than actually doing the work!

more...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb192016

Berlin: 'Alone in Berlin' and 'Soy Nero'

 Amir Soltani is covering the Berlin International Film Festival. Two new reviews today.

ALONE IN BERLIN (Pérez)
Alone in Berlin, adapted from the novel ‘Every Man Dies Alone’ by Hans Falada and directed by former actor Vincent Pérez, is about justice, and you best believe that. The film wants you to know this so badly that it goes out of its way to shoehorn into the film a scene in which, one character tells his wife, “I have a mistress whom I obey, and her name is justice.” In another scene, a man proves his son’s involvement in the war by showing a picture of him in uniform in Poland, holding a dead child, as though he’s a trophy hunted on a Safari trip. If these examples pain you with their lack of subtlety, you won’t be delighted to know that they are only two of many, many instances in which the film throws its themes forcefully in your face.

Otto (Brendan Gleeson) and Anna Quangel (Emma Thompson) are a couple living in Berlin during the second world war. The film opens with a battle scene, in which their young son is shot to death on the field. Back in the German capital, to cope with the grief, Otto begins to write small anti-regime postcards, calling for a free press and the downfall of Hitler, and locate them at random places across the city with the help of his wife. As the cards begin to gain more attention in the repressed environment of the time, the Führer gets understandably upset, and Kommissar Escherich (Daniel Brühl) is assigned to find the culprit. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb192016

Nine Lists. Nine Days Til Oscar ! 

Oscar is only 9 days away! So it's time for 9 lists with the magic number 9. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINE.

According to this website there are 9 Irish nominees this year? Kiss them!
I can only find six though. Maybe they meant all Room & Brooklyn noms (6) plus actors (2) plus short film (1)? 

Best Picture Ed Guiney, Room 
Best Actress Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Best Actor Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Best Director Lenny Abrahamson, Room  
Best Adapted Screenplay Emma Donoghue, Room
Best Live Action Short Benjamin Cleary, Stutterer 

The 9 best movies of all time that received exactly 9 nominations (in chronological order, *indicates Best Picture winner)
1941 Citizen Kane
1951 A Place in the Sun
1969 They Shoot Horses Don't They?
1979 All That Jazz
1979 Kramer vs Kramer *
1992 Howards End
2002 The Hours
2009 The Hurt Locker*
2013 12 Years a Slave*

more after the jump...

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Friday
Feb192016

Strike a Poster

It's always boggling to consider how many people's noses a poster has had to pass under in order to get approved, and how they still are often more abysmal than you could have imagined. The floating head syndrome, men with their back to the camera, or a couple back to back are the usual unimaginative posters that fly by. But this week we seem to have been treated to three posters that have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be really really stupid.

Three disasters for three genres (horror, fantasy, dance) after the jump...

Click to read more ...