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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, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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"All three look a little insufferable. The stupid music and the "based on a true story"/"an unforgettable story" shots and the critics quotes instantly turn me off. But I'm in for most things Lonergan, even though the plot of Manchester By the Sea is clearly Baby Boom meets Good Will Hunting." - CharlieG

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Tuesday
Jan062015

Interview: "Virunga" Producer Joanna Natasegara

 Here's Jose with an interview with a PGA nominee on her Oscar finalist in Documentary

Virunga chronicles the battle being fought in the beautiful Virunga National Park in Congo, where a British oil corporation is putting in peril the lives of the world’s last mountain gorillas. The gorillas are defended only by a group of brave rangers, led by Prince Emmanuel de Merode, who dedicate their whole lives to defending the cause. Shot with urgency by first time feature filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel, few other films last year felt as alive as this, as it combined thriller elements with an important call to action. It's available on Netflix.

The film continues earning mentions in non-fiction categories this awards season. First it was shortlisted among the documentary films that made it to the last round before Oscar nominations are announced, and now it has also earned a Producers Guild of America award nomination. We spoke to one of its producers, Joanna Natasegara, about working in the jungle, the role of a producer and why it’s essential for us to help Virunga National Park.

JOSE: How did you get involved in the project?

JOANNA NATASEGARA: Originally Orlando had been working on the film for about a year with Emmanuel, and based on their discussions they realized that their ambitions around the objectives of the film, meant they had to bring someone on board who could make sure all their goals could be achieved and I have a history of working in social impact films, so we were introduced at an event in the UK, and at the time we talked about it and Orlando realized he wanted me to be the producer, because the scale of the film meant he needed an extra pair of hands.

JOSE: I’m sure this was one of those projects that made you go “I have to do this”...

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Monday
Jan052015

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously we looked at ten runners-up -- practically an alternate top ten if you will the year was so good. Now on to the list you've been waiting for as our own awardage begins. 

The years best films marched in the streets in London and Alabama, cruised Scotland with nefarious intent, uncovered skeletons in Poland, and jogged around DC. They performed on the stages of Manhattan while also house hunting there; neither activity is for the faint of heart. Only two of them sprang from books though another cast its biggest spell while holding one. Two taught us about history in ways that felt absolutely relevant and useful to how we live now and one let us watch 12 years of it unfold. The thing that unites all ten is the imagination, fine judgement (when to employ a light touch and when to hit hard) and technical prowess of the filmmakers and actors, lifting their scenes, themes and stories however mundane, silly, deep or fanciful to greater heights that we could have reasonably expected.

With deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
(Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Disney. April 4th
138 minutes 

The public has been more than generous with Marvel Studios over the years as they stumbled into surprising glory given that they were playing with a half deck having sold so many key characters. Ten films in: perfection! Captain America: Winter Soldier artfully dodges nearly every typical superhero movie problem (as well as general sequel problems) with a stunning grasp of mood, total commitment to a "square" character, a smart choice of villain, and thrilling action scenes that feel authentically dangerous (a complete rarity in blockbusters) rather than like stop-and-gawk "setpieces" with no actual stakes. Add in Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson both embracing their supersized charisma and physical perfection (while deepening their rapport and characterizations) and you have the year's best popcorn entertainment.

 

THE BABADOOK
(Jennifer Kent)
IFC Films. November 28th 
93 minutes 

You can't intellectualize away its terror, though reviews and many a future masters theses will try. This alarming horror film, a brilliant debut for Australian director Jennifer Kent, is as hard to shake as its title character whether you take it as a straightforward monster film, a mental illness or grief allegory, or get hung up on its minefield of taboos (mothers who don't much like their children / over-medication of children / weapons in schools). It's as rich and imaginative a study of depression in its own creepy-crawly way as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia so it's wonderfully apt that Jennifer Kent once apprenticed with the Danish provocateur

Eight with more than enough Great after the jump...

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Monday
Jan052015

Looking Back: Season 1 Recap

Manuel here bringing us up to date on Andrew Haigh’s first season of his HBO show Looking in preparation for the weekly recaps that will take up this space starting next week. 

“You know how I know you’re gay? You’re boring,” With those nine words, Mick Stingley (writing for Esquire) summed up his reaction to Looking, one which continued to be echoed even as Andrew Haigh’s low-key San Francisco-set show about a group of gay men blossomed into a fascinating (if, yes, clipped and narrow) show, ably experimenting with the long-form storytelling of TV to offer mundane snapshots of the contemporary gay male experience. “Boring” became a code word for viewers (both gay and straight) who for the first time found themselves exposed to gay characters on screen who didn’t mince or flounce (no Wills or Jacks here), nor who aimed to become a banner ad for a movement (no Michaels or Emmets here). It was also an HBO show hard to pin down. It doesn’t have Sorkinean monologues, or Dunhamesque sex scenes. It doesn’t have the acidic comedy of Veep nor the pathos of Enlightened. There’s a level of mundanity in Haigh’s show that's decidedly un-HBOish; this is no Westeros nor Bon Temps. In many ways, it feels like an indie film with its closest kin being Haigh’s 2011 film, Weekend. [Full disclosure, I hated that film, but that’s neither here nor there].

I bring this all up front to showcase what it is that interests me about Looking; its rather transgressive indifference towards politics of representation. There’s transgression in the very banality that so characterized the show's first season which, while climaxing with a wedding, a hook-up, a breakup and a pitch-perfect Golden Girls shout out, nevertheless seemed quite content in what Haigh & co. bill their show as: merely looking, observing really how these young able-bodied (and damn good-looking) gay men navigate their lives. It’s not surprising then that the best episode of the first season was solely focused on Patrick & Richie in a long, romantic date around San Francisco.

So, before next’s week’s premiere episode, let’s briefly recap/meet our boys:

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Monday
Jan052015

Beauty vs Beast: The La-Di-Da Lady

JA from MNPP here, back from the holidays and welcoming everybody to the year 2015 with a brand new round of "Beauty vs Beast." This week we're tackling one of our most favorite actresses and her maybe probably most definitely most iconic role - yup it's Diane Keaton's 69th birthday today and so la-di-da la-la y'all...

 

So all of you left-wing Communist Jewish homosexual pornographers have got one week to make your voice heard - vote and then tell us in the comments which neurotic you wanna chase lobsters with. And happy birthday, Diane Keaton!

PREVIOUSLY I wasn't here last week and so Nathaniel took over and man, did he come up with a doozy - in The Battle of the Tildas, the winner was... Tilda! Snowpiercer Tilda, to be specific - the Minister Mason made like a good shoe and trounced over Wes Anderson's old-lady-drag competition. (For the record, Mason's my pick too.) Said commenter Marsha Mason:

"I think Tilda in Snowpiercer was the supporting performance of the year. Showy and even a little cartoonish maybe, but it meshed perfect with the art design and surreal feel and everything else about that movie. It was perfect for a fantasy world take on real sociological problems."

Monday
Jan052015

Oh • Yel • LINK • Oh!

Gurus of Gold a new chart reflects the PGA nominations
Variety talks about the lack of screeners for Selma
NYT great profile of Patricia Arquette. People are laying the tributes on thick now for the Oscar campaign. 
THR you know it's Oscar season when people get fired for "smear campaigns" 
The Guardian exchanges pleasantries with Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher, American Sniper):

You've made a good movie for once."  

The Dissolve on the Razzie shortlists - nominations soon
i09 52 years of Spider-Man's mask a spiffy quick visual
Hollywood Elsewhere Josh Gad may play Roger Ebert in Russ & Roger Go Beyond
i09 Eddie Redmayne shares details of his audition for The Hobbit
Playbill Into the Woods breaks into the Billboard top 20 
Film School Rejects on How the Disneyfied Into the Woods loses its allegorical power, especially in regards to the AIDS crisis
Vulture how Looking is reinventing itself for Season 2 (premiering on Golden Globe night, fyi) 
Pajiba on an amazing Boogie Nights story involving Burt Reynolds 
/Film Matthew Vaughn, promoting Kingsman: The Secret Service thinks people have had enough of Nolanified superhero films and want more fun
Playbill god help us all. Cats is returning to Broadway. There are still so many 1980s musicals on the boards here. Wish we could have more originals and fewer returns. P.S. Cats is the first Broadway show I ever saw so I have a certain affection. But still...
Australia Womens Weekly Russell Crowe saying annoying things again. This time knocking actresses for wanting better roles when they're older
In Contention North Texas critics like Boyhood and the usual supporting players. Gyllenhaal & Pike for leads

List-Mania
Variety on ten big spenders. See the insane amount of money the studios spend on ads for their movies. Godzilla tops the list spending big to make big but The Judge also wasted a small fortune 
/Film a grab bag of lists about the film year
Vox Todd Vanderwerff's top ten list   
Adam Male 5 gay men share their top ten LGBT movies list (well, there unfortunately isn't much in the way of "L" here). Interesting to see so little overlap. Nobody ever interviews me for this sort of thing but my list would contain a few of these. 
Comics Alliance best comic books of the year 

 

How to Pronounced David Oyelowo
There's finally video of Brad Pitt schooling us all on David Oyelowo's name. Here you go!

 

 And while we're on the topic, Interview did a Q&Andy with him. On why he left the UK and came to Hollywood:

I had a very nice career in the U.K., but heroes of mine are Daniel Day Lewis, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, and when I looked at the zenith of what they do, it came out of Hollywood. So my wife and I took the risk in 2007 of leaving the U.K., coming here, and hoping that I could scale those heights. 

Dizzying heights indeed but Selma's a great step up.

And Finally...
For those of you just returning from a long holiday, don't miss... 

#20-11 Best of the Year, (now updated with honorable mentions)
#10-01 Best of the Year, Nathaniel's List 
Unjust Pride DVD Sony has put the gay heroes in the closet 

..and more interviews with:
Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson Before Superhero Glory, Noah
Actor Finn Wittrock A Brief Scene in an Elevator
Actor Oscar Isaac  A Most Famous Year... Coming Soon
Cinematography Yves Belanger The Man Who Shot Reese 

Monday
Jan052015

Thoughts I Had... While Looking at "Jane Got a Gun" Images

You know how this goes. New images from the troubled production of Jane Got a Gun starring Natalie Portman. Thoughts as they occur to me. No editing.

Bad Girls (1994)
The Quick and the Dead (1995)
The Ballad of Little Jo (1993)
• Why did I instantly doubt that Natalie Portman knew how to use that thing when this is The Professional (1994) we're talking about. She was deadly as early as 14!
• We've travelled back in time. And not because it's a period piece. Apologies. But it's a fact: western girls with guns was a thing briefly in the mid 90s
• Those look like big girl gloves for such a petit thing.
• OMG someone should remake Bad Girls but with less earnestness and more of a sense of humor 

• This is a weird still to release. They both look tremendously bored. Free advice: Do not suggest boredom when trying to sell a movie.
• I also had to lighten this up and increase the saturation so you could even make out who they are... so I'm not sure what's going on the stills department (Mandy Walker - who shot Australia - is behind the camera)
• Ewan McGregor is in this so I personally feel ripped off that he's not in the stills 
• I can't remember who was supposed to be in this but they've had trouble with shifting stars and replacing directors. 

• I don't know who this is but I'm going to pretend that it's Joel Edgerton
• Bet you Joel would rather redo this scene without a stunt double than relive those Exodus reviews

You can see yet more images over at The Film Stage.

Monday
Jan052015

Producers Guild Nominations: Lots of Titles Still In Play For Oscar!

Big awards day, huh? The PGA have announced their preferred excellence in production for 2014. No big surprises so the only thing to talk about is the chaos of what might be nominated for Best Picture in less than two weeks.

PRODUCERS GUILD NOMINATIONS

Feature Film
AMERICAN SNIPER
BIRDMAN
BOYHOOD
FOXCATCHER
GONE GIRL
GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
IMITATION GAME
NIGHTCRAWLER
THEORY OF EVERYTHING
WHIPLASH

... Only five of these made my top 30. Not a consensus year for TFE, then.

PGA's list is very similar to the BFCA top ten only they shoved  American Sniper and Foxcatcher in the Unbroken and Selma slots. The AFI was also similar but that Institute also made room for Into the Woods and Interstellar and Selma. In short: the Best Picture race is still rather confounding when it comes to who might be nominated and how many pictures will be there beyond the frontrunners Boyhood and Birdman and, I guess, Imitation Game... though I had previously thought that Selma would have or had already supplanted it in third spoiler position. [More...]

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