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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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Monday
Apr182016

April Showers: Gone Girl

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Chris on Gone Girl (2014).

Gone Girl is a variation on Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, its Nick and Amy being the new George and Martha.  But instead of a pair of unwitting guests, this George and Martha use the media to attack one another - and the verbal barbs are traded in for actual bloodshed. David Fincher loads the film with the darkest rapid fire comedy, much like Edward Albee's acidic play, and the final beats of both can spark immediate audience conversation.

The final act of Gone Girl is where the film reveals its darkest side. If you haven't yet seen the film or read the source novel, then you don't know that the first two acts are pretty twisted themselves. The film's structure and narrative conceits keep us from seeing the true version of this George and Martha together until Amy's third act return...

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Monday
Apr182016

Katie Holmes Directs All We Had

Team Experience is at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Manuel on All We Had.

To say Rita Carmichael is Katie Holmes’s best role and best performance to date seems almost like a backhanded compliment. After all, Joey Potter aside, what else comes close to that description? Nevertheless, there’s no denying that Holmes has thrown herself into the role of this drunk single mother whose solution to her problems is putting “all we had” into their car and driving away, hoping the signs (on the road and, you know, of the universe) lead her to where she needs to be.

Holmes is a prickly presence on screen as Rita, finding ways of making her sunken eyes and oft-mimicked mouth quirks work to her advantage to sketch out this clearly broken woman who’s trying her darndest to offer her teenage daughter (a solid Stefania Owen in white trash Rory Gilmore-mode) a better life but obviously failing miserably. The film opens with the type of scene the screenplay surely believes functions as a perfect metaphor for the narrative as a whole: “You have to push me,” Rita urges her daughter as she stands on a chair in a bathroom, a string wrapped around an infected tooth. The scene is later replayed, as if we need reminding that in this mother-daughter duo the young one is the more responsible one, the one who's left to make the necessary hard choices for them to live another day on the road even as the film squarely puts them in the middle of the financial crisis making their journey that much harder.

Overall, All We Had functions as a great acting showcase but it never quite settles into its own rhythms. Given its episodic nature (owing perhaps to the film’s source material, the Annie Weatherwax novel of the same name), and its odd blend of neatly packaged YA clichés in a rather well-intentioned attempt at socio-economic commentary (the script was written by Faults in Our Stars writer/director Josh Boone), it’s no surprise the film flounders under its own weight.

Its most interesting subplot (there are several, including Mark Consuelos as a real estate agent, Richard Kind as a well-meaning diner owner, Kimmy Schmidtt’s Katherine Reis as a high school mean girl, Siobhan Fallon as a school principal) is the one centered on Peter Pam, a trans waitress at the diner who one worries will become a mere plot device but who instead becomes a surprisingly well-rounded character that almost made me wish the film knew what it had in its hands. Prop to Eve Lindley who I hope we see in more things in the future.

At the end of the day, this is a solid debut for Holmes (her work with actors is very promising and while the lens-flares-filled sky shots are a bit much, she finds unfussy compositions for her shots that suggest an attuned eye for drama in the frame). Here’s hoping she finds stronger material in the future.

Grade: C+/Katie Holmes B+

Monday
Apr182016

Beauty vs Beast: BFFF (Best Franco Friends Forever)

Jason from MNPP here, reporting for "Beauty vs Beast" duty from the middle of the Tribeca Film Festival -- I mean that literally; I am in between screenings right this very minute. (Sidenote: and since I'm not on my usual computer and don't have access to Photoshop, this week's edition is more lo-fi than usual, but we'll make due.) Anyway you know who else is here with me at the festival? James Franco. James Franco is everywhere, in every movie.

Okay okay maybe he's just in two movies - The Fixer and King Cobra - but on top of those I just finished watching 11.22.63 the other day plus it's his birthday on Tuesday, so he certainly feels omnipresent in my life at the moment. So for this week's competition let's look back at one of his finest moments -- David Gordon Green's 4-20-Perfect-10 Pineapple Express, opposite the Bacall to his Don't-Bogart-That-J Mr. Seth Rogen...

Monday
Apr182016

The Furniture: The Wonderfully Weird Production Design of the Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm

With Tale of Tales and The Huntsman: Winter’s War both opening this weekend, we have a sudden double feature of fairy tale movies on our hands. That makes it an excellent time to revisit the only fairy tale film nominated for the Oscar Best Production Design, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. (That seems impossible, I know, but it's true.)

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was the first narrative feature to be shot in the original 3-panel Cinerama process. The second, and last, was How the West Was Won, which I showcased two weeks ago. While the epic Western, or at least some its directors, tried to smooth over the unwieldy 3-camera process with landscapes and the occasional single-camera 70-mm shot, directors Henry Levin and George Pal really ran with Cinerama for their fairy tale epic. The results were a bit bonkers...

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Monday
Apr182016

Who did Hugh Grant make cry & Meryl's most dubious

Murtada here. Graham Norton always manages to coax stories out of his visiting guests that somehow they never divulge on this side of the Atlantic.This week his guests included Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, selling Florence Foster Jenkins. Norton brings up a recent interview in which Grant claimed all his co-stars hated him. Julianne Moore, Rachel Weisz, Emma Thompson, Sandra Bullock and Drew Barrymore are name checked. Clearly the Music and Lyrics (2007) set was not a happy one as this is what Grant said about Barrymore:

She made the mistake of giving me notes. How would you take that?

Meryl's response is perfect and gets the biggest laugh. Deservedly. She knows how to land a line!

Meryl divulges the one movie in her oeuvre she isn’t happy with. I thought it would be Still of the Night (1982) which she has spoken about before. But it’s actually The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981).

It's a fun talk show moment. And wouldn't we all love to get a glimpse of Renee Zellweger's 48 pages long emails. Do it Hugh, put them on twitter! Is The French Lieutenant's Woman really Meryl's most dubious moment on screen?

Monday
Apr182016

Emma Thompson's Category is: Hippie Chic Realness

Manuel here. I'm gonna keep it short and sweet and let wonderful being all around Emma Thompson do all the talking since her outfits for the upcoming Noah Baumbach film Yen Din Ka Kissa are loud! 

The film, as you may know already, stars Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller (three actors whose gifts for dry humor and acerbic comedy one hopes Baumbach will mine to great effect; he's done it before with Stiller, at least). But really—and I know I'm breaching Actor Month rules here at TFE—it's Thompson who I'm most looking forward to since her pairing with Baumbach (and with those outfits) is pretty promising. That she's described her character as a "dreadful, passive-aggressive alcoholic" is just icing on the cake, and has me thinking we may be seeing the bawdy side of Thompson we so often get on red carpets but so rarely on screen. Which boho look is your favorite?