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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 | letterboxd


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Beauty vs. Beast


If you don't vote for Jack, he'll come after you with an axe


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The BIG EYES Poster

"I didn't even notice the stars at first but that's why I like it. Tag line is clever. I hope Burton gone substance over style (while being stylish) with this one." - Jija

"The art is ugly creepy kitsch... that is, slightly above dogs playing pool and black-velvet Elvis. I have a hard time grasping why we should care who created it..." - Owen

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Thoughts I had while staring at Nicole Kidman in "V" Magazine

Nicole Kidman just keeps whipping us into submission. Yes, yes, "Uncle!" You're a great actress and infinitely obsession worthy. But bow down we must, again, as The Paperboy nears movie theaters. Hurry up and get her already, movie! Her latest ploy is dressing up (by which I mostly mean undressing) for V Magazine.

The V doesn't stand for "Voilà" but... Voilà. Here she is boys...

More thoughts / drrty photos after the jump... 

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Gene Kelly (& My 50 Favorite Actors)

Happy Centennial to Gene Kelly (and all film fans who love him)!

100 years ago on this very day Eugene Curran Kelly was born in Pittsburgh. His mom pushed him into dance class but he didn't commit to becoming a dancer until the age of 15. At 29 fame hit with Broadway's "Pal Joey." Almost immediately thereafter he accidentally (or at least halfheartedly since he intended to return to stage) lept from the stage to the screen and stayed, starting with a co-starring role in For Me and My Gal (1942, previously covered -- he credits Judy Garland with teaching him how to act for cameras). Kelly remains the best silver screen song & dance man of all time (sorry Astaire!) and since musicals are the perfect genre, making full use of every tool available to filmmakers aurally and visually, he also happens to be one of my ten favorite movie stars ever of either gender. I'd hoped to celebrate Kelly all month long but time gets away from you in the dog days of summer. Ah well, at least we had Singin' in the Rain (1952)!!!

So herewith a quick semi-revised list...

Nathaniel's 50 Favorite Male Movie Stars of All Time

Tier 1 - Yin and Yang
neither my life nor the movies would be complete without them

48 more after the jump

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Dog Day Afternoon"

Forty years ago today, Sonny Wortzik held up a bank on a hot Brooklyn day. It did not go well. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) was nominated for six Oscars -- the kind of nominations that go to well liked contemporary pictures that aren't thought of as particularly "visual" achievements -- winning only for Best Original Screenplay, but it's actually quite beautiful to look at. Credit, then, to director Sidney Lumet who understood the frantic extremes of humanity better than most auteurs, the casting director and the fine actors who are riveting yet absolutely recognizable as people who might actually be bank tellers, cops or pizza delivery boys  and the cinematography by Victor J Kemper whose camerawork and lighting ably capture the flickering nuances on faces and add considerably to the film's sweaty moody desperation. 

Consider these two shots: the first is Carol Kane as a bank hostage and Lance Henriksen as an FBI man.

They're shots that define what "Character Actor" means or at least what it should -- God, what faces!

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Take Three: Rosanna Arquette

Craig here with Take Three. Today three New York stories starring Rosanna Arquette

Takes One & Two: Desperately Seeking Susan and After Hours (both 1985)
Rosanna Arquette was very much at home in Eighties New York. As "Roberta Glass" in Susan Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan and "Marcy Franklin" in Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, she had some strange and bewildering night-time adventures. Her well-to-do New Jersey housewife in the former sought and stalked an elusive Madonna; in the latter she was a curious, oddball girl courted by a desperate Griffin Dunne. These two films were early high points in Arquette’s career and established her as one of the ‘80s most likeable character actresses.

Susan was all about chasing the idea of Madonna, but it was Arquette who led us through Seidelman’s madcap Manhattan to do so. You couldn’t blame Roberta for wanting to add mystery to her life, dull as it was as a bored, mousy housewife. The plot hijinx involved a jacket that “used to belong to Jimi Hendrix”, mistaken identity at Battery Park, stolen Nefertiti earrings that got her into trouble with a creepy Will Patton and a bonus romance with a sensitive projectionist (Aiden Quinn) was just a bonus.

More dark and comic nights for Rosanna's soul after the jump...

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"What you are about to see is true..."


40 years ago at this very moment the events dramatized in Dog Day Afternoon began in Brooklyn. Tonight, we'll look at the 70s classic for Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Join us! 

early "best shot" arrivals
Antagony & Ecstacy 
Film Actually


MIFF 4: New Gay Films

Glenn here winding down with the Melbourne Film Festival coverage. For whatever reason, MIFF’s selection of queer films is never particularly large. I wasn’t able to attend the AIDS documentary How to Survive a Plague, although I’ve heard it’s a powerful experience, but I did get along to Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On that follows a nine-year relationship between a Danish documentary filmmaker (Thure Lindhardt, Into the Wild) and a lawyer (Zachary Booth, Damages, Dark Horse) in New York City. I know Nathaniel’s not a fan (and I can certainly see why as there are problematic areas), but it’s rare for a “gay film” to find a positive foothold in the critical community so that made it a veritable must see.

There’s a moment when Lindhardt’s Erik passes a graffiti sign that reads “FAKE YOUR BEAUTY”, which is actually a good motto for Keep the Lights On. Sachs has certainly made his film look very nice, a professionalism that is sadly lacking from much gay cinema, but it doesn’t quite cover up the fact that the movie doesn’t have anything particularly new to say – in the end it’s still a domestic drama about two people torn apart by tragedy. The actors, especially Lindhardt walking a tightrope of fey, are wonderful and Sachs has imbued the visuals with a warm New York glow without ever resorting to travelogue sightseeing imagery. The song score by Arthur Russell could nauseate some, but I found the dizzying crooning to be lovely. Meanwhile, the gay sex scenes are refreshingly realistic and open, plus the screenplay by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias thankfully avoids preachy grandstanding about Gay Issues (although an out-of-nowhere AIDS scare is on the nose).

On the flip side… the film is, from my limited readings, based on his own experiences and he has obviously slanted the film in his favour. Lindhardt, as his own stand in, plays a documentarian who wins the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival… was that his own form of intellectual bribery? Keep the Lights On eventually went on to win the same prize earlier this year. Hmmm. Elsewhere, Booth sadly gets too little to do in spite of his characters downward spiral. Likewise, Paprika Steen (we love her!) is underused as Erik’s sister and feels like a superfluous plot strand that the director didn’t know how to fully utilise. 

It’s certainly no Weekend, or even Brotherhood (a Danish gay drama that also starred Lindhardt), but I did find much to like about this film. It arguably should have ended some ten minutes earlier – a trend of any film festival, surely, are independent productions that should have ended ten minutes earlier – and finished on a more ambiguous note, but it does enough interesting work with the clichés of gay life to make it a rewarding watch. (B)

A conservative Iranian taxi driver whose husband is in jail accepts a fare from a woman she finds on the roadside who’s desperate to flee an arranged marriage. What makes Negar Azarbayjani’s delicate Facing Mirrors so interesting is that the cab passenger is actually a pre-op transsexual. It’s a road trip as unconventional as (to be entirely reductive about it) Transamerica, but… well, you know, better. Unburdened by that American film’s stunt casting of a celebrity, Azarbayjani’s film is able to lend both characters depth and genuine worries of the heart and brain without busying the viewer with “Wow! Look at the transformation! Wow!” style thoughts.

The screenplay by Azarbayjani and Fereshteh Taepoor eventually gets bogged down in the preachy “aren’t we all the same?” semantics that I just praised Keep the Lights On for avoiding. Subtlety is hardly this film’s strong suit. However, there’s still a thrill in seeing Iranian filmmakers take on prickly subjects, and the performance of Shayesteh Irani (the incredible Offside) is a powerful one. (B-)

By far the best of the gay cinema on offer was Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari. Traipsing the familiar coming-of-age-while-coming-out path of many before it (like other excellent recent ethnic-centric examples Pariah and Circumstance), this sublime teen drama set amongst an American immigrant community has such an authentic, illuminating quality to it that it proved to be one of my highlights of the entire festival. Starring Fenessa Pineda as a bright young student whose parents see education as a way out of menial labour and Venecia Troncoso as her rebellious, new-girl-in-town friend, Mosquita y Mari is perhaps the finest examinations of real world teenagers I’ve seen since Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park.

Guerrero immediately instils her film with a dazzling sense of place. The sun-drenched surrounds of the Huntington Park area is so lovingly lit that you can feel the sweaty brow of the Californian sun permeate through the screen. The cinematography by Magela Crosignani grabbed me with its constant hazy oasis of a far-off big city promising a better life, as well as the purple and orange sunsets that belie its modest budget (this is just one of many films I noticed end credits for thanking Kickstarter, Pozible, and other fundraising schemes). The music choices, too, are fabulous and mirror the ever-expanding horizons of its core characters. Initially peppering the soundtrack with the stereotypical twang of a guitar and the stroke of a mournful piano, the music eventually encompasses jungle trance, hip-hop, Latin, and synth pop. Just one of the many smart moves by this first-time director. As the screenplay tackles identity within a community that struggles with it, the actors – especially the two leads (hey, they actually look like kids!) – really sell the confusion, elation, flirtation and disappointment. This is an impressive, sweet and sincere gem of a film. (A- / B+)


Have You Ever Seen "Jaws" On the Big Screen?

If not, don't miss your big chance Thursday night!

Bruce & Steven. True Love Always

Many readers think I'm anti-Spielberg -- when you're critical of any sacred cow people think you hate him/her -- but I love the early stuff as much as anyone. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is amazingly "open" in a way too few films are, Raiders of the Lost Ark is about as fun as adventure films can be, and the blockbuster that created Summer Movie Season, Jaws, is impeccable.

Cinemark's Classic Series is a Thursday night moviegoing option in dozens of cities, large and small (sadly it doesn't play in Manhattan though I can't really complain about our access to revivals). The fall series, which you can buy individual tickets to or in bulk for $30, features:

  • August 23rd, Jaws
  • August 30th, High Noon
  • September 6th, Doctor Zhivago
  • September 13th, Chinatown
  • September 20th, The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • September 27th, The African Queen

Oscar buffs will need to have seen all six at some point, so if you haven't, why not cross them off your list ASAP? I hate The African Queen (yes, it's true) but the rest of the series looks delicious and the films have been digitally restored for the occasion. Jaws, Chinatown and Doctor Zhivago in particular strike me as perfect options to seek in revival houses or in screening series like this because they're all slow boil movies paced in a way that pays off enormously in the long haul but is absolutely unlike how movies play out these days so it's best to see them on the screen without the interruptions that you'd get at home.

I wish I could see Jaws tomorrow night! 

It may have scarred me as a child (even though I didn't see it until the 80s) but I love it anyway. See it for me tomorrow night! Or for yourself if you've never seen it all blown up real good.