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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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Monday
Oct082012

Review: "The Paperboy" 

This article was previously published in my column at Towleroad


Now the very exciting correspondence is in the bottom box. In case you're interested."
-Charlotte Bless

I can't recall how THE PAPERBOY begins exactly though I saw it just a few days ago. Was it a shot of Zac Efron's body gliding through a pool, losing its hard fixed shape through the watery prism. Was it a grisly black and white flashback of a murder? Was it Macy Gray smoking, staring dully just off center of the camera. It doesn't matter though my confusion is telling. Lee Daniel's third movie is a mad undisciplined mix of just these things: eroticized bodies, physical violence and character beats. If the film never settles down, eventually you settle into it. 

Macy Gray helps. Her voice is so evocative she doesn't even need to be singing to send you. Director Lee Daniels, wise to the specific gifts of his actresses (the proof is all over Precious), knows this.

Macy Gray is your guide through this sensationalistic scuzzy story

Continue...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct082012

NYFF: "Room 237" Cult of the Overlook Hotel

Michael C. here with a look at one of the under-the-radar festival hits appearing the NYFF.

One of the subjects of Rodney Ascher’s Room 237 is convinced that Kubrick’s The Shining is the director’s thinly veiled confession that he helped NASA fake the moon landing. He admits at one point to wondering if his idea stretched plausibility, but he adds that any doubt went out the window when he spotted the image of the Apollo 11 rocket on young Danny Torrence’s sweater in a pivotal scene. What other explanation could there possibly be for Kubrick the perfectionist including such a thing?

This is the refrain all the subjects of Ascher’s documentary return to as they unspool their elaborate theories about the supposed hidden meanings of the horror masterpiece: Stanley Kubrick was a master, a control freak, a genius. Nothing ever found its way into his films by accident. To hear them speak, every detail, no matter how incidental, was one more ingredient in the filmmaker’s complex web of symbolism. Theories range from The Shining as a commentary on the genocide of the Native American, to a reading of the story as an allegory for the Holocaust.

By opting not to show any talking heads Ascher grants all the speakers equal footing, combining their words into an aural labyrinth of competing evidence. Some of their analysis is compelling. An attempt to map the floor plan of the Overlook Hotel reveals how rooms appear to shift and disappear from scene to scene. Other digressions are straight up kooky, as with the moon landing theorist’s proposition that the capital letters on a key chain marked “ROOM No. 237” are a subliminal attempt on Kubrick’s part to plant the words MOON and ROOM in the mind’s of audiences. (The film is too kind to point out they can also be arranged to spell MORON)

What keeps Room 237 from merely being an overblown DVD bonus feature is the cleverness with which Ascher uses the minutiae of the theories to explore the way our minds hunger to find meaning wherever we look. Our brains our designed to find connections, Room 237 says, and The Shining with its bottomless subtext, inexplicable imagery, and seemingly deliberate continuity errors provide a playground where such impulses can run amok.

At the center of the doc’s hedge maze of theories is Kubrick himself, still mysterious, still elusive as ever. Room 237 works broadly as a meditation on the relationship between artist and audience, but more specifically as a demonstration on the continued hold Kubrick has over audiences. Room 237 is a smart, engaging, often funny film. Should Ascher ever decided to apply the technique to other films I would be interested to see the results, even if another attempt may not work as well without Kubrick on hand to toy with our minds. B 

More on The Shining

More NYFF
Lincoln's Noisy "Secret" Debut
The Bay An Eco Conscious Slither
The Paperboy & the Power of Nicole Kidman's Crotch  
Bwakaw is a Film Festival's Best Friend
Frances Ha, Dazzling Brooklyn Snapshot
Barbara Cold War Slow Burn
Our Children's Death March 
Hyde Park on Hudson Historical Fluff 

Monday
Oct082012

Oscar Horrors: "THEM!"

Oscar Horrors celebrates those rare Oscar nominated achievements in genre films. Here's Matt for today's creepy crawly entry...

HERE LIES... THEM!, flushed and crushed Under The Sea in the competition for the 1954 Oscar for Best Special Effects.

It isn't hard to imagine what this movie might look like if it were made today instead of at the pinnacle of the Hollywood nuclear horror era. The ants would probably look stunning. Every little hair would shine, glisten and twitch like the Orlacks in Beasts of the Southern Wild. A team of designers and artists would slave over every detail of their movement for months. They might even be scary. But, like so many of the great horror movies in history, the monster isn't what everyone's worried about.

Still, the special effects team on Them! earned an Oscar nomination for their exceptional craft, only losing to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The ants are the most obvious manifestation of special effects in the film. They were hand-built and operated by hidden crews. If you're lucky enough to have this movie on VHS, you can even catch a glimpse of an open-bodied ant just before the end. The ants are clunky, awkward, and often laughable, but that's not the point. Them! is one of the all-time great examples of a movie monster that frightens the audience through association. The movie is on par with The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and War of the Worlds as a cultural barometer. Even if the filmmakers weren't sitting around a table saying, "You know... this movie should be a metaphor for the national fear complex and nuclear danger," they were aware that the tenor of American society in the mid-50s produced enough material to frighten anyone. All you had to do was mention "nuclear" and hint at large-scale destruction.

But as far as the special effects go, Them! successfully uses many effects in addition to the ants. The movie has solid back-projection in many places, something we can never take for granted. The climactic battle is done with real cinematic panache. In fact, Gordon Douglas' direction is exactly what motivates the success of these effects. He moves quickly at points, but understands that it's scarier to watch the beast creep up on someone rather than play for pure shock value. The film was originally intended to be shot with several 3D sequences and in color.

 

A last-minute camera malfunction prevented them from doing this, but some scenes are still obviously meant to be done in three dimensions -- the most noticable being a flamethrower blowing straight into the camera.

Not only is Them! great, October-ready fun, it's a genuine, classic film -- one that spins a prevalent social fear into the structure of a Hollywood monster B-movie. 

previously on Oscar Horrors
American Werewolf in London -Best Makeup
Addams Family Values  -Best Art Direction
Season 1 Index

Monday
Oct082012

First & Last: "Where is he? I shan't ask you politely next time"

first and last puzzles. The first image (pre-title sequence) and the last lines of dialogue from a motion picture.

first line of dialogue

Where is he? I shan't ask you politely next time."

last line of dialogue

Man: What were you about to ask me?
Woman: [Character Name]... how the hell do we get those diamonds down again?"

Can you guess the movie?

Monday
Oct082012

Don't You (Forget About Link)

Glory of the 80s (and 90s)
Stale Popcorn on the recent trend of movies referencing the heyday of teen cinema like Pitch Perfect's obsession with The Breakfast Club
Scott C details his process in creating his Back to the Future illustration for "The Great Showdowns"
Gawker on Tori Amos and Tim Burton's new projects (Gold Dust & Frankenweenie) which are essentially recreations of past projects
Mondo Musicals sees the directors cut of Little Shop of Horrors and lives to tell about it.

More Linkage 
Gold Derby thinks the Oscar race is over and it's a 'monster sweep' for Les Misérables.  So, essentially we're right back to our initial April predictions :) 
John August, famous screenwriter, is answering fan questions online about Frankenweenie
MNPP Daniel Radcliffe gets horny 
Cinematic Corner reminds us that it's Autumn and we couldn't be happier about that. Beautiful screencaps
Playbill Congrats to Broadway divas Audra McDonald and Will Swenson who were married yesterday
Pajiba 10 Actors You Probably Didn't Know Could Dance. I did know most of these as a musical actors obsessive but Chris Hemsworth's hips took me by surprise

Finally... and taking us full circle back to famous movies of the 80s, did you hear that Peter Gabriel had a surprise for audiences in California this weekend? He brought John Cusack out on stage for "In Your Eyes"!


But it was only for a delivery. It was Gabriel and not Cusack who lifted the boombox up high to echo the actor's famous Say Anything pose.

Sunday
Oct072012

Liam Neeson Delivers Another Box Office Beatdown

Jean Grey, mysteriously having lost all of her mutant powers, relies on Liam Neeson for rescueLiam Neeson's surprising late career popularity continues. People love to see him putting the vicious beat down on evil types. Even if the film is as generically titled and redundantly plotted (from what I hear) as Taken 2. I wonder when we'll Neeson working a softer side again onscreen like he did in Nell, Husbands and Wives or Kinsey. Well I suppose he was more cerebral than soft in Kinsey, but the point stands. Kinsey was only 8 years ago but it seems like a different lifetime ago. It must be all those dead bodies he's left behind him onscreen since!

Box Office Dozen
01 TAKEN 2  $50 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE*
02 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA  $26.3 (cum. $76)
03 PITCH PERFECT $14.7 *EXPANDING* (cum. $21.6)
04 LOOPER $12.2 (cum. $40.3) review
05 FRANKENWEENIE $11.5 *NEW IN WIDE RELEASE* on the original short

06 END OF WATCH  $4 (cum $32.8)
07 TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE $3.8 (cum. $29.7)
08 HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET $3.6 (cum. $27.5)
08 THE MASTER $1.8 (cum. $12.3) Team Experience
09 FINDING NEMO 3-D $1.5 (cum. $38.9 this time around) 

I'm sad that the surprisingly worthwhile and funny Frankenweenie didn't seem to connect with ticket buyers. It's Tim Burton's best since Corpse Bride. (Maybe he should stick to animation for awhile?).

This weekend I went to Pitch Perfect with my two besties. The movie wasn't quite Aca-mazing -- I wish the filmmaking itself had been stronger -- but it was definitely a good time. Our favorites were Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) who the marketing campaign is forcing has chosen as everyone's favorite, and Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) who trusted that if you missed her barely audible punchlines, they were still funny. She was right.

I have to set fire to things to feel joy"

What did you see this weekend?

 

Sunday
Oct072012

Oscar Horrors: Best Transformation Scene... Ever

[In the returning daily October series "Oscar Horrors" we look at those rare beasts. Film contributions in the horror genre that went on to Oscar nominations. Here's new contributor Peter Swanson...]

HERE LIES ... An American Werewolf in London, which won the 1981 Academy Award for Best Makeup, the first year that award was given in regular competition.

Peter from Armchair Audience here. A quick story first. As a film-obsessive I've tried hard to not be that guy (you know the one) who insists his/her friends watch all their favorite movies. However, a few years ago and in a mildly intoxicated state, I forced my wife and dinner guest to sit through An American Werewolf in London, accompanied by my own personal commentary track. When werewolf-bitten David Kessler (David Naughton) first turns into a hairy beast I (allegedly) repeated the phrase,"Best transformation scene ever," about twenty times. That phrase has come to haunt me through the years--my wife likes to spring it on me any time I suggest watching a movie to friends.

Here's the thing: It is the best transformation scene ever.

No amount of CGI wizardry will ever match Rick Baker's amazing use of latex and air bladders to convey the bone-popping pain of turning from man to beast. But even if An American Werewolf in London never had that transformation scene, it would still be deserving of the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup. There's so much good stuff, from the werewolf itself that rampages around on four legs, to the decomposing Griffin Dunne, to the Nazi mutants that appear in David's terrifying dream. 

Rick Baker has since gone on to receive eleven nominations in this category and to win seven times. But even his recent state-of-the-art digital work on the sub-par The Wolfman doesn't come close to matching the grisly perfection of what he did for John Landis's cult hit. It's crucial to the film, as well, since horror-comedy, now a staple of genre-filmmaking, was a pretty new concept in 1981. It wasn't just the notion that comedy would be mixed with horror elements (Abbott and Costello at one point cornered this market) but that the horror elements were so genuinely terrifying and gruesome. Griffin Dunne, playing David's ill-fated traveling companion Jack Goodman, kills in the movie because of his droll commentary, but his make-up work, especially the early scenes with his face half torn away are truly disturbing.

Make-up isn't the only reason to re-visit this film. Sure, David Naugton is a little hammy and stiff as the title character, but the movie works on all the different levels it aspires to: gothic tale, slapstick comedy, gore-fest, tragic romance. Griffin Dunne delivers his funniest role, and Jenny Agutter, currently playing a kindly nun on The Midwife Calls, elevates the material as a sad and sexy nurse.

And, of course, 'the best transformation scene... ever.'