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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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Sundance: Inhibitions Are Abandoned in "The Overnight"

Michael C here to chime in on a film that has people buzzing in Park City...

Patrick Brice's The Overnight is one of those long night of the soul movies where things start out with dinner and laughter and then the characters drink and smoke away their inhibitions, repressed feelings bubble to surface, and the mood edges into the surreal as the night creeps toward sunrise. As soon as we spot the inviting blue glow of the pool we know some time around midnight the clothes are coming off and the characters will pass a point of no return...

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Sundance: "The Witch" is a Riveting One-Of-A-Kind Horror Experience

Michael C. here with one of the big discoveries of Sundance 2015.

There is something happening in the horror genre right now.  Maybe its a response to the dreadful depths to which mainstream horror titles sank in the past decade but like antibodies fighting off an infection the indie scene has churned out one great movie after another in recent years: The Babadook, The Guest, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, Under the Skin (which is totally horror, if not only horror). Like an unstoppable slasher the genre will just not stay down. Already at this Sundance we have had the astonishing It Follows and now comes Robert Eggers' The Witch another peak for the horror genre. 

The Witch is a true blast of originality that immerses the viewer in 1630's New England as a family of puritans banished to live isolated on the edge of wilderness is beset by the occult terrors residing in the nearby woods. The result is more than simply jump-outta-your-seat scary (though it is often that) it is genuinely unnerving in a way few films can manage. The effect is like a cold hand slowly closing over your heart.

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The lost films of January

Tim here. For such a slow, snowbound month, January sure is busy: talking about Sundance, talking about the Oscars, talking about the political ramifications of not recognizing Selma vs. the blockbuster box office of American Sniper. And with all that talk about films that have been and films that will be, it's a bit too easy to lose track of the actual films that are actually sitting right there waiting to be watched.

So I'd like to ask you to take this moment with me, just before we enter the second month of 2015, to reflect on the movie year that has been. All 28 days of it. Sure, January is a dumping ground, but that doesn't mean that there can's be secret gems hiding in the junk, and before it's too late, I'd like to call your attention to some of these midwinter presents that, if we go by the snoozy box office for all films that don't involve shooting Iraqis, you probably haven't seen yet.

Paddington and more January diamonds in the rough below the jump

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Introducing Sarah Snook, Babadook Slayer!

Americans should probably get to know Sarah Snook. If you’re like me then you probably missed her in Julia Leigh’s unsettling Sleeping Beauty, but as recently as 2012 she was hailed as Australia’s Emma Stone (just google "sarah snook australia's emma stone") for her excessively charming performance in the (otherwise terrible) local rom-com Not Suitable for Children and last year impressed in a small role in the apocalyptic rave thriller These Final Hours. Her biggest role yet, however, came in the form of the Spierig Brothers' Predestination and at last night's “Australian Oscars”, the AACTA Awards, she won the coveted Best Lead Actress prize, stealing it from the grip of two mightily formidable contenders.

The big winners + Cate Blanchett without her shoes (!!!) after the jump...

Who me?

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Mom, James Franco & Jack Black Are Confused About Their Sexuality Again!

This article was originally published in a slightly shorter version in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Nathaniel reporting from Sundance. One of the most interesting trends of this year's Sundance Film Festival is confrontational stories about people being pushed out of or willfully stepping away from their sexual comfort zones. The Diary of a Teenager Girl has earned the best reviews and the most press but let's discuss two films with more LGBT appeal.  I Am Michael, a drama about religion and homosexuality, and The D Train, a comedy about a high school reunion, both feature grown men whose lives spiral out of control when they stray from their true selves. [More...]

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What Link Gets Wrong About Blog

AV Club deep screen capture to reveal how well constructed shots in Divergent dont make for a good film
BuzzFeed great essay on the current relevancy of Before Sunrise (1995) and instant nostalgia
Heat Vision Tyrese Gibson obsessed with playing Green Lantern in a film that's at least 5 years away based on a character already ruined by the movies 
Decider 10 essential movies about nuns from our beloved Black Narcissus to less impressive but famous offerings like Doubt

HuffPo Adam Scott and Jason Schwarzmann discuss their prosthetic penises in The Overnight. (Takeaway: no actor will ever truly be naked again onscreen. That's only for actresses) 
THR talks to the director of Book of Life - though disappointed by the lack of an Oscar nomination, he cherishes stories from fans about how it effected their families
Towleroad arts teacher in Texas does "Uptown Funk" with students. Cute. But I only share it because I love Uptown Funk because you know why (first verse) 
Playlist Paul Thomas Anderson loves Edge of Tomorrow and The Grand Budapest Hotel
THR Why Me and Earl and the Dying Girl did not choose the highest bidder at Sundance 

This Week's Must Read
You undoubtedly know already that Mark Harris is one of the best writers on movie culture and the awards beat in general (if for some insane reason you haven't read his first book Pictures at a Revolution, it's the most invaluable Oscar book since "Inside Oscar") but I think his latest column for Grantland is one of his all time finest. He goes deep on "How Selma Got Smeared: Historical Fiction And Its Malcontents" I only wish this essay had broken sooner before Oscar nomination voting.  Now you may be thinking 'please, Nathaniel, I have read enoug about Selma's LBJ problem' and you may even be thinking (as I have been) that complaints about Selma's "Oscar snub" are starting to feel weirder and weirder as the season progresses. Fact: Selma will now go down in movie history as a Best Picture nominee, something only 8 movies from hundreds and hundreds released in 2014 can claim.  But trust me you need to read this anyway.

Here's a part I particularly love (bold is mine) that is really illuminating about historical fiction:

About a third of the way into Selma, Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) has a private meeting with Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) in an Alabama church (this is not an invention of the movie; the two met in Selma on February 5, 1965, two weeks before Malcolm X was assassinated). The scene is introduced with a shrewd recurring device — an onscreen teletype legend that tells moviegoers what’s happening, but only through the warping prism of FBI surveillance. “C. King in Selma to meet with Negro militant Malcolm X. 03:46 p.m. LOGGED.” The description denotes the assumption of white law enforcement that a conspiracy of one kind is taking place — a clandestine meeting in which King may be moving closer to throwing in with a more militant, potentially violent faction of the movement. In reality, the “conspiracy” that’s unfolding is exactly the opposite; Malcolm tells the wary Coretta that he is not in Selma to impede her husband’s work, but to allow himself to be used, even to be misrepresented, to further King’s goals.


DuVernay’s view of the uses of history and of (mis)representation is not careless in this scene or in the movie; it’s clearly thought through. The onscreen typed summary is a perfectly deployed example of how something can be factually correct (meeting with a “Negro militant” is, literally, what Coretta King is doing) without being true; the movie, by contrast, finds many ways of being true without being strictly factual. That is exactly what good historical drama must sometimes do, and must be given permission to do, including in this scene itself, in which DuVernay has a character express an understanding that his presence and his motives may have to be slightly distorted in order to achieve a greater truth and justice.

And Harris illuminates it, strategically, in a scene not even involving LBJ.


Sundance: Fassbender Wanders The Frontier In The Unsatisfying "Slow West"

Michael C here reporting from an unseasonably warm Park City

John Maclean's Slow West is an ambitious western that falls short of its lofty aspirations because of its thin execution and its dud of a protagonist. The protagonist is 16-year-old Jay Cavendish played by Kodi Smit-McPhee as a naif spectacularly ill-equipped to deal with the dangers of frontier travel in 1870. The voice over from Michael Fassbender's tough guy bounty hunter opens the film with the observation that it's a miracle Cavendish made it as far he did without getting murdered. We in the audience size him up with his innocent doe eyes and his still-waiting-for-puberty physique and we quite agree. He would surely have been doomed had Fassbender's Silas not taken him under his wing as a travel companion. 

This all would be a fine dynamic for a film, the weathered cowboy dropping a cold dose of reality on the young fool with his romantic ideas about true love and the West. Unfortunately, Slow West tries to push the idea that Jay is some kind of pure soul with poetry in his heart who can impart a lesson to the brutes like Fassbender about aspiring to something higher. Actually I thought the kid came off like a dope...

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