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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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Tuesday
Aug212012

Posterized: Tony Scott (1944-2012)

As you've undoubtedly heard, director Tony Scott, youngest brother of Ridley, died Sunday after throwing himself off a bridge at the age of 68 just two years after his latest huge hit (Unstoppable). The internet was awash with morbid rumors about why (an inoperable brain cancer diagnosis chief among them) but when it comes to private struggles of the soul, you never can expect to know so we stick to the facts. Facts: A lot of people saw and liked his movies; His feature career as a director spanned from 1971's Loving Memory (not the type of movie you'd associate with his filmmaking persona) through 2010's Unstoppable (exactly the type of you'd associate with his filmmaking persona).

Tony Scott with his preferred leading man Denzel Washington. They made five films together.

Somewhere along the line I decided I wasn't interested in him as a filmmaker but not every filmmaker is for ever moviegoer (nor should they be). My disinterest was partially spurred on by a me-imposed sibling rivalry with his older brother Ridley Scott -- rather silly since Ridley and Tony worked together often and no love was ever lost. But Ridley already had two indisputable classics under his belt (Alien and Blade Runner) by the time Tony Scott was making his Hollywood debut so the die was cast. If Tony had continued making movies like The Hunger chances are I would never have tuned him out but his bread and butter... in fact his entire diet... was the kinetic multiplex-ready A list male-driven shoot em up. Not enough actresses! But looking back through his filmography brought back more memories than I expected.

How many Tony Scott pictures have you seen?

Loving Memory (1971) | The Hunger (1983) | Top Gun (1986)

The Hunger is the Scott films I've seen the most often, a favorite of my best friend's and thus in regular rotation on VHS for the first decade of its life. Bonus Points: Deneuve & Sarandon making sexploitative vampire love long before True Blood repopularized vampires as sex gods....er, devils. It was also impossible to live through the 1980s without absorbing Top Gun into your very pores (my oldest brother loved it).

more posters and memories after the jump

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug202012

because the night belongs to linkers ♩

Serious Film "Masterpiece Down"! Twelve masterpieces that didn't even get a single vote in Sight & Sound's polling of nearly 1,000 critics including (gulp) Network!  
Observations on Film Art takes a long strong look at the praise, criticisms and "innovations" of Christopher Nolan.
Tit for Tat the finalists for Oscar submission from The Philippines. They've yet to be nominated
i09 has a hilarious rundown of this weekend's penultimate True Blood season 5 episode. Yes, I stopped writing about that show immediately after hating the first few episodes... but I haven't quite been able to stop watching it yet. This is why TV is bad for you. 

Movie City News David Poland crunches some numbers on Hollywood's commercially successful directors and what it takes to justify a $200 million budget
Encore's World is doing some sort of bracketed tournament of essential 90s performances. I'm horrified that Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) lost to Leonardo DiCaprio (What's Eating Gilbert Grape) without a fight. This will not stand! (Actually maybe that's a sophie's choice, both of them being brilliant.) But stand it must. Note to all people, not just Andrew, running polls: leave them open longer! 
Take Out All The Words  has an illuminating piece about approaching tragedies (like The Dark Knight Rises shooting) within a normally "funny" milieu like editorial cartooning
MNPP Jake Gyllenhaal's new role involves gambling like crazy. Gambling addict! Gambling is what actors who aren't boring / predictable do every time they sign on for a movie role, so Jake G probably didn't have to do much research.

Randomness
AV Club Sutton Foster interviewed on her transition from stage to small screen on the delightful Bunheads.
Towleroad Rosie O'Donnell had a heart attack! Get well soon, Rosie.
YouTube The Game of Thrones theme performed by a cat 

Live Music Send-Off
Russell Crowe ♥ Patti Smith. In Iceland no less (on a break from filming Noah perhaps? or burning the candle at both ends?)

Monday
Aug202012

To Our San Francisco Readers

I lost my ship."

See it Tuesday night (tomorrow) and report back!

♥ the Castro Theatre.

Monday
Aug202012

Review: "Sparkle"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad.

Leaving for the theater to see Sparkle, the boyfriend wrinkled up his nose. "Is that that Dreamgirls remake?" he asked rhetorically. He doesn't care about movies (...I know!) so I just said "yes" rather than getting into it. Sparkle, like Dreamgirls before it, does pair an "American Idol" alum in her big screen debut (Jordin Sparks / Jennifer Hudson) with a genuine legend (Whitney / Beyoncé) to tell the story of a troubled female pop trio in 1960s Detroit attempting to make it big as Motown explodes. But the similarities are cosmetic. (Which is not, unfortunately, to Sparkle's benefit. If you're going to load up your screenplay with familiar clichés, rob from superior work!)

The immediate jarring difference between the two films is first noticeable in the Jennifer/Jordin continuum. In both films the biggest talent of the trio has to play second fiddle to "the hot one" but only in the earlier property does the Major Talent bristle mesmerizingly against her runner-up status; Jordin's "Sparkle" is a willing wallflower, happy to let her sister (the crazy gorgeous Carmen Ejogo) sing all of her songs whilst shimmering in the warmth of the spotlight. Sparkle's sister's name is "Sister" and their group is called "Sister and Her Sisters" and the men competing dramatically for their hands (that's a euphemism for vaginas) are named "Stix" (Derek Luke) and "Satin" (Mike Epps). So any moviegoer with a sybilant "S" should avoid all discussions of the movie

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Aug192012

148 Days Til Oscar Nominations!

Do you ever marvel at the countdown clock in the lefthand sidebar and think "Wow, only ___ days until Oscar nominations!". I know I do. As of right now there are only 148 days and some hours left until Oscar nominations. 21 weeks! That means the universe has plenty of time to back me up on my current predictions or destroy them savagely. Either way is fun for me which is, I suppose, why I've never been able to quit predicting Hollywood's High Holy Night.

CHART UPDATES

Best Picture & Best Director - The Great Gatsby and Baz Luhrmann exit the charts, both moving to summer 2013. And though I never had faith in Gatsby as an actual finalist (the book is too perfect as a book) what can rush in to replace it on the charts? The race is still wide open as it should be.

Gatsby will sit this particular party out. He'll throw his own next Summer

But from where I sit though I'm sure some will disagree, the franchise hopefuls are toast. A lot of people still think that The Gidling of the Lord of the Rings Lily: Part 1 of 3 will factor in but Oscar is not Emmy and LotR is not The West Wing. Fantasy is still a novelty for Oscar voters and I can't imagine that handing the last one 11 Oscars won't feel like enough of a reward for Jackson & Middle Earth. Yes, they've had a decade long breather but I figure the only way The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is competing for the top prize is if people go crazier for it than the original trilogy. And that would be an unexpected journey. 

Meanwhile I suspect that The Avengers and The Dark Knight Concludes Divisively will have a rough time making it through the wild rapids of winter campaigning and I don't expect either of them in the big show beyond a few craft nods. I don't even have faith in the eagerly awaited Django Unchained as an Oscar hopeful. Quentin Tarantino, when he leans toward retro remixes of less prestigious film genres, is just not necessarily for them (see: Jackie Brown, Kill Bill). Yes,  he leans towards that.. always... and he has made two big Oscar hits. But Pulp Fiction was the kind of pop-cultural zeitgeist breakthrough that's impossible to ignore and Inglourious Basterds was a WW II fantasy and Oscar does his own share of fantasizing about that.

All of this nitpicking doubt leads me to believe that Beasts of the Southern Wild, a movie that doesn't look much like an Oscar film (yay!), is on its way to locked up status as an Oscar film. While it didn't become the crossover hit we'd hoped it would, it's done well enough financially to ride the "beloved indie / critical darling" into the mainstream competition for gold. (Think Winter's Bone.)

Best Actor - It's been 11 years since Denzel Washington won his second Oscar and in that whole time he hasn't done anything worth Oscar's time. Will they welcome him back if Flight is a big hit?

What's Denzel's poison? And was he drinking it before the Flight?

 

 

The way I see it mainstream dramas that become big hits are shoo in for Oscar play. Oscar likes drama best and when films without genre trappings that are intended for adults soar at the box office, they join in the applause. I'm feeling it'll hit. Just a feeling.

But the big question in Best Actor is whether the Weinstein's will try to convince AMPAS voters that Joaquin Phoenix is "supporting" Phillip Seymour Hoffman (or the other way around) in The Master. If they risk a double lead campaign and the film is the critical mega-success the internet seems to be expecting, could they be the first Actor Pair since *gulp* Amadeus (twenty-eight years ago) to hog 40% of the shortlist? It's hilarious (and depressing) to view Amadeus in retrospect and know that campaign teams would try to pretend that Salieri or Mozart were "supporting" players in their own riveting brutal musical duet. 

Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress -- We discussed these last week here

Best Supporting Actor - This category hasn't come into focus yet which should make the fall extra exciting. So for the moment, you can predict just about anything (at least here) and feel like a true psychic. You can feel like a psychic right up until the moment the films open and prove you wrong! But the foggy nature of the Supporting goods me wonder if I'm not underestimating those that have already arrived and delighted (like Matthew McConaughey and Michael Fassbender) despite the lowbrow nature of their roles... at least accordingi to Oscar's general aesthetics.

Ruth E Carter, two time Oscar nominees, doing retro-chic looks for Sparkle

Best Visuals and Best Aurals - UPDATES STILL IN PROGRESS -- THIS TAKES TIME.
The latest film to enter the ring visually and aurally is the Motown musical Sparkle (my review tomorrow) and while I don't expect Oscar play anywhere stranger things have happened in the below the line categories. 

Screenplay, Animated, Foreign Film and the Complete Prediction Chart. Check them out and report back.

Sunday
Aug192012

"Cast This!" Box Office Special: Female Expendables?

Sylvester Stallone and his team of aged action heroes ruled the box office with their high-octane throwback The Expendables 2. The title is perfect because it's the kind of disposable flick you can imagine people watching half-assed for years on end on cable while eating, cleaning, making phone calls, taking a sick day, you name it.

Top o' the Box Office *newbies in bold*
01 THE EXPENDABLES 2 $28.7 
02 THE BOURNE LEGACY $17 (cum $69.5)
03 PARANORMAN $14 
04 THE CAMPAIGN $11.8 (cum. $51.6)
05 SPARKLE $12 ...more on this one soon 
06 DARK KNIGHT RISES $12 (Cum. $409.9) Review
07 THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN $10.9 

The Expendables franchise is weirdly sexist -- how can you have like a dozen action stars per movie (*stars* being a smudgey concept here once you're past the one name icons), many of them past their prime, and never include any of the women who've led or played a major hand in action hits in any decade? Yes, they exist! Word is out that the producers are planning on backing a female heavy edition of the franchise, a spin-off if you will. Why we're not allowed to have a co-ed Expendables I do not know. 

But let's help the producers out by casting it for them in the comments.
I'll start right here with six must-haves from Nathaniel's Crowded Actressexual Brain

 

  • Sigourney Weaver -- seriously, if she's not already at the tippity top of the "throw money at her" list, they're imbeciles.
  • Michelle Yeoh -- always riveting when she fights and a damn good actress, too.
  • Linda Hamilton - Duh! Even her name is tough.
  • Milla Jovovich - knows her away around an action scene and will get naked for your R rating
  • Daryl Hannah - because she's an awesomely imposing amazon (think Blade Runner and Kill Bill) and doesn't get nearly enough work 
  • Pam Grier - because think of the fun they could have referencing her fame-making work. Razors in an afro please! 

Once I got started I couldn't stop. I literally thought of 22 more actresses who would be perfect while collecting these photos -- like give me a scene of Run Franka Potente Run. Even if it's just a cameo! -- including recent action divas like Léa Seydoux (so very hawt in Mission: Impossible -Ghost Protocol or Kate Beckinsale (fresh in the brain on account of Total Recall).

But I don't want to hog all the fun. Which actresses would you line up to see in a huge dumb explosive ensemble actioner? Give me at least six of your favorite options, preferrably ten, ranked, in the comments. Maybe we'll revisit this once we have all your lists.

Ready... set... GO!

 

Saturday
Aug182012

"David Niven: a Villanelle"

I've become so enamored of all of the participating "Best Shot" writers that I miss people when they don't show up and stalk their blogs. Peter Swanson of Armchair Audience recently joined the informal "best shot" group and when I noticed no Singin' in the Rain post last Wednesday, I started clicking around his blog only to discover he's a published poet, and a fine witty one, too. He often writes about the movies and is currently completing work on a sonnet sequence about all 53 Alfred Hitchcock movies. 53 !!!

With his permission I'm sharing his 2007 poem inspired by Oscar winner David Niven which was originally originally published in The Vocabula Review. 

"David Niven: a Villanelle"
-by Peter Swanson 


There is a better world to live in: 
Dressed for dinner in black tie, 
Debonair like David Niven. 

With shoulders wide and sun-browned skin, 
The mustache trimmed, the bluest eye. 
There is a better world to live in, 

Where formality’s a given, 
A place where you, in black, and I, 
As neatly dressed as David Niven, 

Drink silver cocktails shaken 
Very cold and very dry. 
There is a better world to live in, 

Of string quartets, of My Blue Heaven, 
Of clouds and girls that never cry, 
Of men that look like David Niven, 

Or close enough, something akin, 
Beneath some starry, starry sky. 
There is a better world to live in, 
Dead and gone like David Niven.