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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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 "I love that two people independent of one another gave Claire Trevor an extra star simply for being Claire Trevor." - Glenn

"Interesting to see the take of young people on these movies." - Les

"That was fascinating. I love the thoughts on Executive Suite, post-post-WWII and the "benevolent patriarch." " - B.D.


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LFF: Saving Mr. Banks

David brings you one of the first reviews from the London Film Festival's world premiere of this unseen Oscar tip. Will Disney add some more statues to his vast collection?

Emma Thompson is an exquisite crier. Friends, acquaintances and enemies still cite her strand of Love Actually as easily the film’s strongest aspect, and her reaction to her husband’s thoughtful but incorrect present as one of the actress’ finest moments. There’s something about the way the composed, somewhat remote attitude crumbles, drawn all over Thompson’s face, that makes it so sympathetic and wistfully beautiful to witness. And it’s due to this, partly, that Saving Mr. Banks is as successful as it is – the experienced, perceptive way both Thompson and co-star Tom Hanks have of selling their monologues and close-ups, which in less experienced hands could so easily have seemed hackneyed and manipulative.

John Lee Hancock’s tale of the negotiations between Walt Disney (Hanks) and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Thompson) is pretty standard sentimental stuff, quickly establishing the hearty transatlantic binary between uptight Brit and liberal American. Travers insists on being called “Mrs. Travers”; Walt, his employees whisper to her, only works on a first name basis. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith’s screenplay mines this for as many laughs as it can possibly produce. [More]

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Remember When... We Didn't Know Who Would Star in "Gravity"?

I've been spending a great deal of time thinking about Sandra Bullock in Gravity lately. It's only natural when an actress is headlining an unqualified blockbuster that I'd do that but some of the time spent making like a contemplative Rodin-statue is my disconnect with the performance. I didn't love it or dislike it. I fall right in the middle. She's up to the task but no more or less.... to me. It doesn't remotely feel like an actor's movie to me -- though in all honesty I actually expected it to be given its one character focus. As a result I've been rather at a loss for explaining all the performance raves that have flown 'round ever since. And I've been stubbornly reluctant to concede that she was an Oscar lock. [Updated Best Actress chart]

My disconnect was aggravated by the fact that on the day it premiered and the explosion of "give her a second Oscar!" tweeting began... I had such a hard time imagining Cate Blanchett's hurricane force work in Blue Jasmine as a runner-up in this "versus!" contest in terms of quality. What's more Sandra's star turn wasn't even among the five best performances I had seen that month... let alone the whole of the year. While everyone was enjoying Sandra's survivalism on opening weekend I was still: reeling from Luminita Gheorghiu's savage mom in Child's Pose which would be a film-carrying nomination threat if it were in English along the lines of a Anjelica Huston in The Grifters (...and if it were being released in time); marvelling at Marion Cotillard's technique in The Immigrant which would be a threat if Oscar had shown any interest in Marion post-Oscar win (...and if it were being released in time); and falling head over heels in love with Paulina Garcia in Chile's Oscar entry Gloria, a performance so good that it'd be a threat to win the statue if it were in English, and if Oscar loved leading ladies over 50 (they don't)... and, say it with me now... if it were being released in time. That's too many "if"s, I know. 

So I asked on Twitter, Guy Lodge thought too aggressively!, what people saw in Sandy's performance that I was missing. Why were they so enthused? (And I probably should have asked the lot of you as well!)

The most common answers I received were for 'selling the illusion' and for her 'game physicality'... both of which are valid points, I concede. But I find that the performance is lacking in vocal nuance and in the eyes (beyond terror). I just didn't feel like it transcended the simplistic characterization in the screenplay in any way and when you're talking FIVE BEST OF THE YEAR you'd better transcend! Otherwise just enjoy solid respectable "we love you, you superstar" reviews and leave it at that. Joe Reid was teasing me earlier today with the internet's binary thinking that this makes me a Sandra hater and no one should ever believe that i've ever enjoyed her in anything. But I have! I've just never though she was a "great" actor, only -- and this is not an insult -- a super likeable and talented one. She's the kind of star for whom global popularity and bottomless coffers of gold coin feel like just rewards. 

This is all a long way of saying that I'm happy for Sandra's success since she seems like such a good person and she's so likeable, but that I still don't get why she's now an "Oscar Actress" as opposed to a Beloved Movie Star. Sometimes those things should go totally hand in hand of course, don't misunderstand. But in this case...?

Why am I bringing this up now, three weeks after Gravity has conquered the world and has the loudest Oscar fanbase this year?

Well, while looking for something else entirely in the Vaults of The Film Experience I came across this old post about the casting of Gravity after Angelina Jolie passed in 2010 and this strange "what if" visual detail...

actual reported studio interest when they were trying to find Gravity's female lead in 2010


These women were all actually mentioned in the trades as viable Angelina Jolie replacements!  It's hard to imagine Gravity with most of these girls (if not quite all of them) in the role. Funny, right, that the studio were so invested in the futures of Blake Lively, Abbie Cornish, and Sienna Miller... or that they thought Scarlett or Natalie were old enough to play a scientist with expertise that the space program needed, or that they allowed for the possibility that Naomi Watts or Marion Cotillard might be bankable enough?

Now that Gravity has settled in as our possible nomination leader, how are you feeling about it? And Sandra's place in the Best Actress race? Whether you think I'm crazy or only half-agree, do chime in. 



Tom Hanks, All-American

[Here's Deborah with a personal story that any movie-loving reader with a kid (or that hopes to have one might enjoy). How will you introduce them to the movies? And who will they love onscreen? - N]


Tom Hanks was my son's first favorite actor.


I started my son on classic movies when he was just eight years old. Arthur has Asperger's, and was intensely sensitive to any content that was even vaguely upsetting. At the age of nine, he could have worked for or the MPAA. My solution was to introduce him to movies from a time of more delicate sensibilities. Starting with Miracle on 34th Street, we moved to Arsenic and Old Lace, which opened into a long-term screwball comedy kick. Musicals, too, became a major part of our lives, up to and including Arthur's passion for Gene Kelly and his entry into dance school.


But at the movie theater, it was strictly kid stuff: Pixar, Harry Potter, Batman. Christmas of 2002, I asked my then-twelve-year old if he wanted to see a grown-up movie. He loved Catch Me If You Can. About a year later, I heard him say that Tom Hanks was his favorite actor. I was surprised, but realized that in fact, we'd seen Forrest Gump at home together, and he'd seen Apollo 13 at school, making Tom Hanks one of the few living actors that Arthur had seen in multiple movies, and the only one he really remembered.


Tom Hanks, all-American, the late 20th/early 21st century Jimmy Stewart. Arthur liked Hanks; he found he could connect to him. Hanks is also, I'd argue, one of the most tasteful modern actors. He knows how to read a script with a discerning eye. Sure, he's made some clunkers (Larry Crowne), but in general, Hanks's name in the cast adds credibility to a film. I mean, is John Cusack less talented than Tom Hanks? I don't think so, but his career suggests he has no ability to tell wheat from chaff, so when you see that Cusack is in a movie, you don't think, "Well, it'll probably be good."


But Hanks, with his pretty good taste and his aw-shucks accessibility, has managed to star in a whole bunch of movies that are just about perfect for introducing someone to the love of film. You can start with his voice in Toy Story, and eventually land as an adult at Captain Phillips, perhaps stopping at Saving Mr. Banks in the tween years.


I checked in with Arthur while writing this article. His favorite actor is now Liev Schreiber, but he still admires Tom Hanks.



TFE's Fall Season

I feel like we need to start fresh. So let's pretend we've been off air for a few month and TFE's fall season starts Sunday October 20th, 8 PM EST. Any requests? If you love the blog please share articles on facebook or twitter. TFE has, strangely, a devout but possessive following. Don't keep things you love to yourself - share, tweet and like your favorites!

Sundays Box OfficePodcast
Mondays Monologues | Stage Door 
Tuesdays Tues Top Ten | Curio 
Wednesdays Reader Spotlight | Beauty Break
Thursdays AHS | Threads 
Fridays Posterized | Q&A 
Saturdays New Review 

The schedule will be anchored by these dependable *cough* series -- roughly two regulars a day -- and jazzed up by dramatic experiments (ooooh), news (duh), silliness (hee), trailers (yes no maybe so),  interviews  (yassss!),  oscarables (✓) and smackdowns (♥). Last but not least, we'll also mix in whatever topic we're currently focused on. For the rest of October that's the 1968 film year as we count down to the Smackdown! ... though you can help us stay regular with a "subscription" donation on the sidebar. Why? Time is literally money. I have a finite amount I can spend blogging unless rent is already paid. 


All is Link

Village Voice great piece on BAM's retrospective of Karen Black (happening right now!) by Stephanie Zacharek
Vulture All is Lost, Robert Redford and taking stardom for granted
AV Club "100 Episodes" takes on Homestar Runner - great piece about the evolution of Web TV. 
Guardian talks to Chris Hemsworth about Thor consuming his life and what he learns from film to film


My New Plaid Pants begins "The 13 Snakes of Halloween" festivities with The Witches and Anaconda. Oooh, what comes next? 
Coming Soon Avatar sequels start filming in one year's time. Happy Halloween so don't throw away your blue body paint just yet.
i09 on 11 misanthropic horror movies from Cabin in the Woods to Frankenstein
LA Times Scarlett Johansson, winning fresh raves for her voice work in Her, is mystified by the awards process.

I don't even know how it works. And I'm an Academy member!" 

Exit Image
Here's our first image of Reese Witherspoon from Wild which she tweeted herself...



Her very own less grim Into the 127 Hours sorta one-man kinda show about a actress who hiked 1000 miles after losing her mojo. No I kid I kid, it's the true story of a woman who did that after her divorce and her mother's death. It started filming last week. I sincerely hope Reese packed her Oscar in that napsack just to remind herself about ACTING. It's unwise to share the screen with Laura Dern if you haven't reminded yourself of that.

Yes, in the oddest casting news for this movie Laura Dern who is but 9 years older than Reese will be playing her mother. 


LFF: Home to Britain

David reporting on four of the British films in the London Film Festival.

The crown jewel in the archive selection this year is the BFI’s pristine restoration of J.B.L. Noel’s overwhelming 1924 documentary, The Epic of Everest. It’s one of those films where the sheer audacity of what’s being filmed, as opposed to any technical prowess, is what really impresses. And when the intertitles (it’s silent, of course, though outfitted with a gorgeously minimalist new score from Simon Fisher Turner) announce that a particular shot is brought to you using a revolutionary telephoto lens, that’s quite an achievement. Though no words are spoken, and faces barely seen, it’s hard not to become enthralled in Noel’s recounting of their journey through Tibet and up the mountain, with breathtaking long takes of some passages of the mountain gripping in the simplicity of distant figures precarious movements. Andrew Irvine and George Mallory died in the attempt, a tragedy captured in a climax that combines painful distance – the camera could only be taken so far up the mountain – with melancholic intertitles that seem to reach out through time. The BFI restoration is released in the UK this weekend, with a detailed DVD and Blu-Ray release sure to follow – in any format, it’s an awesome experience of an extraordinary expedition.

Charlie Cox (remember him?) in Hello Carter plus two more new films after the jump...

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