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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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Back to Back Oscars for Eddie?

""The Molly Ringwald Story"?." -Rick

"I can't help but think there is going to be significantly more backlash here after Dallas Buyers Club. Also, is trans the new Oscar-bait? I don't know how to feel about that." -BD


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Our Coven: Ursula The Sea Witch

Team Experience is assembling our own coven of preferred witches for Halloween. Here's abstew with ... well, you know who

After nearly two decades of sub par animated films (I'm looking your way, The Black Caldron) that would've made Uncle Walt turn over in his cryogenic freezer, 1989's The Little Mermaid, the studio's first fairy tale in 30 years, finally brought back the art of animation and started the modern Disney renaissance. The film had everything going for it - sassy red-headed mermaid princess, Caribbean accented crab, show-stopping musical numbers, and, most importantly, a voluptuously wicked, tentacled diva villainess.

Early concept art shows that Ursula the Sea Witch's look went through many transformations before the final look of half octopus / half woman (and what a woman - Ursula is said to be modeled after the drag queen Divine). To voice the sea witch, the filmmakers offered the part to Bea Arthur who turned it down due to her work on The Golden Girls and Elaine Stritch had been cast but clashed with lyricist Howard Ashman. Actress Pat Carroll brought Ursula to life delivering some of the film's best lines ("You got it, sweetcakes. No more talking, singing, Zip!) There's always time for a one-liner while being evil. And don't underestimate the importance of body language!

Broom? No use for them under the sea. And probably best not to mention anything wooden as she meets her demise staked by the bow of a ship.

Favored Spell: Fortunately she knows a little magic - it's a talent that she always has possessed. Her spell of choice is taking voices (conveniently stowed in her shell necklace - fashion and function) and turning fishtails into legs in return. Although, if you can't pay the price, you just might find yourself a part of her little garden.

Familiars: Her babies, her poor little poopsies: a pair of scheming eels named Flotsam and Jetsam. They each share a glowing yellow eye that allows Ursula to see what they see.

Pointy Hat?: Her shock of white hair (styled with mousse - how 80's of her!) is pointy enough.

"Only Bad Witches Are Ugly": Considering her beauty regime (waterproof lipstick!) and the fact that she can change you into a weird plant with eyes, I wouldn't call her ugly to her face. At one point she does transform herself into a brunette version of Ariel with Joan Crawford eyebrows, so she's got options. Plus, anyone modeled after a drag queen is gonna look fabulous!

Meet the other members of our coven



Vintage 1968: Ten Most Awesome People (And Other Lists)

Each month's Supporting Actress Smackdown inspires us to go back to the year in question for a little context. When the movies of 1968 were playing in theaters, making their case for Oscar glory the following spring, the world was experiencing a time of great unrest. The Vietnam War was raging; The Prague Spring was happening; Martin Luther King Jr was killed; Racial tensions ran high in the Civil Rights fight; student protests in France raged (derailing the usual Cannes process - no Palme D'Or that year); the Zodiac killer began his murder spree; Andy Warhol was almost killed. (All of these events have received cinematic treatments over the years in films like The Dreamers, Zodiac, I Shot Andy Warhol and countless historical epics and war films.)

1968 introduced Goldie Hawn, The Big Mac, "Hey Jude" and TV's first interracial kiss 

But our focus is on the movies, so let's investigate the cinematic crop.

Best Movies According to...
Oscar: Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Oliver!, Rachel Rachel, and Romeo & Juliet were the Best Picture nominees but Oscar obviously also really enjoyed Star! (a flop that still managed an incredible 7 nominations), 2001: A Space Odyssey (4 nominations) and the foreign film classic The Battle of Algiers (3 nominations) which finally opened in America.
Golden Globes: Hollywood's Foreign Press Association liked Charly, The Fixer, Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Lion in Winter and a movie I've never heard of called Shoes of the Fisherman (Drama) and they also sang and laughed with Finian's Rainbow, Funny Girl, The Odd Couple, Oliver!, and Yours Mine and Ours (Comedy/Musical)

Awesome people, dance parties, and more '68 trivia after the jump

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Curio: Monsters' Day Off

Alexa here. With spooky season almost behind us, it only seems right to feature these illustrations of various film monsters on their day off by Chicago illustrator Kiersten Essenpries.  Ever wonder how Michael Myers keeps his jumper so crease-free? How Pinhead makes a little extra cash? Whether Leatherface works in any medium besides flesh? Kiersten has the answers after the jump...

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Coven: Throne of Blood

Team Experience is assembling our own coven of preferred witches for Halloween. Here's Michael C on Kurosawa's eery old ghost woman

The Japanese title of Kurosawa’s noh-inspired adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth Throne of Blood is literally “Spider Web Castle”. So in keeping with the films pervasive arachnid imagery, Kurosawa ditches the cauldron and transforms the play’s famous trio of future predicting witches (“Double, double toil and trouble”) into a single, demonic hag, who sits out in the forest like an eerily still, deadly spider, spinning her silk and waiting for prey like Toshiro Mifune’s Macbeth equivalent, Washizu, to stumble into her web.

It’s a stretch to call her evil, seeing as she only sets the stage for her prey’s downfall. The victim still has to do all the heavy lifting. On the other hand the unexplained piles of skulls around her lair do rate a raised eyebrow!

Broom: No. The witch in question punctuates her prophecies by floating straight into the air and vanishing in a blinding white light. The broom business might qualify as overkill, don’t you think?

Favored Spell: This lovely lady’s go-to move is providing misleading, selectively edited predictions of the future. Other pastimes include cackling in your face after you’ve been foolish enough to act according to her predictions and shape shifting into ones enemies so as to goad you into make an even greater mess of things.

Chieko Naniwa in "Throne of Blood"Pointy Hat: You don’t hide witch hair of this magnitude under a hat.

Familiar: She works alone but spider imagery is pervasive. 

"Only bad witches are ugly": How to be diplomatic about this. On a scale from Glinda to Elphaba she’s definitely not going to travel by bubble, if you catch my drift. That said, if you can get over her creepy, disconcertingly masculine voice she does lack all the traditional ugly witch traits like warts and a long pointy nose, so she might have a shot with guys who find themselves strangely attracted to the ghost from The Grudge



Monologue: "As Long As He Needs Me"

[This article was originally published in 2010 but we're adapting/rewriting it a bit for our celebration of the 1968 film year as we march towards the latest Supporting Actress Smackdown.]

1968's Best Picture Oliver! is commonly disparaged these days as an Oscar blunder and a typical example of the bloat that eventually derailed the musical genre. Musicals were big business back then and like animated family features now or action films roughly a decade ago, the running times got more and more padded. It's a common hubris problem for whatever genre is the reigning box office champion. 1968 featured at least four big ticket musicals -- Funny Girl, Finian's Rainbow, Star! and Oliver! -- and they all clock in well over 2 hours with all but one of them tipping over to be closer to 3 hours in length.  Combine this problem with the critical endurance of 2001: A Space Odyssey's legend and add in that six Oscar haul and what do you get? Critical animosity. Oscar enthusiasts are familiar with this phenom and they know that winning the big prize isn't always good for your place in film history. 

So Oliver! will have to settle for its place in personal histories and in mine it looms large. (It's weird that as a child I had such a long attention span. As an adult I get antsy once you've past the 110 minute mark but wee Nat couldn't get enough of all 153 minutes of this musicalized Oliver Twist whenever it played on television.) It probably won't surprise you to hear that literally every one of my favorite scenes was focused on Nancy, the prostitute with the heart of gold (Shani Wallis). 

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