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A Quick Chat with Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei with Tracy Letts in "The Realistic Joneses" (L) and John Lithgow in "Love is Strange" (R)

Jose here. Last week I had the opportunity to chat with the lovely Marisa Tomei about her new film Loitering with Intent (out in theaters and VOD) and I couldn't help but mention to her that she ended up giving my favorite supporting performances of 2014 both on film (Love is Strange) and on Broadway (The Realistic Joneses). Much to my delight - and evolving psychic abilities - my fellow Team Experience members agreed with me and she ended up winning our Best Supporting Actress award as well, so I thought I might share this fragment of our conversation...

JOSE: Pony from The Realistic Joneses and Kate from Love is Strange are such rich characters!

MARISA TOMEI: I looooove Pony!

JOSE: Pony reminded me of Honey from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Did you have her in mind at all?

MARISA TOMEI: No, other than that she was around a lot! Because Tracy Letts’ wife, Carrie Coon, played Honey on Broadway the year before (laughs) and I did keep thinking she’d be much better in this part...but then I got over that. I wasn’t really drawing any parallels though, other than that I’m drawn to those kinds of parts and that I like the part of Honey and that their names are so cute…

JOSE: And you were so amazing as Kate in Love is Strange.

MARISA TOMEI: They were the same producers as this. I got that because while we were shooting Loitering with Intent and going to get a sandwich or something, one of the producers, Jay Van Hoy, said “ I think one of our actors is dropping out of our movie, do you wanna be in it?” (laughs). He then said that Ira [Sachs] was directing it and Ivan Martin and I had gone to see Keep the Lights On and we loved that movie. I was familiar with Ira’s work and so it all came around.

JOSE: Both characters are so heartbreaking and they both feel so lived in…

MARISA TOMEI: I didn’t have a lot of heartbreak with Pony, that was really easy, because she really didn’t think that deeply, so I don’t think she made compromises for her husband, he made a lot of compromises for her actually. I think both of them were in a bargain, a whole “let’s not talk about stuff” deal. A lot of times before I’d ask myself what was my preparation, and I feel stupid for saying this (laughs) but sometimes my preparation would be visual. I’d think “pink” and also did a background story and my regular homework...but in general it was a lot of hoola-hooping and thinking in pink.

Of course, I was sent home with visions of Marisa Tomei as Kay Thompson in Funny Face. God, does she always make me think pink. What about you dear readers, were you in love with either of these performances? What are some of your favorite Marisa Tomei characters?


A Few Unsung Supporting Actors

I dive headfirst into 2015 cinema tomorrow at Sundance but tonight I did some finalizing of my Supporting Actor ballot for 2014. I really should do these things earlier for advocacy purposes. For while the Oscar race was curiously composed of just five people essentially -- you could see tumbleweeds drifting across the communal hive mindscape whenever this category was mentioned -- there were several men giving fine performances out there. As with Best Actress, they were just ignored and everyone shrugged, "weak year".

It's almost never that simple. Though some years of cinema are better than others, it's rare to find a weak year in any acting category. The reason is simple math: with hundreds of movies coming out every year and each of those containing dozens of performances, there are always more than 20 commendable performances to be seen and discussed.

You can see my supporting actor ballot here. It's my closest match to Oscar this year I believe but among the just-misses are very fine performances. Some performers, for various reasons, just don't get talked about. Sometimes that's because the role is "thankless" like Kristofer Hivju's excellent juggling of tone as a perfect subplot foil for the A plot and characters in Force Majeure's. Other times it's because their role is "soft" -- romantic dramas tend to be tough for men to win attention for, hence nobody really considering Charlie Cox's work in The Theory of Everything as a performance just as the third point in a triangle. And in one case, hi Shia Labeouf, it's because the extracurricular celebrity circus overshadows the actually excellent acting from the sidelines. LaBeouf was fascinatingly intense in both Nymphomaniac and Fury, constantly suggesting things about his characters that are more complex than what's in the screenplay. What might he be capable of if someone actually handed him an awards-calibre role? 



Tim's Toons: World of Hertzfeldt

Tim here. It's such a beautiful day to be animator Don Hertzfeldt, whose newest short, World of Tomorrow, premieres at the Sundance Film Festival tonight - his seventh film to play there, a record. It's an even better day to be a fan of Don Hertzfeldt, for in addition to WoT (which has been popping up on "most anticipated" Sundance lists all over, as well it should), news has come down today that Hertzfeldt is about to beginning working on his second feature, Antarctica. It's going to be the first project of his career made with an actual team of animators, owing to its unprecedented complexity compared to everything he's ever made (besides which, his last feature took over six years to complete, dribbling out in the form of three short films released as they were ready). And let me tell you, the notion of a Hertzfeldt film of unprecedented complexity is exciting on a deep, primal level. The kind of exciting where all movies released between now and then will be disappointing just by virtue of not being Antarctica.

Since I, for one, am not prepared to think of anything but Hertzfeldt today, I've taken the liberty of putting together this little primer of some of his work. For those of you who haven't seen any of it, I can't imagine how you could have gone on this long without your life being complete, and for those of you who have, it's never the wrong time to re-watch his stuff, right?

Billy's Balloon (1998)
Hertzfeldt's fourth short, completed when he was a 21-year-old UCSB student, was his big breakthrough. It bears all the hallmarks of an early work - the limitations of his hand-hewn aesthetic feel more like limitations, and not the secret strengths he'd make them in later projects - but the groundwork for all of his later films can be spotted here. To wit, we live in a universe of capricious cruelty, where everything that seems nice will turn on you, and there's no such thing as finding a human connection to make that cruelty easier to take. All done with surprising, absurd, morbid humor. There's a reason his production company is called Bitter Films.

Hertzfeldt's Oscar nominee, and his first feature below the jump

Click to read more ...


Poster Madness! The Best of 2014

Glenn here with my now annual list of the best movie posters of the year. I should apologize for being so tardy with this, but I've been working on a big non-movie-related project that took precedent. Never mind that though because we're back. Last year logged the first time that I dragged my lil ol' list of the year's best movie posters over from my own blog onto The Film Experience we're back to see what'll win this year. Last year the honor went to Spring Breakers and this year was no less fierce. I have once more assembled an... eclectic list of films ranging from French orgy dramas and Christian religious flicks to British sci-fi and obscure horror titles.

I have tried to keep the posters featured within down to American 2014 theatrical/VOD releases only. That means designs that emerged online as much as 18 months ago can be on here if the film was only released this year (hi Nymphomaniac!). Likewise, designs for 2015 releases that are already hanging in cinema foyers do not feature - I'm going to spend the next year tossing and turning over whether this hilariously unsubtle phallic poster for Fifty Shades of Grey is actually good or completely terrible. Having said that, being an Australian means I have snuck few Aussie films on the list because, I guess, my list my rules. I should also point out that, just like last year, the lack of many big budget blockbusters on the list isn't my contrariness popping up (my lonely passions are now a thing), rather it's just proves that so many working for Hollywood studios would be absolutely lost without the billions of dollars that they take for granted and the audiences that flock to their movies like sheep.

Follow me as I count down the best posters of 2014!

Click to read more ...


The only movie theater within 45 minutes of my mom's house 

Nathaniel's annual adventure in Utah begins. We hit Sundance tomorrow.

Sundance (which begins tonight) gives me a good excuse to visit my mom each year. She lives in the middle of nowhere about two hours from the festival. Her town is so small that there's not even a convenience store so I have to drive 15 miles to a the only nearby "town" to get my coffee each morning. I zoom down tremendously flat freeways with cows grazing on either side. When I get my coffee I always glance at what's playing at the local movie theater, the only one in something like a 45 mile radius.

Currently they're showing Meryl Streep ACTING and Liam Neeson killing people. That's a surprisingly apt description of contemporary mainstream cinema out here in the middle of nowhere.


...And the 3rd Annual Team Experience Award Goes To: 

Amir here, to welcome you to the third edition of Team Experience Awards, one of the most prestigious critics’ prizes around the world, bestowed on the best in cinema by members of this website sans Nathaniel. We previously honoured Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (with a lot of support for The Master) and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (with several awards for Gravity). There was a similar situation this year, with two films gaining most of our attention across the categories. Our pick for best picture, however, was a clear consensus favourite and won by a very comfortable margin. 

As always, individual ballots proved a lot more interesting than the final results, making the otherwise tedious process of making up spreadsheets really exciting for me. Though there is no sign of it on the list of winners here, there was passionate support for films as varied as We Are the Best!, Norte, the End of History, The Babadook, Godzilla, A Most Wanted Man and The Last of the Unjust. We will get to some of those titles in the trivia section at the bottom of the post, but for now, here are the Team Experience Awards’ winners:

Click to read more ...


We Are the Link

Fistful of Film a wonderful personal take on We Are the Best from a father of girls 
Section Eighty a composer discusses the Oscar-nominated film scores
Coming Soon Milla Jovovich confirms she's about to make another Resident Evil movie, supposedly the final one. She turns 40 this year and started this series when she was but 25.
KCRW Actor Craig Chester believes he's haunted by the ghost of Montgomery Clift 
Out Alexis Arquette taking no prisoners in an interview. But bizarre that she didn't know her own sister was up for an Oscar! 


Indie Wire the lineup of New Directors New Films this year The Tribe and White God are both featured. They feel like anything but "new" to me after a whole year of festivalling but I still haven't had the chance to see either - will they ever open theatrically or just keep doing festivals like this one for a second year?
In Contention most anticipated films of Sundance 
We Recycle Movies you should check out Anne Marie's rainbow countdown to the Oscars
The Carpetbagger welcome to Phase 2 of the Oscars. Also: Mark Schultz changes his tune again on Foxcatcher. I am not saying this snarkily but with concern: this is why we need universal health care and easier access less stigma for mental illness treatment. Something is seriously wrong with this guy 

American Sniper Mania
Grantland excellent piece by Mark Harris on why American Sniper's box office won't help its Oscar run ... "success breeds scrutiny"
Rolling Stone on American Sniper's stupidity - they use a similar comparison to Forrest Gump like the one I tweeted icymi
Movie City News David Poland doing some train of thought hand wringing on the extreme combativeness of theAmerican Sniper and Selma Oscar battle... that isn't really a battle but that people have suddenly made it into one 
Playbill ...but perhaps the worst American Sniper news is that its leading Broadway's Elephant Man revival to cancel several performances due to Bradley Cooper's awards schedule 

Off Cinema
Pajiba the one reason to keep watching Girls 
NYT John Cameron Mitchell returns to Hedwig, the role which made him and also, not so incidentally, brought us a brilliant film director. Make another movie, Mitchell! All three of yours are heaven.
i09 looks at lesser known characters in the public domain. Will any of them be revived? 
i09 they also look at the case of James Bond, now public domain in Canada! But not in the US or Europe.
Towleroad's the story of Björk's new album, released two months early. Sad she broke up with Matthew Barney. They seemed like such an iconoclast match