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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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Love Affair (1994) - as "A Year With Kate" nears its conclusion

A YEAR WITH KATE... 2 episodes left

 "A really beautiful look into the careers of one of my favorite actors, but it's made me consider the careers of so many different actors and how the great ones adapt to eras while still staying true to themselves. This is a special, lovely series. I both cannot wait for and am so sad for the end next week.-John T

 

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Monday
Mar112013

Capsules: 28 Hotel Rooms, Yossi, Caesar Must Die

In an effort to review every new film I see this year --  a task I have never accomplished but there's a first time for everything -- I will resort to capsules like these when I haven't reviewed properly. (I realize that my "Oscar" section of reviews implies that all films should be seen through this prism. This implication is not literal or an endorsement -- it's just something that's fun for me and some of you to think about.)

YOSSI
We're ten years on from Yossi & Jagger and Yossi is now a doctor, who buries himself in work to avoid living life or moving beyond that love cut short. When a chance encounter with Jagger's mother shakes him from his stupor, he ends up on holiday. Some of the notes are beautifully played -- the early tearful scene with Jagger's mother is super -- but Yossi is a maddeningly passive protagonist. The film happens to him rather than with hi, or even with his permission. He stubbornly refuses to participate in his own story which makes the redemptive new romance a really tough pill to swallow. Why would this vivacious younger man be interested in Yossi when Yossi himself isn't interested... in anything!? 

Yossi & Jagger & Tom

Grade(I would have loved to heartily endorse this movie because Yossi & Jagger was such a perfectly pitched mini-gem but it frustrated me despite a few really strong moments. So if you haven't seen Yossi & Jagger, please do rent it.)
Best in Show: Oz Zehavi almost sells you on the unfortunately lopsided romance as the young soldier Tom but I have to hand this one (emphatically) to Orly Silbersatz Banai as Varda, Jagger's mother who packs a surprising amount of drama into her two scenes. The rug is pulled out from under her but since she kept pretending the rug didn't even exist for ten-plus years...
Oscar Chances: Writer/director Eytan Fox has made 4 feature-length films prior to this one, and most of them have received international release, but he has yet to be selected for submission to represent Israel at the Oscars.

28 HOTEL ROOMS
A novelist (Chris Messina) and an accountant (Marin Ireland) have a fling in a hotel room on a business trip. She tells him it's one and done but they keep meeting on subsequent trips and a confusing, passionate relationship develops. It lasts for years. This is undoubtedly a 'one for the reel' project for both actors and sometimes plays like an acting exercize albeit a good one. Though it never quite transcends its gimmick (the title is the structure), it's affecting despite or maybe even because of the limitations of scope; their lives outside of these rooms begin to feel like fantasy or, in the inverse, like intrusions of reality on fantasy. (But honestly, for a drama that hinges on sexual compatability, it could've used a couple more sex scenes, or longer ones that developed the relationship. This is possible to do in sex scenes. See the great Israeli drama Late Marriage (2001) which is the film I always think of when I think of sex scenes that function as integral narrative and character development, like a great song in a musical or a perfect setpiece in an action film.

GradeB
Best in Show: It's a complete duet so it'd be rude to pick one!
Oscar Chances?: This was from 2012 and got a teensy-teensy release. Now available on DVD.

CAESAR MUST DIE
This Berlinale winner from the Taviani brothers recreate an art therapy program of sorts in which inmates perform plays. By filming at a prison where they saw a play performed by inmates (a different play) with some real inmates and some actors, some play scenes and some scripted discussion of play scenes the movie effectively walks a line between documentary and drama. The line is no highwire though. The reality and fiction of the program and this particular production is blurred enough that the film never has the knife's edge of real danger that you'd think you'd feel watching real prisoners acting out murder plots, politics and betrayals. As we crosscut between auditions, production, and both formal and informal rehearsals we see the art begin to bleed into life for the inmates. The end result is intermittently moving as most productions of great work tend to be but it feels strangely abitrary; why wasn't it just a documentary?
Grade: B
Best in Show: Salvatore Striano as Brutus. There's a reason he became a professional actor after prison.
Oscar Chances?: Italy submitted this Cannes winner for Oscar consideration last season. It was one of the highest profile titles to not make the 9-wide finalist list.

Monday
Mar112013

First & Last. Who is He?

first and last puzzles.
here's the first and last images of the main character in a motion picture.


Can you guess the movie?
The answer is after the jump if he's too mysterious for you.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar102013

BoxOffice: The Great and Platformful

Somewhere over a different rainbow: Gael García Bernal's NO is a deserved hit in platform releaseObviously the oxygen-hogging story this weekend was the release of a new Oz movie. Pre-sold films are Hollywood's favorite thing for a reason. Familiarity and branding goes a long long long long long long long way toward automatic ticket sales. But Somewhere over another rainbow (logo) NO is a more deserved success story. Let's discuss. 

WIDE
01 Oz: The Great and Powerful $80.2 Review
02 Jack the Giant Slayer $28 (cum. $43.8) Review
03 Identity Thief $9.7 (cum. $116.5)

PLATFORM
01 The Gatekeepers $.2 
(cum. $1 now on 67 screens & holding)
02 No $.1 Review 
(cum. $.5 now on 35 screens & building)
03 Stoker  $.1 Review 
(cum. $.3 now on 17 screens & dwindling)

Word of mouth can be your best friend or your worst enemy in movie theaters. The big corporate movie studios are generally very consistent with their strategies though I'd argue too consistent. The would be blockbusters are released on so many screens that people sometimes buy tickets just because it's "the big movie opening" rather than from genuine I Must See This interest. I mean, imagine the financial bloodbath if Jack the Giant Slayer had opened on 10 screens and tried to build trusting that people would be recommending it to others? At least it made some money last weekend before a terrible 63% drop this week.

Meanwhile smaller titles are nearly always platformed in the same way even if that's a mistake for them. I mean, it makes total sense for a movie like Chile's Oscar nominee No which will have a distinctly limited audience proportionately the exact size of its word of mouth. In these cases platforming is wise since the movie is EXCELLENT (seriously, go see it) and people will tell their friends just that. But riskier polarizing movies like Stoker the studios treat in the exact same way, throwing all their chips on reviews and word of mouth even though that clearly won't work as well. I confess that I don't really understand the strategy. When you have a way to hook bigger audiences without word of mouth (i.e. the serial killer genre, some stars, and violent horror which has the most faithful audience ever) why aren't you using it?

the latest "mystery swag" from Stoker -- a creepy box of sharpened pencils with Mia Wasikowska's face staring back at you when you pull them out of the box.

I mean, I know I didn't exactly give Stoker a positive review but I'm glad I saw it. Stoker is, at the very least, a great curio discussion topic. But here's the catch. When they hide the weirdos they even lose their cachet as curios because nobody has anything to discuss having not seen it.  I guess Stoker will have to wait for DVD to find its audience.

What did you watch this weekend?
I skipped the movies and went to see Sigourney Weaver on Broadway. (More on that tomorrow night)

Sunday
Mar102013

Review: "Oz: the Great and Powerful"

This review was originally published @ Towleroad in my weekly column

You're basically asking for a trouble with that title, you know? OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict how this will turn out. If the movie is neither great nor powerful, tomatoes will be thrown. It feels weird to abbreviate the new picture as simply Oz, since it's a derivation rather than an original, so we'll call it Great and Powerful moving forward despite the misdirection. The filmmakers would approve since the movie begins with a clear and charming admission that James Franco's "Oscar Diggs" is no wizard at all but a travelling con-artist. So I come not to throw tomatoes (too easy), at least not at first, but to marvel at how red they are as they fly through the air.

The trailer brags that the movie comes from the producers of Tim Burton's Eyesore in Wonderland, a gargantuan box office success but one of the worst films of the new century, so there was cause to worry. Could any film be as simultaneously garish and muddy to look at? The happy answer is no. 3D technology has come a long way and director Sam Raimi (most famous for the Spider-Man and Evil Dead trilogies) has far more taste and control of his color palette than Burton has had recently. 

more...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar102013

Linkology

Details our friend Kurt interviewed Stoker baddie Matthew Goode
Salon on the depiction of Hitchcock's misogyny and voyeurism in recent biopics
Yahoo I missed this incredible make you feel super old news: Ralph Macchio is now as old as Pat Morita was inThe Karate Kid (1984). 

Guardian celebrates the worst mothers in film history from Now Voyager through Suddenly Last Summer to The Others - pretty solid choices among this collection of 10
Cinema Blend Danny Boyle apparently not interested in being the next James Bond director
/Film collects reactions to the first 30 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness, shown in rough cut format
Awards Daily the press release for Black Nativity, a new Kasi Lemmons picture starring Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker. Ooh, I hope it's good. On other note: how weird is it that Angela Bassett is the only member of that trio without an Oscar? 
NPR interview Rita Moreno on her career in musicals, movies and tv and her Oscar win...

I was sure that Judy Garland would probably win, because she was up for Judgment [at] Nuremburg. It was a straight role, not a musical. And I was so amazed and so surprised. Never even dreamed of doing a just-in-case little speech — 'and I want to thank Robert Wise and Jerry Robbins' — nothing! I didn't even work on anything like that, so when I got up there I did this memorable nonspeech. I said, 'I don't believe it!' And there's this pause, and then I say, 'Good lord.' And then I'm trying to think of something, and then I finally say, 'I leave you with that!'

I ran into the wings and I started to cry."

 

Hemlock Grove trailer

There's a lot of horror-themed tv shows on the way (this, Psycho-inspired The Bates Motel, and Hannibal) are you a Yes on any of them? Or perhaps a No or Maybe So

Sunday
Mar102013

75th Anniversary: In Old Chicago's Stolen Oscar!

On this very day in 1938, 75 years ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences met for the 10th time to honor the films of 1937. There was still no television to compete with but that also meant no televised ceremony. Which is too bad really because how great would it be to see one of Oscar's very oddest anecdotes happening "live"? According to legends, though the legends conflict either an Alice Brady impostor or a impostor Brady representative accepted the trophy which was never recovered! Drama. What then? Either the statue was replaced 12 days later or the more dramatic the statue was never replaced. This much is true: Brady, the second winner of this then brand new category, died a year and a half later at only 47 years of age.

In Old Chicago
Alice Brady plays the matriarch of the O'Leary clan (anniversary aside, since we're approaching St. Patrick's Day, it felt like appropriate viewing). After the father dies in a dumb luck tragedy on the way to the big city in 1854, dragged to his death by runaway horses, widowed Brady raises her three sons alone in the rapidly rising city described in the title cards as "a fighting, laughing, aggressive American city". Within seconds of arriving she makes a name for herself as a talented laundry woman.

Two of her sons become major power players, one an honest crusading lawyer (Don Ameche), the other a charming playboy (gorgeous Tyrone Power) with a taste for money and women of questionable provenance.

Yes, by all means Tyrone, find a reason to get your shirt off...

Click to read more ...