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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, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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Best Actress -- Who will be nominated?
Davis? Blunt? Adams? Chastain?

"I'm glad everyone is cheering Fences on, but I feel that people are overestimating its Oscar potential. The furor reminds me of when people were going ga-ga for August: Osage County. " - Jes

"Davis  in Fences. I saw it on Broadway ... it is a true blue supporting role." - Charlie G

"I really hope it's Amy Adams year, only because some of her stans are so insufferable and will never shut up if she loses again. " - Laura

 

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Tuesday
Jul222014

1973 Look Back: Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye"

We're giving 1973 some context as we approach the Smackdown. Here's Matthew Eng on an Altman film.

There’s an unmistakable sense of nostalgia that permeates Robert Altman’s seldom-seen 1973 neo-noir The Long Goodbye, an air of reminiscence highlighted by the film’s title track, a nifty, pliable, lovelorn little number composed by John Williams and Johnny Mercer that gets incorporated endlessly throughout the movie, evoking sporadic familiarity, even though we rarely hear the same version twice. It transforms itself, from scene-to-scene, into a flimsy piece of supermarket Muzak, an ivory-tickled barroom ditty, even a castanet-laden flamenco. It’s a caressing torch ballad one moment and a marching band’s funeral hymn the next. The song, in all its reimagined incarnations, continually threatens to embed itself into the viewer’s mind, but just as quickly eludes any tighter hold. It’s as though the film, in its own increasingly weary, tumbledown sort of way, is nostalgic for the tune, longing for something that comes back but is never the same.

It’s telling of Altman’s intentions that the film forsakes any other discernible music apart from this titular track, save for the classic, semi-satiric “Hooray for Hollywood,” which opens and closes the film. The Long Goodbye may be based on an eponymous Raymond Chandler novel, centered around a character made legendary by Bogart, and hitched to an entire history of early noir filmmaking, but it is not a mere, Body Heat­-like retread. And although there may be obvious admiration and even some slight affection for the genre in all of its former, mannered glory, it’s certainly not a love letter.

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Tuesday
Jul222014

Celebrating Sandra with "Hope Floats"

With Sandra Bullock's 50th birthday approaching we'll be looking at a few of her films. Here's Andrew Kendall on a little discussed '98 picture. - Ed.

Is it strange that when asked to celebrate Sandra Bullock’s birthday with a film from her oeuvre I immediately turned to the 1998 (ostensible) romantic drama Hope Floats? Despite the 80 million dollars at the box office the film was not quite a hit and critics were not impressed. Yet, whenever I’m asked to stump for a Bullock performance I tend to turn to Birdee Pruitt not necessarily as the “best” Bullock, or not even quintessential Bullock but my favourite Bullock.

The well-intentioned, sometimes – oftentimes – too treacly Hope Floats from writer Steven Rogers (who did a better job handling domestic dramas that same year with Stepmom) and direct Forrest Whitaker (who helmed his strongest film three years earlier with Waiting to Exhale) is a movie I feel warmer towards than I should. It gets a bit turgid in the middle falling prey to the lazy, but not necessarily inaccurate, complaint that it’s probably too long. But I can’t turn my back on the easy warmness of the film, mostly because of its able bodied cast – Harry Connick Jr being just the right amount of cocky and charming, Mae Whitman giving one of the best children performances of the nineties, and Gena Rowlands giving the type of performance that would net an aging actresses an Oscar nomination if this was 1940s (think Gladys Cooper in Now, Voyager). And, of course, Sandra Bullock – the lead performance the film lives and dies by. [More...]

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Tuesday
Jul222014

Happy 50th to the Inimitable John Leguizamo

Happy 50th to the enduring character actor and one man show trouper John Leguizamo. He has his first (film) hit in years this summer as part of the ensemble of Chef and he's arguably even its secret weapon; his cheerful sideline energy helps cut the sometimes sour taste of the movie's vaguely offputting self pitying / self aggrandizing central character business featuring Jon Favreau.

But Leguizamo has been doing that for years, significantly boosting or even altering the energy of pictures he was fourth or fifth or, you know, twelfth billed in. It's true that his brand of sideline showmanship often teeters towards hardly altruistic hamminess; he's an unrepetant scene stealer. But it was a treat to see him again, I raedily admit, and so shortly after I happened to watch his most recent one man show "Ghetto Klown" on cable or streaming or something (I forget) wherein he talks about this impending 50th birthday, the disintegration of his film career and trying to get things back on track. 

That story has a happy ending given that it's hard to miss his earnest but unforced exuberance in Chef and wish him well on future gigs. Especially if you have any fond recollection of past gems like...

From top left: Summer of Sam, the most all-around underappreciated of Spike Lee's quality joints, gave him a rare leading role as Vinny the hairdresser; he was wonderfully too much and Golden Globe nominated as Chi-Chi in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar like an excited drag puppy that couldn't stop peeing; and of course there's his unrequited romantic highly-fictionized version of Toulouse Lautrec in the classic Moulin Rouge!. These are his greatest film roles and it's just perfect that two of them have exclamation points in the title since he's that kind of actor. 

I only speak the truth ♫ I only speak the truth "

What's your fondest memory of Leguizamo's career?

Tuesday
Jul222014

True Blood: Return to Oz

Here's Adam, who is still on the death march to True Blood's final episode.

This weekend's episode of True Blood took place almost entirely at Sookie's house as assorted Bon Tempser forced a celebration of life on the grieving fairy. Eventually Sam Merlotte’s girlfriend/fiancé/baby mama (I’m sure she was given a name at some point during the show, but I can’t/will never for the life of me remember it) stands up and causes a scene. She's all judgmental righteous and 'how can we just have a party while surrounded by all this death?' (because heaven forbid these characters have a chance to let loose and not shudder and scream every time they walk into a room, right?). She even manages to scream out, what are we all doing here?!

What am I even doing on this show?

Bitch, that’s what we’ve been asking of you since you suddenly appeared all willy-nilly last season as a lead character. Where was Letti Mae when her trusty butcher knife could’ve actually been useful?

Meanwhile, outside the party... Lets give a round of golf claps for Lafayette penetrating James, people! [Decidedly NSFW extremely impolite musings on this week's episode after the jump...]

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Monday
Jul212014

Curio: James Garner, Jim Rockford, and an altered matchbox car

Alexa here, back from vacation with an atypical Curio. I was very saddened at the news of James Garner's passing. While I am a fan of many of his films (The Americanization of Emily ranks especially high), he is primarily remembered from television, and, for me especially, as Jim Rockford. His beleaguered, Marlowe-esque hero was a touchstone of my childhood.

In fact, I am something of a Rockford Files obsessive: I even altered a toy Firebird to more closely resemble the one made famous from many a car chase. [More...]

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Monday
Jul212014

Beauty Vs Beast: The Devil & Chris MacNeil

JA from MNPP here - what with The Film Experience turning its eyes towards the year that was 1973 this month I kind of feel it's my duty as the horror-genre drum-beater in residence to pick up the baton (ahh, delicious scrambled metaphors) and race us over to the brownstones of Georgetown for a hot minute, where a sweet little girl and her mother are busy being dragged through all nine circles of Hell and back for this week's Exorcist-flavored edition of "Beauty Vs. Beast."

Quite a literal round this time: an emphatically most horrible Beast, while our Beauty... well, Ellen Burstyn's Chris MacNeil is maybe even a smidge too amazing as our Beauty? I know most of the film's power comes from the corruption of the sweet relationship she has with her daughter but it always feels a wee bit to me like it strains credibility how much time this seemingly A-list actress makes for just hanging out with her kid. Anybody else? Maybe I've seen Mommie Dearest too many times. But I've always felt like there's the spectre of unaddressed tension in the scene where Regan interrupts her mother's fancy-people dinner-party with that humiliating bladder-release - Regan banished to bed, getting her revenge at a distracted mother...

That said the time's come to prove you Actressexual bonafides. Great Actress in Peril!

 

You have one week to vote, vote, vote as if the soul of a little girl depends upon it, and convince us in the comments why we should choose light over darkness or vice versa. The power of poll compels you!

PREVIOUSLY Last week we whipped out our business cards and compared the watermarks of two Type-A Wall Street a-holes - as I figured we were all more than willing (well 3/4s of us were anyway) to set aside our scruples for a mass-murderer as long as he looks like Christian Bale looked like in American Psycho. I'm not judging! I cleaned out my cookies so I could vote for Patrick Bateman twice. I always have a moment of hesitance when Cara Seymour gets in that limo the second time, fearing I might do the same... Said David:

"Ashamed to say this, but the image of Patrick Bateman flexing his biceps, staring at himself in the mirror while screwing prostitutes left such an indelible image frozen in my brain for years. So yes Patrick Bateman, a thousand times yes."

Monday
Jul212014

Linkpiercer

Guardian Tim Robey has a lovely tribute to TV & film star James Garner (RIP) who I'll always remember best for Murphy's Romance and Victor/Victoria in the 1980s
Pajiba I'm more of a cat person but this gallery of big celebrities with tiny dogs is adorable
Criterion Collection on the painstaking restoration of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Thompson on Hollywood has an in depth look at the VOD decisions involving Snowpiercer from the mouth of Harvey Weinstein (so yes it's very one-sided... but interesting nonetheless)

The Dissolve 'when images match ideas' on Snowpiercer and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 
Pajiba has the talk with Marvel about the Edgar Wright Divorce  
Towleroad Andrew Rannells starts soon as Hedwig. (I'm excited. The role is big enough for multiple interpretations)
Theater Mania Michelle Williams wants to keep singing at the Kit Kat Club longer than expected. She's staying with Cabaret all the way through November 9th now (I guess she doesn't have to start promoting Suite Française for awhile still)
Details interviews Wentworth Miller, former Prison Break hunk and Stoker writer, on his career after coming out

And, finally, are you excited for Festival Season yet?

I'm trying to remain calm as I make plans but NYFF isn't making staying calm any easier what with their Opening Night Film (Gone Girl's world premiere) Centerpiece (Inherent Vice) and Closing Night (Birdman which is scheduled for Venice as well). Tomorrow TIFF holds their opening news conference and we'll hear more about their plans as well. Here's some speculation from a Toronto news site which suggests that Reese Witherspoon is going to be a major presence and you can probably safely assume that Maps to the Stars will also be there given TIFF's love of Cronenberg.