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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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COMMENT(s) DU JOUR
CINDERELLA -Yes No or Maybe So ???

Cinderella's evil step family

YES "Sandy Powell is doing costumes and the team of Ferretti & Lo Schiavo are production designers so I am a-seein' it.-Johnny 

NO "Disney is so deeply devoted to itself. " -Deborah

MAYBE SO "That moment where Cate holds up the shoe and says, "Looking for this?" has me intrigued how they will spin the story...-Shawshank

 

Beauty vs. Beast

COUNTESS OLENSKA vs. MAY WELLAND

The countess is watching....
Does she have your vote

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Tuesday
Sep112012

Take Three: Brad Dourif

Craig here with the last ‘Take Three’. For this final, and slightly differently themed, entry I chose Brad Dourif, perhaps one of the finest character/supporting actors. Next week there will be a special wrap-up post for this third season of Take Three.

Take One: Dourif & Auteurs
The sign of a great character actor can often be seen in the directors they work with. Of course not all will be universally lauded names (character actors don’t get to pick and choose like A-list stars), but when they repeatedly work with filmmakers of high regard you know there’s something special about them. Dourif has worked with some of the most visionary and celebrated directors working. The likes of Werner Herzog and David Lynch, whose off-kilter approach perfectly chimes with Dourif’s, have cast him time and again. Herzog first cast him in the mountaineering-themed Scream of Stone (1991) which led to The Wild Blue Yonder (2005) and the 2009 double The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (in the former he had a one-off scene as Nic Cage’s bookie and in the latter he played Michael Shannon’s ostrich-farm-running uncle). But his most mesmerising performance for Herzog was as The Alien in Yonder, where he talked us through documentary footage, ice ages and space missions with oddball charm and an innate ability to unnerve.

He was Lynch’s go-to character actor in a pair of his ‘80s films, Dune and Blue Velvet. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep112012

TIFF: "The Sessions"

Amir reporting from the Toronto International Film Festival

It's hard to think that a film about a man living in an iron lung could be labelled “the feel good movie of the festival.” But The Sessions beats the odds. For director Ben Lewin, who himself struggled with polio as a child, and his stellar cast, sex, disability, Catholicism and humour blend together to shape the unlikeliest of crowd pleasers.

The Sessions centres of Mark O’Brien (John Hawkes), a poet who fell victim to polio in his childhood and lost all his muscle strength from the neck down. His body retains its sensitivity, hence the narratively critical ability to achieve erections, but is unable to move and requires an iron lung to breathe. At the age of 38 and faced with the prospect that his days might be numbered before he ever gets to “meet” a woman, O’Brien decides to lose his virginity; and to do that, he’ll have to overcome two obstacles: an overwhelming sense of anxiety caused by his physical disability, and a fear of being sinful resulted from his devout belief in the Catholic church.

The second obstacle is easier for him to clear as he consults Father Brendan (a hilarious and poignant William H. Macy), an unconventionally forgiving priest who tells O’Brien that in his heart he knows Jesus will give him a pass. With that green light, O’Brien goes on to find Cheryl Cohen Greene (a top-form Helen Hunt), a sex therapist who is willing to take him through the mechanics of sex in six sessions.

The Sessions isn’t exactly a biopic...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep112012

Curio: Viewing The Master

Alexa here. I just can't let the week go by without posting something about my biggest film boner since Black Swan, PT Anderson's The Master.  I know this is bandwagon time, but my excitement knows no bounds here. I can't wait to see Joaquin Phoenix back in prime form; I will always forgive his sidestep into indulgence because, the talent!  And another film paired with Johnny Greenwood's haunting tones? Yes please!  I missed Chicago's only 70mm showing (grrr), but will be first in line on Friday.  To force you to revel in anticipation with me, I present a few fan posters (with the exception of Wes Anderson, no one brings out the fan art quite like PT), and some fabulous photographs taken from the set by photographer Jack Erling.

Poster by Duane Valentino.

One more fan poster and evocative photos from the set after the jump

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep102012

Lincoln: The Teaser

Michael C. here.

The full trailer for Spielberg's Lincoln doesn't arrive until Thursday, but good news for those of you who can't wait that long without at least a few glimpses of Lincoln surveying the troops. I present you the teaser for the trailer.

Over the course of its 43 seconds it features everything from the back of Lincoln's head to the sound of a ticking clock to the word LINCOLN in big letters, all set to an excerpt of the Gettysburg Address...spoken by someone who isn't Daniel Day-Lewis. I don't take much else from this besides Lincoln's obviously top-notch production values and a somewhat muted, somber tone. How were those 43 seconds for you?

 

Monday
Sep102012

"Lolly had always said..."

A sentence from the book I'm reading...

Lolly had always said that a Meryl Streep movie was as good as chicken soup, a best friend, a therapist, and a stiff drink."

I get the first three but... a stiff drink? That's debatable though I might place Plenty (1985) in that category.

So which of Meryl's movies are chicken soups, therapists, friends, and stiff drinks? Divvy them up in the comments or add your own simile.

Monday
Sep102012

Chaplin: The Musical 

Hey everybody. Michael C here fresh from seeing one of the legends of the cinema sing and dance his way through his life story.

At one point during Chaplin, The Musical which opens tonight on Broadway, a troop of Little Tramps march on stage to perform a chorus line version of the classic dinner roll dance from Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. It was at this point that I began to suspect that the show had not quite licked the problem of how to adapt the life and times of the silent film genius to the Great White Way.

Trying to cram anybody’s life into a coherent story structure is always going to be a daunting task. Chaplin, The Musical attempts to compensate for the familiarity of their approach with heaping helpings of Broadway razzle-dazzle. And while there is an undeniable thrill to watching performers executing in real time the kind of stunt work that Chaplin would take dozens of takes to perfect, it isn’t nearly enough to distract from the fact that we are once again being pulled through the same old biopic paces.

Two Chaplins: Robert Downey Jr in 1992, Rob McClure now

Robert Downey Jr.’s uncanny screen performance in the title role was the main selling point of Richard Attenborough’s disappointing Chaplin (1992), and the same could be said of Rob McClure’s work as Sir Charles on stage. McClure is splendidly effective when performing Chaplin-esque pantomime during Charlie’s pre-fame days and manages to convincingly evoke the enormous appeal of the Little Tramp. His recreation of that most famous of movie characters holds up even when a giant screen is produced on stage to incorporate the actor into some of Chaplin’s most famous images. Yet McClure’s efforts are never able to gather momentum as Chaplin, The Musical proceeds haphazardly from event to event, in the familiar fashion of unfocused biopics. From Chaplin's series of young gold-digging brides to the controversy over his outspoken leftist politics. From his struggle to adjust to the advent of sound to the torment of dealing with his institutionalized mother, who acts as the story’s Rosebud, the motivation behind all his choices artistic and personal. Chaplin often veers dangerously close to Walk Hard territory in moments like the one where Mack Sennett commands Chaplin to go from onscreen novice to comedic genius literally overnight or be fired.

Chaplin could have compensated for its well-worn material with some dynamic musical numbers, but unfortunately the songs by Christopher Curtis- though enjoyable enough while being performed – evaporate from memory upon reentering brightness of Times Square. It’s difficult to recall any song specific to Charlie Chaplin. Rather, we get generic showbiz material and love ballads that could be from a dozen other Hollywood stories.

costume sketches for Charlie young and old by Amy Clark

That said, it's hard to imagine a Chaplin fan isn’t going to have some fun at this show, despite all its flaws. The choreography by Warren Carlyle, fresh off his smashing work on Follies, is consistently inventive and the set decoration and costumes do a nice job evoking the black and white world of Chaplin’s films. Most important of all, the creative team succeed in expressing their deep love of the subject, even as one wishes they had endeavored to find a fresher approach. As tiresome as all the movie to stage adaptations have become I can’t help but think they would’ve had more success simply making a musical version of Modern Times or City Lights. As it stands, Chaplin, The Musical fails to conquer that central question that faces all biographies, be they musicals, movies or otherwise: Why isn’t the viewer’s time better spent experiencing the work which made the subject famous in the first place? 

Monday
Sep102012

A Comeback for The Zeéeeee?

Renée earlier this year. Still a fashionistaTravel back with me through time just nine years hence. Renée Zellweger was on top of the world: A list career, consecutive Oscar attention, hit movies, red carpet superstardom.  She was so ubiquitous that she became the arch-enemy of The Film Experience only ever referred to as She Who Must Not Be Named™. By the time Hilary Swank had robbed her of the Most Hated title round these parts, she seemed depleted of everything else as well. In the past few years I've begun to feel bad for her and the way the public can suddenly turn on actors they once rushed out to see (see also: Meg Ryan). I now affectionally call her The Zeéeeee in remembrance of the five happy years we spent together (1996-2001).

While there's no such thing as an Oscar curse, Oscar wins quite often, and maybe quite naturally, mark the peak of an actor's career. Whether snagging showbiz's ultimate prize depletes the ambition you need to survive Hollywood, whether Oscar winners feel crushing pressure to prove they deserved their win and stiffen up, whether personal problems derail a career just as it seems to be perfect, whether a well earned vacation turns into a "we didn't miss you" extended hiatus ... well, who can say, really, but many stars fumble immediately after being crowned king or queen of Tinseltown for a year.

Recent movement in Zeéeeee's camp suggests she's ready for her career's second (third?) act now. She'll make her directorial debut with a film called 4 ½ Minutes which will star Johnny Knoxville as a struggling comedian. He is hired to babysit the Zeéeeees son and hijinx ensue. She's also lining up her Broadway debut in an adaptation of The Hustler, presumably in the Piper Laurie role. (Poor Piper! Leave her signature alones, people) Both projects are being scripted by Anthony Tambakis who wrote the screenplay to the fighting brothers drama Warrior. Some reports say that Tambakis is also co-writing a television series with the actress called Cinammon Girl to air on Lifetime. They must have hit it off.

Do you think this career can be saved? If so what would it take.