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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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The Gotham Nominations

Get Out (4 nods each), Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, Florida Project (3 nods each)

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Friday
Apr082016

Happy Birthday, Robin Wright

Tim here. Robin Wright turns 50 today, and it's my good fortune to wish her a very happy birthday on behalf of the Film Experience. She's entering the decade of her life that generally finds actresses facing the worst odds they ever get from the powers that be in Hollywood (there's that infamous stat that only two women have ever won a Best Actress Oscar in their 50s), but for my tastes, she's never been more interesting than in the past few years.

Indeed, it's been only in this decade that Wright has gotten some of her best-ever movie roles, on top a key performance in the Netflix hit House of Cards, and really gotten to show off as an actress. Some of her best film work, sadly, has been in underperforming movies that most people have never seen or heard of; what better excuse than a birthday to go out and track one of these down?

In 2010, Wright appeared as the title character in The Conspirator, director Robert Redford's story of an idealistic young lawyer defending Mary Surratt, whose boarding house sheltered John Wilkes Booth and company as they devised their plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. It's hard to go to bad for the movie as a whole, which wants very badly to be a history lesson rather than a piece of cinematic entertainment. Certainly, Redford's very prim and precise direction of James D. Solomon's research paper-feeling screenplay turn this into a social studies diorama rather than a living, breathing character drama.

But!...

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Friday
Apr082016

Posterized: Melissa McCarthy, Unlikely Superstar

Though Melissa McCarthy's star went supernova just five years ago in a role so popular that she won both an Oscar nomination and an Emmy statue (Bridesmaids... oh please, you know the Emmy wasn't actually for Mike and Molly!) she's wasted approximately zero days since in cementing her unlikely place as a box office titan with star vehicles emerging annually since. Right now that means her new capitalist diva comedy The Boss and if it isn't Spy (2015) or The Heat (2013) level funny (sorry... but few things are) it's not bad. It sure as hell runs rings around Identity Thief (2013) and Tammy (2014) so it's firmly middle of the pack, if you ask me. (It's weird that the reviews so far are the worst of any of her solo vehicles.)

We call her place as a truly bankable actress 'unlikely' because it's just that. Guess how long it's been since audiences embraced a hefty actress as a (regular) lead? I can't think of a single one from my lifetime though we occassionally get a one time debut hit (Gabby Sidibe in Precious, Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray - they had to settle for supporting work thereafter) or a frequently employed secondary lead (Rebel Wilson). You might argue for Kathy Bates but she's only headlined a few times.  I think you have to sail back to the early 1930s to the odd case of Marie Dressler who was a true box office sensation and quite awesome (see her Oscar winning Min & Bill; It's a blast!)

Though Bridesmaids entirely changed McCarthy's career her debut was way back in the cult favorite Go (1999) which she soon followed with the role that most people think of as her debut "Sookie" on several seasons of The Gilmore Girls, a role she'll reprise for the upcoming reunion. Hooray!  All the McCarthy movie posters are after the jump. How many have you seen?

  

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Friday
Apr082016

Sterling K Brown: A Star is Born

As we continue celebrating actors this month, here's Murtada on a new one to cherish. He's our TV MVP this week...

Sarah Paulson brought both pathos and steeliness to spare to her portrayal of Marcia Clark. Courtney B Vance was fiery bluster, daring viewers to take their eyes off him as Johnny Cochran. John Travolta was so infinitely alien as Robert Shapiro that he proved fascinating to watch. Almost every single performance was top notch*. What an ensemble.

And yet the clear standout is Sterling K Brown as Chris Darden.

The finale cemented what everyone watching The People Vs O.J. Simpson suspected throughout the past few weeks; we have a new fantastic actor to be excited about. The calm authority he brought to Darden’s closing argument alone should earn him a lot of accolades. Yet he wasn’t finished. At the post-verdict press conference, he goes about delivering a heartfelt speech and then in a split second he realizes words don’t matter, that’s when Brown breaks our hearts. He walks towards the Goldmans with a hunched back and overcome emotions, his body clearly telling us that’s a defeated man. No that’s not all of it. He then earns more of our admiration in his final standoff with Vance. Again bringing an eerie calm to Darden’s final testament.Through him the show delivers its statement about our current world.

Then there’s his final scene scene with Paulson; clasping hands as they walk away as Nina Simone begins to sing. Throughout the series Brown displayed palpable chemistry with his co-stars. The rat-a-tat of give and take acting with both Vance and Paulson, so riveting to watch. But also more. Didn’t you swoon when he took Paulson into his arms for a dance? Their chemistry is already generating both headlines and obsessive fandom! He’s not only a great actor but perhaps a matinee idol? Those don’t come along that often. I bet a lot of us would look at Brown the way Paulson’s looking at him in the photo above if we got the chance.

We shall be seeing a lot more of Sterling K Brown, starting with the Emmys in September. Have you watched the finale?

*I would’ve said all if it wasn’t for Cuba Gooding Jr.

Friday
Apr082016

The Big Not-So-Friendly Author

The full trailer for The BFG has dropped, and we’ve already looked at the teaser here which left us tingling with magic anticipation. Now that we’ve got more footage, including that of the big man himself we can feel as cosy and content Sophie under a big blanket reading a book that we’re in good hands. Spielberg was infamously interested in directing the first Harry Potter film, and perhaps this is the next best thing for him which has that splash of family friendly fantasy mixed with classic E.T. kids-on-an-adventure feel. That moment when the BFG is hiding in the shadows, obscuring the street light with his hand already feels classic.

It’s encouraging to see that Spielberg is taking the content seriously, and hasn’t resorted to making The BFG as a character a comedy act, which would have been the easy route for a kid’s film. Rylance seems to bring the soulfulness that makes the source material so rich. What is yet to be seen is whether Spielberg embraces the sneaky and dark side of notoriously prickly Roald Dahl’s writing which so many filmmakers have struggled with in the past. Dahls balance of the sinister and the joyously fantastic is what makes his legacy so beloved. Spielberg has a propensity for the earnest and sickly sweet side of cinema, so this may be a shiner version of the tale. Other filmmakers have had ranging success in capturing his style.

Previous Roald Dahl on screen after the jump…

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Friday
Apr082016

YNMS: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If any of you readers were bummed that we're not celebrating The Force Awakens for next week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot, feast your eyes on the first look at this year's trip to a galaxy far, far away! Coming on the heels of the franchise's massively successful beginning to a new trilogy, we have our first look at the series's first spin off: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Set between the events of the prequel trilogy and our original favorites, Rogue One (let's just drop the strange post-title, shall we) features the uprising of the rebels to steal plans of the Death Star. The cast is an unexpected and enticing ensemble of global talents and the Oscar annoited: Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, and Riz Ahmed. If that cast doesn't already have you on board for any film containing them all, the future blockbuster is also director Gareth Edwards follow-up to the visually sumptuous Godzilla.

And this first teaser is just as much a visual powerhouse:

Let's break down the Yes No Maybe So of it all after the jump...

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Thursday
Apr072016

April Showers: Blue Valentine

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Blue Valentine (2010).

What are you doing?

-What does it look like I'm doing?

Getting all wet and naked.

A shower scene between two clearly beautiful lovers (even with the aging makeup) has rarely felt less erotic and more heartbreaking. This exchange manages to perfectly illustrate the tragic state of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (Michelle Williams) relationship in Derek Cianfrance’s modern masterpiece, Blue Valentine. Dean is still obliviously playful, too willing to overlook the realities of his disintegrating marriage in favor of ham-handedly ginning up passion and romance. Cindy feels trapped and hopeless, unable to seek refuge from her husband’s obtuse adulation even in the shower. Her voice drips with the weary impatience often heard in response to a child’s incessant questioning, which frankly is not too dissimilar to how Cindy regards Dean at this point. It’s very much an extension of the first time we see Cindy. She’s lying in bed in the early hours of the morning. Her husband and young daughter, very much equals in their oppressive childlike exuberance bound in and snap her from the slumber into the harsh reality that is this life in which she has found herself.

The traditional (and very valid) reading of Blue Valentine’s two-ply structure (the birth of a romance intercut with its slow, painful death) is that Dean and Cindy have lost something. Their love, once ideal and passionate has been suffocated under the stresses of parenthood and a whirlwind courtship turned into a long marriage. However, there are clear indications in the earlier years that bumps in the road litter their future. Dean wants to be whatever Cindy needs him to be, but lacks the motivation or introspection to figure out how to do so. And Cindy, still unsure of herself can’t begin to know exactly what it is she needs from Dean.

As satisfying as it is to watch them fall in love in their earliest interactions, this is clearly the dynamic from the beginning. As deeply enamored with one another as they are, Dean and Cindy enter each other's lives as solutions to a problem. This problem is bigger than her unremarkable relationship with the lug, Bobby Ontario (Mike Vogel), her eventual pregnancy or her desire to leave her abusive father’s house. It's bigger than Dean's aimlessness paired destructively with his need to be a savior. It’s a problem neither of them can identify, which makes the solution frustratingly out of reach.

So, in this moment, Dean and Cindy take a shower that’s anything but romantic. In the “future room” of this kitschy lovers’ motel, it’s the last gasp of a romance that may well have no future at all. Only a past, looked back upon with unreliable rose-colored glasses and a present where these two lovers, once white hot with passion, can hardly seem to look at each other. Even in the confines of a shower.