DON'T MISS THIS!

Season Finale this Tuesday Night
HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: Splash (1984)

Watch it.  Pick a shot. Join us! 

Oscar History
Welcome

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.

Like The Film Experience on Facebook

Powered by Squarespace
What'cha Looking For?
Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Oscar Hopeful Trailers

"All three look a little insufferable. The stupid music and the "based on a true story"/"an unforgettable story" shots and the critics quotes instantly turn me off. But I'm in for most things Lonergan, even though the plot of Manchester By the Sea is clearly Baby Boom meets Good Will Hunting." - CharlieG

Keep TFE Strong

 

LOVE THE SITE? DONATE 

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

Subscribe
Thursday
Nov132014

AFI Fest: Weta Digital Celebrates 20 Years with New Technology

Anne Marie here at the AFI Fest with another special event. Weta Digital, the pioneering VFX company behind some of the biggest blockbusters, including the Marvel franchise, Avatar, and The Hobbit, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. In  “State of the Art: The Evolution of Weta Digital," Visual Effects Supervisor Dan Lemmon gave audiences a peek behind the digital curtain of Weta Digital’s latest film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to show how the company develops performance capture to assist and augment cinematography.

 Weta Digital is probably best known for its motion capture process (dubbed “performance capture” by James Cameron "because they also capture emotions"). Dan Lemmon explained that this evolved from Andy Serkis filming scenes as Gollum twice for The Lord of the Rings, into a sophisticated system called a “Capture Volume,” a cube of space surrounded by infrared cameras that record the actors’ movements. For Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, director Matt Reeves wanted to shoot the apes on location, so a new “portable” version was developed. The result had a profound effect not only on the technology of performance capture, but also on the look of the film--both digital and real.

Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Since Avatar won the Oscar for Best Cinematography in 2009, each subsequent winner has been a VFX-heavy film, so the unspoken question was how Weta Digital interacted with Michael Seresin, the cinematographer of Dawn. Shooting on location allowed Seresin to light the ape actors as he would real characters. Then, Weta Digital could match that lighting on the pixelized primates. In addition, Seresin and Reeves developed a look book, pulling images from The Godfather and grittier 70s films. Dan Lemmon explained that Weta’s job was to mimic Seresin’s intentions, for instance digitally creating the vertigo-inducing helicopter shot for the climax. However, Lemmon also proudly pointed out how Weta Digital improved on Seresin’s vision, whether it was by manipulating the light to capture a digital ape’s eyes, or by adding fake “flaws” to the helicopter shot in order to make the synthetic image more real. 

The result of Weta Digital’s collaboration with Seresin is undoubtedly remarkable, and pushes VFX to be accepted as an art, rather than a gimmick. Still, Weta's additions to Seresin's work mark a definite change in the visual landscape of moviemaking. As VFX are integrated from pre-production to filming to post-production and digital effects get clearer, the line between cinematography and visual effects is going to get increasingly muddy.

Wednesday
Nov122014

Meet the Hateful Eight

Tim here. For a director who doesn’t even have a movie in this year’s Oscar crop, this has been quite a full few days for Quentin Tarantino. First, the full cast of his upcoming Western (which hasn’t even started shooting yet), The Hateful Eight, was confirmed, and then he re-committed on Monday to his longstanding if vague plans to retire after his tenth film is completed (Hateful Eight will be his eighth... oh, I just got that). Calling film a “young man’s game”, Tarantino, who at 51 is less than half the age of currently active Portuguese director Manoel de Olivera, talked about wanting to leave them wanting more, and not wanting to lose his touch, and generally coming off like his own biggest fan in a way that’s kind of horribly off-putting. But what the hell, I’m looking forward to his next film, the last gasp of 70mm and extravagant widescreen as anybody.

So anyway, let’s celebrate Quentin’s ego with the following list of the Hateful Eight themselves, and a bonus guest star, ranked by Total Hatefulness. A totally subjective quality I came up with by combining the most hateful character the actor has ever played, along with the angriest photo of them I could find in a Google image search.

LEAST HATEFUL

1. Channing Tatum as “Character Whose Name Hasn’t Been Revealed Yet, and Isn’t One of the Core Eight”.
Most Hateful Role: “Pretty Boy Floyd”, Public Enemies (2009)

When the only even slightly bad guy you’ve ever played is barely a cameo, and when I couldn’t find a picture of you actually looking mad even when I searched “Channing Tatum very angry”, you’re clearly not in it for the hateful long term. But I guess that’s why he’s out the outside of the group. Hatefulness (of 10): 0.5

The Hateful Eight themselves after the jump

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov122014

Threads: Summer garb from "Atonement"

Andrew here, taking up the mantle for newish series “Threads” while Nathaniel's in LA. Each Wednesday we’ll fixate on one specific costume.

This week, to distract from the flurry of snow that some parts of the U.S. might be experiencing let's go summer. To be honest, I'm mostly using this as an excuse to talk about Keira Knightley since 2014 has been a great year for her and she may well hog the red carpet soon. She's probably the best of the cinematic clothes-horses  right now. It helps that three of her most significant characters were dressed by the excellent Jacqueline Durran. Durran does not work as much as Sandy Powell or Colleen Atwood, but when she does she's simply oustanding.

I’m sure when you hear Atonement  and costume design your mind immediately goes that lush green dress. Why wouldn’t it? I remember the majority of the push for Jacqueline's Oscar campaign in 2007 was around that gown. As lovely as it was, though, it's not the costume I find most impressive in Atonement. For that, look to the understated blouse and skirt Cecilia spends the first 15 minutes wearing.

The simplicity and detail is such a great example of Durran’s ability to triumph with the simple just as with the grandiose. It’s such an effective get-up for Cecilia. The large buttons on the skirt and that unusual pocket placement, the blouse that looks thin enough to deal with the heat. The flowers point to the season but they're not too busy or finicky to seem out of place on Cecilia. It's detailed enough to betray her wealth, but not too ornate to make her seem ostentatious. Particularly obsession worthy is the unusual print on the skirt; the designs should clash, but they miraculously don't.

Like everything in Atonement it photographs beautifully. She strips of the outfit soon enough, though, in that fateful fountain meeting. To reveal, beneath it, a matching slip. I've always wondered if the tan coloured slip was a Jacqueline Durran original, too...

Previously on "Threads":
The Book of Life; Snowpiercer

Wednesday
Nov122014

A Year with Kate: Grace Quigley (1984)

 Episode 46 of 52: In which Katharine Hepburn makes a comedy about suicide with Nick Nolte because she's a living legend and she can do whatever she wants.

The truth about a career that spans seven decades, is that for the majority of that career, you'll be what’s traditionally thought of as “old.” Hollywood does not like “old.” The magnificent part of watching Katharine Hepburn age has been watching her flip old age (and Hollywood) the bird. True, her head wobbles, her hair is gray, and her voice is reedy. Still, she leaps after hot air balloons, bicycles, hauls wood, and even wins Academy Awards at an age far past what would traditionally be considered “her prime.” For the past few years, Kate has looked old, sounded old, and even talked about being old, but the stubbornly energetic woman has never felt old. Which is why Grace Quigley is more than a little scary.

Grace Quigley (originally titled The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley) is meant to be a black comedy about assisted suicide. Think Arsenic and Old Lace by way of Harold and Maude. Nick Nolte stars as a neurotic hitman with the misfortune of meeting Mrs. Quigley (our own Kate), an octogenarian who blackmails him into starting a business with her: killing people who want to be killed. Homicidal hilarity ensues, or would, except it isn't very funny. Despite a striptease set to Tchaikovsky, a hearse chase, and several attempts at witty banter, the movie vacillates between morbidity and dullness. The problem is threefold: 1) director Anthony Harvey (who’d beautifully directed Kate in The Lion in Winter and The Glass Menagerie) lacks the light touch needed for black comedy. 2) Nick Nolte’s character is about as good at killing people as he is at delivering one-liners (which is to say not good at all). Most importantly, 3) For the first time onscreen, Katharine Hepburn looks so frail that it is uncomfortably easy to believe she wants to die.

Kate's brush with death and life affirmations after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov122014

2014 European Film Awards Nominations

Manuel here bringing you some more awards talk from across the Atlantic. 

Ida, the nomination leader with 5 citationsTis the season for awards and so before we could even digest those British Independent Film Awards nominations, here come the European Film Awards to dole out their own. They bring great news to several Best Foreign Language Oscar hopefuls. Poland's Ida, Russia's Leviathan, Sweden's Force Majeure, Italy's Human Capital, Turkey's Winter Sleep, Austria's The Dark Valley, and Belgium's Two Days, One Night are all well represented. Take a look at the below-the-line categories and you'll find a number of welcome inclusions (one must give respect to any awards body which gives Mica Levi an award for his hauntingly discordant score for Under the Skin). Kudos to the TFE team who have reviewed all the films up for 2014 European Film.

27th European Film Awards Nominations

European Film 
Force Majeure
Ida
Leviathan
Nymphomaniac Director’s Cut – Volume I & II
Winter Sleep 

Catch the full list of nominations after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov122014

Interview: Director Hong Khaou on "Lilting"

Director Hong Khaou on the set of "Lilting"

Jose here. Director Hong Khaou’s touching drama Lilting centers on the ways in which we deal with grief, filtered through two characters who are in pain over the loss of the same person but who can’t share this pain, because they don’t speak the same language. The death of Kai (Andrew Leung) leaves his Cambodian-Chinese mother Junn (Cheng Pei-pei) completely devastated, but little does she know that Kai’s boyfriend Richard (Ben Whishaw) is going through the same. As he tries to fulfill the protecting-role Kai would expect of him, he finds Junn to be reluctant to his attention.

Tenderly directed by Khaou, who with this makes his feature length directorial debut, Lilting is a quiet, yet poignant, chamber piece anchored by the subdued, beautiful performances of Cheng and Whishaw. Exploring themes of cultural shock, intolerance and rediscovering life’s worth, the film is one of the most unique portraits of love to be put on the screen this year. I spoke to director Khaou, who eloquently elaborated on the film’s origins, the process of making his first film and how his own upbringing shaped this project.

How did you decide that this would be your first feature film? Did you conceive it as a short originally?

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov112014

Stockholm Film Festival: French Films Lack Luster with Big Stars

Glenn has been attending the 25th Stockholm Film Festival as a member of the FIPRESCI jury. Here he shares thoughts on three French films starring big names Catherine Deneuve, Jean Dujardin, and Gemma Arterton.

In the Name of My Daughter

As is common during a film festival, I had taken a seat in a cinema and completely forgotten what I was set to see. When the title card came up announcing ‘French Riviera’, I thought they were playing the wrong film as we had no such film on our schedule. Me in my festival state, stupidly didn't realise this was merely a location card. It wasn't until I checked the guide that I actually realised its name was In the Name of My Daughter. That title, far more verbose and clunky than is befitting André Téchiné’s movie, rather uncomfortably links the film to Jim Sheridan’s famous 1993 IRA drama despite not sharing anything in common. And, in further contemplation, actually comes off as rather offensive when comparing this trifle’s rich, white characters of privilege with those played by Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Posthlethwaite.

Catherine Deneuve and Adéle Haenel star as Renée and Agnés Le Roux, mother and daughter. Renée manages the floor of a casino on the southern coast of France and Agnés has just divorced and returns to the French Riviera to open a book and ethnic trinket and knick-knack shop on her mother’s dime. With the assistance of her mother’s smooth operator assistant, Maurice, a ridiculously handsome and suited-up Guillaume Canet, she seeks to separate herself from the downward spiral of her mother’s business that could see her inheritance reduced to a pittance.

And therein lies the biggest problem with Téchiné’s film. Unlike before in films like Wild Reeds or The Witnesses (and perhaps the six other collaborations between Deneuve and Téchiné, none of which I have seen) his characters are horrifically hard to care about. Haenel and Deneuve, puffing on cigarettes at every turn, aren’t given enough material to make their characters identifiable as human beings worth empathizing over; their bourgeois, petty squabbles over money increasingly difficult to care about. A third-act turn into mystery territory at least gives audiences something to latch on to, that of a mother’s devotion to discovering the truth about her missing daughter, but it’s far too little too late and the lack of genuine development in their characters makes the stakes significently dim. A brief moment featuring the predominantly non-white employees of the mother’s casino being told they no longer have jobs threatens the prospect of Téchiné navigating something interesting in looking at the population for whom the French Riviera doesn’t mean easy-living, but it’s short-lived and cannot save this bland affair. C-

More films after the jump...

Click to read more ...