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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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Wednesday
Jan062016

Interview: Phyllis Nagy on Patricia Highsmith, Sunset Blvd, and "Carol" 

Phyllis Nagy in Palm Springs with Cate BlanchettMonday night through Tuesday evening was a special 24 hours in the lives of Team Experience. At the NYFCC awards gala, Alec Baldwin, presenting the Best Director prize to Todd Haynes (Carol), quoted a Film Comment piece by our dear friend and podcast mate Nick Davis. That same night Phyllis Nagy was honored for Best Screenplay by the Pulitzer winning playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Lincoln) himself. Though I was not in attendance for the Carol-heavy NYFCC gala on Monday night where the film also took Best Cinematography and Best Film), I had the opportunity to congratulate Nagy the next evening on her fine work adapting the year's best film from the original 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel "The Price of Salt." The occassion was a cocktail event for the movie hosted by former and future Todd Haynes muse Julianne Moore (here are a few photos of that reunion.)

It was our second chat with the sharp and talented Phyllis Nagy, who up until Carol had been best known for her stage plays and the HBO film Mrs Harris (2006) which she wrote and directed.

Here's our original conversation which we hope you'll enjoy...

NATHANIEL: So Phyllis I started this  as kind of a joke to myself but then decided to commit to it and have literally asked every person I interviewed from Carol ... How come you're such a genius? 

PHYLLIS NAGY: Well, practice. [Laughs] In this case, yeah, practice, many years of it. Which ultimately aided it, it didn’t hurt it, it may have felt like that from time to time...

NATHANIEL: You mean the long gestation period?

PHYLLIS NAGY: Yeah, when no one wants to [make a film], it gives you the opportunity to obsessively go over it again and again on your own time, at least make it a document that you’re proud of. So, luckily...

[Patricia Highsmith's interiority, great actors, and tough rewrites after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan062016

WGA Nominations - Amy Schumer Twice Over and More... 

Don't cry Sadness -- you weren't eligible. You can still dream of OscarOf the guild nominations each year the Writer's Guild, which should be the most fascinating to we writers, is often the least. That's no mark on their taste but on their guilds bizarre exclusionary practices. More than any other guild they eliminated many cherished films each year for "not a member" reasons. So it's worth noting that "snubs" are not ever snubs so much as "probably weren't eligible." situations. And when you really love a film that wasn't nominated you can just tell yourself that even if it isn't true. Why trouble yourself?

If you're just joining us, we previously interviewed Phyllis Nagy who is nominated today for her Patricia Highsmith adaptation Carol. We'll also be sharing an interview with the nominated screenwriter of Spotlight sometime soon. Amy Schumer is the big winner this year nominated for both TV and Film efforts. You can see the WGA nominees in 3 film categories, and 25 other categories (television/newmedia/radio) after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan062016

Judy by the Numbers: "The Land of Let's Pretend"

Judy at 8. In just ten years time she'll have a mini "Juvenile" Oscar!Editor's Note: With Anne-Marie in grad school we're taking it easier on her for 2016. After her invaluable deep dives into Katharine Hepburn with "A Year With Kate" and female directors in "Women's Pictures" something much shorter but reliably tuneful for you each Wednesday morning in '16: Judy Garland numbers! 

Anne Marie returning to you. Welcome to a new series exploring Judy Garland through the music she made famous and the songs that made her a star. Before she was Judy Garland, Frances "Baby" Gumm was the youngest of a three sister Vaudeville act. The child of Vaudeville performers, a family story states that she made her stage debut at 30 months singing "Jingle Bells." She was so entranced by the footlights that her father had to remove her after she sang the song - 7 times.

The Movie: "Bubbles" (Vitaphone Short, 1929 or 1930)
The Songwriters: Harry Akst (Music) and Grant Clark (Lyrics)
The Players: The Gumm Sisters, directed by Roy Mack

The Story: "Bubbles" is close to Frances Gumm's film debut; she and her sisters made a series of Vitaphone shorts for Warner Brothers. Though she's just 8 years old, it's already clear that there's something about young Frances - the short one on the right who mugs to a spot right of camera during her brief closeup. At the moment, that "something" is a big smile and an equally big (if tinny) voice. But such small stuff is what stars are moulded from.

Tuesday
Jan052016

Curio: 2015's Most Artistically Inspirational Films

Alexa here looking back at 2015 along with the horde. As I've noted before, some films seem to inspire visual artists and crafters more than others.  Of course science fiction and fantasy will always result in legions of geekery, but some films seem to go further, initiating a dialogue for visual artists that proves ongoing, often for decades. Certain directors' work will always be on the list (Woody & Wes), while others are more hit-or-miss (e.g. the endless fan art tributes to Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, relatively few for Polanski's Chinatown). Reasons are elusive, but it seems some films just serve up a perfect storm of elements that visual artists crave reinterpreting.

So Nathaniel (who chose the ten runners up) and I (who chose the top five, and maybe they're wishful thinking, as they're some of my favorite films of the year) looked into our crystal balls and choose

15 Films of '15 That Are Most Likely To Inspire Future Artists

Nathaniel's Honorable Mentions

15 Diary of a Teenage Girl
14 Tangerine 

"Favorite Movies 2015" by Hulyen

Neither of these films have really caught on yet with the online art crowd -- at least a web search of the usual places doesn't reveal much happening -- but they will.  Diary of a Teenage Girl is about a cartoonist so it starts with an easy identification hook. Plus it's got memorable period trappings, gutsy performances, and an uninhibited libido for unhealthy sexual relations.

I'm even more sure that Tangerine will catch on and here's why...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan052016

Surprises Abound for the PGA Nominations

Chris here. In addition to the Art Directors Guild earlier in the morning, today the Producers Guild of America announced their feature film nominations, and we have some surprises.

The omissions included Carol (take a breath, everyone) and Room, both also left out from the ADG nominations. We may be passionate fans of Carol around these parts, but the miss here is a sign that our pony still has to capitalize on its momentum to continue in the race. Room on the other hand is a tiny, non-American produced film that was probably overestimated to show up in a group that has leaned populist enough nominate the likes of Star Trek and Skyfall.

Speaking of blockbuster candidates, The Force Awakens also missed out here. While thought to potentially upset here, the franchise's Oscar hopes can now likely be put to bed for major categories. Here are our nominees:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Motion Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

The biggest surprises are Ex Machina and Sicario, also surprising at the ADG - are you sensing a trend? While they are not major Best Picture threats for the Oscar race, their place here shows passionate support brewing and certainly raises their profile. Straight Outta Compton, whose ensemble was recognized by SAG, is one of the bigger financial successes here and a nice nod to Universal's outstanding year at the box office.

Check after the jump for who got the biggest boost...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan052016

The Confusing Art Directors Guild Nominations. Is "Crimson Peak" Period? Where is "Carol"?

Coco here, ready to talk about the Art Directors Guild and their wacky nominations. 

Usually we reserve the term category fraud for when lead performances are nominated in less competitive supporting categories, but the Art Directors Guild suggests we expand the definition. The Guild divides its film categories into period, fantasy, and contemporary, which makes senses. But this year's nominations suggest the division between the three categories are rather arbitrary. (The Film Experience is on the record saying that categories only matter if you follow the rules, so maybe the ADG should read this piece by our beloved Nathaniel.)

Anyway, here are the nominations:

Production Design (Period Film)
Bridge of Spies - Adam Stockhausen
Crimson Peak - Thomas Sanders
The Danish Girl - Eve Stewart
The Revenant - Jack Fisk
Trumbo - Mark Rickner 

Thomas Sanders's gothic sets are gorgeous, but Crimson Peak is a movie about ghosts. The production design is not historically accurate either unless gigantic bleeding houses used to actually exist in the real world. How is this not in "fantasy"?

The question one everyone's mind has to be "Where is Carol?" Judy Becker's designs are not only richly detailed, but they're integral in a film that's all about its precise visuals. It's worth remembering, though painful: Todd Haynes previous 50s masterpiece, Far From Heaven, did not get an Art Direction nomination from this guild or from the Oscars (!!!). 

Meanwhile, Trumbo continues its inexplicable love affair with awards voters.

More surprises and category confusions after the jump.

Click to read more ...