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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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"My favorite movie about the theater is ALL ABOUT EVE, but then again that movie is my favorite movie about everything about movies and love and lust and life itself." - Jay

"TOPSY-TURVY perfectly captures the feeling of imminent failure that you get when you're in rehearsals." - Peggy


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Kiki's Melancholia (& Other Saturn Triumphs)

Though I haven't yet seen any photographs of the Saturn Award event, held in Burbank this week and the last of the 2011 Film Awards -- arriving even later than the MTV Awards each year  -- we must rush to congratulate the one and only Kiki for her Best Actress win for Lars von Trier's apocalyptic arthouse amazement Melancholia. You may recall we also honored her right here in our Best Actress listThe Saturn Awards don't have anything like a prestigious reputation (often a problem with awards organizations voted on by fans) but they do have a long history (38 years!) which counts for something and you have to hand it to them this year that they're the only large non-critics awards group to honor Kirsten Dunst for her indelible embodiment of Planet Sized Depression though she did win the top Actress prize at a few film festivals (including the very definition of Prestige Reputation: the Cannes Film Festival) and was also honored by two critics orgs one minor and one major: Kansas Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics. 


A complete list of winners after the jump but if you're too lazy to click, please note that they seemed to love Super 8 best even though it didn't win any of their four Best Picture prizes. Wins and commentary if you...

Click to read more ...


Always Be My Linky

AV Club two new roles for Mariah Carey as an American Idol judge and returning in front of Lee Daniels camera (they worked together on Precious, remember?) in The Butler which already has a very starry cast
My New Plaid Pants a remake of With a Friend Like Harry? Like JA I'm shocked this hasn't already happened. Sergi Lopez was so good in that!
Towleroad Lady Gaga's makes her acting debut in Machete Kills 
SubAtomicCowboy ...reminds us that that's not technically true.

Hollywood Elsewhere a Marilyn Monroe intervention
Movie|Line has theories on the Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart breakup. Interesting though the accompanying opinion/absurdity that 'Kristen Stewart could be the next Jodie Foster' negates my ability to take it seriously.
/Film Battle Royale for the CW as a TV series. From the Dept of Truly Hilariously Terrible Ideas Revenge returns on September 30th. Start the countdown 

Na na na na na na NA na na na na BAT LINKS ♫
Dancer a Day "You're so Bane. You probably think this song is about you." 
We Got This Covered "Imagine the Fire" a lengthy interconnected essay on The Dark Knight Rises.
Natasha VC Christopher Nolan has a little Cousin Matthew in him, huh?
Forbes on The Dark Knight's political conservativism.
Digital Spy Anne Hathaway on the possibility of a Catwoman spin off. Given that she doesn't want to do it without Chris Nolan it's never going to happen (see also La Pfeiffer's stance in the 90s about Catwoman IF it was with Tim Burton)


Hollywood's Current Hierarchy (According to Vulture)

Recently we discussed Forbes list of the highest paid actresses of the last year but money alone paints a crap portrait about what matters in the movies. Vulture recently released a list of the Top 100 Valuable Stars and weighed numerous factors like Oscar pull, box office, and media interest of various kinds. It's the kind of list that Premiere and Entertainment Weekly used to do in ye olden times, a list with more to say than just "hey, we need more page views, click on me 100 times for random photos with two sentence capsules!").

Since there's way too much to say about a list of 100 for a blog post, let's recap their Actressy stance within the top 100, only 30% of that list (sigh), starting with the undisputed queens...

Queen of Action.
Queen of Everything.
Queen of "America's Sweethearts".

27 more actresses (and commentary) after the jump

Click to read more ...


Best Shot: "The Royal Tenenbaums"

In the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series anything with a webspace is invited to join us in choosing a single "best" shot from pre-selected films.

When I first saw The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001, I loved it but wondered quietly if it didn't lose a little steam as it went. That'd be a bittersweet but fitting artistic fate for a movie that's about a family of child prodigies who can't escape the long shadows of their early promise and exist in a kind of static bewilderment at their present emotional state(s). As it turns out The Royal Tenenbaums, unlike the Tenenbaum children, only improves with age. It's looking more and more like Wes Anderson's indisputable masterpiece.

Still, it's easy to see where my initial feeling sprang from. The movie opens so well, with unimproveable voiceover work by Alec Baldwin (clinically observant but never unfeeling) detailing the overachieving childhoods of Chas (Ben Stiller), Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Richie (Luke Wilson), followed by endearingly deadpan "22 years later" character cards that it just has to be downhill from there? 

Not so.

The movie keeps reintroducing us this eccentric troubled clan. I don't normally choose iconic familiar shots as "best" both out of fear of cliché and out of the archaeological instincts of the cinephile -- always looking for new things to admire in a beloved film. But I give up here. Whenever I think of The Royal Tenenbaums, I think of Margot and the greenline bus.

We've already met Margot twice: Once as a precocious unhappy child playwright. Then as a beautiful miserable adult in a brilliant two-part scene wherein Anderson invites us to compare the omniscient narrator's observations about Margot with her detached relationship to her husband (Bill Murray, besotted and baffled and hilarious) and her instant regression with her endlessly supportive mother Etheline (Anjelica Huston, perfect throughout). "Why does he get to do that?" Margot whines about her brother moving back home.

This, my choice for Best Shot is our third major introduction.

With each introduction Anderson gives us not just more character details, but reenforcing self-referential humor (how great is the "no smoking" sign on the bus in a scene that at first feels devoid of the usual cluttered wit of the Anderson frame?), and fresh ways of thinking about these indelible characters. In our third introduction, though we're already as baffled by her as Raleigh and as worried for her as Etheline, we're suddenly seeing her through Richie's eyes; her sad-eyed beauty is intact but she's lit up by sunshine and meant to be loved obsessively... or even incestuoustly. Who can blame Richie? 

The movie's obsessive accumulation of introductions, its front loaded feeling, are a gorgeous almost spiritual mirror to the Tenenbaums own experience, continual promise trapped in static adolescent pain. It takes something as jarring as weddings and deaths to nudge them forward.

These are the other two shots I considered, both of them because of Margot. In truth when I'm watching the movie it feels perfectly balanced as an ensemble piece (and I love every character... especially Pagoda and Etheline) but outside of the actual experience of watching it, Margot tends to absorb my imagination.

Wes Anderson understands, as too few modern directors do, that two, three, four and even five-shots can sometimes give you more information about a single character than a closeup of that same character can; you need to see how they fit into the world they live in. Margot internalizes her otherness as the adopted child and the movie beautifully finds its way in to this girl's notoriously secretive headspace.

This view of Margot apart from her family is repeated in the hospital scene where she leans against a door while the other characters huddle near Richie's bed, barraging him with questions about his suicide attempt. She's inside the "Recovery Room" but she's not healing.

Of course it's dark, it's a suicide note."


This time Wes Anderson and his cinematographer Robert Yeoman move the camera in for a heartbreak closeup. Margot is further away from Richie than anyone in the room but she's the closest to him. They're just going to have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that.

Armchair Audience [Best Shot First Timer. Welcome!]
For Your Speculation [Best Shot First Timer. Welcome !]
Intifada "died tragically rescuing his family..."
Serious Film "wounded zebra"
Antagony & Ecstasy "in all honesty, my second favorite shot"
Low Resolution "...well, it can't be very good for your eyes anyway"
Okinawa Assault
Film Actually [Royal Tenenbaums Virgin!]
Pussy Goes Grrr "Wes Anderson never wastes a frame." 
Movies Kick Ass "group hug"
Against the Hype [Welcome him back!]  
Encore Entertainment ...

Final 4 of "Hit Me" Season 3 (Join us!)
August 1st How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
August 8th Sherlock Jr (1924)... only 44 minutes long and available on Netflix Instant Watch. 
August 15th Singin in the Rain (1952) for Gene Kelly's centennial month!
August 22nd Dog Day Afternoon (SEASON 3 FINALE - 40 years ago this very day the events in the film take place)


Boss Me Around With DVDs. What Must I Watch Next?

Last time y'all voted to make me watch Jeff Who Lives at Home which I have even though my post is running late. Soon it'll be time to seize my queue again. Which of these newish DVD releases must I watch and write about after Jeff?


  • LOCKOUT in which Guy Pearce has a very big gun in outer space and presumably shoots people with it.
  • SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN in which Ewan and Emily are presumably adorable whilst falling in lvoe
  • FRIENDS WITH KIDS in which a fine cast presumably illustrates the comic differences between the childless and the childful in marriages.
  • FOOTNOTE in which the great Lior Ashkenazi presumably argues with his daddy alot in an Oscar nominated foreign film about two Talmud professors
  • THE DEEP BLUE SEA in which Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston couple it up in this presumably beautiful movie because that's the only kind of movie the non-prolific Terence Davies (House of Mirth) makes. 
  • WANDERLUST in which Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston presuming get all frisky when they visit a.


Vote now or forever hold your piece... peace? Stop holding things and start clicking is what I mean. Make a stand for your choice in the comments to sway the voting.




Burning Questions: Do Plot Holes Always Matter?

Michael C here to challenge the nitpickers. Minor Dark Knight Rises spoilers are alluded to, but then you've seen it already haven't you? 

A two and a half hour movie and you can’t find time to explain how Bane eats?”

I admit that quip got a chuckle out of me. I would credit the originator of the quote but as is so often the case these days it seemed to appear simultaneously from countless sources.

This kind of stuff is to be expected since it appears we are now entering the nitpicking phase of the blockbuster hyperbole cycle. If I have my schedule correct we are currently leaving the trumpet sounding, joy fainting stage and this complain-a-thon will soon lead into a full-blown backlash. This will be followed, of course, by the backlash to the backlash, and so on and so on until the IMDB voters decide if it is officially the best movie ever made or if it is only good enough to bump Seven Samurai of out the Top 10.

(Of course, if you are reading The Film Experience you may be in search of the ever-elusive “Reasonable Weighing of Artistic Merits” phase. Godspeed and good luck to you. )

In the past 48 hours I’ve seen dozens of posts spring up claiming to nail various glaring plot holes in Dark Knight RisesMORE...

Click to read more ...


Tues Top Ten: This Week's Favorite Everything

You may have noticed I've been short on time -- apologies! -- so herewith, a speedy very random assortment of...


10 Bunheads Song & Dance. The extremely odd ABC Family show in which the great Broadway star Sutton Foster plays a former Las Vegas showgirl who impulsively marries and ends up teaching ballet in a small town called 'Paradise' doesn't always work. But even when it doesn't it's compulsively watchable. It's so very much itself. And it's wonderful that that self is veering more towards song & dance, with three recent somewhat nonsensical musical interludes. Kudos to the show for casting actresses who don't require body doubles for the dancing.

09 Beau on stage. (When good things happen to good people part 1) Beau, one of our newest contributors, has been acting in a stage play in California and he's won great reviews. This one compares him to John Malkovich (Malkovich! Malkovich! Malkovich!) and this one just raves about his work. Congratulations, Beau!

08 United States of Tara. I finally finished the series thanks to Netflix. I'm only a year late. The final season wasn't as strong as the first two but I love the Gregson family so much. Toni Collette and Toni Collette and Toni Collette and Toni Collette and Toni Collette and Toni Collette and Toni Collette were awesome for those three years, don't you think. 

07 Monty Cuddles my evil ornery cat cuddled up purring for an entire 1½ hour nap the day after a very tough day. Is there such a thing as being possessed by good spirits?

06 "Oops" - Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, caught in the act. And also: Anne Hathaway in general and in perpetuity. Sorry haters!

04 "N.R.A Proposes Sweeping Ban on Movies"

Saying it was 'high time to take action against the number one cause of violence in America,' the National Rifle Association issued a statement today urging a sweeping ban on movies.

Tracy Klugian, an official spokesperson for the gun-lobbying organization, said that the N.R.A. had taken this extraordinary step because it 'could not stand idly by and watch movies tear apart the fabric of our civil society...'"

This satirical piece in The New Yorker (AKA Best Magazine in the World) was just what I needed after that horrifically depressing weekend in which an actual tragedy was followed by the not at all surprising (and even more tragic for its endless consequences) American pattern of insane* shock and political stupidity / apathy post gun violence. 

*isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Gun massacres should not be even remotely shocking to Americans. Unless we change laws, this is the bed we make for ourselves and we shouldn't complain about the state of the sheets. The statistics from all around the world paint an indisputable picture that gun control prevents gun violence. 

03 Saw Bachelorette with Joe Reid. (When good things happen to good people part 2) I probably shouldn't review it proper since my friend Leslye Headland made it but I'll say more when it opens. I'm predisposed to root for it on account of a) friendship b) the amazing fact that Leslye managed to channel one of our shared movie loves into a great casting coup --  Kirsten Dunst plays the Queen B in this very dark comedy about post-collegiate mean girls who can't quite let their high school selves go.

02 Cooked dinner for friends. Look at me! Boiling water is hard for me so this was akin to a Summer Event Film chez moi. I made meatloaf and corn on the cob. Friends claimed it to be delicious so I either lucked out or I have good friends.

01 Melanie Lynskey in Hello, I Must Be Going. (When good things happen to good people part 3) Or... "When good roles happen to deserving actresses!" It's so rare to see supporting actresses in their 30s get a first real moment in the movie sun (yes, there was Heavenly Creatures but teenage debuts are a different animal) and Lynskey runs with the plum opportunity. Bonus points: the trailer doesn't give away all the best parts though it does lean on the bouncy comedy and the movie is closer to a drama with smart bits of character comedy.

In short --  more when it opens --  she's very good in the film. I've always said that depression is really hard to act without flattening your charisma or the character's psychology but Melanie manages multiple layers and you can actually see her bloom rather than the easier 'snapping out of it' as she has an affair with a 19 year old and she works her way back to life post (bewildering) divorce. If they filmed out of sequence, her performance is even more impressive. 

What were a few of your favorite things this week?