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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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 "...and will these three great artists appear on the actual Oscars show?" - Rick G.

"To dig up some tabloid history (not that it was buried deep) for a footnote, Reynolds' "love rival" Elizabeth Taylor won the same humanitarian award in 1993. It sort of goes to show that everybody got theirs in that situation, except for Eddie Fisher." - Hayden W.

"Congrats to these three! They are all deserving of this honor but I STILL can't believe the Academy has pass up Doris Day AGAIN!" - Anthony


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There is No Frontrunner For Best Actor

By and large pundits seem to have narrowed down the Best Actress category, sadly before all the films have even premiered, to about 6 or 7 women... but many of them won't be able to win for their roles (when you've already won it's more difficult to build a "more" case - this ain't the Emmys) so the fight for the actual statue will probably not be bloody at all. Here you go, Cate! The supporting categories (both male and female) are still hugely competitive as far as nominations go but again the winning could well be set in stone as soon as the nominations are facts rather than assumptions.

Will Oscar feel sentimental about Dern or Redford?

But Best Actor just can't be narrowed down. Not yet at least. [more...]

Click to read more ...


NYFF: Cannes Winner "A Touch of Sin"

TFE’s coverage of the 51st New York Film Festival (Sep 27-Oct 14) has begun. Here are Glenn and Jose with their takes on Cannes winner A Touch of Sin

Glenn: For whatever reason, Asian cinema doesn’t get too much exposure in cinemas over this side of the ocean. The discrepancy between words written about the subject and people actually seeing them is entirely out of whack, don’t you think? We all seem to hear about these fabulous movies from around the region and yet outside of a film festival it appears all but impossible to catch them, which makes these festivals so vital. Seems like a massive missed opportunity if you ask me, but then I don’t propose to know anything about the movie-watching habits of mainstream or arthouse audiences. I doubt a film like Jia Zhang-ke’s A Touch of Sin will attract more than middling crowds upon its October 4th release date (curiously during New York Film Festival, so they’re surely cutting into their modest box office expectations already), but that would be expected for any 135-minute, violent indictment of rapid capitalism. One as formally rigid and didactic as this even more so. However much I wish it weren't the case.

It’s not a coincidence that Jia’s rise to prominence as the pre-eminent cinematic purveyor of modern day China began right about the time China began its rise as a global super-power. He’s likely China's finest examiner of the country’s industrial transformation with films such as Venice Golden Lion winner Still Life, fellow Cannes competitor 24 City and observational documentary Useless. With A Touch of Sin he’s taken to his homeland’s obscene capitalism and he's not acting subtle. Hello, one scene features a woman get mistakenly for a prostitute and subsequently assaulted with thick wads of cash! Still, it’s a technical marvel and has a propulsive edge if you give in to its peculiar structure. Jose?

Jose: A Touch of Sin might be one of the angriest movies made in recent years. Winner of the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes awarded by none other than Steven Spielberg, it is a bleak saga in which characters are connected through their disappointment and eventual violent revenge. Knives, guns and explosives are used indiscriminately to show how China is sinking into an endless pit of corruption and violence and – eek – there seems to be no way of stopping it.

Zhao Tao, Jia Zhang-ke's wife and A Touch of Sin's finest performance

This film takes place in a country where miners are forced to deal with old horses with whips while their employers parade around in Audis and brand new jets. A country where shooting someone in the head over their designer purse or fellating tourists while dressed up like a train conductor are simply means of making a living. There is no hopeful outcome in the movie and watching it proves to be an experience as harrowing as it is terrifying. Jia cleverly populates it with moments of dark humor, only to then hold a mirror to our faces and ask us if we know how much we’re contributing to this decay. It’s rare to see cinema – or art for that matter – so furious and bleak.

Glenn: Agreed. A Touch of Sin is a film that has grown exponentially in my mind since viewing it just a couple of days ago. The way images of tranquillity and brutality are beautifully juxtaposed thanks to cinematographer Yu Lik-wai, the way Giong Lim’s music underscores the imagery with throbbing harmonies, the way its ratcheting suspense and cathartic release duel for supremacy… it’s a towering achievement and a new, even more uber-provocative side of the filmmaker that NPR hailed "the most important filmmaker working in the world today." It is a tough watch, and its structure could easily infuriate, but seeks to constantly rattle the audience to its message.


Before Batman Began Again...

JA from MNPP here. This is making the rounds today, but perhaps you've missed it - from the new boxed-set of Batman blurays out this weeks comes the above audition tape from our most recent rubber-suited shadow dweller, Christian Bale himself! This was for 2005's Batman Begins of course, which began the whole Nolan era of Gotham and its gruff-voiced hero. Right off the bat (har) you'll see that Bale had that smoker's voice in mind for the character beneath the scowl - personally I was cool with it in Begins, but grew steadily sick of the affectation as the films wore on. (Although the same could pretty much be said of my take on the triology, give or take some Ledger.) But who's reading that opposite him? Might that be Lois Lane herself, one Amy Adams? To think what might have been with her in place of Katie Holmes...


Review: Prisoners

This review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad

Thanksgiving in movies is usually overstuffed with dysfunction and hostility. Who can digest from all the bile at home? That's not the case in PRISONERS, the new dramatic thriller from undersung Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), which is more retrograde in its approach with the family unit as something sacred and continually under attack. Despite the occassional interjection of ominous music (shut up Jóhannsson... there's plenty of time for your score later!) and an initially drab grey color palette, things seem realistically jovial at this get together.

The Dovers (Hugh Jackman + Maria Bello) are celebrating the holiday at the home of the Birches (Terrence Howard + Viola Davis) just down the street -- close enough to walk -- as they clearly do every year (or perhaps they trade off). The parents are realistically both amused and vaguely annoyed by their children, attentive but 'don't bother me' tired. It's only when the film leaves the homes of the Dovers or Birches that there's trouble brewing... somethings just off. Why did the movie open with a father/son hunting trip? Why is that strange RV parked on the road? Where did Anna's (Hugh's daughter) red emergency whistle go? Are Joy and Anna back yet? The two youngest children just went back to the Dovers to grab that red emergency whistle they wanted to p... OHMYGODwhere are Joy and Anna?

Click to read more ...


Podcast: Reader Questions & Short Term 12

For today's super-casz edition of the Podcast it's just Nathaniel & Nick gabbing. We argue about Short Term 12's schematic screenplay and individual character arcs (Nathaniel loved it all / Nick did not) and how the movie reflects what we look for in movies. After that discussion it's off to reader questions involving directors & their muses, the art of movie titling (not the credit sequences, the actual titles), and opinion-shifting from past Oscar seasons.

You'll have to listen to find out how Gravity, American Beauty, Vera Farmiga, and Spike Jonze's Adaptation fit into it all. You can do so here at the bottom of the post or download it on iTunes. Join in the conversation in the comments once you've listened.

Short Term Podcast


Emmy Night Winners

I've opted not to live blog tonight since I was bombing earlier on twitter. Not my night...

what i'll be doing later when Jon Hamm loses again

But that's okay because it's the Emmys and my attention drifts in and out and I'm way behind on writing projects which I'll sneak in on the side when things get dull in the middle.

Here are the acting and series winners... (refresh for updates)

LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Her fourth win so she joins the top ten actresses of all time for Emmy comedy (only 10 women have 4 or more) The speech was priceless with a meta-Veep moment with Tony Hale standing behind her, giving cues.
LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
His third win for this role
A minor surprise that also doubles as a tip of the hat to Arrested Development. Buster!
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY Merrit Wever, Nurse Jackie 
The most adorable acceptance speech. Wever is amazing on that show and a true original but given that Emmy seems to be over Nurse Jackie it was a surprise. Jane Krakowski must have murdered someone in Hollywood to go totally Emmyless for one of TV's all time funniest characters on a multi-Emmyed show (30 Rock) but what can you do? 

LEAD ACTRESS, MINISERIES The Lovely Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter
So Elisabeth Moss lost which is a mystery as complex as the one she was investigating in Top of the Lake. But clearly the cast of Mad Men will collectively never win any Emmys. Someone has voodoo dolls.
LEAD ACTOR, MINISERIES Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra 
And yes he asked Matt Damon if he wanted to the top or the bottom of the statue. 
SUPPORTING ACTOR, MINISERIES/MOVIE James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum

SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire
LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA Claire Danes, Homeland
Her second win despite that awkward awkward moment early on when Diahann Carroll demanded a win for Kerry Washington 
LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA Jeff Daniels, Newsroom

MINISERIES / MOVIE Behind the Candelabra
Oy. Listen I liked Behind the Candelabra a lot but the fact that it won all these things and Top of the Lake went home empty-handed is kind of embarrassing. 
Apparently it's only the third series to ever win for the first time on its fifth season
four consecutive wins seems crazy but what can you do. It's Emmys. It's tough for them to break character. The only show with five consecutive wins is Frasier so we'll see if Modern Family can do it next year, too. 

Now to attempt to scrub out the horrific memory of Carrie Underwood covering the Beatles.

Peace out. 


Box Office: The Family Prisoners of Oz

Jake Gyllenhaal sure needed it. Hugh Jackman's still got it. Prisoners, their tense new child abduction thriller had a strong opening weekend. It shouldn't come as a surprise, really. Hugh hasn't had anything like a true "flop" since Deception (2008) and The Fountain (2006). Even Australia, which people remember as a flop, would have been a hit all told with its solid global gross had it not had such a steroid-humongous budget. We'll discuss Prisoners in depth tomorrow (it's the type of movie that people will unfortunately "spoil" while discussing it enthusiastically so let's give it another night before we dive in) once we're past Emmy weekend.

marketed largely on Hugh Jackman, Prisoners turns out to be a true ensemble piece

01 Prisoners $21.4 
02 Insidious Chapter 2 $14.5 
03 The Family $7
04 Instructions Not Included $5.7
05 Battle of the Year $5
06 We're The Millers $4.6 
07 Lee Daniels' The Butler $4.3 REVIEWED 
08 Riddick $3.6 
09 Planes  $2.8
10 Percy Jackson 2 $1.8 

I ran into Joe Reid at the movies on Thursday and we talked about the tiny short shelf life of some movies. We were joking that people won't even remember that The Family ever came out by Friday. But here it is for the second week in a row in the top three grossers. So perhaps we were wrong. I haven't had the time (or, more pointedly, the heart) to write up the movie. I will say that Pfeiffer, DeNiro and Jones are good enough with the material but none inspired by it. What prompted them to make it beyond the paycheck? The fault lies with Luc Besson and the writing since it's such an unwieldy and even ugly mix of tones, swerving from heartfelt drama to black comedy to slapstick to god-only-knows what in nearly every scene with none of the dramatic empathy or comic inspiration that it would need to survive its indecisiveness and total mediocrity.

Mother & Robot. After school.

P.S. The only moments of joy I felt watching the movie was a couple shots of an endearing beautiful dog (named "Malavita" - ha!) and every shot of La Pfeiffer as it came with tiny flashes of nostalgia from the 80s classic Married to the Mob wherein the goddess was also comically cavorting with gangsters.

P.P.S. Dianna Agron is awful but I actually think she has the film's most impossible role and I can't believe I'm saying this but it needed someone of Chloe Moretz's total "f*** you" adolescent confidence and technical skill - she can fake human-like responses when she has to. Agron can (sort of) "act" confidence but she's like a robot when it comes to emotions; they do not compute.

01 Wizard of Oz IMAX 3-D $3
02 Thanks For Sharing $.6
03 Enough Said $.2
04 Rush $.2 REVIEWED
05 Short Term 12 $.1 REVIEWED (cum $.7)

Having recently rewatched The Wizard of Oz for the millionth time for Hit Me With Your Best Shot I didn't feel the need to see it on the big screen again (I've done that several times, too). But did you? In other news, I fear that Short Term 12 is not long for this world, encountering its first dip during its gutsy and beautiful weekly expansion... so get out there and see it, people. Support movies that are crafted with everything BUT box office on their minds, and we'll get better movies!

What did you see this weekend? And was it money well spent?