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The Next La La Land?

"It looks like fun and Hugh and Zac make a cute couple" - Jaragon

"Why do we keep treating La La Land like some sort of longsuffering, put-upon, misunderstood underdog? It's like making time to assure the prom queen that she's pretty and popular.." -Hayden

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INTERVIEWS

Pablo Larraín (Jackie)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Gael García Bernal (Neruda)
Billy Crudup (20th Century Women)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival

 

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Thursday
Apr092015

Mad Men @ The Movies "Hey, Mildred Pierce!"

Please welcome new member of Team Experience, Lynn Lee (who you may remember from the Reader Spotlight and Furlough Guest Blog) here to continue our unofficial Joan Crawford week - Editor 

Lynn here, filling in for Nathaniel as Mad Men – and with it, Mad Men at the Movies – returns for the final seven episodes.  The show has had a good run but from a filmgoing perspective I'm sorry we won't get to see what Don would make of the weird and wonderful cornucopia of movies in the ’70s, from gritty crime sagas to paranoid conspiracy thrillers to, well, “Star Wars.” 

Curiously, the only obvious movie reference that popped up in tonight’s episode was to a movie from decades earlier – Mildred Pierce (1945), the half-soap, half-noir blockbuster that revived Joan Crawford’s flagging career and won her the only Oscar of her career.  Fittingly, the shout-out comes from Roger Sterling, our most senior character now that Bert Cooper is gone.  Even more fittingly, it’s delivered as slightly derisive banter wrapped around an order to an underling: Roger’s in a diner with Don and three ladies, all decked out in evening wear, and he wants the waitress to bring him the bill.

Hey, Mildred Pierce, can I get the check?”

It's not exactly a flattering sobriquet...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr092015

Women's Pictures - Jane Campion's An Angel at my Table

With her 1990 film An Angel at my Table, Jane Campion solidified a pattern for herself. Her films would be about extraordinary women in stifling circumstances. Whether it is mental institutions, marital institutions, family, or society, Campion’s heroines have to overcome great difficulties in order to live truly as themselves. An Angel at my Table, based on the autobiographies of New Zealand author Janet Frame, stands out as the only film of Campion’s early body of work that could be comfortably called a biopic. But to dismiss An Angel at my Table as just another biopic would be to ignore the unusual film Campion has made about an unusual woman.

Janet Frame’s life was as strange as any of the twenty works she wrote. She spent her childhood poor but happy in rural New Zealand, grew into an awkward woman whose anxiety was mistaken for mental illness, spent eight years in a mental institution, was freed when her writing was published, and went on to become a New Zealand icon. Campion cast three actresses to play Frame as she matured: Karen Fergusson, Alexia Keogh, and finally the incredible Kerry Fox. The three actresses are unified by a shock of red, unruly hair, and an awkward physicality that show someone more comfortable in her imagination than in the world.

An Angel at my Table is shot in a straightforward style far removed from the canted camera angles and wide angle lenses of Sweetie. The practical reason for this was the film's humble beginnings as a TV miniseries. However, beyond practicality, this less showy camera blocking lends itself to grounding Janet Frame’s story in reality. Frame’s impoverished but happy upbringing, her nightmarish eight year detention in a mental institution, and her subsequent successful writing career are shown in mostly medium or long shots, with Janet at the visually at the center. Typically subjects are set off-center in a shot, because symmetrical framing looks odd to the audience’s eye. Placing Janet at the center of the frame visually sets Janet apart - reacting to, but separate from, the world around her.

Janet Frame's colorful inner life after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr092015

Every Thing Will Be Fine. Plus: German Oscar Contenders

Team Experience is adding two new members this week. Please welcome Sebastian! - Editor

Sebastian here, with my first dispatch from the outskirts of Germany, where I spend my days watching movies and occasionally writing about them. You might have seen my post about the unique ways Birdman deals with suicide and depressionBorn in 1982, I’ve lived in Germany all my life. Currently residing in Trier (birthplace of Karl Marx; not affiliated with Lars von), I’ve dabbled in various pursuits ranging from photography to education, but movies remain my biggest passion, which is why I was thrilled when Nathaniel asked me to contribute to The Film Experience.

Let’s start out with a few thoughts on Wim Wenders’ latest dramatic effort, and a brief look ahead at some of the films aspiring to be submitted as Germany’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film this year.

With his Oscar-nominated documentary The Salt of the Earth still in theaters in the US, Germany has already seen the release of Wim Wenders’ follow-up picture, Every Thing Will Be Fine, which I saw here last week. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr082015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Johnny Guitar" 

Tru-Color meets True Star-Mojo in this fever dream of a gender-bending Western, this week's "Best Shot" topic. Herewith some shot choices around the web (click on the pics for the articles) and a few of my thoughts as well, as your host. 

Director Nicholas Ray, too little known today, was on a real roll in the 1950s, and between his best loved films, noir classic In a Lonely Place (1950) and ur teen angst drama Rebel Without a Cause (1955) came this divisive oddity Johnny Guitar (1954).

We'd call Johnny Guitar a feminist Western except that the women have basically switched roles with the men rather than proven their equals. Sterling Hayden and Scott Brady as "Johnny Guitar" and "The Dancin' Kid" are, despite their considerable masculine attractiveness, essentially the passive "girls" of the picture, romantic objects or helpful companions who would rather not get caught up in bloody showdowns. Joan Crawford, at her butchest, definitely wears the pants in this movie literally and figuratively. Further complicating the highly discussable gender dynamics (the secret to why the movie had a second life if you ask me) is the inimitable Mercedes McCambridge as Emma Small. She's styled not unlike Joan's twin and she may or may not be in love/lust with The Dancin' Kid or Johnny Guitar or Vienna but she's definitely harboring repressed passions! 

BEST SHOT CHOICES FROM OUR LITTLE AWESOME CLUB
(which you may join at any time - Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver is next Wednesday!) 
8 shots chosen by 11 blogs 

Crawford strikes her movie star pose every single chance she gets."
-A Fistful of Films

I wasn’t completely sold on Johnny Guitar as a movie. I am sold, however, on Joan Crawford as a movie star."
-Coco Hits New York 

Sterling Hayden, epitome of masculinity, holding a dainty, PERFECTLY CLEAN, bright blue & white teacup."
-Dancin' Dan 


An image of things that shouldn't go together being forcibly wedged into one place...
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

Hilariously takes her enemies to task seemingly without a care in the world...
-Sorta That Guy 


A quick glimpse of the frame could be easily mistaken for a shot from, say, a Quentin Tarantino film, or perhaps a Russ Meyer film."
- The Entertainment Junkie

As if having her rival be dragged out and hanged wasn't enough, Emma's gotta be all small about it and make sure that everything is destroyed..."
-The Film's The Thing 


 It's a rare Western where two women are given the meatiest roles... and I loved how the central conflict boiled down to a showdown between them."
- Film Actually

[Paul Outlaw actually chose the piano shot but his runner up is this - love his comment on it!]

 There's no time for three costume changes like that time when you're running for your life...
-The Film Experience 


'It' their fight. Has been all along.' "
-The Spy in the Sandwich 

 

NEXT WEEK:
Taxi Driver (1976) which you have no excuse not to join in on. It's easy to find!
 [Amazon Instant | Netflix Instant | iTunes]

 

Wednesday
Apr082015

Linktown

NY Times Juliette Binoche & Kristen Stewart make beautiful movie together in Clouds of Sils Maria (more on this film tomorrow)
Awards Daily talks to Kristen Stewart about the movie
The Dissolve says goodbye to character actor Geoffrey Lewis, daddy to our beloved Juliette
Comic Alliance all the EW Avengers covers - featuring your first look at The Vision (there really not leaving ANYTHING for a surprise in movie theaters are they?)
Lainey Gossip John Travolta responds to that Going Clear documentary on HBO

FIAF Important news for fashion-loving movie buffs in NYC. The French institute has an amazing lineup of movies on Tuesday nights for the next two months from Bay of Angels through Gloria and on to Belle de Jour
IndieWire explains what's going on with Twin Peaks Season 3 via recent David Lynch and cast comments
imgur cat with paper drawn expressions (aka the reason the internet -- hell, cameras even -- was invented) 
I Want to Believe 'Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan's Banana' 
Towleroad George Takei's new reality show 
In Contention thinks you should believe the hype about Sundance winner Me and Earl and the Dying Girl which now has a trailer... but I'm hearing a lot of negativity from critics at the moment. We'll see what happens when it actually opens in June 

RuPaul's Drag Race Doldrums
Previously TV has good recap - hi Mark!
Regan Write is a hoot as per usual recasting the drag contestants as scream queens from famous horror flicks
Unicorn Booty shares an uncomfortable truth about RuPaul's Drag Race. We agree word for word. They've really made terrible decisions this season both in casting and who keeps getting sent home... though we're finally rid of Kandy Ho. My favorite is still Katya and the shark leg costume this week was to die for. 

Manly Men and the Film Buffs Who Love Them
Movie Mezzanine looks at the parallels and divergence in the careers of Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood 
MNPP Jason and Jai Courtney's muscles alert us to an important cause 
Fistful of Film will celebrate Russell Crowe even if no one else will 

The Perfect Response to the Grace of Monaco Premiering on Lifetime News
Courtesy of our friend and fellow Oscar obsessive Erik Anderson...  

Hey, at least we'll get to see it now in the US since it was never actually released. I remain convinced that it can't possibly be as bad as people say. And this wise article which you absolutely should read if you haven't suggest that maybe it isn't.

Oh my...
This should please some of you. Seems that Ryan Murphy has picked his future Jessica Lange, with an internal promotion on American Horror Story

 

 

This will be the one season that doesn't unravel as it goes along!

 

Wednesday
Apr082015

"Ghosttown"

Today's watch is directed by Jonas Åkerlund of "Ray of Light" fame who also helmed a couple of movies in the Aughts.

 

Madonna gets her Stevie on in this apocalyptic moody new video for "Ghosttown" which is her best single in forevs. Oscar nominated Empire patriarch Terrence Howard co-stars because it takes two to tango. You will be relieved to know that after the apocalypse, able cinematographers and stylists are still gainfully employed.

Finally, I can't beat this quip from Louis Virtel at HitFix

The apocalypse is, apparently, a lot like Madonna's recent Billboard fight with the "Empire" soundtrack. (The "Empire" soundtrack beat Madonna's "Rebel Heart" for the #1 spot on the Billboard 200.) Seriously, it's just Madonna and Terrence Howard after the world ends. The only person alive in the video to appreciate that irony is some little boy, who better be gay. 

 

Related
ICYMI: We suggest auteurs for future Madge collaborations

Wednesday
Apr082015

April Foolish Oscar Discussion: Animated Features

These two specialized categories can be perplexing from the outside, documentaries moreso, as to what is eligible, why it's eligible, and what motivates people to vote as they do. The official eligibility lists don't arrive until later in the year but for now on the new charts we'll add documentary titles as they make some kind of mark and we'll dive right into animated features, which apart from the foreign produced entries, are much easier to track.

Pixar vs Pixar this year?

This upcoming Oscar season, Walt Disney Studios Animation will be out of the mix after two consecutive wins. Their next features Zootopia and Moana, which both look quite promising, aren't due until March and November of 2016. To fill that giant vacuum, Pixar will likely come roaring back after an uncharacteristic absence last year with two titles Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur

But the contest that's most curious might not be a contest... at least in terms of Oscar. We have two features that are trading on collective international nostalgia for 2D classic properties: The Little Prince and Peanuts Movie. But they're both getting the CG or mixed media approach. That's not so odd since contemporary cinema loves to regurgitate and "update" (shudder) but what's unusual is that both films are clearly trying to mix the endearing flat linework and visual style of these beloved gems into newly three dimensional worlds. A safe bet: these films, particularly The Little Prince which looks "schizophrenic", will be divisive. 

Check out the charts! Which of these films are you most curious about and do you agree with the April Foolish guesswork?