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 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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The BIG EYES Poster

"I didn't even notice the stars at first but that's why I like it. Tag line is clever. I hope Burton gone substance over style (while being stylish) with this one." - Jija

"The art is ugly creepy kitsch... that is, slightly above dogs playing pool and black-velvet Elvis. I have a hard time grasping why we should care who created it..." - Owen

Beauty vs. Beast

 

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Saturday
Jun302012

12 Word Reviews: "Brave", "Beasts of Southern Wild", "Moonrise Kingdom"

My 1000+ word review of Magic Mike will be up tomorrow but in the meantime, let's clear the cache with a few words, a dozen in point of fact, on movies I didn't review properly.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin)
A six year old girl learns survival lessons from her father in a drowned world. But synopsis won't due its real poetry any justice. See it!
10WR: Overwhelming sense of loss tempered by vivid originality, guileless acting, flexible allegory.  A-
Oscar? I doubted it at an Oscar contender at first (defiantly weird and filled with first timers) but it has tremendous critical approval, and there's nothing else even remotely like it on the filmscape. It's very difficult to shake once you've experienced it. Could factor in across the board or, more likely, fight for a few key nods. Adapted Screenplay might be the safest bet (so far).

Brave (Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell)
A Scottish princess seeks to transform her fate but the magic she calls on has dangerous repercussions.
10WR: Refreshing steps outside Pixar comfort zones but oddly disjointed. Still... that hair! B
Oscar? A good bet in the Animated Feature category (Pixar has only missed that nomination once -- just last year with Cars 2) but anything beyond that and the music categories will be a tough sell.

What kind of bird are you?

Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
Troubled pen pals run away from home (and scout camp) in this darkly sweet tale of adolescent (and adult) loneliness.
10WR: Amusing affectations are balm and escape from real pain.Anderson's second best! B+
Oscar? That brilliant last movement in the end credits, with the narration of Desplat's music could go a long way for selling Best Original Score. But how about Screenplay and Art Direction? Too affected or just right?

People Like Us (Alex Kurtzman)
A young man (Chris Pine) discovers a half sister (Elizabeth Banks) he didn't know existed but keeps the truth from her and his angry recently widowed mother (Michelle Pfeiffer. 
10WR: Strong actresses but uncomfortably incestuous plot bizarrely filmed like an action flick. C-
Oscar? If it's an unlikely hit, Pfeiffer could win traction in Supporting Actress.

 

 

Peace , Love & Misunderstanding (Bruce Beresford)
An uptight depressed lawyer visits her estranged hippie mother and their cultures clash... again.
10WR: Kindhearted with enjoyable if obvious performances. Too programmatic when complexity is needed. C
Oscar? No. Though it sure is nice to see Jane Fonda back onscreen.

Prometheus (Ridley Scott)
A team of scientists seeks our genetic ancestors on a far away planet and discovers the diabolical origins of those pesky acid-blooded creepy crawlies instead.
10WR: Tremendously visual. Intermittently heart-stopping --  that abortion sequence!. Plot is a tough sell.  B
Oscar? We discussed this

 

YOUR TURN in the comments

Saturday
Jun302012

Young Clint, 1956

 

Clint Eastwood at 26 years of age, lounging in his pool. He was still doing TV guest spots and uncredited teensy tiny roles in movies. Courtesy of NY Mag's Magic Mike inspired gallery of famous shirtless men through the ages

In related news: Summer is suddenly unmistakably here. Have such a good one that Clint will want to make a movie about you next year. He can surely cram it in between other projects. 

Friday
Jun292012

AMPAS Continues To Change Rules, Add Members

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka AMPAS aka The Oscars aka "That Organization That The Media And Public Are Constantly Calling 'Irrelevant' Whilst They Disprove Their Point By Talking About Said Organization Incessantly") has changed their rulebooks yet again and opened their figurative doors to new players. Their reasoning and criteria remain, as ever, a mystery to those of us with strong opinions on the matter.

Here's what happened...

Visual Effects
The bakeoff system is a bit different now. Ten films will be selected as semi-finalists. The branch will then vote and five will become nominees.
TFE DECREES: Smart, humane move after those years with only 6 or 7 semi-finalists... which was embarrassingly like being "the last one picked" when you didn't end as a nominee.

Makeup (and Hairstyling!)
New Rule: It's a name change from Best Makeup to Best Makeup and Hairstyling. 
TFE Decrees: Good Move But Entirely Cosmetic. The award was already meant to include hairstyling if it greatly contributed to the film -- you'll remember that Meryl Streep's longtime hairdresser won for The Iron Lady last year. The name change will only matter if the branch that's voting takes the name change to heart and starts conveying, through their nominations, that they care about things other than werewolf makeup and old age latex. The last few years have shown a bit of willingness to shake up this category for the better so good on them.

Best Foreign Film
New Rule: Films still have to be submitted in 35mm to AMPAS for consideration but they no longer have to screen that way in their home countries.
TFE Decrees: Good, though only 0.000001% of Oscar watchers will ever notice. But anything to loosen restrictions up for the committees in other countries who have to decide which film best represents them.

Best Original Song
New Rule: In special circumstances four songwriters can now become nominees. The number was three.
TFE Decrees: Excuse me .... [raucous laughter] ... how does this even matter since the system as is keeps refusing a full slate of nominees? It's as if the music branch is completely ashamed of their craft and considers nothing worthy. The only thing that would fix this category is a complete overhaul of the rules and maybe even the branch members. The voting system, in which you can actually torpedo viable popular contenders by giving them terrible scores, is the problem... not the number of songwriters credited.

176 NEW ACADEMY MEMBERS!
This is the best part of AMPAS changes each year, since it's fun to look at who is finally "in" and scratch your head at what took so long. Trying to parse meaning behind the newbie invites is a fool's errand since their criteria are suspicously vague. Non-distinguished actors, for example, are invited each year and yet sometimes they don't invite one of the actual Oscar nominees. Michelle Williams was a strange example as she was not an Academy member until some years after Brokeback Mountain.

New AMPAS Members: Yeoh, Kulcher, Martindale, Kar Wai, and Djurkovic

Ten invitees I was extremely happy about... (excluding last year's nominees which are too obvious to chat about): ACTORS - Fine character actors Margo Martindale ("Carol"!!!! from Paris Je T'Aime) and Clifton Collins Jr (Traffic), gorgeous actresses who should be much bigger stars like Kerry Washington and Michelle Yeoh, and Andy Serkis who will undoubtedly be in the history books given his pioneering role in a newish form of acting; VISUAL TALENTS - Production Designer Maria Djurkovic who did such surpassingly excellent Oscar snubbed work on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Cinematographer Alwin Kuchler who recently wowed with Hanna, MAKEUP ARTIST -Toni G (who did the Oscar statue worthy Oscar snubbed work on Charlize Theron's Monster); DIRECTORS -Wong Kar Wai and Terrence Malick (!!! Perhaps he's refused them in the past?)

How are you receiving all this Oscar news? With indifference or excitement?

Friday
Jun292012

There Can Be Only Link

Felix in Hollywood Hilarious Pauline Kael quote on A Place in the Sun
My New Plaid Pants wishes a happy birthday to the awesome Alessandro Nivola who never gets enough work or at least not the right kind of it. 
Cartoon Brew an amusing very short animated film called Nest. Watch it.
Inside TV Matthew Weiner's favorite scene in this past season of Mad Men. Surprising cool choice.
Coming Soon Can't say I saw this coming but it looks like Edgar Wright may actually make Ant Man after all. I guess The Avengers will greenlight many an unlikely film. Though it's telling that nobody is talking about making a Scarlet Witch movie (sigh).

IndieWire "The League of Pan" huh? The Peter Pan mythos might become a TV series. I might be excited but IndieWire used a photo of the execrable Hook which killed my buzz. Abort. Abort. No Peter Pan projects is preferrable to that!
Playbill original cast members of The Sound of Music reminisce. Why? A new book is coming out.
Movie|Line Stephanie Zacharek (who often, to my recollection, understands the power of La Pfeiff) on People Like Us 
Slant Kurt attends the press conference of To Rome With Love 
Tor funny piece on Ryan Reynolds being the perfect choice for the reboot of Highlander

While post-Highlander Christopher Lambert seemed to actively choose movies that sucked, Ryan Reynolds simply can’t help it. He just slops into these parts, which is why theHighlander reboot is ideal for him. It’s an honest representation of exactly what he is in the culture: someone who will never die unless somebody does something terrible to him with a sword. 

Hee.

Exit Music. Fiona Apple's "Hot Knife". It's so weird and self-contained and auto-erotic and annoying and hot and perfect. I love Fiona so much. Why must it be so interminably long between her CDs? 

It's been a long time since she dated Paul Thomas Anderson but I think it should be mandatory that some genius auteur scoop her up.

Friday
Jun292012

If this Blu-Ray Could Sing...

It'd sing "Another Suitcase in Another Hall!"

Where am I going to??? ♫

Oh who knows lonely singing Blu-Ray. You'll get by you always have before. But you could be packing your bags Monday for the home of just about any Film Experience Reader.

don't ask anymore ♫  

The EVITA contest

Last day to enter folks! I've got three copies of the 15th anniversary blu-ray to give away.

Thursday
Jun282012

Best Shot: Isabelle Adjani in "The Story of Adele H"

Previously on Season 3 of Hit Me With Your Best Shot...

Today we're officially back to weekly "Best Shot" posts with François Truffaut's biotragedy THE STORY OF ADELE H (1975). For nearly thirty years French beauty Isabelle Adjani held the record for the Youngest Best Actress Nominee of all time; she was 20 when Adele H made her an international star. To add to Adjani's Oscar Curio factor, she still holds another record: she's the only actor or actress ever nominated twice for French language performances. Nomination #2 came for another biotragedy Camille Claudel (1988). [Marion Cotillard surely hopes to tie that particular Best Actress record later this year in Rust and Bone (2012).]

Adjani all but vanished from screens round about the time she and Daniel Day-Lewis procreated and split. The sensational Queen Margot (1994) and the reviled Diabolique (1996) with Sharon Stone were her last big draws so I assume many readers are unfamiliar and that this Best Shot subject would be a fresh choice. I did not however make the connection that post-Possessed this meant two movies back-to-back featuring women who utterly debase themselves for the love of a playboy who does, in his defense, try to warn her crazy away. Even though both films belong to my favorite subgenre Women Who Lie To Themselves™ it was a disconcerting double feature. 

Adele H doesn't just lie to herself though. She lies to virtually everyone in her relentless pursuit of her former lover Lt. Albert Pinson (Bruce Robinson) who she intends to marry. She prides herself repeatedly on her willingness to cross the Ocean for him, a big deal in 1863.

Though I'd argue that François Truffaut's marriage of traditional costume drama and nouvelle vague experimentation is sometimes an awkward one, I do love the film's take on letters which Adele mostly reads aloud as she writes, sometimes directly to the camera as in this gorgeous passage when Adele recites an entire letter to daddy while the camera actually crosses the Ocean (and then some maps) to deliver it.

She's Written A Letter To Daddy... (my second choice for "best shot")

My dear parents,
I have just married Lieutenant Pinson. The ceremony took place Saturday in a church in Halifax. I need money for my trousseau. I must have 300 francs immediately... in addition to my allowance. If you'd taken care of my music as I've asked you 100 times that would bring me in some money and I wouldn't have to behave like a beggar. 

It's in the letter readings where Adjani earns the historic Oscar nomination. Her lies are so proud and delivered with such entitled petulance that she almost seems thrilled to be reciting them. What's false is true and Adele believes this with religious conviction. And nost just Sunday only conviction but a tent-revival sort of fanaticism. Similarly perverse beats occur when she seems turned on by Lt. Pinson's sexual interest in everyone but her. Adjani is also excellent at delineating Adele's complex relationship to her family name ("H" being the clue and part of the reason I chose the movie at this time) whether she's embracing it, hiding it, or using it as dangling carrot.

Great Moments in Costuming #317,201

But for the Best Shot prize, I choose a shot that falls within a far more typically Oscar-baity context. Toward the end of the film, the inevitable occurs and Adele's internal madness is acutely externalized. After a dog bites at her heels, tearing her dress, she wanders the streets.

In an 18 second unbroken shot she approaches oblivious to the camera she's often looking at. The camera  briefly focuses on the ragged hem of her once rich gown as she passes us by before it pans up again to a bookstore window where Adele's lonely never-suitor stares at his former friend, now utterly alien. She spins about in the street muttering (inaudible) nonsense to herself. She's always spoken nonsense but now that everyone can hear it for what it is, there's no point in listening.

best shot

Don't Believe Her Lies!!!
Antagony & Ecstacy ...thinks it a damn good movie.
Film Actually... on a soldier's indifference
Cinesnatch... 'for the man you claim to be her father'
Okinawa Assault [SPOILERS] talks downward spirals and dusty mirrors

Next Thursday Night: Kim Novak and William Holden get all hot and bothered in the Oscar favorite PICNIC (1955), which I've never seen! Bring your own blankets and sandwiches (and blog posts)

Thursday
Jun282012

Halfway There... Almost

What's on your cinematic mind when it comes to 2012? Our Halfway Mark Specials begin this Sunday so I'm curious how the year is shaping up for you so far? Has your moviegoing been light or heavy? thrilling or filled with disappointed? Or maybe you're stuck in the inbetween.

Here's what I've personally seen or reviewed so far...

  • If I haven't discussed it which 2012 release would you most like to read about?
  • Of those we have discussed on the blog, which would you like to keep on discussing? 
  • Which halfway mark topic -- don't worry we'll talk Oscar -- do you have a lot to say about?