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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. "Like it" on facebook!

 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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Hunter is so expressive, like a firework (intended) exploding again and again.
❞ - Henry

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I took a "fluff" class senior year of high school called Mass Media, and we were allowed to do a project on anything we wanted. My friend Meaghan and I decided to do our project on Brad Pitt,..I had never seen "Thelma & Louise" and found myself obsessed with it. I think I watched it five times by the time my senior year was over. ❞ -Jakey

 


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Wednesday
Aug222012

MIFF 4: New Gay Films

Glenn here winding down with the Melbourne Film Festival coverage. For whatever reason, MIFF’s selection of queer films is never particularly large. I wasn’t able to attend the AIDS documentary How to Survive a Plague, although I’ve heard it’s a powerful experience, but I did get along to Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On that follows a nine-year relationship between a Danish documentary filmmaker (Thure Lindhardt, Into the Wild) and a lawyer (Zachary Booth, Damages, Dark Horse) in New York City. I know Nathaniel’s not a fan (and I can certainly see why as there are problematic areas), but it’s rare for a “gay film” to find a positive foothold in the critical community so that made it a veritable must see.

There’s a moment when Lindhardt’s Erik passes a graffiti sign that reads “FAKE YOUR BEAUTY”, which is actually a good motto for Keep the Lights On. Sachs has certainly made his film look very nice, a professionalism that is sadly lacking from much gay cinema, but it doesn’t quite cover up the fact that the movie doesn’t have anything particularly new to say – in the end it’s still a domestic drama about two people torn apart by tragedy. The actors, especially Lindhardt walking a tightrope of fey, are wonderful and Sachs has imbued the visuals with a warm New York glow without ever resorting to travelogue sightseeing imagery. The song score by Arthur Russell could nauseate some, but I found the dizzying crooning to be lovely. Meanwhile, the gay sex scenes are refreshingly realistic and open, plus the screenplay by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias thankfully avoids preachy grandstanding about Gay Issues (although an out-of-nowhere AIDS scare is on the nose).

On the flip side… the film is, from my limited readings, based on his own experiences and he has obviously slanted the film in his favour. Lindhardt, as his own stand in, plays a documentarian who wins the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival… was that his own form of intellectual bribery? Keep the Lights On eventually went on to win the same prize earlier this year. Hmmm. Elsewhere, Booth sadly gets too little to do in spite of his characters downward spiral. Likewise, Paprika Steen (we love her!) is underused as Erik’s sister and feels like a superfluous plot strand that the director didn’t know how to fully utilise. 

It’s certainly no Weekend, or even Brotherhood (a Danish gay drama that also starred Lindhardt), but I did find much to like about this film. It arguably should have ended some ten minutes earlier – a trend of any film festival, surely, are independent productions that should have ended ten minutes earlier – and finished on a more ambiguous note, but it does enough interesting work with the clichés of gay life to make it a rewarding watch. (B)

A conservative Iranian taxi driver whose husband is in jail accepts a fare from a woman she finds on the roadside who’s desperate to flee an arranged marriage. What makes Negar Azarbayjani’s delicate Facing Mirrors so interesting is that the cab passenger is actually a pre-op transsexual. It’s a road trip as unconventional as (to be entirely reductive about it) Transamerica, but… well, you know, better. Unburdened by that American film’s stunt casting of a celebrity, Azarbayjani’s film is able to lend both characters depth and genuine worries of the heart and brain without busying the viewer with “Wow! Look at the transformation! Wow!” style thoughts.

The screenplay by Azarbayjani and Fereshteh Taepoor eventually gets bogged down in the preachy “aren’t we all the same?” semantics that I just praised Keep the Lights On for avoiding. Subtlety is hardly this film’s strong suit. However, there’s still a thrill in seeing Iranian filmmakers take on prickly subjects, and the performance of Shayesteh Irani (the incredible Offside) is a powerful one. (B-)

By far the best of the gay cinema on offer was Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari. Traipsing the familiar coming-of-age-while-coming-out path of many before it (like other excellent recent ethnic-centric examples Pariah and Circumstance), this sublime teen drama set amongst an American immigrant community has such an authentic, illuminating quality to it that it proved to be one of my highlights of the entire festival. Starring Fenessa Pineda as a bright young student whose parents see education as a way out of menial labour and Venecia Troncoso as her rebellious, new-girl-in-town friend, Mosquita y Mari is perhaps the finest examinations of real world teenagers I’ve seen since Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park.

Guerrero immediately instils her film with a dazzling sense of place. The sun-drenched surrounds of the Huntington Park area is so lovingly lit that you can feel the sweaty brow of the Californian sun permeate through the screen. The cinematography by Magela Crosignani grabbed me with its constant hazy oasis of a far-off big city promising a better life, as well as the purple and orange sunsets that belie its modest budget (this is just one of many films I noticed end credits for thanking Kickstarter, Pozible, and other fundraising schemes). The music choices, too, are fabulous and mirror the ever-expanding horizons of its core characters. Initially peppering the soundtrack with the stereotypical twang of a guitar and the stroke of a mournful piano, the music eventually encompasses jungle trance, hip-hop, Latin, and synth pop. Just one of the many smart moves by this first-time director. As the screenplay tackles identity within a community that struggles with it, the actors – especially the two leads (hey, they actually look like kids!) – really sell the confusion, elation, flirtation and disappointment. This is an impressive, sweet and sincere gem of a film. (A- / B+)

Tuesday
Aug212012

Have You Ever Seen "Jaws" On the Big Screen?

If not, don't miss your big chance Thursday night!

Bruce & Steven. True Love Always

Many readers think I'm anti-Spielberg -- when you're critical of any sacred cow people think you hate him/her -- but I love the early stuff as much as anyone. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is amazingly "open" in a way too few films are, Raiders of the Lost Ark is about as fun as adventure films can be, and the blockbuster that created Summer Movie Season, Jaws, is impeccable.

Cinemark's Classic Series is a Thursday night moviegoing option in dozens of cities, large and small (sadly it doesn't play in Manhattan though I can't really complain about our access to revivals). The fall series, which you can buy individual tickets to or in bulk for $30, features:

  • August 23rd, Jaws
  • August 30th, High Noon
  • September 6th, Doctor Zhivago
  • September 13th, Chinatown
  • September 20th, The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • September 27th, The African Queen

Oscar buffs will need to have seen all six at some point, so if you haven't, why not cross them off your list ASAP? I hate The African Queen (yes, it's true) but the rest of the series looks delicious and the films have been digitally restored for the occasion. Jaws, Chinatown and Doctor Zhivago in particular strike me as perfect options to seek in revival houses or in screening series like this because they're all slow boil movies paced in a way that pays off enormously in the long haul but is absolutely unlike how movies play out these days so it's best to see them on the screen without the interruptions that you'd get at home.

I wish I could see Jaws tomorrow night! 

It may have scarred me as a child (even though I didn't see it until the 80s) but I love it anyway. See it for me tomorrow night! Or for yourself if you've never seen it all blown up real good. 

Tuesday
Aug212012

Curio: Cinema Notes

Alexa here. Since Nathaniel showed off his Ruby Sparks swag and Glenn showed off his Ruby Sparks notes, I felt the need to weigh in on my recent search for the perfect movie journal. My absolute favorites were produced by Smythson of Bond Street.  I find them ideal for my reviewing purposes: leather bound, with a simple title ("Film Notes"), with all the relevant fill-in-the-blanks on the movie's production and your viewing on one page (which I normally completed before the film) and ample space for scribbles during the viewing on the facing page.  I bought as many as I could find once I found out Smythson was no longer making them, grrr.

One of my Smythsons, with some notes made during a viewing of I've Loved You So Long.As I fill up my remaining volumes I've been on a search for a replacement model, with no luck.  The closest I've some are these that Moleskine is offering as a part of its "Passions" series, but alas they have too many bells and whistles for my liking, and not enough scribble space.

I'm still on the lookout. In the meantime I've found some fun examples that give me inspiration to perhaps decorate my own moleskine next. Click for some fun handmade notebooks inspired by John Waters, GreaseBlack Swan, and The Princess Bride...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug212012

Posterized: Tony Scott (1944-2012)

As you've undoubtedly heard, director Tony Scott, youngest brother of Ridley, died Sunday after throwing himself off a bridge at the age of 68 just two years after his latest huge hit (Unstoppable). The internet was awash with morbid rumors about why (an inoperable brain cancer diagnosis chief among them) but when it comes to private struggles of the soul, you never can expect to know so we stick to the facts. Facts: A lot of people saw and liked his movies; His feature career as a director spanned from 1971's Loving Memory (not the type of movie you'd associate with his filmmaking persona) through 2010's Unstoppable (exactly the type of you'd associate with his filmmaking persona).

Tony Scott with his preferred leading man Denzel Washington. They made five films together.

Somewhere along the line I decided I wasn't interested in him as a filmmaker but not every filmmaker is for ever moviegoer (nor should they be). My disinterest was partially spurred on by a me-imposed sibling rivalry with his older brother Ridley Scott -- rather silly since Ridley and Tony worked together often and no love was ever lost. But Ridley already had two indisputable classics under his belt (Alien and Blade Runner) by the time Tony Scott was making his Hollywood debut so the die was cast. If Tony had continued making movies like The Hunger chances are I would never have tuned him out but his bread and butter... in fact his entire diet... was the kinetic multiplex-ready A list male-driven shoot em up. Not enough actresses! But looking back through his filmography brought back more memories than I expected.

How many Tony Scott pictures have you seen?

Loving Memory (1971) | The Hunger (1983) | Top Gun (1986)

The Hunger is the Scott films I've seen the most often, a favorite of my best friend's and thus in regular rotation on VHS for the first decade of its life. Bonus Points: Deneuve & Sarandon making sexploitative vampire love long before True Blood repopularized vampires as sex gods....er, devils. It was also impossible to live through the 1980s without absorbing Top Gun into your very pores (my oldest brother loved it).

more posters and memories after the jump

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug202012

because the night belongs to linkers ♩

Serious Film "Masterpiece Down"! Twelve masterpieces that didn't even get a single vote in Sight & Sound's polling of nearly 1,000 critics including (gulp) Network!  
Observations on Film Art takes a long strong look at the praise, criticisms and "innovations" of Christopher Nolan.
Tit for Tat the finalists for Oscar submission from The Philippines. They've yet to be nominated
i09 has a hilarious rundown of this weekend's penultimate True Blood season 5 episode. Yes, I stopped writing about that show immediately after hating the first few episodes... but I haven't quite been able to stop watching it yet. This is why TV is bad for you. 

Movie City News David Poland crunches some numbers on Hollywood's commercially successful directors and what it takes to justify a $200 million budget
Encore's World is doing some sort of bracketed tournament of essential 90s performances. I'm horrified that Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) lost to Leonardo DiCaprio (What's Eating Gilbert Grape) without a fight. This will not stand! (Actually maybe that's a sophie's choice, both of them being brilliant.) But stand it must. Note to all people, not just Andrew, running polls: leave them open longer! 
Take Out All The Words  has an illuminating piece about approaching tragedies (like The Dark Knight Rises shooting) within a normally "funny" milieu like editorial cartooning
MNPP Jake Gyllenhaal's new role involves gambling like crazy. Gambling addict! Gambling is what actors who aren't boring / predictable do every time they sign on for a movie role, so Jake G probably didn't have to do much research.

Randomness
AV Club Sutton Foster interviewed on her transition from stage to small screen on the delightful Bunheads.
Towleroad Rosie O'Donnell had a heart attack! Get well soon, Rosie.
YouTube The Game of Thrones theme performed by a cat 

Live Music Send-Off
Russell Crowe ♥ Patti Smith. In Iceland no less (on a break from filming Noah perhaps? or burning the candle at both ends?)