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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 "I love that two people independent of one another gave Claire Trevor an extra star simply for being Claire Trevor." - Glenn

"Interesting to see the take of young people on these movies." - Les

"That was fascinating. I love the thoughts on Executive Suite, post-post-WWII and the "benevolent patriarch." " - B.D.


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TIFF Shocker: Isabelle Huppert is "Perverse" Again

I like to start my film festivals with an atypical choice just to get the globe-trotting adventures rolling. So my first screening at TIFF, which I drunkenly forgot the name of the night before --  "Undefebeatable?" "Indestructafeated" -- was a mixed martial arts 'ultimate fighting' movie. I don't only watch movies about actresses, people! Those are just the ones I like best is all. I chased the MMA fighters with some Romanian actressing and French perversity... although it was more like Romanian Actress Perversity (Lhuminita) AND French Actress Perversity (Huppert - who else?)

So basically this was me settling in with each movie on Day One.

Movies make me feel goooooooood.

In many ways Dante Lam's mixed martial arts fighting movie is just one giant wheel of cheese. It's a wheel of cheese so big I was reminded fo the cheez-it commercial as it rolls through Hunnan, Beijing, Macau and into Hong Kong before it slams into its bone crunching finales.  The movie never met a plot advancing montage it didn't like and there's a lot of plot so cue the music again! (I may never be able to hear "The Sound of Silence" without shuddering at the ways its egregiously deployed here and the incongruous things it accompanies.)

Eddie Peng & Nick Cheung are trainee and coach in Unbeatable

Yet despite these deal breakers, the only thing broken is a few bones but no spoilers! The movie totally works and that's largely due to its character focus even though it clearly knows how to stage and film a fight scene, something that too few action movies can claim. Nick Cheung headlines as a one time shady boxing champ who has fallen so far in life that he can't shake the name "Scumbag" even though he's become a decent guy. Taiwanese Canadian actor Eddie Peng is his young fiercely committed protege and the film. Their chemistry is so great that they can even pull off a really funny winking scene about the latent homoeroticism of wrestling without making you hate them The acting from the supporting players is broad, sure, but vivid. The actress playing a young girl Scumbag befriends (I can't find her name) gets some of the best scenes and a really great final moment -- "Come stomp on me!" which makes playful make-believe violence into affection. And also accurately describes both the movies love of its genre and the masochistic impulses of the MMA set. Unbeatable isn't really unbeatable as movies go but it is not remotely unenjoyable. B

Romania's great actress Lhuminita Gheorghiu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu, 4 Months3 Weeks and 2 Days) has a doozy of a role in Child's Pose. Her character Cornelia, is a rich and smug society wife. Cornelia is rarely seen without a drink in one hand and a stubby cigarette in the other and she still has hands free for figuratively greasing palms around town, or literally greasing down her son's back in one provocative scene. Let's just say that she seems to be a spiritual film cousin to Angelica Huston's Lily in The Grifters. One might derisively and accurately refer to Cornelia as "a piece of work."

This fine Romanian picture (is there another kind?) won the Golden Bear in Berlin earlier this year and is now the country's Oscar submission for the upcoming Foreign Film race. The best thing about Child's Pose, aside from Lhuminita's intense gripping star turn, might be the way it so thoroughly isn't what it keeps seeming to be. Cornelia is the anti-hero of this fine Romanian picture (is there another kind?) a woman who will stop at nothing to keep her son from being held responsible for a car accident which killed a young boy. But to the movie's credit she doesn't appear to be at first (when your sympathies are with her, or at least warily near her - she's not exactly a warm presence) and doesn't quite remain so even after her often heinous behavior. It's a slippery thorny picture, forcing you to observe lots of ugly situations, and confront relatable if unpleasant emotions as it shapeshifts subtly from biting satire about the entitlement of wealth, to really uncomfortable family drama, to tense bureaucratic police procedural. It finally comes crashing head on into the ugly truth, the very thing Cornelia is most eager to swerve around. B+

Isabelle Huppert as Maud as Catherine Breillat in Abuse of Weakness

I still have psychic scars from Catherine Breillat's breakthrough Romance (1999) though I tried not to hold that against her when viewing her latest. Abuse of Weakness is an indulgent autobiographical picture of sorts though Catherine is now going by "Maud". Contrary to what any synopsis and the film's first couple of reels suggest the picture is not really about the director's physical illness, but about a post-stroke relationship with a conman who fleeced her of all her money.

The film opens exceptionally well with credits over white sheets which begin to move oddly, trouble broiling under the pristine surface. The camera moves until we're looking at cinema's great chilly ginger Isabelle Huppert, as Maud, writhing about naked and then very disconcertingly dropping to the floor, her body betraying her. The first few scenes reenact  Breillat's debilitating stroke and her physical therapy but the picture doesn't really get started until Maud falls for a true "character" she sees on television, Vilko (Kool Shen) telling her assistant that they just don't make actors like that. She invites the criminal to be the star of her new picture and they begin a friendship wherein he drops in repeatedly and begins to "borrow" money from her. He also repeatedly calls her "perverse" which Isabelle/Maud/Catherine obviously enjoy hearing said about them. Vilko is coldly hesitant to help her in and out of chairs and up and down stairs when she's physically struggling but he's right there with a helpful hand to hold down the checkbook while she scribbles on it.

This goes on and on until the film's finale a long virtual monologue though lawyers and children occassional egg Maud on in her own confession. Huppert nails it by underplaying, glassily admitting her own stupidity, and rewitnessing from afar what she just lived from afar, never quite "present" in her foolish decisions. Huppert's face is a marvel, trouble always broiling under its glassy surface. Abuse of Weakness has a fine beginning and a killer ending --  too bad there's no movie in the middle. It's all just a series of check-signings and a very vaguely observed relationship that's never truly examined by the protagonist living it or the director filming an actress reliving it. It's as if Breillat is determined to make the same mistakes all over again, botching her own would be exorcism. C


Greatest Calcium Deposits in Hollywood

Anne Marie here with some sculptural Friday fun. Recently, while watching Dick Cavett's immortal interview with Kate The Great, I rediscovered my favorite quote about Katharine Hepburn, or rather her cheekbones:

"The greatest calcium deposits since the white cliffs of Dover."


Hepburn undoubtedly had the best cheekbones in cinema history, but there is a veritable mountain range of other great calcium deposits in Hollywood past and present.

Here's a small smattering of my favorites:

Of course, this list is nowhere near complete. Who's your favorite broad with good bones?


Who Will Make The Movies Of The Future?

JA from MNPP here - have y'all seen The New York Times' list of 20 Young Directors To Watch? I only stumbled upon it with the news that Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin tells them what his next movie's going to be about therein, and seeing as how I'm not a Beasts of the Southern Wild fan that was a strange way for me to come upon it, especially when there are names therein I'm much more interested in.

My personal favorite picks of theirs would be Sarah Polley (who I fell in love with in The Sweet Hereafter and then really fell in love with, like squared, in Go, and then you just keep on multiplying that love every single time she does anything - I think me and her and our love affair are pretty much at infinity about now here in the wake of Stories We Tell), Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth is what the inside of my head looks like, which yeah, I know, steer clear), Andrew Haigh and Na Hong-jin (both Chaser and The Yellow Sea gave me straight up heart palpitations), but I must admit there are several names I'm not familiar with - which is awesome! I'm always up for some learnin', and excited to check the less familiar folks out. Who do you love? And who do you think's missing? I'm personally sad to see a lack of genre moviemakers - whither Ti West?

But who knows - maybe some of these folks will end up making their way onto TFE's next list of our favorite directors of the 21st Century. Sarah Polley's already there!


Cher Keeps Gym Class Classy

Back to School Month

Anne Marie here with a question: did anybody actually enjoy gym in high school? I was a varsity athlete, and I still hated it. I hated getting gross and sweaty in the middle of the day, I hated walk-running a mile around the track, and I especially hated my gym wardrobe: either highwater sweatpants or shorts that by rule had to extend past your fingertips. (Catholic school, am I right?)

Fortunately, gym in Clueless was an entirely classier affair.

was the first high school movie I remember seeing, and I was deeply disappointed when high school did not turn out to be as chic/clever/classy as I had been led to believe.

So, what was your least favorite class in high school?


Vote for the National Film Registry!

Hi, it's Tim, looking to rope y'all into a little bit of cinematic democracy in action. The National Film Preservation Board, you perhaps know, is the advisory council that suggests to the Librarian of Congress which American-produced films should be admitted to the National Film Registry. And surely you know what that is! The list of films deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”, and worthy of being kept safe and preserved as a result (though unfortunately, being on the Registry doesn’t automatically mean a film is guaranteed preservation dollars, only the imprimatur of the Library of Congress saying, “Hey, people with film preservation dollars! Take a look at these, won’t you?”).

Now, the point of my bringing this up is that, while the Board advises the Librarian, it’s the public that advises the Board – any citizen is welcome to submit a list of nominees up to 50 films long that they believe to be worthy candidates for inclusion on the Registry. This nomination period, for this year’s inductees, closes on September 13, just over a week from now. And so I write this piece in the spirit of an exhortation: I don’t just want you to share a list of movies that you think should be inducted to the National Film Registry here in the comments section of this fine website, I want you to share that list with the National Film Board itself. For we are all well-educated cinephiles here, and I think our voices deserve to be heard. Information about nominating films can be found here, with links to a list of all films currently on the Registry, as well as some prominent films missing from it.

Here’s the list of movies that I’m going to submit after the jump from silents to absurdist cartoons to the Coen Bros...

Click to read more ...


TIFF: Festive Arrivals & Frightening Omens

The signage that tempts me each time I walk from hotel to movie theaterDear Readers,

I am happy to report that I have arrived in Toronto. Wednesday night went smoothly (but for "Best Shot" posting -- delayed. My apologies!) though the long trip to get from the airport to my hotel and press office gave me shudders thinking about Monday night when salivation-worthy titles like August: Osage County & Under the Skin can't really be done unless I miss my flight. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

After arrival had yum dinner with Amir who I think you'll agree is doing a bang up job organizing those "Team Experience" events each month. We then hit a "welcome to TIFF" style critics party hosted by Calum Marsh with so many great writers (fun putting faces to bylines) that I probably shouldn't name any because I'll leave someone awesome out. But you should follow me on twitter for more of that sort of thing.

The topic was so often "what are you planning to see?" which should be the easiest question when you hit a festival but had me flustered each time because I keep changing my schedule. I always tried the safest answer "well, I'm starting with..." but then kept forgetting the title of the movie "Undefebeatable" "Indestructabeatable?"

It's my first time. Be gentle.

Isn't it a beauty? That's the press pass. I consider it a very good omen that snatching it upon arrival was easy as can be. And that it's both green and purple, which are literally my two favorite colors and the ones I always wear (though not at the same time because that's too Arkham Asylum).

But just as I was feeling super confident and excited for the festival, I saw this:

Two of the three Oscars won by Crash (Best Picture and Best Screenplay) prominently displayed at the Festival HQ. Ill omens! O Canada... nobody wants to be reminded of that! The festival is also celebrating David Cronenberg this year but sadly his is not the Crash we're talking about. 

First Round of Movies Next!



Pixie Sticks and Cap'n Crunch. Holla.

It's Back to School Month at TFE

Hello, lovelies. Beau here, fixating on a tiny moment from one of my favorite films.

John Hughes was a Godsend to me growing up. From the ages of 14 through 17, hardly a weekend went by where I wasn't revisiting one of his key entries over the span of a twenty year career. These viewings alternated between Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club. It's remarkable to me that we've managed to survive over ten years of remakes and rehashes, and no one has dared  touch any of his material.

Click to read more ...