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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 | letterboxd

 

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Friday
Aug152014

Nicole's Return. The Dates Are Ever Changing.

When will our beloved Kidman return to us? For someone who works so consistently, doesn't it seem like it's hard to find Nicole Kidman in a movie theater? Grace of Monaco keeps threatening to arrive but never does leaving us to wonder if it will ever play in regular movie theaters after its shaming at Cannes (that place can be brutal). Any big dreams for the quality of Paddington (it comes from charming source material at least) her Christmas film, have been dashed by that hateful slapstick trailer and Colin Firth's exit as the voice. The wait is soon over though. For those of you who missed The Railway Man in theaters, it's just out on DVD and Blu-Ray. [Warning: Nicole's part is small enough that when the climax arrives, she's literally a blurry figure in the background.]

 

Next up though is the thriller Before I Go To Sleep which has a new poster (above) and a new release date: Halloween to be exact. Let's just hope it's better than The Invasion or Trespass. (It's apparently really hard to make a good thriller post-Hitchcock because not that many filmmakers are skilled at making them.)

After that picture all us Kidmaniacs will wait again for her other completed films to play the release date shell game. Most promising by far is Werner Herzog's Gertrud Bell biopic Queen of the Desert both because Herzog is an amazing director (another feather in Kidman's auteur-fetish cap!) and because the role is big and central. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Queen of the Desert is doing the fall festival circuit so maybe they're waiting until 2015?

CAST THIS!
This is one of those stories that was so obviously a Film Experience type of story that I pretended to myself that I'd already covered it on the blog. Like those dreams you have where you already went to class or work so there's no need to jump up and go when you wake up! Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are now attached to the film adaptation of Liane Moriarty's comic best seller Big Little Lies about a group of three mothers whose kids are in the same Kindergarten class in a beautiful Australian seaside town (with secrets, natch). A sprained ankle sets off a series of events which eventually leads to a school riot and a murder. There are three major characters (and apparently a lot of broadly drawn but possibly scene-stealing supporting casts). No word yet on which of the moms Nicole & Reese are planning to play but obviously a third star will be joining them.

These are the characters...

Madeline: gleefully extroverted, fashionable, and still a "glittery girl" at 40. Her broken Dolce & Gabbana heel sets the plot in motion. She's happily married but still having trouble with her ex and his younger "new age-y" wife
Celeste: a nervous very beautiful mom with twins, who is married to a wealthy man
Jane: shy, plain and uncomfortable in her own skin. New in town but Madeline and Celeste befriend this single mom when her son gets in trouble the very first day of school

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PICK THEIR ROLES FOR THEM AND ADD A THIRD ACTRESS IN THE COMMENTS!

Let's just pray this wasn't doesn't go the way of The Danish Girl which Nicole was attached to for quite some time until development hell took it from her plate. The film is still trying to get made but instead of an actress in the transgender lead role it's now Eddie Redmayne with his Les Miz director Tom Hooper guiding him through the transformation. 

Thursday
Aug142014

Tim's Toons: Remembering Williams & Bacall in animation

Tim here. In case you’re just tuning in, it’s been a brutal week for celebrity deaths (and in the world at large, but let’s not start getting into that or I’ll be too depressed to function). Nathaniel has already written lovely pieces remembering both Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, so I hope you’ll permit me to go much smaller, to share with you a couple of animated curios paying tribute to those stars’ respective gifts.

Befitting a great vocal contortionist, Williams played several parts in animated films over the years, most famously Aladdin in 1992, though that wasn’t his first (he was in FernGully: The Last Rainforest earlier the same year, as I expect readers born within a very narrow window of years know well, while everyone else is wondering “FernWhat?”). And even that wasn’t his very first brush with animation, which I believe was his part in a short movie that played at what was then called the Disney-MGM Studios theme park at Walt Disney World, in an attraction demonstrating, broadly, how the animation process works. It’s a short film called “Back to Neverland”; several bootlegs are available on YouTube, of which the best one I could find is here. Pending Disney’s lawyers marching through with their cease-and-desists, of course

It’s playful nonsense, with most of its charm coming from the interplay between Williams and Walter Cronkite at his most warmly authoritative, of course. Though the animated sequence is awfully sweet itself, I’ve always found, with Williams keeping the manic energy dialed down and instead simply stressing the sweetness and innocence of the character. It’s a lovely and gentle performance, all childlike joy and heart, and one of my favorite bits of Williams ephemera.

 

Lauren Bacall didn’t voice any animated characters until 1999’s direct-to-video Madeleine: Lost in Paris, but her voice and sharp features made her a natural for caricature in cartoons during her peak years of popularity. The first of these is the 1946 Bacall to Arms, which also happens to have been one of the very last Merrie Melodies directed by the great Bob Clampett. There’s a lousy version here, and a very good version with historian Jerry Beck chatting over the audio here. But before you watch either one, a brief caution that it’s alarmingly dated: the details of post-WWII society are historically intriguing; the mother-in-law gags are corny and tired; the film-ending blackface joke is arbitrary and awful.

As for the Bacall material, it’s an odd but compelling bit of pop culture history and self-appreciation. Functionally, the film is basically an advertisement for Warner’s hot new commodity. Watching what’s not so much a parody of To Have and Have Not as it is an animated copy, a typical horny cartoon wolf very nearly dies of erotic excitement while watching Bacall slink around and speak in the very un-Bacall tones of Sara Berner, called in when the animation crew learned that they couldn’t use the original To Have and Have Not audio.

One of the unifying themes of all the Bacall obituaries of the last week has been amazement at how perfectly she emerged into the movies, already-formed, a self-assured sex goddess and woman in full control of her own mind and expression in a male-dominated world from the second she stepped onscreen. Bacall to Arms is confirmation that this was already something people were aware of just two years into her career. She was a completely new and bold form of movie star, dominating the screen and the audience from her first entrance, a novelty who also clearly had staying power and the kind of presence that only the best of the best film icons have ever enjoyed. And that’s as clear as the nose on a grotesquely distended cartoon wolf face.

Thursday
Aug142014

Stage Door: "King Lear" in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park shutters for another year this Sunday August 17th, so you only have a couple more chances to see King Lear. I can't claim that King Lear is one of my favorite plays and as far as interpretations of it go, nobody is ever going to beat Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985), you know?

The Bening and John Lithgow star in "King Lear" in Central Park

John Lithgow headlines and is quite strong as the rapidly declining hot-tempered looneytunes King who stupidly gives everything away to his two eldest daughters (Annette Bening and Jessica Hecht) while shunning the youngest who truly loves him. Lithgow is having a good year; I urge all of you to see his excellent work in Love is Strange when it opens later this month. I had entirely forgotten about the B story in King Lear which is like a reflection of the A story, in which another father is (literally) blinded when it comes to his sons. I didn't fully love this production where much of it was good but few things excellent. Oddly, I was most drawn to the actors I was least familiar with like Jessica Collins as Cordelia, Eric Sheffer Stevens as Edmund, and Steven Boyer as Fool. Most disappointing for me was The Bening. You know that she is my beloved but her lines were spoken without a lot of discernable emotional content (one review claimed "learned phonetically" which I thought was terribly mean but it's not her finest hour). She does memorably fire up in the final act once her loins are ah stirred by the bastard troublemaker Edmund. 

I love the tradition of Shakespeare in the Park but I wish they would go back to the time when they did more non-Shakespeare things in this summer event series like Mother Courage and Hair and Into the Woods and whatnot. This summer they only did the Bard. You know what play would be excellent to see outdoors? Tennessee Williams' Night of the Iguana.

WHAT OTHER PLAYS DO YOU THINK WOULD BE GREAT IN AN OUTDOOR SETTING?

P.S. What about Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert in The Maids?

You're probably wondering why I haven't written about "The Maids" starring Huppert, Blanchett and rising actress Elizabeth Debicki (remember that wonderful first impression she made in The Great Gatsby?) and that's because I didn't get tickets. Above my price range but Shakespeare in the Park is free which is definitely within my price range! Here's a collection of reviews to read if you're interested. I've talked to two friends who've seen it and they both felt exactly the same: Debicki was best in show. How's that for a surprise... and a career-maker, at least on stage.

Thursday
Aug142014

An Epic Link Roundup

We haven't gathered links in a few days so we're way behind on news and such. Here's a few handfuls for ya...

Must Read
The Wire David Sims measures the cast of Expendables 3 by every conceivable metric
Decider Tyler Coates on Holly Hunter's polka dot dress in Broadcast News 
The Hairpin 'The only Throwback Thursday that matters.' Amen 

Other Goodies
Balder & Dash Teo Bugbee has a massive two part essay on the films of the Coen Bros for your reading pleasure
IndieWire interviews Michael Fassbender and gets him to say "size doesn't matter" -ha!


Comics Alliance "Thanos is really bad at being a supervillain" - I thought I was insane when GotG premiered and everyone was endlessly raving. How do you rave about a heroes movie when the villains suck? I've noticed more and more people are complaining about Marvel's shitty track record with the baddies. Hopefully they can course correct. People won't put up with bad villains forever
The Credits how do you film in torrential downpours and 100 mph winds? The cinematography of Into the Storm had to

Newsy
Empire Tom Hiddleston wanted for Ben-Hur remake
TMZ Reese Witherspoon dances to I Will Survive
Empire apparently Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is back on (here we go again) and trying to cast... Lily James & Jack Huston anyone?
Variety Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz will costar in The Light Between Oceans, a period drama from the director of Blue Valentine. Interesting pairing, right?
THR Patti LaBelle joining American Horror Story
E! Online by now you've heard Emma Stone is going to put on Sally Bowles garters on Broadway...
The Film Stage first stills for some hotly anticipated movies in the new Entertainment Weekly. Check out this great grabby alternate cover image...

And Still More...
The Dissolve Marvel is moving forward with The Inhumans. The only one of them I ever cared about was 'Medusa' but since this is Marvel I expect she'll be a minor character... and the only token 'girl' 
Gawker Anna Kendrick is dating Theon Greyjoy! UPDATE: This was a false alarm
THR Aquaman might happen as a standalone movie. Two screenplays are being written 

WTF
Boy Culture did you know that Teen Wolf Tyler Posey was JLo's son in Maid in Manhattan
MNPP I heart "especially random nonsense"
Buzzfeed Jason Statham once appeared in an Erasure video painted silver! Another thing I did not know but should have

Still Mourning
Guardian sassy smart Lauren Bacall's best quotes
Variety Lauren Bacall's greatest role: Herself
Variety The Academy's Robin Williams "Genie, you're free" has come under criticism from suicide prevention groups. I can actually see why. I found it a strange sentiment 
Sheila O'Malley on Robin Williams (RIP)
By Ken Levine remembers Robin Williams 
The Wrap a cast member of Hook remembers Robin Williams 
TV|Line Robin's wife reveals that he was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease which he had not yet disclosed publicly 

Thursday
Aug142014

Oscar Rumblings, Song Cuttings, Record Breakings

don't cry Meryl, you've got plenty of songs to sing already!No sooner do we get the Oscar charts updated than everything changes. We are Sisyphus! 

I was thrilled to have a new Stephen Sondheim song to look forward to after all the build-up, but we shan't be hearing it. At least not within the context of Into the Woods since they've cut it from the movie. Sorry Meryl... but you've got other great songs to sing. That means less one Oscar nomination for the movie which could earn anywhere from 0 to, you know, 14. I should pretend to have a clue how this will be received but my own deep love of Sondheim musicals has really messed with my radar about this movie. I remain both totally elated that it will be onscreen and terrified at all the things that are sure to be wrong with it. What should we replace it with in "Best Original Song"? HELP

But while we're on the topic of Rob Marshall movies, remember Chicago (2002)? Chicago should be a perfect example to show film and stage people that film versions of stage shows do not hurt the box office so there's no reason to wait (*cough* Wicked). They help it enormously. Chicago the stage show was tapering off before the movie and moved to a smaller theater. It's been steady ever since and come November it  will surpass Cats as Broadway's longest running musical that isn't named Phantom of the Opera. It's been on the boards since 1996 and...

I lost the thread. OSCARS.

As you may have heard American Sniper, Clint Eastwood's latest - you know how he do with not one film a year but two - will open at Christmas so Oscar talks begins in 3...2... oh never mind it already began. Like clockwork. But do you think Clint still has that golden touch or do you doubt that he'll recover with this one. This film is an adaptation of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s memoir "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History." That title sounds so boastful! But The Academy likes Eastwood when he's doing masculine genres... so, it's something to consider at least. 

And still more Oscar rumblings: Fury is moving up to October (smart move) and buzz is strong on Logan Lerman. You may recall I interviewed him for Perks of Being a Wallflower and they were very smart to pursue longshot awards attention for him there. Awards are so often about momentum and being perceived as worthy before a film even hints. Build a good reputation and make good films and you gather steam. And Awards Circuit talked to someone who saw a test screening of Unbroken so give that a look if you're eager for a random opinion. I never know how seriously to take test screenings since one person's "wonderful" is another person's "meh", you know?

Finally, we got the first still from P.T. Anderson's Inherent Vice, however tiny it is... via The Film Stage via EW in print

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