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Sunday
Jun212015

FYC: Melanie Lynskey for Best Supporting Actress, Comedy

Team Experience continues to share their individual dream picks for Emmy nominations. Here's abstew on TFE favorite Melanie Lynskey...

With this year's rule-change that half hour shows will be automatically placed in the comedy categories and hour-long ones in drama, we worry about the shows that don't necessarily fit so easily into either category, regardless of their running times. But then again, Melanie Lynskey currently giving one of the year's best comedic and dramatic performances in HBO's Togetherness, has always been an actress undefined by categorization. Equally at home in traditional sitcoms (playing kooky neighbor Rose on Two and a Half Men) as she is in dramatic film work (her film debut in Heavenly Creatures is still a haunting revelation), Lynskey utilizes her skills from both (along with a sure hand at improv, recently seen in Happy Christmas) to play Michelle, the unhappily married wife and mother on the Duplass Brother's relationship dramedy. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jun212015

Meet the Panelists for 1948's Smackdown

The next supporting actress smackdown is just one week away. UPDATE 06/28: HERE IT IS The panelists are watching John Huston's Key Largo, the immigrant drama I Remember Mama, and best picture contenders Johnny Belinda and Laurence Olivier's Hamlet. 

MEET THE PANELISTS
Here's a little bit about our panel to prep you for our conversation as they finish up their screenings...

First Timers

ABDI NAZEMIAN (Screenwriter / Novelist)
Abdi Nazemian is the screenwriter of The Quiet, Beautiful Girl, Celeste in the City, and the short film Revolution. His first novel The Walk-In Closet recently received the Lambda Literary Award for Best Debut. He and his children live in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @Abdaddy.

What do you cherish about 1948?

In my 1948 fantasy, I am dancing at the Mocambo with Rita Hayworth to Ella Fitzgerald's How High the Moon, then going home to my private screening room to watch Ava Gardner in One Touch of Venus before retiring to bed (next to Gary Cooper, obviously) to read Truman Capote's debut novel on my Kindle. Wait, what year is it?".

 

CATHERINE STEBBINS (Film Blogger)
A librarian and professional film obsessive living in Providence, Catherine is best known for her in-depth Top Ten By Year project which can be found at her site Cinema Enthusiast (active since 2010). Contributor to Criterion Cast & Verite Magazine. Idols include Louise Brooks, Leonard Cohen, Joanna Newsom, Jim Henson, Isabelle Huppert, Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, and drag queens. 
[Follow Catherine on Twitter

What do you cherish about 1948?

To take the minute approach; little Bobby Henrey adorably saying 'Baines' and 'MacGregor' over and over in The Fallen Idol; varying degrees of homoeroticism in Rope and Red River; Joan Bennett narrating in the Freudian-laced Gothic melodrama Secret Beyond the Door... ("this is no time for me to talk of danger; this is my wedding day"); Laurence Olivier making a hot blonde Hamlet. And most of all, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Max Ophüls's unparalleled story of unrequited love, in which Joan Fontaine's Lisa reflects on her life through the romanticized facade of fate.'

Returning Panelists

JOE REID (Freelance)
Joe Reid never went to film school, unless you count the film school of hard knocks, which he also didn't go to. That hasn't stopped him from writing about movies (and TV, but don't think less of him) for places like The AtlanticGrantlandSlate, and more. One day, he'll have written about his love for The HoursGo, and Mermaids enough that he can finally close his laptop, satisfied that his work is done. You can experience the best (and worst) of him via his Twitter. 

What do you cherish about 1948?

1948 brings back so many memories; the Marshall Plan, the London Olympics, the Alger Hiss hearings, the Costa Rican Civil War. What a time to be alive. Or so I've heard. In reality, it would be one more year before my father was born, and while if I ever have a kid, I'll be certain to make sure he watches Kramer vs. Kramer, the shameful reality is that before this Smackdown, I'd only seen one film released in 1948. Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. It's too bad that one isn't reflected in the Oscar nominations of 1948, but part of the reason I wanted to participate in this particular year was to beef up my 1940s film vocabulary. Maybe I can move on from Olivier's Hamlet to Welles' Macbeth....

 

TIM ROBEY (Film Critic)
Tim Robey has been reviewing films for the Daily Telegraph since 2000, alongside a few interviews, book reviews, and more or less whatever else they throw at him. He turns up periodically on Radio 4's The Film Programme and Front Row, Monocle FM radio, and BBC Film Twenty-Whatever, as long as he has a new jacket to wear on it. His writing is mostly here. His recommendations series is here. A picture of a half-grown labrador squishing a cat is here
[
Follow him on Twitter] 

What do you cherish about 1948?

1948 is the year my mum, Wendy, was born, so I'm trying to imagine her early years in filmgoing and immediately skipping a decade. She told me once she used to be a great fan of Lee Remick, which makes sense, as this is ten years before her big breaks in movies; ditto James Garner, a favourite of her late sister Jill. They would have been right there for Mary Poppins and Darling and The Graduate, if they weren't out rocking the new Dusty Springfield look, with a strict curfew from my grandfather. I can't imagine them having an iota of time for Star Wars, the year before I was born – mum's always been allergic to science-fiction films, horror, or anything not set in a plausible version of the real world. These days, if we go to films together, it'll be for Milk, or a Christmas screener-viewing of Philomena. I think she started to watch Under the Skin on a holiday flight and practically had to call the attendants to come and switch it off. Here's to mum and our barely-overlapping movie tastes! Love her loads.

 

And your host...

NATHANIEL R (Host)
Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always at The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) but mostly blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner & Michelle Pfeiffer. Though he holds a BFA in Illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. He blames Boogie Nights for the career change. [Follow him on Twitter]

What do you cherish about 1948?

True fact: I cannot live without Montgomery Clift in Red River. I did not exist before seeing it. Or, rather, him. '48 also marks the technicolor reunion of my two favorite musical stars (Judy Garland and Gene Kelly) in The Pirate. Finally, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope and Vittoria de Sica's The Bicycle Thief were important discoveries on VHS when I was trying to learn about the movies as a teen cinephile. And now a shameful confession: I chose this year because it's the only one we've ever done, to my recollection, from which I'd previously seen none of the movies involved. No, not even Hamlet. Not sure how that happened but now my shame is public!


What does 1948 mean to you dear readers?

 Perhaps you have a favorite film or a movie you are ashamed to say you've never seen?

NOW PROCEED TO THE SMACKDOWN

 

Sunday
Jun212015

Sydney Film Festival: Unconventional Creature Features

Glenn here offering some final thoughts on films at the Sydney Film Festival...

Let's talk about a couple of new documentaries and a horror-romance hybrid. 

The Russian Woodpecker
Chad Garcia’s The Russian Woodpecker is fascinating. It’s a wholly unexpected surprise from this debut director that not only presents an involving story that links the nuclear devastation of Chernobyl to the modern day revolution of Ukraine with plenty of conspiracy theory intrigue, but also presents it in a formally adventurous way. The film’s central figure is the eccentric artist Fedor Alexandrovich and he’s the sort of man that would drift through a party before promptly leaving and making everybody turn to each other and say, “Well he was a character!” If this wasn’t a documentary he would almost be too hard to believe as he rattles off his (as it turns out, not entirely absurd) theory that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was a planned plot by the Russian government to disguise the failure of a nearby Soviet-built radar tower that emitted a persistent clicking sound known as “the Russian woodpecker”.

Alexandrovich’s amateur sleuth skills are hardly credible, but his growing unease at his proposed discoveries – his interviews with former workers of the radar tower seethe with barely contained tension – leads brilliantly into a navigation of the current political unrest on the streets of Kiev and his growing unease with choosing to bring these Russian grievances to light. Visually arresting, Garcia’s film is an uncomfortable must-see.

Oscar? I'd like to think it can find a general release and compete for Oscar. After a few years of music and sport films winning, perhaps last year's win for Citizenfour will turn them back to politics. Barring The Look of Silence, nothing has emerged out of the festival circuit looking like a winner so it's an open playing field.

Horror on the Italian seaside and an elephant in Hawaii after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jun202015

Victoria sweeps German Film Awards

Sebastian here with a quick update from the German Film Awards (Deutscher Filmpreis).

A still from VICTORIA

Fresh off its Silver Bear win at the Berlinale, Sebastian Schipper's Victoria, a two hour and twenty minute thriller filmed in one continuous shot without editing or camera tricks, dominated Friday night's Filmpreis ceremony, claiming "Lolas" in six categories, including Best Picture, Director, Actress (Laia Costa), and Actor (Frederick Lau).

Other prizes went to dramas Phoenix (Supporting Actress Nina Kunzendorf) and Germany's 2014 Oscar submission Beloved Sisters (Costume Design, Makeup), the thriller Who Am I (Editing, Production Design, Sound), and Citizenfour (Documentary).

I'm a huge fan of Schipper's previous work, especially his debut film Absolute Giganten (1999), so I was rooting for Victoria even without having seen it - in a cruel twist of faith the one movie I was eager to see that I didn't have to worry about being dubbed didn't open in my town at all. Adopt Films has acquired Victoria for distribution in the US and "plans a late summer/early fall 2015 release." Though Victoria beat last year's Oscar submission and two more traditional Oscar submission hopefuls (Labyrinth of Lies and Elser both deal with WW II or its repercussions) for the 2015 Lola, this doesn't necessarily mean it will be Germany's Oscar submission. We'll have to wait and see who takes that honor later in the year.

Saturday
Jun202015

Happy Nicole Kidman Day !

Proposal: Since Australia (grew up there, family and friends) and the US (born in Honolulu, lives in Nashville) share the one and only Nicole Kidman with citizenship and residence, a national holiday won't do. We propose an International Nicole Kidman Day, each June 20th to mark the birthday of one of the big screen's bravest and best and most beautiful.

Herewith a few lists to mark the day...

SIGNATURE WORK
The roles with which she'll arguably always be most associated

  1. Moulin Rouge! (2001) -which speaks to her bonafide movie-star charisma
  2. The Hours (2002) -which boldly underlined her cool (divisive) persona and intelligence
  3. To Die For (1995) -her breakthrough and which initially and ungenerously clung to her rapid rise as a star on another star's arm

BRAVEST PERFORMANCE

  1. The Paperboy (2012) - the psychic sex, the skanky past her prime makeup, the death wish
  2. Birth (2004) - "you're a little liar, aren't you?"
  3. Dogville (2003) -Here are some chalk lines, hyper stylized dialogue, and precious tchotchkes. Action!

SEXIEST PERFORMANCE


  1. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
  2. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  3. Batman Forever (1995)
  4. To Die For (1995)
  5. The Paperboy (2012)

FUNNIEST PERFORMANCE

  1. To Die For (1995)
  2. Moulin Rouge! (2001)
  3. Herself... on talk shows

MOST AWARDS LOVE

  1. The Hours (2002) - Oscar & Globe & BAFTA & Silver Bear wins, SAG nom
  2. Moulin Rouge! (2001) - Globe & MTV win, Oscar, SAG & AACTA noms
  3. To Die For (1995) - Globe & BFCA win, BAFTA nom
  4. Rabbit Hole (2010) - Oscar, Globe & SAG noms
  5. The Paperboy (2012) - Globe & SAG & AACTA noms

IT'S ALL IN A NAME 

  1. "Grace" 3 characters: The Others (1995), Dogville (2003), Grace of Monaco (2014)
  2. "Isabel" 2 characters: Bewitched (2005) and Portrait of a Lady (1996)
  3. "Julia" 2 characters: Wills & Burke (1985) and The Peacemaker (1997)

BIGGEST GLOBAL HITS
*Movies that were far far more successful overseas than in the US

  1. The Golden Compass (2005) $372* 
  2. Batman Forever (1995) $336
  3. Paddington (2015) $259*
  4. Just Go With It (2011) $214
  5. Australia (2008) $211*
  6. The Others (2001) $209
  7. Moulin Rouge! (2001) $179*
  8. Cold Mountain (2003) $173
  9. Eyes Wide Shut (1999) $162* 
  10. Days of Thunder (1990) $157 

MOST COMMON ONSCREEN PROFESSIONS

  1. Actress - 4 roles: Grace of Monaco, Nine, Bewitched, Moulin Rouge!)
  2. Writer - 4 roles: Margot at the Wedding, The Hours, Hemingway & Gelhorn, Genius)
  3. Reluctant Sexworker (or thereabouts) - 3 roles: Moulin Rouge!'s whore, Birthday Girl's mail order bride, Far and Away's temporary burlesque dancer)
  4. Psychiatrist - 2 roles: The Invasion, Batman Forever
  5. Boss Lady Who Moonlights in Kidnapping - 2 roles: The Golden Compass, Paddington

MOST FREQUENT CO-STARS

 

  1. Tom Cruise (Marriage + 3 films: Far and Away, Days of Thunder, Eyes Wide Shut)
  2. Colin Firth (3 films: Before I Go To Sleep, The Railway Man, and the forthcoming Genius)
    [tied with] David Wenham (3 films: Australia, Moulin Rouge! and the forthcoming Lion
  3. Jude Law (2 films: Cold Mountain, and the forthcoming Genius)
    [tied with] Ben Mendelsohn (2 films: Australia, Trespass), Daniel Craig (2 films: The Invasion, The Golden Compass), and Dianne Wiest (2 films: Practical Magic and Rabbit Hole)

 

WHAT WE'D LIKE TO GIVE HER FOR HER BIRTHDAY

  1. More of whatever makes her happy
  2. One more classic as beloved as Moulin Rouge! or as Oscar-honored as The Hours or as widely argued over / prestigey as Eyes Wide Shut or as audience-friendly as The Others (we're not picky/greedy... any of those will do)
  3. A project to do with her bestie Naomi Watts. It's been since Flirting (1991) c'mon... 
  4. A project to do with Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge!) or Stephen Dillane (The Hours) because MY GOD THE CHEMISTRY in both of those cases. Why hasn't she worked with either again? 

Naturally, in the comments you'll want to share your five favorite things about this goddess and what you'd give her for her birthday