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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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Thursday
May102012

Yes, No, Maybe So: "Killer Joe"

Hey, that rhymes.

For those of you who don't know the name Tracy Letts, a brief history. The Oklahoman born playwright first came to minor fame as a member of Chicago's lauded theater collective Steppenwolf. Killer Joe was his first play, written in 1991. Over the next two decades his career as a playwright soared, first with the electric and very naked and delusional horror piece Bug (which became a misunderstood movie in 2006) and then he achieved the kind of across the board success that most artists will only ever dream of winning a Tony, a Pulitzer and critical and popular success with August: Osage County. (That super successful play is supposedly on its way to movie theaters in a year or two with Meryl Streep slurring her way through bitchy tirades as its drug addled matriach Violet Weston).

So, in short, a Tracy Letts project is a big deal. So here's screen transfer attempt #2... Killer Joe. Let's break down the trailer with our yes, no, maybe so system.  

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May102012

Tall Tales. Short Links

Village Voice the five most dream-like sequences from the John Travolta sex-assault allegations. (Hint: The comment section is hi-lar-ious. I especially love the pizza delivery analogy)
YouTube has one of those Taiwanese "news" animations about it.
When Obama Endorsed Marriage Equality... (gif parties ahead -- love the '95 Clueless shout-out)
La Daily Musto Tippi Hedren (of The Birds fame) claims that Alfred Hitchcock put the kabosh on her Best Actress Oscar nomination for their follow up Marnie . Um, Tippi... how would he do that exactly? Ol' Hitch didn't even have enough pull with AMPAS to win one for himself!

Thursday
May102012

Juliette or Guilietta?

Have you heard that Juliette Lewis will be starring in a film called The Days of Mary (2013?) loosely based on Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning Nights of Cabiria (1957)? It feels like her first lead role in ages so we hope it actually happens.

 

 

It's now in Reno -- practically Rome's twin ! (kidding) -- and Juliette is a girl looking for love in, we presume, the wrong places. Bad things tend to happen in movies where Juliette is entangled romantically: mass murder (NBK), end of times chaos (Strange Days), thumbsucking (Cape Fear) but this project doesn't feel as shocking / sacrilegious when you remember that Nights of Cabiria has already been reimagined once as Sweet Charity (1969) starring Shirley Maclaine.

Okay, wait, we need to remake reboot reimagine that poll now...

 

 

Have you seen Nights of Cabiria and Sweet Charity? If not, get on that, will ya?

Wednesday
May092012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "The Exorcist"

The Hit Me With Your Best Shot series is deceptively simple. Choose a single shot from a pre-selected movie that you think is best, best being in the eye of the beholder. Tonight we're looking at The Exorcist (1973). And for me at least, it's the first time I've looked at it. That's not quite as shocking as your 12 year old daughter's head spinning 'round 180º, but maybe it's close.

Nearly every horror classic I've seen I've resisted in some ridiculous way: I saw Halloween at a sleepover movie marathon but it took my horror-loving friend five holidays to convince me; I first saw Silence of the Lambs because I had five nightmares about it beforehand and wanted them to end; I can't remember what prompted Rosemary's Baby but I'm willing to bet that I rented the video five times before actually watching it. And so on. 

If I was ever going to watch The Exorcist, the power of blogging would have to compel me. And so it did.

And here we are in the haunted upstairs bedrooms of actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and her daughter Regan (Linda Blair). The first thing that impressed me about the  movie was how rooted in character it was. Director William Friedkin and the novelist screenwriter William Peter Blatty spend more than half hour with the four main characters before the devil (The Devil?) crashes the party. The first shot that I truly loved foreshadowed the horrors to come in a wonderfully lived-in nonchalant way. After Chris MacNeil unleashes a stream of profanity on an angry phone call (including, pointedly, several "Jesus Christ!"s) we cut to the middle of the night when she's woken by a phone call. I love that the shot starts in the dark and when Chris flips on the light the only face that's really illuminated, given her bleary banged face, is Regan's in a photo on the bedstand; the young girl looks actively worried for her mother which is a brilliant set decoration move. Chris hangs up the phone and the camera tracks her movements to the right until we and she realize that her daughter has crawled into bed with her. It's the first time Regan is essentially split in the film, surrounding her anxious still oblivious mother.

Chris: What are you doing here?
Regan: My bed was shaking. I can't get to sleep.

Here in a sweet mother/daughter moment, Regan's telling us where all the horror will be found. The next voice we here, overlap edited over the end of this shot but just barely is the devil's if you want to get metaphoric about it is Captain Howdy's (The Devil's) who is banging about in the attic. Oh Chris, soon to be overwhelmed Chris, it's not rats. 

The Exorcist builds beautifully towards its truly grotesque last act but at least half of the reason it's so effective is that it never forgets who is terrified while it's terrifying us. My second favorite shot in the film is a beautifully quiet character beat for the title character(s) in the "intermission" of the exorcism. 

The Exorcist(s): Father Karras and Father Merrin

One of the movie's most disturbing famous images is "Help me" scrawled on Regan's stomach from the inside.  If Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) were to remove his clothing, wouldn't we see a similar cry for help from his private hell?

It's these quiet glimpses of internal terror that really sell the movie for me, whether it's Ellen Burstyn's increasing impotent understanding (when no one else has accepted it -- not even the priests) or Father Karras's personal doubts. This silence, this vacuum, lets the terror flood in, often courtesy of the Oscar winning sound work. In the shot above we still hear Regan's possessed wheezing from inside the bedroom, less shocking but even more unsettling than her loud profane outbursts.

This push and pull between external and internal terror, room-shaking chaos and sudden absences of sound but for Exorcist chanting to fill the void powers, for me, the most hypnotic shot in the film. The room suddenly goes quiet and we see Regan lift off the bed in crucifix pose until she's nearly touching the ceiling. A simple familiar image, yes, like you'd see in a magic show. But somehow alien and unnatural, too. Only the exorcists can break this unholy spell.

The Power of Blog Compels Them
Movies Kick Ass is Hollywood the devil?
The Tomas Experience "as sure as the sun rises, you can find evil anywhere"
Film Actually the mysteries of faith and science
The Sketchy Details Regan split in two
Antagony & Ecstasy a single mother's personal hell
Cheerful Cynicism the slow burn is the best part 
Cinesnatch has mixed feelings about the movie 
Okinawa Assault colours and threats 
Encore's World is moved by the mother/daughter bond 
Beau McCoy "The Exorcist and Nothingness" 
Stranger than Most find horror in the hospital
Pussy Goes Grrr "body and soul" and Linda Blair's eyes

Next Wednesday: Edward Scissorhands (1990)... will we catch you dancing in it?
Previously: Pariah (2011), Raise the Red Lantern (1991),  Serenity (2005)

Wednesday
May092012

Complete the Sentence on This Wet Afternoon

"The last old movie I saw was __________________ which I watched because ________________________ and it was ________________ ."

 

I'll start: The last old movie I saw was Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) which I watched because Kim Stanley was Oscar nominated in a supercalifragilistic Best Actress year and the film was stagey but good... only I kept wishing Hitchcock had directed it to amp up both the perversity and the tension. I would totally endorse a remake for one of today's finest actresses because Myra Savage was one crazy bitch.