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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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The Foreign Language Sweet Spot

Robert here, making no claims to predicting this year's Foreign Language Film category, or making any judgments based on quality. In the life of the mid-west movie lover, we're still waiting for all of these films to show up in our area. But I wanted to make on observation on what is supposed to be one of the more solidly predictable categories this year.


Einstein supposedly said "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." So you say you find yourself pretty certain that A Separation has its Oscar locked up based on critical praise and a slew of other awards this season. Tell that logic to The White Ribbon, Waltz With Bashir, Pan's Labyrinth, Paradise Now and Amelie; all foreign language front-runners that had it all come Oscar night, except an Oscar. Whether A Separation meets this same fate is not for me to say.

But consider not what the critics think, nor that Nathaniel is hardly the sole voice to name it the best... in any language. Don't even consider the huge stack of awards its won this season. Instead wonder if it hits the foreign language "sweet spot" that seems to have developed in the past few years. We all know that in the Foreign Language category, voters must watch every entry. This may work against popular films like Amelie and Pan's Labyrinth that are whimsical or fantastical, making them look too slight to voters in the shadow of lesser known but more complex, socially conscious fare. But not too complex, please. The Academy is still The Academy and films with the structural or moral ambiguity of Paradise Now, The White Ribbon and Waltz With Bashir are less commonly embraced than movies with clear messages.

A few frontrunners in the past decade have managed to go the distance, and good as some of them have been, they've all met the requirements of the sweet spot: serious but not ambiguous, complex but not too challenging. Come Sunday we'll know into which crowd A Separation falls. Until then, if I were a betting man, I could think of a dozen other categories I'd rather push my chips into.


Counsel Me This

JA from MNPP here. Have you been following the rumor-mill over Ridley Scott's next movie? Until recently just the name "Ridley Scott" had become too encumbered by bad movies for me to get excited about what he was up to.  The last movie of his that I like without reservations is Thelma and Louise, 21 years old now. So I have worried that "the Ridley Scott of today" is on a fool's errand, returning to the world of the Alien franchise... does he have anything of that caliber in him now? But that trailer for Prometheus is so good, you guys. So good! I've seen it about a dozen times and it still sends chills down my spine. Granted it's only a trailer - the movie could still be a mess. But it's been enough to draw me back into Ridley-Scott-sville.
Aiding in me caring about what Ridley's doing next is the fact that what he's doing next is the first movie script written by The Road and No Country For Old Men author Cormac McCarthy, and that the actor circling the lead has been Michael Fassbender. That's a double-pow of awesomeness that trumps any misgivings I might have regarding Ridley. The film's to be called The Counselor, and they're selling it as "No Country For Old Men on steroids." So basically this thing will ejaculate in your eye and then slap you across the face. It's that manly! From its brief synopsis it sounds like Breaking Bad or Weeds to me, only with a fancy-pants lawyer getting in over his head with the drug-business instead of a high school teacher or sassy widow. 
Deadline reported last night that Fassbender has signed on for sure, and the actors they're looking at for the villain - and they can't help but foolishly conjure Javier Bardem's iconic turn as Anton Chigurh (don't set the bar so high right out of the gate, you guys) - are Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper and Brad Pitt. I'm Team Pitt all the way. He needs another good bad guy role right about now, and I'd love to see him go toe to toe with his Basterds co-star. What says you?

Burning Questions: Is Nic Cage Gone For Good?

Michael C. here just back from an encounter with the Spirit of Vengeance.

There is something about movies not screening for critics that makes me want to see titles I would otherwise self-deport to avoid. I think it’s the idea that they’re trying to get away with something. I want to go to prove that they're as awful as I suspect. Not rational behavior, I admit, but I feel I have to produce some explanation as to why, when my friends suggested we go see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, I went, instead of doing something sensible like jumping in front of a bus.

Of course, my friends didn’t think the movie would be good either. These days one sees a Nicolas Cage movie for the same reason one Googles “epic fail” or watches the GOP debates: the promise of spectacular, instantly classic moments of insanity. Cage’s recent films have been so consistently bonkers that they are now a genre unto themselves. A genre wherein a drug-fueled communion with imaginary iguanas is classified as “same old, same old”.

It’s reach a point where I don’t think it’s unfair to ask, Will Nicolas Cage ever give another great performance?



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5 Days Until The Supercalifragilistic Big Night

Has this film year overstayed its welcome? Let's take a flashback then, way back to April 1965 when Sidney Poitier read out Julie Andrews as the winner of Best Actress. Julie was her typically gracious self repeating her ambiguously directed gratitude (she only really thanked Walt Disney) so much in her short speech she had to stop herself. "...but then I've already said that!"

Sidney Poitier escorts Best Actress Julie Andrews off the stage

I don't think we've ever talked about this particular win (strange that) at The Film Experience but it's quite atypical. "Mary Poppins" isn't a particularly baity role, however iconic. She's also "practically perfect in every way" which leaves virtually no room for a character arc.  Can you think of a Best Actress win that's correlative?

Julie's speech was much cheekier at the Globes. Do you know who she thanked in her speech? The answer is after the jump.

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Curio: Oscar Unsheets, a Final Roundup

Alexa here.  Even though my excitement over the Oscar nominees this year is a bit thin, the films are enlivened for me when I see them through the eyes of other artists. (Another reason the Academy should follow the lead of the BAFTAs and hire some illustrators already). In last week's Curio I posted some of the more interesting unsheets (a creative term for fan poster art) popping up on the web for Best Picture nominees The Help, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Moneyball, and The Descendants.  Without further ado, here are the best unsheets I've spied for the remaining nominees Hugo, War Horse, The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, and The Artist. Happy Oscar all!

The Artist by Gideon Slife.

The Artist by Hunter Langston.

The Artist by Ramin Kohanteb.

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No Goyas for Pedro.

Jose here to report on Sunday night's Goya Awards.

The Goyas are always an unusually dull awards ceremony: imagine the Oscars without any commercial breaks or attempts at cheesy humor. Last night however there was something that made it one of the most interesting ceremonies in years: what was expected to be a clean sweep for Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In - which entered the race with an impressive 16 nominations - instead turned into yet another demonstration of the Spanish Academy members' apathy for their most famous prodigal child.

Pedro always becomes the center of discussion when it comes to these awards, particularly because while the rest of the world salivates over any new Almodóvar movies - just last week he upset A Separation at the BAFTAs - his fellow countrymen and women have only rewarded him three times in the past. [Continue...]


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Monologue: "My name is Charlene. What are you wearing?"

Time for our Monday Monologue...

Missi, Uggie and Jean DujardinOne of the unexpected joys of this year's edition of Endless Awards Season has been the presence of the very funny, very talented Missi Pyle. She's kind of blink and you'll miss her as "Constance" the 'Lina Lamont' silent star archetype in The Artist. But she's been everywhere at the events. That's oddly appropriate given that she always seems to be blink and you'll miss her in movies but she makes the best of it. Often when I see her in that big ball of joy that is the cast and crew of The Artist (winning makes the joy part a lot easier) I think back to my favorite moment in her filmography to date.

She was the comedy MVP of the oft-delayed and then underseen and weirdly trashed Spring Breakdown (2009) which is much funnier than it gets credit for. Her MVP status says a lot since the three leads Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, and Rachel Dratch have been known to wring laughs from even the weakest material. Somehow Pyle steals the show out from under them.

Pyle plays Charlene a Spring Break junkie well past age appropriateness for the Endless Summer cruising and bingeing. She takes this trio of new girls under her drunken wing.

After a particularly booze-fueled night she stumbles home with her new friend Gayle (Amy Poehler) and goes all weepy pontificating drunk. 

Every spring this place she flares up like a cold sore and I'm back for more, you know? The kids and the sex and the booze. And you think it'll go on forever but it's like one of those videos, you know, of a fireplace that you put on your TV.


And, like, no matter how close you get to the screen it's never going to warm you up."

Suddenly then, she's all nonsequitor.

Her moods tilt and slide around like formerly coherent thoughts sloshing around in alcoholic waves.

I just wanted to be a stylist to the stars.

[Suddenly high pitched] 'You think so?' 


Oh hello there fine fella! Who is this?


She veers towards... a tree.

"Oh honey, that's a tree," Gayle tries to stop her but Charlene is already making her move. 

[To the tree] My name is Charlene. What are you wearing?

[Glancing to the side. Suddenly crying] I love him!

[To Gayle] Don't touch me. Please touch me. Thank you.

Let's just stay here for awhile.

Pyle keeps this comic train hilarious, frisky and sharp even as it jumps right off the tracks careening towards its next blackout: Crying jags, weird bursts of horniness, pickled blood stream, and yet she's weirdly touching.

It's comic magic.

It's hot mess tragic. 

Her name is Charlene. I love her!