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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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"Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter". Have You Read It?

Yesterday, Entertainment Weekly offered up a new batch of photos for Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter starring Benjamin Walker (aka Meryl Streep's brand new son-in-law, recently married to Mamie Gummer).

For those who aren't familiar with him, his star making role (of sorts) was a lead on Broadway as "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"... so this will be his second consecutive blood-splattered US President. What an odd odd start to a career.

Stage and screen require different scales of acting. Charisma and skill in one doesn't always transfer to the other so you never know. But on stage he just popped. He unarguably had "it" and a lot of "it", too. He turned down the role of Beast in X-Men First Class -- a potentially lucrative franchise gig -- to stay with his minor hit stage show which reveals either true devotion to the theater, strict contractual ethics or real confidence in his gift. Or all three. It didn't take long for another opportunity to present itself. 

Out of accidental curiousity I recently picked up the book at the library. I wonderd about its content and if I could pick up any clues as to why this one didn't have any trouble getting off the ground while his first fiction novel Pride & Prejudice & Zombies can't seem to get out out of development hell. 

The thing that surprised me the most and I'm not sure bodes well for the movie is how earnest it was. I was expecting comedy or at least satire but it read very much like a straightforward entry into the subgenre of historical fiction that twists history with supernatural elements. It's basically Lincoln the younger years only with a backstory that involves hunting super evil bloodsucking creatures. In the book the vampires are quite powerful in the south (though their nature is a secret from most) and they're all entangled financially and socially with plantation owners which gives them a neverending supply of defenseless prey (the slaves) that no one will miss. And here is where I had the problem. I actually found the book a little offensive. No one, least of all Abraham Lincoln, should need an overlay of supernatural bloodsucking to give them an epiphany about how cruel and unfair and irredeemably evil slavery is/was.

I wonder what the movie will do with the books framing device which is a modern discovery of Lincoln's private diaries. It seems like it might be an awful lot of wasted running time in a film version but we'll see.  I haven't read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and if its similar I can only assume it isn't filming already because Hollywood is so skittish about female leads, no matter how many hits feature them.

Have you read either of Seth Grahame-Smith's books?
Do you like the supernatural alternate history genre?


Our Favorite BAFTA Tradition

I forgot to mention this goodie but with BAFTA hitting this weekend (we'll live blog) we're quite happy that this is an annual tradition now with BAFTA. Each year they hire illustrators to make Best Picture guides for their nominees. Look at this one for Drive

The scorpion jacket is an obvious image to go with but where this really wins me over is the little touches like the bold red splash, the clenched fist, the faint suggestion of an elevator (that glowing button) and that tell-tale glove hanging from the back pocket. It just such an instant recall of so much of the movie's indelible moments. 

The Help, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Artist and The Descendants after the jump

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Links, Fences, Songs, Brainnnnns

Free Unqualified... The Artist = Anchorman ?
SuperPunch for your next horror movie party with friends, zombie chocolates with cherry brainnnnns! 
Carpetbagger talks to Stuart Craig on the challenges of art directing Hogwarts over eight Harry Potter films 
Antagony & Ecstacy offers up a great top ten list: ten best Oscar slates ever from 2009's animated feature to 1939's best actresses and everywhere inbetween.
Senses of Cinema looks at the question of identity in Splendor in the Grass (1961) 

Flavorwire Disney Princess tattoos. Why the hell not?
Movie|Line on Clint Eastwood vs the ever-nuttier GOP after his Superbowl commercial
Towleroad  No song performances at this year's Oscars? Christ, AMPAS really needs to call me. They could've had such a watercooler live tv moment with "Man or Muppet". I explain how.

Complex the '25 Hottest Women on Horror TV shows'. Fun list with shoutouts to two of the best TV shows of all time Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twin Peaks 
World of Wonder three things
Empire clears up that silly rumor that Harrison Ford was going to be in the Blade Runner sequel that nobody should be making to begin with shame on you Ridley Scott do you really want to turn into George Lucas I'm just saying... 

Today's Must Read
Grantland Mark Harris writes a fabulous column on Viola Davis's extraordinary gift, the Best Actress race and Hollywood's race relations.

Faced with the peril of that archetype, Davis did the hardest job of anyone in the Best Actress category: She made the movie better — much better — without playing against it. Much of The Help is bright, candy-colored, and loud: It’s full of silly wigs and garish costumes, sitcom slapstick and shit pies, wicked old dears like Sissy Spacek, finger-snappin’ Designing Women tell-offs, and the kind of steroidal pivots from comedy to poignancy to melodrama that would shame an episode of Glee. What Davis gives the film is humanity. Aibileen is a gentle but wary woman — she’s lived long enough to know that in her world, you survive by bending, not breaking, by keeping your thoughts to yourself, by seeing and hearing everything while appearing to register very little, and by trying to apply your own sense of decency and kindness to a badly needed paying job in an often indecent and unkind world. When she’s on-screen, the hummingbird shrieks of the movie’s other characters are hushed; you’re reminded that the human toll of daily, casual racism doesn’t really get addressed by making Bryce Dallas Howard eat poo. Because Davis is a physically gifted actress who can incorporate the exhaustion and strain of being Aibileen into every motion and muscle, and also the rare performer — even in this year ofThe Artist and Max von Sydow — whose silences draw you even closer, she seems to correct The Help’s excesses without ever standing self-protectively outside it. At every turn, she un-simplifies the movie.

Nick and I keep wondering when Hollywood is going to make August Wilson's Fences (for which Viola won a Tony opposite Denzel Washington) into a movie and everyone I know who is into theater keeps wondering why this hasn't happened for Fences or really any of August Wilson's plays. So it's nice to see that subject is revived again here. Seriously what time like the present Hollywood? Get on that. How many times do we have to ask?


Yes, No, Maybe So: "The Amazing Spider-Man"

Well, look what we have here. A new Spider-Man suit (and trailer). It's very shiny so that our friendly neighborhood do-gooder doesn't get run over at night. With 147 days until web-slinging commences its time to break this down with our patented Yes, No, Maybe So™ system. 

When I put you on, no one will know I'm not Tobey Maguire

There are various moments within the trailer that get at Peter Parker's intelligence and especially his sense of humor that, let's be honest, the Sam Raimi films kind of skimped on despite their excellence. "You seriously think I'm a cop in a skin tight red and blue suit?"

Love the idea of Spider-Man using his web as a floor to infiltrate a building. You have to keep these things clever since we've seen them so many times.

"I'm in trouble." Casting Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey is a smart move. She's always relatable even in crazy circumstances like "my boyfriend is a webslinging superhero battling a mutated amphibian-man."

Only one villain? And one we haven't yet seen in the Spider-Man films? Such a surprise blessing from Overkill Friendly Hollywood.



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A Quick Exchange With "W.E."'s Andrea Riseborough

I don't normally attend roundtable interviews since there's little you can do about every other article on the person having the exact same quotes but to finally meet Madonna (on the W.E. campaign trail) it was worth it. When we were done with the Queen, Andrea Riseborough breezed into the room. It's been pretty clear on the promotional trail that Andrea and Madonna get along famously. (Andrea describes their relationship as "artistically complicit.") She's one of those actresses that totally seizes your attention onscreen, but you might actually walk right by her on the street without noticing her. She's a tiny slip of a thing who comes fully alive on the screen through some sort of magical alchemy with the camera.

Andrea and Madonna, artistically and sartorially complicit at the Globes

Not that she isn't engaging in person. The thirty-year old rising star was erudite, thoughtful and talked a mile a minute, each question setting off a flurry runaway train of thought. Upon entering the room a reporter bizarrely asked her who she was wearing though no red carpet was anywhere in sight. Riseborough, rolling with the odd start, spun her head a bit as she took her seat.

"You almost made me do that thing in Death Becomes Her where she turns her head around," she said bemused. (Alberto Ferretti if you must know.)

She talked a lot about the film's aesthetic, Wallis Simpson's own aesthetic, humorously blaming Wallis for being one of those women who forced actresses into near androgyny with expectations of rail-thinness. "'You can't be too rich or too thin' was such an honest statement but also she was sending her own frivolity up. But also she had terrible stomach ulcers. Work with what you got. Make the absolute best of what is there. Because really you can work a lot. And at times she had very little. She looked virtually anorexic. She was ill really. So she made it chic. She was very pragmatic in that way."

After the jump: Andrea on the Oscar nominated costumes and answering my question about dancing FOR Madonna...

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Burning Questions: Are Franchises Hogging All The Talent?

Michael C. here. 

I'm feeling left out because I couldn't share in the excitement over the Avengers teaser which played during the Super Bowl Sunday night. In fact, if I’m being honest, it bummed me out. I never want to be that guy yelling, “Sell out!” when the performer I love hits the big time, but seeing the likes of Downey, Ruffalo, and Renner headlining the comics franchise to top all comics franchises, it’s hard to get pumped about how kick-ass it’s all going to be when all I can think about are the more interesting films these guys passed over to shoot this one.

Now I have no intention of dismissing a movie before it’s released, or to turn up my nose at big budget blockbusters. A franchise with Joss Whedon at the helm is a great bet to have the intelligence and wit the genre so often lacks. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to ask:

Are franchise films monopolizing the talent?

Take the case of Mr. Renner. It feels like no sooner had we been given a taste of just what he was capable of then he was carted off to shoulder no less than three major franchises – Mission Impossible, Avengers and Bourne. On top of which, he dropped out of his most promising project, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. I don’t deny that all those films have the potential to be good or even great entertainments, but let’s be honest here. It is a rare role in such a mass appeal product that is not broadly simplified with any rough edges sanded off. We are going to be waiting a long time before we get to see Renner tackle another role as riveting as Sgt. William James. 

When will Renner ever do a non-franchise drama again?


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Curio: Oscar Unsheets, Part II

Alexa here.  In the weeks up to the Oscars I'm celebrating all the wonderful unsheets (a.k.a. fan-created poster art) inspired by the nominated films that are populating the web. (See last week's post for my favorites from the acting categories). But I can't help but mention that the nominations let me down hard this year: my top three films were Melancholia, Drive, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and save for a long overdue nomination for Gary Oldman, there was nary a nomination in sight.  So with my poutyness in mind, here are a handful of posters for films that were, at least from my perspective, robbed.    

Melancholia by drMIERZWIAK.Melancholia by Olaf Łyczba.Click for Tinker Tailor and Drive...

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