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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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"Todd Haynes. his power his influence his acclaim and yes genius!" - Jows


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Year of the Month: 1980?

1980. The year which brought you Sissy Spacek's Oscar winning roleThe Film Experience likes to keep one foot in the past and one in the now at all times... so as to be well-rounded like. People who never watch anything beyond the now or their own personal nostalgia hits, even if they profess to love movies or the Oscars, they're not really movie lovers just pop culture consumers. (Not that there's anything wrong with that! It's just not what we do here at TFE.)

For September I thought we'd do things a tiny bit differently and because I am easily distracted and scattered we'll probably have three running themes this month to augment the contemporary cinema coverage. We'll infrequently be checking out old Robert Redford classics as All is Lost approaches (we've already started with Butch Cassidy and The Natural), we'll be looking at high school / college movies in this Back to School Month and, finally, since y'all enjoyed the return of the smackdown, we'll be revisiting some key films from the 1980s as lead up to the Supporting Actress Smackdown "1980" Edition on September 30th. 

But imma let you choose which films (choose 3!) we revisit or see for the first time via this poll! 


I know I know. I overplan. But humor me by pretending that we'll have time for at least 3 of these!


Podcast: Fall Film Preview... "Lady Stuff Coming Up!"

Labor Day Weekend is notoriously unfriendly to movie openings unless you can find a gem at your arthouse... so Katey, Joe, Nick and Nathaniel are looking ahead to the Fall Film Season on this week's podcast.

Films speculated upon include Ridley Scott's The Counselor, Alfonso Cuarón directing Sandra Bullock in Gravity, Steve McQueen & Michael Fassbender reunited for 12 Years a Slave, George Clooney's Monuments Men, Spike Jonze's HerAugust: Osage County and many more. We answer these fives questions and you should, too, in the comments...

• Which two movies are you most excited about?
• Which performance are you most curious to see?
• Which film are you most suspicious of?
• Whose life is going to change this fall when their movie hits? 
• Which premiere party would you most like to attend? 

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download it on iTunes. Please note: There won't be a new podcast next weekend since ½ of us will be festing in Toronto and dashing madly from screening to screening. 

Fall Film Preview 2013


Review: The Spectacular Now

Hey everybody. Serious Film's Michael C here to take advantage of the late-Summer doldrums (Getaway, anybody?) as an excuse to draw attention to a terrific movie currently passing through theaters with insufficient critical fanfare.

The genre of high school romance is so moribund by cliché that most savvy film watchers probably feel like they could outline an entire film just from hearing the premise. If, for example, I were to tell you that The Spectacular Now begins with Miles Teller’s Sutter asking out a shy bookworm (Shailene Woodley) in an attempt to make the prettiest girl in school (Brie Larson) regret dumping him, you would probably contend, with understandable certainty, that the film would hold few surprises for you. [more...]

Click to read more ...


Review: The Grandmaster

Dancin' Dan here with my take on one of my most anticipated films of the year.

It's often easy to forget that the martial arts indeed are art, despite the fact that the word is right there in their given name. Practioners of kung fu, or karate, or judo hone their craft just as intensely (if not more so) as any painter, dancer, musician, actor, or filmmaker practices theirs. And to watch martial artists perform (that is, to fight) is quite often just as much of an awe-inspiring spectacle as it is to, say, watch Cate Blanchett navigate the course of Jasmine's unraveling. Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster, far more than any martial arts movie in recent memory, understands this.

One might expect no less from a film directed by Kar-Wai, cinema's premiere sensualist. And on this point, at least, he doesn't disappoint. [more...]

Click to read more ...


Supporting Actress Smackdown '52: Colette, Jean, Gloria, Terry, and Thelma

Presenting the Return of Stinky Lulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown now in its new home at The Film Experience. The Year is... 1952 and our panelists are allowed 52 words per actress!


Gloria Grahame, Jean Hagen, Colette Marchand, Terry Moore, and the perennial Thelma Ritter!


Matt Mazur (Pop Matters) is a New York-based publicist who works on campaigns for independent, foreign language, and documentary films. His vast archive of actress interviews (including Sissy Spacek and Courtney Love) can be found here. Follow him @Matt_Mazur 

Nathaniel R (The Film Experience) is the founder of The Film Experience, a Gurus of Gold and CNN International Oscar pundit, and the internet's actressexual ringleader. Also loves cats. Follow him @NathanielR

Nick Davis (Nicks Flick Picks) tweets, blogs, and writes reviews and is a professor of film, literature, and gender studies at Northwestern University. His first book "The Desiring Image" was recently published. Follow him @NicksFlickPicks

Brian Herrera (aka StinkyLulu) convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty before shuttering the series in 2009. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. Follow him @stinkylulu

And You! We also factored averages from reader ballots sent by e-mail!

Oh, hurry up!!!"

... get to the smackdown already. Geez. Okay Okay, here we go...




GLORIA GRAHAME as "Rosemary" in The Bad and the Beautiful
Synopsis: A southern wife accompanies her writer husband to corrupting Hollywood
Stats: 29 yrs old. 14th film. 2nd nom. 10 Minutes of Screen Time (8.4% of Running Time)

Matt: No disrespect to Grahame, one of this era’s finest actress, but she got the gold for the wrong movie; like many women before and after. This performance is a weird fit. While other directors gave her the space to explode, Minnelli tried to contain her sexual force. It's not Rosemary you remember... ♥♥  

Nathaniel: Grahame underlines the frisson of excitement in this marriage, suggesting that it comes from the playful mix of this woman’s outer propriety and inner friskiness. She even nails a tricky final scene moving from accusatory abandoned wife to complicit partner in failure. Yet the role is slight and the voice too chirpy. ♥♥♥ 

Nick: The first Grahame performance I haven’t loved. Admittedly, the role’s scope and nature constrain it.  I admire her against-type playing, and the character invites stiff attitudes and overdeliberate gestures. Still, however tiny, the part feels underexplored.  Her win feels like recognition of prior feats and her eclectic body of work in 1952 ♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "A truly bizarre winner, though not undeserving: beautiful, quiet work in shading this restless social butterfly. I wanted much more of her.." - Sean D. (Gloria average ♥♥½) .

StinkyLulu: If I were evaluating The Bad and the Beautiful on "Top Chef" or "Chopped", I might praise Gloria Grahame’s Rosemary for bringing a much needed brightness to the dish. Grahame plays this soon-to-be-sainted flibbertigibbet with easy verve but I fear Grahame’s work here is as glancing as the character:

Gloria wins 10½ ❤s 

JEAN HAGEN as "Lina Lamont" in Singin' in the Rain
Synopsis: A silent star attempts to make it in talkies by stealing another woman's voice
Stats: 29 yrs old. 8th film. 1st nomination. 31 Minutes (30% of Running Time)

Matt: She does it all: vocal work, physical comedy, unlikability, stupidity, scheming, hiliariously failing at everything. Flawlessly.  Bonus points go to any actress playing an actress, let alone the kind of woman who has the cojones to poke fun at not only herself, but really her entire profession. How she did not win this Oscar…? ♥♥♥♥♥ 

Nathaniel: Her vocal comic invention is so thorough you can even hear the diction training sloshing around its agonizing surface but never sinking in. Lina’s silent “ACTING” is delicious, too but Jean’s is even better. Her Lina is always off-tempo, playing catch up, waiting for a line no one has written for her. ♥♥♥♥♥ 

Nick: Pretending to hate Gene Kelly requires three-star acting at least. And Hagen’s vocal ingenuity is obviously beyond.  She’s also a savvy modulator, underplaying annoyance throughout Kelly’s opening interview, deferring her delicious explosions of resentment until character-appropriate moments.  Once she gets going, she steals some of the very best scenes in American movies: ♥♥♥♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "Lina Lamont was robbed, just as Lina's soul sister Norma Cassady (Lesley Ann Warren) was exactly 30 years later." - Paul Outlaw. (Hagen average ♥♥♥♥♥ ) 

StinkyLulu: In what might have easily been a single (nasal) note of a “dumb” role, Jean Hagen deftly surprises with clever twists to unsuspecting vowels, syllables and studio executives alike. Yet, even with few glimpses into Lina’s heart, Hagen’s skill permits our delight in always knowing exactly who Miss Lina Lamont truly is.  ♥♥♥♥♥

Jean wins 25 ❤s, a perfect score 


COLETTE MARCHAND as "Marie Chalet" in Moulin Rouge
Synopsis: a street-walker moves in with the famous artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec but just can't settle down
Stats: Debut Film. 27 yrs old. Debut Film. 1st Nom. 27.5 Minutes (23% of Running Time)

Matt: Too many clichés: hooker with a heart of gold, scheming hooker with weak john, French slut, tragic waif… but Marchand does a decent job of navigating complicated waters and still managing to be memorable in a Moulin Rouge full of oddballs. But she's no Nicole Kidman, let me put it that way. ♥♥ 

Nathaniel: She had me at “monsieur!”, all gangly swinging arms, restless body, and giraffe-with-attitude neck. Marchand’s physicality is so heady it almost doesn’t matter that her scenes are but moodswings on loop. Her pride in poverty and self-consciousness with wealth is insightfully rendered. Like Henri we pine for her when she’s gone: ♥♥♥ 

Nick: To its credit—and not much is—Huston’s film acknowledges an essential garishness in the Moulin Rouge and Toulouse-Lautrec’s depictions. This context somewhat justifies Marchand’s frequently coarse performance; her drunken truth-telling scene with Henri and Babare thrives on that quality.  Too often, though, she’s simply rigid and off-putting.  I prefer Suzanne Flon  ♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "This film is a little slow in spots, but the best scenes are the ones with Marchand and Jose Ferrer together. You feel for her prostitute character, a common role but Marchand adds her own spin." - Sean T. (Marchand average ♥♥)

StinkyLulu: Feral, frightening and sometimes quite funny. Colette Marchand’s Marie Charlet remains a more presence than a person. (Katherine Kath does much more with much less as La Goulue.) While her palpable emotion does reliably energize this frequently languid film, Marchand’s performance lacks the precision needed to stir and sustain a deepening investment: ♥♥♥

Colette wins 12 ❤s  


TERRY MOORE as "Marie" in Come Back Little Sheba
Synopsis: a flirtatious college girl rents a room from an unhappy couple while struggling with fidelity to her longdistance boyfriend
Stats: 23 yrs old. 14th film. 1st nomination. 28 Minutes (28% of Running Time)

Matt: Let’s have a moment of real talk: there is no one on earth paying attention to anyone other than mesmerizing Queen Shirley Booth in ...Little Sheba. Moore does what she is asked: be pretty enough to drive Lancaster into a mad rage. But there’s not much character there so she’s left struggling. ♥ 

Nathaniel: She does engaging work as a cock-tease testing her boundaries with a local stud. She’s smart, too, about how the young switch on and off with adults in a room. I like the way Marie sizes up her strange landlady (less so her landlord). But the character never feels fully explored or resonant. ♥♥ 

Nick: Between Booth’s asphyxiating affectations and Lancaster’s stolidity, Moore’s relaxed effervescence is a welcome mediator. Her richest scene comes when that aplomb gets tested by Richard Jaeckel’s abruptly aggressive advances; her panicked response is clearly to him, not to sex itself.  Nonetheless, this isn’t complicated acting.  Standard for Moore and bordering on generic ♥♥

Reader Write-In Votes: "I can't remember many movies from the 50s that had a young sexually-active character and performed well by Moore. I certainly can't see the negative of the performance" - Travis. (Moore average ♥♥).

StinkyLulu: Marie feels more plot device than character, an inciting incident taken to human form. Yet Terry Moore animates her catalytic presence with startling believability. Her Marie is a simple, smart, capable girl who fully enjoys playing at being bad — and who (unlike those around her) somehow knows when to say when.  ♥♥♥♥ 

Terry wins 11❤s

THELMA RITTER as "Clancy" in With a Song in My Heart
Synopsis: a nurse accompanies a famous singer on a USO Tour in World War II
Stats: 50 yrs old. 9th film. 3rd of 4 Consecutive Noms (2 More Followed). 28 Minutes (24% of Running Time)

Matt: One dynamic performance hidden within a limp noodle film makes it a little more al dente. Her stalwart nurse ("Clancy" -- how perfect is that name?), is not afraid to tell it like it t-i-is. As is Ritter’s custom, she packs in an astounding amount of detail, using the tiniest bits of dialog to reveal something key. ♥♥♥♥ 

Nathaniel: Gold from dross! Though half her role consists of gazing admirably at Hayward’s lipsynching (blech), Ritter seizes every opportunity to make the other half dance, managing heaps of personality while narrating and offering sly subtext like  embarrassment at her friend/ patient’s self-pity. I live for that improv dancing… “I’m more the type!” ♥♥♥♥ 

Nick: Ritter hews to type as a wisecracking helpmeet whose humor and lucid counsel profit the other characters. Still, she’s the Dijon mustard this ham sandwich needs, her candor and tangy delivery tempering all the sanctification.  Ritter presents a prickly, compassionate, occasionally reproachful nurse, not a blandly colorful worshiper in a biopic pew: ♥♥♥ 

Reader Write-In Votes: "Ritter fills the role with emotion, and - more importantly compared to Grahame and Moore - feels like a necessary and irreplaceable role/performance for the film. " -PoliVamp (Thelma average ♥♥♥) 

StinkyLulu: As “Flatbush Florence Nightingale” Clancy, Thelma Ritter gets to do Thelma Ritter. Always cracking wise as the film’s in-house heckler and audience surrogate. Stalwart. Salt-of-the-earth. With just that dash of saltiness. But even with costume changes and a couple of tiny tearful moments, there’s no arc or special insight here. Just Ritter. ♥♥

Thelma wins 16 ❤s  


The Academy pied Jean Hagen right in the kisser and handed the coveted Best Supporting Actress statue to Gloria Grahame as "Rosemary" in The Bad and the Beautiful. As Matt notes: 

In 1952, it made all-too-terrible sense for Grahame to win given her solid work in three other films besides this Minnelli classic: The Greatest Show on Earth, Macao, and Sudden Fear. She worked with literally everyone that year. She is fantastic in Fear and Macao, moreso than in Beautiful.

 But our panelists "cannnn'stann'it!" and rewrite Oscar history to hand a landslide win to that 'shimmering star in the foimament' Lina Lamont.

Soak it up, Jean!

Thank you for attending the Smackdown!  Throw pies, shade or applause at your favorites. (If you're new to the Smackdown, here's the old archives at StinkyLulu)

Previous Smackdown Goodies
Stinky's Preliminary Thoughts, Introducing... the 5, and The Oscar Ceremony Itself

The Supporting Actresses of 1980 
Brennan, Le Galliene, Moriarty, Scarwid, and Steenburgen comin' atcha!
Panelists TBA


August. It's a Wrap

Summer's end. Halleloo! I can practically taste the fall and it is delicious. Mmmmm dead leaves. Here are some key posts from the dog days of summer in case you missed them.

Cinema Swimwear The Film Experience launches a clothing line! Why didn't you purchase anything?
Short Term 12 How many films this good does August ever bring? Go see it!
The Worst of the Worst Tim looks back at 3 horrifying cinema summers 
The Last Temptation of Christ Michael wonders if it still has the power to outrage?

Skarsgård Reads Naked the mind wanders
The Color Purple a look back through Oscar-tinted glasses for "Best Shot"
Team Hitchcock are these the 10 most memorable performances in his films? 
Podcasting The Butler the gang is all back and the podcasts are now weekly!  

COMING IN SEPTEMBER: It's Back to School Month so we'll be visiting some edumucational movies -- any suggestions? We'll be hitting new movies like The Family (La Pfeiffer), Don Jon (Scarjo & JGL), The Face of Love (The Bening!), and Prisoners (Viola, Hugh, and Jake? Yes please times three). Nathaniel and Amir will be reporting live from TIFF next week and Nathaniel, Jose, JA and Glenn will be reporting live from NYFF later in the month.

Finally, we had great fun in August "introducing" the characters from 1952's Supporting Actress lineup, revisiting the Oscar ceremony and then reviving Stinky Lulu's Smackdown. So next month 'The Year of the Month' (that has an odd ring to it, eh?) is 1980 so if you want to maximize your reading pleasure you'll rent Supporting Actress nominated films like Raging Bull, Private Benjamin, Melvin & Howard, Inside Moves, and Resurrection and maybe catch a few of the other seminal films from that year ... you know, for context.


I Love Good Silly.

I needed a really good laugh this week and Jean Hagen in Singin' in the Rain provided (again). Today apropos of nothing I thought of Chad Feldheimer (aka Brad Pitt) in Burn After Reading's overemphatic jogging/crying/phone-antics and started laughing. Silliness is so underrated in the movies... and in life.

When I was a child Cloris Leachman in The North Avenue Irregulars (1979) made me squeal with laughter - I had totally forgotten about that until she popped up in her own comic bubble in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid which we were just watching.

What's your favorite goofy thing in cinema with no pretense other than to have fun / be funny? I saw Mel Brooks Silent Movie for the first time a couple of years ago and was dying at Bernadette Peters' striptease... and at several other scenes, too. I was surprised because Mel Brooks doesn't always do it for me. For reliable laughs even if you've never heard of the movie, nothing beats 30s and 40s era screwball comedies in general or Carole Lombard specifically. I can't say that 80s comedies hold up all that well for me (Tootsie being a glorious exception) but I was thinking the other day that maybe 90s era comedy will last forever... so many genuinely hilarious movies that decade: CluelessWaiting for GuffmanBullets Over BroadwayFlirting with Disaster, Election!

Bernadette Peters in Silent Movie (1976)

Give us good rental suggestions to keep us giggling.