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100 Best of the 21st Century?

"Carol >>>>>>>>>> most of these movies" - Clarence

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Monday
Jul142014

Meet July's "Smackdown" Panelists

The Supporting Actress Smackdown of '73 arrives on July 31st, just over two weeks from now. You need to get your votes in too if you want to participate (instructions at the bottom of this post). If you've wandered in from elsewhere and are like, "What's a Smackdown?," here's how it started.

The Smackdown Panel for July

Without further ado let's meet our panel who will be discussing popular classics Paper Moon, The Exorcist, and American Graffiti as well as the more obscure title Summer Wishes Winter Dreams. All of the Supporting Actress nominees this Oscar vintage were first timers and so are our Smackdown panelists.

Special Guest

DANA DELANY
Dana Delany is an actress working on stage, screen, television and now internet. She was last seen starring in "Body of Proof" on ABC. In August you can rate and review the pilot "Hand of God" in which she co-stars with Ron Perlman on Amazon.com. [Follow her on Twitter | IMDb]

Why did a famous actress like you want to participate?

I wanted to do a Smackdown because there is nothing I like better than watching a movie and discussing it with smart people. Way better than being smacked. 

What does 1973 mean to you?

For me personally it was a hugely transitional year. My parents separated, we moved to Virginia and I escaped by going to the movies before I truly escaped by going to boarding school for my senior year. It was also a transitional year for our country and film. Marriages ended as women asserted their independence and Roe v Wade passed. Economically the US was a mess with gas shortages and NYC was bankrupt. American faith was shaken with the Watergate trial and the beginning of the end of the fruitless Vietnam War. I think that's why you see so much nostalgia in the movies with "The Sting", "American Graffiti", "Paper Moon" and "The Way We Were" in stark contrast to the European "Last Tango in Paris". Even at the Oscars the next spring, David Niven being surprised by a streaker was the embodiment of old Hollywood/new world.

 

And...

BILL CHAMBERS
Bill Chambers is the founder, editor, and webmaster of FilmFreakCentral.net, which recently turned seventeen. A graduate of York University's Film program, he is a member of both the Toronto Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. He just got a cat. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?:

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is Terrence Malick making his directorial debut, and Martin Scorsese formally introducing himself to moviegoers. The seismographic image of 1973 I have in my head is deceptively calm compared to the years that flank it, perhaps because while '73 produced no shortage of future classics, so many of them -- "The Last Detail", "Sisters", "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" -- seem like sleepers to this day, amassing cults without getting the splashy reissues or being front and centre in discussions of their directors' work. And when I factor in genre classics like "Enter the Dragon", "Westworld", even "Don't Look Now", this might be the year in film from that hallowed decade I'd most want with me on a desert island... though I'd probably just try to make a raft out of "Lost Horizon".

 


MARK HARRIS

Mark Harris is an editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, a Grantland columnist (about the Oscars and other things), and a contributor to New York magazine. He is the author of Pictures at a Revolution (2008) and Five Came Back (2014). He lives in New York City. [Follow him on Twitter]  

What does 1973 mean to you?

1973 was the first year I got to have any say in the movies I wanted to see, which, as I recall, were "The Sting", "Sleeper", "Paper Moon", "The Day of the Dolphin", and, because this is a place for truth, Burt Reynolds in "White Lightning". "The Exorcist" was high on my wish list, but only one friend my age had gotten to see it, and only because, as my mother tersely explained to me, 'His parents don't care about him.' That year's movies competed in the first Oscar show I was ever allowed to stay up and watch. Other highlights of that year for me: The televised Watergate hearings, Sonny and Cher, fourth grade.

 


KARINA LONGWORTH 
Karina Longworth is the creator/host of You Must Remember This, a podcast about the secret/forgotten history of Hollywood's first century. She is the author of books about George Lucas, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, and has contributed to Grantland, Slate, LA Weekly, the Guardian, NPR, Vulture, and other publications. [Follow her on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

"The Last of Sheila". "Blume in Love". "Scarecrow" winning the Palme D'or. Gloria Steinem with hair colored in emulation of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Situationism. "Coffy". "The Mother and The Whore".

 


KYLE TURNER
Born in 1994 and enamored of the cinema ever since, Kyle began writing on the internet in 2007 with his blog The Movie Scene. Since then, he has contributed to TheBlackMaria.org, Movie Mezzanine, and IndieWire's /Bent. Xavier Dolan's "I Killed My Mother" is basically his life story and "Bringing Up Baby" is his default favorite film. He likes coffee and is studying film at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He is relieved to know he is not a golem. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1973 mean to you?

From merely an appreciative perspective, it was the year "The Godfather" won Best Picture (for '72), Watergate happened, and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" was released.

 

And your host

NATHANIEL R
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 also blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner and 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 does 1973 mean to you?

I have no memories of that year but if I had any they'd surely involve my sister (she's the eldest and I'm the baby) and her friends who were approaching their teenage years and who I generally remember looking at with awe (bell bottoms, long hair and all) just a few years later. As for what it makes me think of now? Exactly 4 things: "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell"; Liza Minnelli's victory tour for her work in 1972 (the Oscar, the Emmy, the BAFTA, the Globe, and the Hasty Puddings Woman of the Year all came her way); political powderkegs Roe v Wade and Watergate; and that unique admirable window of time in America wherein confrontational subtitled art films like Ingmar Bergman movies could be big hits and up for multiple Oscars... the 70s were so weird (read: awesome). 

 

YOU'RE INVITED, TOO!
The readers are the final (collective) panelist. You have 12 more days to get your votes in on any of the performances you've seen grading them on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (perfect). (Paper Moon is on Instant Watch so you have no excuse to miss that one.) We excerpt quotes from reader ballots and your votes count toward the outcome. That matters because sometimes it's a real brawl for the win: see recent editions 1941 and 1964

1973 Supporting Actress Nominees
Linda Blair The Exorcist
Candy Clark American Graffiti
Madeline Kahn Paper Moon
Tatum O'Neal Paper Moon
Sylvia Sidney  Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams

 

Say hi to our exciting panel in the comments and tell them what you think of when you think of "73". And like the film experience on Facebook while you're at it.

PROCEED TO THE SMACKDOWN EVENT

Monday
Jul142014

Podcast: Katharine with a side of Bette!

In this special edition of the podcast, Nathaniel welcomes two Katharine Hepburn buffs Nick Davis and Anne Marie Kelly to talk about their (shared) first Actress Obsession. Naturally Kate the Great isn't the only diva that finds her way into the conversation. Expect supporting roles or cameos: Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Tennessee Williams, Deborah Kerr, Spencer Tracy, Audrey Hepburn, George Cukor and more...

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.

00:00 Intro. Plus Middle School drama: Hilariously "intense" early obsessions
13:00 Types, Genres, and Suddenly Last Summer
17:00 Her autobiography and films she loathed like Dragon Seed
22:00 Chemistry and co-stars
33:00 Revisiting unsatisfying movies -- raise a cocktail to this peculiar cinephile habit
40:00 The Spinster & The Magic Penis
47:00 Bette Davis and why we compare them. Silliness before the sign off.

Further Reading
Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Summertime 
Nick's Hepburn Oscar Profile
A Year With Kate: Pat & Mike
A Year With Kate: Dragon Seed 
A Year With Kate: Christopher Strong
Me: Stories of My Life (Book)
The Making of the African Queen (Book)
Alex Von Tunzelmann & Self Styled Siren (Twitter) 

Kate with a side of Bette

Monday
Jul142014

Beauty Vs Beast: A Table For Two At Dorsia

JA from MNPP here with this week's new drug (sorry I've been listening to a lot of Huey Lewis and the News these days - I consider their album Sports to be their finest acheivement, don't you?) aka another round of "Beauty Vs Beast."

Here's the deal - tomorrow's my birthday and it wasn't exactly planned this way but since there's a screening of American Psycho happening this weekend here in NYC my week's taken on that movie as a sort of non-official theme. I'm not murdering homeless men or stuffing kittens into ATM machines, mind you - don't get too freaked out. It's just a sort of general thing. But with the specter of Patrick Bateman hanging in the air I figured what better time to give you what I think might be one of the toughest picks between two bad apples (Christian Bale and Jared Leto) that we've had so far in this series.

I speak of...

 

A vote for Paul Allen is a vote for that whole Yale thing! Yeah you know, that whole Yale thing. So per usual you've got seven days to make with the picking and the commenting - in seven days our masks of sanity will slip and we'll crown a winner.

PREVIOUSLY And speaking of slipped masks of sanity, last week's competition was a literal face off between the two Jake Gyllenhaal's in this year's best-picture-so-far-says-me Enemy - since this choosing was slightly arbitrary (either way you win, with Jake) the competition remained close but in the end the "nice" guy won first - we all decided to let Adam stay on. Carmen honed in on the peculiars of this decision:

"I'm voting on blueberries alone. It's Jake Gyllenhaal vs Jake Gyllenhaal, I can afford to be frivolous."

Monday
Jul142014

Aarrrr, matey. It's Captain Link!

John August Gregory Maguire (author of the novel "Wicked") looks at the original screenplay of The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Tom Huller look at this amazing commissioned poster for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Erik Lundegaard the first "Best Shot" entry elsewhere is up for tomorrow's Any Batman Movie fest. I love this article. Erik is so right about Adam West
Black Maria the nuance of silence in Ida  

Stage Buddy reviews the cast album of the Tony Winning "Lady Day"... won't someone please make it into a movie so Audra McDonald can have an Oscar?
Cinema Blend Stan Lee getting greedy in his old age - wants to cameo in DC movies, too 
The Film Stage Kurt Russell who starred in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof thinks The Hateful Eight will be going before cameras early in 2015 
The Playlist ranks all eight Planet of the Apes movies. Predictably Tim Burton's box office hit is dead last.
Previously TV 'disparate things' pits Parks and Recreation's party machine up against "that brief window when we thought Smash might be good." I trust you'll all vote for Smash. Do as your told!

Boyhood
Awards Daily thinks Boyhood leads the Best Picture race but I'd be surprised to see it even nominated myself. IFC doesn't really try for these things you know. I think there last nomination was in 2009 or something.
Guardian quibbling with Boyhood  

The Struggle
Film School Rejects has a think piece on the toxic culture of movie rumors as movie news. I've talked about this a lot myself as a way of describing what I don't want The Film Experience to be (just another site that cares more about movies that don't yet exist than movies that do) versus what it is (a movie site that cares about real movies from all eras and long after their opening weekend). As a generul rule we restrict ourselves when it comes to rumors (beyond quite often in these link roundups) much to the detriment of traffic since "future movies" is big business. I don't mean to pat myself on the back but I think it's a real problem for healthy film culture (which needs to be about actual films) and I'm always to curious to read articles like this from bigger sites which are news-focused on their feelings. It's a tough line to walk. I don't think we cover news enough at TFE but you have to be so careful that you're not just feeding into the meaningless of what's-next-what's-next at the expense of appreciating what there already is. Imagine if everyone in the US stopped reading every article about upcoming movies for an entire year. They'd have enough time left over to see a big group of classics and contemporary cinema and discuss them, too.

Christopher Walken in Pennies From Heaven (1981)

FINALLY...
You'd probably heard that Christopher Walken will be playing Captain Hook in the "Peter Pan Live!" event we should see sometime next year. "The Sound of Music Live!" set off a bunch of new plans for networks since live events are one of the only ways to get people to watch a program as its broadcast and thereby force them to sit through commercials. Walken is so amazing in musical roles which he almost never gets to do (see "Weapon of Choice" and "Pennies From Heaven" for starters). I don't remember this musical at all though I think my parents took us to a touring company when I was itty bitty to see it. Hopefully Hook gets to do some elaborate pirate jigs.  

Unfortunately it looks like they're looking for a female actress to play Peter Pan (Kristen Bell was an original choice) which is disappointing. Yes, that's the stage and film tradition but wasn't it originally the tradition only because of wirework technical issues and women being smaller and lighter. It's decades later now, time to get a real boy who won't grow up for the role. 

 

Monday
Jul142014

Best Shot: Batman Returns & The Dark Knight

...Or, as I call them: Catwoman (1992) --what? the names not taken since there is no other movie none nuh-uh called this -- and The Joker (2008).

Yes, it's true I intended to watch all 8 Bat Movies before the big event tomorrow night (pick a Bat-Film, any Bat-Film) and select a best shot from each. The idea that I was going to be able to watch eight films, most of them over 2 hours long and write about each of them individually in the space of a week is so ridiculously delusional that maybe I need to be locked up in Arkham Asylum? 

But I knew which shots I would choose from both Batman Returns and The Dark Knight without a rewatch (and that's not common for me). Even while watching the movies the very first time in 1992 and 2008 respectively my amygdalae be all "We likey. This moves us. Never forget!" 

Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer shot by Stefan Czapsky)The Joker (Heath Ledger shot by Wally Pfister)

The reasons to love these two shots and pair them are legion. They're twins in every way I can think of and "Holy Split-Zygote!" does the Batman franchise ever love twins.

We're the same, split right down the center.

Two silent images in madhouse conversation.

Both images are solo shots, weird little character-beat reveries within much fussier action punctuated sequences. In fact, in lesser director's and editor's hands it's easy to imagine them left on the cutting room floor altogether as they're more visual grace notes than story beats. Both images are animalistic, the cat doubled playfully and the dog hanging out the car window to feel the breeze, the only thing missing being his tongue. Both images have no dialogue, they're just hypnotic snapshots of two actors at the peak of their gifts lost in their own inspired headspace fully inhabiting fantastical people. Perhaps most impresively, both images happen to reflect their movies and auteurs, too. Tim Burton's Batman films are a mix of pitch-black night, elaborate production design, playful flourishes and cartoonish verve... all accounted for in this image. They don't take place in the real world - notice everything swallowed by darkness behind Catwoman. There is no real world; Gotham is a soundstage. Chris Nolan's Batman films, in contrast, are a mix of late night restlessness, gritty realism, and told with a straight face and dark majesty... all acounted for in this image. The Joker may be otherworldly but he's intruding in ours; Gotham is Chicago, filmed on location.

Finally, and this is no small matter, what Michelle Pfeiffer and Heath Ledger were doing in both of these movies in roles that haven't always inspired actors or even been taken seriously by them is art, pure and simple. These star turns are film-elevating stylized tragicomedy, so highly peculiar that they could have only come from inspired character actors, so mesmerizing that they could have only come from movie stars. This Catwoman and this Joker are filled with such vivid specificity that though these roles which will surely be played by dozens more actors in the next 100 years, they will always belong to Heath and Michelle. 

 

And now... the main event see all the images chosen in the Best Shot party.

Sunday
Jul132014

What did you see this weekend? (Besides gun-toting apes)

Given that Handsome Joe Canada (aka Amir) is too busy with World Cup mania to grace us with his presence today, I Nathaniel am here for your weekly look at the profit margin side of things. But mostly to ask you the sturdy comment question:

What did you see this weekend?

We're always curious. Your answer should be... well, there's so many good things in theaters right now it just better not be Trans4rmers. Your answer should also soon include Masters of Sex which returns tonight, my choice for Best Drama Series last season (sadly Emmy-snubbed in that category). Should we talk that up every week? Raise your hand if you're watching.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE
01 DAWN OF PLANET OF APES $73 *NEW* Review
02 TRANSF4RMERS $16.5 (cum. $209)
03 TAMMY $12.9 (cum. $57.3) Review
04 22 JUMP STREET $6.7 (cum. $171.9) Podcast
05 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 $5.8 (cum. $152) best movie dragons
06 EARTH TO ECHO $5.5 (cum. $24.5) 
07 DELIVER US FROM EVIL $4.7 (cum. $25)
08 MALEFICENT $4.1 (cum. $221.9) Podcast
09 BEGIN AGAIN $2.9 (cum. $5.2) top ten thus far
10 JERSEY BOYS $2.5 (cum. $57.1) Review

You'll notice that Snowpiercer didn't make it despite its quality. This was probably at least somewhat informed by its decision to go VOD before the movie had run out of steam at the box office. There've been quite a few articles about this (like this one) and I can't help but read them with pesky asides. I don't trust anything anyone says. I understand that VOD gives you a wider audience. But I also think not being willing to support your movie in theaters rarely bodes well for long term health on VOD. So basically I am displeased with how they've treated this action film with a big star and special effects which has now groused $2.6 or roughly half a million less than a black and white indie about Polish nuns. Yes I'm going to keep mentioning Ida whenever I see fit. Deal with it!

Because there is always so much interesting stuff hiding in way too few theaters -- Boyhood and Land Ho! -- here is that chart

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE (UNDER 100 SCREENS)
01 BOYHOOD $.3 *NEW* 5 screens Review
02 IDA $.1 (cum. $3.1) 85 screens best of year's 1st half
03 A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (1964) 50th anniversary $.07 (cum. $.4) 56 screens
04 LAND HO! $.03 *NEW* 4 screens  Review
05 YVES ST. LAURENT $.03 (cum. $.1) 14 screens

Boyhood had a fantastic per screen average but IFC went a bit timid at only 5 locations. We'll see how wide they dare go with this one-of-a-kind feature, twelve years in the making, but I hope they make a big push. More on that one this week which I told you I loved at Sundance.

Sunday
Jul132014

Tweet of the Capsule of the Dawn of The Planet of the Apes

Of the. of the. of the. Help, stuck in a prepositional loop! I regret to inform that there is no full review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) -- you may have noticed unusually sparse off my game posting -- but I press on with this exhaustively multi-tasking post. It's a list. It's a tweet roundup. It's a review.

I can't go on. I'll go on."
-Samuel Beckett 

Were I to write a traditional review of the surprisingly strong sequel to the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) it would essentially be some sort of fussy expansion and tangent filled detours of these 10 points:

Click to read more ...