all reviews




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


Powered by Squarespace
Comment Fun

Dreamworks Animation Pt 2: The Fall

"I loved this article. It reads like vintage EW, back when they relished the behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the studios." -John T

"Dreamworks should not have oversaturated the animation market. Home is Dreamworks 31st animated film. Do you know what is Walt Disney Animation's 31st film? Aladdin. It took Disney over 5 decades to get there." -Chinoiserie

Part 1 here if you missed it



Keep TFE Strong

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience


For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

What'cha Looking For?

First & Last: Good Morning

The first and last images and lines from a motion picture.

first line

Good morning, Constable."

last line

No, no, thank you [Character Name]"

Can you guess the movie?


Oscar Horrors: Setting The Table for The Pale Man

Oscar Horrors continues with Michael on everyone's favorite Guillermo del Toro film

HERE LIES... Pan’s Labyrinth, winner of the 2006 Oscar for Best Art Direction.

I could go through Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth a scene at a time picking out all the brilliant little details that makes its imagery so indelible, but for this post, let’s limit our focus to the film’s most famous scene: The Pale Man. The monster that has a table full of delicious food but only feeds, to use del Toro’s words, “on the blood of the innocent.” There have been thousands of scenes where one form of monster or another stalks the story’s protagonist. It is one of the basic equations of the horror genre. So what do set decorator Pilar Revuelta and art director Eugenio Cabellero do with this one that shakes the viewer on such an elemental level? 

Of course it helps to start with one of the all time horrifying creatures in all of cinema. Del Toro instructed the team to imagine an old obese man who quickly lost a lot of weight, and when that proved insufficiently nightmare-inducing proceeded to erase the face of their designs.

But beyond the surface there are many elements to the scene most viewers will only register subconsciously. Like... 


Click to read more ...


Curio: Articulated Dolls by Pucherito

Alexa here. If you've taken a figure drawing class you're likely familiar with articulated wood mannequins (Manny to some).  I was lucky enough to spend most of my art school figure drawing classes with real human models, but occasionally as a cost-saving measure we'd have to draw from good 'ol Manny. After awhile I wanted to burn him. Maybe that's why I enjoy the use he's been put to by Pucherito, who has transformed Manny into some cultural idols with a little paint and inspiration. 


Here are some film favorites given the Pucherito treatment, with the resulting effect of elongating the likes of Woody, Sly and Liza into the same gangly proportions

Click to read more ...


12 Word Reviews: Pitch Perfect, Gayby, Frankenweenie...

The screenings are everywhere. It's harder and harder to keep up. Herewith some twelve word reviews of things I've seen recently in order to catch up. Naturally, I cheat (sort of) a couple of times. Twelve words is so few... just you try it!

Best friends from college, gay Matt and straight Jenn, decide to have a baby together... the old fashioned way. Hilarity ensues. Personal lives get confused.

12WR:  Plotty but very funny. Celebrates rather than regurgitates stereotypes. Awesome Showgirls joke! B+
Oscar? Not weighty enough even for Spirit Awards but warm and funny enough to age well on DVD shelves despite the "now" topic. It's best hope for awards is turning itself into a sitcom for the Emmys. I'd totally watch this crowd weekly (and it'd be way better than The New Normal which suffers from Ryan Murphy's now familiar Preachy Bull in Broadly Caricatured China Shop voice)

Pitch Perfect
College freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick) joins an acapella group The Bellas. They need to break free of their lame repertoire if they ever hope to win a competition. 
I loved this one while I was watching it and didn't love it in the morning so two reviews...
12 WR (Positive) Weak story, weaker filmmaking; FUN anyway. Key cast shines with great lines. B
12 WR (Negative) Lazily constructed on vastly superior Bring it On template. Funny quick fade. C
Oscar? It's 'Aca-Awkard' to even bring that up. No.

Young science-loving Victor resurrects his dead dog Sparky in a Frankenstein like experiment. Once the word gets out the townsfolk lose it.
12 WR: Inventive setpieces, surprises, awesome character design ("Whiskers!") justify expansion of classic short. B/B+
Oscar? It would surprise me if it wasn't nominated for Best Animated Feature and it could also feature into sound categories but the lukewarm response at the box office has me suddenly doubting its frontrunner status.

Our Children
Belgium's Oscar submission! A bicultural family slowly crumbles through dependency and depression.
12 WR: Fascinating thematic subtext undermined by miserabilist March-Toward-Doom structure. Suffocating close-ups. C+
Oscar? I doubt it as its very dour without much in the way of catharsis. But I've been wrong before about this always fascinating category.

Secret Life of Arrietty
Arrietty is a "borrower" a little person living inside a house. Will a new sickly human living in the house expose her and her family?
12 WR: Delicate, lovely, quiet... but too much so! Needs more pizazz. Limited characterizations  B-
Oscar? Ineligible for the Animated Feature race


NYFF: Lincoln's Unfinished Noisy Debut

Is DDL marching toward a third Oscar?I wasn't able to attend last night's "secret" -- we're stretching the definition--  Lincoln debut at the NYFF due to prior commitments but as I lined up for Sally Potter's Ginger and Rosa premiere at 9 it was clear that we would not be filing in anytime soon. Lincoln was running well over. It had supposedly begun at 6:15 and we were informed we wouldn't see our movie until 10:00 pm. For a few biophobic moments I wondered if Lincoln could really be 3 ½ hours long; much much longer than the Gettysburg address!  I can't confirm a running time but I imagine the stars bowing and blurbing "I loved working with ____" sucked up some of the 3 hours and 45 minutes that Lincoln filled the cavernous Alice Tully Hall.

As the Lincoln crowd exited, one woman who joined the Ginger & Rosa line was asked how it was.... After a long pause she unenthusiastically announced that the acting was great. And then...

It was obviously written by a playwright. A LOT of words."

Damn you, Tony Kushner. Hee!

The playwright behind Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia On National Themes, Only Those Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, and The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures has probably heard this particular complaint before but I imagine he feels a bit like Amadeus did when he heard "too many notes." (Remember that?)


Click to read more ...


Review: "The Paperboy" 

This article was previously published in my column at Towleroad

Now the very exciting correspondence is in the bottom box. In case you're interested."
-Charlotte Bless

I can't recall how THE PAPERBOY begins exactly though I saw it just a few days ago. Was it a shot of Zac Efron's body gliding through a pool, losing its hard fixed shape through the watery prism. Was it a grisly black and white flashback of a murder? Was it Macy Gray smoking, staring dully just off center of the camera. It doesn't matter though my confusion is telling. Lee Daniel's third movie is a mad undisciplined mix of just these things: eroticized bodies, physical violence and character beats. If the film never settles down, eventually you settle into it. 

Macy Gray helps. Her voice is so evocative she doesn't even need to be singing to send you. Director Lee Daniels, wise to the specific gifts of his actresses (the proof is all over Precious), knows this.

Macy Gray is your guide through this sensationalistic scuzzy story


Click to read more ...


NYFF: "Room 237" Cult of the Overlook Hotel

Michael C. here with a look at one of the under-the-radar festival hits appearing the NYFF.

One of the subjects of Rodney Ascher’s Room 237 is convinced that Kubrick’s The Shining is the director’s thinly veiled confession that he helped NASA fake the moon landing. He admits at one point to wondering if his idea stretched plausibility, but he adds that any doubt went out the window when he spotted the image of the Apollo 11 rocket on young Danny Torrence’s sweater in a pivotal scene. What other explanation could there possibly be for Kubrick the perfectionist including such a thing?

This is the refrain all the subjects of Ascher’s documentary return to as they unspool their elaborate theories about the supposed hidden meanings of the horror masterpiece: Stanley Kubrick was a master, a control freak, a genius. Nothing ever found its way into his films by accident. To hear them speak, every detail, no matter how incidental, was one more ingredient in the filmmaker’s complex web of symbolism. Theories range from The Shining as a commentary on the genocide of the Native American, to a reading of the story as an allegory for the Holocaust.

By opting not to show any talking heads Ascher grants all the speakers equal footing, combining their words into an aural labyrinth of competing evidence. Some of their analysis is compelling. An attempt to map the floor plan of the Overlook Hotel reveals how rooms appear to shift and disappear from scene to scene. Other digressions are straight up kooky, as with the moon landing theorist’s proposition that the capital letters on a key chain marked “ROOM No. 237” are a subliminal attempt on Kubrick’s part to plant the words MOON and ROOM in the mind’s of audiences. (The film is too kind to point out they can also be arranged to spell MORON)

What keeps Room 237 from merely being an overblown DVD bonus feature is the cleverness with which Ascher uses the minutiae of the theories to explore the way our minds hunger to find meaning wherever we look. Our brains our designed to find connections, Room 237 says, and The Shining with its bottomless subtext, inexplicable imagery, and seemingly deliberate continuity errors provide a playground where such impulses can run amok.

At the center of the doc’s hedge maze of theories is Kubrick himself, still mysterious, still elusive as ever. Room 237 works broadly as a meditation on the relationship between artist and audience, but more specifically as a demonstration on the continued hold Kubrick has over audiences. Room 237 is a smart, engaging, often funny film. Should Ascher ever decided to apply the technique to other films I would be interested to see the results, even if another attempt may not work as well without Kubrick on hand to toy with our minds. B 

More on The Shining

Lincoln's Noisy "Secret" Debut
The Bay An Eco Conscious Slither
The Paperboy & the Power of Nicole Kidman's Crotch  
Bwakaw is a Film Festival's Best Friend
Frances Ha, Dazzling Brooklyn Snapshot
Barbara Cold War Slow Burn
Our Children's Death March 
Hyde Park on Hudson Historical Fluff