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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Friday
Nov212014

Good Morning

Thursday
Nov202014

Thoughts I Had... While staring at THR's Actress Issue Cover

Yesterday morning, while running out to a screening and party for Al Pacino's awards run with The Humbling (more on that soon), what did I find on my doorstep but the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, just casually dropped there. "Close call," I thought, imagining greedy scruple-free actressexual neighbors I haven't met, stealing it before I even knew it was there.

I threw it back in the apartment and dashed off and now I return to it, staring at its cover.You know how this works, herewith my immediate thoughts uncensored as they come. 

Is it weird that I don't read the article (essentially clips from the roundtable) but just wait for the full video so I can hear it all?

I don't understand the set and art direction of this photo. Why is Reese behind a gold bar? Why isn't God herself reclined on that uncomfortably stiff chaise lounge chair while the other actresses fan and feed her? (Let the coronation begin!)

Is Amy Adams a silent partner in THR? Will she impale me with that crazy stiletto for spreading that rumor.

She's like Terminator Adams here. So severe! "Don't fuck with me fellas" Or rather "I'LL BE BACK" because you know she will next year (sigh)

This is her 4th roundtable in 5 years suggesting that someone at THR is either obsessed with her, has dirt on her, has zero imagination, or is weak-willed when it comes to standing up to Amy's formidable publicists/management.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov202014

Tim's Toons: Surprisingly, the new Peanuts teaser isn't a toxic affront to humanity

Tim here. Before I start, I want to briefly point you all in the direction of Cartoon Brew’s gallery of animated TV commercials featuring the comedy duo of Nicols & May, assembled in honor of Mike Nichols’ unexpected passing yesterday.

With that said, and not to shift moods too abruptly, but how about that teaser for the 2015 Peanuts movie that came out this week?

The film Experience is not in the habit of spending too much time with teasers, so no “Yes, No, Maybe So” treatment for this one yet (though if I were, the verdict would be Maybe So, written out like “maaaaaaaaybe so?”). But I wanted to talk about it a little bit anyway, because strictly in terms of animation it’s one of the most fascinating things to have been released by any of the big studios all year.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov202014

Lupita Nyong'o to Star in Mira Nair's 'Queen of Katwe'

Great news, Lupita fans! The selective Oscar-winning actress has signed on to a new project, the next film from acclaimed director Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala, Monsoon Wedding). 

Word around the project has been surprisingly quiet-- it's not yet listed on IMDb, nor has there seem to have been an official press announcement-- but Nyong'o and Nair announced the news themselves at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards on Nov. 11. The project is an adaptation of the sportswriter Tim Crothers' book The Queen of Katwe, which tells the real-life story of Phiona Mutesi, a chess prodigy from the slums of Kampala, Uganda. 

The project is set up at Disney, according to Nair, and it seems like a collaboration between these two women has been a long time coming-- Nyong'o was a student of Nair's, and their families have been long acquainted. (You can see footage of the announcement and an interview here.)

Lupita Nyong'o has had such a quick rise to acclaim and stardom, it's easy to believe she's got the bends. It's been hard, as a fan, to be patient during the long wait for new casting announcements, but her selectiveness looks like it may yield results. Between the Star Wars sequel she just wrapped and the adaptation of Americanah underway with Plan B Entertainment, to say nothing of her multi-year contract as the face of Lancôme, her future in the cultural landscape is looking more and more secure. Let's hope the projects keep on coming.

Which upcoming Lupita project are you most looking forward to? What do you hope she'll announce next?

Thursday
Nov202014

Interview: Patti Smith Doesn't Want Her Own Biopic!

What becomes a legend most? Not the biopics we see each year at the movies, Patti Smith suggests to me. We were meeting to talk about her first Original Song for a film, "Mercy Is" from this spring's $100 million hit Noah when the conversation veered into her own status as a showbiz legend, the godmother of punk. She shudders when I wonder aloud if anyone will make ever make a movie of her best-selling memoir "Just Kids" which recounts her storied relationship with fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Though she's undoubtedly been interviewed thousands of times by now in her forty years of stardom, and she questions (indirectly) the whole point of the star profile and the interviewing process  -- 'if you really want to know me, it's all there in the work' -- she is a patient and warm interview. She instantly recalls the old massive paraphenalia that journalists used to bring into the room to record with when she sees my tiny electronic device and she's eager to talk Noah, a project she felt immediately taken with when Darren Aronofsky first told her about his plans for it at the Venice Film Festival years ago. 

Patti Smith at a recent concert in Iceland

NATHANIEL: Movies aren’t something you've spent a lot of time with in your legendary career. Did you know Aronofsky’s work well before writing the song for Noah?

PATTI SMITH: Yes. I love the one with Rachel Weisz, The Fountain. And Pi. I saw Black Swan a couple of times and we talked about Black Swan as a metaphor for the artist process and things like that. But it was not so much Darren as the subject.

Nathaniel: But you’ve been asked about religion before in your career and you’ve called it ‘man-made dogma’ so why do a Biblical film?

PATTI SMITH: Well, I love the Bible. Just because I’ve extricated myself from religion doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the scriptures. I look at the Bible as itself. It’s a holy book, it has incredible literature in it and beautiful poetry - the Songs of Solomon and the Psalms. I studied the Bible seriously until I was young teenager. It was always part of our home education: talking about the Bible, arguing about the Bible, interpreting it. So I don’t connect prayer or scriptures with any particular religion so it’s not a contradiction in my life. [more...]

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Thursday
Nov202014

94 Days Til Oscar. Reese Strayed.

94! That's how many days it took Cheryl Strayed to hike the P.C.T. as dramatized beautifully in Wild (opening December 5th). So if you'd like to pretend that Reese is going to win her second Best Actress prize you can view the next 94 days as her red carpet hike stroll to the podium.

Dear Reese,

Loved you lots in this movie. My mind flashed back to your Election and Legally Blonde heyday, not from content -- duh! -- but from quality. Please make more movies this good. XOXO,

       ♥  Nathaniel 

Thursday
Nov202014

Mike Nichols (1931-2014)

Elaine May & Mike Nichols in the 50s"The Great Work begins..." that's a line from Angels in America but someone should've said it in the 1950s when one of the greatest figures in modern showbusiness began his career on Chicago stages as a university student. Mike Nichols, who died yesterday at 83, first gained fame as half of a celebrated comic duo "Nichols & May" with actress/director Elaine May but comedy sketches were only the beginning. He'd eventually conquer all realms of showbusiness winning a Grammy with May for a comedy album in 1961, the first of several Tony Awards for directing Barefoot in the Park on Broadway (1964), an Oscar for directing The Graduate (1967) which was only his second film, and in the last decade of his career, two Emmys for television triumphs with Wit and the aforementioned Angels.

Because I came of age in the 1980s, the Nichols collaboration that defined the director for me was with Meryl Streep who he directed four times for the camera. They were both Oscar winners before their first duet Silkwood (1983) which is, not coincidentally, my favorite Streep performance. Streep was worshipped and mythologized very early in her career but he brought her down to earth while still helping her ascend. Under his his guidance she was instantly more earthy and relatable, less the iconic mannered star than a goddamn amazing (and relaxed) genius of the craft. They made two more feature films together within a decade's span (Heartburn, Postcards from the Edge).

Gene Hackman as a director and Meryl Streep as an actress in Postcards from the Edge (1990)

In fact, whenever I watch Postcardsand marvel at that beautiful scene between director and actress that marks its emotional pivot point, it's easy to imagine Gene Hackman's patient benevolent director as the Nichols stand-in with Meryl representing for all actors struggling with inner demons, doubting their gift, or struggling with a particular performance. It's easy to imagine because Nichols was particularly great with actors directing several of them -- not just Streep -- to their all time best work.

As if aware that he directed three of Streep's least glamorous acting triumphs, his last gift to her was Angels in America (2003) in which they left the ground and transcended into the ghostly, the spiritual... the ecstatic.

Ectastic. That's a good work for his great work. Nichols left us with 22 films, three of which are largely undisputed masterpieces (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Angels in America), many of which are exemplary and perhaps still undervalued classics of their particular genres (Gilda Live, Silkwood, Postcards from the Edge) or just, you know, extremely popular entertainments (Working Girl, The Birdcage). Through it all, though this is not often true of mainstream-embraced prestigious entertainers, he rarely forgot the zeitgeist-capturing envelope-pushing us his handful of first films from Woolf through Carnal Knowledge and was still pushing movie stars into transcendence with newly revealing, riskier emotional terrain almost until the very end (Wit, Angels in America, Closer).

He will be missed but his work has more than earned its immortality.

 

Wednesday
Nov192014

A Year with Kate: Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry (1986)

Episode 47 of 52In which Katharine Hepburn stars in a geriatric version of The Way We Were.

Mrs. Delafield wants to die. The TV movie opens on an ambulance rushing the society widow to the hospital after an unnamed relapse. Obscured by a breathing apparatus and various medical paraphernalia, Mrs. Delafield lies comatose as her children begin to mourn and divvy up her estate. Her neighbor waxes elegiac on the imminent elegancy of her death. Then, a handsome doctor puts a hand on her shoulder and--miracle of miracles! Mrs. Delafield opens her eyes! And then, out of nowhere, it becomes a marriage comedy.

After last week’s morbid misfire of a movie, the opening of Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry feels a little like purposeful trolling. Grace Quigley extolled the virtues of death for the elderly with an ailing Hepburn at its center, but Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry celebrates the life they still have yet to live. Our Own Kate as Mrs. Delafield makes her actual entrance 15 minutes after the morbid opening, and what a difference two years makes! Kate is bubbling and happy and in full health. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t breathe a tiny sigh of relief. She’s okay! Sure, she can’t carry wood anymore, like she did in On Golden Pond, but that doesn’t matter. She’s too busy carrying the movie.

Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry is about life, or rather the difficulty of having a life when your children start to treat you like a child. Mrs. Delafield falls in love with Dr. Silas (Harold Gould), the doctor whose touch revived her in the prologue. Unfortunately, Dr. Silas is Jewish, and Mrs. Delafield is the kind of rich, blue-blooded WASP whose name ends up on symphony programs and university lecture halls. Her kids, in a shocking bit of anti-semitism for 1986, don’t want her marrying a Jew. His kids don’t want a goy stepmother. Both are called irresponsible when all they are is in love. What are a pair of star-crossed septuagenarians to do?

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