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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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Beauty vs. Beast


ALMA or HUD ? For you cynical hotties
 Beauty vs Beast 

Comment Fun

Supporting Actress: My Ballot & Yours

"Carrie Coon who in her screen debut steals Gone Girl from the much bigger names. Also can we just talk about how between Nora Durst and Margo Dunne that no one has as impressive a breakout in 2014 then Coon. " - Eion Daly

"Agata Kulesza blew my MIND in "Ida," so she easily gets my top ballot." - Lawson

"Keira Knightley. She just seemed like that rare person who can make you want to be better. So endearing, charming and she also has moments where she shows that she knows more about the world. A silent revolutionary." - MCV

YOURS? And what'cha think of mine?

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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

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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?)


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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


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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 


Oscar Horrors: "THEM!"

Oscar Horrors celebrates those rare Oscar nominated achievements in genre films. Here's Matt for today's creepy crawly entry...

HERE LIES... THEM!, flushed and crushed Under The Sea in the competition for the 1954 Oscar for Best Special Effects.

It isn't hard to imagine what this movie might look like if it were made today instead of at the pinnacle of the Hollywood nuclear horror era. The ants would probably look stunning. Every little hair would shine, glisten and twitch like the Orlacks in Beasts of the Southern Wild. A team of designers and artists would slave over every detail of their movement for months. They might even be scary. But, like so many of the great horror movies in history, the monster isn't what everyone's worried about.

Still, the special effects team on Them! earned an Oscar nomination for their exceptional craft, only losing to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The ants are the most obvious manifestation of special effects in the film. They were hand-built and operated by hidden crews. If you're lucky enough to have this movie on VHS, you can even catch a glimpse of an open-bodied ant just before the end. The ants are clunky, awkward, and often laughable, but that's not the point. Them! is one of the all-time great examples of a movie monster that frightens the audience through association. The movie is on par with The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and War of the Worlds as a cultural barometer. Even if the filmmakers weren't sitting around a table saying, "You know... this movie should be a metaphor for the national fear complex and nuclear danger," they were aware that the tenor of American society in the mid-50s produced enough material to frighten anyone. All you had to do was mention "nuclear" and hint at large-scale destruction.

But as far as the special effects go, Them! successfully uses many effects in addition to the ants. The movie has solid back-projection in many places, something we can never take for granted. The climactic battle is done with real cinematic panache. In fact, Gordon Douglas' direction is exactly what motivates the success of these effects. He moves quickly at points, but understands that it's scarier to watch the beast creep up on someone rather than play for pure shock value. The film was originally intended to be shot with several 3D sequences and in color.


A last-minute camera malfunction prevented them from doing this, but some scenes are still obviously meant to be done in three dimensions -- the most noticable being a flamethrower blowing straight into the camera.

Not only is Them! great, October-ready fun, it's a genuine, classic film -- one that spins a prevalent social fear into the structure of a Hollywood monster B-movie. 

previously on Oscar Horrors
American Werewolf in London -Best Makeup
Addams Family Values  -Best Art Direction
Season 1 Index