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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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Box Office: No Turkeys at the Box Office, Unless You Count Gonzo.

...but he's less a bird than bird-like. It was a genuinely happy Thanksgiving chez moi (so much fun and good food) and I hope it was for you, too. Did you hit the movie theater? Most of the newbies and the holdovers did solid business despite abundant competition.

Kings and Queens of the Thanksgiving box office

Box Office (U.S.) Baker's Dozen -Estimates

02 THE MUPPETS new $29.5 (cum $42)
03 HAPPY FEET TWO $13.4 (cum. $43.7)
05 HUGO new $11.3 [Scorsese & Team] (cum $15.3)
06 JACK AND JILL $10.3 (cum. $57.4) 
07 THE IMMORTALS $8.8 (cum. $68.6) 
08 PUSS IN BOOTS $7.4 (cum. $135.3)
09 TOWER HEIST $7.3 (cum. $65.3)
10 THE DESCENDANTS $7.2 [Michael's review] (cum. $10.7)
11 J EDGAR  $4.9 [Nathaniel's review] (cum $28.8)
12 MY WEEK WITH MARILYN new $1.7 [Nathaniel's review] (cum. $2.0)

Talking Points
The Artist (review) and A Dangerous Method (review) both opened in very limited release on the coasts to strong per theater response, each earning almost a quarter of a million in their first weekend. Both are undoubtedly hoping for year end kudos to boost interest as they expand. The Artist in particular will be an interesting case because  

Martha Marcy May Marlene (review) and The Skin I Live In, two of the year's most provocative films, acquitted themselves well but are sadly already fading after $2 ½ million.. so they didn't quite cross over in a larger way.

•  Arthur Christmas suffered the most from the glut of family film programming but it didn't have the name brand of Scorsese or The Muppets to push it through. Next weekend should tell us more about how it will fare word-of-mouth wise.


Interview: "Rampart"'s Ben Foster. He's Dying for a Musical Comedy

Ben Foster photographed at Sundance in January.Ben Foster doesn't like to talk about himself.  This becomes clear immediately after we've begun talking about Ben Foster, though he won't admit it until we're wrapping up.

"Press is very difficult for me," He explains fifteen into our conversation. Some actors do like talking about themselves, I remind him, amiably. "That must be nice for them," Foster quips back sarcastically. On the subject of Rampart and its leading man Woody Harrelson, though, he is much more effusive. "It's so easy to talk about him." the actor says with relief, combining his roles as co-star, friend and first time producer.

"I'm absolutely amazed by the work he did," he offers when the subject of Woody's acclaimed and Oscar buzzing performance as a corrupt cop pops up. "He dropped 30 lbs, he was living the cop lifestyle, he disappeared on set - it was disturbing quite often to see your friend coming unglued. We all know that it's for a movie but there are those moments where you get a bit concerned... that's just a tribute to what a brilliant actor Woody is." 

The two actors co-starred previously in Oren Moverman's The Messenger (2008) which netted both Moverman and Harrelson Oscar nominations. They've since formed a production company with more projects currently in development. 

Foster as "General Terry" informs for corrupt cop "David Brown" (Woody Harrelson) in Rampart

What's it like to wear a new hat suddenly as a producer? Foster likens it to "going into the boiler room" to understand the whole mechanism operates.  "I've been doing this for 18 years so to be let in on all the almost disasters that come up every single day was actually thrilling. Actors are so insulated and spoiled on set. It's amazing how much they're protected... and need to be to some degree."

Foster was on set nearly every day but for the week preparing for his small role in the film. He praises Moverman's sets for being collaborative, creative and safe for the actors. The Rampart screenplay was initially much broader, closer to co-writer James Ellroy's traditional pulp noir before Moverman's rewrites. And there's no rehearsal -- some actors don't even meet before the first take.

'No rehearsal?' I ask in disbelief considering the nuanced work Moverman pulls from actors in both Rampart and The Messenger. How else do you get a scene like my favorite in The Messenger, one long continuous shot were Foster and the newly widowed army wife played by Samantha Morton (Foster calls her "an exquisite actor and beautiful human being")  become emotionally intimate in her kitchen; Moverman used their first take.

"Well, rehearsal is a big word," Foster clarifies, explaining that they don't do much in the way of the traditional theatrical approach of hitting your marks hard. On Moverman's set there are handheld cameras and  actors are encouraged to drop lines if they feel they should or move around as they wish, even free to leave the room. All of this adds to an environment that demands that the actors really listen to each other while performing. The rehearsal, such as it is, is not the traditional kind. "Oren does extensive work with each actor building the characters, their past where they're going, who they are, what they do and then sitting them up with a specialist -- someone who has a job similar to that and who has lived a life similar to the character -- and then you [as an actor] do your homework. That's kind of the miracle of good casting that these people know how to listen and know how to play."

Woody & Ben at the Academy's Governor's Ball earlier this month.On the subject of casting, he sounds a bit like a producer already. So one has to wonder what he thinks of his own typecasting these days. If filmmakers are looking for a dark, twisted, maybe violent character, Foster's name always seems to crop up. Why is that? His succinct answer: 

I don't know. I don't know. I'm dying for a musical comedy right about now!"

Musical comedy is actually where it began for Foster, though that seems radically against type for the actor as we know him now. He was doing middle school musicals in Iowa when his father taped him just "just being a goof" Disney got a hold off the tape and the next thing he knew he was in California auditioning and moving to Toronto to star in a television series. "I didn't even know what a mark was." Foster recalls, confessing that he learned everything on the job.

Despite his urge to mix things up with something lighter, Foster admits that he "takes great pleasure in the intense and disturbed". Even his fall back term of endearment fits with his dark persona; the word "beast" keeps peppering his conversation. He uses it to describe talented actors and director's he'd like to work with: David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Gaspar Noe... "Lars von Trier for sure. There's some real beasts out there." He'd just seen Melancholia before our conversation. Did he always know that his Get Over It (2001) co-star Kirsten Dunst had this kind of work in her?

Ben Foster and Kirsten Dunst in "Get Over It" (2001)

"Oh she is a beast of an actor, always has been." he says, suddenly animated, always happier to praise other actors and avoid the Ben Foster topic. "It's just about the stars aligning for her to really show what she's got. There's so much more to come with her. I'm absolutely a silly fan of Kirsten's."

Before our conversation wraps up he describes Melancholia as a knockout. "Few films have made me happier than Melancholia" he adds with endearing absurd sincerity. It's a beast of a movie, we heartily agree, but apocalypse-induced euphoria might not be the best thing to admit while searching for a good musical comedy.

Related Posts
Interview Kirsten Dunst | TIFF Rampart Review | Rampart After Party | Best Actor Oscar Race | Take Three: Ben Foster


Pepe for President!

Craig here with a small post for one of the smallest Muppets: the most appetising member of the crew, Pepe the KING Prawn. (Don’t call him a shrimp.)

Pepe (short for Pepino Rodrigo Serrano Gonzales) is one of the next, or later, generation Muppets. Obviously he doesn’t carry the cultural cache of Kermit and co., yet, but he’s eked out a place of singular significance for himself with fans of entertainment and seafood alike. He’s not called a Crustacean Casanova for nothing. He stands out from the crowd of other ‘Muppens’ and is living, swimming proof that four arms are better than two. His story is a true classic decapods to riches tale.

His behind-the-scenes work on film and TV makes him the most hard-working, the most alive-to-the-possibilities-of-the-business, Muppet there is. He’s a prolific profiler and an interviewer extraordinaire, one to test the resolve of any leading chat show host either side of the Atlantic (a place he’s quite familiar with). He’s an all-round auteur in my book. As an accomplished actor he’s a safe bet for a future Oscar win (For Your Consideration Best Supporting Actor 2012: Pepe as Pepe in The Muppets), but as an entrepreneurial entity he’s matchless. He interviewed Jodie Foster for Flightplan (which was miles better than actually watching Flightplan), shook his “bon bons” at Ricky Martin and has extensively worked the behind the scenes on The Muppets’ movies, producing riveting on-set insights next to none. Tireless, he is; talentless, he’s most certainly not. All that and he’s fathered 1,500 children. He’s busy and he’s happy, okay?

In a piece of radical casting perfection, Pepe was the first non-dog to star as Toto in The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. This was my introduction to him. He gave the film’s best performance – he certainly out-acted Queen Latifah and Quentin Tarantino in the film – stealing the thunder right from under Kermit’s, Fozzie’s, the wizard’s and even Miss Piggy’s noses. Any sea creature who has the tenacity to confidently say, "Si, I'm so gosh darn sexy, it hurts," is worth a million. He’s quick-fire, he’s crazy, he’s capable of anything. I can’t wait to see him in The Muppets, okay? After that, it's certainly Pepe for President!


"Fifty Goodies"


Alice Doesn't Link Here Anymore

The Hairpin "Our Bella Ourselves" is one of the best pieces I've read on The Twilight Saga and the communal anger over its terrible central role model.
Paper Mag cute piece on future Oscar nominee Jean Dujardin, describing his character George Valentin in The Artist.
Nick's Flick Picks has revived his top 100 project
Inquirer Christian Bale praises Tom Hardy & Anne Hathaway on their work in The Dark Knight Rises
Towleroad George Michael hospitalized for pneumonia and not doing well. 
Sunset Gun "I Am One of Your Fans" on actresses playing other actresses
Little White Lies interviews Eddie Redmayne of My Week With Marilyn. I love it when actors actually talk about the career management portion of their job:

Informally you’re part of a group of up-and-coming British actors making waves in the States right now. Is there a sense within that group of having made it?

Yeah. Well… Working and spending time in the States, it’s interesting to see the group of actors and actresses from my generation, who all started around the same time, getting so much respect. It’s wonderful, and at some point I’d love to work with some of my mates in that capacity, because it’s exciting, having started off as jokers trying to get a gig, thinking that our paths could meet.

Who are we talking about, exactly?

Dom Cooper, Andrew Garfield, Ben Whishaw, Charlie Cox… We’re not best mates, I’d say more close peers.

And what a fine group they are, right?

It's a Marty Marty Marty Marty World
THR Hugo looks to be overperforming a bit at the box office in a nice surprise.
Awards Daily Samples from the Hugo soundtrack. Do you think Howard Shore will see another nomination? 

Finally, Sons of Norway reports that Martin Scorsese may take on the adaptation of the novel The Snowman soon. But a word of caution before you race out to buy the book in the hopes of getting a jump on a future Scorsese. This is one busy busy busy 69 year old man. The IMDb, while not 100% reliable on such things as future projects, lists over a dozen projects on his current docket and since he's not as fast as Eastwood and Allen, he'll be in this 80s before we've seen them all. I respect the author Jo Nesbø's approach to a film adaptation; he wouldn't sell without director approval. Scorsese was at the top of his dream list of five. 


Golden Horse Awards: Two Oscar Submissions Win Big

I'm so itching for a big American awards show to hit us. Soon, soon. But until then, let's look to Taipei where The Golden Horse Awards were just handed out.

As expected the hit Taiwanese film Warriors of The Rainbow: Seediq Bale took home Best Picture. There's the jubilant cast doing an aboroginal dance on the red carpet. Fun!

Andy Lau and Deanie YipThe big winners of the night are both Oscar submissions this year in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Taiwan's Seediq Bale which is a action drama about aboroginal tribes battling occupying Japanese forces won the top prize and four other statues including "Audience Choice". Hong Kong's caretaking drama A Simple Life must have been close to a surprise sweep since it managed three of the top four statues: Director, Actor and Actress.

Superstar Andy Lau won Best Actor for the second time. He'd previously won for an Infernal Affairs sequel (the original Infernal Affairs was remade into the Oscar winning The Departed where Matt Damon took on Lau's role). Lau then presented Best Actress a category wherein he'd worked with 3 of the 4 nominees. You can see Shu Qi, he calls her "the most huggable woman ever", grinning throughout the presentation. Best Actress went to Lau's costar and actual godmother Deanie Yip. She also won the Volpi Cup at Venice this year for this role as a grown man's lifelong help who he must then care for when she has a stroke.

Video, complete list of winners, and fashion after the jump.

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Q&A: Small Screens & Sex Workers

Since there were so many television centric questions in last week's "Ask Nathaniel" insert, I figured we'd have to give them their own Q&A post. We'll get to the movie questions on Tuesday. But for now let's handle all these questions involving smaller screens than we usually go for.

BENSUNCE: Like George Clooney, which current television actors would you see having a successful career on the big screen?

Expecting anyone to have Clooney-sized silver screen success after switching from the small screen is, well, a recipe for disappointment if not disaster. He's a 1%er. Most of the people I enjoy on TV now already had their movie shot and have gone small screen for better / bigger roles than they were getting at the movies. But the current small screen actors I think absolutely deserve and would ace major big screen opportunities are Christina Hendricks and Jon Hamm (Mad Men). On a riskier pipe dream note I hope Harry Shum Jr (Glee) gets at least one romantic comedy opportunity both because he's adorable and because Hollywood really needs to end their strange delusion that Asian men can't be romantic leads... or leads at all. 

SEAN D: If you were in charge of the Emmy awards how many nominations/wins would Buffy the Vampire Slayer have received?

I knew talking about Buffy earlier this month would get send us all spinning back in time to Sunnydale. It's always difficult to answer questions like this because so much of what should have been nominated and won in any given year in any given artform is contingent upon the competition that year. But I will say that I think Buffy's second, third and sixth seasons had no business whatsoever not being nominated for Best Drama Series and I think they should have won the Best Series Emmy at least once for Season 3. I'd probably have nominated the show itself for seasons 2 through 6 consecutively though I get why people have issues with seasons 4 through 6. But the standard lines of complaining about those seasons are wrongheaded ("it should have stayed in High School") and short sighted ("it got too depressing!"). In the first short season Buffy The Vampire Slayer was merely finding its footing and establishing its identity and the last season was a badly paced mess with a couple of wonderful moments but the rest is gold. As for writing Emmys, it's inexcusable that "The Body" and "Once More With Feeling" didn't have writing and directing nominations and in both cases you could make strong arguments for actual winged statues, too.

Shouldn't "Doppelgangland" have secured Alyson Hannigan an Emmy nod?For acting the show deserved the following nominations at least (Season #)

Actress, Drama
Sarah Michelle Gellar (2, 4, 6)
Supporting Actor, Drama
James Marsters (2), Anthony Stewart Head (6) 
Supporting Actress, Drama  
Allyson Hannigan (3,4), Emma Caulfield (5, 6)
Guest Actress, Drama 
Juliet Landau (2), Eliza Dushku (3)  
Guest Actor, Drama
Harry Groener (3) 

TOM M: Which recent film would make the leap to television and prove a MASH-ing success? And which television series has the bones to make a great film?

Crazy difficult question. The mediums are so different despite all the crossover these days. I don't know about M*A*S*H* level success ratios for anything but I would love love love or should I say I would ♥ a series based on I ♥ Huckabees that focused on the existential detectives Vivian (Lily Tomlin) and Bernard (Dustin Hoffman). I would fill my DVR with that nonsense and delete every other show taking up too much room. I could see a series based on Inception working fairly well and I think Scott Pilgrim vs. The World should have been a TV series to begin with.

Nathaniel's dream television series


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