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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. "Like it" on facebook!

 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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Friday
Feb172012

Yes, No, Maybe So: Damsels in Distress

Whit Stillman hasn't made a movie in 14 years. I remember loving his first, Metropolitan (1990), when it arrived. So did most critics. It's not so frequently discussed today but it was a big enough deal at the time to win him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. He had such a fresh sophisticated voice. So I was delighted to see that the star of his "comeback" (if such a thing occurs) is an actress with a fresh comic voice, Greta Gerwig.

And not so delighted to see the Woody Allen reference right up front. It's not that I don't adore Woody but, as his endless parade of proxy protagonists proved, one Woody is enough. Whit's voice is a unique one. I hate to see unique voices shoved into tiny comparative boxes and hopefully he hasn't lost it in the 14 years since his last feature The Last Days of Disco (1998)

Let's break down the trailer with our yes, no, maybe so system.

YES

  • Whit Stillman is back
  • Greta Gerwig was superbly authentic, touching and funny in Greenberg () but her off kilter whimsy got lost and was wasted on Arthur. Stillman might know what to do with her.
  • Aubrey Plaza is super super fun in short doses in everything from  Parks and Recreation to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
  • Movies about gaggles of girls navigating college life and love led by a know it all who might not know it all or at least not very much about? Sounds ripe for comic pathos.
  • Tap dancing! Better yet... More than one musical sequence.

NO

  • "Frank", Gerwig's man, seems a little empty as a character in this two minute glimpse. Will all the men be too caricatured?

We're also trying to make a difference in people's lives and one way to do that is stop them from killing themselves."

-You're worried I'll kill myself and make you look bad?
-No, I'm worried you'll kill yourself and make yourself look bad."

MAYBE SO

  • There are three suicide jokes in this trailer. It's obviously a plot thread or even a full on plot. And that's a lot for one film too handle. I've met so many crazy people who hate Heathers because it dared to laugh at something that's no laughing matter.
  • Aubrey Plaza is super fun in short doses but is she a major character and if so is she fun in large doses?
  • Gerwig's delivery and the overall tone seems very arch and that could be hard to pull off in a full length feature.

The Trailer

  • Are you a yes, no or maybe so?
  • Do you prefer the phrase "I'm depressed" or "I'm in a tailspin"?

I was going to ask you if you considered tap dancing highly effective therapy but... duh! That goes without saying.

Friday
Feb172012

Open Thread

I've been offline today. Apologies. What's on *your* cinematic mind. Help me jump back into movie madness with your comments.

Friday
Feb172012

Complete the JGL Sentences...

JGL announcing his directorial debut earlier this monthHappy Birthday to Joseph Gordon-Levitt who turns 31 today, which is a great age to turn. He's been busy busy busy as noted last week. So complete these JGL sentences.

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt is ___________ !
  • My favorite performance of his is _____________ because _______________ . 
  • I think he should work with  _____________________  because _____________ !
Friday
Feb172012

Bluebeard's Wives

Prepare to die!"

Thursday
Feb162012

Oscar's Best Animated Short Nominees. Predictions!

Amir here. Thanks to Shorts International and TIFF, I’ve had the privilege of watching the nominees for Oscar’s short categories before the ceremony for the first time. As enjoyable as it is to finally have a horse in these races and not leave that part of the telecast to refill my alcohol, I’m sad to say that I found this year’s nominees not just short, but also slight. Not that all the films are disappointing, mind you. There are some gems to be found but compared to last year’s batch, this was a letdown.  

Pixar's "La Luna"

Without further ado...we’ll take a look at the animated films today and I will be back with the live actions over the weekend. (TIFF inexplicably scrapped the documentary shorts from its schedule. If you’re filling your Oscar pools, however, the smart money seems to be on Saving Face. I’ve not yet heard a single bad word about that film.)

Dimanche/SundayDimanche is about a young boy whose dull Sunday routine of going to the church and spending the day with his grandparents is only improved by deforming coins on the train tracks! There’s a pro-environment message as the grizzly bear on the coin comes to life and interacts with the boy, but barring a few funny moments, the film is as lifeless as its premise suggests. The colourless and sketchy design of the animation doesn’t help the film’s cause either.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a marvel as far as the quality of animation goes. (The full length version of the film is available online and Nathaniel reviewed it last week.) I’m cooler on this one than he is. I find the story interesting and I like the idea behind its execution, but I feel like the gimmick is repeated a few too many times. I think Nathaniel’s bang-on about the redundancy of anthropomorphism in the books. At 15 minutes, this is the longest film in competition and it certainly feels that way to me.

Then there’s La Luna. If we need further proof that the Pixar guys can do no wrong with their short films, this is it. I fear that saying anything about the plot will ruin the fun of it for those in the dark. Suffice to say that this story of male bonding between three generations of a family is intimately personal and yet, its fantastical twist is so clever and sweet that everyone can connect with. As usual with Pixar, the quality and detail of the animation is breathtaking. (Read Michael’s Film Experience interview with director Enrico Casarosa here. La Luna will be released later in the year, attached to Brave.)

A Morning Stroll is by far the weakest of the nominees. It tells the story of a chicken that strolls along a street, walks up a set of stairs, pecks at a door and is let in by someone. This morning stroll happens once in 1959, once in 2009 and again in 2059 and each time, the chicken confronts someone new on the street. The allegorical representation of the collective demise of the human race through the eyes of a chicken is an amazing concept but I think the shoddy execution of the animation and unwelcome tonal shifts between the three episodes don’t give the humour any room to breathe.

"Wild Life"

Finally, Wild Life is a gorgeously painted Canadian pastoral about an Englishman who immigrates to an unpopulated Alberta at the turn of the century. One the surface, the film is about one man’s depression as he faces the typical hardships of immigration, particularly the freezing cold of Midwestern Canada. But I found it to be a rich study of personal alienation and a rare look into the lives of Canadian settlers who are far less explored that their counterparts south of the border. Of all the five films, this is the one that most benefits from the technique it chooses, the oil painting effect giving it a romanticist 19th century look that fits nicely into the narrative.

Oscar Predictions: Pixar's Day & Night couldn’t manage to take the prize last year despite being the most widely acclaimed of the nominees. I have a feeling a similar fate awaits La Luna. Flying Books’ charm will probably carry it to the podium.

Will Win: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Could Win:
La Luna
Should Win:
Wild Life