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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into weak adaptations of great books

Hi all, Tim here. Like a lot of you, I’ve been waiting on Baz Luhrmann’s brand-new, all-3D, all-CGI version of The Great Gatsby with a kind of curious dread, on the assumption that the no-doubt overwhelming style and glitz would leave F. Scott Fitzgerald’s excavation of the limits of American ingenuity and self-invention a little bit lost amidst all the eye candy. And this seems to have been exactly the case, sadly.

But let us not come down too hard on Baz. There’s also the possibility that Gatsby simply isn’t a novel that’s meant to be filmed, and as evidence I’d like to call upon the last feature film adaptation, and certainly the best known prior to now. Of course, I mean the 1974 Paramount production starring Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby, Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan, and Sam Waterston as Nick Carroway, and a general sense of lifeless ennui as the stimulus-crazed Roaring ‘20s. Other than a fixation on production design and costumes (it won the Oscar for the latter), there’s not much that the ’74 film has in common with Luhrmann’s screamingly excessive vision; if anything a bit more of a willingness to push against the book, rather than to so dutifully illustrate it in the driest way possible, might have benefited it. Movies are not books, after all, and this version of Gatsby badly loses sight of that truth.

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Gravity. Such a Tease. 

I don't have time for a Yes No Maybe So this morning for the Gravity teaser but I'm all YES anyway. And we can wait for a full trailer (though really why can't they leave it at this perfect tease?) for that. The 2013 Oscar prediction charts will be finished over the next few days (finally ~ thanks for your impatience!) but as you can tell from the Best Picture chart, I'm going all in for this one.

And I was doing so long before this tease caught my breath so strongly I nearly lost oxygen. How strongly does this teaser grab you? Do you think Alfonso Cuarón will top his two arguable masterpieces: Children of Men and Y Tu Mama Tambien? What would you give to see it right now?


I Link You and Link You and Link You

You Should Be in Sweden attends the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA. It ends in June so go see it!
JazzT here's another enticing image from the exhibit. Oh Nicole. Any mask you'd like me to wear is fine
Pitchfork Another new David Bowie video starring an Oscar winning actress. Marion Cotillard instead of Tilda this time 
Mother Jones a 17 year old coder invents a program to block spoilers on Twitter
NY Post Producer Scott Rudin lashes back at NYT critic. These stories always embarrass me for the showbiz people - (remember when James Cameron wanted someone fired for the thumbs down on Titanic?). Being criticized is just part of show business. You always look silly when you freak out about it. It's an honor to be so well employed / watched that you are even susceptible to bad reviews, don'cha think? 

Empire Dominic Cooper joins the cast of the new Dracula starring MNPP's favorite punching bag lust object Noted Homosexual Luke Evans. I'd be excited for this since I like looking at both of them but I'm so worn out on vampires. Which I never thought I'd say but here we are post the Aughts when vampires are more ubiquitous than they've ever been as if they're still trying to wrestle back the Ubiquity Crown from the hordes of brain-dead zombies who don't even know that they won some pop culture battle.
Electric has an infographic comparing The Great Gatsby to the wealth of the stars of the movie
Pajiba on Netflix's current strengths and weaknesses as it attempts to become both a distribution platform and a content creator 
Observations on Film Art Kristin wonders whether or not studios understand the power of fanbases and direct access to filmmakers they can get via Twitter and set visits and the like
In Contention Ben Affleck's follow up to Argo doesn't betray any steroided auteurly confidence. It's just another Denis Lehane adaptation of the novel "Live By Night". It's almost like something he woulda signed on for before Argo.
MNPP Today's mood via Barbara Stanwyck and Clark Gable 

Oh and Also... James McAvoy on the set of X-Men Days of Future Past via Bryan Singer's active picture-snapping Twitter account. He tweeted this one with a Pacino-style "Serpico!" descriptor. When last we left the X-Men they were in the swinging sixties and Professor X had just been paralyzed and hate yet to go bald. Here we are in the seventies I suppose though it's probably not worth getting hung up on time periods since Days of Future Past (one of the great X-men arcs) is all about messing with them.



And if you still can't get enough of our "Greatest Best Actress Losers" poll, check it out: Tim, Michael and Glenn shared their individual ballots on their fine blogs Antagony & Ecstasy, Serious Film and Stale Popcorn.


Burning Questions: Great Soundtracks, Lousy Movies

Will people like this soundtrack more than the films it's for?Hey everybody. Michael C. here. Most of the time I try to find a topical question to address in this column, or failing that a universal question that is always pressing to some degree or another. But sometimes there is that third category of utterly random questions that bubble to the surface and refuse to stop nagging me until I’ve shared them with the world. Where the minds of most people produce useful thoughts like “Let’s go walk in the sunshine” or “It’s never too early to plan for retirement!” my mind cranks out gems like “It’s crucial that we know which film to soundtrack ratio has the biggest disparity. Quickly! Stop what you’re doing and make up a list of candidate films!”

I suspect many faithful readers can relate.

So let’s call this week’s episode more of a simmering question than a burning one, because that’s the query I want answered. Some films are best remembered only for introducing a star (The Silver Chalice) or for a single line of dialogue (Beyond the Forest). What movies would drift off into obscurity, if not for their killer playlists? What is the biggest difference in quality between a crappy film and an awesome soundtrack? 

Doing a preliminary scan I realized finding a definitive answer was going to be trickier than I thought...

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Red Carpet Convo: My So-Called "Punk"

In Red Carpet Convos, we discuss what the actresses are wearing. Which is really an elaborate excuse (not that we need another) to talk actresses. Today's returning guest is Courtney Enlow Hall from Pajiba.

NATHANIEL: Hi Courtney! Welcome back to Red Carpet Convos. This time I will try not to ask you to draw any pigs dressed as Janell Monae.

COURTNEY: Well as you know I'm exceptionally good at that, so I'm sad about this.

NATHANIEL: This week the celebs came out for the annual MET GALA and the theme was "Punk". Because The Met is SO counter-culture, you know.

COURTNEY: The Met is punk as fuck, Ryan Adams-style.

Ginny, Diaz, JLo, Kerry, and Angela Chase

NATHANIEL: Actually maybe it is rebellious to go to a museum instead of sitting at home watching reality tv. I rescind my comment. The interesting thing to me about the looks we're about to see is it seems like only some actresses have any working knowledge of what "punk" is. Let's start with Ginnifer Goodwin. I think she gets it.

Or at least her eye makeup does...

"my so-called punk", weeping ex-boyfriends, and eyeliner mantras after the jump

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Summertime"

For this week's episode of Best Shot, the collective series in which bloggers are invited to choose their favorite image from a pre-selected movie, we went to Italy for David Lean's Summertime (1955) starring Katharine Hepburn. The film won both of them Oscar nominations, for Direction and Acting respectively, and since I'd never seen it it fills in two Oscar gaps in my 1950s cinema.

It's a relatively modest picture all told, concerned not with big sweeping travelogue beauty (though the travelogue beauty is accounted for) but with an internal flowering. Spinster Katharine Hepburn goes to Italy, goes a little wild (well, wild for an American spinster from Akron Ohio), and then -- spoiler alert -- leaves Italy again. It's all very E.M. Forster really! (See A Room With a View and Where Angels Fear to Tread).

She was coming to Europe to find something. It was way back in the back of her mind was something she was looking for, a wonderful mystical magical miracle. I guess to find what she'd been missing all her life."

My runner up shot comes early in the picture and I include it because I love the way it dialogues with my favorite image at the movie's end. Jane Hudson has just arrived at her summer home, and she has a conversation with her landlady about a girl she met on the way to Italy. She describes in detail the reasons the girl is travelling abroad. Jane is too guileless to be talking about herself in the third person but she is, in essence, talking about herself, whether or not she knows it. She's also prophesying her own journey including an amusing a "let loose a bit" comment that Katharine waves off with prudish modesty.

I find the light in this sequence quite astute. The women are not in silhouette exactly -- the scene is about Jane, after all, rather than Italy -- but Italy is bright and beckoning anyway. She's not really looking at Italy... not yet at least... wrapped up as she is in connecting with other people (she hopes to make friends) and her own internal possibilities. 

I often find Hepburn a little too fussy as an actress -- particularly in her later work -- but I think she's marvelous in key scenes here really capturing Jane's internal battle between her desire to connect and her own internal nature. Even in the scenes which are very much about her attraction to Renalto (Rosanno Brazzi) she's often just looking off into space and, one assumes, her own thoughts. Jane's just not very good at connecting for as much as she'd like to. She has too many fussy walls up.

I think that's why I found the final scene so moving, despite not particularly caring for the movie. My choice for best shot comes with the film's ending. Jane has opted to leave Italy and Romantic Love behind. She likens it to leaving a party before she's worn out her welcome. It's common sense really given the circumstances of the affair but you hurt for her for giving up the thing she's always wanted and you have to wonder if it isn't partially fear and retreat to a safer lonelier home. Whether or not Jane will be more open to love after the movie is up for debate. Yet in that sudden alarming lurch outward to wave goodbye one last time to Renato (but really, to Italy and Love) I think Hepburn's gestural performance provides a marvelous clue. If returning to Ohio is, in fact, a comfort zone retreat why does her body move with such spirited abandon? 

Next Week
We're staying in Italy for The Talented Mr Ripley (1999). You know you want to sound off on that one. So join us, will ya?

14 More People Summering in Italy with Hepburn
Amiresque is overwhelmed by architecture
Encore's World on the quintessential 'spinster' performance from Hepburn 
Antagony & Ecstasy wants to talk about Aspect Ratios... and perceptions of "low points"
The Film's The Thing a Cinderella of a certain age 
Cinema Enthusiast goes to a real ball with gardenias
We Recycle Movies on David Lean's undeniable obsession with trains 
Pussy Goes Grrr this is how you stage a breakup 
Cinesnatch really goes all out with shot commentary, contrasts and travelogue beauty 
Film Actually has coffee -- or doesn't rather -- with Hepburn 
She Blogged By Night picks the first shot I think we've ever seen in this series devoted to an extra. It's beautiful! 
Los Mejores Planos gives out gold, silver and bronze medals for his favorite shots 
Cal Roth sees Jane's secret sensuality
Dancin' Dan on the scene that makes the movie 
My New Plaid Pants memories of Italy come flooding back 


Team Experience: Great Losers, Actress Edition (Pt. 2)

As long time readers know The Film Experience started out as a one-man show. That man being myself, Nathaniel R. (Remember in Ye Olden Times when posting two goodies a week made you a prolific must-read web star? I still remember David Poland's Hot Button which did just that!) Over the years the royal "We" has stopped being royal and become literal... both from necessity of content-need and desire of companionship - writing can be lonely! I still do the bulk of the posting but now there are a handful of regular columnists and a dozen more occasional voices. Seeking out perspectives other than one's own keeps you fresh and alert. 

So I love these Team perspectives (and I love Amir for dreaming them up / hosting them!) even when they cause me pain. Of course, I get to vote too but, being a Benevolent Dictator, my vote only counts once. DAMNIT. Which is to say that though I loved reading the "Team Top Ten: Oscar's Greatest Losers Best Actress Edition" I was more than a little freaked out not to see a picture of unravelling Deanie in her bathtub staring back at me needily.

the best performance of 1961: Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass

Where is Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass?!?" 

I bellowed internally.

Then I imagine this reaction was shared by many of you 'out there in the dark' albeit with a rotating snubbed actress /film causing the indignation. As it turns out Natalie Wood did make lists other than my own but not enough to secure her a top ten placement. Natalie and other divas who missed the list are after the jump...

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