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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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"Best known as pudgy British aristocrat Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey' Pudgy? How very Dowager Countess of you.- par

""from Jimmy Stewart to Terminator" - HA! LOVE this! And boy I loved this movie, I hope all the Downton fans flock to the theaters to see it." - jose



Beauty vs. Beast


Lester thinks you should vote for him in AMERICAN BEAUTY poll

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Beauty Break: Tang Wei & Takeshi

Tang Wei! We're just so happy the Lust, Caution star is working again. Here she is in Cannes for her Wu Xia (2011) photoshoot.

Photographed by Andreaz Rentz for Getty

She also walked the red carpet and hit the parties with another of our favorite Asian actors, Takeshi Kaneshiro.

He's the man Hollywood SHOULD be calling if they really want to skew older for the live action version of Akira as all of the casting reports indicate that they do.

46 year-old Keanu Reeves recently turned down the lead role in the live-action version of the classic anime. We've already griped about the casting, but mostly due to the white washing. That they're ignoring the film being about teenagers doesn't bother us as much since it's so rare that Hollywood decides to go older instead of younger. Takeshi is half Japanese, a decade younger than Keanu, has movie star appeal, and looks superb in action sequences (see House of Flying Daggers among others) so why not him?


Team Experience: "Maleficent" and More

I'm always curious about your film experiences out there in the dark. That curiousity extends to the contributors here at TFE, not all of whom I know in real life given that they're spread across the globe. You know them, virtually speaking. Hopefully you love them. But I thought we'd ask them a couple of questions each week. Feel free to answer yourself in the comments and join the conversation.


JA: A tie between every single second of Emmanuel Lubeszki's photography for The Tree of Life (it's a gorgeous film that left me cold), and that probably photoshopped image of Jake Gyllenhaal doing the Grace Jones pose in his underpants. I see beautiful things!

Andreas: John Carpenter's The Thing -- after several viewings, it retains all of its original power.

Robert: Ramin Bahrani's short film Plastic Bag. I stumbled upon it while attempting to keep my Herzog high going after being enthralled by Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Bahrani's film follows and anthropomorphized plastic bag (shades of American Beauty are minimal) and finds itself spiraling into themes of life, death, and meaning and best of all, it's narrated by Werner Herzog himself... as the plastic bag of course!

Michael (Unsung Heroes). The best thing I saw this week was, without question, the montage of drunk cast members from the latest episode of Parks and Recreation. I want an episode length edit of all the improv that went into that scene.

Jose: Since theaters here are only playing four movies (Rio, Fast and Furious 5, Thor and Priest) I re-watched Gone With the Wind in HD. Mind blowing!  Sure gives any new movie a run for its money. It also felt much shorter than Thor.


Michael : the worst thing I saw, or rather didn't see, was screen time for Rene Russo in Thor. It's been forever since Russo had a high-profile gig and she gets 30 measly seconds of screen time? You can't tease me like that Thor.

Andreas: The first 10 minutes of I Know Who Killed Me. (Nonetheless, I may revisit it later; I'm a glutton for punishment.)

JA: The worst thing I saw was the original ending to Alexander Payne's Election. Truly, stupefyingly awful.


Robert: The marriage between Tim Burton and Disney makes me so sad. They're like two people who were really sexy back in high school, still trying to fit into their cheerleading and football uniforms, telling each other how great they still look, and wondering how that dorky kid Quentin got so popular (this metaphor has gotten away from me). But I still want to like them very much. So I guess what I'm saying is I wish they'd split and find new partners who could convince them to hit the gym... cinematically speaking.

JA: Never much loved Sleeping Beauty as a kid - I was all up in Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia - so I was never attached, beyond really liking the way the word "Maleficent" rolls off the tongue. Maaaalefahcint! I don't understand why people didn't take it up as a name for their children. Little Maleficent would rule pre-school with an iron fist.

JoseMaleficent would serve itself better from a director with an eye for actual Gothic, I say call Jane Campion or Catherine Breillat!




Cannes Check: A Fine Finnish

Robert (author of Distant Relatives) here with more info from Cannes. The Palme found another strong competitor with Aki Kaurismaki's La Havre. Probably the highest profile director from Finland (if you know him from anything it would probably be 2002's The Man Without a Past), Kaurismaki has been off the scene for five years. His return takes him to the French town of the films' title and a couple who attempt to help an illegal immigrant who's being pursued by a tough cop. The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth notes the rapturous applause that greeted the film and says it "now matches The Artist for the biggest, most rousing crowd-pleaser of the festival."

Meanwhile director Bertrand Bonello had perhaps the least desired spot in the fest. His film House of Tolerance about the comraderie in a brothel mixed in with heaping helpings of violence and sex opened the same day as The Tree of Life. But having little attention payed to it, may turn out to be a good deal for him. MUBI has a good rundown of the mixed critical response to the film.


Maureen O'Sullivan. She Jane!

10|25|50|75|100 in celebration of major film anniversaries

One hundred years ago on this very day, Maureen O'Sullivan was born in Ireland. She went on to become Hollywood's first major female Irish movie star. Though she appeared in The Thin Man (1934) and an early version of Pride and Prejudice (1940) she is best remembered as Jane from six Tarzan adventures. Tomorrow on "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" we'll be looking at Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). The Weismuller and O'Sullivan pairing is basically what people think of when they think of Tarzan at the movies though the character had plentiful interpretations before and since.

Here she is talking about how the controversies that swirled around "Jane" for her skimpy wardrobe.

O'Sullivan retired for most of the 1940s (her thirtysomething years) and in that time she gave us what might have been her greatest gift to the cinema, the incomparable Mia Farrow.

Before her death in 1998 she was even graced with a wonderful elegiac exit from the movies 25 years ago playing both Kathleen Turner's dearly departed grandmother in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and Mia's screen mother (art imitating life) in Woody Allen's masterpiece Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).

Maureen & Mia

So here's to Maureen O'Sullivan on her 100th birthday!


Still Top Gun? 25 Years With "Maverick"

Michael C here to commemorate an auspicious occasion. This week marks the 25th anniversary of Tony Scott’s Top Gun (1986). Having managed to navigate this last quarter century having never seen Scott’s slick recruiting poster of a movie, I though it might be interesting to evaluate it with fresh eyes. Up until now my only experience with Top Gun was as an enormously frustrating Nintendo game from the late 80’s.

So I was eager to finally catch up with it. This is a film, after all, that Avatar only just bumped off the all time 100 highest grossers (adjusted for inflation). Surely there was some core entertainment value that held up underneath all the dated Berlin songs and catch phrases.

So I watched it.


Okay, let’s start with the stuff that holds up.  The aerial dog-fighting scenes remain beautifully executed. If anything, with their clarity of action and still-convincing effects they may actually play better in the current age of cartoony CGI and hyperactive film cutting.

And for the record Tom Cruise performance remains as slickly effective as ever. I noticed no evidence that his current cultural infamy intrudes on Maverick. He basically has two poses – smug smirk and jaw-clenched intensity, each in sunglasses on and off varieties – and Cruise executes both about as well as humanly possible.  

Two Poses: Smug Smirk and Jaw-Clenched Intensity

As for the rest of the film, let’s just say it was tough to get involved in. 

Here is an incomplete list of the subsequent pop culture landmarks that intruded on my viewing of Top Gun:

Lethal Weapon (1987) and Die Hard (1988)
Top Gun
really suffers when compared with the legacy of its ultra-violent action contemporaries. All these films have been ripped off ad infinitum but Top Gun offers nothing like that the Gibson-Glover chemistry or Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber that holds up despite the familiarity.

Rain Man (1988)
Cruise’s personal life doesn’t detract from the movie but that doesn’t mean Cruise’s other roles don’t haunt Maverick at every moment. I could name any of a dozen talented, yet arrogant wild cards with Daddy issues, but I singled out Rain Man because Levinson’s film has the wherewithal to peg Cruise's character as an insufferable prick in need of redemption from frame one, whereas Top Gun seems to think he’s a charmer.

Speaking of which…

Frank TJ Mackey approves of Maverick's mastery of the muffin

Magnolia (1999)
I couldn’t shake the impression that Cruise's Pete Mitchell had just completed a Frank Mackey seminar. Seriously, he is one of the most unlikable protagonists I’ve encountered outside a Neil LaBute film. Kelly McGillis's character seems to drop 50 IQ points in the process of falling for him. I kept siding with Kilmer’s Iceman and his entirely reasonable requests that Cruise stop showboating before he kills everybody.

Quentin Tarantino
So, yeah, I was never able to forget QT’s notorious monlogue on Top Gun’s gay subtext and it pretty well destroyed the volleyball scene which was ridiculous to start with. If anything it built it up too much for me. Homoerotic, sure, but I was expecting a cross between 300 and a number from Showgirls.

Team America World Police (2004)
You would think Hot Shots would be the one to distract but Parker and Stone were the ones who conclusively eviscerated the action clichés present in every moment of Top Gun. Try to get through Tom’s serious speech about his father’s past without thinking of Team America’s CATS monologue.

And as long as we’re on the subject…

Every Action Movie Ever
From the end of act two crisis of confidence to the evil black-helmeted pilots who flew in from the nearest Bond movie they really do leave no action trope unturned. If you had a drinking game where you took a shot every time someone yelled at Maverick for being too damned awesome you'd be blotto by the thirty minute mark.


Miscellinkia: Beatty-ful Summer, Vampiric Tilda, Gamey Thrones, 

Ultra Culture
Cannes Abuse Checklist. An invaluable chart!
Boy Culture scores the first Val Lauren interview post Sal Mineo / James Franco casting.
Opening Shots: Woody Allen's Another Woman
wonders if winning the Palme D'Or equals box office revenue. Well... it might if any Palme D'Or were released immediately after their win. But by the time they're released summer prestige glory is usually a footnote. Take Uncle Boonmee. No, it was never going to be a "hit" but wouldn't it have played better if it had a normal curve of buzz, release, discussion? Instead of opening 10 months later?

Tilda, Ezra and Lynne Ramsay at the WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN premiere

Movie|Line wonders if a slow burn favorite might win the Palme D'Or instead of The Tree of Life. Cannes Jury predictions crack me up each year because everyone assumes its done deals (just like the Oscars)... but it's often far from predictable.
Towleroad GLAAD Awards. Kim Cattrall's acceptance speech is quite funny. 'I played a gay man on a popular tv show'
Slash Film Tilda Swinton and Michael Fassbender for a Jim Jarmusch vampire flick? Curious and possibly awesome. I guess this means that Countess movie with Tilda isn't happening though. I can't see her doing two vampire films in a row.
Film Doctor steals notes froms the Mrs for Bridesmaids

Gagging on Game of Thrones
I know that my initial impression of HBO's Game of Thrones was far less favorable than most critics and fantasy fans, but can I at least get an amen that the casting of both "fourth in line" Renly Barantheon and his lover The Knight of Flowers, who are often described in the book as intensely charismatic, is terribly off. The casting does not reflect either The Knight of Flowers legendary beauty or Renly's reputation as the most charming fellow in the Seven Kingdoms. They both come across as whiny slightly-bitchy wimps which is about a 180 from the books wherein The Knight is someone you'd NEVER want to meet on a battlefield he's so deadly physically and Renly is someone everyone wishes were king. I really am not pleased with this. And I did not to hear those campy sound effects for well, MOVING ON... But I'll admit that for all my reservations, the series is hooking me just like the first novel did. That first novel was so brilliantly plotted but I really must stop watching this before it goes off the plot horse never to remount in any subsequent books or, uh, seasons as the new case may be.

A Beatty-ful Summer
Tonight in New York City at 92 Street Y, elusive actress/writer/director Elaine May will be showing her cut of the infamous 80s flop Ishtar starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. May will discuss the movie afterwards which she rarely does. I'm totally going. Tickets are still available. And then in June, the man himself will be appearing at a Dick Tracy screening in Los Angeles to discuss the movie. Tickets for that are $30 but it's a rare opportunity to hear Beatty talk about his work and see that comic flick on the big screen. If I were in LA, I wouldn't dream of missing it. But then I have an unheathily attachment to Beatty and his Mrs.



Quickie Poll

What? Hollywood always goes so phallic in the summer.

Thor, Bridesmaids, Game of Thrones  Kristen Wiig


Curio: Bubblegum Card Oddities

Alexa here. Everyone knows that there is a whole universe devoted to sports trading cards, with stories of someone selling their Mickey Mantle card for thousands.  Of course a similar form of geekdom revolves around sci fi films, with Thor and Star Wars trading cards produced by the truckload.   But occasionally I run across some vintage film trading cards that I find a little unexpected.  Here are some I've enjoyed.

Yes, I bought this complete set of Saturday Night Fever trading cards about 15 years ago.  You'll be happy to know that I didn't spend all that much; apparently a card of Tony Manero in his black briefs isn't worth much in the open market.  The unopened packages still had gum!  My favorite part was being able to assemble the poster image from the back of the set.

Although it makes sense that they produced Alien trading cards in 1979 (in a feeble attempt to ride the Star Wars sci fi wave) I find it hilarious that this means there are trading cards out there of Veronica Cartwright and Harry Dean Stanton!

But wait there's more: Marlon Brando, Mia Farrow and...

Click to read more ...