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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, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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Best Actress -- Who will be nominated?
Davis? Blunt? Adams? Chastain?

"I'm glad everyone is cheering Fences on, but I feel that people are overestimating its Oscar potential. The furor reminds me of when people were going ga-ga for August: Osage County. " - Jes

"Davis  in Fences. I saw it on Broadway ... it is a true blue supporting role." - Charlie G

"I really hope it's Amy Adams year, only because some of her stans are so insufferable and will never shut up if she loses again. " - Laura

 

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Monday
Dec302013

Stop Trying To Make Link Happen

Clothes on Film gets writers to name their favorite costumes of the year from Stoker through The Grandmaster and on to Spring Breakers
IndieWire thinks Oscar's Cinematography category should be split into two now (computer environments/traditional) as it once was (black and white / color). Co-sign. But then you knew that since I wrote about the problem with this category earlier this year in preparation for Gravity's Oscar win, which will be the 4th heavily computerized film in 5 years to win both vfx and cinematography statues
Buzzfeed Mean Girls and 34 other movies that are turning 10 in 2014. Yes, The Film Experience will be revisiting some of these. Any preferences?

Vulture homage vs theft as it relates to American Hustle from Scorsese... and, well, Scorsese from Scorsese. I think comparisons between Russell and Scorsese's movies are largely missing the point -- an accident of release date and sudden divisive critical fervor -- but this is a good read
IndieWire gets really effusive about Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Isaac calling him the next Paul Newman 
Pajiba the 10 best performances from inanimate objects in 2013 from Christian Bale's hairpiece in American Hustle through Man of Steel's tragic victims
Deadline on the use of silence in Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and All is Lost. Brad from Rope of Silicon and I got into this argument with the Hitfix boys yesterday about Gravity. 'What silence? That score is terrified of letting you deal with silence!'

Today's Wolf of Wall Street arguments
Another 24 hours, another cycle of aggressive shaming of those who don't love it.
In Contention interviews The Wolf of Wall Street's Leonardo DiCaprio who does my least favorite thing that actors can do: diss critics who don't like their movie for not getting it. Usually it's better for filmmakers to shut up when they're unhappy with critics. Remember how embarrassing it was when James Cameron got all touchy about negative Titanic reviews?  Joe Reid at The Wire responds with a terrific piece about the disingenuous posturing going on from critics who like to have their cake and eat it, too. 

I haven't been online much today but I'm assuming the response to Leo's statement is drawing big cheers from critics in the Wolf of Wall Street camp.  Careful, people. Just remember how much fun you made of Armie Hammer when he blamed you for The Lone Ranger's failure. 

 

Finally...
Some of you may have seen this a couple of weeks ago but Michael Cusumano, who writes here on occasion, knew he would have to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with family over the holidays so he caved on his decision not to watch the new Middle Earth trilogy. He liveblogged The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) to catch up (part one and part two) and it is awesome. I made the same initial vow and I've stuck to it but I did happen to recently very casually nibble on parts of last year's 3 hour fantasy slop on HBO the other night so that made this timeline even funnier... I agreed with every word regarding the scenes I tasted (but did not swallow).

Monday
Dec302013

Curio: Pre-Mades 

Alexa here. As we spend this week looking ahead -- to fulfilling resolutions, to the Golden Globes, to the Oscars -- I thought it might be nice to look through another wormhole of sorts, to these parallel film universes created by artist Peter Stults.  Peter has taken films we know by heart and imagined if they had been made at another time.  [more...]

 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec302013

Podcast: A Disney Double, "Frozen" and "Saving Mr Banks"

On a quiet Sunday Nathaniel & Katey get together for a Disney Double that we are surprised to realize we hadn't yet discussed as a group.

Is Saving Mr Banks a 'corporation knows best' propaganda nightmare or a rich investigation of artistic compromise or somewhere inbetween? Does the existence of Mary Poppins, automatically make Disney (Tom Hanks) the hero and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) the villain? We're more enthusiastic about Frozen. We see its gears and its formula and we don't necessarily love the song score but it transcends. Katey loves the message it's sending little girls.

Asides, as we do, to: Titanic, Tangled, The Hobbit, Blue Jasmine, and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County

You can listen to the podcast right here or download it on iTunes and let us know what you think of this Disney holiday double in the comments. 

Disney Double

Sunday
Dec292013

Box Office: The Secret Grudge of 47 Wolves

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report.

For those of us who write/read/talk/think about films year around, it’s hard to remember that the general public still goes to the theatre in late December for films that have no awards potential whatsoever. I had no idea that Keanu Reeves has a film called 47 Ronin opening, in which the well-known Japanese legend is butchered so that the Lebanese-born Canadian star of Portuguese, Irish and Hawaiian ancestry can play a half-Japanese, half-British person that never existed in the real life legend. Let’s all revel in a bit of Schadenfreude that this film failed to recoup even 1/10th of its budget. And while we’re at it, let’s do the same for Grudge Match, otherwise Sylvester Stallone will never learn that boxing films starring himself are of no interest to anyone anymore, except maybe Robert DeNiro and his wallet. This one will probably peter out somewhere slightly above half its budget, too.

TOP OF THE BOX OFFICE
01 The Hobbit 2 $29.8 (cum. $190.3)
02 Frozen $28.8 (cum. $248.3) Review | Jonathan Groff
03 Anchorman 2 $20.1 (cum. $83.6) 
04 American Hustle $19.5 (cum. $60) Ensemble | Podcast
05 NEW Wolf of Wall Street $27 (cum. $34.3) Review | Scorsese's Women
06 Saving Mr Banks $14 (cum. $37.8) Drinks w/ Emma & Colin
07 NEW  Secret Life of Walter Mitty $13 (cum. $25.5) Capsule
08 Hunger Games Pt 2 $10.2 (cum. $391.1) Review | Podcast
09 NEW 47 Ronin $9.8 *new* (cum. $20.5)
10 Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas $7.4 (cum. $43.7)   
11 NEW  Grudge Match  $7.3 (cum. $13.4) 

Weirdly enough, it’s not Grudge Match that’s bringing memories of the glorious Raging Bull to life, but The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese’s latest film and his most controversial since The Last Temptation of Christ. Depending on whom you ask, this is either an absolute masterpiece or a bloated mess, but Paramount couldn’t care less. They’ve sold about $34m over the 5 day opening, which is better than most people expected for a nearly-NC17 film about America’s least likeable monsters. Wolf was able to crack the top 5 films of the weekend, which is more than can be said about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, though the latter has the advantage of being an easier sell overseas. The Hobbit stayed at the very top of the table, but Frozen is the film with really impressive figures. It made the best of the family holidays and despite losing theatres, bettered its own gross from last week by 50%. I wouldn’t be surprised if it slashes Smaug next weekend.

Among the smaller releases, August: Osage County and The Lone Survivor have the highest profiles. The former’s per screen average isn’t particularly promising, but the film was never going to have the appeal of highbrow auteur fair that usually results in massive numbers for the NY/LA crowd.

PLATFORM BOX OFFICE (under 100 screens)
01 Her $.6 (cum. $1.5)
02 NEW August: Osage County $.1 
03 Lone Survivor $.09 (cum. $.1) 
04 The Great Beauty $.07 (cum. $.7) 
05 All is Lost $.06 (cum. $5.9) 

But neither film is particularly concerned with sales at this point. These are only qualifying for Oscars. The business end of the story will unravel later in January.

I took a break from cinema this weekend, after a 4 day stretch in which I caught up with 12 films to close the book on 2013. They ranged from real gems like The Missing Picture to literally unbearable films like The Great Beauty.

What did you watch?

Sunday
Dec292013

Five Easy Linkies. Two First Images

HuffPo Anne Hathaway (what? I miss her) is a conscientous pet owner and so generous that she even gives gifts to paparazzi
Salon on the unexpected feminism in Anchorman 2
/Film are these the 5 best film scores of the year from Stoker to...?
Awards Circuit 'you know stealing things is usually considered wrong, right?' on Jennifer Lawrence and the matter of scene-stealing performances
In Contention Kris Tapley's choices for best performances of the year 

And finally, here are two first images from upcoming films...

Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (albeit not in the flesh) in David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl and...

The terribly underemployed Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game -- seriously how does he eat with no paychecks ever? He's playing Alan Turing, the gay mathematician who was instrumental in breaking the german Enigma Code in World War II. In case you've forgotten there was a movie called Enigma many years ago now starring Kate Winslet which was also about the enigma code if I remember correctly ... albeit starring different characters. 

Saturday
Dec282013

Scorsese's Women. Scorsese's Best.

There are times when Margot Robbie's beauty feels so glossy and airbrushed in The Wolf of Wall Street that she feels almost CGIed in. But, as previously mentioned, Robbie seems to have shaken off whatever dullness once clung to that considerable if generic Barbie Doll beauty. Her Naomi LaPaglia is a hungry performance. It's not just Jordan Belfort that'll be opening the wallet and offering her everything, but Hollywood proper. Expect her to be rumored for every role in her age bracket in 3...2...1...

Scorsese has a long history of vivid supporting women in his movies. And yet, the women in his movies trouble me. They often pop but that isn't necessarily a tough assignment for a beautiful woman to clear, especially when she's the sole woman in a sea of somewhat interchangeable men, the men often playing variations on the same type within their rigidly masculine conformist communities.

Which is to say that Scorsese's films are never about the woman even when they're inordinately feminine (The Age of Innocence). Perhaps Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore is a glorious exception but couldn't it be argued that that fluke sprung from Scorsese's obsession with film genres (let's try a 'woman's picture' this time) more than anything else? [more...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec282013

The Triumphant Return of Jared Leto (Don't Expect a Quick Encore)

Jared Leto's first claim on our hearts was, if you trust the fictional Angela Chase, the way he leaned. I've long maintained that Jordan Catalano would not be an easy part to play - it's all suggestion and no delivery required in order to satisfy every projection. The ability to embody the most beautiful blank slate that ever walked a high school hallway is a gift, but such gifts come with expiration dates. Leto's transition from dreamy heartthrob, a part he never seemed to cherish, to daring film star, a part to which he is obviously more aesthetically inclined, was long and haphazard. Many films went nowhere. The most successful of them, a pair of thrillers from David Fincher, even seemed like a direct revolt against his own beauty (consider the cornrows in Panic Room and the entire thrust of his Fight Club role -- "I felt like destroying something beautiful").

Rock Star Actor and His Latest Creation

Instead Jared leaned into his second career as a rock star. After a long sabbatical from acting, he's returned to screens as Rayon, a transexual drug addict in the 80s set AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club. He's finally found the role to bridge that earlier divide and replace Jordan Catalano in the public imagination. To hear Leto tell it, as I did when we spoke over the phone just before he was (figuratively) buried in an avalanche of awards, we might never had had his Rayon without that time in the wilderness.

"I'm a big believer that we learn from everything we do." he explains. "I hadn't made a film in 5 or 6 years and  in that time I was doing a lot of directing and editing and a lot of creative things, touring  all over the world and on stage in front of millions of people  from Lebanon to China to Africa and beyond. I think the five or six years I took and explored life made me a better actor. I don't think I would have been able to bring Rayon to life had I not lived a life."

Not that Rayon is without precedent in his filmography... [more]

Click to read more ...