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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Mike Leigh 4 Film Retro for his 75th

secrets and lies, vera drake, happy go lucky, and topsy-turvy

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Months of Meryl: Sophie's Choice

"This is the best Streep performance ever captured on film. "That's all."" - Dorian

"I support this movie, partially because I loved the Styron novel and, along with Schindler's List, it's one of the best American movies to teach people about the holocaust. Streep is sublime in it, and it's such a great role - she gets to play Sophie before the war, during the war, after the war, etc. " - Tom

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Saturday
Feb202016

Interview: Joshua Oppenheimer and Adi on The Look of Silence

Amir here. I first fell in love with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence in September 2014, at TIFF. It was the last, and best, film I watched at that festival, and it left an emotional mark that I lived with for days. I caught up with the film again when it was released for the public and my conviction that this was one of the best documentary features of all time was reaffirmed – in my book, one of 2015’s holy trinity of films. So, you can understand my excitement when I finally had the chance to speak with director Joshua Oppenheimer, and Adi, the subject of his film.

The Look of Silence, nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary, a companion piece to the director’s earlier film The Act of Killing (also nominated in its year), is about the victims of the Indonesian genocide, who live side by side with the men who perpetrated those crimes against their loved ones. In his graceful and compassionate study of these people and their haunted spaces, Oppenheimer finds the language to bring invisible pains to the screen and push the limits of documentary form.

We talk about the relationship between his two films, his experiences in Indonesia, influences on his filmmaking, where documentary cinema stands today, and Adi’s life after the film’s release.

AMIR SOLTANI: I know you’re probably tired of comparisons between your two latest films, but I feel like there’s nowhere else to start but The Act of Killing. There’s a theatrical element to the first film that The Look of Silence, despite being polished, stylized and even often staged, doesn’t have. It’s more formally understated. What initiated your formal approach to the second film?  

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER: I think these two films are both rigorously about the present, or rather, the past’s role in the present. [More after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb202016

8 Days til Oscar...

If you haven't fully investigated the Best Picture Chart you should do that today. There are several unusual ways to rank the 8 nominees for Best Picture: machismo factor, number of deaths, MPAA ratings, running time, and more.

Sample to your right. Check it out 

Ranking, my friends, is mandatory since Best Picture is determined on a preferential ballot. There's mine to the far right (this was crafted the day of nominations so no "backlash" was in play). Theoretically the preferential voting puts polarizing pictures at a disadvantage but what isn't polarizing these days?

How would you rank them? Are you still undecided as to which film will win? Three good indicators (SAG Ensemble, PGA, and DGA) famously went to three separate pictures (Spotlight, The Big Short, and The Revenant) confusing the matter more than is usual. If you missed the latest podcast Nick and I talked about the most difficult categories to predict which we're guessing are: Picture, Director, Costume Design, Production Design, and Sound

Saturday
Feb202016

Undersung Works by the Oscar Nominated Cinematographers 

Jose here. The five gentlemen nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar have amassed a more than respectable amount of accolades, they boast a collected 37 Oscar nominations between the 5 of them, with Edward Lachman being the least nominated having only two (both for his previous collaborations with Todd Haynes) and Roger Deakins being the perpetual bridesmaid with 13 career nominations and no wins (not that he needs them anyway, he has 3 BAFTAS and 3 ASC Awards to console him).

Even if these folks get nominated for awards all the time, some of their work has been received coolly by awards bodies. Unbelievable, I know. So, here are 5 “undersung” achievements by this year’s nominees...  

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb192016

Podcast: Favorite Past Films & Performances by this Year's Nominees

It's just Nathaniel and Nick for this week's podcast. We're talking at length about the toughest categories to predict as well as a reader suggestion (thanks Ryan!) to choose our favorite work by the current nominees before this season. 

43 minutes 
00:01 Introductions, Blind Spots, Foggy Memories
03:45 Iñárritu and The Revenant
09:00 George Miller plus Babe and Mad Max sequels
14:00 Tough Categories to Predict and Why
27:45 Best Actress - who is best?
30:00 Saoirse Ronan
31:17 Charlotte Rampling
34:15 Cate Blanchett
36:22 Brie Larson
38:00 Jennifer Lawrence

We discuss a lot of different titles obviously since we're choosing their best work before the current nomination. We'd love to hear your choices for this same question in the comments. You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes

Previous Best Work - Actress/Directors

Friday
Feb192016

Rest in Peace Harper Lee (1926-2016)

The world has lost one of its most important literary and cultural figures with the death of author Nelle Harper Lee. There’s very little to say about the importance of “To Kill a Mockingbird” that hasn’t already been said, both today specifically and in the nearly fifty six years since the novel’s publication. Having attended both high school and college in Georgia, I saw firsthand how much the novel rattled the consciousness of the deep South to its core. It’s still banned and its literary merits are still contested in many places in the South, demonstrating how much weight and resonance the novel still carries—we often turn away from truths that are too ugly to face.

Gregory Peck and Brock Peters in Robert Mulligan's 1962 Film Adaptation of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Though her impact in the realm of literature is clear, she also helped to shape the world of cinema. The 1962 screen adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird (which netted three Oscars, including a Best Actor trophy for Gregory Peck and a Best Adapted Screenplay prize for Horton Foote) left an indelible mark on the medium. She was also an uncredited researcher on her friend Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, which has been adapted many times over—most notably in Richard Brooks 1967 film.

For cinephiles, it’s hard to consider Harper Lee without thinking of Catherine Keener’s staid, impressive and underrated portrayal of the prize-winning author in Bennett Miller’s Capote. She played Lee as smartly observant, terse but incredibly perceptive. The scene on the train where Lee quietly picks up on the fact that Capote has paid the ticket agent to compliment his work is one of the film’s choice moments and is a wonderful (albeit fictionalized) window into the friendship of these two authors.

For what she gave to the world of literature, American culture and (inadvertently) the world of cinema we all love, we say to Nelle Harper Lee—thank you and farewell. Today will certainly not be the last time her name is spoken.

Friday
Feb192016

Breaking News: The Academy Makes Yet Another Diversity Blunder / Plays Favorites in "Original Song"

News just broke that performances of Original Song nominees Youth's "Simple Song No. 3" (read our interview) and Facing Extinction's "Manta Ray" have been nixed from the Oscar broadcast, the producers citing "time constraints" for the always lengthy show. Performances of the other three nominated songs by Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, and Sam Smith are still in play.

TFE must express rage at yet another stupid Academy blunder. This sends an incredibly bad faith message to nominees -- if you're not famous pop stars, your nominations are "lesser than". And in a year where the Academy has been the subject of immense criticism for their lack of diversity they've essentially excluded the sole trans nominee (Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons fame who co-wrote and sings "Manta Ray") from valuable air time.

As a longtime fan of Antony and as a member of the LGBT community this enrages me. Diversity is about more than just skin color.  Here's J Ralph & Antony's nominated song. And do yourself a favor and get acquainted with Antony Hegarty's music because it's brilliant.

Antony Hegarty