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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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What did you see this weekend?

"Colossal - has a great hook but doesn't live up to that promise. Kind of likable, but no part of it really excels" - Dave

"A Quiet Passion! I did not expect such piercing wit and laugh-out-loud humor from Terence Davies. "- Jonathan

"The Zookeeper's Wife, Jessica Chastain looking glamorous while resisting the nazis, not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon" -Choog

Interviews

Betty Buckley (Split)
Michael O'Shea (The Transfiguration)
Filmmakers (Cézanne and I)
Melissa Leo (Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (Sense of an Ending)

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Thursday
Jan222015

A Few Unsung Supporting Actors

I dive headfirst into 2015 cinema tomorrow at Sundance but tonight I did some finalizing of my Supporting Actor ballot for 2014. I really should do these things earlier for advocacy purposes. For while the Oscar race was curiously composed of just five people essentially -- you could see tumbleweeds drifting across the communal hive mindscape whenever this category was mentioned -- there were several men giving fine performances out there. As with Best Actress, they were just ignored and everyone shrugged, "weak year".

It's almost never that simple. Though some years of cinema are better than others, it's rare to find a weak year in any acting category. The reason is simple math: with hundreds of movies coming out every year and each of those containing dozens of performances, there are always more than 20 commendable performances to be seen and discussed.

You can see my supporting actor ballot here. It's my closest match to Oscar this year I believe but among the just-misses are very fine performances. Some performers, for various reasons, just don't get talked about. Sometimes that's because the role is "thankless" like Kristofer Hivju's excellent juggling of tone as a perfect subplot foil for the A plot and characters in Force Majeure's. Other times it's because their role is "soft" -- romantic dramas tend to be tough for men to win attention for, hence nobody really considering Charlie Cox's work in The Theory of Everything as a performance just as the third point in a triangle. And in one case, hi Shia Labeouf, it's because the extracurricular celebrity circus overshadows the actually excellent acting from the sidelines. LaBeouf was fascinatingly intense in both Nymphomaniac and Fury, constantly suggesting things about his characters that are more complex than what's in the screenplay. What might he be capable of if someone actually handed him an awards-calibre role? 

 

Thursday
Jan222015

Tim's Toons: World of Hertzfeldt

Tim here. It's such a beautiful day to be animator Don Hertzfeldt, whose newest short, World of Tomorrow, premieres at the Sundance Film Festival tonight - his seventh film to play there, a record. It's an even better day to be a fan of Don Hertzfeldt, for in addition to WoT (which has been popping up on "most anticipated" Sundance lists all over, as well it should), news has come down today that Hertzfeldt is about to beginning working on his second feature, Antarctica. It's going to be the first project of his career made with an actual team of animators, owing to its unprecedented complexity compared to everything he's ever made (besides which, his last feature took over six years to complete, dribbling out in the form of three short films released as they were ready). And let me tell you, the notion of a Hertzfeldt film of unprecedented complexity is exciting on a deep, primal level. The kind of exciting where all movies released between now and then will be disappointing just by virtue of not being Antarctica.

Since I, for one, am not prepared to think of anything but Hertzfeldt today, I've taken the liberty of putting together this little primer of some of his work. For those of you who haven't seen any of it, I can't imagine how you could have gone on this long without your life being complete, and for those of you who have, it's never the wrong time to re-watch his stuff, right?

Billy's Balloon (1998)
Hertzfeldt's fourth short, completed when he was a 21-year-old UCSB student, was his big breakthrough. It bears all the hallmarks of an early work - the limitations of his hand-hewn aesthetic feel more like limitations, and not the secret strengths he'd make them in later projects - but the groundwork for all of his later films can be spotted here. To wit, we live in a universe of capricious cruelty, where everything that seems nice will turn on you, and there's no such thing as finding a human connection to make that cruelty easier to take. All done with surprising, absurd, morbid humor. There's a reason his production company is called Bitter Films.

Hertzfeldt's Oscar nominee, and his first feature below the jump

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan222015

Poster Madness! The Best of 2014

Glenn here with my now annual list of the best movie posters of the year. I should apologize for being so tardy with this, but I've been working on a big non-movie-related project that took precedent. Never mind that though because we're back. Last year logged the first time that I dragged my lil ol' list of the year's best movie posters over from my own blog onto The Film Experience we're back to see what'll win this year. Last year the honor went to Spring Breakers and this year was no less fierce. I have once more assembled an... eclectic list of films ranging from French orgy dramas and Christian religious flicks to British sci-fi and obscure horror titles.

I have tried to keep the posters featured within down to American 2014 theatrical/VOD releases only. That means designs that emerged online as much as 18 months ago can be on here if the film was only released this year (hi Nymphomaniac!). Likewise, designs for 2015 releases that are already hanging in cinema foyers do not feature - I'm going to spend the next year tossing and turning over whether this hilariously unsubtle phallic poster for Fifty Shades of Grey is actually good or completely terrible. Having said that, being an Australian means I have snuck few Aussie films on the list because, I guess, my list my rules. I should also point out that, just like last year, the lack of many big budget blockbusters on the list isn't my contrariness popping up (my lonely passions are now a thing), rather it's just proves that so many working for Hollywood studios would be absolutely lost without the billions of dollars that they take for granted and the audiences that flock to their movies like sheep.

Follow me as I count down the best posters of 2014!

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan222015

The only movie theater within 45 minutes of my mom's house 

Nathaniel's annual adventure in Utah begins. We hit Sundance tomorrow.

Sundance (which begins tonight) gives me a good excuse to visit my mom each year. She lives in the middle of nowhere about two hours from the festival. Her town is so small that there's not even a convenience store so I have to drive 15 miles to a the only nearby "town" to get my coffee each morning. I zoom down tremendously flat freeways with cows grazing on either side. When I get my coffee I always glance at what's playing at the local movie theater, the only one in something like a 45 mile radius.

Currently they're showing Meryl Streep ACTING and Liam Neeson killing people. That's a surprisingly apt description of contemporary mainstream cinema out here in the middle of nowhere.

Wednesday
Jan212015

...And the 3rd Annual Team Experience Award Goes To: 

Amir here, to welcome you to the third edition of Team Experience Awards, one of the most prestigious critics’ prizes around the world, bestowed on the best in cinema by members of this website sans Nathaniel. We previously honoured Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (with a lot of support for The Master) and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (with several awards for Gravity). There was a similar situation this year, with two films gaining most of our attention across the categories. Our pick for best picture, however, was a clear consensus favourite and won by a very comfortable margin. 

As always, individual ballots proved a lot more interesting than the final results, making the otherwise tedious process of making up spreadsheets really exciting for me. Though there is no sign of it on the list of winners here, there was passionate support for films as varied as We Are the Best!, Norte, the End of History, The Babadook, Godzilla, A Most Wanted Man and The Last of the Unjust. We will get to some of those titles in the trivia section at the bottom of the post, but for now, here are the Team Experience Awards’ winners:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan212015

We Are the Link

Fistful of Film a wonderful personal take on We Are the Best from a father of girls 
Section Eighty a composer discusses the Oscar-nominated film scores
Coming Soon Milla Jovovich confirms she's about to make another Resident Evil movie, supposedly the final one. She turns 40 this year and started this series when she was but 25.
KCRW Actor Craig Chester believes he's haunted by the ghost of Montgomery Clift 
Out Alexis Arquette taking no prisoners in an interview. But bizarre that she didn't know her own sister was up for an Oscar! 

 

Indie Wire the lineup of New Directors New Films this year The Tribe and White God are both featured. They feel like anything but "new" to me after a whole year of festivalling but I still haven't had the chance to see either - will they ever open theatrically or just keep doing festivals like this one for a second year?
In Contention most anticipated films of Sundance 
We Recycle Movies you should check out Anne Marie's rainbow countdown to the Oscars
The Carpetbagger welcome to Phase 2 of the Oscars. Also: Mark Schultz changes his tune again on Foxcatcher. I am not saying this snarkily but with concern: this is why we need universal health care and easier access less stigma for mental illness treatment. Something is seriously wrong with this guy 

American Sniper Mania
Grantland excellent piece by Mark Harris on why American Sniper's box office won't help its Oscar run ... "success breeds scrutiny"
Rolling Stone on American Sniper's stupidity - they use a similar comparison to Forrest Gump like the one I tweeted icymi
Movie City News David Poland doing some train of thought hand wringing on the extreme combativeness of theAmerican Sniper and Selma Oscar battle... that isn't really a battle but that people have suddenly made it into one 
Playbill ...but perhaps the worst American Sniper news is that its leading Broadway's Elephant Man revival to cancel several performances due to Bradley Cooper's awards schedule 

Off Cinema
Pajiba the one reason to keep watching Girls 
NYT John Cameron Mitchell returns to Hedwig, the role which made him and also, not so incidentally, brought us a brilliant film director. Make another movie, Mitchell! All three of yours are heaven.
i09 looks at lesser known characters in the public domain. Will any of them be revived? 
i09 they also look at the case of James Bond, now public domain in Canada! But not in the US or Europe.
Towleroad's the story of Björk's new album, released two months early. Sad she broke up with Matthew Barney. They seemed like such an iconoclast match

Wednesday
Jan212015

Costume Designers to Fete Naomi Watts 

Manuel here. The Costume Design Guild has announced that they’ll be celebrating Naomi Watts with the Lacoste Spotlight Award when they announce winners for their film, TV and commercial awards on February 17th. While they bill the award as honoring an “actor whose talent and career personifies an enduring commitment to excellence, including a special awareness of the role and importance of costume design,” their choices so far (previous recipients include Anne Hathaway, Kate Beckinsale, Halle Berry and Emily Blunt) have yet to really reflect the award, no? Whither Keira, Nicole, Tilda or heck, even Colin Firth? The man can wear a sweater (among other things), you know.

Anyways, we should really focus on the positive and be thankful Watts was able to bounce back so quickly from that horrible triple-whammy of Movie 43, Adore and Diana. Let's just hope she can keep up the momentum going. And so to think along with the Guild's award, here are, off the top of my head, 5 of my favorite costumes from Naomi’s films:

5. Have you seen St. Vincent? I’m kind of in love with Naomi’s trashtastic looks.

Costume designer: Kasia Walicka-Maimone (CDG nominee for Capote, 2005, and Moonrise Kingdom, 2012)

4. Her gorgeous umbrella in The Painted Veil

Costume designer: two-time Academy Award nominee Ruth Myers (Emma, 1997 & The Addams Family, 1992)

3. Ann Darrow’s pretty evening gown in King Kong

Costume designer: Terry Ryan (who also gave us Muriel's Wedding!)

2. This ridiculous outfit from I Heart Huckabees

Costume designer: two-time Academy Award nominee Mark Bridges (The Artist, 2011 winner, & Inherent Vice, 2014)

1. Her pink sweater in Mulholland Dr.

Costume designer: Amy Stofsky (CDG nomination 2002)

Naomi has also worked with Albert Wolsky (Birdman), Eastwood staple Deborah Hopper (J. Edgar), Cronenberg's sister Denise (Eastern Promises) and Hobbit-costumer Ngila Dickson (The International). What other Naomi looks do you think the CDG had in mind when they decided to cap off Naomi's great year in film? Let’s help out the CDG; which actresses (or actors!) do you think they should celebrate next year?