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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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Curio: Cinema Carvings

Alexa here.  Every Halloween I hope to carve a cool pop culture pumpkin, but inertia usually takes over (although this year I was pretty happy with my Jack-o'-Louis C.K.). Here are some of my favorite cinematic jack-o'-lanterns that have inspired me over the last few years. I'm still waiting for someone to step up and create a great Black Swan or Rosemary Woodhouse, though.

Pan's Labyrinth pumpkins, seen here and here.

A strong Spielbergian carving, seen here.

Click for more, including Miyazaki, Hitchock and Anton Chigurh...

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BIFA Noms: "Tyrannosaur" Triumphs, "Weekend" Wobbles

Herewith a few comments about the just-announced British Independent Film Awards. You may recall that last year they heavily favored The King's Speech and strangely snubbed Mike Leigh's Another Year in Best Film.

BIFA loved "Kevin" but wasn't crazy about "Weekend"

I should warn you up front that I'm apt to spend the whole time bitching about the strange snubbing of Weekend in all but one category. 

British Independent Film
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We Need To Talk About Kevin

They unfortunately snubbed the acclaimed gay romance Weekend (Dear reader, I did warn you. DEAR NOTE, I SHALL HIT THEE FREQUENTLY!) which was a perfect fit given the "British" and the "Independent"... not to mention that it's a better film than some of these titles. But then, that's award season for you. Right from the start there will be winners and losers and unexpecting favoring of certain titles that nobody was expecting major awards runs from. Not sure what to make of the lineup other than that the deep preferencing for Shame, Tyrannosaur, and Kevin reminds us that when seeking kudos, ambitiously arty but thunderously grim depression can be an easier path to glory than optimistic and delicately carved miniatures. Again, where is Weekend?

Best Director
Ben Wheatley, Kill List
Steve McQueen, Shame
Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur
Lynne Ramsay, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Best Debut Director (The Douglas Hickox Award)
Joe Cornish, Attack the Block
Ralph Fiennes, Coriolanus
John Michael McDonagh, The Guard
Richard Ayoade, Submarine
Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur 

Paddy Considine directs Olivia Colman to greatness in "Tyrannosaur"

I am of the opinion that when one separates directing categories one should not be eligible for both. More direction and acting nods after the jump...

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Oscar Horrors: Killer Bee Costumes!

Happy Halloween! This month Team Film Experience has been celebrating those rare Oscar nominations given to horror films. Here's a true oddity from Robert Gannon. This mini-series was his idea! Take it away, Robert.

Here lies...the original costume designs of The Swarm. Three time Oscar nominated costume designer Paul Zastupnevich earned his second nomination for the epic killer bee film from 1978. As silly as the film is, the costume design is no joke.

Zastupnevich designed very detailed costumes for the entire cast of the film. They fall into three broad categories. The first is military uniforms, including the imagined design for the killer bee response team in orange and white jumpsuits. The second is business attire, worn by a large cavalcade of performers and professionals woven throughout the running time of the film. The third is casual civillian wear, designed in an American-hued palette of various reds, whites, and blues. 

Taken separately, it may not seem that impressive. It's contemporary costuming in a horror/disaster film. But the true beauty of the costumes is seen in the second half of the film, where military personnel, business people, and casual civillians are all mixed together. It makes it quite clear that Zastupnevich had a great eye for categorizing character types. With such a large cast, it becomes essential to be able to pinpoint who everyone is. If nothing else, there is no confusion as to who is doing what during The Swarm.

This is the rare case of the Academy nominating the strongest element of an otherwise critically maligned film. It's rarer still that a horror film that was a commerical failure could gain any awards recognition. 

Previously on Oscar Horrors...
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane -Best Actress in a Leading Role
The Fly -Best Makeup
Death Becomes Her -Best Effects, Visual Effects
The Exorcist -Best Actress in a Supporting Role 
The Birds - Best Effects, Special Visual Effects

Rosemary's Baby - Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
Beetlejuice - Best Makeup
Carrie - Best Actress in a Leading Role
Bram Stoker's Dracula - Best Costume Design
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Best Actor in a Leading Role

King of the Zombies - Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture
Poltergeist - Best Effects, Visual Effects
Hellboy II: The Golden Army -Achievement in Makeup
The Silence of the Lambs -Best Director
The Tell-Tale Heart -Best Short Subject, Cartoons


Happy Birthday Peter Jackson!

In seems fitting yet not too obvious that Peter Jackson's birthday would be on Halloween. Imagine the costume fun one could cull from his films alone? 

Since today is his half century mark, we couldn't not tip our pointy Gandalf hats to the man. Whether you're counting down the days until he returns to The Shire with The Hobbit films or wishing he'd move away from Tolkien and on to greener other pastures, it's worth checking in on the official Hobbit blog from month to month (though they sadly haven't had a production video since July and those were fun.) 

Do you think The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (2013) will continue the Rings Oscar streak? Perhaps you're more doubtful like me... even if The Hobbit films are great won't AMPAS voters feel that 11 Oscars in February 2004 was more than enough?

I would rank his films like so.

  1. Heavenly Creatures (1994) -check out Melanie Lynskey's memoirs and our "Hit Me..." blog party if you're a fan of this brilliant hysteria.
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  5. King Kong (2005)
  6. The Frighteners (1996) ...a revisit is definitely in order. Would I like it more or less?)
  7. Meet the Feebles (1989)
  8. Forgotten Silver (1995)
  9. The Lovely Bones (2009)

    P.S. I have not seen Bad Taste (1987) or Dead Alive (1992) but I'm quite certain I'd prefer them to The Lovely Bones.



Oscar Horrors: I've Written a Letter to Bette

HERE LIES... Bette Davis's Best Actress nomination for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, sent to an early grave by Anne Bancroft's more Oscar-friendly work in The Miracle Worker. 

Andreas from Pussy Goes Grrr here. In 1962, Bette Davis had a good three decades of acting ahead of her—what endurance!—but her disturbing, self-deprecating performance as Baby Jane Hudson sure feels like a go-for-broke swan song. It builds on all her tics and trademarks (bitchiness, powerful voice, melodramatic intensity) and exaggerates them almost beyond recognition. Following in the footsteps of Norma Desmond, Baby Jane's a quintessential star-as-monster. Try as you might, you just can't look away.

Granted, Joan Crawford does co-star as Baby Jane's paraplegic sister Blanche. But this is unmistakably Bette's show all the way: she dominates every second of screen time, whether by snarling and squawking with an alcohol-induced slur, or through a mere flutter of her eyelashes. She plays the role broader than broad with gargoyle makeup and coarse body language, often standing akimbo like a pissed-off teenager. But she leaves space for smaller gestures, like the sudden, wicked curling of her lips, that give us a vision of Baby Jane's sick, sad inner life.


Because she's not all monstrous. If only she was, she'd be so much easier to watch. Instead Bette plays her with a nagging core of pathos, of innocence lost. Occasionally her underlying tragedy (and implicit Electra complex) breach the surface, like when she sings her old vaudeville hit "I've Written a Letter to Daddy." It's the film's great can't-look-away set-piece, a pitiful song and dance rooted in Baby Jane's hideous regression to childhood, and Bette performs the hell out of it. No shame, no holding back, nothing but raw chutzpah.

Egged on by Victor Buono's ghoulish pianist, she hoarsely belts out the mawkish melody, and the resulting incongruity is a nauseating mix of horror and morbid comedy. It's a boozy, psychotic siren song that, to their credit, the Academy's members were unable to resist. It's an artifact of poisoned camp, a sour recapitulation of Bette's Hollywood career, and an indelible piece of horror history.

And if you want a real surprise, watch Baby Jane back to back with Bette's foray into Hammer horror, The Nanny. There, she's equally chilling, but all of Baby Jane's grand flourishes have been replaced with stoicism and restraint. It's black-and-white proof that Bette's performances didn't just have magnitude; they had range.

Previously on Oscar Horrors
The Fly, Death Becomes Her, The Exorcist, The Birds, Carrie and more....
Top 100 Most Memorable Best Actress "Characters" 


3 Notes on New Photos of "Frankenweenie"

My beloved cat has had some health issues this weekend so time has been short and I've been majorly occupied (hence Oscar chart update/ column delay). But here's a quick bit about a beloved fictional pet, "Sparky".

• Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, due in theaters less than a year from now, is a remake of sorts. That's all Burton does these days but at least this time he's reworking something from his own imagination. Frankenweenie was originally a short in 1984 and if you ever get a chance to see that one, do so. It was from the time frame when Burton was THE young director to watch, making magic every time... or every other time. Damn. Whatever. From 1982 through 1994 it was all spellbinding. I'd even throw 1996 in there but I realize Mars Attacks! isn't for everyone. ACK!
• I'm so pleased this will be a black and white stop-motion picture. With so many animated films debuting each year, it's good to have some variety. 
• Is there any other director who has never changed his hairstyle? 

• Speaking of awesome short films, Tim's Sparky looks just like Brad Bird's "Amazing Stories: Family Dog", doesn't he?
• Little Known Fact: Films about beloved animated pooches require awesome actresses in the soundbooth:Frankweenie (1984) had Shelley Duvall; Family Dog had Annie Potts; Wallace and Gromit and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit had Helena Bonham Carter; Bolt had Miley Cyrus;  the new Frankenweenie gets Winona Ryder and Catherine O'Hara !
Are you a cat person or a dog person? And if so do you think your pet is fairly represented on film? 


Oscar Horrors: Be Impressed. Be Very Impressed with The Fly's makeup

Team Film Experience is celebrating the rare Oscar nominated and winning contributions to horror films. Today Craig buzzes in with the latest edition of Oscar Horrors.

Here Lies... the remnants of the Brundlefly that Chris Walas and Stephen Dupuis (who went on to win the Best Makeup Oscar) lovingly crafted for David Cronenberg’s 1986 re-masterpiece The Fly. I don’t think they were there at the ceremony to collect it but they had it teleported to them within seconds of their names being read out.

As we know from the film, Jeff Goldblum becomes attached to a pesky, common housefly at a genetic level: he metamorphoses in a major way. Like, bummer. It was Walas and Dupuis’ job to make this as grotesquely memorable as possible. It’s fair to say they succeeded.

Walas – whose company, ‘Chris Walas, Inc.’, received first credit at the end of the film – went on to direct the sequel (which Dupuis also worked on) three years later. The makeup was definitely on par – dare I suggest slightly better – with other 1980s horror face- and game-changers The Thing, The Elephant Man and An American Werewolf in London. It was designed backwards – from full-on diseased Brundlemess at the end to light touch-up with some Max Factor at the start – and roughly created in eight stages. In accordance with this, and Goldblum’s fate, I’ll stage my Fly makeup celebration in bits, beginning from just after Goldblum teleported...

Stage One: Jeff has some increased strength thanks to the insect genes fused irreversibly with his cells. He’s full of beans and nigh-on always up for a spot of sexytime with a curiously indifferent Geena Davis. His idea of foreplay is to strip down and perform a few snazzy gymnastic moves on a horizontal bar like he’s trying out for the Olympics. Geena looks bored but straddles Jeff anyway.

Brundle-to-fly count: Jeff is roughly, I’d say, between 79 and 99% pure Brundle.

Makeup Check: There’s some light sweating from all the showing off/, so Jeff’s probably been given a once-over with a gentle covering of antiperspirant foundation; Geena has an emergency rouging because she looked a peaky. Measle-like blemishes and some protruding prickles on the shoulder blades mean a de-glistening and a bristle snip for Jeff.

Stages Two through Five after the jump. [Spoiler: He's fucked!]

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