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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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Friday
Oct172014

What I have linked, I have linked.

Popwatch Julianne Moore tribute coming in January at the Museum of the Moving Image - let the coronation mark begin
In Contention Pedro Pascal for Ben-Hur and portrayals of Pontius Pilate on the screen
Salon what Gone Girl and Amazon's Transparent have in common
Interview talks to David Cronenberg
iTunes You can buy Norte: The End of History, The four hour acclaimed Philippines Oscar submission on iTunes now if you'd like.
Vulture talks to Kim Dickens from Gone Girl on claims that the movie is misogynist 

 

Awards Daily new trailer for Unbroken. I feel like there've been a lot of these
i09 compares Battlestar Galactica to Outlander given that they're from the same series creator Ron Moore
Criterion is releasing the classic The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant on blu-ray. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's movies are not available enough so this is great news
The Hollywood Reporter Clowns of America International (that's a real thing) is pissed about AHS: Freakshow's Twisty the Clown. In related news how come y'all didn't comment on the last AHS post. You led me to believe you were watching it!
Screen Daily Jane Campion developing a second season of Top of the Lake
Latino Review Actress Elizabeth Peña (Jacobs Ladder, La Bamba, Modern Family) has passed away at 55 
Towleroad Ezra Miller feels like surprise casting to me as The Flash in DC/WB''s superhero universe (unrelated: I'm enjoying the CW TV show of the same name thus far. It isn't great but it's light & fun, unlike Arrow which bored me silly)
Towleroad gays on television from ABC's hypersexual connivers & neutered comics to the wider queerness of premium and cable channels
Playbill that stage musical version of American Psycho is still happening and is now looking at fall 2015 on Broadway 

Awwww...
Times one thousand.

It's a teaser for the new Disney short Feast. This short apparently tells the life story of a Boston Terrier solely through his meals. It'll play before Big Hero 6 and we may be looking at a serious Best Animated Short Oscar contender. 

The Divas...
It's way too early to be thinking about Christmas but if you're an early shopper please know that Glen Hanson, an illustrator I just love, has designed a Liza Minnelli holiday ornament. Thanks to Boy Culture for the heads up. The proceeds go to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.  If you want one you purchase here.

In other Broadway news, a special tribute to Elaine Stritch is coming on November 17th with performances by (are you sitting down) Patti Lupone, Betty Buckley, Christine Ebersole, Michael Feinstein, and my personal favorite of the theatrical divas of a certain age, Bernadette Peters

So who is singing what? They're keeping that a secret naturally.  

Thursday
Oct162014

CIFF Foreign Film Oscar Report, Vol. 1: Afghanistan, Italy & Switzerland

Tim here. A week ago today, two things happened: the Academy announced the complete list of submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film race, and the 50th Chicago International Film Festival opened. That's put me in a position to see a lot of those submissions firsthand, and this week and next I'll be sharing my quick thoughts on several of the ones that the Film Experience hasn't otherwise looked at.

AFGHANISTAN: A FEW CUBIC METERS OF LOVE
In a grubby part of Tehran, a population of Afghan refugees ekes out a small living and strives to retain their culture and sense of worth while dodging the police. Against this background, a young Afghan woman (Hasiba Ebrahimi) and an Iranian boy (Saed Soheili) fall in love, only to find their relationship threatened when her father decides to flee Iran. So it's yet another Romeo & Juliet riff, although in this case the unexpected context gives it some freshness, and the film does good work balancing its depiction of the hard life of the refugees in an unfriendly place with the romantic plot. Ebrahimi and Soheili also have excellent, unforced chemistry with each other, making for an especially appealing representation of a stock scenario. It's a little minor and not too daring, but it's awfully moving.

Oscar prospects: Stranger things have happened, though central Asia hasn't done all that well here over the years, and the realist style is a little on the chilly side. I suspect it would have to be one of the films swept in by executive decision, and there are bigger-name titles that are much likelier to receive that boost.

Israeli divorce, Italian essay, and Swiss gays after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct162014

AHS: Freakshow "Massacres & Matinees"

The freaks come out at night. The freaks come out at night. Well, except when there's a curfew in which case they'll do matinees. In Freakshow's second episode, the police have locked down the town at night. Apparently there's no CSI people around to explain to them that that murderous clown, played by the Zodiac killer John Carroll Lynch, has mostly been killing in broad daylight. Much scarier time for murders, I think we can all agree. Meanwhile more freaks arrive at Elsa's tent seeking employment (Hi, Angela and Angela's boobs... and I do mean plural), Bette and Dot's rivalry increases  - they share the same body but not the same brain or talents, and Dandy and his mother Gloria meet Twisty the Clown to upsetting results. Neither of them are remotely scared of him which makes the scenes a strange mix of genuinely terrifying and hilarious.

More after the jump including Sarah Paulson dueting with Sarah Paulson on Fiona Apple's "Criminal"

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct162014

Open Thread. Multiple Screenings?

Have you seen any movie, at home or in theaters, more than once this calendar year? I was looking over my Letterboxd account and realizing how useful it would be to track my viewing if I actually updated it daily. But I don't rewatch a lot of stuff. From January 1st through the right now, that's only five for me: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Gone Girl (twice each in theaters), Under the Skin (once in theaters, once at home) and Burlesque (two days in a row on cable. shut up, I love it).

How about you? And if you haven't what are you dying to see again?


Thursday
Oct162014

Interview: Jorge Gutierrez & Guillermo del Toro on "The Book of Life"

Jorge Gutierrez has won two Annie awards and an Emmy, but in order to get his passion project The Book Of Life (which opens tonight!) onto the screen, he needed a little help. Gutierrez found it in Guillermo del Toro. The Mexican fantasy director has been using his production company to foster new visions in genres like horror and animation. A little bit Orpheus and Euridice, a little bit Dia de Los Muertos, and a little bit musical theater, The Book Of Life is anything but ordinary.

Anne Marie here. I was lucky enough to interview Guillermo del Toro and Jorge Gutierrez when they came to San Diego Comic Con in July. But before I could even start asking questions, del Toro noticed the squid design on my necklace, and launched into a rhapsodic monologue about his favorite movie, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. From that point on, I basically just held on to my seat as del Toro and Gutierrez riffed on each other with the ease of good friends and partners. They discussed everything from Ray Harryhausen to the purpose of a director to whether children’s movies need bad guys.

Here's how it went...

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: [20,000 Leagues Under the Sea] is a magnificent movie. And to this day I collect models of the Nautilus.

ANNE MARIE: Of the Nautilus?

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Yeah. I have, I think I have most every one, except the ten meter one, which is too big for me... But I have the 3 ft one. I have the little ones, the medium ones, the electric ones, the ones that light up [JG laughs] the ones that make a little noise, all of that. That and The Time Machine are my two favorite sort of steampunk-y pieces of design.

JORGE GUTIERREZ: It’s awesome. It holds up, too. Anyways! [Laughs]

ANNE MARIE: You’ve both described The Book of Life as a personal pet project. Can you talk a little about the process of getting it going?

JORGE GUTIERREZ: Absolutely! Fifteen years I’ve been working on this, based on a student short I did at Cal Arts. When I graduated I pitched it everywhere. Everyone said, “Nah, you’re just a kid out of school. No one wants to see this stuff.”

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: “You don’t understand.”

JG: “You don’t understand. We need talking animal movies.” Literally, that’s what I was told at every meeting.

[More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct162014

To Inauspicious Debuts!

Thursday
Oct162014

No More Movies for John Cleese

Margaret here to break it to you that British comedy icon John Cleese is done with the movies. So he claimed, anyway, at a promotional appearance for his new memoir, So Anyway..., at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. 

In answer to a fan who asked about upcoming film projects, he flippantly announced that at age 74 he is too near death to work on new movies. "I have only got five or six years left, and then I will be gone." Noting the upside that this exempts him from worry about ISIS or Ebola, he quips: "Most of the best people are dead - I will be in excellent company having a wonderful time."
 
Perhaps he's not serious about quitting film; many of his showbiz peers have cried retirement only to be back at work almost immediately. (Remember when Steven Soderbergh claimed to be retiring and then it turned out he has no idea what that means?) It could also be that full retirement won't constitute an enormous shift for him. Over the last decade and change, Cleese has been primarily been cropping up in the voice casts for animated studio features. His last movie project as writer/producer, Fierce Creatures, is almost 20 years old. 
 
He can at least rest comfortably on the knowledge that his best work is immortal.  A Fish Called Wanda is a comic treasure (and earned Cleese an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay), but it's his work with Monty Python that keeps him at legend status. Naturally, a fan at the Cheltenham Literary Festival asked Cleese about that comedy group. He was typically acidic in his response, insisting that the Python members were never "huge friends" and sayin this of his former co-stars:
 
 
"Michael [Palin], as you know, makes those travel programs that I put on any time I can’t sleep. Eric Idle is very good at lyrics so he is writing songs. Terry Gilliam is off trying to raise money for one of his plotless ­extravaganzas. And [Terry] Jonesy is just insane – he writes children’s books and recently went to Lisbon and directed an opera about vacuum cleaners."
Harsh, perhaps, but certainly in the biting Python spirit. Which former Pythons are you still keeping up with? What Cleese/Python project will you treasure most once they're all fully retired?
Wednesday
Oct152014

Foreign Oscar Watch: Gett - The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Though TIFF & NYFF are over, London and Chicago Fests are still raging. We will have a few reports from each to cover more Oscar Submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. Here's our London friend David on Israel's Oscar submission.

It's your right, but it's not your choice."

We're in an Israeli rabbinical courtroom, and Viviane Amsalem wants a divorce. Absolutely, say the judges, no problem - as long as your husband agrees. He doesn't. Viviane will spend years returning to this courtroom, and the audience will spend two hours trapped in it with her, absurdity and desperation rising and falling as we skip forward in time, the temporal intertitles ('Four Months Later') quickly accumulating a farcical impression that's only tempered by the occasional grave addendum of how many years these shifts have accumulated to. Laughter comes because the reality of the situation is too archaic to believe.

Ronit Elkabetz writes, directs and stars as Viviane

Gett - The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is a social justice picture, make no mistake. Though delivered with a healthy dose of humour, the undercurrent of the picture is bitter outrage, as a very simple message is strung out to breaking point. Viviane is almost constantly surrounded by men: her sympathetic, dogmatic lawyer Carmel Ben Tovim, the three impatient judges, her husband Elisha. For much of the film, director-writer-actress Ronit Elkabetz carries Viviane with a quiet dignity, seething with an awareness that the best way to her goal might be to let the men fight for it. When she does speak, it is not cowed and submissive or (initially) passionately angry; her first big speech is delivered with such measured power that the judges are visibly taken aback in involuntary respect.

With its settings restricted to the courtroom building, Gett could easily have ended up feeling like a staid stage play, but instead it oozes with a claustrophobia more mental than physical; the audience is trapped with Viviane in this cyclical nightmare, never granted any view of how her marriage exists outside of the courtroom. That's because, quite simply, that isn't the point; the men spend hours deliberating over why she deserves a divorce, over what her husband could possibly done to cause this, but the only necessary reason for Viviane to be granted a divorce should be because she wants one. No more, no less. The further into the film we get, the more painful it becomes, as every last drop of emotion is wrung from Viviane as she pleads, cries, begs for her request to be granted.

Elkabetz and sibling co-director Shlomi Elkabetz marry this torturous process with a smart tone of absurdist comedy; the judges, in particular, provide an abundance of weary amusement as they become increasingly impatient with the process themselves. Ultimately, though, it is with searing vitriol that the ludicrous indignity of the Jewish laws are held up to face charges; as Ronit Elkabetz put it in the post-screening Q&A, it seems incredible that such situations continue to exist "in a country that is called a democracy". 

Gett - The Trial of Viviane Amsalem screened as part of the 58th BFI London Film Festival.

Oscar submission charts here.
17 Foreign Oscar Submissions Reviewed
ArgentinaAustraliaBelgiumBrazilCanadaCuba,FranceGermanyIceland, Israel, LatviaMauritaniaNorwayPolandPortugalSweden and Venezuela