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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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 "I love that two people independent of one another gave Claire Trevor an extra star simply for being Claire Trevor." - Glenn

"Interesting to see the take of young people on these movies." - Les

"That was fascinating. I love the thoughts on Executive Suite, post-post-WWII and the "benevolent patriarch." " - B.D.

 

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Monday
Dec312012

Happy Birthday Hannah (Plus: New Year's Resolutions)

Oops. Now I've ruined Kate Winslet's surprise for Hannah! It's a birthday cake.I've always felt bad for people whose birthdays fall around the holidays. They have to share the spotlight with something huge and impersonal (to them) and I hope that they pretend that the world around them is just celebrating their special day with a holiday-themed blowout party. So when I learned that Hannah M, a devoted member of the The Film Experience community was born on New Year's Eve I vowed to wish her a happy birthday this year. So...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNAH!

And happy birthday to any of you reading who were born during holidays of any sort. I hereby vow as one of  my New Year's Resolution to bring back the 'Reader Spotlight' in 2013. That was fun when we were doing it.

As for other resolutions about life here on the blog, feel free to make suggestions in the comments though I'll be aiming for more interviews (albeit more spaced out), video blogging and festival coverage (maybe if I can find the money) and more commemorative hoopla for special films and actors. As always your comments, donations, subscriptions (see right hand sidebar), sharing and liking, and retweeting and whatnot are invaluable to keeping TFE going since this has always been a passion project indie site surrounded by behemoth corporate movie blogs. And more and more of them each year, too! It's not easy. Every year I think it'll be my last and then I here from one of you about what the site means to you or see the odd new subscription donation (one cup of coffee a month - cheap!) and I start typing again.

The point is. The site would have folded long ago without its passionate readership. So here's to next year (we survived 2012!)

MAY YOU ALL HAVE A MEMORABLE NEW YEARS EVE!

And here's to 2013 being a huge step up from 2012, which was a tough year for so many people around the world.

Be safe tonight. xoxoxo

-Nathaniel

 

Monday
Dec312012

Reader Rank: 2012's 007 Mania featuring the Bond Girls

Though we've really just begun our Year in Review of 2012 no such survey would be feel complete without at least a perfunctory visit to the shadowy world of super spy Bond, James Bond. Skyfall, the 23rd official James Bond feature released to coincide with the franchise's 50th anniversary is already the top grossing Bond of all time with $1 billion at the global box office. That's enough cash to get any Bond Villain (or Bond Villain parody) rubbing his fingers together with greed "one beeeeeeeiiiillion dollars"

Bérénice Marlowe as "Severine" in SKYFALL

Just before Skyfall came out I asked readers to submit their own rankings of the Bond films. It's such a big tallying project that I think I'll have to save the main results for the Skyfall DVD release (so if you still want to submit your ballot email it to me with "Bond Rank" in the title line and make sure to rank every Bond film you've seen in the email). I have finished the less strenuous task of tabulating the numbers for your favorite Bond Girls. How does the newbie Bérénice Marlohe as Severine stack up for all of you? I personally thought she was sensational with a lethal mix of smooth outer beauty and deep inner terror that had me imagining the feeling of skating on dangerously thin ice that's cracking loudly underneath your feet. I've included her in my "sexpot of the year" nominees. Pity that she has to share that new Film Bitch Awards page with her captor/lover Silva (Javier Bardem) who is nominated in the "villain of the year" category. 

cue theme music....

READER'S RANK: THE BEST BOND GIRLS

Maud Adams has the Trivia Bonus distinction of having played two different Bond Girls in her career. "Andrea" in The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) and the title character in Octopussy (1983)

Honorable Mentions (aka 007 More Women Who Scored Well With Readers): Natalya (GoldenEye), Tatiana (From Russia With Love), Elektra King (The World is Not Enough), Malina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only), Fiona Volpe (Thunderball) and Maud Adams as Octopussy. I love this comment about the latter from Andrew:

The character is not that much fun in the movie itself, but just the fact that she's basically a brothel madam named "Octopussy" is pretty great."

The 007 Top Girls with a few key reader quotes after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec302012

Had Your Self a Misérable Little Christmas?

Another big cash grab day is ahead for the movies as New Year's Day approaches. But for this weekend the winners are clear. Django Unchained & Les Misérables much ballyhooed "Sad Off" was a true contest for wintry dollars with Tarantino's controversial slavery comedy revenge fantasy eventually pulling out in front of the musical. But the war for profit puts Les Miz in winner's position since it's already equalled it's budget in just the first six days. Django has a ways to go for that milestone but let's not nitpick as they're both true hits. 

Box Office Chart repurposed from Box Office Mojo

In fact, it's been a good box office year for Oscar-buzzing players. Affleck and Spielberg's pictures were both $100 million grossers with Lincoln still going strong. Pi & Playbook have solid sales - they didn't embarrass themselves. Of the front-running Oscar six only Zero Dark Thirty has been little seen but that's a function of timing and platforming rather than audience choice. If Zero Dark Thirty doesn't delay its expansion for too long it seems certain to demolish The Hurt Locker's gross in no time.

Did you see both Django & Les Miz over the break?

I almost went to The Hobbit but abruptly changed my mind and tweeted as much:

 

 

Oh sweet relief! I really do feel it.

Sunday
Dec302012

Did You Gag on "Killer Joe"?

My screenings these past two weeks -- cram session! -- to complete year end business, have been like one wild tonal shift after another swinging as they have from meta rib-nudging (Seven Psycopaths) to the hormonally twee (Take This Waltz), severely depressed (Oslo August 31st) and on through the defiantly stiff and self-medicated (The Deep Blue Sea)... I can't possibly write about them all. But I did feel the night to blurt out (choke out?) a few sentences on William Friedkin's Killer Joe based on the play of the same name by Tracy Letts.

Friedkin and Letts aren't quite joined at the hip as collaborators go despite the Oscar winning filmmaker taking the cinematic reigns on both Bug and Joe. Letts most acclaimed play August: Osage County went to another filmmaker though it's fascinating to think what Friedkin might have done with the material. He is, after all, at least as willing as Letts to attack his material with edgy flair, wicked humor and artistic abandon... for better and worse.

[NC17 madness and two SPOILER images after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec292012

Interview: Julie Weiss on Visitation Rights to "Hitchcock"s World

We haven't talked Costume Design much this year -- course correct, course correct! -- so  let's talk about two time Oscar nominee Julie Weiss and her work on Hitchcock. Hitchcock met with rather cool reception from critics and the public when it debuted last month. Part of that was, I think, due to its all encompassing title. While not a great picture, it self-sabotaged by allowing expectations of a factual and expansive biopic of the Master of Suspense when it actually only had plans on taking a lightly comic snapshot of one year in a famous Hollywood marriage.

Peggy (Toni Collette), Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and Alma Hitchcock (Helen Mirren) in 1960s Hollywood

Though inside showbiz pictures are rarely big hits, movie buffs and those who are actually inside showbiz tend to like them -- go figure! Julie Weiss is no exception. We spoke on the phone but I could swear her eyes were lighting up each time she talked about the honor she felt recreating Old Hollywood.

"That's what we want!" she told me emphatically. "We want the visitation rights to all of these worlds."

Julie Weiss attends a Hitchcock screeningI wondered if she felt the need to let loose creatively in the non-Psycho scenes since she wouldn't have felt as restricted by previously established conography but her passionate response surprised me. She didn't feel hemmed in by Psycho at all.

"Fidelity is an interesting word when memory comes into view," she said explaining that exactitude wasn't the pressure at all. We certainly know Hitchcock but recreating the look of Psycho she reminds me was only part of her job. Especially since the legendary film was shot in black and white and this look back is in color. Color is a key factor in many costuming decisions and we spoke at length about the scene where Alma (Helen Mirren) and Janet (Scarlett Johannson) first meet, with Alma in her usual red and Janet in the palest of pinks.  

"When the costume becomes clothing you know it's the actor becoming the character," Julie explained, describing fittings as crucial to her desire to help the actors transform. "I'm far more interested in watching an actor becoming a character than have a gown stand by itself."

"Scarlett Johansson playing Janet Leigh playing Marion Crane," in particular she describes poetically as a "prism that turned three times." Hitchcock proved a difficult assignment since it encompassed famous film costumes, movie premiere glamour, and everyday period wear in Hollywood and beyond (the Ed Gein sequences). She had to accomplish it all with with little prep time. "So difficult but worth it."

The only time Weiss seemed disappointed in her latest costuming gig was when the conversation turned briefly to the shower scene.

As a costume designer, I wished she were wearing something."

Hee!

Weiss previously performed these old showbiz tricks with Hollywoodland (2006), the lower rent story of the mysterious death of past his prime Superman actor George Reeves played by Ben Affleck. But up until now Julie Weiss's most famous work came from three very different assignments: the dystopian hobo rags and space suits of Twelve Monkeys (1995, Oscar nomination) the pinata-colorful gowns of the art biopic Frida (2002, Oscar nomination) and the uniforms of suburban dysfunction within American Beauty

I told her that my favorite costume from American Beauty was the navy sheath dress on Annette Bening that made her blend in with her prized vertical striped sofa. 

"I'm so glad you noticed that. It means a lot when people notice," she said and shared that she was also made sure The Bening's gray dress matched the metallic of the gun. But before our chat spun into endless 'love your work' back-patting she poked at herself endearingly.

I still worry I should have put more dirt on her apron!" 

This last comment was funny and telling. Julie Weiss was surprisingly self-effacing in the end. Despite a celebrated career with these unmissable peaks, she's really just there to help us win visitation rights to these other worlds.

"I love just standing back and watching that universe come to life. What you really want as a costume designer is that when the person walks out of the theater that they don't remember the costume against a white piece of paper but that they remember the scene and the world."

related...
costume design articles
more on Hitchock
previous interviews 

Saturday
Dec292012

Que Sera Sera, Whatever We'll Link, We'll Link

Roger Ebert delivers his top ten list with Argo up top. Ebert's always been a fairly mainstream Oscar-Friendly voice so it's no surprise to see three of the (presumed) top six Best Picture nominees at the very top. But it's nice to see lesser discussed titles like End of Watch and Oslo August 31st getting their due.
In Contention details a prestigious win that I didn't know about for the French film Farewell My Queen, one of my favorites
IMDb the most pirated movie of 2012 was... Project X. Huh. 


NPR ooh, I missed this interview earlier in the year. Doris Day reflecting on her life and career 
The Guardian here's a fun top ten list if you're feeling that new holiday weight: the best onscreen personal trainers from Mr Miyagi (The Karate Kid) to Pai Mei (Kill Bill)
/Film Test footage for animation/live action hybrid crimes against my childhood: Hong Kong Phooey and Marvin the Martian 

Les Línkables
Vulture Kyle and Amanda argue over Les Misérables with a side of Disneyland
Kelli Marshall pummels considers Les Miz of which she is (previously) a fan
The New Yorker on the consistent greatness of the property and "a continuity of culture" in which the old stories can still be the best
Guardian looks back on Tom Hooper's career. I always forget that the much-loathed director (at least on the internet) made so many wildly acclaimed TV films before moving to the big screen
International Business Times reports that the soundtrack is selling briskly -- I received mine yesterday (thanks Universal peeps!) -- and looks back at the most popular film soundtracks ever. Speaking of which...
Atlantic Wire the music is stuck in our heads forever... again.

Pretty soon everyone will be humming "One Day More" or "Master of the House" and will not be able to stop, and there will be nowhere to escape it. We will all become Les Mis zombies like it's the '80s or something. It might be fun for the first few days, communal and all that, but after a couple of weeks, we'll all be wishing for the same sweet sickness that sent Fantine to heaven.

It's true. Just yesterday I sang the most amazing Les Miz MegaMix in the shower.


Click on the photo if you missed my earlier post on Zero Dark's screenplay

Today's Must Read
Salon Andrew O'Hehir has written the piece on Zero Dark Thirty I've been longing to read. This provocative essay looks at all sides of the argument and the confusing evasions of Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow, and doesn't retreat to the frustrating polarized agendas we've been reading like "it's Reifenstahl-level evil and totally pro-torture!" or "people who think so aren't paying any attention" (Subtext: it just can't be pro-torture because I've already expressed my love for it and what does that say about me?!?)

Saturday
Dec292012

Kristen Stewart is a Rock Star and Other "On The Road" Discoveries

The Scene: September* 2012, NYC. An industry screening and cocktail party for On the Road.

Kristen Stewart stood at the front of the crowded screening room in a white oversized dress shirt and black slacks. Director Walter Salles and co-star Garrett Hedlund stood beside her and she shifted nervously while they all spoke to the assembled Academy and Guild members and small pockets of press types like me. The "stop looking at me" vibe, already familiar from her many public appearances rippled outward. One wants celebrities to enjoy the rarified air they breathe, both because success is a beautiful coveted trophy and because careers in the public eye require being looked at to achieve any degree of it. I've written about my discomfort with her discomfort before in a piece that was provocatively called "Jodie Foster is Wrong: On the Mandatory Price of Fame." Yet, through the course of the evening I found myself reconsidering her particulars.

Kristen Stewart does her randiest (and maybe her best) work ever in "On the Road".

*Yes, this scene I've set took place in September.

I foolishly didn't write about the party immediately thereafter though it happened to be the first awards season get together of 2012 as "the Doyenne of Buzz" Peggy Siegal reminded us in welcome. Even then On the Road (The Movie) seemed to be as lost in time as its protagonists were on the map as they drove and drove, searching for connection, energy, sex, thrills, drugs, music -- anything that felt alive. I knew the film wouldn't open until the tail end of the year in limited release (possibly near you) and I wondered, as I often do, what I'm to do as a film blogger about movies that remain so elusive, movies with strange and distant release dates. Films, like movie stars, are invented to be looked at, but many of them hide despite the best efforts of publicists, filmmakers and journalists who are eager to embrace them and discuss them with moviegoers.

[I worried, even then, that this moody sweaty retro film would be utterly ignored in the crush of Shiny Noisy Awards-Baiting Behemoths. The Adult-Oriented Christmas Multiplex Glut is simply no place for a film that so pointedly craves wide open spaces and young hormonal surges. I'm mystified that the distributor (Sundance Selects) didn't choose to open this one somewhere between July and October, much more comfortable climates for its subject matter and appeal.]

Very briefly at the after-party I spoke with Kristen Stewart about the green splint on her finger which I had mistaken for an oversized piece of costume jewelry. She told me I wasn't the first and held it up, not for my benefit but for her own 'why do people keep mentioning that?' contemplation. I never learned how she'd hurt her finger and that's all we said to each other. But in the little circles that form themselves around The Talent at these industry parties, she seemed perfectly content, if still a bit restless, to be talking to other people in her profession. As I left the party I felt a little bad about my impatience with her celebrity unease because up close and impersonal, I suddenly saw it from a different and I assume clearer perspective. Kristen Stewart isn't, in spirit, a movie star but a rock star. Rock stars are allowed more antagonistic friction between themselves and the world. Sometimes they're even rewarded for it.

...all of those smashed-up guitars.

Hedlund & Stewart. True Lust Forever.

This is, quite obviously, why Stewart's previous best performance to date was as Joan Jett in The Runaways. And it has to be why she's so mesmerizing again as the untamed teenage bride "Marylou".

Stewart's fame far outstrips that of her male leads but for all her screen magnetism in this particular role, the true star of On the Road is Garret Hedlund as "Dean Moriarty" the object of nearly everyone's affection. Hedlund made his way through that same September party with an eager friendliness in amusing unintentional direct contrast to his co-star. It's remarkably easy to fall in deep like with him and in the film it's impossible not to fall in deep love. Were On the Road to be more widely seen, Hedlund's explosive sexuality as Dean coupled with the quality of his acting would make him an instant 'cast him in everything!' sensation. On the Road doesn't always work but Hedlund's star turn definitely does.

I recently screened the film a second time and left with the same impression. The same impression that the film wisely underlines. The classic book and this film version both conclude with a confessional mantra: 

I think of Dean Moriarty. I think of Dean Moriarty. I think of Dean Moriarty."

I dare you to see the film and leave thinking of anything else.

previously
more Kristen Stewart
more Garrett Hedlund