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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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"Open Up and Say... 'AAAAaaahhhvengers'"

I find these very disturbing all lined up like so...

Shouldn't the letters read Avengers when it's in banner form -- it's the exact right amount of characters -- and  a simple logoriffic "A" when it's not. Otherwise it's all "say AAAAAAaaaaaahhhhh"

Please note that ScarJo is the only player who gets a butt shot. That's part of the whole gender typing superhero sexualization disparity thing as seen here and here.


The Covers The Dreamers And Me

[Editor's note: It's Muppet Week! I asked  Team Experience to share their favorite Muppet memories. Like JA, I'm 1000% in love with this 1979 Oscar Nominee for Best Song. Feel free to sing along. - Nathaniel] 

JA from MNPP here. Let's just get this outta the way right up front - "The Rainbow Connection" is my favorite song of all time. It's also part of one of my earliest memories, and definitely my very first movie memory - I couldn't have been more than three or four and I'd been dropped off at a babysitter's house for the first time ever while my parents took off to do god knows what. I was miserable, horrified, I distinctly remember the babysitter staring at me with terror in her eyes as I bawled like a maniac (so much time has passed and the only thing that's changed is now it's my boyfriend's face giving me that look).
But it all changed as soon as the babysitter turned on the TV and whaddya know, there was The Muppet Movie just starting. Some little green frog was warbling his little tune on his little banjo on his little log in his little swamp, and magic - Muppet and movie alike - carried me away, and I've never looked back. When my parents showed up before the movie was over I refused to leave until it ended - a cinemaniac (with a secret felt fetish, shh) was born.

Thirty years or so have passed since that life-defining moment, and  I will still break into immediate awestruck tears when I hear it. Lines like "I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm s'posed to be..." actually honestly helped me through the coming out process in my early 20s. The debt of gratitude for forming a basic piece of who I am - and a really basic decent part, I think I can say truthfully - that I owe to Jim Henson and songwriters Paul Williams and Kennth Ascher is beyond measure.
So with The Muppets out in theaters this week, I figured we could take a look back at that song and the thirty years that it's been a living breathing beautiful thing in our lives. There are literally dozens of these to pick from but here are my five of my favorite covers!


Curio: Muppet Madness

Alexa here. Lately I've been busying myself by introducing my daughter to the Muppets, in hopes that the new installment will pan out and there will be more Muppet fun to come. (So far, Miss Piggy's Esther Williams routine and the Steve Martin hosting with balloons and banjo appear to be her favorite moments.) My attempts to find her a reasonably priced Miss Piggy doll have been thwarted, due to the lack of merchandising out there; maybe Disney is taking an uncharacteristic wait-and-see approach? In the meantime, here are some cool indie designs that fill the Muppet merchandise void.

Fabulous retro Muppet concert posters by Michael De Pippo.

Ever-prolific Alex Kittle does a great Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem gig poster.Click for more, including Miss Piggy with donut...

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The Family of "Hugo" Cabret

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Hugo a second time at my favorite* NYC theater, the Ziegfeld. It's an enormous "Old Hollywood" feeling place, one of the last of its kind so it couldn't have been a better setting for an all guild screening of a movie that's obsessed with the history of the movies just like Martin Scorsese himself. Let's call him "Papa Scorsese" today since he brought along nearly his entire movie "family" apart from cinematographer Robert Richardson (referred to as "Bob") who Scorsese joked was  'off filming a movie with this new guy called Quentin somebody (?)'

3-time Oscar winners Thelma Schoonmaker and Sandy Powell await their cue © Nathaniel Rogers

Everyone else was there: Legendary art director Dante Ferretti, legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker, legendary costume designer Sandy Powell... well you get the idea...


Dante Ferretti, Art Direction
His job didn't change much in 3D, he revealed. He joked that the room we're sitting in is 3D. It took him six months to build the sets. He and his team built everything: the station, the glass movie house, even Papa Georges's (Ben Kingsley) apartment. With the look of the film they were attempting to base it not on realistic research but on images from the cinema and French cinema of the period specifically.

Ellen Lewis, Casting
She had not seen The Boy With Stryped Pajamas when the casting search for the lead role of Hugo began in New York, London and Los Angeles simultaneously. Someone sent her the movie and she met with Asa Butterfield the first week she was in London.

She added:

Many times, oddly, in casting children you find the child you're looking for in the first week or the last week. I don't know how to explain why."

They decided to have everyone speak in British accents after casting Asa because they didn't want to alter his voice and he was the first actor cast. 

Visual Effects
The visual effects supervisor -- his name escapes me in. Apologies -- had this to say about George Melies as the originator of special effects?

He didn't have anything to refer to besides his own imagination. Before I started the movie I had only seen Voyage to the Moon and I thought it was okay but then I started to really study his films, like that clip where he throws his head up into the stanza of music. That's genius. I had to play it back three or four times to figure out how he did it. He did this in 1905 so I felt rather small."  

Costume recreations, Scorsese joking about budgets and more after the jump.

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Scene Work: Demián Bichir & Chris Weitz on "A Better Life"

In this new miniseries, we'll be discussing some of the most memorable individual scenes of the movies of 2011. So let's start with the penultimate scene from the immigration drama A Better Life. Have any of you seen it? 

At a recent luncheon honoring Demián Bichir (Weeds, Che), currently on the Best Actor campaign trail, I had a brief chat with the star and his director Chris Weitz. Our conversations kept drifting to two scenes in the movie, the aforementioned emotional peak when Carlos (Bichir) explains to his son, as best he can, the reason why he moved to America and had a child, and an earlier intense sequence that sets much of the plot in motion as Carlos (Bichir) makes a fateful mistake while shimmying up a palm tree in his day job as a gardener.

I told Bichir that I've always wondered how scary it is for actors to work on those slow build performances. Many performances have several peaks but A Better Life is quite a linear drama and Bichir keeps the performance very low key for a long time. It's all building to his intensely emotional monologue as he sits in a deportation center with his son. I wondered how nerve wracking that scene must have been for him. He plays the scene beautifully, with so much pent up painful intimacy. But as character arcs go it's very backloaded; his entire performance and indeed the film, rests on it.

That's why I had you. For me. For me. For a reason to live."

"Interesting," Bichir says, considering the question. "I try not to think about that. I never think ahead." he confesses, explaining that he tries to take the journey in sequence with the character, though he readily admits that you know the scenes in every script your first time reading through.

"So I don't think about it," he elaborates. "It's like in life. You know, when you're in love you don't think 'what if we break up?' You don't think about the fears or the negativity." The emotional place you have to get to you just work towards day by day, he explains. They were lucky to shoot almost chronologically which really helped him.

Oscar Campaigning and a unexpected Twilight diversion after the jump.

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"baby, you are going to miss that link"

Please tell me how to feel about the proposed Before Sunset (2004) sequel. I don't mean to shirk my duties as an "opinion maker" *snort* but sometimes I just don't have one. A definitive opinion, I mean. See, when the magical Sunset was first announced it sounded like an iffy idea at best and a terrible idea at worst chasing such a fleeting wisp of enchantment like Before Sunrise (1995), one that purposely left the future up to our collective or, rather, individual imagination.

But then Before Sunset arrived and it turned out that a second encounter with Jesse and Celine was not just a good idea, but a great one. It was as if the stars and the Richard Linklater, the writer/director, had not just matured nine years in the interim but that they're maturity combined had tripled that depth of their real time spell-casting. What an incredible film. But if a third film were to triple the depth and power of the second, we would have to count it among the greatest films of all time and what are the chances of that happening? 

Do you want to know what happened to Jesse & Celine or are you more than content to imagine for yourself what came after the fade out?

fourfour "the diva chain" love it. 
The Playlist awww, damnit. No The Fly sequel for David Cronenberg after all.
AV Club on the new muppet "Walter".  
Rope of Silicon talks to Michel Hazanavicius on Tati, Chaplin and The Artist. Can you believe he's never seen The Thin Man?!
The Wrap Weird News Of Day Alert: Rocky is being musicalized. I've always thought there was great crossover between boxing fetishists and musical theater lovers... uhhhh
The Awl Mary & Natasha are all "!!!!!" on all things The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 "I CANNOT EVEN" myself but maybe not in the same way. 

Finally... Hollywood Elsewhere reveals a big "No" on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close screenings for NBR and NYFCC awards voters. Stephen Daldry's latest just won't be ready by their crazy-early deadlines (November 28th and 29th respectively) It is a bit ridiculous that people are trying to vote on "best of the year" in November. But, then again, it's kind of ridiculous that so many movies don't want to show themselves until December. Lots of magazines have deadlines for "best of year" pieces that have always required long lead looks. November expectations for December offerings are nothing new behind the scenes.


Oscar Updates: Shorts & Songs

The charts have all been updated... I started with the Animation, Shorts and Doc page which never gets enough attention and on which you'll see a lot of new information. Short films are such a crucial building block for young filmmakers and an ideal experimental playground for established filmmakers. They never get enough attention. We haven't culled enough information yet on the live action shorts but we know of three in the mix that have qualified that all happen to star Oscar talent: Sailcloth has two time nominee John Hurt as a nursing home escapee, The Sea is All I Know has recent winner Melissa Leo as a grieving mom and African Chelsea has Sally Kirkland as the mother of an exotic dancer. (Full disclosure: African Chelsea is advertising on the sidebar even as you read this but our love for Kirkland long pre-dates advertisements. We first fell for her during her spirited Oscar run for Anna, just as we were beginning to get an inkling of what "Oscar campaigning" was back in the day. Have you ever seen Anna? A must-see for actress obsessives.)

If you know of other live action shorts that have qualified feel free to share them in the comments and we'll investigate. Unless AMPAS releases a list (like they did with the animated and doc shorts) we're flying with one blind eye.

As for the bulk of the categories... there are minor gains for The Iron Lady, Hugo, The Descendants and such but buzz always grows when films start pushing or are about to open. Oscar is a marathon and it remains to be seen which currently sprinting films can keep at it for another 2 months. Stay hydrated movies, stay hydrated. Earlier releases like The Help and Moneyball may seem to be running on buzz fumes at the moment but it isn't necessarily a bad move to stretch and take a deep breath once you've already made a case for yourself. All the films that have already done so, will have to start sprinting again anyway once ballots are in hand anyway.

I've also filled out the Best Original Song competition. Despite the extranneaous nature of this category (songs have so little to do with filmmaking especially in the modern era when most movie songs are not originals) it could offer abundant Oscar Ceremony possibilities this year. Even if we don't get to see Captain America and his USO girls in a kickline or a performance or two from the beloved Muppets we still might have opportunities to see major names like Pink, Elton John or Zooey Deschanel performing.

That said, it's always possible they'll either select badly -- DON'T EVEN SPEAK TO ME ABOUT THE CHER SNUB LAST YEAR. The flames. On the side of my face.... -- or select well and then give all the numbers to some random celebrity to sing in a medley, anyway. Note to AMPAS: if you insist on keeping this category, do not deprive us of big gawdy song spectacles! 

What kind of musical performance would you love to see on Oscar night? Besides Billy Crystal's inevitable vaguely musical monologue that is.

Oscar Charts