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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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First Time Oscar Nominees - who will be back first?

"Probably the last nomination for all of them." - Fred

"From this group, I'd say Ruth Negga, Lucas Hedges, and Dev Patel are likely to return again." - Aaron

"Out of all the nominees I think it's a little strange that Garfield was the least deserving but most likely to be nominated again. " - Tom

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INTERVIEWS

Oscar Nominee Interviews
Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman)
Martin Butler & Bentley Dean (Tanna)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival
Krystof Deak (Sing)
Robert Legato (The Jungle Book)
Rich Moore (Zootopia) 

 

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Friday
Nov142014

Stockholm Film Festival: 'Imitation Game', 'Mommy' and 'Human Capital' Shoot for Oscar Glory

Glenn has been attending the 25th Stockholm Film Festival as a member of the FIPRESCI jury where he saw a selection of Oscar hopefuls including ‘The Imitation Game’ and foreign language competitors ‘Human Capital’ and ‘Mommy’.


The Imitation Game
One of the curious things about festivals in a city like Stockholm is that, due to delayed distribution methods, films like Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (the director’s memo about the name change apparently hasn’t crossed oceans) can compete for prizes alongside global curiosities like Pascale Ferran’s Bird People and Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s The Owners. They feel unfairly situated alongside arthouse titles from the whole globe.

My fellow jurors were surprised when I informed them that The Imitation Game was an Academy frontrunner. Given that the Oscar Best Picture competition at this stage appears to be quite polarizing and auteur-focused, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tyldum’s film about the cracking of the WWII enigma machine cracks its own way into the runaway position. Nor would I be able to be all that angry as it’s really a rather good movie that has been handsomely produced and features several great performances, including Keira Knightley who is, yet again, on film quality-raising duty. While I found its very British respectability somewhat hard to truly embrace, it meant that I was impressed it didn’t always merely go for the easiest of sentimental choices. There are rousing, emotional moments, sure, with plenty of speeches about what's right and just while they wear their primly knitted sweaters and suits, and the end especially will give plenty of viewers less ice-hearted than I a good sniffle, but for the majority of the film’s length it holds its cards relatively close to its chest. At least until the final act, where its quivering stiff upper lip gives way entirely. It’s the cup of Earl Grey of the season: reliably, dependably solid. B+

More films after the jump...

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Friday
Nov142014

HTGAWM: He Has A Wife

Manuel here catching you up on the latest #HTGAWM episode so Nathaniel doesn’t have to. 

This is it, everyone. We’re one episode away from knowing #WhoKiledSam (or, an episode away from ABC having to figure out what else to hashtag during the show, at least). Thus, much of “He Has A Wife” felt like watching a rather amateur chess game setting its pieces in place for the eventual check mate as our two timelines finally collided. 

DO NOT LEAVE!”

Annalise may be talking to Bonnie, but I can’t be the only one who week in and week out wants to sneak out the door but is unable to do so precisely because of Viola. Yes, her Annalise pushes incredulity (why go to such great lengths to cover up her husband? I’m hoping she pulls a Patty Hewes and we find she’s been master-minding the entire show all along) but she’s endlessly watchable and every episode has a number of moments that show why this is one of the buzziest shows of the fall.

Five moments after the jump

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Friday
Nov142014

AFI Fest Honors Sophia Loren, Actress, Fashion Icon, Mistress of Throwing Shade

 Anne Marie from the AFI Fest on an International Legend...

At age 80, Sophia Loren is still magnetic. When the Academy Award-winning actress appeared onstage at the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday night for an AFI Fest tribute to her career, she received a two-minute long standing ovation. The audience whooped and yelled "Bellisima" before Loren, elegant in a black gown studded with crystals, could do more than walk onstage and smile. Once the furor died down, Rob Marshall, her director for Nine, interviewed Sophia Loren about her career, co-stars, and controversies.

“When I saw the movies, I forgot the war, forgot hunger. It was possible to believe there was another life than the one I was in.”

Despite her glamorous image, Loren's description of her early life growing up poor in the slums of Italy was bleak. When she met her husband, producer Carlo Ponti (who passed away in 2007), he took an active role in shaping her career. Ponti was the one who brought her to America after a successful Italian film career and encouraged her to learn English (“you have to learn English, because movies are in English"). Of course, we all know how that turned out. She had a hugely successful international film career, starring in films by some of the best American and Italian directors (not Fellini, of whom she said “I was not his kind of actress"), and an Oscar in 1961 for Two Women, a movie to which she felt deeply connected, since it reflected her own impoverished childhood.

Besides an illustrious film career, Sophia Loren also has a wicked sense of humor. She was happy to dish on her various famous co-leading men. Here are some scattered observations:

On Cary Grant: "...a great actor, absolutely incredible as a person, as a man.”

Peter Sellars: “very melancholic person. He would light up only when the director said action.”

Clark Gable: "He had a watch and it rang every evening at 5. When it rang, he would leave without saying goodbye."

Daniel Day Lewis: "One of the best alive."

Marlon Brando: <shrug> "Eh."

But of course, nothing could top her most famous moment of shade, the immortal side-eye she gave Jayne Mansfield at a Hollywood party. Rob Marshall showed Loren the picture, and asked her exactly what was going through her mind. Here, for a brief moment, Loren was at a loss for words.

"I was afraid that everything would... come out!"

The tribute concluded with two films starring the legendary actress: her son Edoardo Ponti's short film, The Human Voice, and Marriage Italian Style, the 1964 film for which Loren earned her second Academy Award nomination. As Sophia Loren rose to leave the stage before the movies began, she received another standing ovation. She paused briefly, clearly touched, and then swept away.

Friday
Nov142014

100 Days 'Til Oscar. A Short Clean Sweep

We're all used to the Oscar ceremony drawing monotonous "it's too long!" complaints. Yours truly doesn't share that view. Hell, if they wanted to do 9-hour broadcasts and include all the honoraries again and give more attention to the craft categories, and never skimp on any of the four category clip reels for the actors, I'd gladly watch each additional minute. But the super long Oscar ceremony is actually not a historic consistency. The earliest Oscars were short banquets and once they started televising them in the 50s the lengths varied.

Gigi made a clean sweep with 9 Oscars but with no acting nominations. Burl Ives (The Big Country), Susan Hayward (I Want To Live!), and David Niven and Wendy Hiller (not pictured) from Separate Tables won the acting Oscars.

The shortest of all televised ceremonies was the 1958 Oscars, broadcast live on April 6th, '59. It was only 100 minutes long. Can you imagine it? 

Of course if you're just going to hand all the statues to something as dull as Gigi, which made a clean sweep with 9 wins from 9 nominations PLUS an Honorary Oscar for Maurice Chevalier, you'd best do it quickly you know? Fun fact: If you started watching Gigi as its Oscar ceremony began you'd still have 15 minutes of the movie left when the Oscars wrapped.

Gigi gets a bad wrap but it wasn't a terribly competitive film year and at least it wasn't quite the worst of the nominees. The other nominees were Auntie Mame, The Defiant Ones, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and (ugh) Separate Tables. I suspect the dread sixth 'just-missed' slot belonged to Robert Wise's I Want to Live! which received 6 nominations and a long awaited win for Susan Hayward. Which would you have voted for?

And no write in votes for the actual best movie of 1958, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo which got a measly two nominations and no gold. I suspect it was nowhere near a Best Pic nomination given the initial chilly response from audiences, critics, and the Academy. 

Thursday
Nov132014

AFI: Selma Premiere or, We Ate Cookies With Lorraine Toussaint!

Safely happily physically ensconced back in New York City, my head is still ping-ponging around that exciting week in Los Angeles. My thoughts take scary stumbles back in time to 1960s Alabama when white politicians and racists were trying to stop black citizens from voting. Sound familiar? The first part, I mean. Sadly in 2014 we're still fighting efforts to surpress the vote, making Ava DuVernay's upcoming Christmas release Selma a historical drama that is also uncomfortably contemporary.

The AFI FESTIVAL PRESENTED BY CORPORATION (don't make me say it, publicists!) closes tonight with Foxcatcher but we'll have a few more days of coverage to catch up. My closing night film was the world premiere of Selma. It was so fresh from the editing bay that the great cinematographer Bradford Young was brought up on stage five days earlier for that A Most Violent Year premiere (he's busy) only to instantly return to the film for color corrections. It was so new that a couple of visual effects and a few sound issues had not been fully resolved. The event was pitched as a preview of 30 minutes of the film but Oprah Winfrey, who produced, convinced Ava to seize the opportunity to present the (nearly) completed work. We were actually asked not to review it though I see that the rest of the internet has thoroughly disobeyed this studio request. Virtually the whole cast was there with the exception of the white guys (Allesandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Tom Wilkinson) and Carmen Ejogo who plays Coretta Scott King.

More on Ejogo, Oscar play, and a party photos after the jump...

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Thursday
Nov132014

Foreign Submission Review: Panama's "Invasion"

Here's Jose to look at the first Oscar submission ever from Panama. They sent a documentary.



On the early morning of December 20, 1989, the United States invaded Panama. Under code-name Operation Just Cause, the US deposed de-facto leader Manuel Noriega and president-elect Guillermo Endara was sworn into office. Setting a precedent of inexplicable, unjustified foreign invasions under the command of presidents named George Bush, the Panama intervention was notorious for its lack of transparency; while US officials set the casualties tally at 500, local records report up to 7,000 civilians and soldiers who were never heard of again. Even more interesting is the fact that the invasion is simply something people don’t talk about anymore.

[More...]

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Thursday
Nov132014

AFI Fest: 'Tales of the Grim Sleeper' and the Politics of Telling Other People's Stories

Margaret reporting from the AFI Fest...

The new documentary Tales of the Grim Sleeper, on the long list of eligible Oscar doc titles, screened for the first time in Los Angeles not ten miles from the scene of the brutal crimes it addresses. The feature investigates a serial murderer and his staggering number of victims over two decades in a close-knit South L.A. community-- and these are not the kind of crimes that "could have happened anywhere." Visited on an already underserved and overlooked neighborhood, the killings targeted upwards of one hundred black women, many prostitutes and drug users, whose lives the police disregarded so entirely that for years the crimes were designated by the LAPD as NHI-- No Human Involved. 

The entry point for the film is an investigation of Lonnie Franklin, Jr., the suspect in custody who is still awaiting trial, but as the documentary picks apart layers of the case it instead becomes a scathing indictment of a broken justice system.

Director Nick Broomfield, a white British man whose background gives him little in common with the subjects of his narrative, has significant advantages in accessing and broadcasting this story. A pioneer in the self-reflexive documentary style that has since been employed by Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, he inserts himself into the narrative just enough be transparent about his outsider relationship to the community, and his platform as an affluent white filmmaker.

Thankfully, Broomfield doesn't seem to labor under the impression that it's his story to tell. For his Q&A after the AFI Fest screening, he brought up Pam Brooks, who makes invaluable contributions to the movie as a neighborhood guide and storyteller, and Margaret Prescod, tireless spokesperson for the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders. Broomfield deftly redirected audience questions about the victims, miscarriage of justice, and the apartheid in L.A. to Margaret and Pam. 

Lonnie Franklin's public defender, a minor presence in the documentary who came off as a sloppy, hapless suit, emerged from the audience to make a tone-deaf bid to co-opt the Q&A, talking over Margaret and Pam and offering unsolicited advice. This tasteless move only served to underline the film's point about invisibilization of the affected community, and the importance of supporting their voices.

Someone in the audience asked, "What can we do?" Nick Broomfield deferred again to Margaret Prescod. "This film should be shown all over this city. Make sure people see it. Make sure city officials see it. How many black women died, were murdered? We're still waiting to find out. It took a British filmmaker to come here and tell this story... We are not done here."

So, what can we do? We can think about who gets to tell these stories, and try to listen and respect the people who are telling their own.