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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, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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Yes No Maybe So - Beauty & The Beast

"Nice teaser but it going to be hard for Disney to top one of their true masterpieces of animation" - Jaragon

 "I don't have high hopes for the principals either, but the real draw is the supporting cast. I'm a NO on McGregor's accent and a YES on McKellen, so put me down as a MAYBE SO." -BD

 "CGI chandeliers? Damn, DIsney, let them build a set." -Jacob

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Monday
Jan062014

Oscar Symposium: The Fifth Spot (Part One)

In which a new Film Experience tradition begins. A pre-nomination mini-symposium about fifth spot battles...

NATHANIEL R: Things that are awesome that come in sets of five: fingers, boy bands, the filmography of John Cazale, golden rings to be used for Olympics or in song, toes, Oscar nominees... It always comes back to the Oscars here at The Film Experience, don't you know?

I never thought of myself as any more averse to change than the average person but when the Academy changed the Best Picture system in 2009 and 2010 to a top ten and then to anything between 5 and 10, the magic number suddenly becoming 9 in both 2011 and 2012, it felt like a direct attack on my sanity. But Oscar categories come in fives!!! I've never stopped internally protesting and whenever anyone suggests that the acting categories should widen as well, a little part of me dies inside or reaches for smelling salts. I've taken solace in recent rule changes that bring Original Song and Visual Effects to a clean five-wide system as well and I pray that Hair and Makeup eventually goes there, too. I need the clarity of that organizing number.

This year we're starting a new mini-symposium tradition at the Film Experience in which we gather to discuss the fifth spot. There's no point in debating the locks but usually at least one spot is up for grabs. Please welcome our panel of five: Kurt Osenlund (The House Next Door), Nathaniel R (The Film Experience, c'est moi), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and You (in the comments). These "what ifs" we're discussing become moot on January 16th when the nominations are announced but they're fun while they last (10 more days!). Eventually each year's acting shortlists take on a feeling of inevitability in retrospect... even the "surprise" nominees that didn't have much support in the precursors.

Are any of you feeling bullish about a surprise nominee that you think will seem inevitable once their name is read on Nomination Morning? [Supporting Categories after the jump...]

Chris, Kurt, Nathaniel, Sasha and You

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan052014

Box Office: The January Drought

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. The first week of January is without doubt host to the least exciting crop of new films every year. Generally speaking, the only type of wide release is horror mediocrities like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D or this year’s The Marked Ones. Do NOT let the presence of ‘paranormal activity’ in the title fool you. It’s a trick to get you to see another film in the same found footage series that started five years ago. Because I’m a masochist, I have seen all previous installments, the best (and first) of which I can, at my most generous, describe with a shrug. Ever since, the franchise has been in a qualitative downward spiral that is now drowning its box office too. $18m is dismal business for this series, though it frankly surpasses my expectations.

The real story, like last week, belongs to Frozen. Then, I was wondering if it could muscle its way ahead of the competition during the holidays. Lo and behold, the Disney film is now back on top of the charts, will pass $300 million ($300 million!) tomorrow, is currently 2013's fourth highest grosser and Disney's biggest hit (sans Pixar) since The Lion King (1994). Meanwhile, Katniss will finally defeat Tony Stark by Tuesday as the book closes on 2013. This is a real rarity, as Michael detailed here, and whatever one thinks of the franchise, it is reason to celebrate. Finally, it’s noteworthy that Inside Llewyn Davis, on a small sample size of 156 theatres maintains almost exactly the same numbers as last weekend. If it manages to grab a few Oscar nominations, expect it to do similarly strong business upon expansion; but that’s a very big if.

TOP OF THE BOX OFFICE
01 Frozen $20.7 (cum. $297.8) Review | Podcast | Groff
02 Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones $18.2
03 The Hobbit 2 $16.2 (cum. $229.6)
04 Wolf of Wall Street $13.4 (cum. $63.2) Review | Scorsese's Women
05 American Hustle $13.2 (cum. $88.7) Podcast | Ensemble Power

I have stayed home so far this weekend, rewatching The Cranes Are Flying, Citizen Kane and Rashomon and watching Clio Barnard’s brilliant The Selfish Giant. Later tonight, I’ll be catching up with Xavier Dolan’s latest, Tom at the Farm. (If you're interested, you can always follow what I'm watching here.)

What have you watched this weekend?

Sunday
Jan052014

Sunday
Jan052014

Have A Super George Reeves Centennial

One hundred years ago today, the second but arguably most famous pre-Christopher Reeve era Superman was born. George Reeves didn't rocket in from outerspace, landing like a meteorite in the backyard of some kindly adoptive farm couple in Kansas. He was born the normal way a few hours to the northeast in Iowa. But by the time he was 38, the struggling movie actor who had had minor roles in two Best Picture winners (Gone With the Wind and From Here to Eternity) was a national celebrity in Superman's trademark blue longjohns with red underpants... albeit in black and white on the telly.

Remember when Ben Affleck played him in Hollywoodland (2006)? 

I hadn't heard people mention this movie in years (here's a good review of it from Erik Lundegaard) until they announced that the sequel to Man of Steel would co-star Ben Affleck as Batman. At that point, pictures of Ben in the Supes suit resurfaced with a vengeance online.

I always thought George Reeves deserved a better biopic than the one he got in Hollywoodland. Not that it was a terrible movie but you have to focus to make an impression and Reeves somewhat controversial death (suicide or murder?) made that impossible. In there somewhere was surely a potentially universal and moving story about bad luck, personal demons and thwarted potential via typecasting (or as non-actors know it: being pigeonholed or underestimated). But the movie, if I recall it correctly, flattened out while trying to also be a costume drama about the tumultuous 50s in showbiz (when TV first truly freaked the movies out) and a romantic drama and a movie about Detective Adrien Brody (huh?). Focus, people!

I'm sympathetic to focus problems as anyone who reads the blog for more than a week will realize. So my mind is already wandering away but not before stopping at this pressing poll of imaginary consequence!  

 

 

Saturday
Jan042014

National Society of Film Critics Wants Inside Llewyn Davis

The National Society of Film Critics is the second oldest film critics group, after the grandfather of them all the New York Film Critics Circle. This year they swooned for that cad with the cat, Llewyn Davis, giving the Coen brothers Inside Llewyn Davis four of its major prizes: Picture, Director, Actor and Cinematography.

Their prizes

PICTURE Inside Llewyn Davis (runner up: American Hustle)
DIRECTOR Joel and Ethan Coen Inside Llewyn Davis (runner up: Alfonso Cuaron)
ACTRESS Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine (runner up: Adéle Exarchopoulus)
ACTOR Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis (runner up: Chiwetel Ejiofor)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle (runner up: Lupita Nyong'o)
SUPPORTING ACTOR James Franco, Spring Breakers (runner up: Jared Leto)
FOREIGN FILM  Blue is the Warmest Color (runner up: A Touch of Sin)
NON-FICTION [tie] The Act of Killing & At Berkeley)
EXPERIMENTAL FILM Leviathan 

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan042014

Yes, No, Maybe So: Veronica Mars

I have a confession to make. I, Dancin' Dan, am one of the crazy Veronica Mars superfans who donated to the record-breaking Kickstarter campaign to fund the Veronica Mars movie. And I have followed the making of said movie very eagerly. So when the official theatrical trailer was released yesterday, I was quite excited to see both what it would look like and what the reaction from non-fans would be. So while my answer to our eternal trailer query may be obvious, I'm very curious to know what people with little to no knowledge of the TV show think. Marshmallows, come gush with me!

Y|N|MS breakdown is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan042014

Amir's Most Anticipated, 2014

Amir here, taking a break from the relentless torrent of lists, think pieces and twitter catfights about everything 2013 to look ahead at the new year.

Making a list of the year’s most anticipated films is always a risky task and there’s little payoff in raising one’s expectations of any film. Predictably so, there isn’t always overlap between what we anticipate and what we actually like when the final product materializes on the screen, but that’s the beauty of the whole thing. There will undoubtedly be disappointments, but in their stead, there will also be pleasant surprises. Of the films that shaped my lineup last year, only three ended up among my top 25 films of the year, but at this moment a year ago, I hadn’t even heard of something like Museum Hours or The Broken Circle Breakdown.

10 Noah (Darren Aronofsky)
Because: the director. The director, I say! The trailer for this biblical epic was mostly disappointing. The CGI looked unconvincing, the dialogue was gratingly cheesy and, as a non-religious man, I find the basic premise of this oft-told story laughable. But who am I kidding? I’m still going to be there on opening day. Darren Aronofsky has (almost) never disappointed and something tells me he’ll find an interesting angle on the most famous of all tales. Plus, I have a fondness for Russell Crowe few can match.

Nine more possible great ones after the jump...

Click to read more ...