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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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Diane Kruger does Hedy Lamarr?

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Monday
Oct052015

NYFF: Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next

Manuel here reporting from the New York Film Festival, where Michael Moore’s latest documentary had its first American screening after a bow at TIFF last month.

Moore’s Where to Invade Next is born out of the same sense of anger and despair that characterizes his earlier docs, but as he noted himself in yesterday’s press conference, he found a way to funnel that anger in a more productive way. Indeed, while the opening images (which juxtapose anti-terrorism presidential sound-bites with horrific national images from Ferguson and Sandy Hook) feel driven by an unwavering anger at the current state of US affairs, what follows is a rather optimistic portrait of the potential for change, presented, of course, with the irreverent wit that Moore epitomizes.

Tasked with “invading” countries by himself, Moore visits various European countries in hopes of, as he says, being able to “pick the flowers, not the weeds”: finding, that is, the best ideas about public policy that are thriving in other countries in hopes to steal them, bring them back to America, and watch them be implemented. The entire premise was a way, Moore explained, to make a documentary about the United States without shooting a single frame in the United States. Every hot button issue you can think of, from police brutality to women’s reproductive health, from the industrial prison complex to school lunches, from labor regulations to women’s equality, is tackled head on from the outside in. He travels to Italy to learn about their paid vacation policy (8 weeks!). He travels to Norway to visit their maximum security prison (where inmates carry the keys to their cells which come equipped with TVs, and who can use the state of the art recording studio or the expansive library at their leisure). He travels to Tunisia (an Islamic state, let’s remember) to visit their women’s health centers where abortions have been legal since the 1970s and learn how riots by women toppled a conservative government that hoped to repeal those female rights and protections. And so on, and so forth, talking to school cafeteria chefs, factory workers, multinational CEOs, and policemen, from Portugal, Iceland, France, Germany and Norway.

“I am American. I live in a great country, built on genocide and grown on the backs of slaves.” - Moore, candidly summing up what he sees so few jingoistic Americans acknowledging.

Each “idea” he hopes to take back after his invasion is at its core, both impossibly simple and also similarly absurd: five months paid maternity leave? sex-ed that isn’t based on abstinence? school lunches that value health over pizza and fries? teachers who value their students’ happiness over standardized tests? a prison where guards carry no guns and inmates have access to kitchen knives? a policy that decriminalizes drug possession? But the ultimate message is utopian in its simplicity: every one of these “flowers” he picked began with small gestures that, like the hammers and chisels that led to the physical dismantling of the Berlin Wall (which Moore witnessed first-hand in 1989 and which alongside the Mandela election helped cement his idea that things can change seemingly overnight), can make all the difference. They also continually hint at words and values that seldom find themselves in American political rhetoric: happiness, curiosity, community, human dignity. That the film ends in a powerful call for women’s equality, suggesting in no uncertain terms that having women in power is a necessary part of political and cultural progress, is perhaps the film’s most surprising element. (Do stay through the end of the credits to find Moore riffing beautifully off of Marvel’s most emulated trademark: the post-credits sequence).

How you feel about the film and its message will no doubt depend on your own political affiliations. Even as the audience at my screening clapped rapturously as the credits rolled, suggesting perhaps Moore was merely preaching to a converted choir that could wave away the tricky logistics that would make these ideas hard to implement wholesale in these shores, I could pick out snippets of dialogue that suggested this choir was a tad more cynical than Moore anticipated: “I mean, it’s so reductive, really.” “Well, but none of that will work here.” “I wish it were that easy!” Where to Invade Next is, in that, classic Moore: a conversation starter that will be greeted with equal number of wolf-whistles as exasperated sighs.

Check out the teaser for it below:

 

Where to Invade Next played Saturday October 3rd at the NYFF, and while concrete release date plans or distribution are up in the air, Moore’ doc is bound to open wide sometime soon.
Sunday
Oct042015

Stage Door: Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51

Stage Door is taking a little trip across the Atlantic, since David is lucky enough to live in London, where TFE deity Nicole Kidman is currently treading the boards in Photograph 51.

Every article announcing Nicole Kidman’s return to the London stage made reference to the infamous review labeling her “pure theatrical Viagra” when she first played in the West End in 1998’s The Blue Room. Seventeen years on, the subject of Photograph 51 could hardly seem more antithetical: Rosalind Franklin’s passion in life is her work, the groundbreaking research into the structure of DNA, her part in which has been forgotten by mainstream history, partially due to her premature death from ovarian cancer before her male peers were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct042015

Box Office: Hit Missions to Mars & Mexico

The Martian is attempting to beat Gravity's October record this weekend. The charts only reflect studio Estimates so we'll see tomorrow for sure. At any rate the all star space adventure (yes, there is much more than Matt Damon therein) is an immediate big hit. Can something this light and fun -- we'll talk about it on the podcast tonight but it doesn't exactly run deep -- make inroads to awards glory? 

In other box office news Sicario continues to perform well surviving its wide expansion with ease. Word of mouth should continue to bolster it because hotdamn it's intense. It's also quite a strange double feature with The Martian (though both are good times at the movies) since  Blunt feels like she's in consistently more danger than Damon even though she's wearing body armor and fully armed and people are rarely firing at her while he's stuck alone on an inhospitable planet without breathable air, lasting supplies, or food.

Finally Grandma, a movie we've been rooting for since January is starting to lose theaters after a totally respectable run. While it never quite crossed over (which is harder and harder to do these days with shorter theatrical windows - see also the similar grossing word of mouth gem I'll See You In My Dreams) it'll end its theatrical run with over $6 million theatrical which is plenty to keep it in play for Best Actress honors (people have been nominated with a lot less) if the campaign is strong and especially if The Globes are there for Lily in Musical or Comedy actress. Do you think they will be?

BOX OFFICE WIDE
800+ screens (Oct 2nd-4th)
01 The Martian $55 NEW Matt's foot-in-mouth tour
02 Hotel Transylvania 2 $33 (cum. $90.5)  Tim on the director Genny Tartakovsky
03 Sicario $12 (cum. $15) Podcast, Emily Blunt
04 The Intern $11.6 (cum. $36.5) Review
05 Maze: Runner: The Scorch Trials $7.6 (cum. $63.2)
06 Black Mass $5.9 (cum. $52.5)
07 Everest $5.5 (cum. $33.1)
08 The Visit $3.9 (cum. $57.6)
09 War Room $2.8 (cum. $60.5)
10 The Perfect Guy $2.4 (cum. $52.6) Review

BOX OFFICE LIMITED
(Oct 2nd-4th)
01 The Walk (448 screens) $1.5 NEW (cum. $1.9) Review
02 Grandma (315 screens) $.4 (cum. $5.8) Poster Blurb, Lily Tomlin's Filmography, Review 
03 Sleeping with Other People (392 screens) $.2 (cum. $.6)  Review
04 Meet the Patels (78 screens) $.1 (cum. $.7) 
05 Talvar (51 screens) $.1 NEW
06 Goodnight Mommy (43 screens) $.4 InterviewOscar Submission
07 Learning To Drive (115 screens) $.1 (cum. $3.1)
08 99 Homes (19 screens) $.1 (cum. $.1) The return of Andrew Garfield
09 Southpaw (303 screens) Re-Release $.07 (cum. $52.2)
10 Un Gallo con Muchose Huevos (112 screens) $.07 (cum. $8.9)

WHAT DID YOU SEE THIS WEEKEND?

I came down with a brutal cold after waiting in line in the cold for an hour for Steve Jobs (and being turned away roughly 15 people before making it inside) so it looks like I'll be emptying my DVR instead of moviegoing *sniffle* 

Sunday
Oct042015

NYFF: In the Shadow of Women

Manuel here eating a baguette furiously hoping you’ll pay attention to him as he tackles this French film about wounded masculinity.

While I worried I would only catch films dealing with death throughout the entirety of the 53rd iteration of the New York Film Festival, I chanced upon Philippe Garrel’s In the Shadow of Women, a black-and-white film about infidelity. The film centers on Pierre and Manon (Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau), a married couple who work together on his documentary film projects. We slowly see their routine slowly getting rusty and so it comes as no surprise when Pierre falls for a young intern (Lena Paugam) working at the same film archives our couple frequents. The affair and its subsequent shattering effect on the marriage plays out pretty much how you’d expect, with few of Garrel’s choices coming from left-field though never quite steering far from the narrative and character beats all too common in films about broken marriages.

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for this genre. Closer. Unfaithful. Gone Girl. Little Children. I love me a good “our relationship is falling apart” film. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct032015

NYFF: Voilà... "The Walk"

Nathaniel reporting from NYFF 53 though this movie is now in IMAX theaters and next week wide for all y'all. This piece was original published in a shorter version in my column @ Towleroad

The Walk  begins in mid air with a jaunty circus-like score from composer Alan Silvestri accompanying the clouds. Our birds-eye view is quickly revealed as just above Manhattan, perched on no less a tourist icon than the Statue of Liberty. That we’re looking at something purely presentational is abundantly clear as crinkly-eyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his first appearance, smiling and speaking directly to the camera. And he speaks with a cartoon French accent to boot. (To be fair to JGL, many real French people sound like cartoon people when they speak English. This is meant as a compliment because who doesn’t love cartoons and/or French accents?). What’s more, at least to these only super-marginally trained ears (I watch a lot of French movies and I took French in high school –that’s the extent of it!) JGL’s actual French sounds impeccable in his subtitled scenes with French co-stars.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's adorableness can be so distracting? Is that why filmmakers keep trying to make him look not so much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt? We already know he can sing / dance / act and in this film he juggles and wirewalks and speaks fluent French. Is there anything he can’t do? 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s adorableness can be so distracting! Let’s get back on topic...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct032015

NYFF: 10 Best Things About "Carol" (First Impressions)

Todd Haynes' highly anticipated Carol screened a week ago for NYFF press and I immediately began marking time P.C. "POST CAROL". It was that impactful. For something that appears so delicate it breaks with immeasurable force. Carol recounts the relationship between a posh 40something society wife (Cate Blanchett), no stranger to lesbian affairs, and a curious 20something photographer/shopgirl (Rooney Mara) who has never been in love. Haynes's sixth feature is one of his best and thus both a marvel and a relief since he had gone AWOL from movie screens for eight years. The film which began the long drought, I'm Not There, is the only one that this longtime Haynes fanatic doesn't cherish.

Herewith 10 favorite things (in no particular order) about Carol right after meeting her. This infatuation is too potent to think clearly at this point for a traditional review. A word of caution: exciting first dates don't always lead to fullblown rewarding relationships but this one appears to be a (celluloid) romance for the long haul. 

1. Gifts & Gift-Wrapping
We like to think of final quarter movies as "gifts" since so much of awards season is centered around the holidays. This one is beautifully wrapped (the production values are breathtaking on literally every level) and even better once you start tearing the careful packaging apart to see what it's gifted you with. Carol also takes place during Christmas just like Tangerine so in one single cinematic year we've received the best Lesbian Christmas movie and the best Trans Christmas movie. How about that? More...

Click to read more ...