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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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Cannes Jury

"The Jury Lineup is very diverse and unconventional " - Amy

"I love Agnes Jaoui! If you haven't seen her movies yet, you are in for a treat." - Adri

"Huppert's chances of winning seem increased to me with her biggest fan Chastain on the list." - Tyson

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Betty Buckley (Split)
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Ritesh Batra (Sense of an Ending)

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Saturday
Jan032015

The Heroes of "Pride" Wouldn't Stand For Their DVD Packaging!

I accidentally got two copies of the Pride DVD in the mail for Christmas. I had bought one not knowing that I'd be sent one from the studio. But no matter. Now I have one to gift and just about anyone would love to receive it. I recently talked to my best girlfriend from high school and I can't remember if I've shared this story but it's worth repeating even if I have. 

She and her husband had accidentally gone to see it at a movie theater in Michigan (I didn't interrogate the accidentally part) and liked it so much that they went again the following week and brought another married couple with them. Isn't that great? A decade ago when the theatrical window was longer the movie could have surely found a much larger audience.

About that DVD though...

A scoop from Pink News  today alerted me to the fact that I should pay closer attention to DVD packaging. It seems that Sony Pictures has removed all mention of "gay" or LGBT" from the packaging and official synopsis. If you look at the photo above you'll see that they've even photoshopped out the "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" banner in the background of one of the film's two Gay Pride marches.

 

"Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" or LGSM  is the official name of the collective protagonist organization and exactly what the film is about. They made a huge difference not just for striking miners in the 1980s but for Union nondiscrimination laws thereafter. The synopsis now refers to the group only as "London based activists".

To put all these feisty gays and lesbians back in the closet when the entire movie is about people, gay and straight, who refuse to be bullied into submission by homophobes or Thatcher's horrible dehumanizing rule is every kind of wrong. The LGSM in the movie even questions whether they should work anonymously because of homophobic thinking and their own fear and decide that it wouldn't be right.

What was Sony thinking?!?

In Happier News
To not end on sour note I urge you to visit Nick's Flick Picks for this glorious long read celebrating "collaboration" in 2014. It's a particularly fresh angle for a year in review piece, and yet more wonderful for this film year when so many of the finest movies were about solidarity (Two Days One Night, Pride, Selma, etcetera) or, if they weren't, focused on small duos or trios with gripping connections. If you don't have time to read all pieces of this today visit a few times until you've absorbed them. I particularly enjoyed the write-ups of We Are the Best!, Happy ChristmasLilting, Pride and Reese Witherspoon & Laura Dern for Wild

 

Saturday
Jan032015

National Society of Film Critics Swings French for 2014

The NSFC has announced its "Best" and we have another treat for glum Marion Cotillard. She may have been fired from her job in Two Days One Night but the world's critics would love her to be gainfully employed for years to come.

The NSFC is composed of "many of the country’s most distinguished movie critics" and were once the third holy in the critical trinity (with NYFCC and LAFCA) before the days when every single city in the nation was naming their best a development which has significantly dulled the power of critics awards altogether... or  at least confused what it is about critics awards that anyone pays attention to anymore.

The most interesting thing is that though this critics society has "National" in its name, the members were just not that into American films this year. They've crossed the Atlantic for their major prizes handing Jean-Luc Godard's 3D experiment Goodbye to Language the year's best film (in a narrow one point victory over Boyhood), Marion Cotillard wins Best Actress (by a huge margin for her Belgian feature with the Dardenne brothers as well as The Immigrant). The other mild statement this weekend is two prizes for the British Mike Leigh film Mr Turner with wins in Best Actor and Cinematography.

This last burst of recognition for Timothy Spall (interviewed right here) in a very tight Best Actor race and for Marion Cotillard who remains a longshot for Best Actress since the precursors roundly favored the exact same five women (Julianne, Reese, Felicity, Jennifer, Rosamund) keeps things exciting. At least a little bit. If AMPAS is still asking for recommendations at all, mind you. Still, we know of at least one über famous Academy member who is rooting for Marion. 

 

 

Thanks, Jane! 

Otherwise the NSFC prizes were the standard winners you've seen everywhere else: Linklater, Simmons, Arquette, Citizenfour, and Budapest for Screenplay. All this agreement has been bizarre for such a rich film year but what can you do? (If you're interest in voting data, I've included it after the jump... and you can also visit their official site here.)

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan032015

Meet the Contenders: Oscar Isaac "A Most Violent Year"

Abstew continues his weekly look at acting contenders as their films open...

Oscar Isaac as "Abel Morales" in A Most Violent Year
Best Actor

Born: Óscar Isaac Hernández was born in Guatamala, but the internet can't agree on the actual date. It's either January 5th, 1980 or March 9, 1979

The Role: The setting is New York City, the year is 1981 - on record as a time of one of the highest crime rates in the city's history. The third feature film from Oscar nominated writer and director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) stars Oscar Isaac as Abel Morales, the head of a lucrative heating oil company that has found itself the target of theft and violence. His trucks are being hijacked, the oil being siphoned, the series of events inhibiting his plans to expand his company with a profitable purchase of a new building with a prime location. His method of handling the problem also puts him at odds with his wife Anna (Best Supporting Actress contender Jessica Chastain), who is the daughter of a Brooklyn mobster and has her own ideas of how things should be taken care of...

Trivia, Critical response and Oscar chances after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan032015

Tim's Toons: The Best Voice Acting in 2014

Tim here. Year-end listmaking mania tends to skip right by animation, with only a glance in the direction of a solitary film that doesn’t tend to reveal much imagination on the part of the listmakers (probably, if you are a critic in 2014, your favorite animated feature was The Lego Movie, unless it was The Lego Movie. But I hear some folks really liked The Lego Movie). The Annie Awards do what they can, but they’re weirdly over-politicized.

All of which is to say, it’s the perfect time, before 2015 has a chance to warm up, to throw a little more light on animated film in the year that was than just rubber-stamping a Best Animated Feature award and moving on. May I present to you this unranked list of

Six Great Vocal Performances from 2014

Alison Brie as “Princess Unikitty”, The Lego Movie
Yes, the exact same Lego Movie I just complained about showing up everywhere. It’s a chronological list, it had to come first. And of the many things that make this movie so delightful, Brie’s sugary embodiment of the flightiest fantasies of children’s playtime is the one that’s stuck the most for me, all through the year. Manic enthusiasm delivered at machine-gun, and outbursts of scorching anger in the same high-pitch register: it’s a straightforward comic turn, but a singularly enjoyable one.

Will Arnett as “Batman”, The Lego Movie
Okay, so I’m a hypocrite. Anyway, Arnett’s self-amused, gravelly take on the Dark Knight is as much a parody of Christian Bale’s growly Batman as anything else, which is a big part of the joke. But it’s also a pretty great performance of the iconic comic book character by itself. Mocking and sarcastic, of course (that is the primary mode of the film’s humor), but with enough puffed-up importance and overclocked drama that it’s absolutely easy to believe that this is a entitled rich guy putting on a show to fight crime.

Cate Blanchett as “Valka”, How to Train Your Dragon 2
Not every A-list award winner has what it takes to do voice acting, and history has witnessed more dreadful celebrity roles in animated features than wonderful, revelatory ones. But Blanchett brings nuance and depth by the bucketful, making a frustratingly under-written part one of the densest animated characters of the year. The social awkwardness that comes from years away from humans, and nervous romanticism while meeting her long-lost husband are all Blanchett’s contribution, not the script’s, and she carries it off while nailing a Scottish accent.

Signe Baumane as “Narrator”, Rocks in My Pockets
Stretching a definition: Baumane is also the film’s writer and director, and it’s not entirely clear that what she’s doing is “acting”. It’s more like sitting down to hear her tell us a story. But what a storyteller Baumane proves to be! Jabbing at punchlines with ebullient good humor, clucking at tragedies with mournfulness that doesn’t turn into outright misery, and pulling out a whole ensemble of affected voices to give life to her characters, Baumane’s treatement of her family history is even more involving and energetic because of her words than her images.

Ben Kingsley as “Archibald Snatcher”, The Boxtrolls
A gutter-born Cockney accent is enough to make Kingsley’s crisp voice almost totally unrecognizable, which is impressive enough to begin with. What elevates this beyond mere success as a bit of celebrity casting gone right is the pathos with which Kingsley invests the character: villains in children’s movies aren’t known for their ambiguous shading, but Snatcher, as performed by Kingsley, has just enough self-deluding desire to fit in with a world that doesn’t want him to come across as deserving our pity as much as our scorn. If I were going to rank these performances, there’s an excellent chance Kingsley would be my #1. (With a shout-out to Sean Patrick Doyle as well who did his singing, too.) 

Takeo Chii as “The bamboo cutter”, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The late Chii’s final performance in a career stretching longer than 40 years is a nimble execution of a stock character rather than an attempt to seriously expand the limitations of that character. He’s a blustering, overbearing dad who bullies the world in attempt to get his daughter all the things she doesn’t actually want. But even through the language barrier, the sweetness of Chii’s performance, and the desperation as he tries to impress and bluff his way into social respectability, come through with touching sincerity and simplicity, the adjectives that best describe Princess Kaguya as a whole.

Who did I miss? What were your favorite vocal performances this year? For the record the Annies nominated these four for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature:  Cyndi Lauper as the voice of Nurse Cyndi - Henry & Me; Andy Garcia as the voice of Eduardo - Rio 2 ; Sir Ben Kingsley as the voice of Archibald Snatcher and Dee Bradley Baker as the voice of Fish in The Boxtrolls

 

Saturday
Jan032015

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Friday
Jan022015

The Funniest Films & Performances of the Year

 Two year in review lists per day for a few more days... Here's Michael to look back at the year in laughs

That was a tough year for good comedies that weren’t animated or special effects blockbusters. By my count only 7 of the box office top 50 were live action comedies (depending on whether or not you count Gone Girl) and of those all but Neighbors were immediately disposable. So if you want to find good comedy without animated toys or talking raccoons you had to look to the margins. In fact, the film that sits on the top of my list of list of 2014’s funniest is currently ranked 157th for the box office year.

Also interesting is how few of 2014's funniest came billed as pure comedies. Aside from the animated and sci-fi extravaganzas the laughs arrived smuggled in such genres as horror/thriller (The Guest) mystery (Gone Girl) and drama-fantasy hybrid whatchamatcallits  (Birdman).

So here are 2014's funniest movies, keeping in mind that this isn’t based on overall quality, but is ranked solely by which films most tipped the needle on the Laugh-O-Meter:

2014’s Ten Funniest Films 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan022015

MGM's Into the Woods (1949)

I don't know who made this time-travel brilliance or I would credit their awesomeness (please citizens o' the internet, credit your artwork!) but I got it from the New York Theater website and found it highly amusing. What if Into the Woods had been made by MGM circa 40 years before Stephen Sondheim wrote it!

If you're having trouble reading it the credits go like so...

Click to read more ...