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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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Love Affair (1994) - as "A Year With Kate" nears its conclusion

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Tuesday
Oct252011

Oscar Horrors: Carrie White Burns In Hell

In the daily Oscar Horrors series we're looking at those rare Oscar nominations for horror movies. Happy Halloween from Team Film Experience.

Here lies… Sissy Spacek’s Oscar for Best Actress in Carrie (1976). Carrie White may burn in hell (along with her ill-fated off-Broadway musical), but Sissy Spacek’s nomination remains a shining beacon of hope that genre fare from little-known actors don’t have to be relegated to, ahem, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films Awards.

Can you conceive of it today? A 26-year-old actress, in one of her first major roles, portraying an introverted teenage high schooler with supernatural powers who kills the students at her senior prom. Sounds like fairly standard genre stuff, especially when coming from the minds of an up-and-coming writer (Stephen King was paid $2,500 for the book rights) and director (Brian De Palma). Yet somehow, it became one of the few horror titles to earn prestigious acting nominations at the Academy Awards. Can you picture this happening today?

Didn’t think so.

Spacek’s performance as the titular Carrie White was only her fourth major film role after Prime Cut (1972), Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973), and Ginger in the Morning (1974). Spacek would go on to win the statue just four years later for a musical biopic about Loretta “the Coal Miner’s Daughter” Lynn, which makes this breakthrough Oscar nomination all the crazier. Did the Academy see something in her that broke through the conventions of the genre, or was this merely one of those rare moments when they were able to look past all the barriers and recognise the defining, film-changing performance within? Her only other nomination and win of that awards season came from the National Society of Film Critics. High praise, sure, but tell that to Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Yolande Moreau, Sally Hawkins, Naomi Watts, Reese Witherspoon, Ally Sheedy… well, the list goes on (presumably...the strike rate was so high going back just 10 years that I figure there must be plenty more without spending the time to research.)

Somewhere behind the smooth as honey tracking shots, blood-splattered prom dresses and John Travolta (“in his first motion picture role!”) smashing a pig on the head with a mallet (I couldn’t quite stomach Carrie as a younger man due to this very scene), Spacek emerged. It probably helped that the young actress had the gloriously villainous Piper Laurie in her back pocket to help shine a light on her. Laurie, a previous nominee in 1962 for The Hustler, received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for being a mother that would make even Mary Jones shake in her boots. As mother/daughter combos go, the Whites are a doozy of a pair.

A quick look at the original trailer and you’d be hard-pressed to believe this was the sort of thing that would be to the Academy’s taste and yet Spacek’s repertoire of jutting sideward glances, shy upwards looks from behind flattened hair and high-pitched whelps of demonic terror makes for one of the greatest horror movie performances of all time. At a glance Carrie looks like little more a schlocky teen horror title; would Academy members even watch a film like that today? That Spacek lost the Oscar to Faye Dunaway in Network is hard to quibble with, but the miracle of the nomination is enough to keep me happy. 

 

Related
Oscar Horrors Rosemary's Baby, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Fly and more..
Top 100 Best Actress "Characters"
Sissy Gets Her "Star" 

Tuesday
Oct252011

London: W.E., Oslo and Japan

David here, reporting from the final week of the London Film Festival. If there's one name guaranteed to grab my attention, it's...

The sight of Madonna's name heading up movie credits is a slightly surreal one, and it's difficult to imagine the icon standing behind a camera, and so W.E.'s worst foible is an understandable one from such a deified person. Re-edited after a poor reception at previous festivals, there is a fair deal to admire here, but all those flashbulbs must have gone to her head, because the photography is stuffed with dramatically posed shots, as if its being filmed with a still camera. Yet it's in the camera work that the film digs up shards of emotional truth amongst the narrative cliches, suggesting that Madonna might prove a worthwhile director. When the camera moves, it does so with a defiant tactility, a visual sense alive with feeling and clarity. This story of a late-'90s neglected wife (Abbie Cornish) in New York turning to the story of Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough, superbly poised) for comfort and reflection is the stuff of clunky parallels with little sense of historical ambiguity. The soundtrack is alarmingly overloaded. But the immediate, reactive sense of the photography delves through the physical to the emotional roots, scoring unpredictable truths. (C) more articles on W.E.

Oslo, August 31st is like two pages ripped from a diary; one covered with words, the second blank and sodden with tears. After his first feature, the textured novelistic Reprise, director Joachim Trier follows in Louis Malle's footsteps by adapting Pierre Drieu La Rochelle's Le feu follet, a melancholy tale of a man debating suicide. Anders Danielsen Lie, one of the two leads of Reprise, is given the luxury of a film to himself ...only his character, Anders, isn't one to luxuriate. The film's first half is full of words. Anders attempts to spread his wings, testing the waters of the outside world as he breaks from a spell in rehab. A discussion with his friend Thomas (Hans Olav Brenner) stretches imperceptibly to twenty minutes, dense with completely natural musings, arguments, and agonising admissions that absorb both characters and viewers. As Anders spirals into the night, and into August 31st, the film shifts into sensory expression, the lens focus shifting lucidly, the soundtrack slowly emptying to mournful desolation. Far from easy to watch, and tearfully inconclusive, this is nonetheless another quiet triumph from Trier. (A-) more articles on Oslo August 31st

two brothers in "I Wish"

Two brothers on a quest to repair their family. It's a story out of 1980s Hollywood cinema, and I Wish does ring with the cliches of quest narratives like Stand By Me or The Goonies. Hirokazu Kore-eda, a festival favourite thanks to films like Nobody Knows and After Life, directs this bright tale which centres around the supposed miracle that occurs when two bullet trains pass each other. Koichi and Ryu, each stuck with a parent on opposite sides of Kyushu, plot a voyage to witness the miracle and wish their family back together. Where Kore-eda betters his Stateside influences, though, is in his generous characterizations of the adult characters, who lack the intimacy we're granted with the vibrant kids but feel alive with both warmth and foibles. Inevitably, the film cycles through familiar ideas, but the wheels are so smooth it scarcely matters. The achievement of the quest isn't the thing, but the journey, and you're unlikely to find a more heartwarming, vibrant trip all year. (B+)

Tuesday
Oct252011

"New Year's Eve" Countdown...

In 45 days Gary Marshall's all star New Year's Eve opens. We haven't talked about it at all. So now a quick correction. A spontaneous train-of-thought light reading of the film's poster, left-to-right / top-to-bottom

"from the director of Pretty Woman" uh, not so much a selling point with me but ooooh pictures...


Hey Halle. Are you wearing scrubs?... Mr. Demi...  "The Jessicas" all seem to be fading career-wise right? Weren't there three of them?... ♫ ohhwhooaaa we're ½way there-ere ooohwhoa livin' on a prayer ♪... STOP MAKING BAD MOVIES. JESUS [related]...

Carrie Bradshaw Back in The City.... who? ohright. Little Miss Sunshine ... Ugh, why must I be reminded me of the existence of Crash?... isn't it weird how people wanted her to win the Emmy so bad back when Sue Sylvester was unstoppable but then only 12 months later it was all about Claire Dunphy?... YES but why this movie, 'chelle, whyyyyyyyyyyyy?...

NO... Remember when he played whatshername's gay fiance in Spring Break? That movie is so fun-derrated.... Hector Elizondo [a.k.a Garry Marshall's fav' actor. Seriously he's in, like, all of them] ... SEXY GERMAN ALERT ... zzz...

<--- No thanks. It gives me a headache...
<--- Also gives me a headache...
omg I didn't recognize her. Who photoshopped these headshots? But they'll be no mistaking it's her once she's singing. Yay!... the luckiest boy in the world as he gets the movie's best co-star all to himself. Also I have such a hard time spelling his name. I don't know why but I'm always typing Ephron or Epfron or Zach Efron ...  which two is this? *smooch* 

... "Let the Countdown Begin". No, we're not going to be counting down, Garry. But yeah, we'll see your movie. You tricked us into it like so:

 Michelle Pfeiffer Til Schweiger Hilary Swank Robert DeNiro Sarah Jessica Parker Sofia Vergara

Monday
Oct242011

Q&A: Blondes & Brunettes, Silents & Sequels

Each week in the Q & A column I choose a couple handfuls of reader questions to answer. I don't intentionally choose with themes in mind but this week's column, in the requested vacuum of Streep-less questions -- she'd been hogging the column -- tilted straight toward blonde icons and beloved brunettes.

Aaron: If "Girl with a Pearl Earring" and "Lost in Translation" had been released in different years, do you think Scarlett Johansson would be a two-time Academy Award nominee by now?

Fun question. I had to really ponder this. But my answer is no. Oscar fanatics love to debate "vote splitting" whenever someone has two meaty roles in the same category in a given year. The 2003 Oscar race was so weirdly splintered in Best Actress and the precursors just weren't showing herd mentality so right up until nomination morning it felt like virtually any combination of a shortlist that included frontrunners Theron and Keaton was possible. But Scarlett's Lost campaign had more problems than just The Girl With the Pearl Earring. Maybe Samantha Morton, in particular, would've been pushed aside for Scarlett had she only had one film. On the other hand, it was probably the combination of Scarlett's double-breakthrough that put her in the conversation to the degree that she was in it. But I don't believe that she'd have been a two time nominee regardless because the competition in 2004 felt so impenetrable; Moreno, Swank, Bening, Winslet and Staunton were always going to be the top five the following year. 

Scarlett on the Lost in Translation circuit: BAFTA, GLOBES, OSCAR

The most interesting thing about 2003 Best Actress, at least for Trivia Nerds, is how young it skewed historically. Even if you remove the novelty nomination for 13 year old Keisha Castle Hughes (Whale Rider) you might still have had a record breaking year since both Evan Rachel Wood (she was 16 during the Thirteen campaign) and Scarlett Johansson (who had just turned 20) could have also become Youngest Ever had they landed in the shortlist. Both were younger than Jennifer Lawrence from Winter's Bone even who is now the second youngest nominee ever in the category after Keisha. Don't you ♥ trivia!?

MrW: Do you intend to have seen one day all Oscar-winning performances (all four acting categories)? Are there any Oscar winning performances you're embarrassed to admit you haven't seen yet?

I would love to be able to someday claim this but I fear I'll die before that gargantuan task is completed. Naturally, I'm most worried about finishing the actress categories. The three movies I'm most embarrassed I haven't yet seen that sucked up plentiful acting attention / wins are My Left Foot, The Last Picture Show and, yes, The Godfather Part Two. I seriously have no idea why I keep putting the last one off. I even own it! 

Kent: Recently watched GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES for the first time. It was such a fun movie! Got me thinking about Marilyn Monroe and how the Academy shunned her so many times. She's so underrated as an actress. I loved her in BUS STOP and SOME LIKE IT HOT. Would you have rewarded her with nominations, even yet, a win?


True Story: I had this poster above of Marilyn Monroe from Bus Stop on my bedroom wall as a teenager -- yes the actressexuality started very early -- My mother saw it, shook her head  and sighed audibly. "Tell her to put some clothes on!" LOL. Different generations, you know.

Marilyn nominations, War of the Hepburns, and sequelitis after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct242011

Oscar Horrors: Redressing Dracula

HERE LIES … Eiko Ishioka’s costume work for Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), which smothered the rest of the nominees with reams upon reams of flamboyant fabric to slither away with the statue that year. And it damn well deserved it, too.

JA from MNPP here. In the fall of 1992 I was fifteen years old and had found myself in the first blushes of cinemania, and as a budding horror enthusiast I was obsessed with Francis Ford Coppola’s film before it had even come out. It was more difficult way back then before the internet so we relied on things called “magazines” to keep us in the know, but I went one step further where this movie was concerned – I bought the “pictorial moviebook,” as it calls itself on the cover, and I studied it like the bible. And with its heavy focus on Ishioko’s work it was the first time I’d ever given much thought to a film’s costuming.

As Coppola had said, he wanted the costumes to be the set…

And are they ever. Ishioka was a visual artist and had done some memorable work for the stage version of M. Butterfly and Paul Schrader’s 1985 film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters before this, and she brought with her an eccentric batch of influences, to put it mildly. From the human musculature that influenced Dracula’s armor in the opening scenes…

Visual splendor and bizarre influences after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct242011

Steve McQueen's Oscar Loss and Workout Win

Each year come awards season we see hundreds of frozen grins and hear hundreds of ever so slight variations on that autopilot soundbyte "I'm just so honored to be  ______." But how do the losing stars and snubbees really feel? One of my favorite things about celebrity biographies is that they have to dig a little deeper when it comes to the discussion of The Oscars; you can't fill whole books with soundbytes.

I was recently flipping through the new biography "Steve McQueen" by Marc Eliot and came across this passage on the Oscars. McQueen thought his sole nomination (The Sand Pebbles, 1966) was long overdue and eagerly participated in press events. He bought himself a burgundy Ferrari to reward himself for the nomination.

Yet on Oscar night, Paul Scofield won Best Actor...

The audience erupted in applause, even though Scofield was one of the many who did not show up. His co-star Wendy Hiller, accepted for him. She stepped to the microphone and said, "There is something very special in being recognized in a country other than one's own!"

And for Steve, there was something very unspecial about not being recognized in his own. After the ceremonies, Neile told a reporter that she was happy her husband had lost. "If he'd won, he'd have been impossible to live with," she chirped. "Not because of a big head but because he'd be worrying how to top himself next. I prayed he wouldn't win."

Steve McQueen in "The Sand Pebbles"

Steve said nothing to anybody that night. Several years later he was still bitter about the loss of the only Oscar nomination he would ever receive and took a jab at Marlon Brando, who won an Oscar in 1973 for his role in The Godfather; who not only didn't show up but had warned the Academy he wouldn't accept the award if he won it... Not long after Steve told Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky, "Perhaps if I had announced that I wouldn't accept the Oscar, I might have won."

Following Oscar night, still having trouble finding his Sand Pebbles follow-up, he spent his nights drinking and womanizing and his days on an extended workout regimen.

pictorial evidence of his workout success after the jump...

Click to read more ...