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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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Handmaid's Tale ep 1 & 2

"Margaret Atwood's novel is superb. If this is half as good, it will be great!" - Marcelo

"My one concern is how much of the novel is covered so quickly. Even in the first episode, they pulled a lot of events from the middle of the novel right in there to establish the universe. The pacing works onscreen, but what are they going to have left to cover by episode 9 and 10?." - Robert

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Betty Buckley (Split)
Michael O'Shea (The Transfiguration)
Filmmakers (Cézanne and I)
Melissa Leo (Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (Sense of an Ending)

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Thursday
May292014

First Round Oscar Predix Continue: Supporting Actor

Two things we have to acknowledge right up front before we continue our first round of Oscar charts which will be finished by Saturday. Yay.

First. The supporting actor categories are often crazy foggy until people have seen the movies. Since men make up the bulk of film characters there is always a lot to choose from... even within the same film. Take Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice for example. I have yet to read the novel but literally every character in synopsis form sounds like a chance for actors to show off. That could result in a grandiose amount of overkill in scenery chewing for one film to handle- the acting equivalent of a rain of frogs, if you will. But it doesn't help us decipher which of the players will stand out. If you look at any of Anderson's early work -- the true ensembles before he started focusing on the journey of only one or two men (sigh) -- it was often hard to decide who was "best" because everyone was doing such strong work. I've gone with Josh Brolin as a prediction playing Joaquin Phoenix's old nemesis "Bigfoot" but it could just as easily be Benicio Del Toro as "Sauncho" or Owen Wilson as the musician "Coy Harlingen" or... well, you get the picture. The film has a huge cast.

Or it might be no one if the film is not well received. But the nominations for P.T.'s chilly weird The Master, not particularly "Oscar friendly" in the traditional sense, suggest that AMPAS is finally on this auteur's wavelength.

Second. There is no such thing as a line of demarcation between Lead and Supporting anymore. The two categories are fluid and mean nothing dissimilar at this point. It's like ten spots for men and ten spots for women. Period.

There are infinite ways to get away with category fraud in this day and age and the only time Oscar has ever rejected fraudulent campaigns is when a person leading the film has no other actor of stature around or of the same gender to pretend they are "supporting" them (Winslet in '08, Keisha in '03, etcetera). Otherwise they're always okay with it. Voters are especially forgiving of category fraud with male actors, perhaps subconciously reflecting heteronormative pack mentality --  some guy is always the alpha. So even if there is no way you can describe Fox (Collateral) in '04 or Affleck (Jesse James)  in '07 as "supporting characters" without sane people laughing at you, that's okay with Oscar because in no stretch of the Hollywood imagination are  Cruise and Pitt not alpha males. I think we can all agree on that.  

Which brings us to Foxcatcher. Here, things are decidedly more fluid. Carell and Tatum and Ruffalo are not big enough stars to pretend that all other men in any given movie would be supporting them. Hell, Tatum even has second billing to Jonah Hill in the 21 Jump Street series which I find... strange. (Was it the Oscar nominations? Is it the deferrence to alpha order? Tatum led more films before they joined up). Early word is that Sony Pictures Classics will campaign both Tatum and Carell as leads and Ruffalo as supporting. Whether this holds or not is anyone's guess. In Contention posted a piece on how rare double lead nominations are and cited the statistics (not since 1984 for men and 1991 for women) and called it "obviously stiff odds" and that's true, factually. But it's not true spiritually. The article left out the extremely crucial fact that studios don't try to win dual lead nods anymore. Who is to say that we wouldn't have had examples of dual lead nods since then if they had kept campaigning truthfully as they used to do? Maybe voters should check themselves before demoting lead actors to supporting and ask themselves the relevant question "would I vote for them as a lead?" If the answer is "no" than maybe you shouldn't vote for them in supporting. 

THE SUPPORTING ACTOR CHART 
INDEX OF PREDICTIONS 

Thursday
May292014

We've Hit The Emmy Eligibility Wall. Who Are You Rooting For?

Saturday May 31st marks the final day of Emmy eligibility for the 2014 ceremony. Given the wildly varying schedules of television series in our modern 1,000+ channel world, episodes airing after this date will still apply if the season has enough episodes out to qualify. Eligibility periods can get confusing. Take Penny Dreadful on cable and Black Box (with Kelly Reilly and Vanessa Redgrave) on ABC for perfect examples. Both debuted before the cutoff date but neither of them have aired more than half their first season episodes yet so do they qualify or do they have to wait until next year? (Any Emmy trivia experts out there know?) 

Simpler examples that can still be a bit headscratching to the flow of the calendar happen over at Netflix. [Lots more after the jump...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May292014

Participatory Madness

the "fix your face" banner is not long for this world. soon new themes will overtake it.Do I ask to much of you? A couple of days ago I was talking to Nick about what he was up to movie-wise and he was like "basically my life is controlled by Nathaniel this week." Ha! Between the podcasts and the Smackdowns and the theme weeks and the "Best Shots"... I guess I do like recommending bossing people around, cinematically!

But I've had strangely few takers for my proposed e-mail group for self-improvement and 'get back to the gym' co-misseration. I know that you're all beautiful and fit and need no makeovers or exercize prompts. But I do. Hence the roping in of other people to my 'how to get to the gym?' drama. if you want to hear how The Piano can help you in your workouts and other such cinematic/corporeal nonsense, join this experiment. I'm sending out the first lob on June 1st. If I ever write a self-help book, you can say you were there first.

And for those of you who are like 'SHUT UP. Work on the Oscar charts,' please know that that's actually what I'm doing right now as you're reading this.

Update and P.S. Here's how i know this fix yo'self moment was meant to be. Today I had a doctor's appointment just after posting this and I get to the office and who is on the cover of the sole magazine sitting on top of the checkout counter where I stood but Ms. Kidman!

Wednesday
May282014

Top Ten: The Aughts

Last year I was throwin' up quickie top ten lists for each decade for archival and discussion purposes and tonight wI realized that I'd never finished the run skipping the Aughts and the 1920s and the 1910s (the latter two because I'd hoped to see more silent films before top ten'ing it). So herewith a revisit / rework of a "best of the aughts" list originally published in 2010 but many of you have joined us since!.

Care to share yours?


01 Moulin Rouge! dir. Baz Luhrmann (2001)

The party of the decade. The inspired mashup conductor (Baz) and his darling stars (Nicole, Ewan, Jim) put on the messiest craziest livelest funniest tearjerking "Spectacular! Spectacular!" show on earth. I'd never claim it's a perfect movie but flaws are endearing when you love madly and deeply. and Love Is All You Need.

02 Brokeback Mountain dir. Ang Lee (2005)
A love story for the ages. And one that quietly enrages.

03 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind dir. Michel Gondry (2004)
The Eyes: a singularly imaginative visualist in Gondry. The Brain: the twisty intellect of Charlie Kauffman. The Body: a great acting ensemble operating as one powerful machine. The Heart: a comic (Jim Carrey) positively aching with true drama. The Soul: one of the most elemental faces and emotional forces in cinematic history (Kate Winslet); It's the collaborative miracle movie of the decade, all its parts made greater by their interconnectedness.

04 Dancer in the Dark dir. Lars von Trier (2000)
The story of the Aughts for this particular moviegoer was the rebirth of the musical. To yank the dead genre from its unfortunate grave, fearless visionary filmmakers and prodigiously gifted musicians were required. The impish deconstructionist (von Trier) provoked such genius from a totally modern composer (Björk) that a decade later you can still be transported with just a bar of "New World" or "I've Seen It All".

 

05 Far From Heaven dir. Todd Haynes (2002)
Of all the things we have to thank Todd Haynes for: new ways of looking at Barbie dolls, Bob Dylan splintered, restless experimentation as cinematic life-blood, a mini Douglas Sirk revival, Ewan MacGregor naked and covered in glitter... this is the gift I cherish most: Julianne Moore in a purple scarf, waving love goodbye.

06 In the Mood for Love dir. Wong Kar Wai (2000, released in 2001)
In a perfect world, I would always be fetching noodles or trying on cheomsangs with Maggie Cheung. Either that or writing wuxia and smoking with Tony Leung Chiu Wai. I'd gladly pay the price of heartbreak in the end.

07 Talk To Her  dir. Pedro Almodovar (2002)
So imaginatively structured, exquisitely controlled, and enigmatically moving that it's nearly impossible to wrap your head around in one go. It's a good thing then that Pedro's movies miraculous improve with repeated viewings... even when they were brilliant to begin with. "Cucurrucucú paloma, cucurrucucú no llores."

08 Rachel Getting Married dir. Jonathan Demme (2008)
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change... like the fact that so many people don't love this movie. Their loss. I'm ready to dive back into this immersive, noisy, eclectic, spontaneous, superbly acted, wonderfully sustained, bleeding heart of a movie right this very second. Pass me the DVD.

09 Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon dir. Ang Lee (2000)
Ang Lee is the only filmmaker with two movies in the top ten.  How glorious was/is this utterly transporting adventure?

10 A History of Violence dir. David Cronenberg (2005)
In the past I've likened this movie to a machine, it's so finely calibrated and efficient. But that doesn't get at its emotional fire, its guttural poetry, and its savage eroticism. It's more like a cyborg.

 

ten other beloveds
Requiem for a Dream, Mulholland Dr, There Will Be Blood, The Lord of the Rings, Vera Drake, Y Tu Mama Tambíen, WALL•E, Volver, The Class, The Hurt Locker, and Before Sunset.

Previous Top Ten Quickies
1930s | 1940s1950s | 1960s1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s (thus far)  
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Wednesday
May282014

A Year with Kate: Undercurrent (1946)

Episode 22 of 52 of Anne Marie's chronological look at Katharine Hepburn's career.

In which Katharine Hepburn’s terrible fashion sense almost kills her.

I'll admit my bias up front: this movie is a sore spot for me. For probably understandable reasons, I'm not big on movies about tomboys named Ann who are accused of being frumpy. Undercurrent is a noir-esque melodrama directed by Vincente Minnelli, a director best known for the Technicolor musicals starring his sometime wife Judy Garland and/or Gene Kelly. Minnelli did spread out in genre on occasion, with great films The Bad And The Beautiful and not-so-great films, like Undercurrent. Our heroine in Undercurrent is a plain woman named Ann (Kate) who is unexpectedly wooed by a tall dark and handsome scientist (Robert Taylor). After a whirlwind romance ending in marriage, Ann begins searching into her husband’s troubled past. She uncovers an empty house, a paranoid ex-lover, and a brother (Robert Mitchum) who should dead--and who may end up being her soul mate.

But before Ann is drawn into the mystery, she spends the first act of the movie stomping around her father's laboratory wearing this:

HIDEOUS. I know. I can almost hear the fashion bloggers crying for justice and tearing at their vintage blouses in despair. Honestly, it's not a terrible look. It's very Kate. Really the only things I take issue with are the socks with sandals (fortunately spared in this publicity photo), but that's because it’s an Embarrassing Dad-level fashion faux pas. (That's Marjorie Main with her, by the way, in a criminally small role.) Anyway, while this ensemble is not the worst thing Kate’s worn, it is nonetheless a Big Problem, or so the film tells us. It isn't until Kate, as Ann, gets swept into the mysterious, glamorous life of her husband that she is shamed into dressing the part of a worldly, wealthy wife and a beautiful MGM star.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May282014

Links: Daredevil Casting, Cage Laughing, Maleficent Building, X-Men Griping

Today's Picture To Gawk At
This one goes out to my podcast pals via Theater Mania because we know you've always wanted to see a photo of Julianne Moore with Sophie Okonedo!

Juli with the cast of the 2 millionth revival of "Raisin in the Sun"

Linkages
New York Times Maya Angelou, the famous author and poet, sometime actress, and one time director (Down in the Delta, 1998) has died
Pajiba Charlie Cox, who killed my beloved Pfeiffer in Stardust will be the new Daredevil for 2015's Netflix series. I haven't seen him in act in like seven years (no really)... so I have no idea what to say about this. Kept a low profile he has as a once rising star. Thoughts?
Playbill Best Picture winner The Sting (1973) will become a musical on Broadway. (That's mandatory now for famous movies)
AV Club HBO going further back with its gay content and planning a 1960s based gay telefilm Open City about gays and the mafia... not to be confused with the modern term "the gay mafia"
i09 talks to production designer turned director Robert Stromberg about his world-building on movies and Maleficent 


YouTube every time Nicolas Cage laughs in a movie. This is so funny and disturbing 
Variety Gross! Clueless's Stacey Dash (Dionne) is a Republican and has just joined Fox News
Variety Golden Trailer Awards getting more popular each year 

Would Be Emmy Precursors
Finally, The Broadcast Television Critics Nominations were announced today. I don't belong to this kid brother organization of the BFCA (which I do belong to) that is still very new... but I can't say that I'm pleased with them for the Mad Men shutouts in their drama nominations or that they're so conversative in their taste when it comes to some of Emmy's issues. (The Big Bang Theory, really? and no RuPaul's Drag Race in Reality Competition despite the media always complaining about how dumb the Emmys are to not see its subversive brilliance?) But if you're curious you can take a look. Things That Are Awesome:  Lauren Weedman for Guest Actress for Looking on HBO. Lots of nominations for Masters of Sex and Orange is the New Black; Things That Are Stupid: Mad Men shut out; Things That Are Interesting: Joe Morton who plays Kerry Washington's father and Bellamy Young, who plays the perpetually defeated unloved First Lady are the only members of Scandal to get acting nominations. The lack of interest in Girls on HBO (only nominated for Andrew Rannels in Guest Performer). Two acting nods for Shameless as a Comedy (it's new campaign tactic) even though it's more of a Drama than it used to be.

art by Jason MetcalfX-Men. Emphasis on the Men. 
Dim the House Lights has an excellent piece expanding on my frustrations with X-Men Days of Future Past and the X-franchise's unwillingness to care about its female characters. This article goes one step further and argues that their agency has been completely erased. Compellingly argued, too.

Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men in my readings about the X-Men movies I chanced upon this great funny podcast that attempts to explain the X-Men's very convoluted history, right from the beginning in the 1960s. If you care about comic books, the X-Men, or want to just marvel at how professional some podcasts sound (seriously, what equipment do people use that their voices are always so shiny, clear and untarnished by sound debris?) [all the episodes on iTunes]

Wednesday
May282014

Barbara Stanwyck: The Real Best Actress of 1941

It's unofficially 1941 Week. Here's Abstew on the year's greatest actress...

See anything you like?

Purrs Barbara Stanwyck's con artist Jean Harrington to Henry Fonda's smitten ale-heir-turned-Ophiologist Charles Pike in Preston Sturges' 1941 screwball classic, The Lady Eve. The question is asked as the contents of her wardrobe are on display (and the sultry delivery let's us know that Jean is hardly talking about the fuzzy slippers), but Stanwyck might have easily been asking movie-goers the same thing regarding her stellar body of work that year. In a quartet of successful films (The Lady Eve, Meet John Doe, You Belong to Me, and Ball of Fire), Stanwyck earned her second Oscar nomination, starred in a film Time magazine named one of the 100 greatest movies of all-time, and became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. Unquestionably, 1941 would prove to be a peak Stanwyck year. 

Click to read more ...