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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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Friday
Aug262011

A Few Laughs With "The Avengers"

I asked you to add dialogue or caption to this photo of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) on the set of The Avengers (2012) on Monday and you did.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Gold, silver and bronze winning entries from reader entries are after the jump all mocked up.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug262011

I'm Linking As Fast As I Can

The Hairpin has a huge piece on Ava Gardner's career, femme fatale posing, and storied romantic life. I always always forget she was married to Mickey Rooney because it just seems so wrong.
My New Plaid Pants Thursdays Ways Not To Die... Fashion Faux- Pwned (Serial Mom)
The Critical Condition looks at three (unfortunate) differences between "The Help" as a book and The Help as a movie. 

 

Movie|Line first pics from Bel Ami --not an historical epic about the gay porn studio -- wherein Robert Pattison sexes up various actresses we like: Uma Thurman (pictured below), Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas
The Wow Report congratulations Carrie Fisher on her new look. Jenny Craig worked wonders! 
Cinema Blend Universal keeps dropping film projects. What's going on? 
Grantland predicts the Worst Supporting Actress for this year's Razzies. Agreed that Blake Lively's got at least a nomination sewn up for Green Lantern.
Socialite Life Michael Ian Black recalls his sex scene with Bradley Cooper in Wet Hot American Summer. (Cooper is the only holdout so far on a sequel.) 
IndieWire Jim Carrey's video love letter to Emma Stone. So random.

Finally, did you hear about the big Scarface reunion party to celebrate a special edition BluRay release? Scarface himself Al Pacino, Oscar winner F Murray Abraham, 80s character actor Robert Loggia and 80s hunk Steven Bauer were on hand. But without Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (what, was she too busy?) and especially without Elvira herself, Michelle Pfeiffer, what is even the point? I'm assuming Pfeiffer wasn't there because she's filming Tim Burton's Dark Shadows in London at the moment. But if The Avengers cast can leave Cleveland for a 10 minute walk on at that Disney convention last week, shouldn't they have flown La Pfeiffer cross the Atlantic to class up that party a little? 

Thursday
Aug252011

Yes, No, Maybe So: "The Artist"

Sometimes our Yes No Maybe So series is just formality. Who doesn't want to see this big shiny novelty, a silent movie for 2011!?

Nevertheless let's manage expectations with our patented Yes No Maybe So system. Yes (all the reasons we're on board) No (potential issues the trailer suggests we could have) Maybe So (random introspection that's neither positive nor negative exactly)

Yes That Cannes win for Jean DuJardin is tantalizing, especially since the performance in short trailer form looks so deliciously physical and charismatic rather than a traditional 'Master Thespian!' type deal. But mostly the concept alone, the evidence of joyful dance scenes, clever physical comedy and the a heart that beats with the sincere love of cinema promises a good time. 

No Uh.... what to say... what to say... how will any onscreen terrier ever measure up to Skippy who starred in The Thin Man and The Awful Truth?
As you can see I'm failing to come up with a "no" this movie looks so gorgeous and fun. In all seriousness, though there's nothing in any way "turn off" about this brief look, I do wonder how the movie will sustain its gimmick over 100 whole minutes. 

Maybe So I've successfully read nothing about the plot of this picture but the trailer suggests A Star is Born style plot yes? I understand that we're dealing with Hollywood homage and archetypes and tropes so it's appropriate and all of that but my god that's been done hundreds of times already.

Here's the trailer...

are you a yes, no or a maybe so? does the trailer justify (for you) the Oscar buzz?

Thursday
Aug252011

The Actress. A Book.

It took a surprisingly long time but three of my friends independently read the book What You See in the Dark these past two weeks. I had recommended it emphatically a few months back but dropped the topic when nobody bit. All three of them told me much they liked it in separate conversations. Some of you may recall that I interviewed the author Manuel Muñoz right here, hoping some of you would pick it up as well.

Since it was on my mind again, I thought I'd share a passage so I flipped the book open and skimmed until I found one of the passages about the Actress (who it won't surprise you to hear was my favorite character in the novel... although not by much, which surprised me).

The scene takes place as the Actress is contemplating a scene she'll be shooting the next morning and her mind wanders...

A supporting role. Nothing more. In the Director's previous picture, that one actress had appeared playing two roles. She hadn't done a particularly stellar job, some in the industry had said, but the Actress thought the performance more than adequate. She had sat in the theater with mild envy, the role too rich for words: A distraught wife is trailed silently throughout San Francisco by a police detective, from flower shop to museum to the foot of the glorious Golden Gate Bridge, where she finally hurls herself into the bay. The detective rescues her and later falls in love, only to lose her again to a successful suicide attempt. It played, the Actress thought, like an odd type of silent movie, and she felt maybe she had fooled herself into believing she could have fit perfectly into the part. Was it really requiring much beyond posing, or was there something about silent-movie acting that she didn't know? She wondered what the script must have looked like, that other actress -- who couldn't have been professionally trained -- skimming the pages until she found her first line.

No matter how small the role was going to be, it would have been foolish to say no to the Director. He was in the midst of doing something extraordinary and uncanny with some actresses, finessing their star wattage and burnishing it into a singular, almost iconic image. That was the way the Actress saw it anyway, mesmerized by how he was stripping out all  the trappings of the industry and pushing these women toward something beyond even acting, something nakedly cinematic -- poses, postures, gestures, as if the women were in magazine ads come to life for just split seconds at a time, just enough motion for the public to remember them as images and not characters. It was like opening up a jewelry box she had had many years ago as a young girl, fascinated by the tiny plastic ballerina in the center and its brief circle of motion. She had closed and opened that box endlessly even though the ballerina did nothing differently. But even now, in a black sedan carrying her over the Grapevine back toward the Valley, where she had grown up, the Actress could close her eyes and remember the golden lace of the ballerina's costume, the full circle of her deliciously patient twirl, her perfect timing with the delicate chime of the music box's single tune. And that was the way the screen worked, too, she had discovered. Every actresses's trajectory carried a moment like that, and the Director was staging them effortlessly.

After the jump a brief bit about the Actress's brassiere. 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug252011

Your Fav' Sixties & Seventies Ladies

During Summer 2011  -- winding down at last! -- we've been asking TFE readers to choose the most memorable Best Actress nominated film characters. Which film characters have you taken into your hearts and headspace most fully? Who is always popping into mind unbidden? Below are the latest voting results for August's polls covering the 1960s & 1970s (previous results: 1980s and 1991-2010). We used five year intervals for voting and asked readers to choose the 5 most memorable characters from each group of 25 Oscar nominees.

If you're looking for these polls to provide a "face" of an era it looks like Julie Andrews wins the early 60s -- she was thoroughly modern back then! -- and Faye Dunaway takes over from there for a long run at the top (1966-1980) [* indicates that it was an Oscar winning role.]

1961-1965


  1. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY (Audrey Hepburn) Breakfast at Tiffany's
  2. MARY POPPINS* (Julie Andrews) Mary Poppins
  3. [tie] MARIA VON TRAPP (Julie Andrews) The Sound of Music and BABY JANE HUDSON (Bette Davis) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
  4. ANNIE SULLIVAN* (Anne Bancroft) The Miracle Worker

Runners Up: Though the top five were never in question, DEANIE LOOMIS from Splendor in the Grass, ALMA BROWN* from Hud (who also tied) and DIANA SCOTT*, the "sunshine girl" from Darling each had deep pockets of swoony admirers.  The remaining two top ten'ers, further back in voting were MARY TYRONE from Long Day's Journey Into Night, and CESIRA* from Two Women.

Observations: The Julie Andrews characters flip-flopped for the first week of voting until Mary took flight and left Maria behind on the hilltop. Baby Jane tried everything to kick Maria off the mountain: writing letters to daddy, rat dinners, actual kicking; a very tight race that was for third place and in the end they tied. Aside from Audrey's win, there was little consensus.

Geraldine Page finds "pure hard gold" in boytoy Paul Newman in Sweet Bird of Youth

I was disappointed at the lack of substantial votes for Natalie Wood's preggers single gal in Love With the Proper Stranger and Geraldine Page's bitch goddess superstar in Sweet Bird of Youth (though the latter almost cracked the top ten) but voting was all over the place in this round. 

Weakest Showing: No actresses suffered the "no votes" problem in this half decade grouping, but ALMA from Summer and Smoke, JANE FOSSETT from The L Shaped Room and MARGARET HAMMOND from This Sporting Life barely found any favor.

1966-1970


  1. MRS ROBINSON (Anne Bancroft) The Graduate
  2. MARTHA* (Elizabeth Taylor) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  3. BONNIE PARKER (Faye Dunaway) Bonnie & Clyde
  4. FANNY BRICE* (Barbra Streisand) Funny Girl
  5. [TIE] ELEANOR OF ACQUITAINE* (Katharine Hepburn) The Lion in Winter and MISS JEAN BRODIE* (Maggie Smith), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

still in her prime.Runners Up: update. whoops. I misread the chart. Maggie Smith's Oscar winning haughty schoolmarm actually tied with Hepburn's Lion in Winter character in the last couple of days of voting. I had missed that! What a relief, Miss Jean Brodie, still being in her prime!] The remaining four players in the top ten are as follows: GLORIA BEATTY danced as fast as she could for 7th place for They Shoot Horses Don't They? Then with far fewer votes came, JENNIFER CAVALLERI from Love Story, SUSY HENDRIX from Wait Until Dark and CHRISTINA DRAYTON* from Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Observations: This was the closest the top spot has ever come to a tie with seductive Mrs. Robinson besting drunk Martha by just 2% of votes gathered. In other kindred spirit news, they're both fond of playing "get the guest".

This is also the closest your votes have ever aligned with the Academy's decisions as four of your top five actually winning the gold for their indelible creations and another top ten'er, too. The further back we go the more obvious it is which films are not readily available for home viewing and how much Oscar wins are worth for longevity. It's an easy way to draw people backwards to see old films. But about the availability of some films... I've said it many times but I'll have to keep saying it. Hollywood is a shameful place. It's an industry with gazillions of dollars in profits and far too few of those bucks get funnelled back into the art form to insure that films are preserved and/or available for the public. At the very least an Oscar nomination ought to mean that your film never disappears for good.

Weakest Showing: "Mary Wilson" from Happy Ending received 0% of the votes. The film is not available on DVD. Morgan!'s "Leonie Delt" and "Rosy Ryan" from Ryan's Daughter just barely escaped this fate.

1971-1975


  1. SALLY BOWLES* (Liza Minnelli) Cabaret
  2. NURSE RATCHED* (Louise Fletcher) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  3. EVELYN CROSS MULWRAY (Faye Dunaway) Chinatown
  4. CHRIS MACNEIL (Ellen Burstyn) The Exorcist
  5. ALICE HYATT* (Ellen Burstyn) Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Runners Up: the rest of the top ten in descending order were BREE DANIELS* Klute, MABEL LONGHETTI A Woman Under the Influence, and KATIE MOROSKY The Way We Were, CONSTANCE MILLER McCabe and Mrs Miller and ADELE The Story of Adele H.

Jane Fonda as "Bree" in KluteObservations: This five year period surprised me the most of all the polls in terms of how well various women fared. Ellen Burstyn is a national treasure but I wasn't expecting either of her roles to show up in the top five, let alone both of them! It seems to me that her past star would not shine as bright without that shocking resurrection that was Requiem for a Dream (2000). Let that be a lesson to all actresses. Don't give up when you've crossed the senior citizen mark. An acclaimed golden years performance can restore major luminosity to to your earlier shining successes. Speaking of which, Jane Fonda could use one final hurrah performance herself to remind people of what an irreplaceable actress she is. I was personally very disappointed to see her Klute performance outside the top five (It was a narrow miss but it shocked me. I'd rank it among the ten best actress performances of all time). But the #8 rank for Barbra's famous romantic heroine from The Way We Were was the biggest lower-than-expect shocker and at the very least it suggests that Carrie Bradshaw was definitely not voting on these polls. 

Weakest Showing: Marsha Mason's "Maggie Paul" from Cinderella Liberty received no votes with the little seen these days "Gitl" from Hester Street nearly meeting the same fate.

1976-1980


  1. ANNIE HALL* (Diane Keaton) Annie Hall
  2. CARRIE WHITE (Sissy Spacek) Carrie
  3. DIANA CHRISTENSEN* (Faye Dunaway) Network
  4. LORETTA LYNN* (Sissy Spacek) Coal Miner's Daughter
  5. NORMA RAE WEBSTER* (Sally Field)

Runners Up: the rest of the top ten in descending order was composed of bad mommy BETH JARRETT from Ordinary People, Goldie Hawn's PRIVATE BENJAMIN, Bette Midler's MARY ROSE FOSTER from The Rose, delusional beige EVE from Interiors and "Yo, ADRIAN" from Rocky just barely knocked Gena Rowland's GLORIA and Ingrid Bergman's CHARLOTTE ANDERGAST of the ring to nab spot #10.

Observations:  I was surprised to see Mary Tyler Moore's legendary Bad Mommy performance in Ordinary People outside the top five but she was just one or two votes shy of making it a three way tie with the two biographical performances ahead of her. 

Marsha... no one is on the line!Weakest Showing: Marsha Mason's "Jenny Maclaine" in Chapter Two received no votes. I thought about voting for this character myself but there were too many other strong options. I used to just love that movie though I have only the dimmest recall of it now so I couldn't say "most memorable!". Mason was a very hot Oscar commodity for a few short years but none of her characters have done well in the polls indicating that her films have either not aged well for one reason or another or people just haven't seen them or, most likely, some combination of both. Is it time for some enterprising young director to take her on as a project: Marsha Mason revival!

This is a lot to process, I know. Any surprises, disappointments or observations you want to share? Have you been inspired to add any of these pictures to your rental queues?

Thursday
Aug252011

Who is Jessica Chastain?

Here's pretty much all that we know about her: She was raised in North Carolina, she just turned 30, she's in every seventh movie opening in 2011, and though we've only seen three of them thus far (The Tree of Life, The Help and Take Shelter) it takes a minute in each to realize that yes, that's her. Even in photoshoots she seems to be more than one person.

Is she a moldable young starlet?
Is she a Swintonesque Off-Hollywood provocateur?
Is she a Lead Star just waiting for her own vehicles?

Further IMDb and Wikipedia grazing reveals that she graduated from Juillard and that her best friend is the actress Jess Weixler (of Teeth fame. How about that?) but the point is this: we like people we can't pin down immediately.

I don't want to play the same character twice. There's something about the feeling of 'I don't think I can do this.' If you have that moment of doubt, you have to rise up and meet it. I learn from my failures more than my successes."
-Chastain to Michael Musto at the premiere of The Debt 

Hitting a Take Shelter screening last night I tweeted "Okay, Jessica Chastain. Show me what else ya got" Of her three summer performances (her fourth The Debt opens soon) it's the least impressive but it's almost the most telling. 'What I got' was the surest indication yet that she's a future Oscar winner as she embraced their favorite role, the long suffering wind-beneath-her-husband's-wings type, with such unfussy naturalistic ease.

Regarding Oscar...
While she's ethereal and lovely in The Tree of Life it seems less an acting feat than a well judged minimalist act to allow Terrence Malick and Emmanuel Lubezki's camera and the rich scoring to fill her Way of Grace with meaning. Auteur vessel performance are rarely nominated. While she's hugely entertaining in The Help she probably has too much internal competition for traction. And her most Oscar-friendly role in Take Shelter is within a film that one suspects will be too under the radar for Oscar. She may have to wait for the Kodak theater but it'll be exciting to watch her work her way there.

Wednesday
Aug242011

Remaking Kurosawa? People Have Been Doing It For Years

Akira Kurosawa's Centennial last spring is still causing ripples. Splendent Media extends the celebration in a potentially controversial way. They have the rights to an enormous part of the Kurosawa catalogue should anyone want to purchase them for a remake. Kneejerk reaction is NOOOOooooooooo. But then you realize that Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress, and The Seven Samurai (and to a lesser extent many of his other films) have already been ripped off hundreds of times for movies and television. Hell, I've even seen an Off Broadway musical based on Rashomon!

So why would a straight up remake be any different? 

Here are the 26 Kurosawa directed pics (of the 32 he made) that they're offering rights to:

Sanshiro Sugata (1943)
The Most Beautiful (1944)
Sanshiro Sugata Part2 (1945)
The Men who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail (1945)
No Regrets For Our Youth (1946)
One Wonderful Sunday (1947)
The Quiet Duel (1949)
Stray Dog (1949)
Scandal (1950)
Rashomon (1950) -- Honorary Oscar Foreign Film
Idiot (1951)
Record of a Living Being (1955)
Throne of Blood (1957)
The Lower Depths (1957)
The Hidden Fortress (1958)
The Bad Sleep Well (1960)
Yojimbo (1961)
Sanjuro (1962)
Red Beard (1965)
Dodes’Ka- Den (1970) -- Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Nominee
Dersu Uzala (1975) -- Oscar Winner, Foreign Film
Kagemusha (1980)  -- Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Nominee
Ran (1985)  -- Best Director Oscar Nomination
Dreams (1990)  
Rhapsody in August (1991)
Madadayo (1993)

QUESTION: Wouldn't it be strange to buy the rights to remake Ran or Throne of Blood when you can get their source material (King Lear and Macbeth) for free?

What's your favorite Kurosawa? Sometimes I wish I'd seen them all -- since I've yet to be disappointed -- but it's so daunting given how prolific he was.