DON'T MISS THIS!
Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

Like The Film Experience on Facebook

Powered by Squarespace
What'cha Looking For?
Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Absolutely Fabulous

"I love the TV series but this one is a complete misfire." - Jans

"It's held together by scotch tape and gumption, but I haven't laughed so hard in ages." - Tom

Keep TFE Strong

 

LOVE THE SITE? DONATE 

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

Subscribe
Friday
Jul052013

The Halfway Mark Pt 2. Actors & Actresses

I assume that the entire time you were reading the Halfway Mark Best Screenplays & Pictures you were thinking "get to the actors already!" because, damn you're predictable and also so am I and I love to pay homage to great performances. So, here they are in six categories for your perusal and debate and "I guess I'd better watch that" list-making pleasure.

Best Actor in a Limited or Cameo Role (THUS FAR): Lior Ashkenazi (of Late Marriage fame) temporarily energizes the unfortunately bland Yossi by temporarily attempting to to rub off on and up against Yossi himself with pushy sleaze; James Badge Dale, who also won a nomination in this category at 2012's Film Bitch Awards for Flight, is in every big movie now (World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Iron Man 3) and pretty much great in all of them though the roles are growing exponentially and he's already too large for this category!; Kyle Chandler memorably flips his 'clear eyes, full hearts' image on its head as an absent father in The Spectacular NowCheyenne Jackson is robbed of his signature voice entirely in Behind the Candelabra as a disgruntled employee/protege/lover but it turns out he doesnt need it absolutely nailing every tiny gesture and facial expression; and finally, I liked Jamie Sheridan's conflicted big business father in The East.

Best Actress in a Limited or Cameo Role: Hillary Baack, is moving in a key brief role as The East's hearing impaired member; Zoe Kazan wins best in show for a group acting exercize masquerading as a movie called Some Girl(s) with an agonizing backstory; Debbie Reynolds, is a real hoot and unrecognizable in the Liberace flick Behind the CandelabraOrly Silbersatz Banai adds wonderful depth and shading to her history of denial in Yossi; And in a fine cast in StokerJacki Weaver, makes the most of her tense few scenes as the deservedly worried unannounced visitor Aunt Ginny; and my apologies to Grace Gummer in Frances Ha who I didn't quite have room for but I liked her prickly Ivy League alumna

4 More Acting Category "Bests" after the jump

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul042013

Will You Be Having "Labor Day" For Christmas?

Labor Day, the latest film from writer/director Jason Reitman is now scheduled to open on Christmas Day so I thought I'd post about it on Independence Day just to continue its holiday confusions!

You may remember that I had promised to read two books that y'all voted on in that "read this before the movie comes out" and this was your second choice pick (I'll read 12 Years a Slave next). I managed to get through thise runner up on flights during my recent Scandinavian trip. Joyce Manard's "Labor Day" was an easy read, actually as the novel is slim and the story is condensed to a very short time frame. I like both of its book covers though they're vague (love and peach pies do figure in but...) and its difficult to say what they're selling but the same is arguably true of the book, which I felt ambivalent about when I'd finished though it never really lost my interest in the reading.

It could make a smart tight movie about unloved middle aged people and the messy crossroads between romantic fulfillment and parenting, OR what it's like to grow up as the child of absent divorced parents but it also could make for an odd collision of coming-of-age clichés, faux thriller suspense, and romantic drama. If it's not tightly directed I could see some 'let's just watch some actors act' aimlessness happening given the novel's multiple identities. I'm loathe to give away details (though I'm 100% certain the trailer will...) but the set up is that an escaped ex convict Frank (Josh Brolin) suddenly enters the lives of a shut-in mother Adele (Kate Winslet) and her lonely teenage son Henry (played by 14 year old Gattlin Griffith from Changeling and then by 16 year old Dylan Minette who has had a few regular series gigs on TV... though it seems strange to have actors so close in age playing the same character at different ages) on a rare trip out shopping, further isolating them from the world. That's all I'm saying. 

 

I'm intrigued to see Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet work together -- seems like smart casting director match-making.

Winslet's character is a complicated one so if the movie is strong a Best Actress nomination isn't out of the question. Adele is eccentric, stubborn, moody, shut-down, delusional but also sexually vivid. She's described repeatedly in the novel as beautiful with a lithe dancers physique that's still a head turner even though she doesn't take care of herself and put herself out there visually (she seems to have no interest in dating). But based on the set photos of the costuming and styling maybe they've erred on the side of "she's a housewife that's given up!" Winslet might have to provide all the eroticism on her own. 

Dylan MinnetteBrolin is a smidge beefier than his character as described (Frank is a wiry almost gaunt ex-con) though it does look like he lost some weight for the role. But I think it's great casting emotionally since he is fairly adept at shading good guys and bad guys alike with questionable impulses and more complex character that you're able to read at first glance. 

Is this a movie you're looking forward to?
If you've read the novel what did you think of it? Do you remember Gattlin Griffith in Changeling (little Walter Collins) and if you've seen Dylan Minette on Lost or Saving Grace tell us what you think of his big screen potential?

Related Reading: 14 Books to Read Before They Hit the Big Screen (BuzzFeed) 25 Beach Reads for Summer 2013 (Vulture)

Thursday
Jul042013

Four for the Fourth: America in the Movies

It’s Tim, here to wish all of the U.S. readers of the Film Experience a Happy Independence Day, and to everyone else, "Happy Thursday!"

This particular holiday isn’t one commemorated in movies as much as many others – the odd scene here or there, but rarely an entire film dedicated to the themes and meanings behind the day. In order to save everyone from watching the classic but overfamiliar Yankee Doodle Dandy or 1776 – or the Roland Emmerich / Dean Devlin explode-o-rama Independence Day, if that’s the way you roll – or the miserable direct-to-video slasher movie Uncle Sam, if that’s how you roll, and for that you have my sympathy – I thought I’d put together a little list of a few films about America, in its many different forms, that might make for somewhat more novel viewing than seeing James Cagney speak-singing George M. Cohan songs for the 20th time. 

 

(Though if you haven’t seen the film, for God’s sake do it, he’s a dancing genius!) Four great movies about America below the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul042013

"American Graffiti" is a Wonderful Ride. Take It. 

I honestly can't tell you why I've avoided American Graffiti (1973) for as long as I have especially since my childhood was filled with Star Wars trilogy mania to the extent that I even devoured a George Lucas paperback biography in the early 80s. But as the only remaining unseen nominee from an unusually diverse and entertaining Best Picture Vintage (American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist, The Sting, and A Touch of Class) I thought it was time. My assumption that a leisurely drive back into American nostalgia would be just the ticket for the Fourth of July holiday was correct. What surprised me was the drive itself, which "leisurely" does not accurately describe though modern sensibilities might describe the unrushed pacing in just that way.

America Graffiti spends a single night cruising with a group of friends and new acquaintances (a couple of whom, at least, have just graduated high school though the film is less clear on where the other characters stand in the age and education continuum). It's just any night but it's also not. Best friends Curt (Richard Dreyfuss, Golden Globe nominated for this performance) and Steve (Ron Howard), are due aboard a plane headed for college the next morning. But the road they and their friends travel isn't a straight shot, despite the frequent threat of drag race challenges. It's filled with detours, cul de sacs, snack breaks, and confusing cross, tail and headwinds fighting their course.  

Dreyfuss is a dreamer in "American Graffiti"

There are no convertibles to speak of in American Graffiti but you dont even have to be exposed and in motion to feel like the past and future are whipping your hair about and fighting for control of your vehicle, your life, your now. The main characters from hotshot drag racer John (Paul LeMat who won the now defuct "Promising Newcomer" Golden Globe for this performance), to cheerleader Laurie (Cindy Williams, BAFTA nominated for this performance), to best friends Curt and Steve... are visibly confused about the future and even their feelings about the past though they're hanging on, sometimes consciously, to its familiarity. Graffiti's screenplay and ensemble work is strong enough to even let the secondary characters in on this past/future action a bit too, in more subtextual ways. 

The cinematography by Jan D'Alquen & Ron Eveslage (who according to IMDb never worked again after this???) with guidance from the legendary Haskell Wexler isn't particularly showy but it is complicated given the multiple light sources, reflections, moving vehicles, and dark of night. And it's sometimes beautiful, too. Since this series is about individual shots, we have to choose one. My runner up is this brief two-shot between Laurie and Bob Falfa played by Harrison Ford in a precise (and wonderfully telling) debut. I love the light of the passing cars, the reflections, and most of all the acting...

Laurie is angry with her boyfriend Steve and gets in Bob's car only to realize the vacuum of chemistry therein. She doesn't know why she's done this exactly. Bob is also less than smitten, and they're immediately rude to each other. To break the silence Bob comically croons "Some Enchanted Evening" in the way boys clown about to avoid discomfort. In a great comic beat Laurie scoots as far away from him as she can and it'd be even further if the car weren't in motion. Both actors absolutely nail the 'what am I doing here? will i always be doing this? what's next?' ambivalence in a comedic miniature way and what's beautiful about that is that it's the same effect, really, that the film and characters arcs are going for in a dramatic longform way. I even love the art director's touch of that hanging skull in Falfa's car. Maybe's it's a little on the nose for a film that trades so heavily on Fear of the Future and even (inelegantly) foretells death in its credit sequence but it's funny and character-specific.

But that choice, finally, felt too much like a choice based solely on which paragraph I wanted to write (funny how that happens in this series!) rather than a sound decision. Best Shots don't always come from Best Scenes but this time I'm siding with synergy. The best scene in the film, the one where the omnipresent golden-oldies soundtrack, direction, performance, editing, themes and cinematography all coalesce perfectly is at the high school dance the characters reluctantly drop in on despite having just graduated. Steve and Laurie, who have been arguing for the whole first half hour of the movie, are revealed to us to be basically the King & Queen of their high school and they're called up for a spotlight dance right in the middle of a very heated break-up. The scene is two whole minutes in length and every second is beautiful. 

best shot

As they dance in circles under the blue spotlight we get, in brilliant miniature, the ebb and flow of their entire relationship from first date to first kiss to now, as their future looms -- they're not at all sure it's going to be a shared one.

The scene ends with a perfectly judged cut to a closeup as Laurie suddenly clings to Steve, tears in her eyes, wishing for her past to also be her future no matter how pissed she is at present. But since the ending to this absolute gem of a scene is more of a best cut, really, I'll select this image (above) from the middle of the sequence as its best shot. How perfect that the characters are looking in separate directions, that Laurie is driving the scene (as she does throughout despite Steve being the protagonist), that the "62" of their graduating class is lit up, and most of all that Laurie is shifting from angry historian to sentimental scrapbook artist of her own romance in the process of retelling it.


*sniffle*

NEXT WEDNESDAY': David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (1988) [Amazon | Netflix | iTunes]
Join us by watching it and sharing your choice of best shot. We'll link up.

MORE GRAFFITI ?!
These blogs are boss. Go visit them!
Antagony & Ecstasy thinks this is George Lucas's masterpiece
Coco Hits NYC is unfamiliar with car culture but loves the movie
The Entertainment Junkie on the volatile cocktail of adolescent emotion
Film Actually on the teenage iconography of "lover's lane"
The Film's The Thing "something great is out there waiting for you"
A Fistful of Films proves you don't have to have complex screen capture technology to deliver wonderful posts for this series (join us next week people!)
The Matinee alkdgs
Sorta That Guy visits the radio station with Curt. will he stay or will he go?
Stale Popcorn "they won't have moments like this much longer"
We Recycle Movies on quests and myths and aimless heroes

Thursday
Jul042013

'The Heat' Winners

Congratulations to the winners of The Heat (reviewed) poster contest though sadly none of you took up my offer to recreate the poster for your entry. I know TFE readers are creative from previous contests people. Don't pretend otherwise and let me down next time ;)

The winners are: 

  • FRANK in NY
  • JEREMY in NY
  • MIKE in MO
  • STEPHANIE in CA
  • TAYLOR in CT

Your prize packs* are on the way from the studio!
(*Sandra & Melissa sold separately but currently flying off the shelves)

 

Wednesday
Jul032013

Visual Index ~ American Graffiti's Best Shot(s)

Where were you on 7/2? Hopefully watching American Graffiti (1973) to better appreciate today's edition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", our collective series in which we invite anyone who loves movies  'round the web to select their favorite image from a pre-selected movie. [Next Wednesday we'll be discussing the brilliant and disturbing Dead Ringers (1988) so do not miss that.] This week we return to simpler times...

1962 by way of 1973, in point of fact, courtesy of George Lucas's first Best Picture nominee, the very fine nostalgia fest American Graffiti which we thought an appropriate choice for the 4th of July Holiday. more...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul032013

Woody Allen to be Jacki Weaver's (Third Time) Lucky Charm?

Glenn here to discuss one of his favourite topics: the career rejuvination of Jacki Weaver!

When Weaver scored a seemingly improbable Oscar nomination a few years back for Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom (a nomination I predicted an equally improbable year in advance), most expected the diminutive Aussie to crawl off back home with her pride, some glamorous memories and little else. The rest, however, as we all know, went much differently. She hasn't been working anywhere near as much the lady that bested her to the statue - that'd be Melissa Leo who's accepted everything in her path - but she's been afforded the chance to work with some great auteurs and got a second nomination earlier this year to boot. More...

Click to read more ...