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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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Entries in 10|25|50|75|100 (211)

Friday
Jan272017

The Sex Appeal of Garbo, Valentino and a 150-Year-Old Novelist

By either bizarre coincidence or brilliant intuition, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino began their careers in nearly the same way. Both achieved overnight success with adaptations of one Spanish novelist, a writer who has almost entirely faded from popular consciousness since then. At the time, though, he was more famous than either actor.

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Monday
Jan232017

The Furniture: Celebrating the Tackiness of "The Oscar"

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

Tomorrow is twice blessed. You’re probably already excited for the first reason, the Oscar nominations announcement. It’s also the centennial of Ernest Borgnine, an actor I have never particularly liked. But this coincidence makes today a perfect opportunity to talk about one of the worst movies ever produced by a Hollywood studio: 1966’s The Oscar.

The film begins and ends at the Academy Awards, where fictional Frankie Fane (Stephen Boyd) is as Best Actor nominee for Breakthrough, perhaps the most on-the-nose fictional title of all time. His newly estranged best friend Hymie Kelly (Tony Bennett, in his film debut), glares at him from the next row. Bennett would retire from acting immediately after The Oscar, for reasons that are obvious from the moment he starts talking...

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Thursday
Jan192017

Happy 25th, Logan Lerman!

by David Upton

Congratulations are due: Logan Lerman’s endearing baby face has lasted to his twenty-fifth birthday! It's not that unusual for actors to play teenagers even into their thirties, but Lerman seems especially stuck in transition, repeatedly playing similar tunes of young men who are particularly prey to societal pressures. Last year’s Indignation threw him back in time, with his personal dramas set against an Ohioan college in 1951, but it was his previous college adventure that has proven Lerman’s career high to date...

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Monday
Jan162017

The Furniture: Appropriating Chinese Design in "The Shanghai Gesture"

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. This week Daniel Walber looks back at one of the Art Direction Oscar nominees of 1942 for its 75th anniversary.

While Josef von Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture was still in production, the studio received a letter from T.K. Chang, the Chinese Consul to Los Angeles. Having read the script, he objected to its vicious and absurd portrayal of Shanghai’s underbelly and cautioned the producers to take “consideration of Chinese sentiment.”

Producer Arnold Pressburger defended the film as merely a fantasy. “This imaginary world has no connection with the realistic aspects of today,” he replied. This argument even wound up in the final cut, in the form of an opening title card: “Our story has nothing to do with the present.”


Chang saw right through Pressburger’s nonsense. “Such imaginations always prove to be constructed from the raw material of realities,” he wrote back. He was right. The Shanghai Gesture attempts a menacingly ahistorical flare by appropriating specifically Chinese decor. This is, of course, impossible. But the Oscar-nominated failure of art director Boris Leven (West Side Story) is fascinating...

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Thursday
Jan052017

What's your favorite Jane Wyman?

It's Jane Wyman's Centennial.  The actress was born on this day in Missouri in 1917 as Sara Jane Mayfield.

Like many major stars her legacy rests on a period that's only about a decade long -- in Wyman's case the mid 40s through the 50s, or more specifically the Best Picture winner The Lost Weekend (1945) through the Douglas Sirk classic All that Heaven Allows (1955) a period in which she specialized in childlike women and their inverse young widows-- but her career was long, stretching from bit parts in the early 30s through TV stardom in the 80s.

Her greatest hits and Oscar triumphs after the jump. Which is your favorite?

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Tuesday
Jan032017

Your First Film Screening of 2017? Mine was "Casablanca"

Happy 2017, everyone! Dancin' Dan here, to celebrate how I rang in the New Year in cinema.

I personally opted not to go with any of the new releases, instead choosing January 1st to see a 35mm print of one of my Top Three films of all time, Casablanca. Apparently the print is making the rounds in honor of the 1943 Best Picture winner's 75th Anniversary. The timing, as always with Casablanca, is confusing: Casablanca premiered in New York in November of 1942 but it didn't become Oscar eligible until the 1943 film year winning the Oscar in March 1944 sixteen whole months after its premiere. Technically it's not quite 75 yet.

But never mind that, because Casablanca is always worth celebrating. It's so easy to fall in love with the shared beauty and charisma of stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and to applaud the film's witty, instant-classic lines. This time around, though, I was particularly struck by two things...

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Monday
Dec262016

The Furniture: Fame Flattens Your Dreamgirls, Boys

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

 This probably goes without saying, but movie musicals tend not to take place in the real world. Gene Kelly doesn’t just serenade French children in An American in Paris, he leads the cast through a dream ballet of wild abstraction. The oddness of public singing is often just the door to an even more fantastical world. Even those about actual musicians, who need no special excuse to croon, often break free from realism.

In this context, Dreamgirls is a bit of an odd duck. Director Bill Condon tries to split the difference. Some of the songs are entirely within the context of a real performance, while others incorporate non-musician characters and non-realistic settings. The back and forth can be a bit confounding...

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