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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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Entries in 10|25|50|75|100 (124)

Saturday
Sep202014

Tim's Toons: The CGI spectacle and unrealism of Sky Captain

Tim here. This week marks the ten-year anniversary of one of the most important milestones in modern feature animation, though it’s a form of animation that tends to make itself invisible. But when most of the sets, and several of the major characters in movies from Avatar to Gravity to Guardians of the Galaxy are created entirely in a computer by digital artists, can we really keep blithely calling these “live-action movies” without briefly wondering if our pants have just burst in flame? It’s not Disney/Pixar-style cartooning, but these are partially or wholly animated worlds by any definition I can come up with. And it was on September 17, 2004 that Paramount released Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which made history as the first Hollywood movie made entirely on green screens, with every single location created artificially in post-production...

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Tuesday
Jul222014

Happy 50th to the Inimitable John Leguizamo

Happy 50th to the enduring character actor and one man show trouper John Leguizamo. He has his first (film) hit in years this summer as part of the ensemble of Chef and he's arguably even its secret weapon; his cheerful sideline energy helps cut the sometimes sour taste of the movie's vaguely offputting self pitying / self aggrandizing central character business featuring Jon Favreau.

But Leguizamo has been doing that for years, significantly boosting or even altering the energy of pictures he was fourth or fifth or, you know, twelfth billed in. It's true that his brand of sideline showmanship often teeters towards hardly altruistic hamminess; he's an unrepetant scene stealer. But it was a treat to see him again, I raedily admit, and so shortly after I happened to watch his most recent one man show "Ghetto Klown" on cable or streaming or something (I forget) wherein he talks about this impending 50th birthday, the disintegration of his film career and trying to get things back on track. 

That story has a happy ending given that it's hard to miss his earnest but unforced exuberance in Chef and wish him well on future gigs. Especially if you have any fond recollection of past gems like...

From top left: Summer of Sam, the most all-around underappreciated of Spike Lee's quality joints, gave him a rare leading role as Vinny the hairdresser; he was wonderfully too much and Golden Globe nominated as Chi-Chi in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar like an excited drag puppy that couldn't stop peeing; and of course there's his unrequited romantic highly-fictionized version of Toulouse Lautrec in the classic Moulin Rouge!. These are his greatest film roles and it's just perfect that two of them have exclamation points in the title since he's that kind of actor. 

I only speak the truth ♫ I only speak the truth "

What's your fondest memory of Leguizamo's career?

Tuesday
Jul152014

Best Shot: Any Batman Film (1966-2012)

Hit Me With Your Best Shot returns from its June hiatus for a 75th celebration of the masked vigilante with a thing for winged rodents (here's the future schedule - next week is Under the Skin). We asked anyone who wanted to play to pick a theatrically released Batman film (there are 9 of them) and choose its best shot. Here's what the participants saw when they looked at these pictures.

Click on the photos to read the corresponding articles. It's the Same Bat-Time on Same Different Bat Channels. 

BEST SHOTS IN BATMAN FILM FRANCHISE
29 images selected from 9 films by 17 participants

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Friday
Jun062014

1964: Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker

Tim here. Ordinarily, I take this space to talk about animation, but with it being 1964 Month at the Film Experience, I wanted to go someplace else – not least because the state of animation in 1964 was not terribly exciting, unless you’re one of those people for whom a semicentennial tribute to Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear sounds like the absolute best conversation we could be having.

Instead, I’d like to use this bully pulpit to call attention to one of my perpetual favorite picks for Hugely Underrated American Film Masterpiece You All Need to Have Seen, Like, Yesterday: The Pawnbroker, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Rod Steiger, who received an Oscar nomination. It premiered 50 years ago this very month, in competition at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival (they festival’ed differently in those days), not premiering until the following year in the States due to its nudity and generally sour tone. A half of a century has, beyond question, blunted the impact of the movie’s most boundary-pushing elements (not least being the fact that naked women have become so blandly normalized in mainstream film, a development this very movie did a tremendous amount to encourage), and even its then-unprecedented engagement with the Holocaust, including the first scene in an American film set in a concentration camp, feels a little quaint today.

But the grime of humanity isn’t so easily wiped away, and Steiger’s devastatingly committed performance – it’s the best thing he ever did, I’d say, though I’m admittedly dubious about Steiger as often as not – is still a raging powerhouse of human torment. Lord knows The Pawnbroker isn’t any fun, but it’s moving and visceral like few films then or now would dare to be.

More...

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Thursday
May222014

How Does 'Fahrenheit' Hold Up?

Taking a trip down memory lane Michael C revisits an atypical Cannes winner...

I knew all this politics crap would be brought up," he said. "We all agreed that Fahrenheit 9/11 was the best movie of the competition."

That was Cannes Jury president Quentin Tarantino talking to the BBC back in 2004 -- 10 years ago this very day -- defending his decision to make Michael Moore’s political hand grenade of a movie Fahrenheit 9/11 the first documentary to win the Palme d’Or since The Silent World in 1956. Fahrenheit went on to become and remains, the highest grossing documentary of all time by a significant margin.

Tarantino continued:

"I just whispered in his ear and said, 'I just want you to know it was not because of the politics that you won this award, you won it because we thought it was the best film that we saw.'"

I would sooner stick my head in a bag of scorpions than reopen the toxic debate over the accuracy of Moore’s film. But now, on the 10th anniversary of Fahrenheit’s big Cannes win, I would like to take issue with the above statements. With the safe distance of time, with all the political consequences long since passed, is it safe to admit the plain truth: Tarantino's statements are transparently false...

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Friday
May162014

Tim's Toons: Cannes competitor Shrek 2, ten years later

Tim here. Cannes is in the air, and as we do, I’ve been thinking about festivals past, when I landed on the fact that this very day is the tenth anniversary of the premier of Shrek 2 on the Croissette. And just as I started writing up a whole thing about big English-language crowdpleasers and their history of opening up the festival, talking about the toxic reception that Grace of Monaco has received in that slot (as so many of them do), when I landed on the further fact that Shrek 2 wasn’t that year’s opening night film (Almodóvar’s Bad Education was). No sir, Shrek 2 was an official selection in that year’s main competition. Which feels genuinely insane – no other American animated film, to my knowledge, has ever competed at Cannes, so how would something as unapologetically commercial as Shrek 2 get the nod? And yet it did, and somehow managed to receive not a single award from Quentin Tarantino’s jury.

Anyway, the date serves more generally as an ideal moment to look back from across the intervening decade at what remains the highest-grossing animated feature in U.S. box office history – neither the Zeitgeist explosion of Frozen (with nine years of inflation to help it) nor multiple releases of The Lion King were even been able to seriously threaten its crown – and one whose massive success caused it to influence so much of mainstream animation over the intervening years.

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