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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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Love Affair (1994) - as "A Year With Kate" nears its conclusion

A YEAR WITH KATE... 2 episodes left

 "A really beautiful look into the careers of one of my favorite actors, but it's made me consider the careers of so many different actors and how the great ones adapt to eras while still staying true to themselves. This is a special, lovely series. I both cannot wait for and am so sad for the end next week.-John T

 

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Entries in 10|25|50|75|100 (130)

Thursday
Dec042014

50th Anniversary: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Tim here. December means two things: one of these is frantically trying to keep up with year-end awardage and last-minute qualifying releases, and we have that well-covered this month at the Film Experience. But it also means forcible nostalgia and hankering back to the traditions of childhood, and in this mode, we come to a very important anniversary this weekend. It was 50 years ago, on December 6, 1964, that NBC first aired the hourlong Rank/Bass special Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, and thus created one of the most durable pop culture artifacts of the Christmas season.

Rudolph wasn't the first TV Christmas special, nor even the first one that was animated: Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol had beaten to the latter punch by two years. Its enormous success meant that follow-ups were inevitable, so Rudolph was merely at the forefront of quite a large number of animated tales of finding the true meaning of the holiday and this and the other thing. And yet out of that wave of productions, virtually nothing, including Quincy Magoo’s turn in Ebenezer Scrooge’s shoes, has had the lasting cultural currency of Rudolph, which has been aired somewhere on American television for every single one of the 50 years of its existence. The fledgling Rankin/Bass (then working under the name Videocraft) made a cottage industry out of Christmas specials in the years following, but none of its follow-ups have become institutions in the same way as their first attempt.

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Monday
Nov172014

The legacy of The Little Mermaid, 25 years later

Tim here, to celebrate the silver anniversary of one of the most important films in the annals of American animation. 25 years ago today – some of you are going to have to brace yourselves, because you’re about to feel very old – Walt Disney Pictures released The Little Mermaid, in one fell swoop rewriting the landscape for family entertainment and animation alike.

As hard as it is to believe now, once upon a time, Disney was an embarrassing underdog, whose theme parks were solely responsible for keeping its saggy movie division propped up. 1989 was only four years removed from the disastrous release of the pricey The Black Cauldron, and the takeover of the company by executives Michael Eisner and Frank Wells, who managed to stabilize the live action filmmaking division, while putting the animation studio under the command of Peter Schneider.

It was Schneider who managed an ambitious and terrifyingly foolhardy plan, concocted by Jeffrey Katzenberg  to restore the luster of Disney animation after a generation or more of mismanagement, by releasing a new animated feature on an annual basis. The first film produced on that model was 1988’s Oliver & Company, a rock-solid hit, but hardly the triumphant return of Disney animation that everyone was hoping for. That came with the second film in Schneider’s plan, The Little Mermaid, and the rest is history.

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Tuesday
Nov042014

Curio: 10 Years of The Incredibles

Alexa here with your weekly art appreciation.  Hard to believe that it's been 10 years since the release of The Incredibles.  The (hopefully) happy news that Brad Bird is working on a sequel was followed by the sad news of Elizabeth Peña's passing; she was so recognizable as the voice of Mirage.  Here's hoping that everyone else returns (Sara Vowell!), especially my personal favorite, Edna Mode (voiced by Brad Bird himself).  Here are some curios to celebrate a decade of this superhero family.

Tom Whalen's poster for Mondo, available here.

 

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Monday
Oct202014

Curio: My Fair Lady at 50

Alexa here to celebrate the 50th anniversary of My Fair Lady. Although not my favorite movie musical, unlike the Smackdowners this summer,  I always have a blast returning to it.  Despite the many charms of Audrey Hepburn's performance, I love re-writing history and imagining how different a film it would be had Julie Andrews returned to the role.  Even more intriguing is imagining if Elizabeth Taylor (who wanted the role) had played Eliza.  For better or for worse, its Pygmalion story continues to be reinvented, with the latest incarnation being the ABC comedy Selfie (worth a watch for John Cho).

Some curios, vintage and handmade, to celebrate 1964's Best Picture after the jump...

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Tuesday
Oct142014

Top Ten Reasons I Should've Bought that "Baker Boys" Photograph When I Had The Chance

Today the new season of TFE begins! We're celebrating with an all top ten list day. Every few hours, a new and highly random top ten list to kick off the Fall Movie Season (our favorite time of year!). Let's start with something that's been haunting me because I forgot to post about the 25th anniversary of The Fabulous Baker Boys yesterday, one of my all time favorite films. A long time ago in a New York City that still felt like a galaxy far far away (I was a recent transplant... 1999/2000?) I attended a Jeff Bridges photography show. He's really a very good photographer and takes photos on the sets of his movies. I stared and stared at this enormous black & white photograph of Michelle Pfeiffer that Bridges had taken. 

This photo is so magnificent in person

My bank account was humiliation in numeric form though I don't remember how much the giant beauty cost.

TOP TEN REASONS I SHOULD'VE BOUGHT THAT FABULOUS BAKER BOYS ON SET PHOTOGRAPH OF MICHELLE PFEIFFER ANYWAY...

10. However $$$, it would have long since paid for itself in number of looks / pleasure derived.

09. Though there were several things that contributed to my cinephilia and actressexuality, many of which have been oft-referenced at The Film Experience (among them: Streep & Turner & Woody in theaters, a neighborhood revival house, Hitchcock on VHS and old Natalie Wood films on the TV, etcetera) Michelle Pfeiffer on the piano top was the final nail in my 'normal person' coffin. I would never again not be obsessive about these things

08. If I (inexplicably) couldn't have a reunion of Bridges & Pfeiffer onscreen, it least it would have been on the wall sandwiching me with Baker Boys mania when the pair were reunited on my television in 2010.

07. The picture would have looked even bigger in my impossibly small training-wheels Manhattan apartment

06. Jail time served from robberies to afford it, would have only brought me closer to the best of her Bad Girls: Elvira Hancock, Lamia, Velma and Catwoman, but especially icy predator convict Ingrid Magnusson (White Oleander, which should have won Pfeiffer her second or third Oscar but who's counting?) 

05. Though the frames edges were sharp and glass is hard, perhaps it would have emotionally cushioned the blow of the recent discovery that Michelle Pfeiffer recently turned down ANOTHER Oscariffic role -- Lisa Genova, the author of Still Alice discusses its journey to film and the handful of A list actresses that turned it down, starting around 5:45 mark. 

Dr. Lisa Genova Part 7 Being Present is the Best Thing You Can Do for Someone with Alzheimer's and Yourself from Bill Slater on Vimeo.

 

(Turning down Thelma & Louise and Silence of the Lambs and now Still Alice which might well give another long Oscar-denied actress the gold? Painful... although it probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere near Oscar with Brett Rattner attached so maybe it was smart for all those A and B+ listers to say no)

04. For a reminder of that movies insanely great cinematography. How Michael Ballhaus lost the Oscar I shall never understand.

03. Because black and white goes with everything.

02. Because this Bridges photo above was not available for purchase. I love it so much because it challenges all of my feelings and perceptions of La Pfeiffer and renders her thoroughly human... in a perfect Not Susie Diamond way.

01 For further vindication: Ain't nobody would ever spent thousands of dollars to get a framed photo of Jessica Tandy on the set of Driving Miss Daisy. Truth bomb.

Monday
Oct132014

75th: Absence of Melinda

Two time Oscar nominee Melinda Dillon turns 75 today. Since we don't like any major actresses to totally fade from public consciousness when they stop working, let's look back. Though her last working year was 2007 her most recent high profile gig goes back much further to a SAG nomination as part of the ensemble of Magnolia (1999, pictured left) in which she played wife and mother to Phillip Baker Hall and Melora Walters. 

Though she'd been working for a decade before it in small parts (TV guest gigs and improvisational comedy) her first real claim-to-fame came as "Memphis Sue" Woody Guthrie's wife in the Best Picture nominated bio Bound for Glory (1976). She received a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Acting Debut" (a now long defunct category) even though it wasn't her debut. Dillon's breakout led to bigger parts and two well-regarded Oscar nominations though curiously the Globes, who had first honored her, skipped her both times when her major hits rolled around. Her first Oscar nod made actually history: as the wide-eyed young mother in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1976) she was and will forever remain the first actor to ever receive a nomination for a Steven Spielberg film (it wasn't until The Color Purple when anyone else followed). Later she was nominated as a particularly fragile soul and key character at the heart of a war in Absence of Malice (1981) between journalist Sally Field and businessman Paul Newman (also Oscar-nominated).

Melinda Dillon as "Teresa" in Absence of Malice (1981)

Though Dillon's heyday preceded the birth of my own film/actress obessions I remember getting the sense that she was a critical darling, the kind of actress with a devout if not populist following. By the time I was watching movies regularly and passionately though the roles were all mom roles sometimes with lots of screentime as in A Christmas Story (1983) and Harry and the Hendersons (1987) and sometimes on the peripheries as in those very blonde family flashbacks in Prince of Tides (1991) or "Merna" in To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar (1995).

If you're familiar with her work what's your favorite of her performances? If she could be coaxed out of her retirement what would you have her do?