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"All three look a little insufferable. The stupid music and the "based on a true story"/"an unforgettable story" shots and the critics quotes instantly turn me off. But I'm in for most things Lonergan, even though the plot of Manchester By the Sea is clearly Baby Boom meets Good Will Hunting." - CharlieG

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Entries in 10|25|50|75|100 (192)

Monday
Aug222016

The Furniture: Fantastic Voyage's Absurd Anatomy

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

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Richard Fleischer’s Fantastic Voyage, as absurd and beautiful a film as Hollywood has ever made. It’s also a testament to what live action science fiction used to be like, before digital technology gave directors the tools to make every fantasy look realistic.

Inspired by the arms races of the Cold War, it chronicles a submarine trip into the tumorous brain of a brilliant scientist. The mission is to eliminate his cancer with a tiny laser, save his life, and preserve his miniaturization knowledge for the USA. It’s utterly ridiculous. Isaac Asimov, alarmed by the script’s plot holes, demanded the right to fix all of its problems for his novelization.

Of course, that might classify him as a bit of a fuddy-duddy. Trips into the body wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if they were realistic. If anything, they’d probably gross out the audience. 

Pixar understood this, creating an entirely new organ system for Inside Out. Fleischer’s team for Fantastic Voyage also prioritized the striking over the reasonable.

Much of this success is, of course, due to the production design...

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Thursday
Jul282016

Michael Mann's "Miami Vice" 10 Years Later

Please welcome back new contributor Bill Curran for a 10th anniversary look at Miami Vice

The major studio head-scratcher of its year, the ultimate distillation of Michael Mann’s brand of clean sheen noir, and the most authentically auteurist film of the aughts, Miami Vice was the movie offspring of a successful and ever-parodied 80s TV series that was nothing like the original. Instead, Mann unleashed a brooding and voluptuously pixilated peacock of a crime thriller upon an unsuspecting public

If only every recent remake had as much reckless spirit as this one did when it opened nationally ten years ago today. Though the film received favorable notices from top print critics, including a rave from A.O. Scott, the majority of reviewers (and almost all audiences) were simply confused...

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Wednesday
Jul272016

10 Things to Love About "Scoop"

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Woody Allen’s murder mystery romp, Scoop. The film followed the darkly sexy Match Point, reuniting the director with star Scarlett Johansson. Unfortunately, critics and audiences were less dazzled by the pair’s second feature together, and Scoop joined the ranks of Allen’s lesser films. 

Still, I have a soft spot for this quirky little film. It’s not perfect, but it’s a fun; a confection (more dessert than entree). It’s a movie you can put on in the background while working on a project or as a pick-me-up after a bad day. So in honor of its anniversary, here are ten things to love about the mostly unloved Scoop. 

10 THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT SCOOP
by Steven Fenton

10. GILES!
Everyone’s favorite Watcher (Anthony Stewart Head), appears in a brief cameo as a detective interviewing Peter Lyman. It always a thrill to see that discerning furrowed brow.

 

09. THE IMPERFECT SCIENCE OF MAKING SCARLETT NERDY
Johansson’s Sondra Pransky attends a swanky London party in a little black dress and...a scrunchie! Carrie Bradshaw would die. The costumers had the unenviable task of making Scarlett Johnasson a nerd. They put her in wire-rim glasses, frumpy brown capris, and truly unflattering button-downs. Their attempts do nothing to mitigate Scarlett’s sex appeal, but it’s a delight watching them try...

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Tuesday
Jul122016

Boyz n the Hood Turns 25

Lynn Lee revisits the John Singleton classic on its 25th anniversary.

Four young boys walk along a railroad track, idly chatting but in search of something specific.  They find what they’re looking for: a dead body.  A group of older boys arrives and harasses them.  The most pugnacious of the younger group fights back in a way that foreshadows his destiny as an adult.

Stand by Me?  No, Boyz n the Hood, which opened in theaters 25 years ago today.  And the parallels are no mere coincidence. Writer and drector John Singleton was intentionally referencing the earlier Rob Reiner film – perhaps as much for the differences as the similarities between the two narratives of boyhood and the cultural spaces they occupy...

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Friday
Jul012016

Posterized: Happy Olivia de Havilland Centennial !

Photo shot last week in Paris, via People magazineHappy 100th birthday Olivia de Havilland! She's our oldest living Oscar winner  and oldest living bonafide movie star (Kirk Douglas, also still with us, is five months younger) and her list of classics is long. She may not have gotten along with her movie star sister Joan Fontaine -- their contentious relationship stretches back to childhood (it didn't start when they were Oscar-nominated against each other and Joan won) wherein she supposedly made a will at nine years old stating:

I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none"

 ...but that infamous feud aside she was beloved by many. The list includes legends like Erroll Flynn (8 pictures together) and Bette Davis (several pictures and a friend) and actors everywhere owe her for the freedom she wrangled in the 'de Havilland decision' in the 1940s which Tim discussed in his write-up of The Heiress. I hope she feels the love in France today where she lives. She recently told Vanity Fair that she plans to live to be 110.

We still have two more pieces coming up on individual performances (why cut the bday festivities short?) but let's look at the whole filmography in poster form after the jumpHow many have you seen? 

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Thursday
Jun302016

Gird Your Loins. The Devil Wears Prada is 10! 

Gird your loins.

We really had meant to do The Devil Wears Prada anniversary up big but the month got away from us. Today, 10 years ago, The Devil Wears Prada opened in theaters as counterprogramming and blew up, becoming one of 2006's biggest hits and endearing La Streep to a whole new generation of fans. Sadly she didn't win her third Oscar then (it would have solved so many problems later on. Plus, more importantly, she deserved it!). Because time slipped away from us, and tales of our incompetence do not interest her, we present this classic from the old site on this special occasion.

Ten Best Miranda Priestley Line Readings

My flight has been cancelled... "

10. How incredulous and put-out she sounds without even raising her voice. The way she says "school" when referencing her kids recital which she's desperate to attend is giggle worthy, too. So childish. Translation 'How could such a thing happen to the center of the universe... me?'

There you are Emily. How many times do I have to scream your name?"

09. 'Actually my name is Andrea.' Oh shut it Hathaway. She doesn't care. She will call you what she likes and you'll come running...

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Tuesday
Jun282016

Olivia @ 100: Light in the Piazza

For Olivia de Havilland's Centennial (July 1st) we're hitting classics and curios in her career. Here's Chris Feil on a forgotten film that became a new classic musical...

I came to Olivia de Havilland's work in Light in the Piazza thanks to a (still enduring) obsession with the Adam Guettel musical, both adapted from Elizabeth Spencer's novella. While it's not surprising that the film hasn't endured (it lacks the stage version's soaring emotional heights), de Havilland's performance deserves a better place in her legacy. Even with a youthful love story as its center and gorgeous Florence as backdrop, you can't take your eyes off of the concerned mother - and not just because she spends the entire film drenched in custom Christian Dior!

As Meg Johnson, de Havilland is spending a holiday with her young daughter Clara, who falls in love with a charming Italian boy. The reason for her overbearing concern is the secret of Clara's developmental disability that freezes her to a childlike disposition - something the musical uses as an Act Two reveal that the film never hides. By addressing this conflict early on we understand Meg from the outset, especially thanks to the actress's relatability. De Havilland's real prowess in the role is her deep emotional access and intelligence; she keeps the film from stooping to the cheap sentimentality that's all too common in films about disability.

Her Meg is not simply a foil to Clara's love story. De Havilland is telling her own fading romance with her husband, projecting the aches and heartbreaks of their lifetime together in a very specific struggle of weathered marriage. Her dissent against her husband in regards to Clara's care could cause the end of her marriage or may be its only hope, but she plays it solely as selfless motherly affection. Meg's final "I did the right thing" would be hokey final note in the hands of a less soulful actress, de Havilland makes it a hard-won personal triumph with her pure connection to character.

Victoria Clark may have taken the character to glorious Tony winning vocal heights on stage, but this performance is emotionally transformative in its own way. The film may have been forgotten in the broader de Havilland filmography, but the star is in top form and as accessible as ever.

Previously: The Heiress (1949), The Dark Mirror (1946), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and It's Love I'm After (1937).