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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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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?

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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