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RIP Gene Wilder

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Entries in April Showers (50)

Thursday
Apr282016

April Showers: Carrie

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Carrie (1976).

Brian de Palma’s horror classic Carrie has scenes at both the beginning and the end in which our heroine, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) gets clean. Because of what happens between those scenes, they take on very different meanings. When we first see Carrie White, she is diffident and beleaguered—whether at home with her mother Margaret’s (Piper Laurie) stentorian declarations of fanatical Christian values or at school with the focused torment of her peers. It’s very clear that Carrie has internalized the harsh words of Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen):

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Sunday
Apr242016

April Showers: Sicario

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Chris on Sicario (2015).

Sicario was one of last year's most underappreciated and perhaps misread films. Audience responses ranged from breathless praise (yours truly is guilty) to passive disregard to outright frustration. However, it's three Oscar nominations (Cinematography, Original Score, Sound Editing) are inarguables of the film's immaculate (if punishing) craft.

One of the major qualms against the film is its central characterization in Kate Macer - a tightly wound and multilayered Emily Blunt at her very best. Plenty have complained that she's too passive and changes little - but that ignores the fact that she's a woman who stands her ground and fights for her beliefs despite being up against forces stronger and more unshakable than her solitary point of view. She's swimming upstream and being pulled under fast...

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Monday
Apr182016

April Showers: Gone Girl

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Chris on Gone Girl (2014).

Gone Girl is a variation on Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, its Nick and Amy being the new George and Martha.  But instead of a pair of unwitting guests, this George and Martha use the media to attack one another - and the verbal barbs are traded in for actual bloodshed. David Fincher loads the film with the darkest rapid fire comedy, much like Edward Albee's acidic play, and the final beats of both can spark immediate audience conversation.

The final act of Gone Girl is where the film reveals its darkest side. If you haven't yet seen the film or read the source novel, then you don't know that the first two acts are pretty twisted themselves. The film's structure and narrative conceits keep us from seeing the true version of this George and Martha together until Amy's third act return...

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Thursday
Apr142016

April Showers: Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Chris on Margaret (2011).

If you missed Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret during it's microscopic release in 2011, you aren't alone. The film spent four years in the editing room after wrapping in 2005, leading to a litigious post-production and a bare bones theatrical run. Even with its bursting ensemble of recognizable faces like Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, and lead Anna Paquin, Margaret couldn't get an audience without promotion, so it died.

But if you ever want to complain about Film Twitter, remember Margaret as the poster child for its ability to create a movement around a worthy film. Thanks to #TeamMargaret, led mostly by the film's passionate British fanbase, word of mouth (and curiosity) spread quickly. Eventually distributor Fox Searchlight made the film more readily available, even sending screeners out to a handful of critics for end-of-the-year consideration. The home release also features an extended version closer to Lonergan's original intention.

Sometimes we just miss a masterpiece, but they always have a way of coming back. (more after the jump)...

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Monday
Apr112016

April Showers: Antonio Banderas in "Law of Desire"

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Manuel on Law of Desire (1987).

 

Almodóvar is the air again due to Chus Lampreave's passing and his latest, Julieta getting solid reviews (his best since Volver). And since April is “Actor Month” here at TFE let's kill two birds with one stone by looking at a small scene featuring Antonio Banderas and Eusebio Poncela from the 1987 classic Law of Desire.

The film centers on Antonio (Banderas) and his obsessive fixation with a gay film director (Poncela). After stalking him and eventually roping his way into his life, Antonio settles on trying to shape Pablo after his own image. First, he fixes some things around Pablo’s messy apartment, including some tiles in his shower, and then, the next day he takes it upon himself to set some sort of routine for them.

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Thursday
Apr072016

April Showers: Blue Valentine

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Blue Valentine (2010).

What are you doing?

-What does it look like I'm doing?

Getting all wet and naked.

A shower scene between two clearly beautiful lovers (even with the aging makeup) has rarely felt less erotic and more heartbreaking. This exchange manages to perfectly illustrate the tragic state of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (Michelle Williams) relationship in Derek Cianfrance’s modern masterpiece, Blue Valentine. Dean is still obliviously playful, too willing to overlook the realities of his disintegrating marriage in favor of ham-handedly ginning up passion and romance. Cindy feels trapped and hopeless, unable to seek refuge from her husband’s obtuse adulation even in the shower. Her voice drips with the weary impatience often heard in response to a child’s incessant questioning, which frankly is not too dissimilar to how Cindy regards Dean at this point. It’s very much an extension of the first time we see Cindy. She’s lying in bed in the early hours of the morning. Her husband and young daughter, very much equals in their oppressive childlike exuberance bound in and snap her from the slumber into the harsh reality that is this life in which she has found herself.

The traditional (and very valid) reading of Blue Valentine’s two-ply structure (the birth of a romance intercut with its slow, painful death) is that Dean and Cindy have lost something. Their love, once ideal and passionate has been suffocated under the stresses of parenthood and a whirlwind courtship turned into a long marriage. However, there are clear indications in the earlier years that bumps in the road litter their future. Dean wants to be whatever Cindy needs him to be, but lacks the motivation or introspection to figure out how to do so. And Cindy, still unsure of herself can’t begin to know exactly what it is she needs from Dean.

As satisfying as it is to watch them fall in love in their earliest interactions, this is clearly the dynamic from the beginning. As deeply enamored with one another as they are, Dean and Cindy enter each other's lives as solutions to a problem. This problem is bigger than her unremarkable relationship with the lug, Bobby Ontario (Mike Vogel), her eventual pregnancy or her desire to leave her abusive father’s house. It's bigger than Dean's aimlessness paired destructively with his need to be a savior. It’s a problem neither of them can identify, which makes the solution frustratingly out of reach.

So, in this moment, Dean and Cindy take a shower that’s anything but romantic. In the “future room” of this kitschy lovers’ motel, it’s the last gasp of a romance that may well have no future at all. Only a past, looked back upon with unreliable rose-colored glasses and a present where these two lovers, once white hot with passion, can hardly seem to look at each other. Even in the confines of a shower.

Monday
Apr042016

April Showers: Kurosawa's Dreams

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at memorably soaked moments in the movies. Here's Lynn Lee on Dreams (1990).


The sun is shining, but it’s raining.  Foxes hold their wedding processions in this weather.

But they don’t like anyone to see them – if they catch you watching, they’ll be very angry!

Dreams (1990) may be the most personal of Kurosawa’s films, and has always struck me as one of his most underrated.  It’s uneven, yes, but at its best it really does capture the vivid yet elusive, disorienting nature of a recurring dream that always seems to slip just out of your grasp – the kind of dream that can turn on a hair from a beautiful vision to a nightmare and back again...

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