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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.


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Review: Ready or Not

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Yes Not Maybe So: Bombshell

" I am not liking this trend of portraits of terrible women, like Meghan and Phyliss Schafly, unless it's camp." - Jane

"Miss Charlize is like, "Do I need to remind you guys again who is the baddest bitch around here?." I just can'ttttt! She looks like Megan Kelly's twin -- that makeup work is insanity!!!" - Jono

"if Nicole doesn't wear a bad wig in a it really a must see event?" -Chris

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Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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Entries in Beasts of the Southern Wild (18)


NYFF: The Florida Project

by Jason Adams

When I was eight years old my mother and I finally moved out of the room we had been renting since my parents had divorced into our own house. The house was so small the movers had to break our bed-frame in half to get it up the staircase, but it was ours. A house! A home. The day after we moved in the police showed up at our door and took my mother away - in order for us to get our own place she had stolen money from the laundromat she worked at. I went and lived with my grandmother for awhile after that.

I take films about poverty as a deeply serious business...

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Happy Fourth of July!

Enjoy some fireworks, readers!


Posterized: Movies About Young Black Girls

Not every movie has a white straight male protagonist. It just seems like that since that's Hollywood's default and also the preferred proxy of most (white straight male) auteurs.

But the times are finally a-changing. This weekend features the platform release of a mesmerizing new indie called The Fits -- please see it as soon as it opens near you. I was so proud to push for honoring it on my jury at the Nashville Film Festival. Fresh perspectives on the screen can be so exhilarating. That's especially true when the execution is this confident. Remember the debut director's name, Anna Rose Holmer, since we're hoping for more great movies to come.

In the meantime, let's take a trip back through other features with young black girls as the lead character. I haven't seen the first or the last movie on this list of nine below but the rest all fall somewhere on the spectrum of good to great. 

How many have you seen?

• Just Another Girl on the IRT (1992)
• Eve's Bayou (1997) - Really need to watch this again as previously earlier this week. It was the breakthrough role for Jurnee Smollett-Bell who went on to series regular gigs in Friday Night Lights, True Blood, and The Underground. 
• Our Song (2000) - When it comes to superstar Kerry Washington, it's important to remember that I saw her first. Articles from the early Aughts are no longer online but trust that I gave her a rave review when I saw this teeny tiny indie in theaters and was startled by her total naturalism onscreen.

• Precious (2009) - Best Picture Nominee at the Oscars, and right here.  
• Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
• Pariah (2011) - One of the best LGBT films of the decade

• Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) - Our #1 film of 2012, and also a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars
• Girlhood (2014) - terrific French film
• Annie (2014)

If you can think of other films with a child or teenage black girl as the lead character, please do share them so our list is more complete.


Nathaniel with Auroch & Oscar (and other Scandinavian Misadventures)

I won't feel like my Scandinavian voyage is over until I a) unpack b) do laundry c) write about it.  Here are a few random movie-adjacent thoughts from my journey. Obviously movies weren't the focus but you know I can work them in to any conversation!

Hush Puppy & Me W/ Aurochs.

I'll always think of aurochs as the giant pigs that haunted Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild but Copenhagen's National Museum tried to wrestle them away from neo movie mythology. 

In Denmark the aurochs immigrated after the end of the Ice Age circa 9000 BC these bulls with the largest and most inner dangerous animals in the forest but they could do little against the hunters arrows. The aurochs weighed almost 1000 kg. Old scars on the ribs show that the old giants survived earlier encounters. Three arrowheads lying among the bone suggests that the bull was fatally wounded when I sought refuge in a lake around 8600 BC . A few thousand years later around 6000 BC the aurochs was extinct in Zealand . In Jutland small-stocks survived until the iron age and the last aurochs died in Poland in 1627

I also looked at a whole lot of ancient ships and weaponry but in 2013 København the constant fit blond beauties walking or cycling by remind me a bit less of the brutal scarred Nordic warriors from The History Channel's "Vikings"... and more like a sea of Alexander Skarsgårds (I realize he's Swedish) or, perhaps more accurately, a parade of handsome blond preppy villains from 1980s teen movies: perfect blonde hair, chiseled jawlines, moneyed physical ease.

This store window had it about right...

up where they stay all day in the sun ♫The most iconic of Copenhagen's tourist attractions are Tivoli Gardens (amazing amusement park) and The Little Mermaid statue... one and ½ of which we saw. Tivoli was a blast and even turns romantic at night with the change in the light but The Little Mermaid was a lesser experience. We only saw it from a distance on the canal tour (which I highly recommend if you ever go there despite it being a shamelessly tourist thing to do) but my friends refused to indulge me in visiting it to pay true homage the following day. Did they fear my I'm sure highly original urge to sing "Part of Your World" at it in a photo or are they just curmudgeons?

Still, the statue is, as you must know, hardly evocative of the beloved Disney movie. Instead it expertly conveys the lonely longing of Hans Christian Andersen's original this-will-all-end-in-tears-and-sea-foam tragedy. 

Wenche againOslo
I was exhausted by the time we got there (and feeling a little unfaithful since I wanted to go back to Copenhagen, a city I am now hopelessly infatuated with) but there was much to see. Despite the running on fumes final days of the trip, I can happily report that I never once felt as suicidal as a character in a Joachim Trier movie (Reprise and Oslo August 31st - see them immediately!) and again I ran into Wenche Foss idolatory. She wasn't on the tail fin of a plane this time but just a statue in the park. 

Two little girls spoiled my fantasies of a nation devoted to actress-worship. They glanced at the statue disinterested all "hvem er det?" to their mom (Sigh). Indifference to actresses is a curse found all over the globe!

On the first day we walked on the roof of the newish Opera House (a stunning piece of art and architecture). On the second day we took a ferry and visited several museums including one devoted to the Kon-Tiki expedition, which recently got the movie treatment (twice over actually) to the tune of a Best Foreign Language Film nomination. I wasn't crazy about the new movie -- or the museum, actually, which was rather confusingly laid out and cluttered.

And yet, it was a treat to the see the actual boat. And you know I had to take a picture of me with Norway's first Oscar of sorts, which went to the 1950 documentary on the Kon-Tiki expedition.

The Boyfriend laughed about how the picture came out with the Oscar obscuring / reflecting all over my face "the story of your life"

My favorite part of the trip was the middle when we took it easy for a few days and just breathed in Norwegian beauty, fjord trips, train rides and the views from a lakehouse we airbnb'ed in Vestland.

Fjord tour. You get to drink from waterfalls!

I lept wildly into the North Sea / Norwegian Sea twice -- like ice water with moss --  but the most paradisical moment was hiking to the most beautiful stretch of unspoiled land I can recall ever spending an afternoon with. The trees were so green and the ground was so soft and spongy I felt like I could curl up and sleep on it like a lost child in some benevolent magical fairytale woods. When the trail opened up on the most pristine lake with the most swimmable water ever I could barely speak.

The only thing I managed to utter to break the silence in that idyllic moment was: 

The loons Norman, the loons! my best Katharine Hepburn. And then I dove in.



Beasts of the Southern Secret Garden

JA from MNPP here, taking a look at the news of the day - newly Oscar nominated writer Lucy Alibar, who adapted her play into the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, has just been announced as the writer of a new movie adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's much loved (not to mention much adapted) 1911 serial-turned-novel The Secret Garden. For a hot minute it seemed as if Guillermo Del Toro was going to direct it, but he's too busy making giant robots fight giant monsters so he's just gonna produce.

The Secret Garden is about, well, a largely orphaned girl who gets left to her own devices amid overgrown nature, where she allows her imagination to run wild. Sound familiar? I just can't imagine how Alibar got the gig. Apparently the action is being shifted from England to "the American South at the turn of the 20th Century," as well.

The Secret Garden's already been adapted several times - I remember liking the 1993 version with Maggie Smith, although it's been a very long time since I've seen it.


Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously: The Honorable Mentions

Often during the calendar-straddling list-making frenzy of "top ten season" a scene or a line of dialogue or even a whole film will refuse to dislodge itself from any internal conversation you may have with oneself about the year. That moment for me this year was Kylie Minogue's cameo late in Holy Motors when she arrives in a trenchcoat, like some lost Casablanca love, to sing:

Who were we. When we were. Who we were back then?

It'd be ineloquent bathos, too crudely and redundantly stated, if it weren't sung. But this heightened musical longing for a lost identity, lifts and soars with pathos instead. The year's best films kept reinforcing this most interior of questions as they wrestled with their past selves towards an uncertain future.

Nathaniel's Top Ten of 2012
From all movies screened that received US theatrical releases...

ZERO DARK THIRTY (Kathryn Bigelow)
Sony/Columbia. December 21st 

[SPOILERS FOLLOW] My favorite exchange in Mark Boal's dense script occurs between a government official and a CIA operative. "What the fuck does that mean?" "It's a tautology". I laughed at the wordplay in the film but wasn't expecting the widespread tautological eruptions that followed the film's premiere as everyone bent themselves into self-affirming pretzels to debate its portrayal of torture in the film's opening scenes as if there were only one way to look at the damn movie... as if torture were the only thing worth discussing about the film! To Zero Dark Thirty's credit, though I too was discomfited by its suggestion that torture yielded useful intel, there's nary a comfortable or pandering moment in the film. Like The Hurt Locker before it, ZDT attempts something like an apolitical stance though how successful that is (or ever can be) will be left to each viewer to decide. In my mind, Bigelow doesn't suggest that you're meant to enjoy torture or even embrace the mission's success, exactly...

more on Zero Dark and 9 more triumphs after the jump...

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