Oscar History

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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Entries in Ben Wheatley (5)


Review: "Free Fire"

by Chris Feil

At first look, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire seems like another Tarantino retread, all snarky hyper-violence with a wink that we’ve seen dozens of times - and to some degree it is. But the film isn’t so much the macho wankfest it will be shrugged off as, nor the cornucopia of gun adoration that the marketing promises. Where Free Fire delights, even charms, is by finding its thrills in the shady repartee and double crosses between criminals rather than the bloodshed. 

Guns do play the central role in the film’s “deal gone wrong”, but they aren't responsible for what makes things go south...

Click to read more ...



Leonardo Nam photographed by Ricky Middlesworth for Los Angeles Confidential

Golden Globes interview Westworld's fab Leonardo Nam
MTV Teo Bugbee on the texting in Personal Shopper
Inverse interesting interview with composer Hans Zimmer who is swearing off superhero movies. Sounds like he had a bad time on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Playbill celebrates Sutton Foster with a gallery of all of her stage work
Variety random selection of drunk scenes in honor of your St Patricks Day hangover
/Film Alicia Vikander to headline Ben Wheatley's Freakshift. Is the director about to break out with Free Fire?
The Guardian Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has 26 (!!!) films in development
People Surprise! Film star Amanda Seyfried and stage and tv screen star Thomas Sadoski eloped! She'll be giving birth any day now, being 8+ months pregnant
Boy Culture Paris Jackson is looking more like Madonna than Michael Jackson 
The Guardian The great Tony Kushner on T****'s proposed cuts to the Arts
This is Not Porn Jim Carrey on the set of The Mask. Just because
MNPP drools on Justin Theroux (it's only right) and shares the season 3 Leftovers trailer 
Tracking Board on how the design aspects of Beauty & the Beast (2017) lack a cohesive vision
Variety Weinstein Co's Oscar prospects this year include the biblical drama Mary Magdalene (Nov 24th) and the historical Thomas Edison drama The Current War (Dec 22) starring Benedict Cumberbatch

Exit Video
In honor of Sutton Foster's birthday, a great moment from Bunheads, a show we greatly miss (but at least we have Younger in its place for Sutton fixes) 


Podcast: The Lobster, Sing Street, A Bigger Splash, High-Rise

With two not-worthy wide releases set to dominate Memorial Day Weekend, NathanielNick, and Joe catch up on recent quality limited-release movies we hadn't yet discussed together. Catch these in the theaters, please.

Index (42 minutes)
00:01 The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
11:18 High-Rise (Ben Wheatley)
15:45 Sing Street (John Carney) and a Keira Knightley tangent
22:37 Dakota Johnson & actress nemeses
24:35 A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
40:03 Venice detour & goodbyes

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversations in the comments, won't you? 


The Lobster & Sing Street


Dark Comedy or Sick Nihilism? "The Mother" and "High-Rise"

Tribeca is over and we're almost done catching up with reviews. Here's Nathaniel on a potential Oscar submission from Estonia and a twisted thriller from the UK.

The festival described this crime comedy as Fargo-like and that's true to a degree. It takes place in a small town where everyone seems to know each other...ish. The local customs are amusing or peculiar to the outsider (namely, us). There's also a noticeable undercurrent of 'and all for a little money' despair about the human condition that tugs at both the red herrings and the true crime. A young ladies-man teacher named Lauri (Siim Maaten), something of a slacker/dreamer as he had big plans but never moved out of his parents home, has been in a coma for months following a shooting. While his long suffering mother attempts to care for him alone (the father is no help), a parade of visitors including friends, lovers and policemen keep bursting in to bear their souls or search his room on the sly. The director Kadri Kousaar (yay for female filmmakers!) keeps the camera as invasive as the guests, and we're often looking where we shouldn't be behind doors or curtains or seeing things from odd angles. One of the best sustained jokes in this deadpan comedy (it's not really a movie for guffaws but heh-heh touches) is that no matter how many times there's a knock at the door, the parents are surprised even though their house has become Grand Central Station.

But who is responsible for the shooting and why is everyone acting so suspicious or guilty about their history with Lauri? While the story revolves around the mystery surrounding the son, the mother is the star of the picture (in case the title didn't clue you in). Despite a difficult character to dramatize with Elsa being barely verbal and moving throughout like a resentful silent martyr to her drudgery, Tiina Mälberg is terrific in the role. And it's her first movie! She makes the character alternately funny and intriguing and, in the odd moment here and there, when her mostly surpressed emotions bubble up Mälberg earns the reveals and keeps the character cohesive. Grade: B/B+

P.S. The Estonian film industry is tiny, producing a couple handfuls of films a year so we have to take any release that makes its way to American festivals seriously as a potential Oscar submission. The country enjoyed its first nomination in the foreign language film category with Tangerines in 2014 (a joint production with Georgia). 

Another film where the laughs land uncomfortably -- because boy is this nihilistic -- is Ben Wheatley's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's "High-Rise". The allegorical satire takes place (almost) entirely within a high-rise apartment building where the 1% (Jeremy Iron as the architect) lives at the tippity top and everyone else is more or less at his mercy and subject to suffer for his follies if things don't work quite right in the building. Doctors like Tom Hiddleston's Laing, a brain surgeon, are somewhere around the floor and so on down to lower floors where families (Elisabeth Moss & Luke Evans) with seemingly endless children struggle to get by. The eventual societal breakdown is revealed from the very first image which is rather an odd choice; it kills what might have been gut-churning momentum. We already know the downward spiral will have the adults going  Lord of the Flies on each other and Laing will be living in shambles  as one of the society's only survivors. 

If you can get past the nihilism and poor treatment of animals, the film has plentiful pleasures including a smart performance from Hiddleston and rich filmmaking from every department. Clint Mansell contributes another intriguing score but the MVP is the eye candy from fascinating production design through to the very attractive cast. A crisp white shirt has never looked so pornographic as it does here on Tom Hiddleston but he's also wearing a lot less, which his fellow resident (Sienna Miller - yes her again) notices and appreciates straightaway immediately spinning the interpersonal web of craziness that will grow and grow from the moment Laing moves in on every floor. Ballard's novel was written in the 1970s but the film never plays it like a period piece really despite the flare of some clothing and hair and prop details, which helps keep it out of time and universal; the film isn't going for realism but allegory anyway. Not all of this works, the pacing is a particular sore point since the film gets mired down on its way to where we know its already going and he doesn't quite stick the landing, but I left convinced that director Ben Wheatley is someday going to make a great film. Grade: B



New High-Rise Poster

Manuel here. Can it really be true that we haven’t yet discussed High-Rise in any depth here at The Film Experience? For yes, while we’re all avowed actressexuals we sometimes do follow certain actors near and far (take Mr. Ruffalo who were just discussing). Enter Tom Hiddleston, the greatest hat actor of our generation. The fan favorite Marvel actor has yet to find a property that helps him break out of his Loki role: Crimson Peak had its fans but it wasn’t the hit (or the cult fave) many thought it could be; I Saw the Light looks to join the long list of forgettable biopics, and Only Lovers Left Alive was a critical hit (it's so good!) but barely made a blip in mainstream moviegoers’ radars ($1.9 million gross).

While High-Rise, Ben Wheatley’s filmed adaptation of the J.G. Ballard allegorical novel about class got sort of eviscerated at TIFF (“an ambitious failure,” with “aberrant creative visions”), its marketing department is revving its engines and doing a damn good job of piquing our interest.

After some gorgeous teaser one-sheets they’ve just released the final poster and it’s beautifully retro and modern at the same time. (Much better than those eye-soars we looked at for those other 2016 releases last week at least!) And really, how could you go wrong with Hiddlestone in a slick suit, Luke Evans in a pornstache, and Sienna Miller looking like Kate Beckinsale? That’s to say nothing of the stylized trailer which, yes, has your fair share of naked Tom to entice you. Seriously, that minute and fifteen seconds all but call out for a Hit Me With Your Best Shot, so full of eye-catching shots, from Tom in that mirrored elevator, to that slo-mo air stewardesses dance break. Take a look for yourself:

But what say you? Any Ballard fans looking forward to High-Rise, if only to see Elisabeth Moss on the big screen?