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Entries in Beyond the Lights (4)

Sunday
Feb142016

Valentine's - Beyond the Lights

The Film Experience is celebrating Valentine's Day! Here's Daniel...

Rarely does a film show the restorative power of love like Gina Prince-Bythewood’s alive and swoony Beyond the Lights. While the film has much more on its mind than hooking up – from reconciling depression to machinating local politics – its undeniable electricity sparks from the mindmeld that allows each of its two leads to be seen for the first time and fly in whichever direction they choose.

Prefabricated pop star Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, flawless) literally lives in chains, bound between the blinding glare of paparazzi flashbulbs and a suffocating armada of handlers that exploit her image in the name of the game. Kaz (Sundance darling Nate Parker) is a cop on her detail living under the blue-and-red burden of prefixed expectations. He grabs her hand after she jumps off a hotel balcony. There’s no meet cute here; it’s a spiritual lifting.

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Friday
Mar062015

Forget About L()ve 

"2014 is OVER, Nathaniel" - everyone.

I'm aware, thank you. But you know how it is. We have to wean ourselves off of each delightful film year. And we still have to finish our annual Film Bitch Awards and then we're done. Pinky swear. Speaking of the pink... time to surrender it.

Romance isn't what it used to be in the movies. Even when movies have romance at the core somewhere like American Sniper or Divergent or whatever, it's often presented like a mandatory plot point rather than with any real passion; something to check off for all quandrants rather than get lost in. That makes our Best Kiss, Best Sex Scene, and Sexpot of the Year categories sometimes hard to manage but we press on.

Sex is so integral to life that you'd think the movies would want to claim it a little more rather than ceding it to Netflix originals, Showtime and HBO. When movies do go there they're often surprisingly prim (50 Shades of Grey) or arthouse grim. For the latter see Nymphomaniac, both volumes. Or rather: don't. Unless you're willing to fast forward a lot. It would have been infinitely better as one 90 minute film: faster, funnier, and more focused. [NSFW More...]

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Saturday
Feb212015

Tweets o' The Week Victory Lap

This week's Tweet Collection is short and completely random. I haven't been goofing around online as much what with the countdown to Oscar on. The finish line is upon us. And, just my luck, I got super sick yesterday so there goes a few more treats I had planned for you and I may be Oscar blogging surrounded by pillows and kleenex! Good times.

Anyway here are a dozen or so Tweets I just loved this week...

  

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Sunday
Nov162014

Box Office: America Loves... Dumb Things?

Amir here, reporting to box office duty. Dumb and Dumber To came out on top this weekend, beating Big Hero 6 to the number one spot. It’s curious that my anticipation for this sequel which had been building up and gradually increasing over two decades completely deflated the minute it was released, but that tends to happen when reviews, commercials and even the film’s stars seem unenthused about their work.

Meanwhile, the weekend’s other wide opening, Beyond the Lights, finished fourth. I want Gugu Mbatha-Raw to be a star so badly, so here’s hoping it sticks around in the top ten for while. And speaking of sticking around, Gone Girl remained the top 5 for the seventh week in a row, a bigger success than most had imagined and now the second biggest success of David Fincher's career (after Se7en) if you adjust for inflation.

TOP DOZEN
01 DUMB & DUMBER TO $38 NEW
02 BIG HERO 6 $36 (cum. $111.6) Tim's Review / Nathaniel's Take
03 INTERSTELLAR $29.1 NEW Michael's Review
04 BEYOND THE LIGHTS $6.5 NEW 
05 GONE GIRL $4.6 (cum. $152.6) The Podcast /  Jason's Review
06 ST. VINCENT $4 (cum. $33.2) Michael's Review
07 FURY $3.8 (cum. $75.9) Michael's Review
08 NIGHTCRAWLER $3 (cum. $25) The PodcastNathaniel's Review 
09 OUIJA $3 (cum. $48.1) 
10 BIRDMAN $2.4 (cum. $11.5) The Podcast Nathaniel's Review
11 JOHN WICK $2.2 (cum. $38.9) Michael's Review
12 ALEXANDER... VERY BAD DAY $1.5 (cum. $62.3) 

PLATFORM / LIMITED
excluding wide openers losing theaters
01 ROSEWATER $1.2 371 locations NEW
02 KIRK CAMERON'S SAVING CHRISTMAS $1 410 locations NEW 
03 WHIPLASH $.8 419 locations (cum. $2.4) The Podcast / Michael's Review
04 THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING $.7 41 locations (cum. $1) Nathaniel's Review
05 FOXCATCHER $.2 NEW 6 locations Nathaniel's Review / Michael's Review

I saw Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, and while I have you here in our intimate little corner of the internet at The Film Experience, away from the wrath of Nolan fanboys, let me vent for a minute about how awful it is. Seriously, do any of you want to stop Nolan, pull him to the side and whisper in his ear: “your films are too long; your plots are convoluted; several of your characters are redundant; your dialogue is atrocious; your spirituality is plastic; get a screenwriter”? Those are the same problems comings up in every one of his films since… The Prestige? Anyway, Matthew McConaughey was the saving grace, making his earthy, warm presence felt through Hans Zimmer's loud screeching in the sound mix.

High profile openers were happening in limited release: Jon Stewart’s story of political imprisonment in Iran, Rosewater, didn’t do great business but you’ll hear more on that one soon right here. Doing exactly 40 times the business per screen was Bennett Miller’s Oscar hopeful, Foxcatcher. It’s going the same route that most of Sony Pictures Classics’ awards contenders go and it’s probably the correct strategy for this film. Finally, there was Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman, which won far better reviews than its Cannes reception predicted, doing decent business on only 4 screens.

Have any of you seen of those yet? If not what did you see this weekend?