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Beauty vs. Beast

SADIE or ROSE? 
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Entries in Black Swan (35)

Monday
Jun162014

Beauty Vs Beast: Him Freud, Her Jane

JA from MNPP here - The Film Experience is taking a look back at 1964 all this month and so it's the perfect time for our "Beauty Vs Beast" series to take a look at a movie that's turning 50 next month (it was released on July 22nd, 1964) and wades so deep into morally murky waters you're never quite sure which end of the screen you're rooting for (if any), making it perfect for this poll - I speak of Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie.

Starring Tippi Hedren as the titular troubled girl turned to theivery and Sean Connery as the businessman alternately turned on and repelled by that rascally blonde's baser instincts, Marnie's awash in dream symbols (so many snapping purses!) and psychiatry talk - too much of the latter by my count; like Hitch's film Spellbound I  always find his movie's at their least interesting when they're explicitly spelling out his psychological obsessions. Give me the fluid illogic of Vertigo over it any day. But like the keys and key-holes that clutter every other frame of Marnie, the film is most interesting as far as the clues it further offers us towards an understanding of Alfred Hitchcock and his never not fascinating psychological profile. It shuffles some not-before-seen puzzle pieces into place.

Hitch was always putting the audience into morally compromising situations, getting us to side with bullies and lunatics - even his most well-intentioned heroes found themselves doing terrible things (think of the scene in the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much where Jimmy Stewart drugs Doris Day without telling her so he can calm her down). But Marnie for me is the tipping point in Hitch's filmography where his characters become almost uniformly unlikeable; there's an angriness (or worse, an indfference) to the last decade and a half of his work (yes even in the so-called comedy of The Trouble With Harry) - it reaches its apex with Frenzy, a film I find exceedingly unpleasant to watch with its cast of shrewish women and sweaty men (it works as a horror film, but it makes me extraneously sad all the same), but the seeds are planted with Mark and Marnie, two people just a little too damaged and bizarre for me to ever find myself rooting for them in any way.

So why not force us to pick?!

 

You've got one week to vote and to sell us in the comments on the frigid blonde or the manly man that's come to beat some sanity into her. Choices, oh choices.

PREVIOUSLY And speaking of choices, with last week's poll pitting Natalie Portman's White Swan against Mila Kunis' Black Swan? Y'all couldn't make one! IT'S A TIE, YOU GUYS. 428 votes, split perfectly at 50/50. I can't even tell you how giddy that makes me - the movie about doubling and dopplegangers split us right down the middle. We look in the mirror and we see all of the faces. We are legion. I'll share to two quotes from y'all since we went both ways:

"Nina only cause I don't think Lily would take the loss as hard." -- SVG

"Team Lily because that fierce little Russki NEVER would have fallen flat on her ass on opening night. Get your shit together Nina!" -- TB

Monday
Jun092014

Beauty Vs. Beast: Swan Against Swan

JA from MNPP here - it's time for some "Beauty Vs. Beast" yo! We're getting our Aronofsky on this week - I chose to take us back to 2010 for a Black Swan face-off for the specific reason that today is Natalie Portman's 33rd birthday (Happy birthday, Nat!), and it was only after that I mentally connected it to last week's Girl Interrupted face-off - only now, seeing them side by side like this, do the paralells seem striking - two crazy gals feeding off each other's craziness, Winona Ryder talking about oral sex... it's a real double-feature. And I suppose "double" is the operative word...

 

So pirouette yourself to one side or the other between now and next Monday, folks!

PREVIOUSLY And as for last week's Winona versus Angie showdown, y'all made like the Oscars and gave your love to the big show on the sidelines of Girl Interrupted - Jolie took the title with 62% of your votes. Said David:

"She drove poor, fried-chicken-hording Brittany Murphy to suicide in the first 45 minutes and she was just getting started.... Angelina Jolie wins this by a mile."

Tuesday
Oct222013

Crazy/Possessed Ballerinas. Are There Any Other Kinds? 

In preparation for our two part Horror Best Listing (pre-Exorcist and post-Exorcist which arrives tonight) I caught up with a few classic titles. One of them, briefly discussed on the latest podcast, was Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977). I can't say I took to it exactly, despite being partial to films which boozily strip naked and beg their Production Designer & Cinematographer to f*** them.

slumber parties in horror movies? never a good idea

Suspiria (have you seen it?) starts sort of well, flying right into an unnatural rainstorm with a weirdly off kilter urgency as ballerina Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in Germany to attend an prestigious ballet academy. But those first two kills are so yuck making the intro a mixed bag for me. For its middle section, which I assume is where the film's classic status derives, the movie does little cul-de-sacs in creepy/garish atmospherics punctuated by two perversely inventive murders. But then, oops, time is up. For its last trick, Suspiria speeds through a dud finale with mood-killing exposition (how was Udo Kier ever this young!?) and badly dated visual effects. By the time the credits appear, it's lost pretty much all of its intermittent unnerving power. For me at least; I understand others really do dig it.

After Suspiria ended, my mind wandered to a more general cinematic question: Are there any silver screen ballerinas that are happy?

See, it seems like screen ballerinas are always batshit crazy whether they're...

Suspiria

...possessed by the occult

 

The Red Shoes

...dancing feverishly as if possessed by toe shoes

 

Black Swan

...having psychotic feathered breaks

 

The Turning Point

...or engaging in neurotic Oscarbait-offs. 

 

Can you think of any well adjusted ballerinas in fiction?
And if you can't whose your favorite nutjob ballerina?

Tuesday
Mar062012

"We have 12 Vacancies. 12 Cabins. 12 Links" 

Kill Screen imagines Downton Abbey as a card based RPG. Love the artifact "pants of modernity"
Deja View a relic brochure from a time when Disney was seeking animators.
Irish Times is pissed about Streep's Oscar win and illustrates, again, that a backlash grows. But here's the interesting part...

One can think of many star actresses...who will submerge themselves in films bigger than themselves. But Streep has to be bigger than the movie, to the point where she can become, in effect, a substitute for it.

You may recall we were talking about just this fascinating issue (within the Oscar symposium). It's hardly a Streep-Only topic. What does it mean to "carry" a movie and should an actor ever be asked to? 

Rope of Silicon has "sexy" issues with Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh in the upcoming feature Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (omg please change the title). So do I and the first being that Scarjo, who I enjoy, is very different than Janet Leigh in body, age and looks. She might be able to summon up the contemplative paranoia mood of Leigh but otherwise it's a huge miss if you ask me.
Guardian odd lawsuit of day. Sandra Bullock is pissed that a watch company is selling a watch by comparing it to her Blind Side look.
Coming Soon Disney must've liked the response to titling Rapunzel Tangled because their next fairy tale musical will be based on The Snow Queen and it's called Frozen. Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars herself, gets lead vocal duties.
/Film
 remembers Black Swan with a new behind the scenes photo gallery. I don't remember Natalie wearing this white cloak thing onstage. Have I lost my mind or just my short term memory?
ioncinema details a new "slippery nature of truth" project called True Story starring Jonah Hill and James Franco. Brad Pitt's Plan B is producing. Pitt has good taste and this sounds interesting. 
Pajiba lists the 25 biggest animated hit (adjusted for inflation). Pixar doesn't even make the top 10!
Indiewire lists films they hope show at Cannes this summer

And even though I always try to let each year's Oscars go within a week's time of the ceremony, I find myself still reading Oscar recaps since I have emerged from my cave of silence. I did like these two overviews of the ceremony from two of my favorite online peeps, The Self Styled Siren and Glenn at Stale Popcorn. So if you also share the Oscar sickness, read 'em.

Tuesday
Oct182011

Curio: Costume Dramas

Alexa here.  Every year my desire to arrive at the perfect Halloween costume sees me trolling the internet for ideas.  Unlike my husband, who can throw together the perfect Carl Spackler costume in 10 minutes, I need to plan ahead, and I can't sew well enough to get really creative.  Someday I'll create the perfect Maude Lebowski Valkyrie look, but this year, on my daughter's orders, I'm going as a chicken.  Here are some looks I'd rather be wearing for Halloween.

 

A Black Swan Rodarte replica, $700, from this shop.

Take a flowered house dress, some duct tape, and this book, and you'd have the perfect Geena Davis Beetlejuice look.

Click for more including Marilyn, Catwoman, and Mattie Ross...

Click to read more ...