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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Blacktress (7)

Tuesday
Jan012013

Podcast Unchained: Top Ten Sneaks, Actresses of Color, Movie Gifts

Part 1 of 2
For this megamix conversation -- still shorter than most of the Best Picture Hopefuls! -- which is the last before the Oscar Nominations we ignored the act of "predicting" beyond a couple hazy hunches and dug into Quentin Tarantino's new slavesploitation western (which none of us like as much as the internet does as it so happens). But since this is the Film Experience we do love to meander through movie memories and Oscar digressions, Django Unchained is hardly the only film we visit in this 44 minute podcast. [With Nathaniel, Nick, Katey, and Joe.]

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Last minute Oscar hunches: Eddie Redmayne? Michael Haneke?
  • Django Unchained
  • Ann Dowd's self-funded Oscar campaign for Compliance
  • Nathaniel's special Christmas Gift
  • 1947 & 1991 Oscar Winner Flashbacks: Loretta Young and Mercedes Ruehl, anyone?
  • Middle Of Nowhere's transfixing Emayatzy Corinealdi
  • The power and powerlessness of physical beauty 
  • Podcast Bingo

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the bottom of the post. Join in the conversation by commenting! Did you get any movie related Christmas gifts? What's #6 on your (current) top ten list? 

 

Django Unchained, Top Ten Sneak Peeks

Wednesday
Dec192012

National Link Registry

The Hollywood Reporter  A former sitcom writer "kvells and kvetches" about The Guilt Trip and Parental Guidance starring Babs and Bette
PopWatch Mark Harris on Hollywood's love of gun violence. I highly recommend reading this but I highly caution NOT reading the comments because as per usual the gun crazies come out. They'd have us all packing and I so don't want to live in their preferred world.
Cinema Blend Katey & Eric on 12 Unfairly Overlooked Movies of 2012 from Hello I Must Be Going (Yay, Melanie!) through Cosmopolis

Awards Daily Whoa. Ann Dowd is footing the bill for her own Oscar campaign.
The Hollywood Reporter talks to Emayatzy Corinealdi on her breakthrough in Middle of Nowhere. You know. I've been trying not to talk about this because I can't figure out a way to say it that doesn't sound indelicate but in some ways I really hate falling in love with new black actresses in the same way that falling hard for new theater actors can be nerve-wracking. Chances are (unforgivably) strong that no one will give these gifted performers another plum opportunity after their breakthrough and that truly sucks. So I'm crossing my fingers for Corinealdi but I'm still waiting for something real to happen for Pariah star Adepero Oduye, last year's breakthrough actress of color. And I'm still trying to wrap my head around the non-career of the brilliant Kimberly Elise so... 

The Carpetbagger on screenwriter Lucy Alibar's (Beasts of the Southern Wild) crash course in cinema
The Onion "Top Movies of 2012"
David Poland gives himself a new nickname. Or adopts one given.
Vanity Fair Barbra Streisand talks about her legendary duet with Judy Garland in the 60s. Really interesting comment from Babs I think.  
MNPP joins the Zero Dark Thirty fan club 

Oooh, look Quentin Tarantino pays tribute to Pedro Almodóvar saying that his filmography is "the one to beat" -damn straight! Nobody else in the modern era compares.

Finally, I want to extend my annual congratulations to the 25 films that are newly announced for preservation by the National Film Registry. They are:

  • "3:10 to Yuma" (1957)
  • "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959)
  • "The Augustas" (1930s-1950s)
  • "Born Yesterday" (1950)
  • "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" (1961)
  • "A Christmas Story" (1983)
  • "The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Title Fight" (1897)
  • "Dirty Harry" (1971)
  • "Hours for Jerome: Parts 1 and 2" (1980-82)
  • "The Kidnappers Foil" (1930s-1950s)
  • "Kodachrome Color Motion Picture Tests" (1922)
  • "A League of Their Own" (1992)
  • "The Matrix" (1999)
  • "The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair" (1939)
  • "One Survivor Remembers" (1995)
  • "Parable" (1964)
  • "Samsara: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia" (1990)
  • "Slacker" (1991)
  • "Sons of the Desert" (1933)
  • "The Spook Who Sat by the Door" (1973)
  • "They Call It Pro Football" (1967)
  • "The Times of Harvey Milk" (1984)
  • "Two-Lane Blacktop" (1971)
  • "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1914)
  • "The Wishing Ring; An Idyll of Old England" (1914)

As per usual that's a lot of titles that I know nothing about but I'm most thrilled by The Times of Harvey Milk which is one of the most moving and important documentaries ever made. And on a sillier note, can we talk about how ever-watchable the female baseball comedy A League of Their Own is? Sometimes I pine for the 1990s. It's tough to imagine that movie breaking $100 million now but the 90s were a good time for girlpower narratives.  

If you're a fan of A League of  Their Own (who isn't?) I want to know which scene just popped into your mind when you heard that it made the list!

 

Saturday
Oct222011

Who's That Girl? It's Nicole Beharie

Kurt here. Considering the overall deficit of good roles for great black actresses (an issue to which this site is no stranger), moviegoers really can't be too hard on Nicole Beharie for offering them such rare and infrequent peeks at her remarkable talent. Still, watching those peeks (and they're watchable indeed), it's easy to send "grrrs" in this petite, 26-year-old beauty's direction, as she's thus far only appeared in five movies, two of them not even on the big screen. Why must she deprive us so? Her phone has to at least be ringing a little bit, and it can't just be about her selectivity, as the titles she's appeared in, on the whole, aren't exactly of the street-cred variety. So, what, then, has she been doing?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. My first exposure to Beharie was in early 2009, in a little film called American Violet, which screened at that year's Philadelphia Film Festival and had a very limited theatrical run. To be frank, the movie is glorified Lifetime rubbish, focusing on a real-life single mom who fought back against a corrupt system after being wrongfully charged with drug-dealing in a persecuted Texas housing project (wah-wah). But Beharie is knock-you-out stellar in the lead role, and she easily made my personal Best Actress top five. Since then the Juilliard grad has been toiling away on various projects that are slowly making their way to screens. Some may have caught her in the Precious wannabe Sins of the Mother (which, incidentally, was developed for Lifetime), while others may have seen her work in the football movie The Express, but she's also starring in at least four as-yet-to-be-released films, including everyone's favorite fleshy hype-magnet, Shame.

Beharie in 'American Violet'

In the Steve McQueen sex-addiction drama, Beharie plays Marianne, a co-worker of the lead nympho, Brandon (Michael Fassbender). She offers him a shot at pure, normal intimacy. Beharie doesn't upstage Fassbender or Carey Mulligan (it's not that kind of role), but she brings more than what you'd normally expect from such a character (SPOILER ALERT: she is introduced for the very purpose of being dismissed). Her ability to be extraordinarily sexy in a heated makeout session (which may just be the mixed-bag movie's most well-choreographed scene) is hypnotic, as much a small feat of physicality as in-the-moment focus.

With Fassy in 'Shame'Compared to her character in American Violet (a headlining part Beharie has said she doesn't expect to land again), the sidelined Marianne is rather thankless. But nothing but good can come from the fact that Beharie is starring in a movie that anyone who gives a hoot about film is absolutely going to see. It's bound to give her profile a long-overdue boost.

Beharie flicks on the horizon include the sports drama The Last Fall, and the afro-centric Small of Her Back and Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day. Jot those titles down. Beharie will likely be reason enough to see them.

 

 

Tuesday
Oct112011

Cast This! All Black "Steel Magnolias"

Everyone is doing it... why shouldn't we? I caught the news on Twitter where everyone I follow (but particularly Joe & Mark) were sounding off about who they'd like to see in the just announced remake of Steel Magnolias (for Lifetime) which will use an all black cast. Since blacktresses and the unfortunate dearth of roles for them are one of our pet topics here at The Film Experience we can't really let this one go without a discussion.

Clockwise from top left: Hannah (Annelle), Maclaine (Ouiser), Parton (Truvy), Field (M'Lynn), Dukakis (Clairee), and Roberts (Shelby)

The original film, a big hit in 1989 that has had an infinite DVD shelf life with the gays, gave Julia Roberts her first Oscar nomination. It was another Oscar vehicle at the time for Sally Field, a star-laden adaptation of a hit play that opened in November, but the only thing Oscar ended up noticing was Julia Roberts all fresh faced and quivering ginormous lips. At the time Sally Field loved to lay claim to discovering Julia though it was the nascent superstar's fourth film to hit theaters.  

She's mine!

Yes, I saw it in theaters. Shut up. I know my 80s movie stories are totally aging me. It can't be helped! This will happen to some of you when they start remaking 90s and 00s movies like Total Recall and  Spider-M (oh wait. damn). The cast at the time was NOT listed alphabetically but had to deal with old fashioned 'whose the biggest star right now?' billing so it went like so...

  • SALLY FIELD as "M'Lynn" the no nonsense mom who worries herself sick over her reckless life-loving diabetic daughter 
  • DOLLY PARTON as "Truvy" the big haired big hearted owner of the beauty shop where the cast continually congregates.
  • SHIRLEY MACLAINE as "Ouiser" the mean spirited wealthy brunt of many of the jokes 
  • DARYL HANNAH as "Annelle" the bumbling beauty shop apprentice and born again Christian. 'Her personal troubles will not interfere with her ability to do good hair.'
  • OLYMPIA DUKAKIS as "Clairee" Ouiser's wise-cracking bestie, also rich, but infinitely better-tempered.
  • ...and JULIA ROBERTS as "Shelby" a fragile young bride who is desperate to have a normal life

The cast (sans Dukakis) at the NYC premiere in November 1989

So which black actresses would you cast in these roles?
EXTRA POINTS to anyone who manages to recast Tom Skeritt's and Dylan McDermott's parts, too. [Psssst. Shamelessly name dropping alert: Dylan McDermott was at that Hugo screening on Monday night, just 8 seats away from me!]
DOUBLE EXTRA POINTS to anyone who manages to recast it without using Viola Davis or Octavia Spencer who, trust, aren't going to be hurting for offers post The Help.
TRIPLE EXTRA POINTS to anyone who can do it using Steel Magnolia's formula at the time (4 previous Oscar nominees or winners, 2 absolute legends, 1 current sex symbol de-glammed and 1 newbie who is clearly on her way to major stardom)

Go!

Friday
Feb112011

Baby, I Was Linked This Way

Pop Sugar gets a first look at Leonardo DiCaprio, Judi Dench and Armie Hammer suited up for Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar (pictured left). I'd embed it here but it's one of those annoying videos that starts itself and that won't do. Computers must be silent until they are asked to speak. Don't you agree?

Nicole's Magic explains the reason Nicole Kidman isn't in Just Go With It's marketing campaign (spoilery).
Gallery of the Absurd
"commemorates" Lindsay Lohan's latest criminal activity.
The New York Times' dance critic reviews Black Swan. I'm so burnt out on Black Swan right now but this is a good read. Like this

It goes out of its way to contradict the old escapist idea that “everything’s beautiful at the ballet.” Instead it takes energy from the aspects of ballet that are cruel and unfair. Let’s not pretend, however, that those aspects don’t exist.

The Browser Speaking of... Here's a different type of article, Darren Aronofsky talking about his 5 favorite filmmaking books.
Movie|Line regarding that time Anne Heche turned down Speed. WHAAAA? Sorry I l-o-v-e Anne Heche and she does not have the career I long for her to have despite being a unique screen presence and fine actress. Damn you Hollywood, damn you!


Black Voices shares a recent controversial statement about black women and Oscars and extrapolates on that. I find this type of discussion fascinating but whenever people use Oscar nominations and wins to paint broad strokes I always want to school them a little on Oscar history in general. I know I paint with broad strokes sometimes, too, so I sympathize. But take this note for example.

Sure, Halle Berry and Monique won their awards because they played roles that Hollywood is incredibly comfortable with: black women yelling, screaming and suffering without makeup. But, it's not just white Hollywood. We're all incredibly comfortable with miserable black women. I call it pain porn.

I 100% agree that Oscar rewards things they are comfortable with.

But one could make an argument that it's not that Oscar loves seeing black women in pain, it's that Oscar loves seeing women in pain. Dramatic suffering has always been the easiest way to an Oscar. Look at your entire Best Actress lineup this year. They're all white, sure. They're also all suffering. The least tearful woman in the lineup (Jennifer Lawrence) is a tough one, but she also gets beat up and shunned by her own kin. And when she's not in pain porn, she's in poverty porn. (Poverty porn, like pain porn, is not about race with Oscar.) Was Annette Bening nominated this year because she ably conveyed boredom and confusion about her marriage and hilarious cluelessness about what emotions her children were logging? No. I bet you anything she was nominated because when tears welled up in her eyes and she asked her lying wife "did you take a nap, too?" you could feel the sting of betrayal and the disorienting fresh magnitude of her pain. Ever notice how many Oscar clips are people screaming, yelling and suffering? The bulk of them! The same is true for the men (albeit to a lesser degree)

Is that my daughter in theerrrrrrrrrrre?!!!???

But mostly I wanted to say something about this because to disparage Mo'Nique's win is to shun one of the best performances of the modern era. The last time I saw someone dig that deep and find that much humanity inside someone doing monstrous things was... um... I'm not sure that I have. I bow down to Mo'Nique's actressing. If someone doesn't give her another meaty movie role soon, we are all the poorer for it.

Off Cinema Break
Do you like Lady Gaga's new song "Born This Way?"

I'm not sure that I do. I have no doubt it'll work for the dancefloor but as a stand-alone pop melody? Sorry for my gay heresy. You can have the toaster back.

Thursday
Jan132011

Link Catches Us

NOTE: Sorry about the delay in the top ten -- probably tonight. maybe tomorrow morning. Depends on how the day goes. The writeups take awhile. But now... news and linkage.

  • The Advocate Rabbit Hole's John Cameron Mitchell (He never ages. 47!)
  • A.V. Club interviews Aaron Eckhart, also of Rabbit Hole. And in case you missed it...
  • The Film Experience ...that's my 11th favorite of the year
  • The Telegraph Bond is not a director's franchise, Tim Robey, reminds us as Sam Mendes preps Bond 23 (to be titled later obviously)
  • In Contention DGA's documentary nominees. YES on Lixin Fan for Last Train Home. The Academy really botched that one. It's one of the best films of the year.
  • Rotten Tomatoes gives out its Golden Tomatoes for the best reviewed movies of 2010. Naturally the animated films dominate as they're generally critic proof if they're any good at all. Though we're slightly weirded out that the best reviewed ten is very very close to the expected Oscar ten. What happened to the days when Oscar ignored critical darlings? My guess is both Oscar and Critics have changed, everyone moving to the center.
  • Serious Film Great use of pop songs in recent movies

Kerry catches usIf it interests you, Reel Talk has the complete NAACP nominees. Night Catches Us gets some nominations but no Best Picture bid? Just Wright is there, though with For Colored Girls, The Book of Eli, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too and... The Kids Are All Right (???). Confusing. So for what it's worth, here are the actress nominations. You know how I obsess on the actressing.

Best Actress

  • Halle Berry Frankie & Alice
  • Janet Jackson Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
  • Queen Latifah Just Wright
  • Zoe Saldana The Losers
  • Kerry Washington Night Catches Us

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kimberly Elise For Colored Girls
  • Whoopi Goldberg For Colored Girls
  • Phylicia Rashad For Colored Girls
  • Anika Noni Rose For Colored Girls
  • Jill Scott Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?

The message of the nominations is simple: join Tyler Perry's creative entourage. (I wish I'd seen For Colored Girls. I like almost everyone in it.)

Friday
Jan072011

Centennial: Butterfly McQueen

Today is the Centennial of Butterfly McQueen, she of the famously squeaky voice, immortalized in her very first picture Gone With the Wind (1939). She died from an unfortunate kerosene heater accident 15 years ago but since it's the 100th anniversary of her birth today we send her a warm "Thank You" to the great beyond. Butterfly was a staunch Atheist but we think she'd approve of our church. In the church of cinema, everyone involved with classic films lives on for eternity (provided the negatives weren't destroyed).

"Gone With the Wind" (her first) and "Mosquito Coast" (her last feature film)

McQueen quit early, discouraged by endless servant roles. That's all black actresses could get in the Golden Age of Hollywood. In short: it wasn't golden for people of color.

"I don't know nuthin' bout birthin' babies!"

...which she shrieked hysterically in Gone With the Wind (1939) may have been her most famous cinematic moment, but you can also spot her in early classics like The Women (1939) and Mildred Pierce (1945). Her last feature film arrived when she was in her seventies. Peter Weir cast her in a key role opposite Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren in The Mosquito Coast (1986).

Broaden the Biopics!
Hollywood has such insatiable true story fever, that you wish filmmakers would broaden their scope a little about who to dramatize in non-fiction based films. Most biopics are about über famous entertainers or political leaders. Perhaps that's for box office reasons but maybe it's just a lack of imagination. Couldn't biopics about lesser known players involved with some hugely famous historical event or milieu, be both marketable and aesthetically riveting for the fresh light they would cast on our familiar mythologized histories?

Nobodies ever planned a Butterfly McQueen biopic so cross your fingers that last year's Supporting Actress winner Mo'Nique (Precious) actually gets to do that rumored biopic about another Supporting Actress winner, Butterfly's Gone With the Wind's co-star Hattie McDaniel. Think how fascinating that film could be. It's enough to give you shivers.

But who would you cast to star opposite Hattie/Mo'Nique as "Prissy"/Butterly and "Scarlett"/Vivien in that sure-to-be interesting film?