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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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Yes No Maybe So - Big Eyes

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1) "Lady art doesn't sell".
2) "I've been lying to my daughter".
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"A Tim Burton movie with the title Big Eyes that features neither Ricci, Ryder, Keaton nor Bonham Carter just doesn't seem right..." -Paul

 

 

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Entries in Canada (20)

Wednesday
Dec192012

10 More Critics Prizes: "Argo" & "The Master" Fight For "Zero Dark" Scraps

I haven't done the math but why count with my fingers when The Wrap is a born calculator and reveals that as the critics prizes have shaken down Zero Dark Thirty leads the race with 8 while Argo is in second for Best Picture prizes with half as many triumphs thus far. The Master is the only other film that's managed multiple "Best Film" gongs (3) in this thankfully divided year. Licking the crumbs off the critics awards plate we have Amour, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and... Safety Not Guaranteed? Well, ok, Indiana! You go your own way.

Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, and The Master are the critics win leaders

Les Misérables is the only film from Oscar's presumed big five that hasn't managed a Best Picture win from a critics group though it's surprising to realize that Lincoln hasn't done much better in terms of taking the top prize. Another casualty is Beasts of the Southern Wild. That gloriously original moving indie has recovered from its first weeks in the precursors where it couldn't win "first film" or "breakthrough performer" prizes with the unexpected strength of How to Survive a Plague and Middle of Nowhere blocking its pathway with critics or at the Gothams respectively. It's won a few things here and there. But I'd argue it's the biggest casualty of the critics weeks since it hasn't managed even one Best Picture win. It deserved and needed them so it's no surprise that it's outsider shot at a Best Picture nomination which once seemed totally doable now looks like a true long shot.

Supporting Actor Disappointments and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep132012

Nathaniel's No Fly Zone

Are you rushing to plan an international jaunt days before said jaunt? I can't recommend!

Last week I realized that TIFF was upon us and realizing that I hadn't at all planned for it (the summer was bumpy) - no accreditation requests, no tickets, nothing, I attempted to course correct.  I thought I'd pop up to Toronto for the last four days of the festival and scrambled: line up premiere invites, find lodging, buy new premiere outfit, order first pair of glasses ever (for long nights staring at my laptop). I closed my eyes tight-shut and hit "purchase" on the expenses as my card buckled in protest. Then Tuesday evening whilst packing, I realized that my passport had vanished. When was the last time I'd used it? Iceland??? Seven hours later my apartment, looking like Dorothy had just been violently whisked off to Oz, still refused to give the sacret document up. I brought every document of my existence with me to the airport last night (expired passport, birth certificate, you name it) and was unceremoniously turned away. I was offered the option of driving with one caveat -- Canada would let me in with my current documents but the US would not let me back in.

The worst part of the whole experience? The Boyfriend said "You're like Nasseri in Charles de Gaulle". And just when I had managed to forget all about the existence of Steven Spielberg's woeful The Terminal, too! Argh!!! and thanks a lot.

The bright side? (Always make lemonade, people.) The airline and the hotel did not rob me blind on cancellation fees but merely pickpocketed. Amir is still there to cover the fest. And now that I'm not in Toronto there's time to catch up on posting, hit some screenings right here, share my Lizzy Caplan interview, and tell you the story of how I met Kristen Stewart and Gabby Sidibe. Stay tuned! Yes, Fall Film Season, and Starry Oscar Campaign Trails are already upon us. I'm thrilled despite being grounded for the forseeable future.

May your September travels be smoother!

Thursday
Aug092012

TIFF Lineup: Female Directors & Prestige Adaptations

 Paolo here. We should probably give in and see what this year's Toronto International Film Festival has to offer! Toronto marks the unofficial start of awards season, inflating or deflating much hyped movies and performances. Speaking of which, the locals can experience the star power of actual would be contenders.  Within the space of ten days, TIFF gives its paying audience access to a year's worth of art house cinema - these movies will be trickling out in limited release for at least a year to come.

Fine reasons to be excited but I have more personal reasons, too. 


Reason no. 1 They're bringing back some classics.
They're under the Cinematheque programme, spotlightling restorations like Dial M for Murder in 3D, Loin du Vietnam - a collaborative anti-war project involving a handful on 1960's auteurs like Godard, Agnes Varda, William Klein Alain Resnais and (RIP) Chris Marker. There's also Roberto Rosselini's Stromboli and Roman Polanski's Tess, the latter being an adapation of a Thomas Hardy novel that I've been reading the past month or so. Which brings me to reasons two, three and four... after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun012012

Twins: Iceman is a Multiple Man

While we're in Gemini, we're celebrating twins each day at 2:22 pm

Whatever happened to the X-Men franchise's young Shawn Ashmore? He played Iceman in three X-Films from 2000 through 2006 though the character essentially peaked in 2003 in the franchise's single best film (Bryan Singer's X2: X-Men United) where he proved a key player. About four years ago he and his twin brother Aaron Ashmore (also an actor, most famous for playing Smallville's Jimmy Olsen) were still getting press but you don't hear much about either of them these days.

They're both still acting, Shawn still (mostly) in the movies though its low budget horror instead of big budget Hollywood franchises and Aaron (one minute older) still in television where he hops from shortlived series regular gig to series regular gig post Smallville. At 31 years of age neither are as famous as they once were. Those superhero franchises help, whether they're part of the Marvel or DC universes. Hollywood's a difficult place to maintain a career, let alone grow one. More after the jump...

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Wednesday
Dec142011

Critics Prizes Dotting The Map

You may have noticed that The Film Experience never publishes the lists of nominees from small critics organizations. The winners we like to cover, yes. But nominees? This is, in my opinion, the last thing the already crowded landscape of movie awards needs is for each tiny critics organization to attempt to share not just their advocacy for Best of the Best but all the other ones they liked too. If winners announcements are good enough for the three most prestigious societies (NYFCC, LAFCA and NSFC) they should be good enough for the smaller groups. It all becomes too much noise. The multiple daily announcements actually bring one of We Need To Talk About Kevin's best scenes to mind. Tilda's weary mom stops near a construction site to allow a jackhammer to drown out the endless crying of her demon baby. Hilariously wrong but you feel for her. 

But now that we have some winners, here we go! 

San Diego Film Critics Society

Film The Artist
Director Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Actress Brit Marling, Another Earth
Actor Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Supporting Actress Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Supporting Actor Nick Nolte, Warrior
Ensemble Performance Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Animated Film Arthur Christmas
Documentary Project Nim
Foreign Film I Svil
Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Editing Oliver Bugge Coutté, Beginners
Production Design Dante Ferretti, Hugo
Original Screenplay Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen
Adapted Screenplay Moneyball by Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin
Score Alexandre Desplat, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Body of Work Jessica Chastain
Kyle Counts Award Lee Ann Kim, San Diego Asian Film Foundation

Houston, Toronto, Indiana, and the African American Film Critics Association after the jump with more cities to come...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep172011

TIFF: "Jeff...," "Hysteria", "Take Shelter" and "Amy George."

[Editor's Note: Apologies from Nathaniel, I've been under the weather and Paolo, who has been so dependable at sending capsules and reviews our way, now has a log jam of them. So many movies to discuss. Enjoy. TIFF wraps this weekend. -Nathaniel R]

Paolo here, discovering that HYSTERIA, a film about inventing the vibrator, isn't based on the recent Broadway play "In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play" although they tackle the same subject. However, some scenes here still look like you might see them in a stage play, set in offices of upper middle class Londoners. These are  perfectly designed offices, with the requisite deep trendy colours of today's period films. The character played by the unrecognizable Rupert Everett is an electricity geek. A generator occupies his office, a Rube Goldberg like thing connected to a feather duster. However, protagonist Mortimer Granville (a composite of three actual doctors played by Hugh Dancy) sees something else in this feather duster.

The comedy in the film is repetitive; how many 'strong hands' jokes can one take even if Jonathan Pryce, playing Mortimer's boss Dalrymple, delivers them so capably? Dalrymple's daughter Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal) enters the plot, a welcome break from the 'paroxysms' of Mortimer's clients. Her story line gets dramatic when her East End connections land her in prison but there isn't enough of a struggle to convince us that something bad might truly happen to her. Gyllenhall plays Charlotte with an optimism rarely seen in her darker films. She's also required to speak in a West End English accent alongside real English actors but she's not enough to elevate this film into a genuine crowd pleaser.


HICK, based on Andrea Portes' novel, is a movie set in the middle of nowhere and ends up there, despite the wishes of a thirteen year old girl named Luli (Chloe Moretz). Luli is very knowledgeable of her  provenance, her mother Tammy (Juliette Lewis) giving birth to her in a bar. Her father's no different, the kind of guy who drives into playground monkey bars without hiding the bottle of whiskey in his hand. She decides to run away to Las Vegas even if she's too young to be part of the workforce. The film from this point forward becomes a road movie,  taking place inside cars or at pit stops.

Chloe's child acress 'rite of passage', Take Shelter Oscar buzz, and endless potato boiling after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep142011

TIFF: ALPS, Edwin Boyd

Amir reporting again from The Toronto International Film Festival where I saw something I frankly can't recall ever seeing on the big screen before: Toronto history.

EDWIN BOYD
I’d watched Edwin Boyd only a couple of hours after Rampart (covered yesterday), but the review had to wait.  Scott Speedman plays the titular character, a serial bank robber in the post-war Canada of the 50s. Boyd, if you haven’t heard of him, is something like a Canadian John Dillinger figure. But I assure you this film is miles better than Public Enemies.

I’d heard the film was a total crowd-pleaser and the reports were true. It’s a clichéd film that uses all the tricks of the gangster genre – bursts of action sequences, romantic subplots, pretty girls, crazy sidekicks – but it doesn’t misuse them. Sure, you’ve seen this stuff before, and yes, the film feels too self-aware of its cinematic qualities as many genre films do, but the two hours go by like two minutes as Speedman charmingly reincarnates Boyd. This version of Boyd’s life is extensively romanticized and many details of his life have been completely eliminated, but from a purely cinematic standpoint, Edwin Boyd was a pleasure.

ALPS
The most significant film of the past two days was my personal most anticipated of the festival, Yorgos Lanthimos’ ALPS (If you’ve ever stumbled upon my blog, chances are you already know the extent of my affection for his last film, Dogtooth.) The good news is that ALPS totally lived up to my expectations. Though it’s hard to imagine Lanthimos finding new fans with this film - I’ve even encountered a few Dogtooth fans who were left cold by it - this signature work moved me in ways I did not expect and it stands high above the lot as the festival’s best offering so far.

ALPS is about a group of four people who get paid to substitute for the recently deceased to comfort their families. No information is given to us about the personal lives of three of them, but for the fact that one is the gymnastics coach of another. The fourth person, Monte Rosa (played by the brilliant Aggeliki Papoulia) is a nurse who’s also taking care of her aging father at home.

Peppered with absurd comic situations and brutal violence similar to what we saw in Dogooth, and boasting even bolder stylistic choices, ALPS reaffirms Lanthimos as a distinctive voice in today’s cinema and a visionary storyteller. He’s maintained his confident directorial control, only this time he adds a more poignant and heartfelt dimension to the film. And partnering with a new cinematographer here, he plays beautiful games with camera focus that he admitted (during the Q&A) weren’t always thought of in advance, but feel so right on the screen.

The real strength of the film however, lies in its script. If Dogtooth raised essential questions about the nature of identity, ALPS asks us to reconsider our perceptions of the identity of those around us. It will leave you thinking about the authenticity of your relationships and wondering how strong the bases of our interactions really are. How difficult is it to really replace someone? On what basis are relationships formed anyway? Do we maintain them by habit or will anybody do, if they wear the right clothes and repeat the same sentences? And so on. These questions are masked by Lanthimos’ surreal approach to storytelling but if you dig deep enough, ALPS is a layered and rich psychological study.

Often times at major festivals, we hear that a screenplay or a director award is given to compensate when a great film misses out on the top prize. Rumours about ALPS’ screenplay win at Venice say the same, but in this particular case, I think we can reject the possibility. This script can stand on its own merits.

Still to come: Andrea Arnold, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Joachim Trier and Tahar Rahim to talk about, so stay tuned!

Friday
Sep092011

TIFF: Biopic Boys will be Boys

Paolo here in Toronto. My first TIFF movies are about real-life men who customarily look nothing like the attractive actors who play them on the big screen.

Edwin Boyd is a step in the right direction for Canadian cinema, since making a heist film like this is both relatively cheap and lucrative. It's about the WWII veteran turned 1950's Torontonian bank robber of the same name played by Scott Speedman. Speedman puts an athletic sensitivity to the role, whether Edwin is inside a singing booth or jumping over the counter to get the loot he wouldn't have gotten in his former job as a kind-hearted bus driver. The story covers him facing and indulging temptations, his addiction to the wrong kind of attention as well as to robbing banks, which he and his gang continue to do despite multiple arrests. There are clichés here, the biggest one is the golden-hearted criminal who also likes to get drunk and play music while celebrating his jackpots. I will give credit to the film's capability on whetting the audience's appetite on period specificities. It's also a treat to watch its grey and white cinematography, capturing the rough surfaces of the city's architecture or his snowy escape from authorities. The supporting cast includes Kevin Durand as Edwin's right hand man and Brian Cox as the protagonist's father.

Also took in the Brad Pitt vehicle Moneyball which is about the baseball team Oakland Athletics in their 2002 season.

The film's first half is has a problematically distinct voice from its second, making it difficult to forget that two writers are responsible for its script. The first, which I'll call the Steve Zaillian half, has Pitt portraying the A's general manager Billy Beane. The script makes him have the same conversation with other people, telling his financier, other GM's, his precocious daughter, her mother (Robin Wright) and her mother's boyfriend (Spike Jonze) that he's fine even if both parties know, through local and national news, that his team is having board room and locker room problems. The A's are having trouble finding 'stars' like Jason Giambi who have left the team. Fortunately, Billy meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a fictionalized version of Paul de Podesta who introduces the idea that instead of buying 'stars,' the team has to 'buy runs.' It's a method that, to someone like me who knows nothing about sports, sounds like cheating.

The underlying tension in many scenes in the film's first half is in anticipating Billy to squirm or get angry under all of these people's microscopes. This half also allows its audience to think about what might have happened if the person originally slated to direct this movie, Steven Soderbergh, had done so. Hopefully I'm not the only person who can see Soderbergh's skills in satire, and he would have highlighted these characters' callousness and childlike stubbornness. 

The second half, when the A's fate turns around, belongs to a writer with a more distinct voice, brainy frat boy Aaron Sorkin. Just like Charlie Wilson's War or Studio 60, this movie has its share of Abbott and Costello-like telephone or office conversations. He also tends to romanticize whatever he's writing about, which is baseball this time around. He even makes Peter, a generally scientifically minded character in the first half, seem emotional later on. But admittedly it still works better here than the affected humanity in The Social Network. Director Bennett Miller, with the help of his male dominated cast (including the surprisingly capable Hill) also negotiates and sutures these two voices well.