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Soundtracking: Hustlers

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Entries in Chinatown (5)

Tuesday
Sep042018

Prime in September: Bolero, Gutland, Jack Ryan, and There Will Be Blood

Time to play Streaming Roulette. Each month, to survey new streaming titles we freeze frame the films at random places with the scroll bar and whatever comes up first, that's what we share! (in case you missed it we did Netflix earlier)

What does Amazon Prime offer us for free viewing this month? (Hulu will have the bulk of these, too, as their contracts are always very similar). Let's survey...

Just because we fucked three times, now you think you own me?

Gutland (2017)
Did Phantom Thread make you curious about Vicky Krieps? Here she is in a noir from her home country of Luxembourg. The guys she's arguing with in this skinny-dipping scene is Frederick Lau, who gave a fine performance in that continuous shot German movie Victoria a few years ago. 

ding ding ding. It looks like we have a winner

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Season 1 (2018)
Jeez, how many actors have played Jack Ryan already? Now it's Mr. Emily Blunt's turn in a new Prime series. I guess they're skipping their 'pilot testing with audiences' phase and going straight to series like most of their competitors now.

Chinatown, the 2007 Oscar race, and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun192014

Only Linker Left Alive

Screen Crush Top Secret the making of an 80s comedy classic 
The Playlist celebrates Chinatown's 40th Anniversary 
MNPP David Oyelowo twelve times 
The Wire a rumor roundup on Doctor Strange and what's going on

The Movie Scene takes a different tack on those "halfway mark" lists that are starting round the web, merely ranking the films that were new to him this year on DVD... classics mixed with brand new things. I've never been able to compare different eras well in terms of "rank" - give me year to year contests or decade lists but otherwise... too tough! 
Row Three I haven't listened to this yet but I love the concept: a podcast devoted to one movie soundtrack an episode with a new person interviewed about what the soundtrack meant to their life. This episode is Dirty Dancing
/bent Lupita Nyong'o on the cover of Vogue for July. Only the second African (though some African-American entertainers have made the cover) 
The Wire remembers the Broadway-to-screen adaptations prior to Jersey Boys which brought the stage actors to the screen. As you can see this practice has decidedly mixed results - when it works it's magic but when the people are way too old for the roles on the big screen... 

first official image of Jamie Dornan in 50 Shades of Grey (2015)

Great Question
The Guardian is doubtful that 50 Shades of Grey could do it but with a history of horny films asks 'what could bring the erotic thriller, a long dead genre that peaked in popularity with Fatal Attraction (1987), back to the cinemas?'

Off Cinema
Gayest of All Time "Kitty Bro Five" -'Dat Be Cute' is right!
Pitchfork MoMA will host a Björk retrospective next year
Autostraddle every character from Orange is the New Black as they appeared on guest stints in Law & Order -- as much as I blame that show for so much that is wrong with television, I recognize it kept food on the table for countless thespians
Mr Dan Zak true life story that inspired the nun's arc on OITNB

Finally...
Our 'Halfway Mark' articles are coming up in a week or two surveying the year in progress but Indie Wire started early and polled critics about the best of the year thus far (I always forget to vote on these things). Grand Budapest Hotel, Under the Skin, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Ida are the top four. Their combined domestic gross is $65 million OR what Fault In Our Stars and 300:Rise of an Empire earned in their first week. (Le sigh)

Monday
Aug052013

Burning Questions: Movie Killing Scores?

Michael C. here to take a cue from the Summer movie season and release the first Burning Questions sequel. 

The story goes that at the eleventh hour the original score to Chinatown was deemed a film-ruining disaster and composer Jerry Goldsmith was brought in and given just ten days to write a replacement.  Miraculously, the score Goldsmith delivered turned out to be the quintessential film noir soundtrack. When the AFI listed the 100 greatest film scores Goldsmith’s trumpet-laced masterwork ranked #9. So a happy ending, which is one of the rare times when that phrase can be used in conjunction with Chinatown.

This is a terrific example of the filmmakers having the resources – and more importantly the will – to strive for perfection even if it meant taking a risk late in production. We’ve all heard enough terrible soundtracks to know tales such as this are bound to be the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps commissioning a new score would be too much of a hassle or too big an expense. Maybe the filmmakers in question are blind to the damage the music is doing to their movies. Then there are those unfortunate cases which are merely the victims of their times. Today’s trendy soundtrack is tomorrow’s time capsule punchline.

These musical misfires are the subject of today’s column. A few months back I posted a colum asking for the names of great soundtracks wasted on lousy movies. This time it’s the opposite question: Which scores are movie killers? I’m talking soundtracks that seriously distract and detract from otherwise quality movies. 

I’ll get the ball rolling with these three unfortunate cases that never fail to aggravate me:

Ladyhawke (Score by Andrew Powell)
I chose Ladyhawke as a particularly odious offender, but really, on the subject of disastrous scores, one could simply type “The 80’s” and move on. So many of that decade’s artificial, synth-heavy scores that have aged like rotten fruit, stinking up countless otherwise strong movies. (Manhunter, I’m looking in your direction) Ladyhawke’s music is so bad I wonder if the film would actually work better as a silent film. Or hit the subtitles and play a classical music channel on Pandora. Any random shuffle has got to be an improvement 

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Score by Ira Newborn)
This is also an eighties title, but I think it’s such a uniquely awful case of a score bringing an otherwise terrific comedy to a screeching halt that it deserved to be singled out. Exhibit A on why experimental scores and comedy rarely go together and why you should never, ever mix snippets of the film’s dialogue into the score.

Eyes Wide Shut (Score by Jocelyn Pook)
I have struggled with this title since it came out, but if there is one thing that will always stand between me and fully appreciating this fascinating waking nightmare of a movie it is that godforsaken plink-plink-plink piano score. I can imagine a psycho killer from Hannibal using this music to torture a victim tied up in their basement. Before you say it, yes, I freely admit that this may have been exactly what Kubrick was going for, but even if I believed this to be true (I don’t) it would make no difference. The music is viscerally alienating in a way that bypasses the intellect entirely, like jackhammers or squeaky balloons. Just thinking abou it sets me on edge.

Previous Burning Questions
You can follow Michael C. on Twitter at @SeriousFilm. Or read his blog Serious Film

Tuesday
Mar052013

Curio: The Exiled Elite

Alexa here. After posting the gorgeous pencil drawings of Marie Harnett, the work of another artist out of the UK who takes pencil to paper was brought to my attention. Matthew Warren has a passion for film that was nurtured when he worked on film sets during art school.  After a viewing of Drive inspired Matthew to seek out alternative poster designs for the film, he discovered the rich online world of fan art, discussed here at The Film Experience (he's a reader) and elsewhere on the web. Soon his project, under the name The Exiled Elite, was born. 

Matthew mixes his pencil sketches with marker-drawn text to create his wholly handmade designs; I love how you can see each marker stroke.

I've posted more of his posters after the jump.  You can see all his designs on his website, and you can buy prints at his shop.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr222012

Jack Attack

Jack Nicholson is 75 years old today. He has only made 3 movies in the past eight years and his last great performance (About Schmidt) was a full decade past. His frequent absences would be a much greater loss to cinema if his current taste didn't lean more Bucket List and less Schmidt. But he has meant so much to so many moviegoers for so many decades that his big day is definitely worth celebrating.

So herewith ten random things off the top of my head that I love about Jack Nicholson... and it shouldn't surprise you that most of them involve his actress co-stars. That's not just because you're reading this at The Film Experience but because, for all of Jack's showboating style, he regularly ups the game of his leading ladies (and vice versa)

• "Dear Ndugu..." (About Schmidt)

• the fascinating and atypical restraint of his character work as Eugene O'Neill in Reds (1981). He lets Warren Beatty & Diane Keaton lead (which they do spectacularly well -- what a great movie) but manages to leave an indelible searing impression all the same. I sometimes wonder if it's his best performance.

• That it took him a good  long while to become JACK NICHOLSON -- he started in 1956 and he wasn't really JACK til 1969's Five Easy Pieces, and those slow burn rises to superstardom really ought to inspire all great actors who are looking for a defining breakthrough.

• The electric but very different push/pulls of his beastly seductions of Michelle Pfeiffer in Witches of Eastwick (1987) and Wolf (1994). They had great chemistry together. 

• Chinatown (1974) in general and in its entirety. Also specifically in just about every scene. Let's simplify...

 Chinatown (1974) !!!!

• "Do I ice her? Do I marry her? Which one of dese?" Dumb pussy-whipped Jack in Prizzi's Honor (1985) who is talking about Irene (Kathleen Turner) but might just as well be describing his topsy turvy relationship with his ex (Anjelica Huston) too. 

...His women keep pulling the rug out from under him, the Oriental rug to be precise.

 Right there on the Oriental. With all the lights on. 

Everything about The Jack & Shirley Show within Terms of Endearment (1983)

His long friendship with Warren Beatty, also newly 75. Imagine the influence and power they've wielded in their time on American cinema.

• "Heeeeeere's Johnny!" My favorite Jack Nicholson moments are rarely the iconic ones that everyone knows (in which I always find myself feeling "pull it back!") but his literally splintering-crazy work in The Shining is the best of his YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH style screen beats. 

Your turn!

What's your favorite Jack Nicholson performance? Which screen moments from his long history stick with you.