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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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"Well, I saw MOMMY on Saturday, and it kind of spoiled my Sunday movie-going, it was so good. " - Bill

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Entries in Cinematography (141)

Friday
Jun272014

Yes No Maybe So: Fury

Behold, a glorious poster for Fury, the forthcoming war drama (opening in November) starring Brad Pitt and assorted thespians of the male gender. If the movie is great (a big if) this is the kind of poster that would become iconic. It's almost mythic already, what with the perfect but unexpected composition, evocative mood, stormy color and the title painted on the tank's gun. 

The trailer also came out this week so let's break that down with our Yes No Maybe So system after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun262014

Welcome to the Academy. 10 Interesting Invitations

The Academy welcomes its new members at an invite only event in September, just as we begin to feel the rumblings of Oscar buzz everywhere.

While not every person nominated for the first time for an Oscar in any given year is invited to join the next year (isn't that weird?) it's common practice that they are. So new names like Lupita Nyong'o, Barkhad Abdi, and more established actors like Sally Hawkins and June Squibb will all be voting for the first time this coming season after walking the red carpets as nominees. That's expected. What's far more interesting is the people invited in any given year that have not been nominated.

Here are ten names I want to highlight because they're interesting invitations for one reason or another.

Sean Bobbitt - Cinematographer (12 Years a Slave) - egregiously snubbed last year which might have done it but that's not his only beautifully shot film. He also filmed Hunger and Shame and The Place Beyond the Pines. contributing much to their moods and power.

Bradford Young - Cinematographer (Pariah, Mother of George, Aint Them Bodies Saints, Middle of Nowhere) one of the brightest stars among newer DPs. The Academy could not have chosen better. He's just brilliant.

Denis Villeneuve - Director (Prisoners, Enemy) Surprised this Canadian hasn't been invited previously given that Incendies was nominated in Foreign Film. Technically speaking the director isn't an official nominee when a movie is nominated for Foreign Language Film but here at TFE we consider it to be so since the Director accepts and sometimes keeps the Oscar.

Sonja Klaus - Production Designer/Set Decorator (The Counselor, Prometheus)- she's done pretty great work for Ridley Scott several times as well as work on big popcorn movies like X-Men First Class and the Lara Croft movies.

Casting Directors In General - 22 of them were invited (!!!) which leads me to believe AMPAS is seriously considering finally adding a Casting Oscar. People have been complaining that there isn't one within the industry for some time.

Paul Rudnick -Writer. Rudnick was such an endearing and important comic voice in the 90s (Addams Family Values, Jeffrey, In & Out) but his last feature film credit was literally The Stepford Wives ten whole years ago. So why now for the Motion Picture Academy? I don't begrudge him any honors but he doesn't even work in movies any more. (though his first project in ten years is supposedly due this year, a TV movie with Bette Midler). 

Casting Directors In General - 22 of them were invited (!!!) which leads me to believe AMPAS is seriously considering finally adding a Casting Oscar. People have been complaining that there isn't one within the industry for some time.

Beatrix Aruna Pasztor - This costume designer has never been nominated despite a filmography that includes films of wildly varied genres: Vanity Fair, Aeon Flux, Great Expectations, Brothers Bloom, To Die For and many more so she's versatile. But I'm highlighting her mostly because Nick and I like saying her name to each other. (Long story)

Josh Hutcherson in "Mockingjay Part 1" / Ben Foster in "Lone Survivor"

Josh Hutcherson & Ben Foster - Actors. Sometimes the actor invitations are real head scratchers when it comes to timing. Aren't we a bit premature on Josh (please note: I like him as an actor) and aren't we super duper late to the party on Ben Foster who has been quite acclaimed for some time. Was it Lone Survivor that did it? These things are puzzling because if you didn't want to invite him after 3:10 to Yuma what the hell is wrong with you?

Beth Grant - Actress (Small Role Goddess of Limitless Indies / Mainstream Efforts)

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion."

 

The full press release from the Academy is after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun102014

Best Shot: OITNB Season 2

No sophomore slump for this sensation. Orange is the New Black's second season arrived on June 6th for the masses to binge watch on Netflix. We ended Season 1 with a cliffhanger battle between Piper and meth-head hilbilly Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning,) which landed Piper in the SHU (solitary confinement) and as Season 2 begins she's being hauled off in the dead of night, completely unaware of what's happened, whether Pennsatucky is dead or alive, and where she's headed. The unfamiliar guards act as if she isn't even there.

Please tell me where we're going."

It's a sensible enough question, and a perfect one for a new season which no longer has the source material to work from (Chicago was the end of Piper's jail term in the book and here it lasts just the first episode of the season). Untethered to adaptation, and with the rich often fictionalized world of the prison already established where will Jenji Kohan take us? [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun052014

Throwback Thursday FYC: Uma in Henry & June (1990)

The Film Experience time travels so consistently between the now, the future, the distant past and the recent past that Throwback Thursday, that grand internet tradition, hasn't meant much. But then a lightbulb - "Throwback Thursday... Oscar Campaigns"

Remember Henry & June (1990)? Oscar and Uma anecdotes after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun032014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Zorba the Greek (1964)

This week's 'Best Shot' film Zorba the Greek (1964) was a first-time watch for yours truly.  Oscar chose it for us since it won Walter Lassally's the Best Cinematography (Black and White) statue in the year we happen to be celebrating this month. At one point in the picture Zorba (Anthony Quinn and Anthony Quinn's giant expressive face), catches his employer Basil (Alan Bates, in young, stuffy, super pretty mode) sipping at alcohol. Zorba, a man of big appetites, forcefully tilts the bottle higher to get more booze down his boss's throat.

Don't be delicate..."

He tells his boss. That's good advice if you're watching Zorba the Greek which is, and I cannot understand why no actressexuals warned me of this, a fairly reprehensible motion picture. If this series were called Hit Me With The Shot That Shows Your Feelings About This Movie, my choice would be a tie between this suspicious side eye from Irene Papas as 'the widow...' and the moment a few beats later when she spits at the men and exits the scene.

[SPOILER] The film has two major female characters. One is referred to as a "silly old bitch" and the other has no name or voice. This film's treatment of the latter, "a wild widow" is disgusting. It views her only as a sexual conquest and then as a corpse that's not even worth remembering (she's never mentioned again). The heroes can't save her but, as it turns out, they don't care anyway. Back to our jaunty score and the story of laughing dancing men bonding and building things. She is robbed of identity. Her murder is reduced to local texture, nothing more than a setpiece. [/ SPOILER]

Zorba was a massive hit in 1964 and probably helped popularize the very familiar trope of the Life Force who shakes up the Staid Hesistant Protagonist and convinces him to Engage With Life. You know how that goes. The picture is fuzzy about the why, and what good it does anyone, but it's all about the journey anyway. The film peaks right in the middle with strong playful scenes about a mine, a monastery and Zorba's famous dancing. The first dance is the film's most beautifully lit scene, all shadowy impishness and physically stout feeling.

The next day Zorba confesses to deeper truths about his life and tells Basil he doesn't understand -  men, women, war... the whole lot. Basil objects that he does understand but Zorba retorts:

With your head, yes. You say this is right. This is wrong. When you talk, I watch your arms, your legs, your chest. They are dumb. They say nothing. So how can you understand?

Which is why it's so smart narratively, and also visually, that when Basil tries (awkwardly) to recreate Zorba's uninhibited passionate dancing later in the picture the shadows render him headless.

In these admittedly frequent moments when the film is all gesture and the body takes center stage, Zorba the Greek has a certain potency. It even has masculine charm. But some of the ideas jostling about in its brain aren't worth the widow's spit. Better it loses its head. 

OTHER BEST SHOTS FROM THIS FILM
click on the photo to read the corresponding article!

Monks refer to him as "the devil." When Zorba dances, he moves like a man possessed...
- The Entertainment Junkie 

The dark silhouettes made the women look like vultures scavenging for food... 
-Film Actually 

 

For dance is an important narrative motif here; it is the metaphor for how much vivacity and vitality one possesses, and how much one is willing to pull the utterly English stick out of one's utterly English ass...
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

all the people on this island are always in packs...
-The Film's The Thing 

 

NEXT TUESDAY NIGHT: A special one-off TV episode of our series. Since everyone will be binge-watching Orange is the New Black Season 2, you can choose the best shot of whichever episode (or episodes) you most want to talk about. Why fight it? It's all the internet will be talking about that week.

Tuesday
May272014

Visual Index ~ How Green Was My Valley 

In five seasons we've never done a Best Picture winner for Hit Me With Your Best Shot . But not intentionally. So, here's the first. I asked all willing participants to watch the chosen film - in this case John Ford's 1941 film How Green Was My Valley -  and choose what they think of as the Best Shot. (Next week we're looking at another major Oscar player Zorba the Greek to kick off June's "year of the month" which will be devoted to 1964 so please join us... especially if, like me, you've never seen it. Let's fill those gaps in our Oscar viewing, together!)

How Green Was My Valley is marvelous to look at. Though its reputation has been dulled by beating Citizen Kane to Best Picture that year it's easy to see why it won Best Cinematography for Arthur C Miller (not the playwright) among its 5 Oscars. 

"How Green Was My Valley" Best Shot(s)
click on the photo for the corresponding article at these 8 fine blogs

Doing their very best impression of 19th Century British landscape paintings. And yet, the future sneaks in...
-Antagony & Ecstasy

 

Ford later revisited a similar provincial landscape in "The Quiet Man" with vivid Technicolor results, but the black-and-white cinematography here is just as lush...
-Film Actually

The beauty of the early scenes makes the ravages of time seem all the more cruel... 
-We Recycle Movies 


I just looked at these images and couldn’t imagine them being photographed any other way…
-Coco Hits NY 

Pretty scenery? Check. Religion, singing, and coal mining all have something to do with this moment? Check...
-Allison Tooey 


- The Film Experience 


Capitalism vs. religion, new ways vs. old ways. These are the main tensions of the history of industrialization...
- The Entertainment Junkie 

An uphill battle against the smoke and ash that threaten to cover her town...
-Lam Chop Chop 

If you haven't yet seen it, do these shows make you want to?

Tuesday
May202014

Visual Index ~ X-Men's Best Shots

A long time ago in an X-Mansion 30 miles away*... the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series began. It was July 2010 when, on a 10th anniversary rewatch of the mutant team franchise kickoff I came up with the series. Only two people joined me for that first episode and one of those images is lost to the whims of jpg storage on the internet but the series grew quite a lot from there. With X-Men Days of Future Past nearly upon us (well, it already took me. It took me, with the stink of filthy mutant dna on its breath, and I liked it. I liked it!) it's time to honor Bryan Singer's influential superhero team movie again.

This was a rerun Hit Me episode of sorts so participation is low but you'd all best be back for the next few episodes! Promise me you'll gaze upon the movies and make judgments - blue pinky, adamantium claws swear it.

8 BEST SHOTS FROM X-MEN (2000)
Directed by Bryan Singer / Shot by Newton Thomas Sigel
Click on the images for the 9 corresponding articles

Shots that go "WUMPH!", and not shots that sneak in and tap on the shoulder...
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

Isn't it a beauty, narratively speaking?
-The Film Experience 

...an arresting impression.
-Best Shot in the Dark 

I had to go with this shot because of the relationship between Rogue and Wolverine in the movie...
-Missemmamm


You know, people like you...
-Intifada 

How much he doesn't give a fuck...
- The Film's The Thing 


So weirdass and INLAND EMPIRE-like...
-Against the Hype 

A fascinating "eureka!" moment and a humourous one at that...
-Film Actually 

 

Tragic, scary and playful...
- Coco Hits NY 

 

Hmmm. I thought there'd be more of Storm (kidding). But no, I did think there'd be more Mystique! What's your favorite shot in that movie... or have you forgotten the whole thing?

* Charles Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters is in exotic Westchester, right? So close!