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Entries in Derek Cianfrance (8)

Sunday
Feb052017

DGA & ASC Winners: La La Land and Lion

Last night was a huge night in Hollywood with three award events: The Directors Guild of America, American Society of Cinematographers, and the Annie Awards (which we'll get to later today). Which would you have attended if you had to choose?  La La Land continued its seasonal dominance but Lion unexpectedly roared, too.  

Some of the winners last night are names you'll recognize from different contexts. The list and comments are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep022016

Quickie Reviews: The Light Between Oceans and The Jungle Book

by Nathaniel R

Apologies that there's no big review this weekend but I do hope you'll check out the Fassbender & Vikander flick. Here are two quick takes on movie options this weekend.

IN THEATERS

The Light Between Oceans (Derek Cianfrance)
Story: A war veteran (Michael Fassbender) takes a position as a lighthouse keeper where he falls in love with a local girl (Alicia Vikander). Their lives change irrevocably when they discover an orphaned baby in a boat.
Review: A pop quiz. Which is more ravishing?

  • Real life romantic chemistry that translates intact to movie screens.
  • Romantic dramas that don't stop at sexy but get across how comforting and life-changing love and companionship can be.
  • Picturesque rocky islands and lighthouses softened at their edges by grassy tenderness and the windswept beauty of two definitely cinematic brunettes.

Trick question -- they're all super ravishing! I've heard the complaints that The Light Between Oceans is "dull" or "has no edge" and it's definitely soggier and lacking in the instantaneously memorable moments of Cianfrance's previous outings Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. But I kind of loved it while I was watching it. At least the first half. It loses its way a little in the third act as the tragedy stretches out and the film shifts to Rachel Weisz but it's uncommonly gorgeous to gaze upon and cry through. 
Grade: B+ (maybe B towards the end)
Oscar Chances: Perhaps it's not potent enough to hold on for months to win acting nominations -- though Fassbender & Vikander are both excellent -- but I'm crossing my fingers for Best Cinematography. Take a bow, Adam Arkapaw. (His previous credits include Macbeth, Lore, and Animal Kingdom). It also feels like a possibility for Score (Alexandre Desplat) though that's a little overbearing. 

JUST OUT ON DVD / BLURAY

The Jungle Book (Jon Favreau)
Story: You know this one already. A boy is raised by animals in the jungle. No, not that white one with the apes. The little Indian boy raised by wolves and panthers and bears, oh my. The problem: a tiger wants him dead.
Review: Can you believe we never reviewed this? Though it's somewhat ravishing to look at as a technical achievement, in truth I was not particularly fond of it and found it difficult to write about. The problem was that it doesn't have an identity of its own to discuss. Favreau trusts that fond memories of the Disney animated classic it apes (pun not intended) will win your love. He and his team trust in this so completely that they even graft on two and a half highly uncomfortable musical numbers despite the fact that this Jungle Book definitely does not self-identify as a musical, it's one characteristic that immediately sets its apart from the original. Until it doesn't.  Great voice work by Idris Elba as Shere Khan. 
Oscar Chances: Most definitely. At least a visual effects nomination. Perhaps sound as well?
Grade: C/C+   

P.S. If you liked it more, I'd love to hear why. Its long legs at the box office indicate that it wasn't just brand recognition but actual audience love that made it an enormous hit.

Thursday
Sep012016

Derek Cianfrance: the Now and the Next

by Josh Forward

Derek Cianfrance, the man who made cinema fans everyway sit bolt upright with excitement at his stunning debut Blue Valentine is about to release his third feature The Light Between Oceans. Both films, and his second, the multi-generation epic The Place Beyond the Pines, show his preoccupation with the dark intricacies of doomed romances and families pouring out into gripping cinema. His talent with actors is evident again: Reviews are mixed to positive for the film overall, but leads Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, along with supporting player Rachel Weisz are all solidly praised.

Opening wide and based on a popular novel, this is Cianfrance's first dalliance with what could be considered a "mainstream" film. As much as his cinematic fascination with the mucky and the unflinching darkness in human nature can be mainstream at least. But it does have a more traditional narrative and sweeping landscapes to match. The words "sentimental" and "soap opera" are even being bandied around.

His next project, announced this week, may prove a progression of this trajectory. It's another literary adaptation, this time of S.C. Gwynne’s “Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History". The scale of the story is epic, and it could be his biggest movie yet. Although this is a story without tortured lovers (at least as its driving force), when Cianfrance discusses it, it still sounds firmly in his wheelhouse...

The passing of the torch, passing of pain, and decisions, and the ripple effect of decisions".

The same quote could easily be said about The Place Beyond the Pines.

This film has taken a long journey to screen. A screenplay based on the same book was developed in 2010 by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, the Oscar winning screenwriters of Brokeback Mountain. This would have been their first film since that masterpiece in 2005, but this adaptation appears to have nothing to do with this development, with the script written by Cianfrance himself with his Pines co-writer Darius Marder over the last three years. It's a shame we won't see another script yet from current one hit wonders McMurty and Ossana, but Cianfrance has certainly earned his auteur stripes and screenwriting chops. 

No actors have been attached yet, but cross all fingers and toes that some great Native American actors find representation on our screens.

Thursday
Apr072016

April Showers: Blue Valentine

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Blue Valentine (2010).

What are you doing?

-What does it look like I'm doing?

Getting all wet and naked.

A shower scene between two clearly beautiful lovers (even with the aging makeup) has rarely felt less erotic and more heartbreaking. This exchange manages to perfectly illustrate the tragic state of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (Michelle Williams) relationship in Derek Cianfrance’s modern masterpiece, Blue Valentine. Dean is still obliviously playful, too willing to overlook the realities of his disintegrating marriage in favor of ham-handedly ginning up passion and romance. Cindy feels trapped and hopeless, unable to seek refuge from her husband’s obtuse adulation even in the shower. Her voice drips with the weary impatience often heard in response to a child’s incessant questioning, which frankly is not too dissimilar to how Cindy regards Dean at this point. It’s very much an extension of the first time we see Cindy. She’s lying in bed in the early hours of the morning. Her husband and young daughter, very much equals in their oppressive childlike exuberance bound in and snap her from the slumber into the harsh reality that is this life in which she has found herself.

The traditional (and very valid) reading of Blue Valentine’s two-ply structure (the birth of a romance intercut with its slow, painful death) is that Dean and Cindy have lost something. Their love, once ideal and passionate has been suffocated under the stresses of parenthood and a whirlwind courtship turned into a long marriage. However, there are clear indications in the earlier years that bumps in the road litter their future. Dean wants to be whatever Cindy needs him to be, but lacks the motivation or introspection to figure out how to do so. And Cindy, still unsure of herself can’t begin to know exactly what it is she needs from Dean.

As satisfying as it is to watch them fall in love in their earliest interactions, this is clearly the dynamic from the beginning. As deeply enamored with one another as they are, Dean and Cindy enter each other's lives as solutions to a problem. This problem is bigger than her unremarkable relationship with the lug, Bobby Ontario (Mike Vogel), her eventual pregnancy or her desire to leave her abusive father’s house. It's bigger than Dean's aimlessness paired destructively with his need to be a savior. It’s a problem neither of them can identify, which makes the solution frustratingly out of reach.

So, in this moment, Dean and Cindy take a shower that’s anything but romantic. In the “future room” of this kitschy lovers’ motel, it’s the last gasp of a romance that may well have no future at all. Only a past, looked back upon with unreliable rose-colored glasses and a present where these two lovers, once white hot with passion, can hardly seem to look at each other. Even in the confines of a shower.

Thursday
Feb252016

YNMS: The Light Between Oceans

Lynn here, offering a little break from the frenzy of this year’s Oscars homestretch to ponder a possible future awards contender…

Fall, it seems so far away!  But it’s never too early to start thinking of the potential Oscars slate for next season, especially when you’ve got an adaptation of a popular book that features two mega-hot rising stars coming off fresh Oscar nominations and one Oscar winner who’s a bona fide screen goddess.  That would be The Light Between Oceans, which just dropped its first trailer yesterday.  Based on the bestselling novel by M.L. Stedman, it’s directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) and stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz.

Let’s break down the trailer, YNMS-style after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Apr142013

Derek Cianfrance and Genre

Paolo here. I am the bearer of bad news. Apparently there are Blue Valentine' haters out there, two of whom are close writer friends of mine. One of these friends has repeatedly criticized the movie through Twitter, especially its director Derek Cianfrance's melodramatic tendencies. 

At first I disagreed with this minor yet tolerably vocal crowd, since that movie evinces hard-hitting, unquestionable emotions. I finally admit that yes, its saturated colours do evoke a hispter version of a Todd Haynes picture (nothing wrong with that!). And as it pains me to write this, Young Dean's (Ryan Gosling) appearance and actions are reminiscent of the cartoony, blinding spark on a boyband member's smile.

Maybe it's Cianfrance's new movie, The Place Beyond the Pines, that allowed me come to terms with the director's melodrama leanings. This release is being sold as an epic crime drama and sure, it delivers on that regard; a movie with a masculine cast gets slapped and labelled with a masculine genre. I normally take most movies at face value but I'll share with you how I see this movie. One that features a handsome man from the wrong side of the tracks, dysfunctional families, rapid aging and time lapses, and the revelation of a secret identity.

We're watching a fucking soap opera, people. Revenge with Boys

Click to read more ...