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Entries in Directors (108)

Thursday
Feb142013

Podcast: Side Effects & Oscar Symptoms

Have you ever sleepwalked? Joe, Katey, and I (Nathaniel) discuss this creepy phenom and a wide variety of other things that Steven Sodebergh's Side Effects brings to mind in this spoilery discussion including 'best in show' acting honors and which thrillers it reminds us of.

For those who'd like to see the movie fresh, the Side Effects discussion takes up the last half of the podcast. The podcast begins with very brief words on A Good Day To Die Hard (which just opened for Valentine's Day Weekend) before we move on to Oscar theories like "which Oscars can Lincoln and Amour win?" and "Who the hell will win Best Director?" as well as pressing Oscar-Obsessive-Only Worries like "will winning the Oscar kill Jennifer Lawrence's drive as a young actress?"

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the end of the post. 

 

Side Effects & Oscar Symptoms

Sunday
Jan272013

Three Reasons Why "Argo" Became the One To Beat

You can't always know how the future will treat each year's awards recipients. Will their strengths will come into sharper focus as time erodes the particulars of the movie culture and conversation they arrived into or will that erosion grind a movie or performers appeal down with it? What will we make in five year's time of this moment when Hollywood threw awards at Argo instead of, say, Lincoln? That's what happened again last night at the Producers Guild Awards when Ben Affleck's 1970s CIA rescue tale took the top prize.

We don't have to wait for hindsight clarity when it comes to Argo's sudden rise in the previous deadheat Oscar race.  I'd say that three things are responsible, two of which no one could have predicted.

1. I'd been saying from the very start that Argo's narrative subtext, embedded into its truish story of a fake movie being used to rescue Americans from a hostile regime, that 'Movies Save the World!' feel would be irressistible to the back-patting awards season mentality in much the same way it was for the documentary The Cove some years ago.

The other two factors were not things anyone could have predicted though....

2.  Zero Dark Thirty emerged to somewhat reductive "so much better than Argo!" laudatory soundbytes (they both involve CIA meddling in the Middle East so they must be compared incessantly!) and for about a week it looked like The Real Oscar Deal but what happened next with it was very kind to Argo. Zero became the media's most slobbered on and teared at rag doll with everyone tsk-tsking and fuming and eventually subtly equating the making of it with condoning torture. By extension voting for it felt unpleasant to some, too. Suddenly the "better than Argo" conversation died and was replaced with just "...Argo", a rebooting if you will of where the Oscar conversation had previously been. Sometimes opening early helps and it's more than helped Argo.

3. The last, and most shocking turn of events was Ben Affleck's omission from the Best Director lineup. I'd long been predicting him to win that statue even though I hadn't viewed Argo necessarily as the future Best Picture champ, suspecting that we were in for a split year. The best thing that ever happened to Argo in terms of its Best Picture prospects was Affleck's "snub". And conversely, that's the worse thing that happened to Lincoln. Whatever one makes of the quality of the Best Picture nominees (have you voted for your favorite here?), Lincoln previously had the strongest narrative arriving as it did in this historic year of President Obama's reelection and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Affleck's over-mourned "snub" (people keep conveniently forgetting how strong the Best Director lineup is without him!) handed Argo an underdog narrative in a season where the narratives -- those tricky hooks that make a person or movie so irresistible in the Story of the Year's Entertainments -- weren't all that strong even if the movies were.

Reason no. 3 is in some ways the most understandable now that it's happened and the most baffling. If you really step back for some perspective Ben Affleck is an enormous waste of a Sympathy Vote. He's already an Oscar winner. He's an Oscar nominee even when he's snubbed (he'll win the Oscar if Argo wins Best Picture since he produced) - fancy that. He has a happy Hollywood marriage. He rose to fame with his best friend who is still a huge power player in Hollywood, too. He's risen from the ashes of a weirdly shaky leading man career to become a respected director and a... uh... leading man again. He's super handsome and aging well. He's made only three films all of which received Oscar attention, the latter two of which were big big hits. If anything he's a true golden boy of showbiz with a hugely enviable career and awards run and yet, you'd think he were dying! To this Awards Season he's suddenly treated like the Fantine figure in Les Miz on her death bed; the one to cry over "if only life weren't so cruel!", the one to promise everything to in order to make amends.

And all because he missed out on an expected Best Director nomination?

Mrs. Affleck at the PGAs. Oh, you know she makes this pose at home while mock scolding BenTHE WINNERS

Outstanding Producer, Film: Ben Affleck, Grant Henslov, George Clooney for Argo
Outstanding Producer, Documentary: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn for Searching for Sugar Man
Outstanding Producer, Animated: Clark Spencer for Wreck-it Ralph
Outstanding Producer, Longform TV: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian, Danny Strong for "Game Change"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Drama): Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm for "Homeland"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Comedy): Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker for "Modern Family" 
Outstanding Producer, NonFiction TV: Prudence Glass, Susan Lacy,Julie Sacks for "American Masters" PBS 
Outstanding Producer, Live TV: Meredith Bennett, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell,Jon Stewart for "The Colbert Report" 
Outsanding Producer, Competition TV:  Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo for "The Amazing Race"

Outstanding Sports Program: "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"
Outstanding Children's Program:  "Sesame Street"
Outstanding Digital Series: "30 Rock: The Webisodes" 

 

 

Thursday
Jan242013

Posterized: BAFTA Honoree Alan Parker

Director Alan Parker, who our youngest readers will probably beunfamiliar with, used to be a prestige director. He's been retired for ten years but his taste in material was quite awards-baity. He's receiving the BAFTA Fellowhip (aka career tribute) in February at the BAFTA ceremony. Because the BAFTAs aren't aired live and weirdly only ever broadcast parts of that show who knows if we'll see it.

So I thought we should look back at his career through Posterized. (We haven't done one of those in a while!)

How many have you seen?

Bugsy Malone (76), Midnight Express (78), Fame (80)

Three arguable classics right off the bat? And 11 more movies after the jump

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan182013

Best Director. My Choices and Theirs.

This is one of those awards seasons in which I curse my time management skills. I prefer to post my annual Film Bitch Awards in the traditional Oscar categories before the nominations to avoid undue influence from the west coast, however subtle that influence may be. I didn't manage in time this year, partially due to Oscar's rushed schedule. Imagine my joy when both Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke were nominated for an astonishing debut and a culmination of gifts respectively for Oscar's Best Director list. Then imagine my frustration when I realized that nominating them both a week later -- though they'd been irreplaceable factors in every lineup I considered naming -- would seem like sloppy seconds. I had predicted that Haneke's decade long ascendance as a World Great would be enough for Oscar's Director's Branch to recognize him this year but I was genuinely surprised to see Zeitlin's work on Beasts of the Southern Wild recognized instead of big Hollywood names. I personally don't care who they had to shove aside to make room for him because he absolutely deserved the kudos. If it looks like I am only copying AMPAS's two most brilliantly fringe nominations this year, so be it. They're the only Oscar choices that show up on in my nominated director's field.

No really. To me Soderbergh is an OBVIOUS choice for any lineup this year

I imagine that my most controversial choice will be Steven Soderbergh but that strikes me as madness and typical of the dearth of imagination that most awards bodies (and, yes, to their shame critics groups) suffer once you've dropped them anywhere outside a 5 mile radius of "prestige". Consider how wrong Magic Mike could have gone in any number of ways but instead it's this beautifully subtle and earnest slice-of-life drama and character/ milieu study despite the pelvic thrusts and plentiful ass cheeks. (But points to Soderbergh for not skimping on those either for the sake of "reputable" filmmaking.)

MY NOMINEES FOR BEST DIRECTOR

Have you voted on the Oscar poll yet in this category?

Tuesday
Jan152013

Steven Soderbergh @ 50

You guyz. I totes forgot to honor Steven Soderbergh on his 50th birthday on Monday but The Stubborn Jodieness of Jodie, who also just turned the half-century mark, was all I could process. And process. And process. Anyway... Soderbergh announced his retirement so long ago and kept right on making movies that it's started to seem like a comic dark cloud that's hung over his career since, oh, sex, lies and videotape (1989).

I couldn't begin to list my 50 favorite things about him, or even my top ten films since I haven't been a completist and he's often as much of a deterrent as a draw for me (especially this past decade). But there's no denying that he's a restless, creative guy who occassionally crafts something masterful.

Here are his five essential films according to my brain... aka my favorites. I love them so much more than the rest of his output that it's not even close. That said I have very very dim memories of King of the Hill (1993) and some people swear by it. (Which five Soderberghs are closest to your heart?)

  • sex, lies and videotape (1989, Palme D'or at Cannes, Oscar screenplay nom)
  • Out of Sight (1998)
  • Erin Brockovich (2000, Best Director nomination with Oscar)
  • Oceans Eleven (2001)
  • Magic Mike (2012)

And how thrilled are you that Behind the Candelabra, his Liberace biopic, is not so very far away now?