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Entries in Directors (260)

Wednesday
Jun012016

The 50 Greatest Films by Black Directors

Slate magazine has drawn up an interesting list of great black films, the twist being that they have to have been directed by a black person rather than about the black experience so out go Old Hollywood musicals like Carmen Jones or Cabin in the Sky or Oscar favorites like Sounder.  In the wake of recent conversations about Hollywood's power structures and overwhelming whiteness, Slate assembled a field of critics and filmmakers and scholars to produce the list.

Eve's Bayou

I need to get cracking on my gaps in knowledge from this list, especially because of the titles I've seen from this list several were great and the ones I didn't personally connect to were still interesting (Night Catches Us) or memorable (Eve's Bayou - I've been meaning to give that another shot now that I'm older). Unsurprisingly Spike Lee has the most titles with six. Curiously, though I've seen many Spike Lee joints (and tend to like them - I'd have included Chi-Raq on this list), I've only seen half of his titles that actually made it (gotta get to Mo' Better Blues, Crooklyn, and When the Levees Broke soon). The list is after the jump...

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Saturday
May282016

Who should direct / star in the next Bond? 

In not surprising news, Sam Mendes is moving on from the 007 franchise after Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Daniel Craig is probably moving on, too, but rumors about who will replace him are, as ever, premature. The names floating about this time are Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston (wishful fan thinking, maybe, since the internet has been suggesting these two names forever) and 30 year old Jamie Bell which is an interesting idea and probably not a bad one. If chosen he'd be the youngest Bond since Sean Connery (who was 30 when he was cast for Dr. No (1962) though most subsequent Bonds have been around 40 when they started. Plus Bell is super charismatic but underused in cinema.

Though Bond films are largely regarded as producer driven and leading actor focused pictures, rather than directorial feats, the man in the chair is important. In the past the franchise has generally relied on mid level directors rather than auteurs, the two with the most success outside the franchise are Oscar winner Sam Mendes and Oscar nominee Lewis Gilbert. Once the franchise even handed the reigns to a Bond editor who graduated to the director's chair (John Glen) for his directorial debut.

Directed the Most Bond Films

  1. John Glen - 5 Bonds: For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, License to Kill (and he edited a few more before those); Key Picture Outside the Franchise: Not really
  2. Guy Hamilton -4 Bonds: Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: Force 10 From Navarone
  3. [TIE] Terence Young - 3 Bonds: Dr No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: Wait Until Dark AND Lewis Gilbert - 3 Bonds: You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker: Key Picture(s) Outside the Franchise: Alfie (Oscar Nomination), and Educating Rita
  4. [TIE] Sam Mendes - 2 Bonds: Skyfall, Spectre; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: American Beauty (Oscar win), and Road to Perdition AND Martin Campbell - 2 Bonds: GoldenEye, Casino Royale; Key Picture Outside the Franchise: The Mask of Zorro

 If you could bend producer Barbara Broccoli's ear...
What would you whisper to the woman behind the franchise who makes those final hiring decisions?  

 

Sunday
May222016

Cannes Winners 2016

Despite what was generally regarded as one of the strongest Cannes lineup in many years, George Miller's jury wasn't having the critical consensus. At all. They didn't remotely follow the "buzz" whilst handing out their honors...

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Friday
Apr292016

New Directors: Banana, Transpecos, Spa Night, and The Fits

One day I will figure out to keep up with the cinematic madness but April contained none of those days. A week ago the Nashville Film Festival wrapped and I have yet to share with you the prizes my jury bestowed! Not that you've been clamoring to read about films you've never heard of but one of the joys of film festivals is in the discoveries. Hence my great thrill to be asked to sit on the "New Directors Jury". Let's survey a handful of the competitors starting with the two winners, both of which made one step closer to theaters this week.

HONORABLE MENTION The Fits (2016)
I'm starting with this one because it's out very soon (June 3rd in NYC / June 10th in Los Angeles) and you absolutely shouldn't miss it. I'm already eager to see it again. We need directors with fresh voices and a unique gaze and we've got one in Anna Rose Helmer. The Fits follows a young girl named Toni (Royalty Hightower, pretty great) who spends her days helping her older brother with his job cleaning a boxing gym. She's fascinated by the boy rituals and the girl rituals which are happening just down the hall where a local dance squad rehearses in another gymnasium. Just when you think you've figured out the film's theme (there's certainly much to ponder in its gender dynamics) one of the dancers has a violent fit and faints and you realize Helmer has a lot more yet on her mind. There's no easy allegories here and maybe it's a little opaque but there's much to ponder in its metaphysical poetry, thoughtful camera work and editing and, above all else, its persistent fly-on-the-wall curiosity, the camera a soulful twin to Toni's ever-searching eyes. B+ (A-?)

Breaking News: The Fits got a poster (left) and a perfect moody trailer this week from Oscilloscope Pictures. 

More after the jump including an awards magnet which keeps winning festivals... 

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Friday
Apr222016

Every Dog Has Its Day: Iñárritu, 16 Years and 2 Directing Oscars Later

Eric here to discuss cinema’s currently-most-celebrated director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. As Nathaniel has noted previously, all six of Inarritu’s feature films have gotten Oscar attention in one way or another, and of course much has been written about his being the first filmmaker since 1950 to win the Best Director Oscar two years in a row. He's also just been named to the Time 100 "Icons" List.  So there’s no better time than to look back to Inarritu’s first feature, 2000’s Amores Perros, to see where he started and where he’s landed.  

Watching Amores Perros (2000) for the first time since its initial release, I was struck by how even at the start of his career, Inarritu picked extraordinarily difficult environments to shoot in.  The logistics for Amores Perros can’t have practically been much easier than the ones we are all sick of hearing about with The Revenant.  His debut feature has him shooting all over Mexico City (inarguably one of the world’s most chaotic cities), with a colossally large group of actors, and constructing a large-scale and crucially precise car wreck sequence that pays off to all three of the film’s narratives in different ways.  Plus throw in a lot of very difficult (and legally tricky) scenes with huge groups of dogs fighting, bleeding, and getting shot.  Inarritu’s self-masochism was alive and well from the very start. [More...]

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Thursday
Apr212016

Cannes Announces Its Critics' Week and Classics Selections

Cinephiles across the globe collectively held their breaths last week wondering whether the new Olivier Assayas or Lucretia Martel would make it onto the 2016 Croisette – his did, hers didn’t – as Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux unspooled the Competition, Un Certain Regard, Midnight Screenings, and Outside Competition line-ups. As if the promise of new adventures with Almodóvar, Dolan, and Park Chan-Wook weren’t enough, the recent announcements of the Critics’ Week and Cannes Classics sidebars present a whole host of new gems and old treasures to discover.

Let’s start with Critics’ Week, where a coterie of freshmen and sophomore directors compete for their own Nespresso Grand Prize. That would make this the branded stadium for spring-boarding international talents, such as Iñárritu (Amores Perros), Wong Kar-Wai (As Tears Go By), as well as Andrea Arnold and Jeff Nichols who are contending in the Main Competition this year with American Honey and Loving, respectively. The Critics Week features competition includes a number of films that examine schisms in national identities, and a closing selection of shorts featuring the directorial debut of human mystery box Chloe Sevigny. And speaking of people that could always be lurking over your shoulder; this is where David Robert Mitchell’s sexually transmitted horror film It Follows debuted back in 2014.

Critics’ Week 

  • Albüm – directed by Mehmet Can Mertoğlu (Turkey)
  • Diamond Island – directed by Davy Chou (Cambodia/France)
  • Raw – directed by Julia Ducournau (France)
  • Mimosas – Oliver Laxe (France)
  • One Week And A Day – directed by Asaph Polonsky (Israel)
  • Tramontane – directed by Vatche Boulghourjian (Lebanon)
  • A Yellow Bird – directed by K. Rajagopal (Singapore)

    Opening Night: In Bed with Victoria - directed by Justine Triet (France) 

Cannes Classics
The festival also hosts restored films from the international canon. This year they'll feature honors for documentarian and institutional excavator Frederick Wiseman, as well as a master class with raconteur and all-around mayday man William Friedkin. In addition to that Friedkin talk, Cannes Classics will screen the divisive Sorcerer, his 1977 remake of Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear – a film that sets a long fuse for a series of gut-wrenching flare-ups, a rattling exercise in tension. Ivory’s Howard’s End, Parts 5 and 6 of Kieślowski’s Decalogue, Gordard’s current repertory release Masculin feminine, and a bunch of other exciting classics will remind us why we were drawn to the cinema in the first place.

Any ideas how we could all split the cost of a yacht to the south of France this year?