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Entries in Directors (215)

Monday
Aug082016

Review: Ira Sach's "Little Men"

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Feeling fatigued by summer movie season's emphasis on loud and flashy but ultimately empty spectacles? You're in luck. Little Men, now playing in limited release, is the perfect antidote: quiet but insightful, memorable and substantive. It's not a spectacle by any means but you should still see it inside the movie theater because it's the kind of careful storytelling that benefits from being fully inside of it. Getting lost in a story is much easier to accomplish in the pages of a great novel or the dark of a movie theater than if you wait around to Netflix and chill. The movie comes to us from one of our best LGBT directors, Ira Sachs. The New York based writer/director made his feature debut 20 years ago with The Delta (1996) but recently he's been on quite a roll.

Little Men is not an adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott sequel to Little Women, but it does feel like a rich unexpected sequel to a more contemporary future classic. Ira Sach's last film was the moving gay seniors drama Love is Strange starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina whose marriage at the beginning of the film sets off a surprising chain of events which leaves them homeless and at the mercy of friends and relatives. That beautiful movie ended, rather intuitively, with a wordless and narratively inconsequential scene in which we followed their young nephew on his skateboard down the streets of the city at magic hour. The image was rapturous and watery... or rather just rapturous; I was watching it through cascading tears was all. [More...]

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Thursday
Jul282016

Michael Mann's "Miami Vice" 10 Years Later

Please welcome back new contributor Bill Curran for a 10th anniversary look at Miami Vice

The major studio head-scratcher of its year, the ultimate distillation of Michael Mann’s brand of clean sheen noir, and the most authentically auteurist film of the aughts, Miami Vice was the movie offspring of a successful and ever-parodied 80s TV series that was nothing like the original. Instead, Mann unleashed a brooding and voluptuously pixilated peacock of a crime thriller upon an unsuspecting public

If only every recent remake had as much reckless spirit as this one did when it opened nationally ten years ago today. Though the film received favorable notices from top print critics, including a rave from A.O. Scott, the majority of reviewers (and almost all audiences) were simply confused...

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Wednesday
Jul202016

Garry Marshall (1934-2016)

One of Hollywood's key figures passed away yesterday at the age of 81. His work in the past five years has consisted of a string of critically lambasted all star romcoms (Valentines Day, New Year's Eve, Mothers Day) and the day before he died one of the many actor he made famous (Scott Baio of Happy Days Joanie Loves Chachi fame) embarrassed himself on national television at the RNC. To put it bluntly, the last few years have not been kind but this is not the legacy that the beloved Garry Marshall deserves. We need to look a little further back. While he was never exactly a critic's darling - let's not rewrite history -- his work often resonated wildly with the public on screens both small and large. And that, my friends, is no small thing with or without a shelf of showbiz trophies.

He was a mammoth figure in comedy television, first, coming up as a writer on seminal shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and famous properties like The Lucy Show. After developing The Odd Couple for television (1970-1975) he created three true pop culture behemoths in Happy Days (1974-1984), Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) and Mork & Mindy (1978-1982), the latter introducing the public to Robin Williams with whom they fell madly in love.

In the movies, and this is also no small thing, he was irreplaceable when it came to the careers of mainstream superstar actresses in both the 1980s and 1990s. He directed one of Goldie Hawn's most enduring hits (Overboard), one of Bette Midler's melodramatic bests (Beaches) and he was instrumental in the superstar blossoming of both Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) and Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries). He also guided Michelle Pfeiffer through one of her most controversial roles  (Frankie & Johnny) but even though everyone argued miscasting she made fine work of it. He even tried to help Lindsay Lohan along (Georgia Rule) but it's hardly his fault that that didn't take. He was not without his missteps of course (Raising Helen, The Other Sister, Exit to Eden) but who isn't? 

My personal favorite Garry Marshall movie, BEACHES (1988)Laverne & Shirley starring his sister Penny (who also became a director)

Do you have a favorite film or television show from his resume? There are a lot of choices as his work was so deeply embedded in our pop culture for decades on end. 

Friday
Jul152016

Yes No Maybe So: "Loving"

As far as first looks go, the La La Land trailer might have sucked all the air out of the room this week, but we also got a trailer for another Oscar hopeful: Cannes entry Loving. It left Cannes empty handed for prizes, but there was pletny of praise for the film and buzz for leading lady Ruth Negga. You can bank we'll be talking about this one before it finally arrives stateside in November all the way to the big show.

While that transfixing glimpse at Land was more a feast for the eyes and ears, the Loving trailer goes right for the heart. I know I'm higher on Jeff Nichols than most of Team Experience, so I can admit that I'm a little biased on the film already, even if I agree that his other film this year Midnight Special was his weakest. After flirting with fable and genre in his past three films, how will a more straight forward narrative work for the auteur this time?

Does the trailer make us any more or less excited? Let's break it down after the jump...

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Thursday
Jul072016

Steven Soderbergh's Comeback

Steven Soderbergh is retired no more. The director, who had previously announced Side Effects (2013) as his last feature film, is making two movies in the next year or so. It was just announced that he will be directing a feature film about The Panama Papers, the leaked documents which revealed how many of the super-rich employ legal, but dodgy accounting systems to avoid taxation. Even some luminaries in the film world (Emma Watson, Pedro Almodovar and the estate of Stanley Kubrick) were named in that scandal. The film will be based on Secrecy World, a to-be-published book by the Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Jake Bernstein. The adaptation will be written by frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z Burns (Contagion, Side Effects, The Informant!).

Sounds like another Contagion, no? Taking a global incident and examining it from different points of view. Before that he will make Ocean’s Fourteen -- well not exactly, but Logan Lucky is a crime thriller with an all star cast set in one location. Sound familiar? This time there’s no Clooney or Pitt but we will get Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Katherine Heigl, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane and Katherine Waterston and the NASCAR race in North Carolina as the heist location.

Soderbergh never really retired of course. He became prolific on TV, directing The Knick and gifting us with Behind the Candelabra. He recently produced The Girlfriend Experience which raised Riley Keough’s profile so it fits that she’ll be part of his new movie. And let's not forget that he was the cinematographer on Magic Mike XXL. But with these two projects announced he’s now a full time feature films director again. Are you excited for his return?

Wednesday
Jul062016

Interview: That Neon-Loving Demon, Nicolas Winding Refn

Nicolas Winding Refn. Photographed by Tom Hoops for Lab MagazineNicolas Winding Refn, the Danish auteur whose made a career of candy colored violent films after grimier movies at home, is both exactly what you'd expect and unexpected. The expected: he's a little bit eccentric pacing the room rather than sitting, a little intimidating, and a little impish -- it's difficult to know if he truly means what he says in some instances, or if he has just mastered the art of provocation. The unexpected: he's relatively friendly, surprisingly generous about his collaborators despite the auteur's ego, very tall, thin and surprisingly attractive, something you wouldn't necessarily think since he's so often been photographed with inhuman gods like Ryan Gosling who make everyone but other movie stars look crumpled and basic.

As we talk we find mutual ground in Christina Hendricks adoration ("the perfect woman," he says) but elsewhere it's like he's speaking a foreign language and I don't mean Danish. His films, though quite serious on the surface, betray a dark sense of humor, and yet it still surprises me to hear him drop "I think it would be fun to make a spy movie" as we're saying our goodbyes. Why is this surprising? I couldn't quite tell you but such is the fascination of meeting this singular director, whatever you make of his increasingly divisive movies.

Our interview follows....

NATHANIEL: Let's talk about your opening scene. It's such a bold tableau. Did you ever worry you were coming on too strong. Like 'how will I top that first image?'

NICOLAS WINDING REFN: I'm setting the stage knowing that, if you look through the film, you'll see the same dynamic in all the other scenes of death and beauty.

NATHANIEL: So you're laying the theme.

NWR: I'm laying the theme right on. Most films -- storytelling in mass media -- start slowly, introducing. Eventually it gets to some kind of dramatic point in the first act. That means the second act is how do we solve it and the third act is resolution. But i don't necessarily believe that's the right order...

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