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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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Dreamworks Animation Pt 2: The Fall

"I loved this article. It reads like vintage EW, back when they relished the behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the studios." -John T

"Dreamworks should not have oversaturated the animation market. Home is Dreamworks 31st animated film. Do you know what is Walt Disney Animation's 31st film? Aladdin. It took Disney over 5 decades to get there." -Chinoiserie

Part 1 here if you missed it

 

 

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Entries in Directors (139)

Friday
Dec122014

Best Picture Predictions: Selma & Budapest on the Rise...

At this juncture in each film year, each week (hell, each day) brings another level of absurdity to the notion that anything is sure when it comes to Oscar. The awards table is constantly being shaken up and as soon as the pieces settle they're jostled again. All that and we're still almost three weeks away from actual Academy balloting for nominations.

you wish to have the curse reversed? get your screeners out first!

The tidal wave of awardage in early December reminds us once again that late December releases IF they are also late to screen can struggle. Still Alice and Cake, counter-examples, may be hiding from the public [ahem -grrr] but they premiered / screened regularly and early for the industry starting in September so their late arrivals haven't been a problem. Interstellar and Selma (both from Paramount) and A Most Violent Year (from A24) performed inconsistently without the benefit of awards screeners. Other late-to-screen releases (none of which have opened yet) including American Sniper, Into the Woods, Unbroken, and Big Eyes got screeners out but not in time for the SAG Nominating committee (from my understanding). Only Streep scored with a SAG nomination from those films.

And, let's face it, Into the Woods didn't even have to screen. Many many people in the world are willing to buy Meryl Streep on principal as Best even if they haven't yet seen whatever new character she's selling. (I wasn't joking when discussing her awards prospects on twitter when I said that only about once every 20 years do awards bodies en masse just decide to ignore her entirely in a given film year and we're not due for another one of those Brigadoon-like mystical occurences until 2024/2025. (If you're curious the last two times were Falling in Love in the 80s and Prime in the 00s)

Despite all the heat a Globe or SAG nomination or an LA / New York critics win can bring a film it's infinitely worth noting that Oscar balloting doesn't even begin until after Christmas so there are still important weeks ahead for all of these movies. In the end buzz only increases your likelihood that Academy members will watch your film. It doesn't necessarily mean that they'll like your film and vote for it. If you trust the precursors Whiplash isn't a threat for anything outside of Supporting Actor gold but I'm still willing to bet big on it in my predictions. At every industry event I've attended I've heard people speak of it with the kind of excitement that you can't buy with expensive PR pushes because the excitement is organic and personal taste driven. I'm not a huge fan of the film (though it has its moments and Damien Chazelle obviously has a big career ahead) but I hear actual love and not just respectful admiration when people talk about it and that is at least as good as, say, a Globe Best Picture Comedy or Musical nomination for Oscar heat, you know?

Best Picture is still something of a mystery, since we don't know how many nominees we will get or which of the 15 or so movies still in the running will be selected. We've had four completely consistent performers in the precursors that have already faced and won over both audiences and critics so you can lock them up: Birdman, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything. But beyond that? Anyone's guess. 

The Globe love-in for Selma and that totally deserved but still a wee bit surprising SAG Cast nomination for Grand Budapest Hotel are arguably the 2 biggest deal awards occurrences this week. If AMPAS voters haven't yet decided to screen either of those films, you can be sure they're going to.

More questions: Can Foxcatcher, Gone Girl, or Interstellar reheat cooling buzz? Can Unbroken, Into the Woods, American Sniper, and A Most Violent Year rally their fan bases in the next two to three weeks? (Successful opening weekends definitely won't hurt if they can muster them.) 

What other questions are you asking about the best picture race? 

SEE UPDATED OSCAR CHARTS:
PICTURE | DIRECTOR | SCREENPLAYS

Wednesday
Dec102014

Bates, Sarandon & Curtis: Actressexual News Galore!

Manuel here bringing you some delicious actressexual news that'll make all of you 80s/90s film lovers really happy. 

A photo posted by xavierdolan (@xavierdolan) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:41pm PST

Xavier Dolan's upcoming English language debut film, The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is slowly amassing quite the cast. The Mommy director had already announced the casting of Jessica Chastain and Kit Harrington but he's also added Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates to the cast. Needless to say, the boy has taste. Also, if you're not following him on Instagram, you're really missing out. That's where he's been sharing tidbits from his upcoming film, but also more NSFW-ey stuff like this (think he was celebrating casting Kit, Susan & Kathy?).

In other news, Ryan Murphy, who has yet to meet an 80s or 90s cinema goddess he doesn't want to shower with a juicy part (see: Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett), has conscripted Jamie Lee Curtis for his upcoming horror/comedy anthology seriesScream Queens. You have to admit, that's some amazing casting. Joining her is Emma Roberts, a regular member of the Murphy AHSacting ensemble (and a Scream queen herself!). I won't hold my breath for this being a great show, but I will look forward to the sure to be batshit crazy stuff he'll have Curtis do. If nothing else, he'll have rescued her from a career as yogurt spokesperson so we should be grateful for that. 

Which 80s/90s star do you wish were given a plum role by an established TV mogul and/or a tantalizingly exuberant up and comer? 

Wednesday
Dec032014

Interview: Toa Fraser and the 'Cool Runnings' of the foreign language race.

Glenn here. If you had ever wondered what a pre-colonial New Zealand western may look like, Toa Fraser's The Dead Lands just may be it. The film's story of revenge taken by a Maori chieftain's son after the slaughter of his tribe and family is very typical fodder for the western genre, but with its use of indigenous languages (a language that itself has been slaughtered throughout history) mixed with local mythology and lore, the film proves an entirely unique proposition. It's only the third foreign language submission in the small island nation's history, and the first to be set before white settlement. I spoke to the director last week, just a few days before his film received the biggest haul of nominations at the New Zealand Film Awards. The Dead Lands received 14 nominations and will face stiff competition from the inspirational chess drama The Dark Horse with 13. We talked about about the festival circuit, Oscar campaigning, being the underdog, historic authenticity, costuming and more.

 You have recently played at Toronto and London film festivals, and now you're a submission for the Oscar, how have these last few months of yours been taking this film around the world.

It's been amazing. We only finished the movie a few weeks before we went to Toronto and I had only seen it once in its entirety before we screened it at Toronto so it was kind of a high stakes game. We had, I think, six cast members come to Toronto and be a part of the experience, so it was a great premiere and we were very happy with the way that it was received. We were very grateful. And then to get back to London for the festival was also great. We had a great big group of Maori come down to the show and stand proudly at the side of the stage without telling us they were coming. They all had a great time. And then back to New Zealand for the premiere there, so it's been a bit of a whirlwind, but I am very proud of the movie and love talking about it. Good times.

Have you by any chance been given any education on campaigning techniques when it comes to the Oscar? Is it a big deal in New Zealand or do you take it stride?

We are the Cool Runnings of the foreign language race [laughs]. You know, I think we're only the third ever from New Zealand…

Yeah, it is, after The Orator (2011) and White Lies (2013).

Yeah, and we're up against some formidable and very established industries that make movies in languages other than English. So, we under no pretense we have… we're the underdog in this game, but in terms of strategy? No. I understand there are very strict rules and so I'm anxious not to suck up. We're from New Zealand, we're very play by the rules types.

More on Peter O'Toole, costumes, and action choreograhy after the jump...

James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare and Toa Fraser on the set of 'The Dead Lands'

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov192014

Steve McQueen to Helm a Paul Robeson Biopic (& other news)

Manuel here bringing you news about Steve McQueen's next film project.

Surely one of the joys of this past Oscar season was McQueen's ebullience, no?

While we know McQueen has been busy casting his lead for his HBO pilot, Codes of Conduct, it was less clear what his follow-up to his Academy Award winning 12 Years a Slave would be. Well, now we have an answer: a Paul Robeson biopic. He’s quoted by The Guardian, noting that,

“His life and legacy was the film I wanted to make the second after Hunger. But I didn’t have the power, I didn’t have the juice.”

Robeson’s life will surely offer McQueen quite a bit to play with, though I’d love for him to focus on Robeson’s impact and role in the Harlem Renaissance; might I be selfish in wanting him to craft an entire movie out of Robeson’s (in)famous Emperor Jones production? I feel we’ve yet to get a big-screen treatment of that colorful era, with so much necessary cultural history embedded within. After 12 Years’ historic win, it seems fitting that McQueen (who’s teaming up with Harry Belafonte for the pic) would use his leverage to get his passion project off the ground and particularly timely as 2014 continues to see films for, about, and by black artists taking center stage in mainstream conversations.

And for those of you who want to champion and support work by African American women (also beautifully being spotlit recently with Ava Duvernay, Gina Prince-Bythewood, as well as Brit Amma Asante’s films all receiving warm critical and box office notices), the African-American Women in Cinema festival kicks off today in New York City. It looks like a wonderfully diverse slate; the opening night film Seasons of Love features Taraji P. Henson, (also soon to be seen in the upcoming Lee Daniels’ produced television show Empire which will hopefully give her the juice role she deserves) as well as the fittingly and timely titled Afraid of the Dark documentary which attempts to answer the question, in director Mya B.’s words, “Why is everyone afraid of black men?” Let us know if you make it to any of the films! 

Taraji & Gladys Knight in Seasons of Love 

Who do you think McQueen should cast as Robeson? And while we’re on the subject, share with us your favorite film directed by a woman of color (mine’s The Watermelon Woman); I’m always on the lookout for new titles from voices that veer away from the stronghold of the straight white male director.

Monday
Nov172014

Oscar Prediction Updates. 10 Questions

It's a participatory round! The Oscar Charts are updated in every category but here are ten questions that are on my mind. Try to answer them (or at least some of them) in the comments. 

01. Why am I the only pundit that has faith in Jake Gyllenhaal as a Best Actor nominee?
Many many people were more than wow'ed by his work. I realize that as a non-recovering Gyllenhaalic for many years now my wildcard prediction will be thought of as Wishful Thinking but I've heard so much negativity about Foxcatcher that I'm starting to think only Ruffalo makes it. That makes room for other leading contenders to rise if Carell and Channing are weaker than expected.

02. Can Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle both really score Best Director nods? 
The Academy has been notoriously standoffish about female directors. But has the tide turned with all the attention that's been paid to that factoid? Will they admire her grasp of a large canvas or is she still too much of an outsider? Is passion for Whiplash growing or levelling off? I hear it brought up at every industry party like "oh, I LOVED that movie." Or will a Screenplay nomination have to do for 2nd time young director Damian Chazelle? If you think they're missing who do you think would be there instead?

03. Is it insane that I have Birdman leading the nomination tally with 9? 
Divisive formally ingeniuous showbiz meta pictures aren't exactly the norm for the Academy but neither are there all that many of them made. For nominations, passion counts for a lot with #1 placements.  If you don't think it's Birdman, what do you think will lead the pack on Nomination Morning?

04. If Whiplash is not the 5 nomination Best Picture threat that I think it is, does that mean Supporting Actor is an actual race?
Or do you think J.K. Simmons' name engrave on a statue is going to happen regardless? Confession: So rooting for either Ruffalo or Norton to finally win.

Selma's cinematography. Most of it isn't this showy.

05. Can Bradford Young finally get an Oscar nod for Cinematography?
Or will his work on Selma and A Most Violent Year split his support within that branch? 

06. What do you think of TFE's predictions for the Foreign Film 9-wide Finalist List?
Too strong? Too weak? Just right? Which country do you think absolutely shouldn't be underestimated right now?

06. Will anyone remember Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?
That was such a big critical and audience deal this summer and it seems like a likely contender in several categories. But is anyone talking about it? Or will it end up like its predecessor with only a Visual Effects nomination despite its incredible Production Design and so on.

08. Who do you want to see performing our Original Song nominees?
I'm just throwing darts at this category because god only knows with the music branch. Is even "Lost Stars" safe since they regularly shun presumed powerhouses in the category? 

09. Interstellar's Reviews Mean...?
We know that some major directors admire it but Nolan has still not been nominated for Best Director. Does the mixed response mean this is closer to The Dark Knights Rises Oscar nomination tally (0) or Inception's (8)

10. Which movie do you think lands the most Oscar nods without a corresponding Best Picture placement?
I suspect that's going to be either Into the Woods, Interstellar or Grand Budapest Hotel depending of course on which doesn't make the list and how many Best Picture nominees we actually get. It can't really be 9 films every year! 

every Oscar chart 

Sunday
Nov162014

A Multitude of Links

Some of these links (which I collect until I have a moment to share) are a few days old and some are brand new. But it's time to clear out the cache!

We Are Movie Geeks recounts highlights of AFI and the fest winners including Ukraine's The Tribe and the Olympic documentary about Russia's Red Army hockey team which has major Oscar dreams and might achieve them since it's quite entertaining!
Pajiba a fun look at Jessica Chastain's career before she broke out in movies: L&O and E.R. and so on
Vulture interviews Bill Irwin, one of our favorites, on his work as "Tars" in Interstellar 
In Contention moderates a SAG Q & A for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I've been meaning to watch that one again 


Dissolve First look at Bryan Cranston as Trumbo in the 2015 feature. (Sad that there's not much in the way of costume here because I had lunch with the designer Daniel Orlandi when I was in LA. Will this HBO blacklist drama be up for Emmys in 2015? What'cha think?)
Interview Magazine Stanley Tucci interviews his pal Patricia Clarkson, looking better than ever 
In Contention Stephen Hawking weighs in on Eddie Redmayne's performance of him in The Theory of Everything
Speakeasy Finn Wittrock on his breakout year via American Horror Story 

Friends & Collaborators of TFE
The Atlantic Joe thinks the Oscar race for Animated Feature is between Big Hero 6 and The LEGO Movie. I disagree. Has everyone noticed how hard Dragon 2 is pushing? 
Antagony & Ecstacy Tim discovers Gloria (remember how wild I was about that one last year?) 
My New Plaid Pants Jason has a great (mixed) take on A Most Violent Year 

 

Must Reads
LA Times great piece on how social media has affected awards season
Grantland Wesley Morris pays homage to America's Bitter-Sweetheart Reese Witherspoon (Wild).
AV Club An instant classic article on "fake deaths and cheap resurrections" in entertainment. This is a month old piece which maybe I've shared before (?) but if you haven't read it you simply must. I can't get over it. This has long been something I've struggled with in movies and TV and it's beautifully put to words here by William Hughes.
Slate interesting essay about the decline of the serial killer in real life and its 'golden age' (blech!) in film and television  

Today's Watch
Got an hour? Here's Bennett Miller giving a "Master Class" talk on directing to promote Foxcatcher. This is from the NYFF but it's just available now in its full form.

 

Finally...
You may be wondering why I didn't watch, tweet, or blog about The Hollywood Film Awards. 

It isn't a competition so much as a publicity arrangement.

Let's just say I agree with Sasha Stone's quote about it (<--- and look, I finally met her in L.A. after 10+ years of knowing each other online!). Since that is true, and since it's a fake awards show and we already have enough of real ones, why give it any space? If you need further evidence of how disinterested people are read these bitchy quotes from Tim Gray's article in Variety

Thursday
Oct302014

The Honoraries: Harry Belafonte in Carmen Jones (1954)

Welcome to "The Honoraries". We're celebrating the careers of the Honorary Oscar recipients of 2014 and the Jean Hersholt winner (Harry Belafonte). Here's longtime TFE reader and new contributor Teo Bugbee, whose work you might have read at The Daily Beast, on Belafonte's biggest film...

Even in the fantastic canon of classic Hollywood musicals, Carmen Jones is a standout. It’s got all the colors—Deluxe, not Technicolor, which as any John Waters fan will tell you is the real deal—it’s got the timeless score by Georges Bizet, but before we talk about the film itself, let’s take a minute to look at the backstory, if only because what was going on behind the scenes in Carmen Jones is at least as interesting as what made it on film. 

Though he never really made particularly political films, director Otto Preminger was a modern man when it came to his politics, and he proposed the idea of adapting the Broadway smash Carmen Jones into a film as a means of showing off the black talent that he felt Hollywood was excluding. But despite Preminger’s substantial box office clout, no major studio wanted to take on a film with an all black cast. So Preminger took Carmen Jones to United Artists and set out making it basically as an independent film.

Harry Belafonte was brought on immediately as Joe, but Preminger took a longer time to find his star, testing a number of black actresses. 

Lusty affairs and a singular film after the jump...

Click to read more ...

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