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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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Maureen O'Hara & Harry Belafonte

"This complete's Harry Belafonte's EGOT! Sure it's an honorary Oscar, but to quote Whoopi on this topic (on 30 Rock): "It still counts! Girl's gotta eat!- Charles

"It's time for the AMPAS to look hard at the 70's and 80's for indelible contributions. No need to wait til some of these ladies are 94.- Hayden

 "What I wish they would do is an hour long special devoted to the four recipients. They could show clips and have edited interviews with the honorees. Then it could be shown on PBS or TCM or something." - Dave


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Entries in dogs (28)


Political Filmmakers & Cute Dogs: A Conversation with Nick Davis

Amir here, to share with you a podcast conversation about my favorite film of 2014. I first watched Jafar Panahi’s Closed Curtain at the Toronto Film Festival almost a full year ago. It was my last film of the festival and I debated long and hard if a late night slot after ten gruelling days of film-watching was a smart idea. Eventually I opted to give my all to the festival. Boy, am I glad I did.

Panahi has been slapped with a 6-year house arrest and a 20-year filmmaking ban in Iran on charges of political dissent but has since twice broken the ban in three years. His first attempt, This Is Not a Film, was a heated, frustrated attempt at circumventing the ban with a DIY documentary made in the confines of his living room, shot partly on an iPhone and reportedly snuck out of Iran on a USB stick in a cake! It made my top ten list in 2011 but Closed Curtain is one giant leap for Panahi toward imposing even more creative authority on his craft under the tightest of limitations.

In this meta-cinematic experiment, Panahi tells us the story of an author who hides himself and his incredibly adorable dog in a seaside villa in northern Iran to overcome a bad case of writer’s block. The world of the film becomes increasingly mysterious and the narrative structure shattered. It can be interpreted in a variety of ways, making the film a challenging experience and a very funny one, too.

I can’t sing its praises enough, which is why I decided to devote an entire episode of my podcast on Iranian films – Hello Cinema, co-hosted with Tina Hassannia – to this gem. We also had a special guest with whom The Film Experience readers are quite familiar. Nick Davis joined us to talk about the film, but given his familiarity with Panahi’s career and Iranian cinema, our conversation went in many unexpected, interesting directions. We talk about the Toronto International Film Festival, the world’s cutest pet, and everything else in between. As you're all aware, Nick is an impossibly charming speaker, so we left this conversation unedited, with all the fun bits included! Have a listen here, and if you’re interested in Iranian cinema, subscribe on iTunes. The September episode of the show will be about Iranian films playing at this year's edition of TIFF.


Tim's Toons: All Dogs Go to Heaven, the strangest animated film of 1989

Tim here. We’re talking 1989 this month at the Film Experience, and as any dabbler in the history of animation knows, 1989 is most important for being the year that Walt Disney Feature Animation get back on track after some two decades in the wilderness with the smashing success of the fairy tale musical The Little Mermaid.

That’s not what we’re here to talk about. The Little Mermaid doesn’t need me: it’s a stone-cold all-time classic that everybody reading this has an opinion on already. Instead, I would like to take you to the other animated feature that opened on November 17, 1989, and which crumpled in the face of Mermaid’s juggernaut performance at the box office. That day, y’see, also bore witness to All Dogs Go to Heaven, a film which shriveled up and died in the face of Disney's singing crabs and diva octopodes.

This was the fourth feature made by Don Bluth, who had once been the heir-apparent to the Disney studios until he fled that company during the joyless production of The Fox and the Hound in 1979. Throughout the ‘80s, he and his succession of companies had represented an old-fashioned, back-to-basics alternative to the confused, often unpleasant films Disney was miserably trying to hawk, and his two biggest successes – 1986’s An American Tail and 1988’s The Land Before Time – found him effectively beating his old employers at their own game.


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Guardian Tim Robey has a lovely tribute to TV & film star James Garner (RIP) who I'll always remember best for Murphy's Romance and Victor/Victoria in the 1980s
Pajiba I'm more of a cat person but this gallery of big celebrities with tiny dogs is adorable
Criterion Collection on the painstaking restoration of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Thompson on Hollywood has an in depth look at the VOD decisions involving Snowpiercer from the mouth of Harvey Weinstein (so yes it's very one-sided... but interesting nonetheless)

The Dissolve 'when images match ideas' on Snowpiercer and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 
Pajiba has the talk with Marvel about the Edgar Wright Divorce  
Towleroad Andrew Rannells starts soon as Hedwig. (I'm excited. The role is big enough for multiple interpretations)
Theater Mania Michelle Williams wants to keep singing at the Kit Kat Club longer than expected. She's staying with Cabaret all the way through November 9th now (I guess she doesn't have to start promoting Suite Française for awhile still)
Details interviews Wentworth Miller, former Prison Break hunk and Stoker writer, on his career after coming out

And, finally, are you excited for Festival Season yet?

I'm trying to remain calm as I make plans but NYFF isn't making staying calm any easier what with their Opening Night Film (Gone Girl's world premiere) Centerpiece (Inherent Vice) and Closing Night (Birdman which is scheduled for Venice as well). Tomorrow TIFF holds their opening news conference and we'll hear more about their plans as well. Here's some speculation from a Toronto news site which suggests that Reese Witherspoon is going to be a major presence and you can probably safely assume that Maps to the Stars will also be there given TIFF's love of Cronenberg.


Podcast: Cannes Aftermath with Special Guest Guy Lodge

For this quickie edition of the podcast Nick and Nathaniel speak to Guy Lodge on the last day of the festival about his experience, from favorites to disappointments, festival politics and even a little Oscar buzz. He answers the really important questions like: is Kristen Stewart really that much of a revelation in Clouds of Sils Maria?; is Hitchcock's The Birds is a fair comparison for the Hungarian dog movie White God?; Which movie convinces you that Xavier Dolan is the real deal?

00:01 Winter Sleep and the politics of being "overdue"
05:00 Leviathan & Mommy: late bows and multiple raves
07:45 Acting Prizes: Julianne Moore in Maps and Timothy Spall as Mr Turner
13:00 "Foxcatcher is really terrific!"
18:00 Un Certain Regard: The Tribe and White God
22:00 Competition quality and surprises: Party Girl winning Camera D'Or and the media praise for Channing Tatum and Kristen Stewart
28:00 Last words, movies missed.

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments... and while you're at it listen to the last couple of week's of the podcast which were two of my favorite episodes and weirdly less remarked upon than usual.

Cannes 2014 in Review


Cannes Tidbits: The Tribe, White God, and Sils Maria

A few more notes from the festival. The big prizes are revealed tomorrow and the festival closes Sunday.

Juliette, Chloe, and Kristen
Sils Maria sometimes referred to as Clouds of Sils Maria  focuses on an actress and her personal assistant and the actresses decision to play a part in a remake of a property deeply connected to her life (which weirdly also exactly describes, at least in part, Maps to the Stars with Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska!!!). Early word is that it's a Kristen Stewart showcase.  This turn of events by no  means surprise me. It's long been a thing which amuses and annoys in equal measure that people ALWAYS lose their shit when a non-prestigious actor suddenly holds their own in a substantive role or movie. (Hell, it's so common that this is even the second time this week following Channing Tatum's raves in Foxcatcher) Of course this "surprise" factor would be significantly reduced if more people paid attention to the actual quality of the acting in any actors career and not just that thing they did one time in a movie or franchise that made them famous. Foxcatcher is hardly the first time Channing has been good and if more people had actually watched and tried to absorb Stewart as Joan Jett in The Runaways, rather than treating it as a indie curio inbetween Twilight movies, they'd know that Stewart had some talent, too. That said I object to the subhheadline in Jordan Hoffman's review in Vanity Fair that says "sticks it to anyone who ever slammed her for Twilight", no, no. You don't get to erase your bad work as soon as you choose to do good work. Yes, those movies are terrible but she needn't have been terrible in them. Good committed actors rise above bad material all the time, so her dead-eyed numbingly dull performance in that franchise? That's on her. 

Critics Week Winner
The Ukranian film The Tribe has no subtitles, but then it's not in Ukranian either. The ambitious movie is completely in sign language and populated by deaf actors. The audience has to decipher the intricacy by watching the gestures of and emotion of the actors. Just to make sure you're paying attention it also contains graphic sex. Here's a review from Indiewire... and consider our interest highly piqued. 

The Winners of Critics Week
This is a sidebar featuring emerging talent so the features are also eligible for the Camera d'Or

Grand Prize - The Tribe (Ukraine)
Gan Foundation Support for Distribution Prize - The Tribe (Ukraine)
Visionary Award - The Tribe (Ukraine)
Screenplay - Hope (France)
Canal Plus (Short Film) - Crocodile (UK)
Sony CineAlta Discovery Prize (Short Film) - A Ciambra (Italy)

Palme D'og & Un Certain Regard
A Cannes tradition that got very popular when the The Artist broke out big in 2011, this year's winner was a Hungarian feature directed by Kornél Mundruczó called White God and we all know what "God" spells backwards. The movie is about a pack of wild dogs on a rampage and keeps being compared to Hitchcock's The Birds -- I wonder if that's just a snap judgement comparison or a qualitative comparison? Here's a feature at Artsbeat on the well-received film. Apparently Jean Luc Godard's Farewell to Language stars his dog Mieville had to settle for runner up.

White God also took top honors for the Un Certain Regard jury and, like Critics Week, most of the films are from emerging talent and some (though not the winner) are eligible for the Camera D'Or which honors first time filmmakers

The Winners of Un Certain Regard
Best Film - White God (Hungary)
Jury Prize - Force Majeure (Sweden
<-- For what it's worth Ruben Östlund has previously been submitted for Oscar consideration by Sweden 
Special Jury Prize - The Salt of the Earth (USA)
Ensemble - Party Girl (France)
Best Actor -David Gulpilil, Charlie's Country (Australia)
Gulpilil previously collaborated with the same director Rolf de Heer on the Australian Oscar submission Ten Canoes (2006) 

P.S. I do not know why there is not a Best Actress award. I assume the exact makeup of the prizes each year is up to that particular jury.