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Entries in Ellen Burstyn (16)


The Furniture: Wiener-Dog's Sickly Green Cages

by Daniel Walber

Wiener-Dog is a deceptive movie. It is technically a sequel to Todd Solondz’s cult classic Welcome to the Dollhouse, but only for about a quarter of its running time. It’s actually an anthology, built around the often tragic life of an adorable, stoic dachshund. Each stop is totally separate from the last, each new character a slightly different riff on solitude and bitterness.

Yet even this structural diversity is deceptive. For while the film contains a variety of stories and locations, it is essentially one long expansion of a single set. The opening credits play over an anonymous animal shelter, where Wiener-Dog patiently waits to be adopted. One side has bars, the other a clear panel. The bright light highlights the sickly green walls, like the antiseptic glow of a dystopian hospital.

Wiener-Dog makes it out, but the cage lingers...

Click to read more ...


Tweetweek: Braindead Marquees and Out-of-the-Box Casting

I don't know if I like the sound of this double feature...

After the jump funny tweet games, supportive boyfriends, The Night Of casting, a dissolve from The Godfather, a proposed franchise for Hugh Jackman, FYC Ellen Burstyn, and a little webslinging... 

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Emmy Nom Aftermath Finale: Happy Thoughts

We'll return to the Emmys at a later date (the gap between their nominations and their ceremony is enormous) but for now, one last Emmy post. To end on a happy note I asked Team Experience two final questions:

  1. What's your single favorite acting nomination?
  2. What's your favorite non-acting nomination?

Our answers follow and yours should, too.


Margaret de Larios: I honest-to-god pinched myself when I saw that Constance Zimmer was nominated for UnREAL. The Emmys have been so predictably blind to the sensational programming coming out of the CW these days, it was easy to believe that they would similarly ignore product from the notorious schlock-factory that is Lifetime...

Click to read more ...


Tribeca: Custody

Team Experience is at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Manuel on "Custody".

"I wanted to have the film center on female characters." That was James Lapine in a post-screening Q&A of his latest film, Custody, which premiered this past week. And boy has he delivered. Steering pretty far from familiar ground for him (he of Into the Woods and Six by Sondheim fame), Lapine has crafted a mosaic-like portrait of the labyrinthine bureaucracy that are the family court proceedings in New York City. Sara Diaz, a young single mother of two (Catalina Sandino Moreno, putting those wounded eyes to great use), finds herself embroiled in a custody battle when an accident leaves her son with a black eye that forces the school to call child services. Sara is assigned to a freshly minted lawyer, Ally Fisher (Hayden Panettiere, in her most mature role to date) who quickly realizes there's more to this case than her client leads on. This makes pleading her case at Martha Schulman’s court all the trickier, especially as the city is still reeling from a previous tragedy caused by a failure in the system; all involved are committed to not letting another child be sent back to a negligent household.

The structure of the film is such that we see the court proceedings but also get to know these characters: we see Schulman (Viola Davis, imperious and sympathetic in equal measure) as she struggles with marital problems, and see Sara adjusting to the increasingly frustrating ordeal of being separated from her kids, while Ally finally attempts to bring closure to a family secret. And while these three actresses are fantastic all around, coloring their interactions with the complexity and nuance which Lapine's script demands, it is Ellen Burstyn, in two key scenes as Ally’s grandmother, that gives everyone a master class in acting. She's helped by a prickly (and at key times light-hearted) script that grapples with Big Issues but wraps them in personal stories that never feel (solely) didactic. 

That is, until the last 20 or so minutes when Lapine inexplicably gives Viola and Catalina two monologues that play like bluntly-written thesis statements for the film. They’re impassioned pleas that nevertheless sell the screenplay short, giving viewers who would dub this a "TV movie on the big screen" all the Law & Order/Boston Legal comparisons you'd ever need. 

Grade: B / Performances all around: A


April Fools? The Age of Adaline

Manuel here wishing you a happy April Fools! To get in the spirit, I considered running a number of fake-o actressy news this morning (did you hear that Nicole Kidman is finally in talks to star in that Star is Born remake with Bradley Cooper? can you believe Angela Lansbury and Julie Andrews have signed on to star in a road-trip film about two boozy estranged sisters? could it really be true that Meryl Streep is starring in a Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? reboot? Oh wait. That last one may not be a joke after all).  

Instead, I figured we could talk about a film that pretty much looks like a joke:


It has to be, no? Watching the trailer I couldn't help thinking of Winter's Tale which from everything I've heard is laughable in all the wrong but oh so right ways. May The Age of Adaline follow suit? The tagline suggests that much:

"The world has changed this century. Adaline has not."

That is, of course, the plot of the film which features the beautiful Michael Huisman as Adaline's new lover whose father (Harrison Ford) may have been involved with Adaline back when he was younger... and she looked the same! Because she doesn't age, apparently? I have to admit I had a hard time getting through that trailer without smirking to myself and wondering "wait, really?" but perhaps I'm not in its demo. The film seems to be pitching itself to a Nicholas Sparks-watching crowd and so while I won't break it down YES/NO/MAYBE SO style, know that the presence of Ellen Burstyn (and the prospect of a shirtless Huisman) would be the only thing in the YES category.

But it really has the chance to be a new unintentional campy flick, no? Unless its self-seriousness proves to be too much. And so, on April Fools we're pressed to ask: is Blake Lively's career ever going to pivot away from a being a punchline?


Beauty Vs Beast: A Dog Eat Dog World

JA from MNPP here with this week's "Beauty Vs Beast," which is a real Hemingway-esque battle between the forces of Man and the forces of the Untamed Wildnerness. On the one side we have Tom Hanks, multiple Oscar winner, as the determined Detective Scott Turner, trying to solve the most important make-it-or-break-it case of his career. And on the other side... there's Hooch, the junkyard dog who witnessed this most heinous act of murder.

As the VHS box said at the video-store I worked at in high school, they're the oddest couple ever unleashed! Today is actually the 25th anniversary of Turner & Hooch's release, and heck, somebody should note it. Tom Hanks would probably rather it be forgotten, and I probably haven't seen the movie in 20 years, but I was 11 when it came out and dang it... I totally saw it. That means something.


T&H was actually a pretty big hit though (as movies with adorable feisty doggies sometimes are). It was in that period post-Big pre-Philadelphia where Hanks was flailing a bit - people look back fondly on The Burbs and Joe Vs The Volcano now but at the time tweren't so, and then there's the giant sucking sound of The Bonfire of the Vanities. And Turner & Hooch, of course. Of course! The story of a neatnik cop learning to love a tower of slobber. And in return, as the film's Wiki puts it, "on a positive note Hooch also instigates a romance between Turner and the new town veterinarian Emily Carson (Mare Winningham)." But I think the main user review of the film at IMDb says it best:

"My boyfriend loves this movie so I watched it and I laughed. Hooch acts exactly like our dog- big and messy and destructive. Tom Hanks was very convincing as a meticulous detective and Hooch is a hoot as a dog that can rattle him.. All in all this is a good movie to watch on a rainy afternoon like we did."

What more could you ask for? Now on to the choosing!


One week is all you've got to slap a leash on your winner and march them around the ring - tell us in the comments who you're barking for!

PREVIOUSLY Last week I asked you guys to choose between the Devil and an Oscar-winning actress, and I'm not surpised the actress took it but proving he's no fluke the Devil really put up a good fight. Still it was Chris MacNeil who walked about with 3/4s of the ultimate vote, winning not just her daughter back from the depths of Hell itself, but also your validation (clearly the bigger prize). Said brookesboy:

"Ellen is so brilliant in this film, I have to go with Chris. Still, that devil has some impressive tricks up his sleeve, even if theoretically he is against vulgar displays of power. Team Chris! Give her that damn crucifix already!"




Beauty Vs Beast: The Devil & Chris MacNeil

JA from MNPP here - what with The Film Experience turning its eyes towards the year that was 1973 this month I kind of feel it's my duty as the horror-genre drum-beater in residence to pick up the baton (ahh, delicious scrambled metaphors) and race us over to the brownstones of Georgetown for a hot minute, where a sweet little girl and her mother are busy being dragged through all nine circles of Hell and back for this week's Exorcist-flavored edition of "Beauty Vs. Beast."

Quite a literal round this time: an emphatically most horrible Beast, while our Beauty... well, Ellen Burstyn's Chris MacNeil is maybe even a smidge too amazing as our Beauty? I know most of the film's power comes from the corruption of the sweet relationship she has with her daughter but it always feels a wee bit to me like it strains credibility how much time this seemingly A-list actress makes for just hanging out with her kid. Anybody else? Maybe I've seen Mommie Dearest too many times. But I've always felt like there's the spectre of unaddressed tension in the scene where Regan interrupts her mother's fancy-people dinner-party with that humiliating bladder-release - Regan banished to bed, getting her revenge at a distracted mother...

That said the time's come to prove you Actressexual bonafides. Great Actress in Peril!


You have one week to vote, vote, vote as if the soul of a little girl depends upon it, and convince us in the comments why we should choose light over darkness or vice versa. The power of poll compels you!

PREVIOUSLY Last week we whipped out our business cards and compared the watermarks of two Type-A Wall Street a-holes - as I figured we were all more than willing (well 3/4s of us were anyway) to set aside our scruples for a mass-murderer as long as he looks like Christian Bale looked like in American Psycho. I'm not judging! I cleaned out my cookies so I could vote for Patrick Bateman twice. I always have a moment of hesitance when Cara Seymour gets in that limo the second time, fearing I might do the same... Said David:

"Ashamed to say this, but the image of Patrick Bateman flexing his biceps, staring at himself in the mirror while screwing prostitutes left such an indelible image frozen in my brain for years. So yes Patrick Bateman, a thousand times yes."