IN THEATERS

TV

DVD / BLURAY / STREAMING

HOT TOPICS

Welcome

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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

Powered by Squarespace
Comment Fun

COMMENT DU JOUR
40 Best Original Movie Songs of the 1980s

 

"'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' is like cocaine coated ear candy featured the cinematic MASTERPIECE, Mannequin." - Derreck

"This is an amazing list. It's a durn shame that the film version of 'Let The River Run' isn't available on any CD." - Charles

"Madonna sure had some 80's hits from films didn't see? Forgot about all those!" - Giggleta

 

Keep TFE Strong

LOVE THE SITE? DONATE 

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

Subscribe
What'cha Looking For?

Entries in Emma Thompson (30)

Wednesday
Aug192015

HBO’s LGBT History: Angels in America (2003)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at Gus Van Sant Palme d’Or winner, Elephant, which sparked some great conversations about the merits of that one shower scene. I’ll say this: that so many of us had such visceral reactions to his film is in itself worth celebrating. Also, from hate crimes to gender transitions to mass shootings, was HBO ahead of the curve or are we merely being shown how little has changed in this past decade?

This week we tackle Tony Kushner and Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking miniseries, Angels in America. It took Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play close to ten years to make it on screen. Beginning as a Robert Altman two-part TV movie (with rumored roles for Julia Roberts, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert Downey Jr. and Tim Robbins), later being offered to such varied directors as PJ Hogan, Neil LaBute, Jonathan Demme, and Gus Van Sant himself, HBO eventually stepped in and handed Mike Nichols Kushner’s miniseries script. The rest, as they say, is history. And since this is such a momentous piece of television history, we’re hosting it as a Hit Me With Your Best Shot celebration. (Later tonight, you can see Nathaniel's choices and those from other participants)

First my runner-up:

Orgasm as heavenly combustion. Lesbianism as holy communion. Emma and Meryl. There are so many things to love about this image (I love Hannah Pitt’s commitment to keeping her shoes on, for example), and it’s in a way a companion piece to my all-time favorite moment in the series.

My favorite shot: (and yes, I know it's cliché)

A New York City apartment. Amidst the Reaganite politics of the United States in the late 80s, former drag queen Prior Walter, a recently diagnosed AIDS patient, has been left by his partner Louis and finds himself all alone with fevers, sores, night sweats, visions of ancestral messengers, heavenly echoes of prophecy and the coming of an Angel. So ends “The Messenger” the third episode of the HBO miniseries (ie. the end of Millennium Approaches, the first half of Kushner’s play). By the start of Perestroika, and upon retelling his encounter with the female Angel to his friend Belize, Prior can’t help but remark that: “The sexual politics of this are very confusing.” The scene as written on the page is breathtaking. In Nichols’ hands it’s heavenly.

It’s not just that this shot is beautiful, though it is what with those yellow hues, the gorgeously frayed roof, and Thompson’s pearly white Angel costume. For me, it’s one of the moments where Kushner’s own “pared down” style of Brechtian theatricality, and Nichols’ commitment to naturalism find a perfect balance. This “Gay Fantasia on National Themes” lives and dies in its tonal shifts, being both a gay melodrama (with its breakups, divorces, sex romps) and a feverish day-dream (with its angels, ghosts, sex romps). This one scene, with the Angel announcing that “The Great Work begins” is the apotheosis of both, underscoring both Prior’s loneliness and increasingly loose connection with the world around him after losing Louis, and highlighting the fantastical elements of Kushner’s script which connect the AIDS plague with issues of movement, migration, faith, and humanity. If the human race is to survive, they must stop. Stop moving. Stop wanting. Stop desiring. And perhaps more importantly, stop having sex. The allegory is both blunt and nuanced. By the end of the piece, Prior says he desires more life,

It just... It just... We can’t just stop. We’re not rocks - progress, migration, motion is... modernity. It’s animate, it’s what living things do. We desire. Even if all we desire is stillness, it’s still desire for. Even if we go faster than we should. We can’t wait.

I also love the framing; with its wide angle, it’s almost like we’re watching a stage (bonus: note Prior’s actressexual altar in the corner!) and while Thompson’s angel (a bemused bird-like creature) crashes the scene, you can almost see the wires showing (“and maybe it’s good that they do,” Kushner’s playwright notes point out). It’s not surprising this was used as the main image in the promo materials for the miniseries (it’s even the DVD cover!) as it so embodies the duality that so defines this piece: ethereal and corporeal, the heavenly and the earthly; heck, even the gay and the straight. Yes, the Angel and Prior copulate, but it’s as queer a configuration as one could ask for (“she has eight vaginas” we’re told). Yes, the sexual politics are very confusing. For they have to be. This is a messy, sprawling piece whose ragged edges merely mirror the fragmented world it is trying to depict and, in turn, change.

 Fun Awards Fact: In 2004, Angels in America broke the record for most Emmys awarded to a single program (11 of 21 nominations), a record then held by another landmark work on minority representation: ABC’s 1977 Roots: The Saga of an American Family. That record was later broken again in 2008 by another HBO megahit: Tom Hooper’s John Addams. You’ll take solace in knowing that Hooper himself lost the Emmy to Nichols in 2004 (where the former was nominated for Prime Suspect 6) and to Jay Roach (for Recount) in 2008.

Next week: We pause again on HBO’s television output by looking at three LGBT characters from three of HBO’s most talked-about television shows: The Sopranos, The Wire and Carnivàle (You can stream episodes of each on HBO Go and Amazon Prime). Any fans of these dark dramas? 

Sunday
Aug022015

Podcast Smackdown (Pt 2) Nixon & Georgia & 1995 Takeaways

You've read the Smackdown proper and heard Part One of the companion podcast. Now we're wrapping things up with Part Two in which Nathaniel and guests discuss a movie they all loved (Georgia) and the most divisive movie of the batch (Nixon). Big thanks again to this month's panelists: Nick Davis (Nicks Flick Picks), Guy Lodge (Variety), Kevin O'Keeffe (Arts.Mic), Conrado Falco (Coco Hits NY) and Lynn Lee (The Film Experience)

Part 2: 39 Minutes
00:01 Mare Winningham and Georgia’s Screenplay
08:45 Oliver Stone’s excesses -- extremely split opinions on Nixon
19:15 Off-Oscar: Other performances we loved from 1995 and another round of Emma Thompson and Sense & Sensibility
30:00 Best Original Song ???
33:40 Final Thoughts, recommendations and takeaways

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes tomorrow.

Smackdown. Pt 2

Wednesday
Jul222015

1995: The Year Jane Austen Came to the Movies

Our look back at 1995 continues with Lynn Lee on an unexpected breakout...

Clueless turned 20 this week, but as the Internet has constantly reminded us, it hasn’t aged a day.  At once timeless ("a classic," as Cher would say) and delightfully dated, it’s a modern riff on a period piece – Jane Austen’s Emma – that's become something of a period piece itself. The latter aspect tends to draw attention away from the former, but I happened to see the movie again at a recent party and was reminded not just how perfectly it captures the ’90s, but also (1) how brilliantly it adapts Emma, and (2) how 1995 really was the breakout year for Jane Austen in film. 

Keep in mind that prior to 1995, the only film version of a Jane Austen novel was the 1940 B&W “Pride & Prejudice” starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.  1995 changed all that...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar132015

Posterized: Director Kenneth Branagh

Cinderella reuniteds director Kenneth Branagh with his former star and ex-lover Helena Bonham-Carter (in the fairy godmother role)Though Kenneth Branagh had acted in three movies in the 1980s before his international breakthrough, he arrived as a star in a quite a multihypenate way. His adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V (1989) won him instant celebrity as an actor-writer-director. Here's a fun fact -- all five of his Oscar nominations are in different categories: Actor (Henry V), Supporting Actor (My Week With Marilyn), Director (Henry V), Screenplay (Hamlet), Live-Action Short (Swan Song). People forget this now when they wonder about how easily he won a nomination for playing Oscar's beloved Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn but it was something of a inevitability and a cute narrative. Branagh had been compared to Sir Laurence Olivier right from his supernova start in 1989 since Sir Laurence Olivier was also an actor/director who thrilled modern audiences in his time with interpretations of Shakespeare plays for the movies.

Branagh's movie stardom has long since taken a backseat to his directing work -- in truth it began to dwindle as soon as his magical partnership with Emma Thompson crumbled -- but with his 14th movie, Disney's live action Cinderella (2015) opening today, let's look back at his time in the director's chair through movie posters.

How many of these 14 films have you seen? 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb222015

Black History Month: "Schwarzfahrer," an Oscar Night Memoir

For this Oscar day special episode of Black History Month, we asked devoted reader Paul Outlaw, who you'll know from the comments, to share his Oscar memoir from the 1993/1994 ceremony. We're happy to call Paul a friend after our last few trips to Los Angeles. He starred in a German short film that won the Oscar years ago.


An elderly German woman (Senta Moira) and a black youth (yours truly) sit side-by-side on a Berlin streetcar in Schwarzfahrer, a twelve-minute 35mm film that premiered at the Berlinale 22 years ago this week. The film’s title is a play on words: a “Schwarzfahrer” is slang for “fare dodger” as the film was called in the UK , but if you break the German compound word into its components, it translates as “Black Rider” (the US title).

“Schwarzfahrer is a trenchant and stylistically assured work which makes the best use of all possibilities open to the short film. The film deals with a topical subject in a very humorous and extremely entertaining manner. The jury only wishes that German feature films would portray burning social issues and events with a similar lightness of touch and craftsmanship.

- Jury statement at the awarding of the first Panorama Prize of the New York Film Academy, 43rd International Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, 1993

 

When the short premiered I was an expatriate living in Berlin. After the film’s extremely positive reception – we were promptly invited to Cannes – I got the idea in my head that Schwarzfahrer could one day win an Academy Award.
Our journey to Oscar after the jump...

 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan282015

Sundance: Redford and Nolte go on a breezy "Walk in the Woods"

Based on the best seller by Bill BrysonMichael C reporting from Sundance to review a film starring the Sundance Kid himself.

Ken Kwapis's A Walk in the Woods has the misfortune of following not one, but two movies about the restorative spiritual powers of hiking, Tracks and Wild. Taken on its own the story of two estranged buddies hiking the Appalachian trail despite everyone saying they are way too old would probably be taken as a bit too broad, a bit too slight. Following hot on the heels of those high quality titles it feels positively featherweight. A Walk in the Woods is a lark, just an opportunity to take a low stakes tromp through the wilderness in the company of two beloved actors, Redford and Nolte. Some of it is amusing, most of it is agreeable, and if it occasional touches on an undercurrent of loss and regret, it is only in a minor way.

Redford plays semi-retired travel writer Bill Bryson as he has reached the age where every conversation is about ailments and funerals. Despite being semi-retired it all becomes too much for him until he announces out of the blue his intention to hike the Appalachian Trail, a plan his wife takes as tantamount to a suicide attempt. She insists he not go alone, but every friend laughs off the idea of an epic senior citizen trek across the East Coast...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May162014

"Alone in Berlin" and Back on Marquees

Few things gave greater pleasure last year than the reemergence of Emma Thompson on the film scene, shoe chucking, Annie-scripting, Mary Poppins writing, and all. I'm not sure who or what convinced Emma that it was time to reclaim her place in the cinema but I thank them profusely and ever so much.

While she didn't receive the expected Oscar nomination for Saving Mr Banks, despite carrying it on her very capable film-elevating shoulders, her next project looks super promising so we hope it picks up interest in the Cannes market.

If all goes according to plan she'll play one half of a married couple who defy Nazis in Alone in Berlin. The true story is based on the book "Alone in Berlin" by Hans Fallada. The plot premise goes like so...

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich...

With Emma leading a drama we're in good hands but the rest of the cast makes it doubly enticing. Actor turned director Vincent Perez (Queen Margot) has also enlisted Mark Rylance, in many ways the reigning god of the stage, as Emma's husband.

Rylance in the sexually explicit Intimacy (2001) his last bigscreen leading man gig, and in "Jerusalem" for which he won all theater awards ever created a few years ago

He's rarely onscreen though if you've seen Intimacy (2001) or Angels and Insects (1995) you'll remember him. Hollywood's favorite youngish German Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglourious Basterds) is also on board and we assume he is the key baddie Escherich.

Sounds promising, yes?

Emma with Terry Gilliam at a film premiere last monthEmma Thompson just turned 55 and though the fiftysomething years tend to be the leanest for actresses (too old, under Hollywood logic, to lead movies and too young for the juicy "old lady" roles) but maybe Emma's people realized that Dench (79), Redgrave (77), Mirren (68), and Smith (79) aren't getting any younger. Thompson is their natural successor for that whole swath of character types and Thompson doesn't seem to have much competition in the realm of aging British divas that virtually everyone loves. Tilda Swinton (53, after all, is her own special case and weirdly ageless, never young even when she actually was or old now unless the makeup artists are having Budapest prosthetic fun with her). Thompson's main competition for these future roles was surely Kristin Scott Thomas (54) but she's planning that vanishing act now. American actresses not named Streep have it much much rougher than their British counterparts once they hit their fifties so it would be wise for that generation of stars (Bening, Moore, Linney, Clarkson, Hunter, Tomei) or any that have already all but vanished who'd like to return (Allen, Pfeiffer, Davis, McDormand) to start honing their plummiest British accents.