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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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"Looking"'s Final Episode *sniffle*

"I'm crushed over this news but it appears "Looking" has been cancelled (confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter). But at least HBO will be giving it a special movie to wrap up the storylines." -Stan

We're also crushed. But thanks to Manuel for recapping this beautiful second season.

 

 

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Entries in film critics (118)

Monday
Mar162015

Q&A: TV Queens, Musical Divas, and Bad Work by Great Actors

Time for more Reader Questions. Thanks for asking them. Only six this time and they're nearly all actressy (next week something differentd) but the answers are lengthy.

TROY: A performance by an actress in television -- either episodic, movie, or miniseries -- that could stand alongside the best of the best work of Oscar-winning divas.

NATHANIEL: This is an unfair question since the reason people have such affection for television performances from the miraculously good ones to the just competents ones is that the actor in question has had literally hours and hours of time to develop that character and the viewer has had hours, months and sometimes even years in which to fall in love with the role itself (and sometimes the actor, too). Different mediums, agendas, ways of becoming iconic. Apples / Oranges. But of TV-centric actresses that repeatedly deliver A grade awards-quality work no matter the show or character they're working with (an important distinction) my vote for the best television actresses ever are Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Edie Falco... Claire Danes for the bronze should she add a third performance as impressive as Angela Chase and Carrie Mathison to her series-ography (wait what do you call a television resume?).


Three final notes on this TV actress question. Movies no longer really have an equivalent to the kind of broad near slapstick comedy that TV often specializes in but literally no one makes me laugh harder than Jane Krakowski (Ally McBeal / 30 Rock / Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and I have a rage stroke every time I remember that she's Emmy-less. Three recent singular TV performances I think of all the time for hitting every possible pleasure spot in terms of delivering both great actressing and nuanced TV characterizations without ever starting to feel stale (the danger of long term work) are Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights, and Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks from Mad Men.

Finally, though I know it's not a popular opinion critically speaking (even though the show is historically very popular) I absolutely proclaim Sarah Jessica Parker a true genius for her work on Sex & the City. Gee-nee-us. Like Meg Ryan / Julia Roberts / Sandra Bullock / Goldie Hawn at their peaks rom-com perfection but for the small screen.  'Your girl is lovely, Hubble Sarah.' 

BENJI: What is your favorite silent movie/star+performance?

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

NATHANIEL: Maria Falconetti is unforgettable in The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) which I'd also call the best of the silents. But... Best is different than Favorite. And that masterpiece has a kind of fetishized suffering, like a Von Trier without the childish pranking, that you really have to be in the right mood for. So the truer answer to your question is Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box (1929). That's my favorite silent ever (which is saying a lot because I love so many of the ones I've seen) and I also think she's great in Diary of a Lost Girl... though that movie isn't quite at her level the way her best known film is. I love all the usual stars (Gish, Garbo, Valentino) but it's Brooks that does it for me the most.

Laika: Hollywood is calling. They NEED YOUR ADVICE. They are making an Avengers -style superhero-teamup film about the divas of musical theatre, but they are having difficulty casting key roles: Liza Minnelli. Carol Channing. Elaine Stritch. Ethel Merman. BARBRA. Some people are pushing to cast Blake Lively as Bernadette Peters! Who could they cast as these inimitable women?!

KENDRICK. MCDONALD. STREISAND. KRAKOWSKI. MACLAINE. CHENOWETH. MINNELLI. FOSTER. PETERS

Only the originals will do. So think Expendables instead but with the budget and the quality of a Marvel Studios film like The Avengers. I've mocked up a dream cast list but perhaps you have different ideas?

Half of the budget is for the lawyers because trying to decide who gets top billing would be A NIGHTMARE. Maybe you can try to decide who gets top billing in the comments, but I fear the wrath of all of them if I place them in order.

TD: Least favorite performances by favorite actors?

NATHANIEL: This topic probably deserves a whole big post but then we'd have to dwell in disappointment and who needs that? So let's just throw a quick list out there. Let's start with a few actors that are actressy according to Nathaniel (i.e. great / obsession worthy). I don't really get what Fassbender in Dangerous Method or Jude in Contagion were going for or I do but I don't like it. Jeff Bridges has been phoning it in since the Oscar win which is a shame. Okay enough men. The women.

Hathaway is bad in Eyesore in Wonderland (but, then, who isn't? I mean, besides HBC). Streep is terrible in The Manchurian Candidate, overplaying everything. Chastain in Miss Julie, same thing. Too much too much. Modulate girl, you're so good at that in other films. I didn't understand what the hell was going on with La Pfeiffer in Up Close and Personal, did you? In regards to my idol, I praised her at the time as an obsessed fan, but I must accept in retrospect that her double 1999 star turn in The Deep End of the Ocean and The Story of Us (which I always think of together) are, like Streep's in Doubt, a strange mix of irritatingly off key and really great. Whenever that happens I wonder if the star is distracted by something we'll never know about on set or at home or in their heads... or if it's director or production problems that have worked their way into the editing bay.

Julianne Moore? Hmmm. Well, actually take a look at this image.

I meant to share this chart a few months ago when I first looked at it. This is a table of the biggest box office hits of Julianne Moore's career. Looking at it I suddenly realized why non-fans have sometimes had bizarre notions about the level of her talent. If all someone had seen was a handful of these and that handful didn't include both The Hours & Boogie Nights the casual moviegoer may have regarded either as flukes and been reasonably been misled into thinking that she wasn't that special and not understood the fuss. Not that she's bad in these movies but Julianne is a Kidman in the way that her best work is almost always in the most complicated and weirdest movies. i.e. the ones people have to be convinced to see either by nominations for awards or critics never shutting up about them. I've only thought Julianne was actively bad a few times. Let us never speak of Freedomland or Evolution or that scene in Laws of Attraction where she eats junk food again. Don't Speak! 

BRIAN: How do you feel about the word pretentious when used by film critics?

NATHANIEL: I hate it. Charitably it only means 'I don't like this person's ambitions,' whatever they may be. Uncharitably it can mean "I didn't understand this movie." It's as useless as the word "unforgettable" in film reviews. Real talk, film critics: We know you JUST walked out of that movie and are writing this for publication deadline tonight or tomorrow. Half the movies in existence are unforgettable for at least a good half hour after watching them. Save that word for a few months later at least so that it means something.

DANIEL: Did the work of Hilary Swank in The Homesman make you appreciate her more as an actress, or is she still hand in hand with Renée Zelwegger in your nemesis path? In terms of career which do you prefer ? Love from Brazil...

NATHANIEL: Big love right back at Brazil. The site has always had a big following in Brazil -- not sure why that is apart from Brazilians being awesome.

I made kind of a big deal about these two as my nemeses (I know some people think it's childish but it's like an internal barometer corrector since I'm The Man Who Loved Actresses Too Much.) but I don't deny their gifts. There are actresses I think are far less talented than either Hilary or Renee that are famous but they don't annoy me as much, largely I think because they don't appear in the type of films I am otherwise drawn to. I was actually a huge fan of Renée's from Jerry Maguire (1996) through Bridget Jones (2001) but irreconciliable differences; we had a brutal divorce soon thereafter.

I've never been a "fan" of Swank but I think she's just great in Boys Don't Cry (I have eyes) and she really is very good in The Homesman (2014), which I'd easily call her second best. Even in scenes that don't directly address it, unlike that touching faux-piano scene which does, she just comes across as ineffably sad but determined to march on. I think she could have made a real run for a nomination if the reviews had been better and if it had been a more straightforward film about her character rather than the shapeshifter movie that it was. 

Please chime in on my responses or with your own in the comments. 

Saturday
Feb282015

Birdman Post-Mortem

BEST PICTURE | BEST DIRECTOR | BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | BEST CINEMATOGRAPHYWe're nearly a week out from Birdman's big win and as we close out 2014 coverage (I'm hurrying backstage with our awards and the podcast Sunday night is our Oscar finale) I'm feeling more and more satisfied with the way everything panned out. Oh sure the Julianne Moore Coronation kept my mood up but there were other things to cherish.

Share the wealth years are usually more satisfying not to mention more representative of a film year and all the Best Pictures took a statue (or more) home. And with Boyhood winning so many prizes on the way to Oscar, well that labor of love got plentiful rewards too. I know those awards weren't the Oscar but what's the point of having all of these awards if they all go to the same things. We should celebrate the teensy tiny bit of diversity of wins when they happen.

My delight in Birdman's win is, of course, in direct opposition to what seems to be the majority of critics, which is odd since the film had strong reviews originally. The internet was downright furious when it took Best Picture but when isn't the internet furious, you know?

Depression, navel-gazing and recommended reads after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb062015

Tack för det, Magnolia. A Blurb Whore Triumph!

Thanks to Kyle Turner (who guest-starred on one our Smackdown podcasts last year) who alerted me to this little blurb on the DVD of Force Majeure (I have not seen the DVD. Just this tweeted snapshot)

I was completely unaware of this and was not contacted by Magnolia Pictures. The quote looks a little weird out of context (the humor is very cerebral but it was, to me and the theater I was in at TIFF, indeed "hilarious") and fused together like that. Here was my original capsule review if you're curious. The film eventually came in at #12 in my Best of the Year list

I guess this means I have to buy a physical copy.

It'll be fun to see this in real life. Especially since it's a Scandinavian film and an Oscar submission and I'm always seeking both kinds of movies out at film festivals. It's just too bad it wasn't nominated. Magnolia recently picked up "Tangerine" which I loved loved loved at Sundance. So feel free to quote away on that, Magnolia!

Tuesday
Jan202015

GALECA Loves Transparent (and a little of everything else!) 

The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Journalists Association have chosen their winners from the film year and, like so many other awards bodies they've opted for a Savage Grace mother/son reunion with Julianne Moore & Eddie Redmayne taking Actress & Actor of the Year for film. (The primary difference being only that they have probably heard of / possibly seen Savage Grace.) Lisa Kudrow & Jeffrey Tambor took the television version of those prizes and though there was significant spreading of the wealth elsewhere, Transparent, Amazon's Golden Globe winning breakout show about a retired father (Jeffrey Tambor) who comes out to her children as a trans woman thoroughly dominated the TV field winning five prizes. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan162015

Up Close at the 20th Annual "Critics Choice" Awards

Goddess with regular person. But at least he's in a brand new expensive suit.Did you want the Critics Choice Movie Awards last night? That accounts for my radio silence. I had the extreme good fortune of sitting at Jessica Chastain's table. No, I couldn't believe it either for which I must thank A24 profusely. It's true The Film Experience has been kinda nuts about their movies here from Spring Breakers to Under the Skin to the already weirdly underappreciated A Most Violent Year (opening in late late December is so hard for movies that are small and aren't directed by Clint Eastwood) but it was still an unbelievably kind gesture.

It turns out though that sitting at a table with some of the honored stars (Jenny Slate, also at the table, took home Best Comedy Actress) that is smack dab in the center (Wild table to the left, Theory of Everything and Unbroken to the right, Selma tables --plural, that's a big cast behind you) is rather terrifying and chaotic. Because I had the back to stage seat, the cameramen were running up to squat or stand hovering over me carrying loads of equipment to point the camera at Jessica and Jenny for reaction shots and for their wins. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan122015

GALECA Nominations: Pride, Birdman, Transparent, and Mommy

The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Assocation, which has over 100 members nationwide, and first joined the year end awards jamboree in 2009, have announced their nominations for the year in a slew of categories, not all of them for movies. Full disclosure two members of TFE are members of this organization: Nathaniel and Glenn. You may notice a lone nomination for Under the Skin and love for Mommy both of which we were loud advocates of during voting. We didn't need to shout the praises of Pride because a lot of people were doing it. It's fanbase grows each week which leads me to believe that maybe it should've come out in March like Grand Budapest Hotel, you know?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan082015

Quickies

THR People's Choice Winners which are always hilarious ugh: Robert Downey Jr as Favorite Dramatic Actor. For what, The Judge?
Tom & Lorenzo judge the People's Choice red carpet quite harshly
Rotten Tomatoes Golden Tomatoes (limited release): Best reviewed are Selma - movie, Life Itself - doc, and Gloria -foreign film.
Rotten Tomatoes Golden Tomatoes (wide): Best reviewed are 1) Boyhood 2) The LEGO Movie 3) Nightcrawler. Huh. Not sure I would've predicted that threesome but i guess they make total sense
The Atlantic Joe & Kevin discusss "Empire" starring Taraji P Henson. I meant to watch this but forgot
USA Today Michelle Pfeiffer as the pop music muse of the moment - (I listen to "Riptide" all the time just so's you know)  
MNPP debuts a beautiful visual to get us used to the idea of Matt Bomer playing our beloved Montgomery Clift
HitFix 'A Coachella for the rest of us' (i'm not sure I'm okay with Hitfix pretending that they're chief demographic is actressexuals -- that's our thing, right here !)
BDCWire the anniversaries people think to celebrate: this one's on Phil Hartman in Houseguest. I didn't even remember that that existed 

And because Shia Labeouf's cultural shenanigans are way more interesting than his counterparts in fingers in every artsy pie (James Franco) here he is dancing in the new Sia video.