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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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Entries in film festivals (232)

Wednesday
Feb112015

Where My Girls At? Taraji, Helen, Geena

Did you catch that insane Fox news thing (I realize that sounds redundant) about Hollywood emasculating men by making women the heroes of all movies. Haha. They're so dumb. And also: WE WISH. A new study suggests that we're reaching record lows with only 12% of Hollywood films having female leads and a gross drop in percentages of roles when women pass the age of 40. So I figure it's time for a very brief Where My Girls At roundup of women who are currently wowing. Only 3 this time.

Taraji
Check out the gorgeous new photos and interview with Empire's Taraji P Henson from Uptown Magazine. I want to rename that show EMPIRE or (The Unexpected Ghetto Fabulousness of Cookie) because she just owns that show. (Lee Daniels, one of TFE's favorite actressexual filmmakers, is such a blessing to women of a certain age. I'd personally argue way moreso than Ryan Murphy because they get to do work just as crazy and show-offy but the results are often better and they don't have to play second fiddle to Jessica Lange.) Anyway,  I like that Taraji is particularly frank in this inteview and has interesting "employ tunnel vision" advice on careers. Hers has had its ups & downs, including in awards buzz. Take this bit for example:

While celebrating the variety of black talent currently on-screen, becoming distracted by her peers’ success, however, is not on Henson’s to-do list. With a tightknit, mega-watt circle that includes Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall and Sanaa Lathan, tunnel vision is imperative. “If you don’t stay in your lane and you start looking around, you’ll go crazy,” she says. “I use to have this crazy thing with Amy Adams, and I love Amy Adams. You see her [consistently] getting nominated, as she should, because Amy does good work. But, it’s like, ‘Well, I did good work too.’ But if you choose to stay in that place then you become miserable. It’s a pity party and nobody cares. I’m human, so I’ve done it. But I check that because it’s ego and it’s the devil.” 

Helen
Helen Mirren, the world's sexiest 69 year old, continues flaunting it because she's got it. Here's her cheeky new ad for L'Oreal...

 

Geena
Geena Davis's reign as an A List actress gives good nostalgia now considering how many good movies she made in her heyday. She debuted in a small role in the Best Picture nominated classic Tootsie (1982) and her roles rapidly increased in size in the 80s in classics like The Fly (1986) and Beetlejuice (1988) culminating in an oscar win for another Best Picture nominee The Accidental Tourist (1988). By the time the 90s hit she was a major star (see big hits and feminist classics A League of Their Own and Thelma & Louise). But her reign was short and her career died a still kind of inexplicably swift death in 1996 after two high profile action flops. It was literally the year in which she turned 40. She didn't show up on the big screen again until 3 years later when she was suddenly reduced to the sidebar mom role in the children's hit Stuart Little. But she's become a very vocal activist and gender equality warrior since then. Her latest move is the creation of the Bentonville Film Festival which debuts this May which will showcase female roles, diversity, and family friendly movies. As a moviegoer with a deep love for Ms Davis, I seriously looked into going for The Film Experience but just don't have the funds for it so I'll be reading reports in early May with enthusiasm. Just sad that I won't be one of the lucky film journalists that get to write them. *sniffle*

Wednesday
Feb042015

Sundance. That's a Wrap for 2015

Michael and I had a lot of fun covering this year's Sundance for you, though we definitely missed Glenn this time around resulting in less films covered. The more is always the merrier with movies. Here is a complete list of our 29 reviews in alpha order by film in case you missed any or to use as a reference guide when the films reemerge in the real world.

Tomorrow we'll talk favorite performances and Oscar (we realize it's way too early) but that's a separate conversation. Here's to Sundance 2015!

The Movies We Screened
10,000 Saints (Michael) Manhattan in the 80s with Hailee & Asa
Brooklyn (Nathaniel) Saoirse Ronan grows up in this lovely adaptation of the bestseller
The D Train (Nathaniel) comedy starring Jack Black & James Marsden
Dark Horse (Nathaniel) documentary on breeding race horses
Diary of a Teenager Girl (Michael) sexual coming-of-age drama
Dope (Nathaniel) a hip hop lovin' comic treat
Entertainment (Michael) a comedy from the man behind The Comedy
Experimenter (Michael) not as fascinating as the real experiment
I Am Michael (Nathaniel) James Franco as an ex gay pastor
I Smile Back (Michael) Sarah Silverman in a downward spiral
It Follows (Michael) on the festival horror hit. Will it ever open proper?
Glassland (Nathaniel) mother/son alcoholism drama with Toni Collette & Jack Reynor
Grandma (Nathaniel) Lily Tomlin on a road trip in this great feminist miniature
James White (Michael) Self-destructive character study starring Christopher Abbott
Last Days in the Desert (Nathaniel) Ewan McGregor as Jesus & Satan
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Michael) on the crowd-pleasing Sundance winner
Nasty Baby (Nathaniel) Dramedy from the writer/director of The Maid
The Overnight (Michael) swingers ensemble comedy 
Results (Michael) Guy Pearce in a rom com?
Slow West (Michael) an ambitios western starring Kodi Smit-McPhee & Fassbender
The Stanford Prison Experiment (Nathaniel) true story + rising star ensemble

 

Strangerland (Nathaniel) Nicole Kidman's kids go missing in the Australian desert
Tangerine (Nathaniel) comedy about transgendered hookers in LA
True Story (Michael) Jonah Hill & James Franco in dramatic cat & mouse
A Walk in the Woods (Michael) Redford & Nolte take a hike
The Witch (Michael) This 1630s set Salem horror film took the fest by storm
World of Tomorrow (Michael) another miracle from animating genius Don Hertzfeldt
Z For Zachariah (Michael) post apocalypse with three fine actors
Zipper (Michael) Patrick Wilson in an infidelity drama

Also
Jury & Audience Awards Slow West, Me and Earl, and More...

Sunday
Feb012015

Sundance Award Winners: Slow West and Earl and That Diary Girl

Michael and Nathaniel are both safely back in New York but a few more Sundance reviews are forthcoming as well as an Oscar discussion about the first possibilities for the new film year. The festival closes up tonight for another year and last night, they announced the winners. As with last year when Whiplash one both the Jury and the Audience award, one film took both again this year: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, based on the best seller by Jesse Andrews. Can we expect a similarly Oscar friendly trajectory? 

THE WINNERS

U.S. DRAMATIC

Grand Jury Prize & Audience Award  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Michael's review coming later today. It's said to be a bit Fault in the Stars-ish young people and terminal illness only better. 

Directing Award The Witch, Robert Eggers 
Michael's rave review. A 1630s set horror film about a religious family in Salem. 

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award The Stanford Prison Experiment, Tim Talbott
Nathaniel's Review. This one is based on the infamous 1971 college psychology experiment that's inspired other movies before it.

Special Jury Award – Excellence in Cinematography Diary of a Teenage Girl, Brandon Trost
Michael's review & Nathaniel's quick take. Michael liked it a bit more but expect a lot of talk about it when it's released. With Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, and Kristen Wiig

Special Jury Award – Excellence in Editing Dope, Lee Haugen
Nathaniel's review. The editing has crackerjack timing and is deeply commendable for the first half but why is the second hour so much less taut?  

More after the jump...

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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...

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Tuesday
Jan272015

Sundance Quickies: Dope, Last Days in the Desert, Nasty Baby

Nathaniel reporting from Sundance with three quick takes

DOPE
The biggest sale at Sundance was this no-stars comedy about three geeky high school seniors who are obsessed with 90s hip hops (that's a character detail and joke factory -- not the plot). Malcolm (Shameik Moore joyfully charismatic in the lead role) a Straight A student who dreams of Harvard and his two best friends Jib (Tony Revolori - just as strong as he was in Grand Budapest Hotel) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons from Transparent in her feature debut) live in "The Bottoms" an impoverished crime-ridden neighborhood. Malcolm gets mixed up with Dom (Rakim Mayers aka A$AP Rocky), a local dope dealer, and soon the three friends are on the run from cops, drug dealers, gang members and continually out of frying pans and into other fires. The film it most reminded me of is Go (1999) for its parade of memorable characters, smart fast comedy, and crime plot but this one is lighter.  Dope has inarguably high energy and fresh laughs for the first hour but, like many comedies, it overstays its welcome as it wants to be taken more seriously in the second half (tightening the second hour before release would be of huge benefit). Regardless, those huge laughs, great racial politics jokes and its hugely endearing trio could well make it a sleeper smash. B/B+

Funny Coincidence: I saw this directly after The Diary of a Teenage Girl and both movies feature a shot of a horny teenage girl licking a photograph. In this case it's lesbian drummer Diggy licking the 2 Live Crew album cover. Ha!

LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT
In this film, shot in natural light by that DP without peer Emmanuel Lubezki, Ewan McGregor plays Jesus near the end of his 40 day fast and desert wanderings. McGregor also plays the Devil which gives this film the entertaining kick it needs to survive lots of contemplative moments / scenes of Jesus just staring into and walking around the desert thinking about the shit that Sons of God think about.I liked the film's invention of a troubled family Jesus meets (Ciarin Hinds and Tye Sheridan as father/son -- though thankfully their dramatic parallels to Jesus and his  "Daddy" as Satan hilariously calls God are not so neatly correlative as to be obnoxious.) Satan wears a beautiful dangly gold earring (I guess because vanity is evil? Or because they wanted to make fun of one earring wearers?) but otherwise he looks exactly like Jesus. The film is by Rodrigo Garcia, a director I've always wanted to love given his actressexuality -- though weirdly this film is almost entirely male -- but have never been able to because his films tend to be a bit sleepy. This one is smartly reined in at 98 minutes but it does feel a bit slight, exercize-ish, despite the heavy topic. B-/C+

Ewan McGregor revealed in the Q&A afterwards that he did a lot of studying to play Jesus (scriptures, books, etcetera) and none to play Satan ("the devil came naturally"). Hee!

NASTY BABY
Kristen Wiig just keeps on overachieving, doesn't she? After conquering comedy she keeps on impressing in dramatic roles, too. She's got a beautifully authentic rapport with writer/director/star Sebastian Silva (who is most famous for his Golden Globe nominated terrific Chilean film The Maid). Silva and Wiig play Freddy & Polly, best friends who'e been trying to get pregnant for months but it hasn't been working. They enlist Freddy's hesitant boyfriend Mo (Tunde Adebimpe in his first feature since 2008's Rachel Getting Married -- he was the guy Rachel married!) to do the sperm donor duty. Meanwhile a crazy neighbor keeps harassing everyone on the street and Freddy struggles to realize his art project "Nasty Baby" in which he wants to explore how disgusting babies of all kinds are by investigating their "gross cuteness" -- it gets a big laugh in context, trust -- and he plans to explore that by rolling around naked making baby sounds? It's a video installation, just go with it. It's all an ultra specific urban slice of life dramedy -- so ultra-specific in fact that I assume this will be a very hard sell for many. Making it even more difficult for potential audiences is the sharp left turn it takes into uncomfortably suspenseful territory toward the end. But despite what will surely be a hard road to find its natural fanbase, I admired it for being so wholly itself... or maybe its two selves. Or its three selves? The end credits are set to the cast doing roller disco for totally inexplicable but delightful effect. And the cast -- including the little seen Mark Margolis (who you'll recognize from Darren Aronofsky's movies) as a protective old gay in the neighborhood -- just felt wonderfully organic. B

Tuesday
Jan272015

Sundance: "It Follows" is Brilliant High Octane Nightmare Fuel

Michael C here in Sundance to report on a horror film that already feels like a cult classic even though it doesn't even come out until March.

Put into words, the plot of David Robert Mithchell's It Follows sounds almost comical in its simplicity. There is a creature that will follow you until it kills you. If you are unlucky enough to get this creature on your trail there is nothing you can do. You can try to run or to hide, to destroy it or to deflect it towards another victim. These strategies may have some effect, for an hour or a day, but they are all temporary. Sooner or later the creature will get you. It's in no hurry.

One might suspect that such a simple concept would get old fast, or at best amount to an entertaining genre exercise, but that is far from the case. By stripping the horror genre down to its barest essentials Mitchell makes It Follows into the purest possible distillation of a drug. A kick of undiluted fear straight to the subconscious. With its pulsing, foregrounded music the whole thing takes on an unexpected grandness. I am reminded of the subtitle to Murnau's Nosferatu -
"a symphony of horror".

[More]

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Monday
Jan262015

Sundance: "Tangerine" The Best Trans Hooker Christmas Comedy You Might Ever See!

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Indie writer/director Sean Baker (and recently his co-writer Chris Berloch) specialize in portraits of characters on the margins of society. Baker's previous slice-of-life film was the still underappreciated Starlet (2012), which traced an unlikely friendship between a young porn star and an old woman she meets at a garage sale.  Their very worthy follow up is TANGERINE (not to be confused with the Estonian drama currently nominated for Oscar's Foreign Film Category called Tangerines). Again we find Baker looking at places others haven't thought to look — or at least haven't looked at with anything like the same affectionate humor and nuanced humanity.

In this case that place is a Hollywood block filled with ex-con trans hookers who still have their penises, their lonely trade, immigrant cab drivers, and the colorful seedy neighborhood they all share. Tangerine is filled with memorable scenes in busted-ass laundromats, car washes, cheap motels with "party rooms", and of course Donut Time. The movie tells the story of a single event-filled day and night (Christmas Eve) in the lives of Sin-Dee Rella (Kiki Kitana Rodriguez) and her best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) who treats her to half a holiday sprinkled donut in the movie's abrasively funny opening scene. 

"Merry Christmas, bitch."

Remember that claim that Wolf of Wall Street used the most "f--ks" ever uttered in a movie? I hope Tangerine makes that claim for "bitch". [More...]

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