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

Nicole Kidman on Stage

"Any chance this transfers to broadway I wonder?" - Joseph

"As a long term Kidmaniac, this is just the type of comeback I was hoping for." - allaboutmymovies


Keep TFE Strong



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


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.

What'cha Looking For?

Entries in film festivals (276)


Pictures from a Rebellious Premiere

Here's Murtada on the opening night of the BFI London Film Festival.

The BFI London Film Festival opened Wednesday night with a gala premiere of Suffragette. Alongside stars Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham Carter, protesters made their voices heard. The group Sisters Uncut chose this movie about suffragettes to protest the UK government’s recent cut of funds supporting victims of domestic abuse.

It was an apt choice and led to some interesting pictures. On the same red carpet the latest couture gowns mixing with color bombs and protest signs. Glamour and activism after the jump...

Click to read more ...


NYFF: The wonderful absurdities of "The Lobster"

About five disorienting minutes into The Lobster, all pretense of disorientation for disorientation's sake is stripped flatly away as the headmistress of the hotel (a terrific Olivia Colman) where Colin Farrell's character has found himself lays out the movie's premise. And oh how small the word "premise" seems in relation to what The Lobster has up its sleeve: Singletons will be turned into an animal (meaning a literal non-human creature) if they cannot find a mate in an ordained amount of time! 

It's a moment as surprising as it is funny (her notion of what is and what isn't absurd is the definition of absurd itself). While director Yorgos Lanthimos' previous films Dogtooth and Alps both reveled in their inscrutable rules, forcing the audience to pick up the fragments of what's offered and chase behind the film, trying to cram them together, everybody in The Lobster instead can't stop telling us exactly how this insane world works ("Didn't you read the guidebook?" is asked multiple times), and the more they lay it out the funnier and funnier it all gets.

And The Lobster is a very very funny film, seemingly finding all new ways to be funny that have never been found funny before - I wouldn't want to spoil its dark surprises but let's just say some of its punchlines got several audience members at my screening up on their feet and right out the door with madcap quickness. 

But for all of its laugh-out-loud cynicism about the way our own world works, refracted through the not-so-fun-house mirrors of how its own world works, Lanthimos' film has a heart, maybe black but beating hard, under its strange shape. He manages to make the old-fashioned obstacles of another sad love story hum with newness, scraping the gunk off romance and holding this bright shiny new thing high and proud. It's a marvel, like nothing else, singular from every single stupefying angle.

Alchemy will distribute The Lobster in the US. No date has been announced. For previous posts on the Lobster click here. Follow Jason on Twitter and read his blog MNPP


TIFF Review Index

Let this serve as the official TIFF Review reference guide since the festival closed up shop Sunday night after the Free screening of the People's Choice winner Room. We hope you enjoyed reading along with our reviews. Amir and I saw about 50 movies between us but we'll have to wrap up now as NYFF screenings have already started and Oscar charts MUST be updated and so on.

Fall Film Season is finally upon us!

3 of my favorites of the 29 I saw...

37 Films Reviewed
45 Years British marital drama (Nathaniel)
3000 Nights Palestinian prison drama (Amir)
Anomalisa Existential stop-motion dramedy (Nathaniel)
Arabian Nights: Vol 2 Portugueuse art film with politicial satire vignettes (Nathaniel)
As I Open My Eyes Tunisian music drama (Nathaniel)
Baba Joon Israel's immigrant family drama & Oscar submission (Amir)
Bang Gang French teen sex drama (Nathaniel)
The Clan Argentine true crime drama (Nathaniel)
Closet Monster Canadian LGBT drama (Nathaniel)
Dégradé Palestinian hair salon set female drama (Amir)
Demolition Canadian grief dramedy (Nathaniel)
Desde Allá Venezuelan LGBT Drama & Venice winner (Amir)
Dheepan French Immigrant drama, Palme d'or winner (Amir)
The Dressmaker Australian revenge dramedy (Glenn)
Embrace of the Serpent Black & White Colombian Amazon journey (Nathaniel)
Eva Doesn't Sleep experimental Argentine corpse drama (Nathaniel)
The Family Fang US Dramedy about a performance art family (Nathaniel)
Girls Lost Swedish LGBT Teen Drama (Nathaniel)
Granny's Dancing on the Table Swedish animated/live-action hybrid (Nathaniel)
The Here After Swedish School Drama (Nathaniel)  
Homesick Norwegian incest drama (Nathaniel)
I Saw The Light US musical biopic (Nathaniel)
Invisible Filipino immigrant drama (Nathaniel)
Love French 3D sex drama (Nathaniel)
Much Loved Moroccan docudrama on sex workers in Marrakech (Amir)
Mustang Turkish coming of age drama (Amir)
Phantom Boy French animated adventure (Nathaniel)
Room US family/crime drama, and People's Choice Winner (Nathaniel)
Spotlight, US journalist drama (Nathaniel)
Stonewall US gay history drama (Nathaniel)
Taxi Jafar Panahi's comedy & Berlinale Winner (Amir)
Truth US TV news political drama (Nathaniel) 
Victoria German continuous shot crime drama (Nathaniel)
The Wave Norwegian disaster epic (Nathaniel)
The Witch this year's Sundance horror sensation (Nathaniel)
Youth Showbiz drama (Nathaniel) 

upside down, VICTORIA turned me, inside out. and round and round

Other TIFF Articles
Best Actress Contenders (Nathaniel)
Red Carpet Opening Weekend (Jose)
Red Carpet Post-Venice (Jose)
Victoria's Single Take / Birdman Comparison (Sebastian)
People's Choice and Other Awards (Nathaniel)
Women He's Undressed - The Interview (Jose) 
IndieWire Critics Poll (Nathaniel) 

TIFF Juries of One
I polled the podcasters who stayed the whole fest. Here's what they said...

  Nathaniel R Joe Reid Nick Davis
Film Room Son of Saul Arabian Nights
Director Cirro Guerra, Embrace of Serpent Ridley Scott,
The Martian
Laszlo Nemes,
Son of Saul
Actress Charlotte Rampling,
45 Years
Cate Blanchett,
Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Dheepan
Actor Jacob Tremblay,
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation Frederick Lau,
Supp. Actress Kate Dickie,
The Witch
Julianne Moore, Maggie's Plan Ghalia Benali, As I Open My Eyes
Supp. Actor Stanley Tucci,
Scoot McNairy, Our Brand is Crisis Abdella Didane,
Much Loved
Craft Contribution Sound,
Son of Saul
The Assassin
  Cinematography, Embrace of Serpent Art Direction,
Son of Saul
 The Danish Girl
Camera Operator, Victoria

TIFF: Baba Joon, Dégradé, Much Loved

on the set of Baba JoonAmir files our last TIFF report on three films, one of them hoping for Oscar...

Baba Joon (Israel)
Israel’s Oscar submission is quite a unique experience: the lives of Iranian Jews who have left their homeland to live in Israel—and are consequently not allowed to re-enter Iran because of the two countries’ bitter relationship has never been portrayed on screen. In Yuval Delshad’s debut feature, the titular character and his clan—a son, his wife and their son—all live on a small turkey farm in rural Israel and live with very modest means. The tensions between multiple generations of the family, and the melancholia of living at once at home and away from home are the film’s central themes.

Baba Joon’s storytelling and the emotional beats are familiar. There is nothing in the strained father-son dynamics, troubled by decades of repression, that we haven’t previously seen on the big screen. The film’s abrupt but rather predictable ending lends it a saccharine flavour that might sit well with the Academy, but undermines the film. When the story’s resolution is presented so neatly with a gift wrap, very little is left for the audience to ponder. Still, this is a heartfelt film of genuinely well intentions, with a sizable novelty factor, whose fresh look at ethnic minorities in the Middle East is quietly delightful.

Dégradé (Palestine/France/Qatar)
This debut film from eccentrically named brothers Arab and Tarzan Nasser, shows similar irreverence in depicting ethnic tensions with Israel. Part Almodovar-esque comedy of women on the verge of nervous breakdowns, part a thriller revolving a hostage situation, their film, which stars Hiam Abbas and Maisa Abd Elhadi, is based in a hair salon in Gaza, where the clientele hail from different social, religious and political backgrounds. As they wait their turns to be beautified, the salon becomes increasingly like a microcosm of Gaza’s society, and the world beyond the confines of the building is engulfed in violence.

Dégradé is an interesting look at life in the occupied territories because it broadens the conversation beyond the Israel-Palestine binary. In the film’s view, the community is rife with tensions and chasms, all exacerbated by the atrocious limitations of living in occupation. Yet, the image is much richer and layered than normally shown on screen, breaking the monolithic view of Palestinians in favour of a more complex perspective. That the film manages to convey these intricacies while remaining consistently entertaining is a significant accomplishment, and one that promises much more from the filmmaking duo.

Much Loved (Morocco/France)
The most daring film among the bunch comes from the more experienced hands of Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch. Ayouch surveys the night club scene in Marrakech, a world filled with sex, drugs and rampant decadence. Home to tourists from Saudi Arabia and Europe, the city’s nightlife is bustling and its sex industry is ever active, almost completely removed from the crisis-ridden country that surrounds it. Almost.  Following Noha (Loubna Abidar) and her entourage of less experienced escorts, Much Loved is as intimate a film as it is provocative.

Ayouch has had to field a lot of controversy, mostly due to the explicit displays of sex in his film; and while the murky release prospects of the film in the Arab world are understandable, it’s unfortunate if sex becomes the only talking point. This is the rare film that intertwines the lives of sex workers with socio-economic issues without becoming patronizing. Morocco’s complicated relationships with Europe and other Arab countries, and its tenuous political situation are subtly worked into the plot of the film. It’s intimate and superbly acted—mostly by amateur performers— and a film that's heartbreaking, humorous and evocative in equal measure. In a festival that is never short on big films from big directors, Much Loved was a true discovery.


"Room" is the People's Choice

Great News: Room won the People's Choice award at TIFF! 
It couldn't have happened to a more deserving film and I mean that literally since it was the best of the 29 films I caught there. Confession: I really thought that Spotlight would take it since festival goers wouldn't shut up about that one. In the past twenty years the People's Choice Award has been a very solid indicator of a future Best Picture nomination. In fact, with one exception only (Hotel Rwandaif the winner was from the States or the UK, it was nominated at the Oscars. Canadian winners (Eastern Promises and The Hanging Garden) as well as most of the non-English language winners weren't so lucky. A Best Picture nomination would be a very big deal for A24 as a young distributor but they've already released so many fine and daring films they've earned one, don't you think? 

How high would you rank the film now in your predictions? 

Winners List
People's Choice Room (Lenny Abramson)
    1st Runner Up: Angry Indian Goddesses (Pan Nalin)
    2nd Runner Up: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

FIPRESCI DiscoveryEva Nová (Marko Skop) 
FIPRESCI Special PresentationDesierto (Jonás Cuarón) 
NETPAC Asian Cinema AwardWhispering Star (Sion Sono) 
Toronto Platform AwardHURT (Alan Zweig) 
    Honorable Mention: Neon Bull, The Promised Land, The Clan
Best Short Maman(s) (Maïmouna Doucouré)
     Honorable Mention: Rate Me (Fyzal Boulifa) 

Best Canadian Feature Closet Monster (Stephen Dunn)
    Honorable Mention: My Internship in Canada (Philippe Falardeau)
Best Canadian First Feature Film Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino)
Best Canadian Short Overpass (Patrice Laliberté)
    Honorable Mention: Bacon & God's Wrath (Sol Friedman)

The odd thing about the Canadian prizes is that Closet Monster, my favorite LGBT movie from the fest, which won the "Canada Goose" for Best Canadian Film is also a First Feature; there's another prize for that that it did not win! Of the other award winners, I only managed to catch Spotlight, Room, and the Toronto Platform Honorable Mention The Clan. It's a gut-wrenching true crime drama about a notorious family in Argentina who kidnapped members of other upper class families, some of whom they knew personally, for ransom money. I suspect it will be Argentina's Oscar submission but they don't announce until the end of the month.


TIFF: An LGBT Winner "Closet Monster" 

Portions of this piece were originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

The Toronto International Film Festival closes shop on its 40th year tonight (imagine the stops they'll pull out for the 2025 festival!) and I'm probably on a plane as you're reading this. Given the breakneck pace of seeing so many movies there are more reviews to come from both Amir and Nathaniel (c'est moi). In other words TIFF will have something of a half life here at the blog and the Oscar charts must be updated Monday/Tuesday and so on. With the end of the big three fall fests tonight (Telluride, Venice, TIFF) it's officially on for Awards Season. Cue: marks, gunshot, running campaigning. The first prizes won't roll around until late November / early December of course.

And for many 2015 festival films winning distribution is the only thing worth campaigning for at this moment. If you're into LGBT cinema you should also check out the reviews of Desde Allá and Girls Lost. My favorite LGBT picture of the festival was Canada's own Closet Monster. More after the jump...

Click to read more ...


TIFF: Berlin and Venice Winners, "Taxi" and "Desde Allá"

Amir continues our coverage of TIFF '15 with reviews of this year's Golden Bear and Golden Lion winners.

The studio Celluloid Dreams recorded a remarkable success this year by winning the top prize at all of Europe’s big three festivals. The journey started in Berlin with the Golden Bear for Taxi, continued into Cannes with the Palme d'or for Dheepan (review) and ended just last week with Venice's Golden Lion for Venezuela’s Desde Allá. Jafar Panahi’s Taxi is the film that piqued my interest most, both as an Iranian, and as a fan of the auteur’s complex career, which I have followed in real time since his first film—a children’s movie—back in 1995.

Taxi is filmed digitally with incredibly modest means, borne of the director’s complicated situation with government authorities...

Click to read more ...