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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Lessons from the success of "It"

"The marketing was smart...they did a good job of using a "less is more" approach" - Jakey

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Entries in film festivals (360)

Saturday
Jan302016

Retro Sundance: John Carney and "Once"

John Carney at the Spirit AwardsLynn Lee revisits the 2007 Sundance hit Once as the current festival wraps up.

I was at Sundance in 2007—the only time I’ve ever been.  It was one of the highlights of my life as a moviegoer, albeit more for the experience than the actual movies.  While I enjoyed most of the films I saw there, few really stuck with me beyond the festival, with the exception of the lovely character study Starting Out in the Evening (which really should have gotten Frank Langella an Oscar nomination). 

Somehow, I missed the true breakout success of Sundance that year—the low-budget Irish musical Once, which won the festival’s World Cinema Audience Award.  It went on to become a critical darling, a sleeper indie hit, and even an Oscar winner for Best Original Song. How could I have bypassed being one of the first in the U.S. to see it?  Well, somehow I did, even though I became a fan when it arrived in theaters later that year. 

More...

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Friday
Jan292016

Sundance Buzz: Short Film Winners

The Czech queer short "Peacock" won Best DirectorWith the Academy Award short nominees opening in theaters today, it's a good time to note that the Sundance short film jury handed out their awards this week. This year's jury of three was Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key, MTV's chief film critic Amy Nicholson, and Amazon Studio's Gina Kwon. Since Sundance is a qualifying festival for Academy Awards you might hear the name of some of these shorts again in about a year. One of last year's big winners, for example, was World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt. That's an Oscar nominee right now for Best Animated Short. 

The 2016 Short Film Winners are as follows:

 

Grand Jury Prize Thunder Road (USA, Jim Cummings) an officer eulogizes his mother. Cummings is a producer/director with some shorts under his belt.
U.S. Fiction The Procedure (USA, Calvin Lee Reeder) a horror short about a captive man. Reeder has made several horror shorts and directed one of the segments in that anthology V/H/S
International Fiction Maman(s) (France, Maïmouna Doucouré) This one is about a young girl in a Parisian suburb whose father returns from Senegal with a surprise, a second wife
Non-FictionBacon & God's Wrath (Canada, Sol Friedman)  an elderly Jewish woman cooking bacon for the first time and reflecting on her life. This short also received an honorable mention from the jury at TIFF in September so perhaps it's a legit long list contender for next year's Documentary Short competition?


AnimationEdmond (UK, Nina Gantz) see the teaser above. This short has been making the rounds for a bit now. It recently won the BIFA and it's a BAFTA nominee this year but it did not make the longlist cut to 10 finalists for the current Oscar competition
Outstanding Performance Grace Glowicki won for Her Friend Adam (Canada, Benjamin Petrie) in which her boyfriend's jealousy spirals out of control.
Special Jury Award for Best Direction: Peacock (Czech Republic, Ondřej Hudeček). Peacock bills itself as "a twisted queer romance" it's set in the 19th century and has something to do with the birth of an influential writer. The film promises "Suspense, laughter, violence, hope, nudity, sex, and a happy ending—mostly a happy ending."

 

Monday
Jan252016

Sundance Buzz Pt 1: Birth of a Nation, Manchester by the Sea, Tallulah

Let's check in with the high altitudes of Sundance for a moment. Before we begin a word of 'don't believe the hype' caution. Sundance has the dubious distinction of being the single festival with the highest ratio of critical raves morphing suddenly to real world mehs. Altitude sickness? Long delays between festivals and premieres? Who knows. The buzz sometimes translate (Precious) but you can't ever fully trust it and sometimes it's the films with very quiet receptions that the real world actually embraces (last year's key examples: I'll See You In My Dreams and A Walk in the Woods).

Let's talk about eight new films after the jump, okay?

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Monday
Jan252016

Sundance Retro: 1990's "Longtime Companion" 

Team Experience is looking back on past Sundance winners since we aren't attending this year. Here's Kyle Turner on an LGBT indie that took the Audience Award and proved so popular in release that it even snagged a Best Supporting Actor nomination (Bruce Davison) at the Oscars a year later.

an early scene in Longtime Companion

In the first fifteen minutes of Longtime Companion, the words “Did you see the article?” fall from around a dozen different characters’ mouths. It’s July 1981, when the New York Times published its piece titled “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals”, and the way news gets around is by press and by word of mouth. These characters, all gay men in their 20s and 30s, shrug it off, try to carry on with their lives. 

To them, this cancer is nebulous, unworthy of their time, and yet something that occupies their thoughts all the same. Thus, the film exists within a particular time, where information is dispersed differently, yet dismissed similarly.

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Thursday
Dec172015

Berlinale - Which films will Meryl Streep soon be judging?

Murtada here to talk Berlinale which runs February 11th through the 21st. The Berlin Film Festival just announced titles for its Panorama section. These are possibly movies we will be talking about all through 2016, as we are still talking about 45 Years which made its debut there all the way back in February.

Gerwig and Hawke in Maggie's Plan

Among the titles is TIFF and NYFF entry Maggie’s Plan from director writer Rebecca Miller and starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore. Gerwig has admitted during a Q&A at NYFF that she based her character’s look on Miller’s style. That got us fantasizing that the movie is a roman a clef about how Miller married Daniel Day Lewis soon after he was involved with Isabelle Adjani. After all Moore is playing a sorta crazy European.

Another interesting title is John Michael McDonagh’s War on Everyone with Michael Pena, Alexander Skarsgard and Theo James. All you fans of The Guard should be excited. Other titles include films from Ghana, Morocco and of course France. The full list is here.

 

Firth and Law in Genius

But more importantly who does Meryl get to judge as president of the jury?

First is Michael Grandage’s Genius which stars the man who presented her with that 3rd Oscar and her co-star from The Hours. Genius tells the true story of the relationship between famous American novelist Thomas Wolfe (played by Jude Law) and iconic editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth). Nicole Kidman is playing Aline Bernstein a costume designer who was in a romantic relationship with Wolfe. Other literary greats depicted in the film are Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West ) and F Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce).

Previously thought to be premiering at SXSW, Jeff Nichols' Midnight Special will now premiere first at Berlin. Starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst, it’s the tale of a boy who may have supernatural powers and all the bad guys in his pursuit.

Actor/Director Vincent Perez (Queen Margot) rallied up Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson to play a couple who start working against the Nazis after the death of their only son during WWII in Alone in Berlin. Daniel Bruhl is the SS Officer on their tail in the first of two 2016 movies where he plays a member of that infamous group, the other being the Jessica Chastain vehicle The Zookeeper’s Wife. (Not at Berlinale).

These titles join the previously announced opening film Hail, Caesar! which will be playing out of competition. Yes it's the latest from Joel and Ethan Coen but more importantly has Tilda Swinton giving Dame Helen Mirren (Trumbo) a run for her money by playing a version of Hedda Hopper. Who will be Capote and who becomes Infamous?

Kidman, Thompson, Moore, Swinton. Who’s first on your list based on these descriptions?

Saturday
Nov142015

AFI Fest Closing Night - The Big Short

Anne Marie here, wiping the glitter from my eyes after another year of AFI Fest.

The closing night party of AFI Fest presented by Audi was the premiere of The Big Short, the star-studded story of the 2007 financial crisis. Director Adam McKay is best known for comedies like Anchorman, but in defiance of genre expectations, McKay has adapted a book by Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame. Nearly the entire cast walked the red carpet: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Christian Bale were in attendance (minus Brad Pitt), along with the lesser-used-but-no-lesser-in-our-minds Melissa Leo, Finn Wittrock, Adepero Oduye, and Academy Award Winner Marisa Tomei.

The Big Short is a tough sell as Wall Street movies go. If it had been made 2 or 3 years ago, McKay's comedy drama might have been considered on point, but after the Occupy Movement, Wolf of Wall Street, and an economy finally limping back towards recovery, The Big Short may have trouble motivating an audience. Part of its challenge is that McKay's protagonists are the traders who profited off of the collapse of the economy. Three groups of traders - Christian Bale's glass-eyed genius, Carell's angry Chicken Little, and Brad Pitt's charismatic "retired" trader, all corralled by Ryan Gosling's slick Wall Street insider - see the housing market bubble about to explode, and decide to bet against the house. McKay attempts to portray them as prophetic, or at least clear-eyed in the face of systematic stupidity, but a third act shift towards righteous indignation does away with any good will that may have been built.

Tone is a struggle overall for McKay, and the weakest point of a film with a lot of balls in the air. How exactly do you make a movie about the financial market that is entertaining, informative, and accessible? Drawing from his comedy roots, McKay keeps the build up to 2007 fairly light, adding fantastical inserts in order to explain financial concepts. (The audience favorite was Margot Robbie in a bubble bath explaining subprime loans.) However, these stylistic risks, along with random intertitles and quick montages, as often as not obscure rather than enlighten. Once the financial crisis hits, McKay pulls an abrupt about-face, and righteous indignation takes hold. Whether audiences take to the film's message may depend on how redundant this righteous indignation feels 2 hours into the movie and 7 years after the fact.

At the afterparty, crowds swarmed around the major stars who made a fairly hasty exit. However, we stuck around and got to meet Adepero Oduye, who plays a small role as Steve Carell's advisor in The Big Short, but is better known as the star of Dee Rees's lauded 2011 film Pariah. Nathaniel snagged a picture with Oduye and chatted with her about Meryl Streep's shoutout at the 2012 Golden Globes (all roads do lead to Meryl).

Later, we got into a brief conversation with Oduye about Pariah's influence. She was extremely gracious as she gushed over the film's personal signficance for her, and its importance in LGBTQ representation of people of color. Then we chatted about passion projects. We ended the conversation with a hug. That was hands down the warmest way I've ever ended a film festival.