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Entries in FYC (72)

Saturday
Dec132014

Team FYC: A Most Wanted Man for Best Adapted Screenplay

Editor's Note: We're nearing the end of our individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. Here's Amir on "A Most Wanted Man".

Anton Corbijn’s latest film, A Most Wanted Man, is one of the year’s best American films. It’s the type of work that is elevated above the trappings of its overly familiar genre with superb performances and intelligent observations on the real world conditions that give birth to its story. It is arguably the smartest film made about America’s increasingly troubled relationship with, and its definition of, terrorism. Yet, it is surprising to compare the film's screenplay, penned by Andrew Bovell, to its original source, the 2008 novel of the same name by John le Carré, and notice the dramatic improvement that the adaptation has made to the text. 

With densely plotted novels, particularly in the espionage genre, one of the biggest challenges of adaptation is the careful omission of narrative threads without disrupting the harmony or logic of the story. Le Carré’s book is one of his lesser works, a straightforward piece about Issa (Gregoriy Dobrygin), a Chechen fugitive in Hamburg, whose history of being tortured in his homeland is sufficient cause for authorities (German and American) to assume ties with terrorist organizations. Issa’s story is intertwined to three other protagonists who are afforded equal attention in the novel: a banker named Tommy Brue (Willem Defoe), a lawyer named Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) and a spy named Gunther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman)...

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Thursday
Dec112014

Team FYC: The Grand Budapest Hotel for Sound Editing and Mixing

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. Here's Teo on the sound work in Golden Globe nominee, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

 By now, Wes Anderson's house style has become so familiar that it can be easy to take it (and him) for granted. But for fans, the surface similarity of his films is just an invitation to look for the differences. And in every way, a closer look at The Grand Budapest Hotel pays off.

I had the opportunity to sound edit a film over the summer. It was a documentary, but in a process like sound editing, the difference between documentary and fiction film is generally negligible. You fix what the on-set mics couldn't capture. You try to find or create sounds that can approximate what you lost. What's unique about Anderson's sound editing is that he doesn't try to make his films sound like reality any more than he tries to make his films look like reality. Instead, Wes Anderson's films are filled with sounds that are almost hyper-real. They're crisply recorded and minimal in their design...

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Team FYC: Obvious Child for Best Picture

Editor's Note: We're nearing the end of our individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar / Globe / SAG race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be a voter, take note! Here's Matthew Eng on "Obvious Child". (Do you think it can swing a Globe nod?)

In the category of “Movies That I’m Thrilled Even Exist,” Obvious Child would easily take the cake this year, without question. Writer-director Gillian Robespierre, in the first of a hopefully long line of complex, female-focused comedies, has crafted a film that takes such confident and unfussily righteous pride in its pro-abortion stance, all the more crucial considering the efforts still being made to demonize and outlaw the act.

Working with co-writers Karen Maine and Elisabeth Holm, and in tandem with the warm, witty, and wondrously empathetic efforts of redoubtable leading lady Jenny Slate, Robespierre has produced a near-rarity: a romcom heroine we can believe in. [More...]

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Team FYC: Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Belle" for Best Actress

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's abstew on "Belle".

As a graduate of Great Britain's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Gugu Mbatha-Raw was trained in the classics of British theatre. She began her career treading the boards in productions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with Andrew Garfield and Hamlet on Broadway with Jude Law. Like most classically trained British thespians making the leap to the big screen, a Merchant Ivory-type period piece would naturally lend itself to her Shakespearean background. But despite her pedigree, Mbatha-Raw probably wouldn't traditionally be cast as Queen Elizabeth I or Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett on film. Which is why her breakout performance as Dido Elizabeth Belle in the real-life story about a biracial heiress in 18th Century England that defied the conventions of the day, couldn't have been a better fit for Mbatha-Raw, tailor-made for her talents and utilizing her classical training.

In most corset dramas, the greatest concerns seem to be about finding a husband to secure financial stability. But Belle, while still maintaining a romance we come to expect from the genre (with Sam Reid's law apprentice, a man as noble and just as he is handsome), is concerned with loftier issues. Race, class, and social injustice are all part of the bigger picture and at its center is the remarkable Mbatha-Raw, giving a face and humanity to what could very easily turn into a film about ideas.

Raised alongside her cousin as if they were sisters, yet at the same time not allowed to dine with her own family, Dido is caught in-between worlds. Mbatha-Raw's expressive face, at turns inquisitive and knowing, effortlessly conveys the internal and emotional struggle Dido confronts everyday. In one heart-breaking scene, she rubs and beats at her skin, its color a constant reminder of her difference. Tears stream down her face as her frustration overwhelms her. And in that moment Mbatha-Raw allows us viscerally to feel Dido's plight, communicating this woman's important and fascinating story with intelligence and compassion.

And if that wasn't enough, Mbatha-Raw showed her range and versatility by delivering an equally compelling performance in a completely different role about identity as a modern-day pop star in Beyond the Lights. But as Dido in Belle, Mbatha-Raw gives the kind of performance that heralds the arrival of a new star, a signature role that will become synonymous with the actress. Hopefully the Academy takes notice as well, rewarding this young thespian with a nomination for her efforts and crowning 2014's best new cinematic discovery. 

 Other FYCs 
Costume Design The Boxtrolls | Production Design Enemy | Editing Citizenfour Makeup and Hair, Only Lovers Left Alive | Best Actor, Locke | Supporting Actress, Gone Girl | Visual FX, Under the Skin | Cinematography, The Homesman | Outstanding Ensembles | Screenplay, The Babadook |  Original ScoreThe Immigrant 

Monday
Dec082014

Team FYC: "The Boxtrolls" for Costume Design

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Andrew on The Boxtrolls.

Will an animated film ever get a fair chance of making it into Oscar's costume design category?  

This past decade alone, the stop motion wing of animated film has impressed with characters from Corpse Brides to Foxes Fantastic. It's a shame to ignore fine costume design simply because it's not happening in a live action setting. Enter: this consideration for The Boxtrolls for a myriad of reasons.

The intricate designs amaze with their attention to period detail - there’s almost no question that were this a live action film Cook’s work would emerge as a significant contender. The levels of eccentricity, too, push it up beyond your standard period fare.  I’m moved to think of Jacqueline Durran’s Oscar-winning work on Anna Karenina (2012), which wasn't just ornate as period work but also overwhelmingly in touch with the idiosyncratic tone of its film and the characters inside it. From Winnie to Lady Portley-Rind to Mr Trout and onwards The Boxtrolls is an impressive case of costume actually informing character. When a character's costume is so specific it couldn't work for another character, you know it's on to something. For The Boxtrolls, costumes are not incidental (which makes the ommission of Cook's name from the credits for her work on IMDB's page for The Boxtolls that more egregious).

Laika Inc (the studio that brought us ParaNorman and the excellent Coraline) seem to be campaigning hard for Deborah Cook's work to make Oscar history. It’s an ambitious goal and, like acclaimed motion capture acting, it's probably a long road before this becomes an Oscar reality, but the fact that her work is being acknowledged and publicly discussed is a step in the right direction.

If we were to ask you to name five films this year where character attributes are so reflective in and dependent on the specificity of the costumes, wouldn’t The Boxtrolls be on your list? For sheer beauty and innovation wouldn't it make your top three? That’s a good enough reason to launch a rousing campaign for Cook’s work.

Sunday
Dec072014

Team FYC: Enemy for Production Design

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Jason on Enemy.

Toronto is a city always standing in for other places; I grew up about two hours from it and I've visited many times (I love that I saw David Cronenberg's Crash, filmed in that city, on a downtown screen there since it wasn't playing anywhere closer to me) and I've always described the town as "New York City, but clean." It is a bit sterile, a lot cold (I refer you to Cronenberg again - where else could he possibly call home?), a bit personality-free. So what better place to set Denis Villenueve's Enemy, a dark nightmare of doubles, then?

Jose Saramago's novel The Double, on which the film is based, is of course set in Portugal but more importantly it spends big chunks carrying its characters off to the countryside; Enemy however never makes it out of downtown Toronto -- there is no "out of Toronto." The city seen from far above floats between the Great Lake on one side and tundra or mist or maybe just the edge of the known world on the other; meanwhile the streets are webbed with trolley-wires and the buildings all seem like computer renderings half-finished. We see people walking the streets but they have all the presence of the ghosts haunting The Matrix, and the expressways seem to endlessly circle around in a Truman Show like loop.

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