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Entries in Grand Budapest Hotel (14)

Thursday
Jul032014

Halfway Pt. 1: What if They Voted on the Oscars Right Now?

Oscar Chart Note: I'm experiencing some coding problems with the charts so I apologize for the update delays. Until it's fixed, please to enjoy this hypothetical discussion as we begin our Halfway Mark Review...


Happy July! We're now officially done with the first half of the year. There are MANY films to come including the bulk of Oscar contenders given Hollywood's preferred release patterns. But that doesn't mean the film year hasn't already delivered enormous pleasure. All conscientous Oscar voters, cinephiles, and critics ought to keep a list so they aren't tricked into believing that the thing they saw 5 minutes ago is the only thing worth voting for six months from now.

Which naturally begs the question: If the voting was sprung on everyone right now, which films would AMPAS go for? It's worth jotting them down because they have a head start and they'd be smart to capitalize on it somehow. They need to settle in the mind and hearts as viable options as it were so that the forthcoming biggies will have to unseat them rather than trample them on their way to Oscar thrones.

I'm thinking mostly of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel and Ralph Fiennes as Best Actor. They'd both surely snag nominations if the voting were held today. But at this date, some 17 years into his career, Academy voters haven't yet fully embraced Wes Anderson. Comic performances are always trickier sells so Ralph Fiennes will need to capitalize on the fact that he's playing against type (in a way) and voters respect that. If Budapest hangs on for real Oscar play that should make the waters safe for all future Wes Anderson films (see also: David Fincher, David O. Russell, and Paul Thomas Anderson who all struggled to win attention until Oscar finally caught up with the critical passion and devout public fanbases and now they're automatically "in the conversation" before their films arrive.) 

Let's fantasize about what might be nominated if the voting were cut off right now when so few expected contenders have opened. My guesses as to the nominees go like so...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May302014

Oscar Quandaries: Original OR Adapted?

The Screenplay categories were not always as fluid as they are now and once adhered to very strict rules about a script's prior existence. Now, they let you get away with a little fudging which started in force a dozen years ago when Gangs of New York and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which had spent all of their pre-release hype talking about being adapted from [insert fabulous thing here] were suddenly "originals" through complicated explanations once awards season was in sway and it became clear that the original category was infinitely less competitive. Since then much has changed and now previously established characters is a thing everyone does to fight for adapted (when it suits them) and the lines are really blurry.

ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL. EITHER COULD HAPPEN...

So here are four plus movies that seem like they're balancing on a wire between original and adapted. Which way will they fall? 

Bruce Wagner's Maps to the Stars screenplay was a screenplay first, then it became a novel ("Dead Stars") when the movie plans fell through. It's now a screenplay again for a David Cronenberg movie. So if the movie picks up steam once it's released and not just as a curio given Julianne Moore's Cannes win, who knows? In ye olden times this would clearly be Adapted because the old hard line was once 'Previously Published or Produced Material'... but now I'm not sure.

Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel is "inspired by" the writings of Stefan Zweig ... which might mean adapted but "inspired by" is also the excuse Gangs of New York used to change its campaign from adapted to original. So I'm guessing this is up in the air until Fox Searchlight really starts campaigning (and they should).

Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert is based on the life story of Gertrud Bell but so far there are no books credited on IMDb or in articles about the film. Several books have been written about her. Is this a Milk situation where it will claim "original" despite vast reams of information to draw from written by others? And if so, is there anything wrong with that? Perhaps we need a third screenplay category for true stories that are adapted from a wide variety of sources. Other True Story This Might Apply To: Pawn Sacrifice another film about chess prodigy Bobby Fischer)

Damien Chazelle's music drama Whiplash, which has been very well received in the festival circuit, seems like the type of indie that could make waves in Original Screenplay. Only problem is it's technically adapted. It's based on Chazelle's own short film of the same name. This same situation occurred last year with Short Term 12. To date I'm not aware of anyone who tried to argue that adapting yourself is not a thing -- even Nia Vardalos, when Greek Wedding changed course argued that she'd written her comedy hit as a screenplay first before adapting it into a play so therefore it was an original (Bruce Wagner could argue the same this year for Maps to the Stars if he wants).

Under the old clear rules of "previously published or produced" you couldn't get around this even if you absolutely wrote the thing as a screenplay first but for the past 12 years these categories are more fluid and I wouldn't put it past some savvy strategist to claim original and basically negate the hypothetical 'can you adapt your own movie into a new movie?' question when it comes to these categories. 

SCREENPLAY CHARTS

Sunday
Apr202014

Easter Podcast: Noah, Under the Skin, Budapest Hotel

SEASON PREMIERE
Ready for another year of the podcast? The gang is back: Nathaniel R, (The Film Experience), Joe Reid (The Wire), Katey Rich (Vanity Fair) and Nick Davis (Nick's Flick Picks) reunite to discuss this unusually robust auteur spring at the movies. 

This week's topics: Darren Aronofsky's peculiar muddy vision for Noah starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly & Emma Watson; Jonathan Glazer (Birth) and Scarlett Johansson's Under the Skin; and Wes Anderson's biggest hit The Grand Budapest Hotel. Did we want to check in and stay?

Under Noah's Skin at the Budapest Hotel
00:00 Noah (story diversion, auteur vision, character work)
18:45 Under the Skin (visual storytelling, interpretation, Scarlett)
29:00 Noah and Under the Skin (in communication)
36:30 The Grand Budapest Hotel (inside & outside friction, accepting Wes, art direction)
44:30 Ralph Fiennes and the movies Oscar buzz
49:00 Other movie recommendations: Le Week-end and Blue Ruin.

You can listen to the podcast at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.me, I Heart Huckabees, Taxi Driver, King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambíen, 

Under Noah's Skin at the Budapest Hotel

Friday
Apr042014

The Faces of Jude

Here's abstew on one of TFE's very favorite actors

This past Wednesday saw the limited release of the British film Dom Hemingway about a safecracker that is recently released from prison after serving 12 years. The marketing material is also quick to point out that he's played by Jude Law because it's not immediately apparent.(The film also stars The Mother of Dragons herself, Emilia Clarke, as his...daughter! Well, at least she's not the love interest. At least, I hope not.)

Sporting a couple gold teeth, the craziest mutton chops not normally seen outside of a Civil War reenactor, and more girth than usual (Law gained 30 pounds for the role and it's not even Oscar bait!), the role is certainly a departure for the man that was once Dickie Greenleaf. (Although he's still kinda sexy as Dom. Am I crazy?)

Even in his early roles it was often noted that Law was a character actor trapped in the body of a movie star. Although he's been named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive before, he's hardly an actor to rely solely on his good looks. Throughout his career he's been allowed to embrace the character actor aspect of his roles and experiment with his appearance along the way.

Let's take a look back at some of his most memorable looks!

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar302014

The Weekend's Only Pun-Free Box Office Report

Amir reporting. You’ve heard it all: Noah stormed the theatres; audiences flooded to see it; “Oh, Noah! The film isn’t very good;” Aronofski’s drowning in his worst reviews since The Fountain was showered with… oh fuck it! This will be the only pun-free box office report you will read this Sunday. (But yes, since you’re asking, Noah did sail comfortably ahead of the competition!)

With even stronger numbers coming in from abroad, Aronofsky’s latest is going to be a massive international hit despite the (mostly made up) controversies that preceded its release. On the other hand, God’s Not Dead barely dropped at all from last week’s astonishing sales. Perhaps Freestyle Releasing, the film’s distributor, has intentionally pit it against Noah to offer an ideological alternative? Am I reading too much into it? Possibly.

BOX OFFICE
01 NOAH $44 *new*
02 DIVERGENT $26.5 (cum. $95.2) Review / Jai Courtney
03 MUPPETS MOST WANTED $11.3 (cum. $33.2)
04 MR PEABODY & SHERMAN $9.5 (cum. $94.9) this franchise's history
05 GOD'S NOT DEAD $9.0 (cum. $22.0)
06 THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL  $8.8 (cum. $24.4)
07 SABOTAGE $5.3 *new*
08 NEED FOR SPEED  $4.3 (cum. $37.7)
09 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE $4.3 (cum. $101.1)
10 NON-STOP $4 (cum. $85.1) Amir's Review 

Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is another film that continues its powerful streak, and for good reason. Despite what you might hear elsewhere, this is Anderson’s best film, give or take Fantastic Mr. Fox and a real delight. Most of his films look like pastries; this one tastes as sweet, too. With a worldwide gross that is already in the ballpark of the total of his biggest hits ($69m for Budapest to Moonrise’s 68m and Tenenbaum’s 71m) it is clear that Anderson’s dioramic designs and eccentric humor are no longer for a niche audience. Irrespective of what one thinks of the film, it’s worth celebrating that an auteur with such a distinctive vision can do solid business without compromising his artistic sensibilities.

Cesar Chavez, a rare chance to see Michael Peña in the lead and the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Sabotage were the weekend’s other wide releases. Sight unseen, I’m willing to bet the latter is the biggest waste of Olivia Williams’ talent. On the limited side, two documentaries opened for the lucky readers living in major markets. Mistaken for Strangers follows the unfairly derided band The National and is as close as one can get to an interesting music documentary. Finding Vivian Maier is artless as a film but its subject, a mysteriously reclusive street photographer who spent decades working as a nanny, is so fascinating that it makes up for the shortcomings.

What have you watched this weekend?