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

Carol is genius - we asked the team 'why'


"Peaking at the right time" - Mark

"Todd Haynes. his power his influence his acclaim and yes genius!" - Jows


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 Hit Me With Your Best Shot (194)


HMWYBS: Repulsion (1965) 

Not with a bang but with a whisper. That's the way Hit Me With Your Best Shot season ends this year. We didn't want to let our signature craft-loving series go... so we extended by a few random spaced-out episodes but as it turns out this series needs the weekly check-list reminder to keep the party hopping. So next season we'll return to our March-August madness only.

Happily, whispering feels appropriate when it comes to our final film this season: Repulsion (1965) in which Catherine Deneuve barely speaks because there's probably no room in her brain for words what with sex filling every metaphoric or literal (if you will) crack.

What would Roman Polanski make of the virginal Final Girl trope that took over the horror genre about a dozen years after his masterful trilogy of horror flicks wherein people lose their marbles (and possibly souls) in apartment buildings? (More...)

Click to read more ...


Top Ten '86 Flashback. Plus A Room With a "Best Shot"!

We've done a terrible job of having top tens ready for you every Tuesday so here's a quickie from 1986 since it's Best Shot time again.

Top Ten Films of 1986

  1. A Room With a View (James Ivory)
  2. Aliens (James Cameron)
  3. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen)
  4. Little Shop of Horrors (Frank Oz)
  5. My Beautiful Laundrette (Stephen Frears)
  6. The Fly (David Cronenberg)
  7. Betty Blue (Jean-Jacques Beineix)
  8. Peggy Sue Got Married (Francis Ford Coppola)
  9. Parting Glances (Bill Sherwood)
  10. The Mosquito Coast (Peter Weir)

Disclaimer: I haven't seen many of these films in a very long time. I am sure there are major titles I should reconsider or see for the first time since I wasn't seeing movies as voraciously back then. 

What does your top ten from that year look like?

Basically the top three there are "all-timers" for Nathaniel, not just for an annual list. And yes yes, I'm aware that IMDb considers the James Ivory classic a 1985 movie but that's stupid because it did not open that year. It opened nowhere that year. It opened in both its home country of the UK and in the USA and then spread to other countries in the early summer of 1986. It was a big deal, crossing over from the arthouse and justly receiving a slew of Oscar and BAFTA nominations (and actual statues, too). If you've never seen it, I envy you your first time. 

Please click over to see the choices and read these articles. My choice will be up tomorrow so if you're running late you still have time! REPULSION, our finale of the season, will also be delayed two days (you have until Thursday the 29th to post your choice) because we have a sudden trip to London for The Danish Girl interviews this weekend so Tuesday will be impossible.


The film is never lacking for gorgeous imagery, with even the most perfunctory medium dialogue shots being frames you want to live inside.


The fact that it's a depiction of a literal room with a view wasn't part of my calculation


When my mind and body long for relaxation and comfort, I usually swing the ‘costume drama’ window wide open and let it soothe my soul... 


Loved every preening, posh second of Daniel Day-Lewis's performance.


Maggie Smith, she’s the ultimate symbol of the film’s humor, making (poor) Charlotte Bartlett into one of her most remarkable creations and an indispensable part of the film’s comedic construction.


If it wasn’t for the costumes and some of the dialogue, the movie could have been set in almost any time period...


Like many films chosen for this series, A Room with a View is a film I had meant to see sooner, but just never got around to it. 


Oh look!...

Exactly! Look at these movies. Pick a shot. Repulsion (1965) starring Catherine Deneuve is next on October 29th.


Best Shot: Final Two Episodes! 

We promised two episodes to conclude our sixth season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Join us in these parties by picking what you think of as the movie's "best shot" on the following days. We'll link up.

A ROOM WITH A VIEW (James Ivory)
Deadline Wed October 21st - Here are the first articles ! 
One of the greatest movies ever according to sane people like your host. "Merchant/Ivory" became a substitute name for an entire genre (the costume drama) for a time but there was never anybody as good at as them in their heyday. See Helena Bonham Carter & Daniel Day Lewis as engaged young Brits back when they were babies before anybody knew who they were. Plus Rupert Graves and Julian Sands at their prettiest. And, last but not least, Dame Maggie & Judi, best friends in real life, as best friends on screen. And so much more! 
Netflix Instant | Criterion Collection | Amazon Instant 

REPULSION (Roman Polanski)
Deadline Thursday Evening October 29th
In which virginal Catherine Deneuve totally loses her (mental) shit. A psychological horror and the first of Polanski's three consecutive films about people losing their minds in apartment buildings. (Rosemary's Baby was right around the corner.) 
Netflix Rental | Criterion Collection | YouTube Full Movie

You in?


Belated Thoughts / Wide Eyes: Mad Max Fury Road's "Best Shot"

Nathaniel, reporting, one sleep before TIFF screenings drag me into the darkness and swallow me up...

one of the scariest images ever onscreen. one of the best title card intros, too.

Have you finished reading the previous choices for Mad Max Fury Road's "Best Shot" in the visual index? It's one of most perfect subjects for this series we've ever chosen, in no small part because the movie's gargantuan pleasures stem so specifically from the visual storytelling, rather than from dialogue, performance or sound --though those bring their own pleasures, of course. In fact, there is not a lot of dialogue in the film. Neither is their any exposition for expositions sake. The story is all there in the imagery, a grand adventure which can be enjoyed on multiple levels, provided you're really looking at it. Unlike many fine films we see each year, it's impossible to imagine this one in another form. It's neither a novel with pictures nor possible to conceive of as a stage play; Fury Road is pure cinema. 

For this, we cinephiles, must raise our hands in that pyramid shape the War Boys are so fond of and pay respects. Not to Immortan Joe who claims himself the "Redeemer" who saved his slave-like masses but to director George Miller and his cinematographer John Seale who are saving the action picture. (At least for now. Miller, like fellow rare action genius James Cameron, works too infrequently to actually do permanent rescue.) More... 

Click to read more ...


Visual Index ~ Mad Max: Fury Road "Best Shots"

For this week's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, our last until October, we're looking at George Miller's thrilling return to his signature franchise Mad Max: Fury Road. It's the kind of movie that, as we just discussed on the "best of summer podcast," really goes the extra mile. And we're not talking about Imperator Furiosa's detour to "the green place" though that's well out of her way as drives go. George Miller completely outdid himself with this saturated, explosive, delirious, feminist action film.

One shot won't do of course which is why "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" is a communal experience. We each choose one and hopefully it adds up to a survey of a movie's crucial inspired images. My piece will be up late tomorrow before your host heads out for the Toronto International Film Festival and because this movie totally deserves an extra day. If you meant to participate and forgot, you have 24 more hours to get your choice in. I'll add more entries if they come in...

Directed by George Miller (Mad Max, Lorenzo's Oil). Cinematography by John Seale (The English Patient, Witness). Starring Charlize Theron & Tom Hardy
Click on the 10 images to read the 12 corresponding articles

Miller has made his subtext text in this image...
-The Entertainment Junkie 

 Despite being an intensely colorful film, there are actually just two main colors in the film’s palette...
-Magnificent Obsession 

 I was not prepared to be blown away by the awesomeness...

Given the sprawling vistas and circus craziness that are the film's bread and butter, my pick for best shot is almost idiotically off-book:
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

For all the images incongruous potency and humor, it's also a rich story point, introducing us to "the stuff" that got stolen and humanizing it.
-The Film Experience 

It just hit me so hard in the cinema I legit gasped...
-Cinematic Corner 

Movie Motorbreath - VIDEO ENTRY

Throughout Fury Road, character is defined by action; how we react to it and what we do after.

Anguish never looked so beautiful...
-I Want to Believe


The grand spectacle that Miller created in that vast, unforgiving, and beautiful desert wasteland...
-Sorta That Guy

a palpable sense of the scale of the action...
-Film Actually

The movie is full of scenes that reveal themselves with a remarkable efficiency
-Awards Circuit 

AGAIN. You have 24 more hours to get your "best shot" in before we close out this episode late Tuesday night before TIFF travels begin!


HMWYBS: Angels in America (2003)

What follows is a republishing of a piece I'm proud of from our very first season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot (you can see the index of all six seasons here) when I was somehow far more concise with "Best Shot" despite feeling like I was overdoing it. I've added in notes and links for contributions from other Best Shot participants and I'd like to thank Manuel heartily before we begin for his fascinating contextual work on HBO's long history of LGBT films and series this summer and for sharing this week's HBO LGBT episode with us for our redo episode of this Great Work. Read that piece before you read this. Ready? Let's begin...

Tony Kushner's extraordinary two part stage epic Angels in America centers around two overlapping young couples in the mid 80s, struggling married Mormons, pill popping Harper and her closeted husband Joe and the gay couple Louis and Prior they become connected spiritually (Harper befriends Prior... in her dreams) and physically (Joe becomes Louis's other lover). But it's also about politics, immigration, religion, identity, and evolution and encompasses multiple other characters from Louis's outspoken gay friend Belize, to Joe's mother, to the evil lawyer Roy Cohn, the dead Communist Ethel Rosenberg, and a frequently orgasmic Angel who descends on many of the players. This masterpiece was adapted for the screen in 2003 by Oscar winner Mike Nichols. Along its journey it won 7 Tonys, The Pulitzer, and later 5 Golden Globes and 11 Emmys and here's the thing: it deserved every single prize. If you haven't seen it drop everything (seriously everything) because it is unmissable. I've seen it performed on stage three times in three different states with wildly different budgets and casts and seen the miniseries a few times too... and every single time it's a fascinating prismatic living thing, like it will always be teaching you, entertaining you, and provoking you.

Rather than limit myself to one shot I'm picking one from each of its chapter. This I can manage!

Chapter 1 "Bad News"

Click to read more ...


HBO’s LGBT History: Angels in America (2003)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at Gus Van Sant Palme d’Or winner, Elephant, which sparked some great conversations about the merits of that one shower scene. I’ll say this: that so many of us had such visceral reactions to his film is in itself worth celebrating. Also, from hate crimes to gender transitions to mass shootings, was HBO ahead of the curve or are we merely being shown how little has changed in this past decade?

This week we tackle Tony Kushner and Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking miniseries, Angels in America. It took Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play close to ten years to make it on screen. Beginning as a Robert Altman two-part TV movie (with rumored roles for Julia Roberts, Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert Downey Jr. and Tim Robbins), later being offered to such varied directors as PJ Hogan, Neil LaBute, Jonathan Demme, and Gus Van Sant himself, HBO eventually stepped in and handed Mike Nichols Kushner’s miniseries script. The rest, as they say, is history. And since this is such a momentous piece of television history, we’re hosting it as a Hit Me With Your Best Shot celebration. (Later tonight, you can see Nathaniel's choices and those from other participants)

First my runner-up:

Orgasm as heavenly combustion. Lesbianism as holy communion. Emma and Meryl. There are so many things to love about this image (I love Hannah Pitt’s commitment to keeping her shoes on, for example), and it’s in a way a companion piece to my all-time favorite moment in the series.

My favorite shot: (and yes, I know it's cliché)

A New York City apartment. Amidst the Reaganite politics of the United States in the late 80s, former drag queen Prior Walter, a recently diagnosed AIDS patient, has been left by his partner Louis and finds himself all alone with fevers, sores, night sweats, visions of ancestral messengers, heavenly echoes of prophecy and the coming of an Angel. So ends “The Messenger” the third episode of the HBO miniseries (ie. the end of Millennium Approaches, the first half of Kushner’s play). By the start of Perestroika, and upon retelling his encounter with the female Angel to his friend Belize, Prior can’t help but remark that: “The sexual politics of this are very confusing.” The scene as written on the page is breathtaking. In Nichols’ hands it’s heavenly.

It’s not just that this shot is beautiful, though it is what with those yellow hues, the gorgeously frayed roof, and Thompson’s pearly white Angel costume. For me, it’s one of the moments where Kushner’s own “pared down” style of Brechtian theatricality, and Nichols’ commitment to naturalism find a perfect balance. This “Gay Fantasia on National Themes” lives and dies in its tonal shifts, being both a gay melodrama (with its breakups, divorces, sex romps) and a feverish day-dream (with its angels, ghosts, sex romps). This one scene, with the Angel announcing that “The Great Work begins” is the apotheosis of both, underscoring both Prior’s loneliness and increasingly loose connection with the world around him after losing Louis, and highlighting the fantastical elements of Kushner’s script which connect the AIDS plague with issues of movement, migration, faith, and humanity. If the human race is to survive, they must stop. Stop moving. Stop wanting. Stop desiring. And perhaps more importantly, stop having sex. The allegory is both blunt and nuanced. By the end of the piece, Prior says he desires more life,

It just... It just... We can’t just stop. We’re not rocks - progress, migration, motion is... modernity. It’s animate, it’s what living things do. We desire. Even if all we desire is stillness, it’s still desire for. Even if we go faster than we should. We can’t wait.

I also love the framing; with its wide angle, it’s almost like we’re watching a stage (bonus: note Prior’s actressexual altar in the corner!) and while Thompson’s angel (a bemused bird-like creature) crashes the scene, you can almost see the wires showing (“and maybe it’s good that they do,” Kushner’s playwright notes point out). It’s not surprising this was used as the main image in the promo materials for the miniseries (it’s even the DVD cover!) as it so embodies the duality that so defines this piece: ethereal and corporeal, the heavenly and the earthly; heck, even the gay and the straight. Yes, the Angel and Prior copulate, but it’s as queer a configuration as one could ask for (“she has eight vaginas” we’re told). Yes, the sexual politics are very confusing. For they have to be. This is a messy, sprawling piece whose ragged edges merely mirror the fragmented world it is trying to depict and, in turn, change.

 Fun Awards Fact: In 2004, Angels in America broke the record for most Emmys awarded to a single program (11 of 21 nominations), a record then held by another landmark work on minority representation: ABC’s 1977 Roots: The Saga of an American Family. That record was later broken again in 2008 by another HBO megahit: Tom Hooper’s John Addams. You’ll take solace in knowing that Hooper himself lost the Emmy to Nichols in 2004 (where the former was nominated for Prime Suspect 6) and to Jay Roach (for Recount) in 2008.

Next week: We pause again on HBO’s television output by looking at three LGBT characters from three of HBO’s most talked-about television shows: The Sopranos, The Wire and Carnivàle (You can stream episodes of each on HBO Go and Amazon Prime). Any fans of these dark dramas?