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Demme (RIP) and His Players

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Entries in Jean Marc-Vallée (7)

Saturday
Mar112017

Big Little Lies MVPs: Episode 3 "Living The Dream"

Editor's Note: To get us all caught up for Sunday's 4th episode (we'll start covering the series as it airs now), and so that I can get to "Feud" and the latest episode of "Pfandom," I'm handing over the reigns to episode 3 to our new contributor Spencer Coile for a fresh set of eyes.

Top Ten MVPs of Big Little Lies. Episode 3 "Living The Dream" 
In the third episode, Madeline finds out that her oldest daughter Abigail (Kathryn Newton) wants to move in with her dad (James Tupper) and Bonnie. Celeste and Perry (Alexander Skarsgård) attempt to give a another go at counseling. And after a botched family tree project leads Ziggy (Iain Armitage) to ask who his father is, Jane reveals to Madeline that Ziggy was the resut of forced sex with a man supposedly named Saxton Banks. 

"Living The Dream" is Big Little Lies' finest installment thus far, and a list of the episode's major players follows after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar092017

Big Little Lies MVPs: Episode 1 "Somebody's Dead"

by Nathaniel R

She's delicious!

Why yes she is, Alexander, she is. So's the show.

Sometimes, on particularly dark-mood days, as your editor sits in the Film Experience HQ, a lonely room high atop a tower, he worries that he'll spot a mob of angry actressexuals with torches gathering on the road below. They scream "Why haven't you written about _________???"

Such has been the feeling each Sunday night when Big Little Lies has aired on HBO, resplendent with actressing and yet, crickets. So before the mob gathers, we'll try to catch up really quick so we're on the weekly schedule...

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Wednesday
Apr062016

Interview: Chris Cooper on 'Demolition', Creating Characters, and His Favorite Actors

April is Actor Month at TFE. Here's Jose in conversation with one of our best.


In person, Chris Cooper exudes the same suave charm he has onscreen, when we sit down to discuss his work in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition and I refer to him as “Mr. Cooper” he shakes his head and says “call me Chris”. From his oddly approachable John Laroche in Adaptation, to his tough but sensitive Tom Smith in Seabiscuit, Cooper has perfected the art of creating “the memorable everyman”. In Demolition he plays Phil, a man who must cope with the death of his daughter in an accident, and has to learn how to forgive his son-in-law Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) for having survived. Most of Cooper’s scenes involve harsh encounters with Gyllenhaal’s character, who has lost all sense of societal propriety rather than paying tribute to the legacy of his wife.

When I speak to Vallée about the qualities his cast brought to the film, he explained “I observe and try not to interfere with the actors, they use all the space around them, they put stamina and spirit into it”, you can see this in the way with which Cooper in particular moves as if he’s completely unaware that his character exists at the service of a story. He couldn’t seem more comfortable in this fictitious man’s skin if he tried. I spoke to Chris about his process, how he uses external elements to discover the men he plays, and to celebrate Actor’s Month we ended up discussing his favorite thespians.

Our conversation follows...

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Monday
Oct262015

NEWS: Reese, Rocky Horror & The Revenant

Manuel here trying to keep up with exciting news about several TFE faves (and one who hasn’t quite earned that title).

- HBO’s Big Little Lies, which we’ve discussed before since it’s produced and will star the unlikely power duo of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, has “allegedly” found a director. Jean Marc-Vallée, of Wild and (more recently) Demolition (TIFF review) fame is in talks to direct the first episode of the short television series adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s endlessly readable book about suburban secrets. Confession: I read it in one sitting and can’t wait to see how it turns out. Let’s hope they sign Vallée’s contract soon since he’s wont to keep himself busy (presumably with that long-gestating Janis Joplin pic with Amy Adams).

- Orange is the New Black breakout star Laverne Cox has been tapped to play the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter, made iconic by a fishnet-stocking-ed Tim Curry in the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in FOX’s TV remake which unlike NBC’s attempts at television musical revivals, will not be broadcast live but be filmed in advance. Seeing as Frank N. Furter is a “sweet transvestite” the casting of Cox, an outspoken trans activist, is a fascinating case of stunt casting in it of itself though it’s already earning the “hot take” treatment in some online outlets. Needless to say, I’m curious to see Cox’s take on the role, and eagerly await who director Kenny Ortega casts as Rocky Horror. Any suggestions?

- Oh, and I couldn’t not feature the gorgeous new poster for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant.

The film, if you've followed its pre-release chatter, has already won Oscars for Leo, Chivo and potentially everyone else associated with it. (I kid! Though, not really). We were obviously impressed with the teaser trailer and so this evocative one-sheet is no surprise but by god if it’s not pretty. Perhaps a tad pretentious in that it literally defines the title for you. Though, admit it, “revenant” is not really in the vernacular. That neither Leo or Iñárritu’s name are billed anywhere in the poster is fascinating. Is it humility (“let the film speak for itself”) or hubris (“the film doesn’t need to be sold on people’s names”), or perhaps something else?

Tuesday
Dec232014

Podcast: Wild Catcher

In this new episode of The Film Experience, Nick, Joe, and Nathaniel go wandering with Witherspoon and wrestling with Tatum to try to make sense of it all. And by 'all' we mean the directorial styles of Jean-Marc Vallée and Bennett Miller, our complicated and divided personal reactions to the films and the performances, and a light sprinkling of Oscar talk. 

Breakdown
00:01-15:32 Wild 
15:33-41:57 Foxcatcher

Recommended Supplemental Material: 
"The Making of Foxcatcher" - by Mark Harris

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments. 

WILD & FOXCATCHER

Friday
Sep122014

TIFF: Wild, Or How Witherspoon Got Her Groove Back

Nathaniel's adventures in Toronto. Running on fumes... 

Color me surprised that my favorite among the consensus Best Picture hopeful Oscar launches from festival season (the others being Foxcatcher, Imitation Game and Theory of Everything... though I have yet to see Birdman which didn't play here) is Jean-Marc Vallée's Wild, an adaptation of the memoir by Cheryl Strayed. How could a months long solo hike across the Pacific Crest Trail be so cinematic? The answer is in its smart mosaic, visual and aural, as Reese hikes through expansive physical and intimate mental terrain. The present and the past converse and overlap consistently in the sound design like fragments of song sung, hummed or played as if remembered - who is singing? and snippets of dialogue the same evocative way. 

There's not much to say about the plot, the film's most recent kin being Into the Wild though Wild is the stronger film. Reese Witherspoon reminds us why we were all so excited about her in the first place with effortless star magnetism. She doesn't turn on any megawatt charm or do anything strenuous at all with it other than trust that innate cinematic charisma to walk with her on the trail as film-elevating protective gear. That's gear Cheryl needs because those boots aren't made for walking and good god she's got a lot of baggage, both literal (her comically large backpack) and metaphoric, having let herself completely spiral towards a personal abyss with the death of her mother.

More...

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Saturday
Oct122013

Notes From L.A.

backlit by L.A.'s eternal sunshineHello you. It's Nathaniel. I've been absent but with good reason. I'm in Los Angeles for a few days visiting friends and catching up with favorite peeps at a couple of studios before the season hits like a tornado and whisks us all away to the Merry Ol Land of Ozcars. But really things are already spinning furiously. And there's no Kansas. There's only New York and L.A. where your house might land. Los Angeles is sunny and beautiful and there are more blondes per block radius than you could ever imagine in NYC. I get why people love it here but I started longing for the East Coast within 36 hours. People complain that NYC is loud and crowded but at least you don't have to drive. Driving is terrifying here. Google maps is currently in hate with me for my frequent confusions on the road. I've driven to about 6 places and been lost 4 times. 66% chance of things going wrong! Yay me. 

 I just wrapped up a junket at The Four Seasons for Dallas Buyer's Club (more on that film real soon) and the conversation before the talent arrived was all about "locks" for Oscar. The press gathered were saying things like "there are 5 locks for... and 5 locks for..." and if you've been reading The Film Experience for any length of time whatsoever you will know that I was horrified.  This is not how it works people. Sigh. Entire categories don't lock up before the precursors and even when they do firm up, there's usually a deathmatch for slot #5 in any given category. Unless by "lock" you mean "this looks like it might happen but who knows" in which case the symboic word has lost all correlation to its real life counterpart so quit using it. 

I don't normally do junkets since it's virtually impossible to get fresh exclusive coverage from them. Apparently I have control issues because not being able to shape a conversation with a fine director (let's say, oh, Jean Marc-Vallée) or ask about his past work in relation to his new work while the noisiest junketeer in the room merely asks him to regurgitate the entire press note package for his entire alloted time in the room just makes me C.R.A.Z.Y.

HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING, YOU UNDERSTAND.

view from my room at the Four Seasons

 But I can't say that I didn't enjoy my time at the Four Seasons. Lounging poolside first thing in the morning, or typing in a plush bathrobe while the balcony door lets in a cool breeze, or a quick elevator ride up several floors to sit down with Matthew McConaughey? I'll take it!  

P.S. Good god his eyes are blue in person. When he touched the hand of the girl next to me to illustrate a point, I thought she might spontaneously combust. Or melt.

How is your weekend going?