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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 | letterboxd

 

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"I like thinking about the red dress"

The red dress trope is possibly my favorite and certainly the best clothing-related trope out there. When you want to announce to the audience from the rooftops that this character has: PASSION! PERSONALITY!! or is MAYBE DANGEROUS!!!...you put them in a fitted red dress.❞ -Mark the First

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Entries in Jennifer Garner (11)

Monday
Jan062014

Oscar Symposium: The Fifth Spot (Part One)

In which a new Film Experience tradition begins. A pre-nomination mini-symposium about fifth spot battles...

NATHANIEL R: Things that are awesome that come in sets of five: fingers, boy bands, the filmography of John Cazale, golden rings to be used for Olympics or in song, toes, Oscar nominees... It always comes back to the Oscars here at The Film Experience, don't you know?

I never thought of myself as any more averse to change than the average person but when the Academy changed the Best Picture system in 2009 and 2010 to a top ten and then to anything between 5 and 10, the magic number suddenly becoming 9 in both 2011 and 2012, it felt like a direct attack on my sanity. But Oscar categories come in fives!!! I've never stopped internally protesting and whenever anyone suggests that the acting categories should widen as well, a little part of me dies inside or reaches for smelling salts. I've taken solace in recent rule changes that bring Original Song and Visual Effects to a clean five-wide system as well and I pray that Hair and Makeup eventually goes there, too. I need the clarity of that organizing number.

This year we're starting a new mini-symposium tradition at the Film Experience in which we gather to discuss the fifth spot. There's no point in debating the locks but usually at least one spot is up for grabs. Please welcome our panel of five: Kurt Osenlund (The House Next Door), Nathaniel R (The Film Experience, c'est moi), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and You (in the comments). These "what ifs" we're discussing become moot on January 16th when the nominations are announced but they're fun while they last (10 more days!). Eventually each year's acting shortlists take on a feeling of inevitability in retrospect... even the "surprise" nominees that didn't have much support in the precursors.

Are any of you feeling bullish about a surprise nominee that you think will seem inevitable once their name is read on Nomination Morning? [Supporting Categories after the jump...]

Chris, Kurt, Nathaniel, Sasha and You

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov052013

Review: Dallas Buyer's Club

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

"Silence = Death" was a particularly genius political slogan for AIDS activists in the 1980s. Potently succinct, righteously angry, and, best of all, both literally and spiritually true.  The conversations it prompted about systemic gay oppression, political complacency, the importance of frank sexual discussion, and gay liberation -- particularly in regards to the fight against HIV and AIDS --  surely saved countless lives. But isn't it a curious thing that HIV/AIDS in the arts and entertainments still remains so tied to gay-only narratives of roughly a ten year window from the early 80s through the early 90s? Time to tell new stories from fresh perspectives? Enter DALLAS BUYERS CLUB, one of the first AIDS dramas (that I can recall at least) that is not about the gay community. 

Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroff, a hard-living homophobe electrician. When we first meet him he's having a drug-fueled three way with two women behind the scenes at the rodeo. While we're watching him getting it on, he's watching a man getting gored at the rodeo. This opening sequence arguably shoves the entirely less useful 'Sex = Death' argument in your face, but the film quickly finds its footing as an involving drama about a man who doesn't know what's knocked him out and also is too damn stubborn to stay down. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug272013

Yes, No, Maybe So: Dallas Buyers Club

We've been waiting for this one. Jean-Marc Vallée's biodrama about rebel cowboy Ron Woodroff who started an illegal drug ring for AIDS victims in the 80s has long had Oscar buzz for the emaciated slip of what was once Matthew McConaughey but now we can put the buzz to the test with the trailer. Let's break it down into Yes No Maybe So categories. As we do. All right All right.

YES
The cast first. At the very least one feels that a ticket purchase for this movie might help Matthew McConaughey on his road to recovery. He's been pushing himself with such commitment into the actor everyone wanted him to be right after A Time to Kill but which he never became until now. We owe him a thank you meal! Jared Leto looks amazing in his brief snippets as Ron's liaison with the gay community who were hit the hardest by the plague in the 80s. It's nice to see Jennifer Garner loosed from Ben Affleck's arm for a couple of hours. 

Newsflash for y'all. There aint nothing that can kill Ron Woodroff in 30 days."

The story sure looks compelling in this well cut trailer. There's lots of room for McConaughey to show off and as an actor, that's kind of what he does best, right? That moment where Matthew as Ron falls to the ground and the moment when he cries look gut wrenching in the good way.

Plus C.R.A.Z.Y., Canada's Oscar submission in 2005, showed that Jean Marc Vallée was a director capable of harnessing great chaotic rock n roll energy into compelling personal journey cinema 

NO
The Young Victoria, which won Oscar nominations in 2009, suggests that Jean Marc Vallée gets a little duller when he's aiming for the prestige market with personal journey cinema. (But then, who doesn't?)

Jared Leto waits for drugs

An unfair "No" aside: No matter how great the true story is, I don't particularly relish yet another civil rights struggle story being coopted to honor yet another brave white straight person. Yes, I know it's a medical drama / biographical film rather than a gay drama but given the way AIDS spread into an epidemic due to governments ignoring it during its infancy as a minority problem, a  "gay cancer" as they put it, the topic will be inextricably linked to the gay struggle in history. I have reason to believe this will eventually change given that we've seen a few historical dramas recently which were told from the point of the view of the minority (The Help, mostly, and The Butler and Milk) but for the first century of film this was largely not the case and we always had to look at history and breakthrough triumphs for minorities through a heteronormative white prism. 

MAYBE SO
In all the descriptions of the story, Ron Woodroff is described as a homophobe and there is room to explore this in an interesting way without cheaply praising him, as some movies do with their jerk heroes for making baby steps towards being a better person (Philadelphia arguably had problems with this with the Denzel character). Let's hope Jared Leto and his film friends are portrayed in a well rounded human way and that the "you sayin' I'm a homo!?" element and conflict is handled with surgical precision and not implicitly endorsed as

THE TRAILER

Are you a Yes No Maybe So ???  Let's take that question three times
1. On the movie?
2. On its Oscar chances?
3. On crazy weight loss/gain as shortcuts to acting glory? (i.e. should movie stars really risk their health this way when visual effects have come so far?)

Friday
Aug232013

The Best Tweets About Ben Affleck As Superman

Last night on Twitter when the news broke that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman for the inevitable Batman vs. Superman movie, Ben Affleck and the internet reenacted that scene from The Dark Knight Rises where Batman "dies" in a nuclear explosion over Gotham. Here were my favorite tweets from that "event"... 

 

 

On a more serious note, I don't get why they need a Star when Batman is the draw. Superman movies understand this and this is a Superman movie (sort of... being the Man of Steel sequel that's become a Batman vs. Superman thing in the latest example of Hollywood's fandering.) It's just setting fire to your production budget is all. It buys you one day of notoriety on the internet for heaps of millions but ticket sales will be there regardless. 

And, finally, the perfect rude 'hair of the dog' cure this morning to get this out of your system once and for all...

 

 

p.s. why aren't you following me on twitter? do it!
p.p.s. and while we're social media'ing - like us on facebook 

Sunday
Jan272013

Three Reasons Why "Argo" Became the One To Beat

You can't always know how the future will treat each year's awards recipients. Will their strengths will come into sharper focus as time erodes the particulars of the movie culture and conversation they arrived into or will that erosion grind a movie or performers appeal down with it? What will we make in five year's time of this moment when Hollywood threw awards at Argo instead of, say, Lincoln? That's what happened again last night at the Producers Guild Awards when Ben Affleck's 1970s CIA rescue tale took the top prize.

We don't have to wait for hindsight clarity when it comes to Argo's sudden rise in the previous deadheat Oscar race.  I'd say that three things are responsible, two of which no one could have predicted.

1. I'd been saying from the very start that Argo's narrative subtext, embedded into its truish story of a fake movie being used to rescue Americans from a hostile regime, that 'Movies Save the World!' feel would be irressistible to the back-patting awards season mentality in much the same way it was for the documentary The Cove some years ago.

The other two factors were not things anyone could have predicted though....

2.  Zero Dark Thirty emerged to somewhat reductive "so much better than Argo!" laudatory soundbytes (they both involve CIA meddling in the Middle East so they must be compared incessantly!) and for about a week it looked like The Real Oscar Deal but what happened next with it was very kind to Argo. Zero became the media's most slobbered on and teared at rag doll with everyone tsk-tsking and fuming and eventually subtly equating the making of it with condoning torture. By extension voting for it felt unpleasant to some, too. Suddenly the "better than Argo" conversation died and was replaced with just "...Argo", a rebooting if you will of where the Oscar conversation had previously been. Sometimes opening early helps and it's more than helped Argo.

3. The last, and most shocking turn of events was Ben Affleck's omission from the Best Director lineup. I'd long been predicting him to win that statue even though I hadn't viewed Argo necessarily as the future Best Picture champ, suspecting that we were in for a split year. The best thing that ever happened to Argo in terms of its Best Picture prospects was Affleck's "snub". And conversely, that's the worse thing that happened to Lincoln. Whatever one makes of the quality of the Best Picture nominees (have you voted for your favorite here?), Lincoln previously had the strongest narrative arriving as it did in this historic year of President Obama's reelection and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Affleck's over-mourned "snub" (people keep conveniently forgetting how strong the Best Director lineup is without him!) handed Argo an underdog narrative in a season where the narratives -- those tricky hooks that make a person or movie so irresistible in the Story of the Year's Entertainments -- weren't all that strong even if the movies were.

Reason no. 3 is in some ways the most understandable now that it's happened and the most baffling. If you really step back for some perspective Ben Affleck is an enormous waste of a Sympathy Vote. He's already an Oscar winner. He's an Oscar nominee even when he's snubbed (he'll win the Oscar if Argo wins Best Picture since he produced) - fancy that. He has a happy Hollywood marriage. He rose to fame with his best friend who is still a huge power player in Hollywood, too. He's risen from the ashes of a weirdly shaky leading man career to become a respected director and a... uh... leading man again. He's super handsome and aging well. He's made only three films all of which received Oscar attention, the latter two of which were big big hits. If anything he's a true golden boy of showbiz with a hugely enviable career and awards run and yet, you'd think he were dying! To this Awards Season he's suddenly treated like the Fantine figure in Les Miz on her death bed; the one to cry over "if only life weren't so cruel!", the one to promise everything to in order to make amends.

And all because he missed out on an expected Best Director nomination?

Mrs. Affleck at the PGAs. Oh, you know she makes this pose at home while mock scolding BenTHE WINNERS

Outstanding Producer, Film: Ben Affleck, Grant Henslov, George Clooney for Argo
Outstanding Producer, Documentary: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn for Searching for Sugar Man
Outstanding Producer, Animated: Clark Spencer for Wreck-it Ralph
Outstanding Producer, Longform TV: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian, Danny Strong for "Game Change"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Drama): Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm for "Homeland"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Comedy): Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker for "Modern Family" 
Outstanding Producer, NonFiction TV: Prudence Glass, Susan Lacy,Julie Sacks for "American Masters" PBS 
Outstanding Producer, Live TV: Meredith Bennett, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell,Jon Stewart for "The Colbert Report" 
Outsanding Producer, Competition TV:  Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo for "The Amazing Race"

Outstanding Sports Program: "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"
Outstanding Children's Program:  "Sesame Street"
Outstanding Digital Series: "30 Rock: The Webisodes"