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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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Entries in Joaquin Phoenix (22)

Monday
May182015

Cannes Review: Irrational Man

Diana Drumm sends us another review from Cannes... 

A promising premise and captivating performances fall flat as a philosophy professor leaps after a misguided notion of the philosophical imperative, tumbling after one of his own theoreticals to disastrous results. Like much of Allen’s lesser filmography, Irrational Man dabbles in some of the auteur’s favorite subjects (philosophy, middle-aged male crisis, May-December or in this case June-November romances) and takes on more than it can chew, choking up in the third act.

The film’s tone shifts with the stumbled abandon of a dizzied drunk trying to make up his mind whether to stand or stay seated, from murky to light to dark, sprawling discussions to tensed farce...

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Thursday
Apr302015

A.I. "Her," or The Rise of the Empathetic Machines

Wrapping up the sci-fi week festivities (did you see the final top ten list?) we turn the time over to our fine new contributor Lynn Lee. You'll want to read this one! - Editor


Deep down, most people who think about artificial intelligence have the same fear: that it will not only surpass humanity but supplant us, ending our reign as the planet’s dominant species and extracting cosmic revenge for our own abuses.  Building on these anxieties, movies about A.I. have embraced a pretty consistently grim outlook for humanity in the face of this phenomenon (which even has a fancy, if oddly spiritual-sounding name: the singularity).  The slaves become the masters, seeking either to exterminate or enslave us. 

But if A.I. overtakes human intelligence, and the machines evolve into a superior being, wouldn’t that include superior emotional intelligence?  And wouldn’t a super (emotionally) intelligent being have developed extraordinary powers of empathy?  Rather than using those powers to manipulate us, couldn’t they serve as a bridge between us and them?  Or would they, in outstripping our own poor abilities, become a further source of divergence?

Films that pursue this line of inquiry typically balance the A.I.s’ desire to understand and learn human emotions against their basic survival programming.  Blade Runner’s most transcendent moment involves a replicant (“more human than human”) reaching out to save a man (who may actually be a replicant himself) he was ready to kill just a minute earlier.  A.I: Artificial Intelligence, brandishing the tag line “His love is real.  But he is not,” teases out the conceit of such artificial beings, initially programmed to be and feel just like humans, evolving into a super-species who must deconstruct the emotional memories of one of their earliest prototypes in order to understand their own connection to us.  

More recently, the quietly disquieting Ex Machina introduces an A.I. who turns the Turing test on its head and leaves unanswered whether a machine that can so expertly read and simulate our more vulnerable emotions will ever come to feel them for “real.”

I can’t think of another movie, however, that explores these questions quite like Spike Jonze’s Her...

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Sunday
Dec212014

FYC: Josh Brolin in "Inherent Vice" for Best Supporting Actor

And so we come to the end of our individually chosen FYCs. Amir, our team coordinator, is off for a month long holiday (!) which leaves myself, Nathaniel, your immortal but ever running-late host to wrap things up. To recap: we asked each team member to write up a personal favorite longshot* from one specific category. Here's the final entry in the series, a performance I really love in a film I really don't.

Why highlight a film I don't care for? Because it's important to remember during all-or-nothing awards season that each individual element of a film is different than the big picture and ought to be treated as such for the purposes of awardage.

Which brings us to...

See, it wasn't just the eternal sunshine of California or the vast vistas of desert land and salt water. It wasn't even really the hazy hash-filled air that P.T. Anderson's troupe was breathing. But I was parched and hungry the whole time I was watching Inherent Vice. I needed a fresh water oasis in the salty Pynchonian desert and Josh Brolin came to my rescue as "Bigfoot". Repeatedly. Fortunately he was also hungry, orally fixated you might say, and an eager lunch companion.

Like many characters in the film he's introduced with wonderfully descriptive prose that one assumes is lifted from the novel for voiceover. Brolin's introduction is in glorious widescreen longshot. The V.O.:

Like a bad luck planet in today's horoscope, here's the ol' hippie-hating mad dog himself in the flesh, Lieutenant Detective Christian F. "Big Foot" Bjornsen, SAG member, John Wayne walk, flat top, of Flintstone proportions, and that little evil shit twinkle in his eyes that says 'civil rights violations'" 

Brolin just owns this, presenting as a black & white Western rectangle stiffly inserting itself into the movie's otherwise geometrically ragged and fringed array of colorful people. Of course you can't see an evil shit twinkle in someone's eyes in long or medium shot but you can hear it in their voice.

Congratulations hippie scum! Welcome to a world of inconvenience"

Immediately we move to Bigfoot's office where the detective taunts Doc Sportello with carefully chosen words and obscene self-lubricated hand gestures; he's always shoving things into his mouth: frozen bananas, fingers, diner food. Brolin's line readings aren't just well delivered but perfectly balanced and heaped, as if he's collecting the best syllables on a fork, whichever wons have the most condescending flavor. The actor captures how natural all of this comes to Bigfoot now, that its both performative for Doc and completely innate in Bigfoot's character (we instantly register that the performance is now the reality after numerous pre-movie variations of these same conversations between the two detectives) since he's even doing the same things when he's out of view on the phone or half lost in his own strictly business thoughts when he's eating.

BigFoot's buzzkill nature would be suffocating if Brolin didn't find so many ways to play the notes. And though Bigfoot is mean to stand in opposition to the movie's other characters, he'd be totally at odds with the movie's loose hippie daze tone if he also weren't so damn funny. There are a great many people who think Inherent Vice is a good time movie in and of itself. Whether or not that proves to be your experience know this: it's a far greater party every single time Josh Brolin shows up to crash it.

Motto pankēki!" 

*I selected Brolin before his BFCA nomination so perhaps he's not quite as improbable as expected in a low key supporting actor competition, so I'm crossing my fingers... or licking them in Bigfoot's honor.

RELATED
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR CHART  

Each Longshot FYCs In Case You Missed Any
Actor, Locke | Actress, Belle | Supp. Actress, Gone Girl | Supp. Actor, Inherent Vice
Picture, Obvious Child |  Adapted Screenplay, A Most Wanted Man 
Sound Mixing, Grand Budapest HotelCostume, The Boxtrolls 
Cinematography, Homesman | Prod. Design, Enemy | Editing, Citizenfour  

Short-Lived Longshot FYCs = Academy Thought Otherwise
Makeup, Only Lovers Left Alive (eliminated) | FX, Under the Skin (eliminated)
Screenplay, The Babadook (ineligible) | ScoreThe Immigrant (eliminated)

Tuesday
Oct142014

Top 10 Things We Learned from the 52nd New York Film Festival

To close out our New York Film Festival coverage for the year, a quartet of takeaways from this annual highly curated celebration of international cinema. NYFF doesn't have a broad selection like a lot of festivals but there were goodies. I've asked each member of our team to send me a top ten list of things they learned (we did not consult each other on our lists).

I'll start

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN NYFF TAKEAWAYS

1. 17 years after Boogie Nights, Julianne Moore is still 'the foxiest bitch in the world'

2. Birdman has a smorgasbord of quotable lines. My favorite on first viewing:

Popularity is just the slutty cousin of prestige."

3. Marion Cotillard is getting so mesmerizingly authentic onscreen pretty soon she's going to walk right off of it in character like she's reenacting The Purple Rose of Cairo. (I apologize for the image: no one wants to think of the Dardenne Brothers going 3-D.)

4. You should never ever sit in the middle of a row of a long-ass Mike Leigh movie if you are feeling sick. My half-apologies to my row mates who you have no right to take up aisle seats if you're uncomfortable moving for the people in the middle.

More including Whiplash, Birdman, Inherent Vice, and Channing Tatum's boots after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct132014

NYFF: A Conversation About "Inherent Vice"

Hello dear readers. Your host Nathaniel here for our penultimate article on this year's New York Film Festival. I hope you've enjoyed the reviews from Glenn, Michael, Jason and me. Several people have asked why none of us reviewed Inherent Vice or if any of us had seen it. Strangely we all were there. But then no one claimed it so we've opted to have a conversation about it at least in part to figure out what held us back. Let's begin...

NATHANIEL R: It just goes to show you you never know. Alejandro G. Innaritu is one of my least favorite wildly acclaimed auteurs and Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my all time favorite wildly acclaimed auteurs. And yet here I am at the end of New York Film Festival after screenings of Birdman and Inherent Vice and guess who provided cinematic ecstacy and guess who gave a bad trip? It's Opposite World!

I reach out to you Glenn, Jason, and Michael to help me parse my feelings since you've also been devouring the NYFF. The Inherent Vice screening was a full week ago and I am no closer to writing anything about it. I keep hearing that it's a perfect stoner movie.  Do I not like it because I am not into weed (so perfectly capturing that feeling would be lost on me) or because it's simply not good: shapeless, meandering, super-indulgent, and purposefully incoherent?

[more]

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Thursday
Mar132014

Thoughts I Had... While Staring at Lindsay's Lohan's Alleged Sex Partner List

Maybe you're one of those ready-first-thing types? To the rest of you I apologize. If you were online yesterday (and when aren't you?) you probably saw this list which is rumored to be in Lindsay Lohan's own all caps writing, detailing her sexual history.  

After the [NSFW] jump, thoughts I had in the order they came to me

Click to read more ...