DON'T MISS THIS!
Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

Like The Film Experience on Facebook

Powered by Squarespace
What'cha Looking For?
Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Six Short Reviews

"While there was imagination to Swiss Army Man, I am on the hate side of it." -Chris

 "I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane on a long flight Tuesday. It felt like a cross between Misery, Room and an end-of-the-world sci-fi horror B movie. I liked it." -Paul

Keep TFE Strong

 

LOVE THE SITE? DONATE 

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

THANKS IN ADVANCE

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.

Subscribe

Entries in Kathryn Bigelow (20)

Saturday
Jan302016

Stretch Linkstrong 

Randomness
Film School Rejects it's all about talking animals who sound just like celebrities this year
Towleroad ABC rejects a TV ad for Carol because (GASP) naked lesbian shoulders
John August shares depressing box office stats on why we get so many sequels
Guardian picks 5 best moment of Jane Fonda in the movies - bizarre choices beyond her Oscar winning roles
Guardian investigation of why movie posters are so terrible in comparison to their aged counterparts
The Wrap TV adaptation of American Gods (a must read from Neil Gaiman) has cast Ricky Whittle (the 100) in the leading role
MNPP ...goes all out with an endless gratuitous post celebrating Whittle
Awards Daily Awesome crusading Senator Elizabeth Warren loves The Big Short


New Projects
Tracking Board Chan-wook Park to direct the adapation of sci-fi novel Genocidal Organ about homemade nuclear devices
Coming Soon Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) are reteaming for a film about the 1967 Detroit Riots. Shooting to start this summer
Variety Ruh-roh Jennifer Aniston is doing a true life sports drama called The Fixer -- she's got her eyes on The Blind Side's surprise prize if you know what I mean
Coming Soon (sigh) Dear Toni Collette's Agent, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I know we ask this all the time but you have not answered. (Toni is now signed to do a bureaucrat role in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage because Hollywood weirdly believes we want every Vin Diesel franchise revived)
/Film Stretch Armstrong series (yes, the boys doll with stretchy arms) is going to Netflix. For kids.
Variety Meg Ryann behind the camera. Her first film Ithaca did not yet find distribution which is weird (all star cast) but she's signed to direct a second, a romantic comedy even, called The Book 

 Theatre People
Playbill Zachary Quinto, about to reprise his Spock role on the big screen, on why he prefers theater to film or television 
Playbill Dominic Cooper returning to the stage for a new production of The Libertine about the hedonistic Earl of Rochester in 1670s London. Did any of you ever see that Johnny Depp film version of the play?

Today's Watch
A well timed brief history of white actors playing ethnic roles from Screen Crush. (Minor Quibble: Technically some consider Russian born Yul Brynner as Asian -- he claimed Mongolian heritage but others denied it was true)

Awards Update
Everyone's making their final moves -- Oscar ballots out on Feb 12th. Jennifer Jason Leigh is getting a tribute at the American Cinematheque. They'll be screening Hateful Eight, Georgia (the closest she ever came to a nom' previously), her divisive Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle (she's excellent), Single White Female and breakout hit Fast Times at Ridgmont High.

Finally, the ACE Eddie Awards were handed out last night. The winners:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road (Drama)
  • The Big Short (Comedy)
  • Inside Out (Animated)
  • Amy (Documentary).

 

Thursday
Oct012015

Women's Pictures: Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark

Welcome, guys and ghouls, to our special October edition of Anne Marie's "Women's Pictures!"

 This month, rather than focusing on 5 films by 1 female director, we will be watching 5 films by 5 female directors with 1 thing in common: horror. Because what's the one thing scarier than working in a boy's club industry? I reached out on social media to ask the internet what it wanted to see, and got an overwhelming response for these five films. Going chronologically, the first film on our list is a vampire flick by beloved Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow.

In true 80s Bigelow fashion, Near Dark is a grim action thriller; part Western, part gang movie, part family drama, with enough explosions and gruesome special effects that you might miss the moralistic AIDS allegory underneath. Whenever the mainstream heaps praise on Kathryn Bigelow, their focus is usually on the fact that Bigelow does not work in "women's genres," which is to say films with "feminine" themes or plot lines. However, beneath the edgy synth soundtrack, the sex, violence, and hair gel, Near Dark is a surprisingly conservative film about the redemptive power of family. More...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul232015

Women's Pictures - Kathryn Bigelow's K-19: The Widowmaker

Anne Marie's 'Women's Pictures series' continues with July's subject Kathryn Bigelow...

Films about the Cold War are an unusual bunch. Whereas most war movies have a streak of jingoism necessary to the action ("fight the enemy, kill the enemy, win the war for God and country!"), the point of films about the Cold War - barring any alternate realities - is to actually avoid conflict. Men in these movies are forever preparing for war, even as they frantically try to prevent it. Instead of fighting soldiers, men fight bureaucracy, accidents, and misinformation. Done poorly, these films can feel like a trip to the DMV: too much paperwork and waiting in line. Done well, the looming cloud of Doomsday can overshadow even the most seemingly insignificant decision. There may be no genre more anti-war than the Cold War Film.

K-19: The Widowmaker, Kathryn Bigelow's first war film, is a fictionalized retelling of the misfortunes onboard Russia's first K-19 nuclear submarine that nearly caused World War III. Amidst government negligence, rushed manufacturing, and political malarky, Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) is assigned to captain the submarine's crew, led by the former captain, Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson). 

Neeson & Ford's Gruff-Off after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul162015

Women's Pictures - Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days

On April 29th, 1992, the Rodney King verdict set Los Angeles on fire. Over 6 days, crowds rioted in South Central LA, protesting the acquittal of four LAPD officers who had been videotaped beating a black man. This was not LA's first race riot, but it came at a fraught time for the city, when the skyscrapers that were supposed to signal the start of a new era of prosperity loomed over widening economic and social gaps. By May 4th, it was clear that though the riots had "officially" ended, they had left a scar on the psyche of the city. Over the next few years, that scar would surface in one of Los Angeles's most prominent exports: film. After the Rodney King riots ended, a series of scifi blockbusters - including Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days - took to the streets of LA to predict the worst for the city's future.

Strange Days (another collaboration between Kathryn Bigelow and ex-husband James Cameron) is part of a group of dystopian action thrillers that cropped up in the wake of the Rodney King Riots. Escape from LADemolition Man, and Strange Days used their futuristic settings to do what science fiction does best: they created an allegory for contemporary fears about violence, inequity, and police brutality. 

Los Angeles is a good setting for a dystopia. Unlike New York City, America's Melting Pot, where people from different socioeconomic backgrounds intermingle on the street, Los Angeles is more a series of villages connected by highways. In LA, communities whose names are synonymous with wealth and prestige set their gates a handful of miles from infamously poor neighborhoods. But the two worlds never meet.

According to the movies, only three groups travel between these separate-but-unequal islands: cops, criminals, and entertainers. Lenny Nero, the protagonist of Strange Days, is all three: an ex-cop turned con-man who sells recorded memories and emotions via a "SQUID" machine - data discs that play directly in your cerebral cortex. When an anonymous donor leaves Nero a clip of his friend's rape and murder on New Year's Eve 1999, Nero and his friend Mace (Angela Bassett) get pulled into a plot that involves murdered rappers, police coverups, music producers, and Nero's lost love (Juliette Lewis). But bubbling under this detective story is a growing sense of unrest between police and the populace.

James Cameron's screenplay sets up a lot of ideas - drug allegory, the nature of memory, police militarization, the right to riot, institutional racism - and it is Kathryn Bigelow's very heavy duty to sort through these themes while also keeping the film on track. Miraculously, she is mostly successful. Though the structure of the script sometimes lags under the weight of its own ideas, Bigelow keeps the film moving at a clipped pace. Her fascination with point of view also becomes literal in Strange Days. the SQUID machines record from first person POV, which Bigelow uses to occasionally comic, often thrilling, and (in one incredibly intense murder scene) chilling effect. By virtue of its technical difficulties, First Person POV can look gimmicky on film, but Bigelow overcomes the difficulties to instead stage a series of fantastic action pieces.

The only failure of the film is not in its setup or its action, but in its conclusion. The complex problems of racism and violence which had occasionally bubbled to the surface - mostly in a B plot surrounding Angela Bassett's character - are neatly solved at the end of the film, though this denoument does give one intense image: a SWAT team beating an unarmed woman. It's probably too much to ask for moral complexity from an action thriller. Though insipred by riots that had proved there were still no easy answers in reality, Strange Days is still a product of its genre; commodified violence for the sake of box office. 

This month on Women's Pictures...

7/23 - K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) - Hands down the most requested film after Point Break, this film follows Harrison Ford racing to prevent a nuclear holocaust via submarine. (Amazon Prime) (Netflix)

7/30 - The Hurt Locker (2008) - The film that put Bigelow's name down in history as the first female director to win the Academy Award is a thriller about a bomb squad in the Iraq War. (Amazon Prime)

Thursday
Jul092015

Women's Pictures - Kathryn Bigelow's Point Break

I have a confession to make: people have been telling me for years to watch Point Break, and I always blew them off. "Sure it's a great genre film," I thought, "but the genre is action and the film is about bank robbing surfers." Oh, Anne Marie. You did not give bank robbing surfers (who also skydive, by the way) enough credit. After having watched it (twice in a row), I confess that Point Break is quite possibly the perfect early 90s action flick: that brief bridge between the buffed up ridiculousness of 80s action movies, and the self-serious grittiness of later 90s action films.

It's a space and genre that Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron (who were married in 1989 and divorced in 1991, the same year Point Break came out) occupied gleefully. Point Break was a collaboration between the two writer/directors (though because of Writer's Guild rules, neither's name appears in the writing credits). Together, they created a spectacle-driven, tightly-plotted action movie that manages to both poke fun at, and take advantage of, the hyper-macho tropes of the genre. Action was, after all, the genre of Stallone and Schwarzenegger's muscles, as well as Willis and Gibson's swagger. A lot has been written about movie masculinity and homoeroticism in action films, but I believe that what makes Point Break so good, beyond the adrenaline-high sports scenes and the tense action, is the way director Kathryn Bigelow examines (with a thankfully very thorough lens) the men in her film.

Point Break is a film that improbably can have its beef-cake and eat it too.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul022015

Women's Pictures - Kathryn Bigelow's The Loveless

If you're new to Anne Marie's 'Women's Pictures' it's a weekly series that takes on a new female director each month. Previously covered: Ida LupinoJane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Agnes Varda. - Editor
 

Kathryn Bigelow & Andy Warhol in 1981. Photo: Philippe LedruWelcome to Kathryn Bigelow month!

Considering that July is traditionally one of the bigger blockbuster months, it seemed like the perfect time to delve into the career of one of the most famous female directors currently working. Undoubtedly, Bigelow is most famous for being the only woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director. In 2008, she and The Hurt Locker unexpectedly became the symbols of art "fighting back" against bloated CGI behemoths represented by Avatar, directed by her ex-husband, James Cameron. The irony of this is that before making smaller, serious war movies, Bigelow had made her name (occasionally working with Cameron) on action flicks. So, pop some jiffy pop, lie back in your recliner, and let's get ready for some gun fights!

...But maybe not just yet. Surprisingly, 1981's The Loveless is virtually devoid of any explosions, catch phrases, car chases, or fun. Co-directed and co-written by Monty Montgomery (who would eventually produce Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady), The Loveless is a biker movie that falls into genre cliches even as it tries very hard to shed them.

Willem Dafoe (in his first credited film role) plays Vance, one of a gang of bikers who stop in a small town to fix a bike on the way to Daytona in the 1950s. The presence of the oversexed, understimulated bikers sends violent ripples through the stifled town, but the movie takes a long time to build to its climax. First, there are scenes of nearly shirtless Dafoe staring moodily into the distance while smoking. There are homoerotic knife games between gang members. There are downright voyeuristic shots of the biker boys as they leer at women. It's a sex-obsessed movie, is what I'm saying. Just not in the way I expected.

There is either a lot going on in this movie, or nothing at all...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun292015

Somewhere That's Link

Defamer Elizabeth Berkley finally coming to terms with the love out there for Showgirls -- like Faye Dunaway with Mommie Dearest this has been difficult for her
Towleroad ...and there's video of the event, too!
Theater Mania to say that I am excited to see Ellen Green reprise her Audrey Little Shop of Horrors role this week (I bought tickets the day they went on sale, long before Jake Gyllenhaal nabbed the Seymour part) would be the understatement of the summer. I'm more excited for it than any upcoming movie. Yes, even Magic Mike XXL. She talks about returning to the role.
Awards Daily Kathryn Bigelow (our filmmaker of the month for Anne Marie's "Women's Pictures" series, every Thursday) pens an op-ed on endangered elephants

Birth.Movies.Death New Spider-Man movie will have a "John Hughes Vibe" and they're not going back to the Goblin again for a villain. Wow... you mean they realized that three times as villain in 12 years was enough?
Hayley Atwell continues to ace her social media game 
VF Meryl Streep asking Congress to revive the Equal Rights Amendment 
EW why Inside Out kept "Bing Bong" a secret (would that more films would keep em)
Nicole Kidman just celebrated 9 years with Keith Urban 
Interview Kyle Maclachlan talks about returning to Agent Dale Cooper for Twin Peaks
Dissolve upcoming movies for EuropaCorp including a sequel to Lucy... even though Scarlett Johansson morphed into an entirely digital entity by the end? well, ok!
The Movie Scene on all this talk of gender equality in "objectification" for the cinema which is usually lusting after only women
Ant-Man gets a "meet the crew" tv spot so finally David Dastmalchian, T.I., and especially the always wonderful Michael Peña show up in the promotional material

Oscar Talk
Hot Blog setting the Best Picture field -is Carol the only possibility thus far that's been seen
THR on the more inclusive more foreign Academy invites 

Must Read
Vulture's TV Awards series has been fairly cool, including entries from actual TV artists, but they ended incredibly strong with this piece by Matt Zoller Seitz on Mad Men as TV's Best Show overall. Frankly, it might well be the best essay on Matthew Weiner's masterful achievement that I've ever read and I've read a lot of them! Love this 'graph near the opening:

All of the episodes, even the ones I don’t especially like, are inexhaustibly detailed: packed with comic and dramatic moments; period-accurate clothing and hairstyles and music; imaginative, hilarious, and often deeply moving performances; and screenwriting that depicts the complexities and contradictions of the human personality with more insight and empathy than any American series in recent memory. It’s a historical drama about how individuals are and are not affected by the local, national, and international history that’s constantly unfolding around them. It’s a psychodrama about how our personalities are shaped by our parents, our lovers, our friends, our bosses, and everyone else we know, as well as by people we’ve never met but feel as though we know: the politicians, civil-rights leaders, athletes, movie stars, musicians, and other icons who inspire, entertain, confound, and sometimes anger us as we muddle through our daily lives. It’s also a series with an unusually strong affinity for mythology, spirituality, religion, psychoanalysis, pop psychology, literature, poetry, cinema, and all the other means by which human experience is transformed into narrative. And at every level — the scene, the episode, the season, and in total — it is a masterpiece of construction, filled with major and minor bits of foreshadowing and recollection, lines and images that seem to answer each other across time.

Read it! And hope along with us that it pulls off a historic fifth win at the Emmys in September. Mad Men (2008-2011 wins) is currently tied with Hill Street Blues (1981-1984 wins), LA Law (1987,1989-1991 wins), and The West Wing (2000-2003 wins) for the most Drama Series wins (4 each). The leader for nominations is Law & Order which was nominated 11 times, far outdistancing its nearest rivals (The Sopranos, Mad Men, ER, Studio One, and The West Wing)

P.S. on the TV Front:  I just watched my first episode of Fresh Off the Boat since y'all were complaining about Constance Wu not making our Best Actress list. It's really funny. They won "best couple" at Vulture 

PRIDE WEEKEND - SHOWTUNE TO GO...
I was feeling so much love for heroes of the past (and present -- it used to be that only Broadway had multiple out stars but now every medium does) but I was especially pleased that I wasn't the only one singing Madonna's praises... she supported the LGBT community long before it was par for the course with celebrities but gays can be fickle and though her iconic status will never be undone, sometimes people are assholes about her what with all the ageism and so on. 

All in all it was a good weekend. And all the marriage equality will eventually lead us into a less homophobic world as there are endless examples of people being less prejudiced once they are familiar with the "other" (any kind of prejudice applies). On this note, Variety is wondering when film is going to catch up with TV when it comes to comfort with the gays?  

Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi were the Grand Marshalls of the NYC parade. And anyway, gay geniuses of the past and out talents of the present should both be celebrated. And not only on Pride Weekend. So how about some Cole Porter via John Barrowman in the movie De-Lovely as we move into a new week. (That movie is kind of a mess -- anyone remember it? -- but this seen is lovely)