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Entries in LGBT (360)

Thursday
Jan072016

Interview: Affonso Gonçalves and the Art of Editing Great Actresses

Affonso Gonçalves with this ACE win for editing True Detective (2014)Affonso Gonçalves is a man that every actress lover ought to both thank and envy. Over the course of his career in TV and film he has been privvy to a consisently vivid series of strong and sometimes downright iconic performances by several of our greatest actress. He's helped shape the way we see them, too.

His career began in earnest with as an assisant editor on Todd Solondz's cult hit about a nerdy teenager Dawn Weiner in Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) and soon thereafter he was editing multiple films for Ira Sachs and other independent minded directors. In the 20 years since his debut he's edited performances by Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive), Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce), Kerry Washington (Night Catches Us), Michelle Williams (The Hawk is Dying), Kim Basinger (The Door in the Floor), and  Patricia Clarkson (Married Life). More famously he's edited two star-making young performances that went on to be Oscar nominated for Best Actress in Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone (2010) and Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). Next week he'll likely be able to add two more Oscar nominated performances to his editing triumphs with Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara's duet in Carol.

I had the pleasure recently of grilling him about watching and shaping these Best Actress performances in Winter's Bone, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Carol. Here's our conversation (edited for length and clarity) with very mild Carol spoilers if you haven't yet seen it. The film opens in additional theaters this weekend. More after the jump...

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Wednesday
Jan062016

Interview: Phyllis Nagy on Patricia Highsmith, Sunset Blvd, and "Carol" 

Phyllis Nagy in Palm Springs with Cate BlanchettMonday night through Tuesday evening was a special 24 hours in the lives of Team Experience. At the NYFCC awards gala, Alec Baldwin, presenting the Best Director prize to Todd Haynes (Carol), quoted a Film Comment piece by our dear friend and podcast mate Nick Davis. That same night Phyllis Nagy was honored for Best Screenplay by the Pulitzer winning playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Lincoln) himself. Though I was not in attendance for the Carol-heavy NYFCC gala on Monday night where the film also took Best Cinematography and Best Film), I had the opportunity to congratulate Nagy the next evening on her fine work adapting the year's best film from the original 1952 Patricia Highsmith novel "The Price of Salt." The occassion was a cocktail event for the movie hosted by former and future Todd Haynes muse Julianne Moore (here are a few photos of that reunion.)

It was our second chat with the sharp and talented Phyllis Nagy, who up until Carol had been best known for her stage plays and the HBO film Mrs Harris (2006) which she wrote and directed.

Here's our original conversation which we hope you'll enjoy...

NATHANIEL: So Phyllis I started this  as kind of a joke to myself but then decided to commit to it and have literally asked every person I interviewed from Carol ... How come you're such a genius? 

PHYLLIS NAGY: Well, practice. [Laughs] In this case, yeah, practice, many years of it. Which ultimately aided it, it didn’t hurt it, it may have felt like that from time to time...

NATHANIEL: You mean the long gestation period?

PHYLLIS NAGY: Yeah, when no one wants to [make a film], it gives you the opportunity to obsessively go over it again and again on your own time, at least make it a document that you’re proud of. So, luckily...

[Patricia Highsmith's interiority, great actors, and tough rewrites after the jump...]

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Monday
Jan042016

Interview: Lucinda Coxon's 11 Years With "The Danish Girl" 

One of this season's most talked about movies, The Danish Girl, set tongues wagging long before anyone had seen a single frame. Years before in fact. It wasn't just the subject matter, though the subject matter would have been enough. The Danish Girl tells the true story of married painters Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) and Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) who struggle to come to grips with Einar's true identity, Lili Elbe. Lili was one of the first trans women to ever undergo gender confirmation surgery which was then an experimental series of surgery. It's a difficult subject to dramatize, and a difficult subject to talk about particularly given how quickly the verbiage and discourse has changed across the decades. People didn't know how to talk about it in 1930 when the story was a very current sensation in Denmark and Germany and do people really know how to talk about it now? A quick perusal of any trans story around the internet will tell you the answer is still no. 

It's always a particular challenge for heavily buzzed pictures to get out into the marketplace and form their own identity outside of everyone's pre-screening perceptions of them. Oscar winner Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech) latest is definitely no exception. Even the casting, which wouldn't have been all that controversial even a handful of years ago other than in a rubber-necking kind of "Oscar bait" way, has been the subject of spirited debates along the lines of "shouldn't a trans actor be playing the part?" But films take a long time to make. Who could have known the happy development in the past few years in regards to trans visibility in Transparent, Tangerine, Orange is the New Black

The Danish Girl's complicated gestation period is where I began when i sat down with the woman who'd been with the project the longest, its screenwriter Lucinda Coxon. Our interview is after the jump... 

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Monday
Jan042016

The Greatest Pick Up Line in Movie History

Mic drop. No really. 

Imagine you're Therese. It's 1952, you look like Rooney Mara, you're wearing a Santa hat, you're hawking a pile of terrifying looking but also freakishly gender-normative dolls, there's a sign behind you that says "Mommy's Baby," and you've got the span of one sale to signal your romantic viability to customer and apparent goddess Carol.

What's your move? Coquettishly mention that her daughter's chosen doll, Bright Betsy, has a capacity for secretion? No? And that's why Cate Blanchett's not your girlfriend.

Tuesday
Dec222015

Cinematic Lumps of Coal: 15 Worst of '15

They've been naughty. So we shan't be nice. Rather than choosing the 15 worst movies (we skip a lot of stuff that looks atrocious), here are 15 matters of annoyance within the movies of 2015, whether the movies were decent or terrible. Vague/light spoilers ahead.

15 Lumps of Coal From '15
Links go to past articles about the film or reviews if they exist

15 Grab Bag of Undelights
Afew I couldn't fit in below: Chris Hemsworth's wandering accent in In The Heart of The Sea often within the same scene. Is this First Mate Australian, British, or from the Bronx?; The way Mother Malkin's (Julianne Moore) red hair stays that way when she shifts into dragon form in The Seventh Son. That was cute with Madame Mim in The Sword in the Stone but in "realistic" cgi not so much; and, the perpetual agony of trailers that take you from the beginning to the end of a movie (Room and The Revenant are the latest victims) spoiling every story beat.

14 Longwindedness
In nearly great movies (Clouds of Sils Maria 124 min), good movies (Saint Laurent 150 min.), divisive movies (I'm still making up my mind about The Revenant okay? 156 min), and arthouse curiousities (Arabian Nights, Vol II 131 min., Love 135 min.) alike the tendency in contemporary cinema is to let the camera linger here and there and everywhere and also to include entire sections that add nothing particularly new to the plot or our understanding of character or theme if narrative isn't the movie's main thrust. Don't misunderstand: a good lingering camera can be among the greatest of things but if you're running over 90 minutes please justify it with new information. Shave 10 minutes (or a lot more in some cases) off any of these movies and they're instantly improved. 

13 more after the jump...

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Friday
Dec112015

Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Bessie

Considering how often Pariah is called "a critical darling," it's disappointingly shocking that it took another 4 years for Dee Rees's next movie. Bessie is an HBO biopic of singer Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, who rose to prominence in the 1920s and died in a car accident in the mid-1930s. When the movie premiered earlier this year, Angelica Jade Bastién wrote a fabulous personal review of it which I highly suggest you read. As Angelica points out, Rees's sophomore effort is a well-directed film that gets a lot right, even though it falls into a lot of the typical biopic pitfalls.

While the plotline of Bessie's meteoric rise, humbling fall, and return to semi-greatness followed a predictable biopic path, what really struck me about this collaboration between Dee Rees and Queen Latifah was how unapologetically individual it was. Unfortunately, fact-based films about black characters, if they are expected to attract a wider (whiter) audience, incorporate white characters to a large degree. Selma and 12 Years A Slave both have white antagonists who gain a lot of screentime - in the case of 12 Years A Slave, it was enough screentime to net Michael Fassbender an Academy Award Nominations.

In Bessie, blackness and queerness dominate...

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Thursday
Dec102015

Team Experience: The Best of Brokeback Mountain

Ten years ago Brokeback Mountain arrived with truly bracing power.

10 years later Brokeback Mountain has lost none of its power

It was the rarest of things: an honest to god "instant classic". The phrase is overused but once in a while hyperbole proves true. The Oscars were stingy with it (just three prizes) but ten years on the film is as sturdy and majestically irreducible as the mountains that haunt the protagonists. When you're watching it you're breathing rarified air - not from the high altitudes of Wyoming but further on up, think cinematic heaven. The invaluable Ang Lee won his first Best Director Oscar for the film and it's easy to see why given the sensitivity of the performances (early career peaks from four promising ascendant stars), the classicism of the filmmaking, and his unshakeable hand as he sutures the neo western to the romantic tragedy with the thread of American masculinity.

I asked our contributors if they had a favorite scene they'd like to share with us and here were their responses.

FAVORITE SCENES IN BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

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