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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in Maggie Smith (21)

Tuesday
Jul212015

Can we talk about that Second Best Exotic ending?

Manuel here talking about that mouthful of a sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which is out on DVD today.

 

I only just got to watching it the weekend before last at the swanky Crosby Hotel which hosts its very own Film Club every Sunday. (I even spied Spider Man v.1.0 Mr Tobey Maguire in the lobby!). Just as with its first, I have to hand it to John Madden, Judi Dench, Lillete Dubey & co. for making a thoroughly predictable film aping Bollywood tropes and focused on India’s exoticized ability to help old white people learn about aging, not only enjoyable but surprisingly melancholy.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the film’s handling of Muriel Donnelly, Dame Maggie Smith’s character, and especially her ending (obviously, SPOILERS ahead). At this point in her career, Smith has arguably become a parody of her own self. And yet, that's harder to say if you actually watch her work. Sure, she’s got the grouchy old bitter hag thing spouting prickly witticisms down pat, but there’s always something else lurking in the quiet moments in her performances. There’s a weariness married to a nimble sense of emoting that goes on behind those weathered if sprightly eyes. That's put to best effect in the final moments of Madden's film which gives us the happy ending we always knew we'd get but spiked with an ambivalent sense of loss:

It makes sense that the heavy lifting (read: the dramatic and non-comedy-of-errors part of the film) would fall on Smith's sturdy shoulders; she can turn even the slightest of complaints about tea into resonant character bits, commentary on US/British relations and even a meditation on her own sense of mortality. 

As soon as we left the 90-seat theater at the Crosby (I did say it was swanky, yes? what with its free popcorn and all) my friend asked “So, does she die?” which seemed to be both the type of obvious question I usually hate (“did the top stop spinning?!”) but which seemed precisely the right one to ask, especially if one follows it with “will she kill herself?” a melodramatic, though not for this film, inappropriate question.

We feel the weight of Mrs Donnelly’s life and it somehow strikes me that the film’s ambivalence about her demise, even amidst an ending that ties everything else in a pretty bow is rather transgressive and pretty much all wrapped up in Smith's final close-up which ends the film.

Did this sequel leave you wanting a Third Best Exotic Hotel and mentally casting which other British acting royalty could join Dev Patel in a trilogy closer? (My vote is for Vanessa Redgrave, obviously)
Tuesday
Jun022015

Q&A Pt. 1: The Queens (by which we mean RuPaul, Helen Mirren, Best Actresses)

Ask Nathaniel column time. You ask. I answer. Herewith seven recent reader questions. Since last night was the finale of RuPaul's Drag Race, we'll end with two similar questions about that show but first, more typical actor questions. You're always asking them. Not a complaint. Just a fact.

PAUL OUTLAW: Which directors would you most like to see work ASAP with these performers (it can be someone new or a former collaborator): Tilda Swinton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Fassbender & Tom Hardy?

Tilda: Anyone. I'd even watch her in a Michael Bay movie though I'd prefer her in an Olivier Assayas. Oh wait, that's my answer.

Gugu: Anyone. She's new enough that we don't know what we have yet other than GREAT POTENTIAL.

Fassbender: We know he can do intense heightened drama and various masculine genres with the best of them, but I'm wondering if he has something more low-key naturalistic in him or how he'd fare in more typically feminine genres. One of my favorite performances of his is Inglourious Basterds which I know is neither of those things but I like how arch and cerebral he seemed as opposed to physical. It was a different mode for him. So a little more of that. I'd be curious to see him in an Alexander Payne style dramedy or Joe Wright in swoony romance mode.

Tom Hardy: It's time for something really erotic. Filmmakers keep covering up his beautiful face and this must stop. We know from Bronson that he's completey unafraid of gratuitous nudity so I wanna say Jane Campion and/or another A lister who is ready to dabble in an erotic drama, their own Ang Lee Lust, Caution type detour if you will.

TYLER: There are four women who are winners of the Cannes Best Actress prize twice over: Barbara Hershey (USA), Isabelle Huppert (France), Helen Mirren (UK), and Vanessa Redgrave (UK). What do you think of this group? Your favorite performance from each?

To  help readers catch up if they didn't know this statistic, those women won for the following films

Vanessa Redgrave - Morgan! in 1966 and Isadora in 1969
Isabelle Huppert - Violette Noziere in 1978 and The Piano Teacher in 2001
Helen Mirren - Cal in 1984 and The Madness of King George in 1995
Barbara Hershey - Shy People in 1987 and A World Apart (shared with co-stars) in 1988

More Questions after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul272014

Yes No Maybe So: "My Old Lady" 

Here's Andrew Kendall on a trailer I didn't get to! I've thrown my back out and I thank the team for this weekend's content for your amusement. I should be back in regular form soon - Nathaniel R

 

That it took an entire week for Yes No Maybe So to appear for upcoming British dramedy My Old Lady shouldn’t be seen as a sign of disinterest, or indicative of the trailer's merit. Although, on suggesting it for this series I pointed out to Nathaniel that Israel Horovitz's quiet European dramedy might not be one many are immediately passionate about. In the glut of trailers released in the past week, the modest My Old Lady seems to have been lost in the midst. Although I generally I tend to avoid trailers, I was curious to see how Horovitz would adapt his drawing-room play, which I'm fond of, to the screen.

Here's the trailer. The Yes No Maybe So breakdown featuring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar272014

Scream Queens, Rusicals, and Snatch Games

If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love someone else? Amen. I love myself therefore I forgive myself for being three weeks behind my promised RuCapping. I hate calling tv posts recaps, though that's the web's preferred terminology, because I'm not about to recount everything that happened. That's for the contestants themselves to do on reality television. That's the whole structure, right? Step 1: Talking head commentary on clip you're about to see from contestant involved. 2: What you actually see from the contest. Step 3: A recap of what you just saw via the same or different talking heads. Then the next day on the internet everyone who is not on the show recaps again. We're a very redundant pop culture, we are!

But I do feel bad for going AWOL because these three weeks of RuPaul's Drag Race were really movie friendly and you know how I love my TV at the Movies. After the jump brief notes on the queens forays into celebrity impersonation, horror movies, and off-key musicals.

6.3 SCREAM QUEENS

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul232013

TV Character Mashup Fantasies

Andrew was kind enough to poll Team Experience about their joy, bafflement, and dreams regarding last week's Emmy nominations but we saved one question for last since their was so much to read and parse already. We asked one final question of the team and we thought we'd share it with you here. Bonus points to the reader who comes up with the best spec script to make any of these fabulously impossible unions happen!

Which Emmy-nominated TV characters would you love to see paired up?!? 

The Dowager Countess was a constant presence in the answers...



mashup fun after the jump 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul212013

Team Experience: (More) Emmy Reactions

Now that we've had a few days to process the Emmy award nominations, do we have any outrage left over?Though we’re a film site, it’s unwise to ignore proclaimed golden age of television we’re living in -- even if the arguments that TV is greater than film is wholly suspect --  especially when so many movie stars keep on crossing over. So we surveyed Team Experience with the following questions:

  • win you're most rooting for?
  • most baffling nomination?
  • most compelling category?
  • better luck next year?
  • which Oscar-winning actress?

Which Oscar Winner Are Your Rooting For For Emmy: Helen, Jane, Jessica, Maggie or Melissa?

Read our collective responses and answer the same questions after the jump. No small screen coverage is complete without your comments, TV being so communal.

Click to read more ...