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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


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Entries in Mia Wasikowska (19)

Saturday
Sep202014

Review: Tracks

Michael Cusumano here to talk about a quality title before the similar Wild completely overshadows it. 

When people ask Robyn Davidson why she intends to trek across 1700 miles of punishing Australian desert with only four camels and her dog as company, she dodges the question or falls back on clichés like “Why not?” But even if Davidson is reluctant to spell out her motivation, director John Curran manages to make Robyn’s actions clear by tuning in the camera to her state of mind. In Tracks, the true story of Davidson’ 1977 journey, people are most often framed as mindless, swarming groups which descend on her, shattering her solitude. Journalists, tourists, even friends and family. They are all mobs. The sound design makes little attempt to separate their dialogue into discernable lines, letting them blend into a pack of chattering hyenas. 

Having effectively put the audience on Robyn’s wavelength having her explain herself in words would be redundant. We too are ready to spend some time limited to the company of camels.

The obvious comparison for Tracks is to Into the Wild, the major difference being that where Into the Wild showed Christopher McCandless to be blithely overconfident, even reckless, in the face of nature, Tracks shows Robyn as clear-eyed about the dangers of her expedition. She has done the calculation and simply decided that, for her, it is worth the risk. [more...]

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Wednesday
Apr162014

Yes No Maybe So: "Maps to the Stars"

Yesterday two new trailers appeared for David Cronenberg's Maps to the StarsI'm not embedding them specifically because I can't find sharp images (the main one floating around seems like a bad stolen print of a trailer - very underlit) and the international one (NSFW) has too many auto-play ads and works less well as a coherent snapshot of the movie.

I'm hoping Maps skirts the usual trends of public reaction to Cronenberg films. It often follows this pattern:

1. Healthy amount of media coverage and excitement before their films premiere (remember all the A Dangerous Method hoopla?)
2. A curiously muted release (sometimes only limited) with a tiny bit of coverage focused on whichever big star is doing whichever genuinely weird thing they're asked to do in the movie. Think Robert Pattinson getting an enema in the limo in Cosmopolis
3. Almost no follow up conversation online or lines at the box office despite the movies always being genuinely strong conversation pieces...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb182014

Interview: Michael O'Connor on "Fussy" Costumes & Principal Actresses

A curious reversal: I'm discussing Oscar-voting with costume designer Michael O'Connor, an Oscar winner for The Duchess (2008) nominated again for his work on the Dickensian romantic drama The Invisible Woman and he reveals that, though he takes voting seriously, he doesn't really think it's a good thing to know too much about the behind the scenes achievements on movies, beyond what you can see and judge visually. 

Michael O'Connor and one of his Oscar-nominated designs from The Invisible Woman

That’s why I don’t teach or do classes. I don't think it would be a good experience. I want the discussion when I’m doing it because it helps me work but when you watch [a movie] you shouldn’t know the discussions. When you watch a film sometimes and stay for the Q&A it’s changed the experience because now you know some of the secrets. Some of the magic is not knowing. 

And, yet, once you get Michael O'Connor talking about his craft, he doesn't quit (a wonderful problem in an interview) and his passion for Costume Design is always front and center. I'm not at all convinced that he wouldn't make a good teacher but his students would have to be quick, as he leaps from topic to topic, sometimes without warning. 

From our vantage point in 2014 his current status as an Oscar winning costume designer seems inevitable...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan192014

Sundance: Only Lovers Left Alive

Our Sundance Film Festival coverage continues with Michael Cusumano on Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive.

Tom & Tilda - who needs neck pillows travelling when you have each other

Before Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive I would have gladly placed a moratorium on all vampire films. Beyond the exhausting cultural ubiquity of the undead, Tom Alfredson’s masterpiece, Let the Right One In appeared to be the final word on the sub-genre for the foreseeable future. What was left to say after that?

I should’ve known better.  All it takes is the synopsis “Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in a vampire movie by Jim Jarmusch” to remind one that there is new life to be found in any song, provided that the singer is right. [more...

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Thursday
Aug292013

Mia Out, Mara In. 

Jose here with this week's Rooney Mara news.

In case you haven't heard, Mia Wasikowska dropped out of Todd Haynes' Carol in which she was to star opposite Cate Blanchett and none other than my beloved Rooney Mara was chosen to replace her (a vast improvement if you ask me). The film is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt which she published under a pseudonym because of its controversial subject: two women in love.

Blanchett will play a married woman who falls for a young department shop employee played by Mara. We all know Haynes is an impeccable director with a remarkable eye for period detail; even those who hated Mildred Pierce - how dare you! - were in awe of his attention to detail, which made it feel like a documentary more than a soapy drama. But above that, we know how great Haynes is with actresses. So this probably has secured them at least Golden Globe nods. The film doesn't star shooting until 2014 though, so we'll have to wait...

P.S. With Cate and Rooney onboard, A.K.A the best dressed women alive, and oft-Riccardo Tisci-muses we've also secured endless red carpet orgasms for 2014 (?).

How do you feel about the casting switch? Will Cate & Rooney have constant Givenchy-offs on the red carpet?  Share your thoughts!  

Sunday
Mar032013

Review: "Stoker" Disturbs. But To What End?

A slightly abridged version of this review was previously published in my weekly column @ Towleroad

Thirst > Stoker

A few years ago Park Chan-wook, the acclaimed genre fabulist from South Korea, made an award winning vampire film called Thirst. With the exception of the Swedish instant classic Let The Right One In, it's the best vampire film of the past 20 years. Second best might not seem like high praise but consider the volume of competition!  

In Thirst, a priest and reluctant vampire, infects a young girl with his addiction and she flips from moody troubled teen to lusty adult trouble-maker. Is she his impressionable victim or his soulmate apprentice? Or is she much harder to pin down? Having raved about Thirst when it was released (including a Best Actress nomination for Kim Ok-bin right here) and being a shameless Kidmaniac I walked into Stoker with high expectations. Despite the title's nod to Bram Stoker, I was not expecting an English language pseudo-remake of his earlier vampire feature. There are no literal vampires this time but the central power play relationship and overall bloodlust are like eerily similar echoes. Even the supernatural powers remain: India (Mia Wasikowska) even begins the film boasting of her preternatural hearing in voiceover while she hunts a defenseless animal in the tall grass. It's like a Terrence Malick sequence with brutality in place of spirituality. India's hearing is so acute she even catches spidery footsteps (So do we since Stoker shares with Thirst masterfully creepy and super detailed sound design.)  

A Stoker family dinner. Bloody steak.

"Don't disturb the family" is a stupid fun tagline for Stoker's ad campaign and poster since the warning is pointless. This family was disturbed long before you bought a ticket. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan232013

Clips w/out Context: Nicole Kidman in "Stoker"

So many people have sent me that first official clip from Stoker over the past week, a monologue from Queen Kidman, that I figure it's a sign from the cosmos that I've been neglecting my genuflections. (I had had another big Nicole (!) piece planned last week and then they went and snubbed her/spoiled it. And then there was The Hours anniversary and I thought maybe I had Kidmandeered the blog too much. Apparently not!)

Lights on. Camera. Actress!

Almost every time someone has sent or linked to the clip they've done so with a variation of "OMG!!!" or "all the Oscars for Nicole!" in their text and a quick check of online reactions fall roughly along those lines too. My reaction was more like "..." with a side of "♥"

...which I shall explain alongside the clip and Stoker @ Sundance madness after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep222012

Thoughts I had while watching that "STOKER" tease

As you may now Park Chang-wook of Thirst fame has trained his keen cruel eye on something a little less supernatural and subtitled for his next film Stoker. We got the first taste of it on Entertainment Tonight days ago but... you know... (how long do you think I can milk this "but I have pneumonia!!!" excuse?). So herewith some unedited thoughts I had while watching it...

Personally speaking I can't wait to see life tear you apart."

• Love La Kidman lashing out. These opening eye daggers reminded me more than a little of The Golden Compass and I mean that as a compliment. That book trilogy was beyond and Nicole Kidman really got that character (Mrs Coulter) so it's such a pity that the movie didn't really get the book and the ending didn't even get the ending and no other movies will be gotten to get it all retroactively like! I have pneumonia.

• I'm tickled that this isn't a biopic on Bram Stoker! 

video and more thoughts after the jump...

Click to read more ...