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Months of Meryl: Sophie's Choice

"This is the best Streep performance ever captured on film. "That's all."" - Dorian

"I support this movie, partially because I loved the Styron novel and, along with Schindler's List, it's one of the best American movies to teach people about the holocaust. Streep is sublime in it, and it's such a great role - she gets to play Sophie before the war, during the war, after the war, etc. " - Tom

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Entries in Mildred Pierce (19)


Red Carpet Convo: Emmy Reds, Midriff Blues

In this edition of Red Carpet Convo Nathaniel talks to Mark Blankenship of The Critical Condition and our resident fashion obsessive Jose

Nathaniel: Is it too late to talk about the Emmy divas and their dresses. This pop culture wheel does spin madly these days -- knocking me right off my axis sometimes.
Jose: We're only a day behind E!'s own red carpet talk (not that comparing onself to E! is any sort of compliment.)
Mark: We can think of it as a gift we're giving to a busy world. Sit back. Relax. Fondly remember days gone by... Sunday gone by.

Karen, A Good Wife, Crazy, Gwynnie, Skinny

Nathaniel: Well, it's horrible to follow Joan Rivers but then our purposes are never quite the same with our red carpet coverage. We're here to talk about the ladies and we're less bitchy and we're allowed to discuss actual careers, too. If we're so moved. I think we should start with this "Worst" collection and get the negativity out of the way.
Jose: You did NOT just put Gwynnie in your worst list.
Nathaniel: I did. Left to right. Megan Mullaly. I instantly regret putting her here because at least there are colors other than reds but it reminds me of this one tie I wore back when I thought loud colorful ties were fashionable simply because men's clothing was such a sedative.
Jose: I didn't even know she'd been to the Emmys. I have nothing against the dress at least it's a change from her usual black pant suit look.
Mark: The dress is kind of overwhelming. Like, you expect to unfold it and discover it's actually a giant, silk screened print of an Impressionist painting.
Nathaniel: Damnit, now I like it more.

Nick & MeganMark: Is she on television now in the absence of Party Down?
Nathaniel: She does guest stints on Parks and Recreation where she plays the demonic ex-wife of her actual husband Nick Offerman. They're hilarious together.
Jose: Wait, she's married to Nick Offerman? *mind explodes* I can not for the life of me, wait to see what she and Patty Clarkson come up with to mess with poor "Ron Swanson". [Editor's note: Patty Clarkson will be on Parks and Recreation this year.]
Nathaniel: That show is so great. Okay, Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife or as she's known in some quarters The Wife With the Goodly Hot Husband. Thank youuuu, reaction shots.

Mark: See... look, I don't hate this dress. I don't mind that she took teardrops from an old chandelier and put them on her bosom. I find it whimsical.
Nathaniel: I just don't understand it. I keep wanting it to be really abstract and structural with the way it juts out up top like it's decolettage that wants to be a stiff collar or a Disney cliff.
Jose: I applaud the risk she took by going with Armani Privé (these people design like they're dressing up astronauts for dinner parties) but I laugh at her terrible choice, it's just too fugly. Maybe she wanted to carry on the "arrive by way of eggs" tradition established by Björk and Gaga.
Nathaniel: But see that's just my objection to it. If you're going that way, GO that way. It looks much weirder and therefore better from far away.
Mark: For me, seeing it in motion made it kind of fascinating but just staring at this picture makes me like it less.

Who's the  woman in the pink and why is she wearing a mud mask?
Nathaniel: LOL. That's Paz de la Huerta who is insane.
Mark: !!! That's who that is? She's unrecognizable. And I watch Boardwalk Empire for chrissakes.
Jose: This is what happens when you take an oompa loompa out of the chocolate factory and send it to Extreme Makeover. 
Nathaniel: She's been doing that weird lip thing for awhile. If it's not the chocolate factory it's those easter candies that color your mouth.
Mark: Either that or like someone who just strolled out of a nuclear meltdown. Isn't that kind of how your skin looks if it's burned by an A-bomb?
Nathaniel: I wouldn't know.

Mark: This image reminds me of how frustrating she is on the show; all affect, all the time.
Nathaniel: I don't watch the show. Every time I try I think Sopranos During Prohibition. Yawn.
Jose: Ugh no. The Sopranos rocked, this one is just "important", I watched the entire first season to see if it was about more than prestige and winning awards and no, it wasn't.

Nathaniel: Since Jose and I are in disagreement about Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark you must break the tie.
Mark: About her look or her work? Jose do you like her in general?
Nathaniel: Her look. We both like her work. 
Jose: I'd like to coerce you to like this Pucci dress by suggesting that it was paying homage to this.

Mark: Ha! yes. Although I thought she was tipping her hat to Madonna's Shanti/Ashtangi period.
Nathaniel: Again I repeat. If you're going that way, GO that way. None of this half-assedness. Half-assed and midriff, no relation.
Mark: Zing!
Jose: I ADORE Gwynnie. She is the only reason I subject myself to Glee and why I have gotten into so many bar fights about the 1998 Oscars.
Nathaniel: LOL.
Mark: I really like her too. I think she's talented and charming and reasonably aware of how ridiculous she can sometimes be. That said, loving someone means telling them the truth and truthfully, this outfit is bad news. If it were all one dress, then maybe, but the midriff is just awful. The top looks poorly cut to me and slices up her body in a strange way. I agree that she should have gone further here. Farther?

Nathaniel: I don't like any dresses that risk making super skinny women look like they've put on lbs because that's CLEARLY an optical illusion. Gwyneth has a great body.
Mark: Either way show me some bellybutton or cover it up altogether.
Jose: I shall go the grave defending this look, it's just perfect to me!
Mark: I hope this is not the rift that ruins our blossoming friendship, Jose.
Nathaniel: I sense trouble. "1998 OSCARS!" *runs*
Jose: lol. Let's discuss  Jayma Mays before you two continue to break my heart.

Mark: Well she looks like a lamp. Or a bottle of cheap bourbon dressed as a Southern Belle.
Jose: I loved her. She looked a hundred years younger than the actually younger Glee girls. Did y'all see what Dianne Agron was wearing? Yikes.
Nathaniel: Well the younger Glee girls are always trying so hard.  I think they're scared of life after Glee. But the tiers on this dress are so weird like a pepto-bismol wedding cake. And I think when you're as delicate as Jayma, something that looks flimsy, easily torn or flammable if placed over a lightbulb is not a good idea.
Mark: Has her character gotten any better on Glee? I stopped watching partway through Season 1.
Nathaniel: Let us not discuss "character" and Glee in the same sentence lest you kill my buzz for the season premiere tonight.
Mark: Fair. But has her random collection of weekly, contradictory impulses gotten any more coherent? I know the answer before I...
Jose: lol.

Jose: I hate Glee but I shall respect your wishes, Nat.
Nathaniel: I hate myself for loving it but love it I do. Let's move on to BEST ACTRESSES!
Mark: The Best Comedy Actresses, you mean? 
Nathaniel: Same difference. Best Actress Drama doesn't count until they stop nominating Mariska Hargitay.
Mark: Hahaha!

READ THE REST for best actress comedy, best dressed and a few men.

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Downton Abbey Returns. The Emmys Are Coming.

Pssssst. Don't tell any Kate Winslet fans* but I'm secretly rooting for Downton Abbey to totally own Mildred Pierce this weekend at the Emmys.

*oops. That's like everyone reading. And me.

Whatever, Downton Abbey is primo tv, obscenely addictive. Closing Statement: Mildred Pierce doesn't have Maggie Smith. I rest my case.

P.S. I'll be live blogging and tweeting the Emmys this weekend so check in, won'cha?


Venice, Day 3: Keira's Confession, Kate's Challenge, Madonna's Stumble

Manolis, from the Greek site Cinema News, reporting from Venice for The Film Experience.

Madonna and her W.E. cast © the wonderful photographer Fabrizio Spinetta who is sending us great shots for TFE. 
Before today's report some thoughts about Madonna's W.E. which I had the privilege of seeing; there were so many people outside the cinema trying to find a ticket. It was difficult to turn your back to Madonna and her W.E. cast who were sitting on the Balcony behind the audience, but once the lights in the Sala Grande were off, you could focus on the openings shots of her film. 


The movie reminded me a lot of Julie and Julia. It has a similar structure but the bonding between the two Wallis’ (Cornish and Riseborough) is more vague and unfocused than that of Adams and Streep. And let’s face it, a Streep this film doesn't have. Andrea Riseborough has the showiest role, but the film doen’t help us connect her character or her motives, or help ups sympathize with her or even understand what she sacrificed for her relationship with Edward (which was Madonna’s aim as stated in the press conference). The love story of the modern day couple (Abbie Cornish and Oscar Isaac) proves more interesting than one of the most notorious love stories of all time. 


I think that the biggest mistake that Harvey Weinstein made with W.E. was leaking that it was an Oscar contender. Sure, the film has some chances in Costume Design, Music (a great score by Yann Tiersen and Abel Korzeniowski) and even Make Up (hello, Old Age!) but apart from that not much more. But the script which was co-written by Madonna is unfocused and full of cliches and predictable ‘twists’ . Madonna’s directing style fares slightly better but her visual choices are all over the place. The rich production values help make the viewing pleasant but this is not a serious oscar contender.


A Dangerous Method


This is already the third film of the competition (after The Ides of March and Carnage) that was based on a play. David Cronenberg's new film is drawn from true life events and the relationship of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). Fassbender and Mortensen are excellent giving restraint utterly believable performances of these famous figures. Vincent Cassell is also good in a very small role (six minutes?). The Art Direction of the movie may have also been impressive but I couldn't see the scenery; Keira Knightley was chewing on it. Knightley's performance has caused disputes between the critics here. Some are impressed other's believe it's the film’s fatal flaw. Sorry Keira fans, but I am with the ones who did not enjoy her overracting. She cycles through every facial expression known to human kind. Needless to say that a Best Actress Oscar nomination is not out of the question. Sabina is obvious Oscar Bait and people often confuse best acting with most acting. Other strong Oscar prospects include Supporting Actor (Viggo), Adapted Screenplay and Costumes. 
Cronenberg, Knightley, Mortensen, Fassy, Sarah Gadon, Cassel are all in Venice!
I am an actress so of course I'm crazy."
Keira Knightley confessed at the press conference for the film. Other highlights from the press conference included Michael Fassbender's research for the role of Jung which he said was reading "Jung for Children: The Idiot’s handbook" and Mortensen thanking a fan for giving him a mascot doll of his favorite team San Lorenzo. When asked what he learned about psychoanalysis while making the film, David Cronenberg replied "I found out that of all my actors that are here need psychoanalysis."


Mildred Pierce


At the Mildred Pierce press conference Winslet suprised most of the audience when she confessed how difficult the role was.
...without question, my most challenging job since Titanic. Working in a TV series is much more difficult than in a film." 
Tomorrow in Venice: the premieres of ALPS (Giorgos Lanthimos Dogtooth follow up), James Franco’s Sal Mineo biopic, Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and Al Pacino’s Wild Salome.



Venice: "Ides" and Oscar, Winslet in "Carnage", Madonna for "W.E."

[Editor's Note: I told you we'd have two correspondents in Venice this year. Doubleplusgood. You've already heard from Ferdi from Italy. Now we have Manolis from Greece. We're very happy to have them both covering the fest this year. Show them comment love. -Nathaniel R.]

Hello Film Experience fans. I’ve been a reader myself for many years and i am happy that this year i have the chance to cover the festival for Nathaniel and for the Greek site Cinema News. English is not my native language but I hope you'll enjoy my coverage. 


DAY 1: Venice at this time of the year is at its finest and busiest. The festival is of course the main attraction but there are many unaware tourists that are wondering what all these people with the badges around their necks are here for.  The event of the day was the opening ceremony of the Festival with the premiere of George Clooney’s The Ides of March. Even though The Ides of March is a political film the atmosphere at the press conference was not heavy at all. Most of the questions were aimed at George Clooney who once more ‘played’ the room as he answered questions with wit and humor. What else could he do when the questions varied from "Is this movie a comment about Dominique Strauss Kahn?" to "Have you ever thought of running for president?". He also joked about the amount of research he did for his character in Ocean’s 11 -- "I spent years researching for this role in Las Vegas" -- and he joked that the right side of the movie's poster was better looking than the left.  


Which side do you prefer?
He also said that Gosling was his first choice for the role and that the production of the film was postponed because after Barack Obama’s win everybody was very hopeful about the future of polictics in the U.S. and the timing wasn’t right for it. 
Of Day One's three other press conferences, the most compelling was the Jury of the Competition Section. This year's president Darren Aronofsky and his jury members were here to discuss how they will pick their winners. Todd Haynes got the most interesting question when asked how partial he could be in judging Kate Winslet’s performance in Carnage so soon after working with her in Mildred Pierce (which is also showing at the festival).


He answered politely and predictably and persuaded nobody. 


I am happy to say that The Ides of March is a very good film, directed with passion and care for detail. However it's the kind of film that everyone likes and respects but nobody is really passionate about. Ryan Gosling is excellent in the lead role and has the audience on his side even when he makes the wrong decisions; he could very well be nominated. One of the difficult things to judge is whether the supporting players will feature in the Oscar race. I would say that Clooney has the best chance in the Supporting Actor category, as he portrays a charismatic character (not an acting stretch, I know) that has faults and is vulnerable. Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are marvelous actors but they don’t do anything we haven’t seen them do before. (Giamatti and Marisa Tomei are in very little of the movie.) Evan Rachel Wood on the other hand has an important role and a lot of screen time and has a good shot at a nomination. If I had to pick the surest nomination that would be in the Adapted Screenplay category since the dialogue is excellent and the the scipt (Written by Clooney and his creative partner Grant Henslov) is the strongest element of the movie.

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Emmy Nominations 2011: Friday Night Lights (FINALLY) and More...

We'll start with the biggies: Drama, Comedy and Lead Actresses. Yes, that is the Big Four -- well, to the Film Experience it is!

Best Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire
Friday Night Lights *my vote because it's the last season and because I'm so mad at Mad Men for not returning this summer.*
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Mad Men

Aside from the way-better-late-than-never inclusion of Friday Night Lights, finally elevated to "Best" status in its fifth and final season, despite always having been better than the other nominees, save Mad Men, the newbie is HBO's Game of Thrones. We've discussed it a few times (in short: I'm less impressed than most though it has its moments). But still can we get crazy drunk and jubilant for Friday Night Lights?

Who will win? Can Mad Men do it again or will The Good Wife which is obviously beloved by the acting community take its first "best series" win?

Best Comedy Series

30 Rock
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
The Office
Parks and Recreation *my vote*

Bummed that Nurse Jackie or Raising Hope aren't cited. Hasn't The Office outstayed its welcome and doesn't The Big Bang Theory have a laughtrack? Ugh. This category could have been so beautifully modern? If it doesn't I apologize. But what a relief that Two and Half Men isn't stinking up the category anymore. Who will win? My guess is that the consistently hilarious Modern Family continues its reign though if we're voting for Most Improved, Parks and Recreation takes all; what a season.

Comedy Lead Actress
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation *my vote*

Was The United States of Tara not eligible? Nomination I'm happiest about: Martha Plimpton in Raising Hope. I've been a fan of Martha Plimpton since the mid 80s and am so happy to see her having such a great decade lately what with the Broadway stardom and now the TV hilarity. Plus her twitter feed is love.

Who will win? I love Tina Fey as much as the rest of the world except that she does not deserve to keep winning acting prizes. Let's spread the wealth Emmy.

Drama Lead Actress
Kathy Bates, Harry's Law
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights *my vote*
Mirielle Enos, The Killing
Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Julianne Marguiles, The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Apologies to our Annie Wilkes but what, pray tell,  is the often great Kathy Bates doing here? I have literally never been more bored by her than on this very show as if she was heavily medicated or too sleepy to act. I tried twice though it didn't help that the show was plain old stale, like a series we might have seen 12 years ago but not now with the impressive elevation of TV drama over the past decade. Hooray for Britton who really ought to win this for five unimproveably naturalistic years on FNL. I'm trying to make peace with the fact that next time someone casts her in something it's bound to be a character-less procedural but I'm having a hard time. I will miss Tammy Taylor way too much. Who will win? It's obviously Marguiles, right?

But wait there's more...

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O Canada, we stand on link for thee!

Pajiba celebrates the hottest Canadian celebrities for Canada day. I didn't even know that Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Helo  (Tamhoh Penikett) were Canadian.
Movie|Line opts for "badass Canadians" like Carrie-Anne Moss and Nathan Fillion. 
unexamined / essentials Lovely review of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. (I hadn't considered Gil's insomnia before.) Hey maybe when Woody is done with Rome he should continue his world tour in Canada. Maybe Montreal? Winnipeg?
Guardian a new book of private candids of Elizabeth Taylor and famous friends. Fun fact: Liz married Richard Burton (the first time at least) in Canada. The second time they were married in Botswona. Obviously.

Brando & Liz, so candid its almost demystifying.

Rants of a Diva Halfway Report: best rentals, hot boys, best films, and more...
CHUD Why there's no sequel to Spike Lee's Inside Man and what might be next for him. 
Awards Daily They're now calling The Invention of Hugo Cabret, "Hugo" only. Gah, DULL. Audiences are so dumb. Or Hollywood thinks they are. It amounts to the same thing.

Telegraph Whoa. Tim Robey kinda likes Transformers Dark of the Moon. I love this bit especially...

If you wonder why it had to take a spirit-taxing two and a half hours about this, it’s because Bay’s ego clearly considers it logically irrefutable that the longer one of his films is, the better it must be.

You can say the same, unfortunately, for many far greater auteurs. Length -- one might say dick-measuring --almost always comes with the territory of being a respected auteur, whether you're respected for your art or your money-generating craft... the same thing tends to happen.
My New Plaid Pants meanwhile JA fears he'll go see it this very weekend "like some sort of brain-damaged masochist." hee.


Finally, Clothes on Film has a fine piece on Kate Winslet's omnipresent floral housedress in Todd Haynes' remake of Mildred Pierce (which should be cleaning up in the Emmy nominations in a couple of weeks -- I'm most curious to see if/how many supporting actress nods it manages since I suspect Brian F. O'Byrne and Kate Winslet are givens). Ann Roth was the costume designer for that miniseries. You can see an interview with Ann Roth about her designing process (not a Mildred interview) here.