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Handmaid's Tale ep 1 & 2

"Margaret Atwood's novel is superb. If this is half as good, it will be great!" - Marcelo

"My one concern is how much of the novel is covered so quickly. Even in the first episode, they pulled a lot of events from the middle of the novel right in there to establish the universe. The pacing works onscreen, but what are they going to have left to cover by episode 9 and 10?." - Robert


Betty Buckley (Split)
Michael O'Shea (The Transfiguration)
Filmmakers (Cézanne and I)
Melissa Leo (Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (Sense of an Ending)

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Entries in Mildred Pierce (19)


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.

Click to read more ...


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...

Click to read more ...


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.


Red Carpet Lineup: Four On Blondes

Nathaniel: hey you!
Jose sir
Nathaniel: Time for a total quickie Red Carpet Convo.

We just have four blondes today starting with LUCY PUNCH at the premiere of Bad Teacher. There's something about this look (is it the seven bracelets?) that makes me think she's taken her gawdy character in You Will Meet A Tall dark Stranger to heart. (I have yet to see Bad Teacher...)

Lucy Punch, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, and Evan Rachel Wood

Jose:  Is it me or does Lucy look like a more wholesome version of Gaga?
Nathaniel:  Wholesome is not what i think of when i think of Punch so maybe it's ME who has taken her comic characters to heart?
Jose:  something about her bone structure...but yes, the bracelets and heels, yikes, very Pretty Woman
Nathaniel:  Pretty Woman before it was Disneyfied... $3000 !
Jose:  lol
Nathaniel:  I don't understand what CAMERON DIAZ is wearing. Like, not just the cut but the material itself. What is it? Apparently there was a black & white & blonde & leggy theme at the Bad Teacher premiere.
Jose:  it looks like her mesh t-shirt got attacked by pins from here, but let's not kid ourselves, everyone's just staring at her legs anyway
Nathaniel: I was actually staring at the bracelet wondering if it could deflect bullets but I am very gay.
Jose: Maybe she's trying to steal the Wonder Woman thunder from our Christina!
Nathaniel: (I think we should all except that there won't be a big screen Wonder Woman.)
Jose: I do wish Cameron would do something different with her hair sometime though. we get it, you're sporty and surfy and whatnot but find a freaking iron sister
Nathaniel: ♪ ♫ She's as free as her hair She's as free as her hair. She is her hair. She is her hair.

Doesn't it seem like a trillion years ago that Cameron Diaz and KATE WINSLET were actually co-stars in a romantic comedy. Ohmygod maybe-it-never-happened-at-all?
Jose:  I'd been trying to forget The Holiday for years, thank you for rekindling that trauma

Oooh is Kate wearing the classy lady version of Cam's dress?

I don't know but I have to say that it's both fierce AND fugly. That midriff detailing is so... is she expecting the postman to deliver bulk mail?
Jose:  LOL Actually I loved it for very odd reasons it's a Victoria Beckham dress. and I remembered when i was 12 how I loved Kate and how the British press was always making her try to be as skinny as Posh Spice, so I see her in this dress as kick-ass cosmic retribution
Nathaniel:  the 12 year old in you rejoices.

Also this dress on Kate… David Cronenberg would salivate. It's very eXistenZ "portal" and... well, I can't look at it for too long. Disturbing.
Jose:  thanks to you now I'm expecting Jude Law to emerge from it (Holiday reunion?)
Nathaniel:  LOL. Speaking of emerging from Kate Winslet (ba dum dum chhhh)... Next we have her evil incarnate spawn from "Mildred Pierce" at the "True Blood" premiere.
Jose:  ...channeling Hayden Panettiere by way of "Express Yourself"
Nathaniel:  When you put it that way I suddenly love the look not.

And I was just about to say that I liked it.
Jose:  EVAN RACHEL WOOD always wears odd things to premieres, last True Blood premiere  she did a librarian sort of thing that everyone hated.
Nathaniel:  I was going to compare this to one of Dazzler's looks from the X-Men comics but I realize that would be like the 4th time I've gone there this summer. There is something very wrong with me. I apologize.
Jose:  uh-oh, she would make an awesome Dazzler though



Nathaniel: Anyway I kind of love it because it makes me think that I don't fully understand Evan Rachel Wood yet and that's always a good feeling when it comes to young actresses. Surprise us or risk replacement! There are a gigajillion young blondes eager for your spot.
Jose:  Totally. When it comes to the freaky, what-will-she-do-now department, Marilyn Manson did good by her. And her smile made me forget how much I hate her as Veda Pierce too
Nathaniel:  her or the character?
Jose:  o Veda, I hate all incarnations of that tramp but Evan's was especially easy to loathe.
Nathaniel:  but that's the point!
Jose:  I know but I was worried I'd hate Evan too afterwards. Hopefully True Blood will make me forget all about her
Nathaniel:  Veda. You know you're trouble when undead soulless bloodsuckers have more soul.


10 Word Reviews (A.K.A. Nathaniel Catches Up)

As per usual, though I maintain a healthy writing clip to fill The Film Experience with new material for vous, I have some sort of mental block about traditional film reviews. So let's just get everything unreviewed that's in theaters (or in one case, HBO) out of the way right this very instant. I got places to be! We haven't talked about most of these so why not?

Deneuve, Viard and Rennier: comic successes in POTICHE

in which a trophy wife exceeds expectations and reforms her husband's business.
10WR: Knowing hilarious riffs on: Deneuve, 70s, sexism; But souffle deflates.  B/B+

in which an abandoned pet lizard becomes a hero in a thirsty desert town

: Surreal weirdness grounded by Western tropes. So ugly it's beautiful. B+

in which Todd Haynes adapts the famous novel for an HBO miniseries in five parts
10WR: Glacial pacing but slow build payoffs. Beautifully costumed, lensed. B/B-
EPILOGUE: I'll just come right out and say it. This was not the "event" I was hoping for, neither in performance or in direction. But I did like it. Needless to say, I'll stick to the Joan Crawford gladly, despite them being two very different things.

in which Jake Gyllenhaal keeps reexperiencing the same 8 minutes to solve a bombing
10WR: Perfectly servicable but stumbles exiting train; Needs more existential terror.  C+

in which a washed up porn star (Kim Cattral) is pursued by a nerdy teenage fan
10WR: Cattral: effortful limited success; Movie: suffers badly from hermetic POV. C-

Finally, I do hope some of you will take in POTICHE if it plays in your town. It's quite funny and one should always support good non-English language films while they're still in theaters so that they keep releasing them; their market share is sadly ever dwindling. Potiche has done well abroad ($21 million) but is struggling in US theaters ($280,000). The cast is just delightful. I almost always like Jérémie Rénier (In Bruges) and the running gag about his lovelife has maybe the best punchline in the movie. It also amuses me that his name is so much like Jeremy Renner's and that they almost share a birthday (January 6th and 7th respectively though Rénier is ten years younger). It goes without saying that Deneuve fills my heart with joy as she always has (she's in my top ten actresses of all time list). Any Karen Viard fans out there? I'd love some recommendations as to other films as she's quite funny but I haven't seen her in many things.