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Entries in Oscars (30s) (28)

Friday
Apr182014

TCM: Anna Kendrick ♥s "The Women" (So do we.)

It's Diana's last report from the TCM Film Festival which closed this weekend. One more from Anne Marie is coming up and it's a wrap. Take it away, Diana...

Ben & Anna Kendrick at The Women screening

In one of the few overlaps in our TCMFF schedule, Anne Marie and I sat down for the all-star classic The Women (1939). We've both watched the film a countless number of times - it's such a treat. The El Capitan organist played a variety of film standards (including the Star Wars theme) as we chuckled and waited for the introduction. The cherry on top? Anna Kendrick, cool girl exemplar, was the special guest, there to introduce the comedy classic alongside TCM stalwart (and object of many TCM fangirls’ affections) Ben Mankiewicz.

 Walking out on stage, Kendrick sported a chic yet casual look with a black tee, black skinny jeans and black heeled boots paired with hipster glasses and gently messed hair. Within moments of sitting down, she nonchalantly revealed she was also still wearing her retainer. Kendrick opened up about how she stumbled on the film and fell head over heels for it, feeling the biggest connection to Rosalind Russell...

'While working on Broadway ' (Kendrick put laughing emphasis on the "way" and sidebarred that “it was a douchey thing to say, no matter how I say it”), the then 12 year-old Kendrick was introduced to the film by two older fellow actresses who considered the a rite of passage for the then-tween. Like many of us, Kendrick couldn’t keep the unbridled passion to herself and forced friends to watch it. Also, like many of us, she realized that not all tweens are that keen on a black-and-white 1939 comedy. Nonetheless, she persevered with her own interest in classic films, thanks in large part to a father who would rent things like The African Queen for them to watch at home to counteract her frequent video store choice of Spiceworld.

Stating that The Women is part of her D.N.A., Kendrick vowed that she would incorporate the Sylvia (Russell) leg-chair-hook “into a movie, if it’s the death of me.” (You know the one, early in the picture, when she’s gossiping in the Haines’ powder room and hooks the chair with her leg and without missing a beat sits down to dish even more.) Later on in the screening, that moment elicited a raucous amount of applause, thanks pretty much entirely to Kendrick’s introduction.

the cast of The Women (1939). Accept no substitutes

On a current note, Kendrick revealed a great, passive aggressive way actors give shade to each other on-set. Whereas Joan Crawford would knit while feeding lines to Norma Shearer during reaction shots on “The Women,” apparently the thing to do on a modern-day film set is to break strategically, meaning to laugh a bit too heartily and flub the scene all the while crediting your fellow actor with being too good and too funny. Not that Kendrick has done anything like this, just that she 'heard about it' from other actors.

Anna Kendrick on stage as a tweenWhen introducing the young actress, Ben Mankiewicz said that she was one of the few actors working today who could have easily been a star in any other Hollywood era. From her martini glass-shattering performance in Camp to her Academy Award-nominated performance in Up in the Air to her full-hearted introduction at this screening, Kendrick continues to win the hearts of new fans. As Mankiewicz predicted (and I agree), she’s on her way to legendary, award-winning stardom herself.         

 

Thursday
Apr172014

Seasons of Bette: Dark Victory (1939)

Seasons of Bette had a headache last week but is feeling much better now, thank you. Herewith, your catch-up episode on Dark Victory (1939)

it was the ghastliest feeling, everything went fuzzy. 

Fallen out of order, have I. That's awfully dreadful of me given that the great revelation of both Anne Marie's brilliant A Year With Kate and my own intermittent Seasons of Bette series is that you can actually watch a movie star grow in power and nuance and embrace of their own specificity if you watch their films chronologically.

This is true, at least, of the studio system where stars were invested in for the long haul rather than dabbled with for a few months at a time if agents, lawyers, producer, directors and stars could agree on a one-time contract. The old system had its drawbacks of course, giving thespians less agency in their own filmography and less ability to test their range in different genres and with left turn character types. Despite that, and even because of it, it was uniquely ideal soil for the true movie stars to grow like majestic redwoods. You know the kind of superstar I'm talking about: they are emphatically always themselves no matter how well they play any particular character. [more...]

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Wednesday
Apr092014

Mickey Rooney (RIP)

I came to the news of Mickey Rooney's passing late due to my offline vacation but it wouldn't be right to not mention it here at the musicals-loving The Film Experience. My first exposure to Mickey Rooney, as far as I remember, was Babes in Arms (1939) for which he was Oscar nominated at 19. I think my parents took us to see it at an awesome revival house in Detroit. Tweens and teenagers, who always fear being uncool, aren't supposed to love old black and white movies made many decades before they were born but cinephiles and/or musical-fanatics are a different breed and I had no shame whatsoever about seeking them out. [More...]

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Tuesday
Feb252014

Seasons of Bette: Dangerous (1935)

Seasons of Bette. Episode 2. Nomination #1

As a sidebar to Anne Marie's "A Year With Kate" series (which I hope you're all enjoying as much as I am - see why I comissioned it?), I'm investigating each of Bette Davis's Oscar nominated performances as they appear within the Katharine Hepburn timeline. They're the two titan actresses of Old Hollywood so why not pair them even if indirectly? We previously looked at Of Human Bondage (1934) due to its write-in votes at the Oscars but technically-speaking Nomination #1 arrived the following year in Dangerous (1935). 

This second Oscar hopeful is so like the first it's as if someone yelled "Do over! And get the nomination this time." 

Again Bette Davis is pursued by a lanky gentleman and failed artist -- 1934's sap was Gone With the Wind's Leslie Howard and 1935 brings us Mutiny on the Bounty's Franchot Tone. They both do it for me a lot more than they seem to do it for Bette but Tone, and her sexual chemistry with him, is 1935's only added value.

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Wednesday
Feb192014

A Year With Kate: Alice Adams (1935)

Episode 8 of 52 wherein Anne Marie screens all of Katharine Hepburn's films in chronological order

I’ve spent a long time looking at photos of Kate for this blog. It’s not just that she’s beautiful. She just radiates confidence from every perfectly-posed angle. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine that she could be touched by failure or anxiety. If she’s not relatable, she’s admirable. I’ve certainly idolized her. Earlier I worshipped Kate as Jo March, the success who tomboys aspire to be. But if Jo March - or Kate - is who young girls want to be, Alice Adams is who they so often feel like they are. And as such, Alice Adams is a shock for Hepburn fans...

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