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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 | letterboxd

 

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"I loved Clarke's scenes with Edgerton in The Great Gatsby. I thought, oh now I'm watching men not boys, and now I'm watching actors not movie stars.-Adri

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Entries in Oscars (90s) (99)

Tuesday
Aug122014

Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Robin Williams winning the Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997)Robin Williams, Mork himself and Mrs Doubtfire... the clown, the blue genie, the Oscar winner, the charitable celebrity died Monday at 63. The actor, who had severe depression, apparently took his own life*. You never know how deep people's personal battles run but it's hard not to think of the unhappy cliche that many comics aren't laughing inside; the tears of a clown. To his credit the actor harnessed that duality in a few of his best roles.

But immediately our thoughts must go out to his friends, loved ones, co-stars, children and his wife who released the following statement.

This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin's death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.

Losing loved ones is traumatic enough when it's private. It surely can't be any easier when there are cameras and media and press releases. And there will have to be more of this since the actor had been quite busy recently, with a sitcom, three recent films and upcoming films, too. His new indie drama Boulevard about a closeted man played at Tribeca earlier this year (reviewed here) but it was only one of a handful of new projects. He recently completed work on three more films.


For my part I would just like to thank him for his best work over the years but especially that beautifully damaged and whimsical soul in The Fisher King (1991). As long as I live I'll cherish that gorgeous double date sequence with the big hearted humorous ensemble acting and conversation giving way to the hushed almost reverential moment when he sang "lydia the tattooed lady" to his new eccentric lady love. I'll just never forget it. 

The brilliant Terry Gilliam, his Fisher King director, shared this tribute to him...

Robin Williams, the most astonishingly funny, brilliant, profound and silly miracle of mind and spirit, has left the planet.  He was a giant heart, a fireball friend, a wondrous gift from the gods. Now the selfish bastards have taken him back. Fuck 'em!

 

What's your most cherished memory or role of his career?

* I know this is a horrible thing to mention but it's very upsetting that two Oscar winners have committed suicide in the same summer. Please if you are having such thoughts yourself seek help. Depression is a real illness and it shouldn't cause anyone shame and it doesn't discriminate. Successful people aren't any more immune to it than others.

Saturday
Aug022014

Posterized: Famous Singer Biopics of the Past 50 Years

Oscar loves a lot of movie-things with predictable regularity though it should be noted that those things go in and out of style (when was the last time you saw a hooker with a heart of gold?). But one thing that never seems to go out of style with filmmakers: Biopics of musicians. Whether or not Amy Adams ever gets around to her Janis Joplin picture, or Hathaway goes through with the Judy Garland picture (I'd so prefer her to do Liza Minnelli who hasn't been done!) or Jane Krakowski ever gets the greenlight for Jackie Jormp-Jormp, there's plenty to choose from in the library already. And awards bodies, not just Oscar, often choose them. It's as good a way as any to be noticed.

How do you think Get On Up, from the director of The Help will fair with AMPAS? Reviews may be mixed but they don't seem to be for Chadwick Boseman's playful performance in the energetic title role. Hollywood is always searching for "the next Denzel Washington" and he's one of the candidates even though 'the next...' is always so problematic since true stars are always their own unrepeatable thing. Remember that uncomfortably weird forcing of so many actresses into 'the next Julia Roberts' tag? Even Julianne Moore (lol) was once in that lineup in a major magazine.

Let's look back at the past 50 years within this particular subgenre and see how many films we've gotten and how many of them won awards traction. I came up with about 27 pictures (excluding biopics of musicians who weren't singers or snapshots of the industry more than individual singers because you have to narrow it down somehow) though it's possible I missed a few.

27 FAMOUS SINGER BIOPICS (1964-2014)
How many have you seen?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul242014

I was dreamin' when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray ♫

A topic worth thinking carefully over though this stream of consciousness must do for now.

Esquire claims that 1999 was the last Great Year of Movies. Several good points are made but OF COURSE the writer had to throw out that exhausting false equivalent "tv is better than film" argument again that actually has very little to do with the topic at hand. Stop people of the internet. Think before you type. The two art forms are not interchangeable - they have different strengths and weaknesses and the transcendent TV series are but a tiny sliver of the product on TV just as the most magical movies are a tiny sliver of films made. The best TV is not equivalent to cinematic blockbusters, what's equivalent to that if you must have your damn equivalencies are massively watched shows like The Big Bang Theory, The Voice, Duck Dynasty and Modern Family and the like and anyone who thinks those shows are better than what's been at movie theaters in 2014 deserves to be slapped. Or at least be strapped to a chair and forced to sit through these pictures plus Boyhood and Love is Strange (which will be here soon).

The problem of abundance and people ignoring and not supporting that abundance is complicated. The truth is people are lazy and windows to home viewing are short which as only rewarded the laziness and people would rather just let stuff come to them. That doesn't in any way mean that "stuff" playing in movie theaters is lesser than it used to be.

Anyway the article is a good read and there are strong points made about just how creatively fertile that period at the movies and how influential versus the depressing sequel fanaticism of the now. And, what's more, we don't know what's going to be influential from the now. Maybe Under the Skin will have descendants. The lack of originality is not fully to be blamed on Hollywood's creativity or filmmakers but on us. We're the ones that pick the hits and the world wants Transf4rmers for some ungodly death-wish reason, you know? "Age of Extinction" is right!

 

But anyway, yes, 1999 was a great year for movies. Still, most of the best ones cited in the article were not enormous hits: Run Lola Run made $7 million; Go made $17 million; Being John Malkovich made $22 million, Fight Club made only $37 and was considered a financial disappointment, etcetera. Time has made these movies enormously celebrated but that time was not 1999.

My very longwinded point is this and it's always this and those citations help underline my point: there are always great movies. You just have to actually look for them because almost never do they fall in your lap on 4000 screens and make $200 million plus in the US. And, finally, to wrap all this up there has been at least one year since 1999 that was phenomenal all over your face - bam! -  and that was 2004 as recently discussed on the podcast. 

Wednesday
Jun252014

List Mania

Two interesting lists came out in the past couple of days which are worth discussing / poring over / loving deeply / fuming at for various reasons.

Three LGBT Films I'm Always Wishing More People Had Seen. Paris is Burning (#3), Lilies (#64), and Show Me Love (#168)

• The Advocate crowd-sourced the 175 Essential LGBT Movies list which is a mix of non gay movies that gays love and actual queer films. Brokeback Mountain (2005) tops the list and the top ten is really cool and varied though it's obviously skewing toward historically important cinematic breakthroughs (regardless of quality) which I suppose explains the high ranking of Philadelphia (1993) which is not a good movie and so so timid and Making Love (1982), just outside the top ten which is interesting and way less timid than many movies which came after it (how's that for an odd turn of events) but it's also stiffly made. I've seen all but 34 of these pictures but some of the choices are... unfortunate. The foreign classics are shoved toward the back of the list (Almodóvar is present of course but woefully underrepresented and poorly ranked) but basically every popular American gay film from the last 25 years that actually sucks is accounted for; it's a myth that gays have good taste!

P.S. My Beautiful Laundrette, which we were just discussing, comes in at #21. 

 

And now a more mainstream list...

Only 5 live action musicals made the list. No Cabaret (1972)? I weep.

• The Hollywood Reporter surveyed industry types like Oscar winners, studio chiefs, and TV personalities and came up with a list of Hollywood's Favorite 100 Films of All Time. As a very mainstream list that only grazes Old Hollywood with the most iconic pictures (All About Eve, Gone With The Wind, On the Waterfront - that sort of thing) and heavily favors New Hollywood (roughly the 70s forward) it's fun. But you have to know what you're getting into. Most interesting to me is how beloved the year 1994 is with Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump all in the top 15 !!! The most recent picture listed is Inception (2010) which... gross. Spielberg, Coppola, Hitchcock and Nolan all have multiple entries. Curiously Hollywood only loves modern animated movies - nothing made earlier than Beauty & The Beast (1991) which comes in at #86. Brokeback Mountain (2005) comes in at #76 (Crash is nowhere to be seen. I think Hollywood was embarrassed about that Best Picture win as soon as the morning after if not as soon as Jack Nicholson read the card).

P.S. Since we were just surveying 2004 I think it's worth noting that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the only picture from that year listed... none of the actual Best Picture nominees made the cut, not even Million Dollar Baby

What should we make lists of here at TFE? Summertime is obviously ideal for movie lists since nothing is actually happening at the movies (besides, you know, CG robots, monsters, and explosions) 

 

Thursday
Jun052014

Throwback Thursday FYC: Uma in Henry & June (1990)

The Film Experience time travels so consistently between the now, the future, the distant past and the recent past that Throwback Thursday, that grand internet tradition, hasn't meant much. But then a lightbulb - "Throwback Thursday... Oscar Campaigns"

Remember Henry & June (1990)? Oscar and Uma anecdotes after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May132014

Cannes Monologue: Secrets and Lies

Andrew with a Cannes edition of our monologue series...

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival begins tomorrow and The Film Experience is doing its part to keep things Cannes focused with our list of favourite Palme D’Or winners, Diana’s upcoming coverage on the ground, and more. To continue the party let's turn to the Palme D'Or winner that topped my own team ballot, Mike Leigh's Secrets and Lies (1996).

Brenda Blethyn plays Cynthia Purley, a woman who spends much of her time jabbering away (often incoherently). Like Anne Baxter, featured last week, it’s Brenda’s domination of her scenes that fool you into considering her scenes are more monologue-driven than they actually are.

[18 year-old spoilers follow...]

Secrets and Lies has a fine ensemble but it's impossible to look away from Brenda Blethyn's fantastic turn even when you want to - Cynthia can be draining, even overwhelming and exhausting to watch. Cynthia's arc is composed from a string of breakdown scenes wherein she's reacting to family secrets and issues and they are all pitched perfectly. The one which is most significant comes midway through the film when she meets the daughter she gave up for adoption some decades ago when she was a teenager.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Mar252014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "L.A. Confidential"

When L.A. Confidential premiered in 1997 I was one of the few cinephiles that wasn't overcome with passion for it. I thought it too warm, actually. The happy(ish) ending threw me since most of the noir I was familiar with (not a wide sample I'm afraid) was much more nihilistic, rarely leaving the compromised heroes alive or free. It was the clear critical favorite in its year, though, so I've long wanted to reassess it and spend more time with it. I'm happy to report that I underestimated it the first time around. The screenplay with its hardboiled broad strokes dialogue and characterizations made more sense now that I'm more familiar with its tropes. But above all else it's a "wow" in execution from every department (but yes we're here to talk cinematography).

My clearest memories of the film were three: the smarmy gossip opening "on the QT and very hush hush", that I was enamored of both Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey's performances, and the (literal) head-turning introduction of Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger in her Oscar winning role) though it should surprise virtually no one who reads the Film Experience that the subplot of the Fleur de Lis girls "whores cut to look like movie stars" was the storyline I was initially most drawn to.  

Whatever you desire.

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...