Film Bitch History
Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.


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10th Anniversary: A SERIOUS MAN

"I have never seen a film that mixes laugh-out-loud comedy so intimately with dead serious philosophical questioning. It packs so much into its short runtime. " - Dr strange

"This movie is one of my favorites - Michael Stuhlbarg the biggest reason, he's so heartbreakingly fantastically good in everything." -Rebecca

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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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Entries in Paul Giamatti (6)


"Private Life", First Visit

Chris Feil wraps up his look at the films of Tamara Jenkins with her newest film, now on Netflix...

If The Savages was like Slums of Beverly Hills all grown up and disillusioned, Private Life is like Jenkins’ first two films in conversation, and it’s maybe her wisest. Here Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti play an intelligencia couple Rachel and Richard exhaustively exploring every avenue to conceive, with newcomer Kayli Carter as their young adoring niece Sadie naively slipping herself into their struggle. With this newest film, Jenkins casts her widest net of characters, all the more rewarding with the vulnerabilities of youth and middle age are in dialogue.

Jenkins chapters the film while still structuring it like messy memory, resembling a life so anxious it can only be delineated by doctor’s visits and holidays. At the point we meet them, Rachel and Richard exist in a flurry of procedures and hormonal upheaval to the point that it defines them. But despite pursuing all of their myriad expensive and physically taxing options to bring a child into their home, Private Life is really about coping with the waning amount of options life provides as we age.

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Cinematic Lumps of Coal: 15 Worst of '15

They've been naughty. So we shan't be nice. Rather than choosing the 15 worst movies (we skip a lot of stuff that looks atrocious), here are 15 matters of annoyance within the movies of 2015, whether the movies were decent or terrible. Vague/light spoilers ahead.

15 Lumps of Coal From '15
Links go to past articles about the film or reviews if they exist

15 Grab Bag of Undelights
Afew I couldn't fit in below: Chris Hemsworth's wandering accent in In The Heart of The Sea often within the same scene. Is this First Mate Australian, British, or from the Bronx?; The way Mother Malkin's (Julianne Moore) red hair stays that way when she shifts into dragon form in The Seventh Son. That was cute with Madame Mim in The Sword in the Stone but in "realistic" cgi not so much; and, the perpetual agony of trailers that take you from the beginning to the end of a movie (Room and The Revenant are the latest victims) spoiling every story beat.

14 Longwindedness
In nearly great movies (Clouds of Sils Maria 124 min), good movies (Saint Laurent 150 min.), divisive movies (I'm still making up my mind about The Revenant okay? 156 min), and arthouse curiousities (Arabian Nights, Vol II 131 min., Love 135 min.) alike the tendency in contemporary cinema is to let the camera linger here and there and everywhere and also to include entire sections that add nothing particularly new to the plot or our understanding of character or theme if narrative isn't the movie's main thrust. Don't misunderstand: a good lingering camera can be among the greatest of things but if you're running over 90 minutes please justify it with new information. Shave 10 minutes (or a lot more in some cases) off any of these movies and they're instantly improved. 

13 more after the jump...

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Oscar's One Hit Wonders or When Bad Nominations Happen to Good Actors

[Here's abstew to talk about a semi-annual Oscar tradition. Even if you disagree with the picks you surely recognize the curious problem. Will any of 2013's future nominees qualify for this list? -Editor]

When it comes to acting nominations, let's face it, not everyone can be Meryl Streep (17 nominations and counting). And with only 20 acting nominations to hand out each year, there's always going to be people left out. So many factors affect nominations: how well the actor is liked in the industry, whether they've been nominated (or won) before, how visible they've been promoting the movie, whether or not it's their "time". Sometimes the actual performance doesn't weigh in as heavily as it should.

Which is why the Academy gives something I like to call the "Oh, sorry we didn't nominate you for that great movie you were in a couple years ago, but let's call it even by nominating you for this instead" nomination. For many actors their body of work greatly out-weighs the single nomination. (For purposes of this list, I'm focusing only on actors who've received their nomination in the past 25 years or so but this has been happening since the beginning of (Oscar's) time.)

With so many greats yet to receive a nomination, perhaps we should be grateful that the following actors can precede their name with "Academy Award Nominee", but knowing how much better they are than this single nomination implies... 

Single Nomination: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve Indochine (1992)

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Stage Door: Romeo and Juliet x 3

In the Stage Door series we look at current theatrical productions with our cinematic eye. Here's Jose on Romeo & Juliet

Some time within the last 14 days, I subjected myself to three versions of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet playing in NYC. "Subjected?" you ask, well dear reader, each of them was perhaps more horrifying than the previous, leading me to ask if I wasn't an unwitting participant in some Shakespeare-meets-Halloween project. However in the name of scientific research I've come back with some results.

The versions in question are...

1) a Broadway update (the first in over four decades) starring Condola Rashad and Orlando Bloom as the infamous lovers from Verona.
2) a new film (written by Julian Fellowes) starring Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet and Damian Lewis as her dad
3) an off-Broadway version with Elizabeth Olsen and newcomer Julian Cihi as the title characters.

Both theater versions feature anachronisms and are set in unspecified times, the film version inversely has a time-appropriate setting yet somehow it doesn't feel like the most old fashioned of them.

The Best and Worst of each pair after the jump...

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Cosmopolis, or: The Absence of Feeling

Hello Readers!

Beau here, detailing my experiences with David Cronenberg's polarizing new feature, Cosmopolis. 

Let's jump right in.

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Distant Relatives: The Apartment and Sideways

Robert here w/ Distant Relatives, exploring the connections between one classic and one contemporary film.
Nice Guys Who Don't Finish At All
Consider the Romantic Comedy as made for men. In this day and age, the genre is so associated with being poor in quality and aiming only for a female demographic, you could easily forget that they used to make 'em good and with male protagonists. Of course, Hollywood making movies by men for men shouldn't be a surprise. And even today, most romantic comedies made to appeal to women are made by men (which is one small part of why they're so bad). That said, the male hero of a Romantic Comedy is quite different from the male hero of any other kind of movie. "Nebbish" is the word that comes to mind. Possibly also "schmuck." Both 1960's The Apartment and 2004's Sideways subscribe to this setup. Both Jack Lemmon's C.C. Baxter and Paul Giamatti's Miles are serious sad sacks, and both films play hard with the "nice guy finishes last" dilemma painting our heroes as upstanding men smeared merely by the actions of their peers, those cads who would seek to give all men a bad name. But the reality in both cases isn't as simple, and these films know it.
As The Apartment opens, C.C. Baxter is one of many nameless office clerks. But what sets him apart is a sly deal he's cut for himself. By lending out his apartment for the affairs and liaisons of his superiors, he's set himself up to ascend the corporate ladder with ease. The rub comes when he discovers that Miss Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) the adorable lift operator for whom he pines has been regularly visiting his apartment with his boss, cad of cads, Mr. Sheldrake. In Sideways, Miles too is one of the nameless lonely who trips through life toward increasingly vanishing dreams. He's a writer but not quite fit for success. He's a wine connosieur but not quite enough to be a pro. When his friend Jack suggests he open a wine store, he scoffs. When Jack compliments his writing, he shrugs it off. By comparison, Jack isn't particularly talented in anything other than picking up women which he does... lots. Jack and Miles head for California wine country on a two-man Bachelor Party for Jack where Jack anticipates and finds plenty of tail. Miles, not anticipating it, finds Maya (Virginia Madsen), perhaps his perfect woman.
Turning a Blind Eye to the Not-So-Nice Guy
So what happens to our nice guys? Does C.C. Baxter steal Miss Kubelik away from Sheldrake? Does Miles woo Maya without complications from Jack? First they must overcome a truth of themselves that the women in their lives are sure to discover, and that we the audience slowly come to realize after their charming patheticness wears off. These two nice guys aren't all that nice, not really. Oh they're not terrible people or anything. Theirs are sins of omission. Heck, theirs are lives of omission. Miles and Baxter don't do anything bad because they don't do anything, period. If they seem like nice guys it's often only by comparison. Under the looming shadow of Jack and Sheldrake, Miles and Baxter seem perfectly gentlemanly, but they are really enablers of the behaviors of the men whose lives they seem to eye with jealousy. Not that they want to lie to and betray women. They'd just prefer to not finish last. But they've given up the race, conceded victory to the cheaters and stopped caring about who gets used up on the way to the finish line.
With both of these films ending on an ambiguous note, it can't definitively be said that these are stories of the guys who get the girl. More accurately perhaps, these are stories of guys who, with the help of the women they want, come to understand and overcome their own timid failings. They realize that their inaction is in fact approval of all the action being gotten around them. In what may be a telling difference of expectations after forty-four years of cinema, Baxter is asked by his film to make major alterations to his life and abandon his sly apartment deal. Miles isn't expected to overtly reject Jack or any element of his life, just to understand, and to make a choice. Whether the choices these men make eventually finish them ahead (or at least not last) in the race of life is unknown. But at least they come to learn the difference between being a good person who fails and being an ambivalent person who fails to try.
Other Cinematic Relatives: Cyrano de Bergerac (1950/1990), The Graduate (1968), Broadcast News (1987), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)