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 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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Entries in Peter Jackson (8)


The Desolation of Smaug: Accentuate the Positive

Michael back again. Nathaniel recently asked us if any of us had seen The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Peter Jackson's latest Middle Earth chapter is entering its sixth weekend with $800+ million in the worldwide bank and three more Oscar nominations and it's gone completely unremarked upon at TFE.  But I could feel the life draining out of me as I attempted to review it. Surely the world did not need one more dissection of Peter Jackson’s chronic inability to rein in his material. What’s left to say, save that Desolation has exactly the problems you would expect it to have? Hell, one could get the same from any archived review of The Lovely Bones or King Kong. All the criticisms still apply.

So I junked that review and decided it would be good for the soul to write something positive instead. After all, Jackson is a maddening filmmaker not because he’s some worthless hack but because he frequently buries moments of brilliance in all the sprawling self-indulgence. So with that in mind here is a list of five things I loved or liked about The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug:

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The Linking Games: Catching Blog

Self Styled Siren has ten rental suggestions for your friends who are haven't yet become true movie fans - 10 classics anyone will love
The Cut Scarlett Johansson's runway looks for her 29th birthday
Vanity Fair Jason Statham on 'poncy actors' and stuntment deserving Oscars 
Variety Emma Thompson is just killing it in these campaign stops for Saving Mr Banks

 Awards Daily on a live performance of the score from All is Lost
The Film Doctor revisits Frances Ha and its French New Wave inspirations
MNPP The Moment I Fell For... Mark Ruffalo
In Contention I'm beginning to realize that Guy Lodge and I have very very different taste in actresses. He thinks Julia Roberts is the MVP of August: Osage County. (I will say this for her: she has the toughest role and she is really going for it.)
Gurus of Gold for this week's chart David Poland had us imagine what would happen if Oscar held a "Best Casting" prize and didn't differentiate between Adapted and Original Screenplay. FTR I love some of the other gurus choices for Casting more than my own picks but I was doing it how I thought Oscar might...
Variety Bunheads after glow... TV giant Amy Sherman Palladino joins other producers to bring Sutton Foster back to Broadway in the new musical Violet. Yes, please.
Variety finally a worthy sounding project for Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno, the biopic Castro's Daughter

All Hunger. All The Time
The Hairpin Closeted characters from The Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen to everyone in The Great Gatsby
Monkey See and yet more thinkpieces. On gender types: Is Peeta essentially Katniss's girlfriend?
Atlantic Wire An Open Letter to Jena Malone (who does make a fabulous Johanna) 

Tweet of the Week
By name you've undoubtedly heard that Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp are both in for a sequel to Eyesore in Wonderland.




What else is there to say really?*

*although don't let that stop you from having doing what you do in the comments


Tolkien at 121

JA from MNPP here to wish the author JRR Tolkien a terribly post-mortem happy 121st birthday. Here he was born (in 1892) and there he died (in September of 1973) - twas hardly a moment for you, you took no notice. (Sorry I have that Vertigo quote permanantly on tap, even if inappropriate.)

Anyway! Even if Nathaniel's boycotting The Hobbit, there's a lot of us (a whole heckuva lot, judging from its receipts) who weren't so strong and submitted ourselves willingly to another three hours in Hobbiton and beyond - my reaction to the film was actually one of surprised like, if not really love; I'd convinced myself in a post-Lovely-Bones world (shudder) that Peter Jackson had lost that ineffable something that made him so special, and I was wrong. I thought the film was like slipping back into a warm bath - cozy and quite fine. If I weren't so enamored with PJ's take on Tolkien's world I might find the probably obscene money-grab (point Nat) of stretching this lil' book out to nine hours less palatable, but I do, I do like PJ's take on Tolkien's world an awful lot, so I ended up more okay with it than I anticipated myself being in the end. Ask me again after he's piled the latter six hours on and we'll see how I feel but for now, he's reconvinced me at giving it a go. What's did y'all think?

I saw a joke going around on Twitter about how we'll be getting an epic series of films for The Silmarillion next; nevermind that all the good stuff's apparently somehow making its way into the three Hobbit movies already - where there be gold, there be dragons. Where would movie-making even be without JRR today? How many helicopter shots of groups of people striding across pretty landscapes would we have missed out on? I shudder to think.


Melanie Lynskey's Photos from the Set of "Teddy Bears"

[Editor's Note: The Film Experience is pleased to welcome Melanie Lynskey, star of Hello I Must Be Going (opening September 7th), as today's special guest blogger - Nathaniel R]

PHOTO TIME. I'm sharing photos! (Part 1)

Most of my old photos are at my parents house in New Zealand, but I did find one good oldie. So I will post one old one, and the rest are from four films I finished filming in the last year. That way I can totally plug those movies!

© Melanie Lynskey for The Film Experience

The first photo was taken at the Venice Film Festival in 1994. I want to tap myself on the shoulder and say, "hey, you're at the Venice Film Festival! Put some mascara on!" But I was going through a time in my life where I refused to wear makeup or high heels or anything form-fitted, partly to drive my mother crazy and partly because I was reading "The Beauty Myth" every few months and getting angrier every time. Also it would really delight Peter Jackson when I showed up to a premiere in Converse, and I love his little laugh, so I was happy enough. I love this picture because I am So. Excited. to be meeting the director of Reservoir Dogs. I love that Quentin Tarantino. (He literally would not stop talking long enough to get his picture taken, he's just carrying on with some amazing comprehensive story.) Sarah Pierse, who played my mother in Heavenly Creatures, is that gorgeous lady to my left. She's one of the greats, I think. An amazing actress. My beloved David Lynch was the head of the jury that year and I got to meet him. I cannot even tell you how into Twin Peaks I was at that point, not to mention the fact that I would re-watch one of his movies pretty much every weekend of my life. I started crying as soon as I was out of his sight. It was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me.

This next little group of photos is from the movie Teddy Bears, which we filmed in April. I'm posting these photos to say look at this cast, yo!

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Happy Birthday Peter Jackson!

In seems fitting yet not too obvious that Peter Jackson's birthday would be on Halloween. Imagine the costume fun one could cull from his films alone? 

Since today is his half century mark, we couldn't not tip our pointy Gandalf hats to the man. Whether you're counting down the days until he returns to The Shire with The Hobbit films or wishing he'd move away from Tolkien and on to greener other pastures, it's worth checking in on the official Hobbit blog from month to month (though they sadly haven't had a production video since July and those were fun.) 

Do you think The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (2013) will continue the Rings Oscar streak? Perhaps you're more doubtful like me... even if The Hobbit films are great won't AMPAS voters feel that 11 Oscars in February 2004 was more than enough?

I would rank his films like so.

  1. Heavenly Creatures (1994) -check out Melanie Lynskey's memoirs and our "Hit Me..." blog party if you're a fan of this brilliant hysteria.
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  4. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  5. King Kong (2005)
  6. The Frighteners (1996) ...a revisit is definitely in order. Would I like it more or less?)
  7. Meet the Feebles (1989)
  8. Forgotten Silver (1995)
  9. The Lovely Bones (2009)

    P.S. I have not seen Bad Taste (1987) or Dead Alive (1992) but I'm quite certain I'd prefer them to The Lovely Bones.



Melanie's Mini Memoir: Winslet, Jackson and "Heavenly Creatures"

Our Wednesday night series Hit Me With Your Best Shot resumes on May 4th with David Lynch's Eraserhead (see the May & June schedule here), but tonight we bring you A Very Special Episode.

We knew from Twitter that the actress Melanie Lynskey (Win Win) enjoyed this particular series. After our group gaze at Heavenly Creatures (1994), which happened to be her film debut, she sent us the following note with permission to publish it. How great! Melanie is currently in movie theaters as the troubled mom in Win Win but she's got two more films on the way. She's completed work on Eye of the Hurricane co-starring with Campbell Scott (another underrated actor) and Touchback, a sports fantasy starring Kurt Russell. 

Melanie takes it from here...

"So excited you did a Hit Me With Your Best Shot on "Heavenly Creatures". I loved reading what everyone had to say. I don't know if I can do a *best* shot, but the one that came to mind instantly as being the most symbolic of my experience on the movie as a whole is a small scene which is part of the montage in the early scenes of the friendship (you talked a bit about that montage). There's a shot where Diana Kent dabs her lips with a napkin at a dinner table and the camera swoops around the table and settles on me imitating the way she does that.

It's kind of a weird shot for me to choose; there are so many beautiful shots in the movie (the amazing Alun Bollinger, AlBol!) and so many moments I so clearly remember filming because I was so connected to Kate in that moment, or I was going through some crazy emotional turmoil for a scene and there it is, captured forever.

Filming that little dining room scene, to witness Peter's energy and how badly he wanted this tiny little moment to work out was about the most inspiring thing my little 15 year old self could see. He had this idea, and he wanted to make it work, and every take we did felt exciting, because we were all so invested in making that shot happen. I remember looking around the room and really feeling so grateful to be exactly where I was at that moment, with a group of frustrated people in a little room doing the same thing over and over.

I cant remember how many takes we did. We did it many times and I remember Peter just being so committed, even though it was proving very difficult to capture. The timing was very tricky.  The feeling of being part of a group of collaborators working together to create something was so powerful to me. I felt so fortunate to be part of the group.

The scene in the bathtub where it's all kind of blue - i remember that one like it was yesterday, it was so intense, the feeling in the room. And the shot of Kate is insane, about as beautiful as it gets. And any scene with Sarah Peirse feels extraordinary to me because she gave such a beautiful, honest performance. She just amazes me.

When I think about that shoot, the thing that I think about is how completely excited I was to be doing my first professional acting job, and how the most exciting times for me were those where I was sitting there thinking...

This is a movie. This is what it's like when people make a movie. This is amazing.

When Peter would get all excited about something, he would get like a little boy and it was adorable. Every camera move he and AlBol came up with was just mesmerising. The pieces would all click together and the chemistry of the scene would start to be created, and to me, it felt like magic.

They always wanted movement, and we as actors were always timing what we were doing to the camera move. Kate and I needed to have so much energy at all times, and Peter and AlBol and the way they were shooting really contributed to this sort of breathless, intense, excited headspace that we pretty much lived in for 3 months. Kate and I would go home at the end of a long day and hang out for hours just jabbering away to each other."

We sincerely thank Melanie Lynskey for this mini-window back to the making of one of the best films of the 1990s. [Here's the original post which prompted it.]

Next Wednesday on "HMWYBS" we're discussing David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977). Join us with your own choice or just be here for the discussion. Eraserhead is currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.




Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Each week we assign a movie. Participants are asked to select its best shot and post it to their own webspace by Wednesday evening. Everyone is welcome to join in. Next week's topic is Beauty & The Beast (1991) and there had better be a big crowd. Who doesn't love that movie?

Today we're gazing at...


With last year's mania for the dehumanizing Kick-Ass, this Spring's death-skilled Hanna and the internet's current casting obsessions with Hunger Games, in which a young girl Katniss (to be played by Jennifer Lawrence) becomes a killer to stay alive in a future that loves murder games, you'd think just about every other violent act in the world nowadays was committed by teenage girls. This type of violence can still shock onscreen -- and I hope it always will -- but it almost never arrives with both bludgeon force and emotional acuity the way it does in Peter Jackson's hysteric and hysterically imaginative Heavenly Creatures.

The problem that Heavenly Creatures poses with a "best shot" blogging experiment is not that it doesn't have these images, but that the images are rarely static and eager to be captured with your typical screen capturing devices. Only full on film clips would suffice. Peter Jackson loves the motion in his motion pictures and Juliet ("Introducing... Kate Winslet") and Pauline ("And Introducing... Melanie Lynskey") are about the most spastic female characters of the past couple of decades outside of maybe Molly Shannon's "Superstar!" They're constantly flinging themselves about. (read the full post.)

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