Oscar History
Welcome

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.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!

Weekend Box Office
what did you see?

Comment Fun

Comment(s) Du Jour
Get Out Party Chatter 

"Thanks for this. It made me think about the time my dad saw Dr. Strangelove in a theatre in Japan. He was the only person laughing. Different communities can have such opposite reactions to the same movie. This is something I love about movies, and also why they're so important. Movies really do help us see and understand others' experiences, often even better than news report/footage." - Cash

 

What'cha Looking For?
Interviews

new Nikolaj Lie Kaas Actor
(Denmark's Oscar Submission)
Hana Jusic Director
(Croatia's Oscar Submission)
Alain Gomis Director
(Senegal Oscar Submission)

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500 Patron Saints!

IF YOU READ THE SITE DAILY, PLEASE BE ONE BY DONATING. 
Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Subscribe

Entries in Production Design (126)

Monday
Nov202017

The Furniture: Atomic Blonde's Neon Nihilism

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail. 

The design of Atomic Blonde is, well, cool. The colors are cool and the vibe is cool, in a very straightforward way. It’s nothing like the characters, who constantly double-cross each other. The twists and turns of this last-minute Cold War spy movie keep coming until its final moments. Everyone is suspicious, even if it’s not obvious.

Yet the landscape upon which Lorraine (Charlize Theron) and Percival (James McAvoy), the Brits, Americans, French, Russians, West Germans and East Germans play is remarkably uniform. Perhaps this is because the film, directed by David Leitch (John Wick) and written by Kurt Johnstad (300) sees them all as working the same game. It’s a bit like the moral landscape of Sicario, the nihilism of film noir without any of its grand mysteries. The question is no longer “What is evil?” but rather “Why are all these people who signed up for a violent and amoral profession behaving so violently and without morals?”

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov132017

The Furniture: 25 Years Trapped in Castle Dracula

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail. 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula turns 25 years old today. It is, appropriately, not dead. Not that a film can die, exactly, but this one has held onto its toothy vigor with particular success. Even the ridiculous way Keanu pronounces “Bewdapest” still charms. Eiko Ishioka’s Oscar-winning costumes seem simultaneously ancient and way ahead of their time. The same goes for the Oscar-winning makeup, which transforms Gary Oldman across centuries with bewildering commitment. The visual effects, which went unnominated, remain thrilling, a dizzying phantasmagoria of cinematic shadow-puppetry.

But I’m here to rave about the only nominated category that the film didn’t win. Production designer Thomas E. Sanders and art director Garrett Lewis were nominated, but they lost to Howards End. Hard to argue with that, of course. Yet their work on Bram Stoker’s Dracula is just as worthy in its complexity, engaging with the material deep within the extravagance and color. Sanders and Lewis demonstrate a creativity well beyond the Gothic castles and thick cobwebs of the genre’s lesser films, shining a newly bloodstained light on this most famous of vampire stories.

The home of the monstrous count itself is a perfect example. Dracula lives in a decaying tower, but a fraction of his former seat of power. It hovers over a cliff in a remote corner of Transylvania, all but removed from the eyes of the living. It cascades upwards, every story more mangled than the last...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct302017

The Furniture: Framing the Unseen in Personal Shopper

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Personal Shopper is a film about ghosts, and where to find them. Maureen (Kristen Stewart) is a bereaved twin, waiting in Paris for a sign from her recently deceased brother, Lewis. But it doesn’t come easy, not in the least bit due to some unpleasant cross-currents in her professional life. She acquires clothes and accessories for Kyra (Nora von Waldstatten), a celebrity who has an irritating penchant for holding onto things she was meant to return. Maureen jets across the city and rockets under the English Channel on her behalf, toting jewelry boxes and garment bags.

All of which is to say that the material of this film is transient and fleeting, the inevitable intangibility of the personal shopper’s trade. And, of course, it is also about the translucent transience of ghosts, especially ghosts that struggle to make contact. Olivier Assayas has created a layered projection of Maureen’s psychology that refuses her the simple clarity of the mirror. Instead, she seeks her brother and herself in all of the wrong places, only slowly understanding the nature of presence.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct232017

The Furniture: Camelot, a Silly and Furry Place

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Back in August, I wrote about two dramatically different ways of portraying Arthurian Legend on screen. To recap: the bright silliness of Knights of the Round Table (1953) looks like psychedelic compared to the bland grit of King Arthur (2004) and the gruff, imperial fantasia of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). But even these at least share a mild interest in engaging with English historical design. Camelot (1967), on the other hand, is a flighty fantasy of utter nonsense.

Of course, this is why it’s such a delight to watch. It’s a furry, oversexed epic that sends its glamorous cast out into magical forests to sing Lerner and Loewe songs at the top of their extravagantly-adorned lungs. The film won Oscars for production designer John Truscott, art director Edward Carrere and set decorator John Brown, with Truscott taking home a second statuette for the costumes. Lavishly made and lavishly awarded, it’s a classic of committed inspiration.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct162017

The Furniture: A Plaster Haze in The Beguiled

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is no sprawling epic of the Civil War. The Farnsworth Seminary for Girls, where Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) presides, is no Tara. There are no ballgowns or battlefields. There is only a big lonely house, the seat of a plantation that has decayed into an isolated finishing school for an especially isolated handful of girls.

Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is thrust into this setting, his leg wounded and his uniform bloodied. The resulting tension simmers for days, weeks even, before exploding in nocturnal chaos and violence. All the while the house stands silent, forcing these emotions up and down the stairs and into small, dimly-lit corners. There is a forever haze about this place, though never quite hot enough to break into a sweat.

This tightly-knotted mood owes a great deal to production designer Anne Ross, a frequent collaborator of Coppola’s, as well as art director Jennifer Dehghan and set decorator Amy Beth Silver...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct092017

The Furniture: The Gas Lighting of Gaslighting in Gaslight

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

This week I’d like to talk about gas lighting. That’s in addition to gaslighting, which is obviously related. Basically, I’d like to talk about the way that Gaslight (1944) uses gas lighting to distill the concept of gaslighting. It was so effective that “gaslighting” stuck, and has remained a popularly understood concept nearly 75 years after the film debuted.

Of course, these days the term has been almost completely divorced from memory of the original play or its various adaptations. The 1944 version is mostly remembered for winning Ingrid Bergman her first Oscar, and deservedly so. Her performance is astonishing, newly powerful with each successive viewing.

However, the film did win a second Oscar. Not for director George Cukor, who wasn’t even nominated. Nor for cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg, who lost to Joseph LaShelle’s work on Laura...

Click to read more ...