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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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"Bond on Banana"
Mixed Media on Fruit, 9"x1½"

There is nothing about this I don't love.❞ -BRB

From the neck down, its pretty good. Guess your eyes weren't focused on his eyes.-Henry

Your next assignment: Shelley Winters on a Pineapple❞ -Jon


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Entries in Reader Spotlight (48)


Reader Spotlight: Michael Bina

In the reader spotlight series we celebrate YOU, the reason The Film Experience keeps chugging along. Today we're talking to Michael Bina who just produced a well received short film! Let's meet him.

Nathaniel R: We met a couple years back at a guild screening for Coriolanus's tiny Oscar-qualifying run I believe? 

MICHAEL BINA: Yes, that’s right! I remember you... loved it?

Well, Vanessa Redgrave in it! Otherwise not so much. How long have you been reading the site?

I’ve probably been reading The Film Experience for a little less than a decade. I was a huge fan of the Academy Awards growing up, so I began reading Oscar blogs. I stumbled upon yours and loved your insight on films, and just the way you wrote about them. The site's great at showcasing all aspects of the industry (film, theatre, television).

I understand you recently produced a film that was honored by the Producers Guild ? I'm fuzzy on details. Fill us in!

Every year the Producers Guild of America has a Weekend Short Competition. So over the course of one weekend you have to write, shoot, edit, compose and complete a film no longer than 5-minutes. This year the theme was Romantic Comedy in honor of Laura Ziskin. The film I made was called ‘The Squeeze’, inspired by my little cousin who has a Lemonade stand every summer.

That sounds fun. Let's watch it!


MICHAEL BINA: I used my cousin in the film, and made him a mafia-loving kingpin who runs all these lemonade stands in Beverly Hills. One day, this cute little girl opens an opposing stand, basically killing his business. So he tries to take her down, but falls in love with her. We ended up as one of the Top 10 Finalists, winning Honorable Mention. James Franco and Tom Cruise’s producing partner Paula Wager were two of the judges, so it was surreal knowing that they watched a film I wrote and produced.

Nathaniel: Congratulations so much. Okay, name 3 movies you've seen a bajillion times.

MICHAEL Movies are always playing in the background while I write, so this is easy.

X2:X-Men United
Moulin Rouge!
... and lastly (I know it’s cheating) but the four Disney Renaissance films: The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.

Take an Oscar away. Regift it.

  I want to say The Artist’s Best Picture win to A Separation, which is my favorite movie of all time. But, instead I’m going to make one choice that affects three outcomes. Take Hilary Swank’s 2nd Oscar and give it to Kate Winslet for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This way Kate would lose for her work in The Reader, meaning the Oscar would have gone to Streep. Thus, Streep would have lost for The Iron Lady, meaning Viola Davis wouldn’t be Oscar-less! (And even if Streep didn’t win, it probably would have gone to a very, very, very deserving Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married).

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So to wrap up, do like we did on sunday's podcast. Name your favorite turkey, succulent ham, and something you're sweet on for dessert.

Turkey: Independence Day
Ham: Jim Carrey
Dessert: Emma Watson

Thanks, Michael, Happy Thanksgiving!

Previous Reader Spotlights

P.S. If you'd like to be a reader spotlight, stay engaged! Like us on facebook and follow Nathaniel on Twitter. Don't be shy.


Reader Spotlight: Paul Outlaw

If you spend time in the comments section of The Film Experience you might have noticed Paul Outlaw before. He's today's Reader Spotlight. I recently had the privilege of seeing him on stage at the Bootleg in L.A. (three more shows, readers - go see it!) in an experimental theater piece. I took an actress friend of mine and we had a great time.

So let's talk to Paul as we revive the weekly "Reader Spotlight" series!

NATHANIEL R: Why do you read The Film Experience?

PAUL OUTLAW: For one thing, I like serious film criticism that doesn't take itself too seriously; for another, there's more going on at the blog than just cinema talk. Theater, TV and film-tangential pop culture are all up for grabs. Oh yeah—it's a queer site that's not all about the gay. I guess I like contradiction and interesting juxtapositions.

In 1993 you starred in an Oscar winning short film. Did you attend the Oscars? What's your strongest memory from that?

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Who Has What To Prove in "American Hustle"?

Guest Discussion. The Reader Spotlight is coming back soon but here's the last of our Reader Guest Posts for the moment. This one is from Matthew Eng, who has been sending in quite awesome Smackdown ballots (share yours for 1968 soon). Here he is to talk American Hustle anxiety/anticipation. - Nathaniel

what will this film do for each of them?

 I’m only slightly ashamed to say that I’d almost gladly forego seeing everything else that’s slated for release this season if it meant getting my eyes on American Hustle right. this. second. I still have only the vaguest notion of the movie’s actual plot (corrupt politicos? mob-tied wheeler-dealers? ABSCAM? Jersey?), and yet my eagerness sky-rocketed the very second those opening chords of “Good Times, Bad Times” kicked in. 

Alright, fine, it was upon seeing that glorious perm in action.

Matthew EngTwo knockout trailers later, it hasn’t dissipated a bit, not even during that only somewhat-discouraging “bigger balls”-off that ends the first teaser. There’s a supremely high level of expectation behind this project to be the complete Oscar package, what with its high-profile director, dynamic cast, juicy Black-Listed script, period costuming, retro textures, and Christmas release, etc. etc. But there’s also, interestingly, a lot of pressure for both its alluring cadre of stars, each with varying levels of something to prove, and its increasingly in-demand helmer.

The following is a ranked analysis of which of American Hustle’s main players has the most on the line (from lowest to highest) and what each serve to gain and/or lose this Oscar season, with a slight emphasis on one player in particular:

06 Jennifer Lawrence
Lawrence faces one of two exciting possibilities with Hustle...

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Shutdown Movie-Thon (Week One!)

Reader Takeover Day! The Reader Spotlight is coming back soon but as a special triple treat a few posts over the next 24 hours written by you, the reader. (Well, not you literally). Here is Lynn Lee -- previously reader spotlighted so you'll want to check that out -- who is currently on a tv/movie binge while on furlough.- Nathaniel

 Lynn here, taking Nathaniel up on his kind invitation to recount the...

"Filmgoing Adventures of a Furloughed Federal Employee"

There's no question the ongoing federal government shutdown is a disaster for this country, and it's affected federal workers more directly than most. A good chunk of us, including yours truly, have been indefinitely furloughed. Those who think this just means extra vacation time clearly don't understand that (1) most of us *want* to be at work, but it's against the law for us to work and (2) we currently aren't getting paid! There's not much we can do, though, other than find ways to pass the time.

For those of us more fortunate furloughed feds who aren't dealing with more pressing concerns, the main question each morning has been "What do I do today?"

In my case, the default answer is a no-brainer: go to the movies!  These past couple of weeks I’ve trekked to movie theaters of all sizes and stripes all over the D.C. area, and seen some of the best films I’ve seen all year—at least two of which I’d have missed otherwise.  So for me there’s definitely been a bright side to my forced idleness.

DAY 1: The only day of the shutdown I was “excepted,” i.e., required to work, so no movies for me today.  Unless you count the imaginary reenactment of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with me in the Jimmy Stewart role, playing in my mind.  Not that an epic filibuster would do anyone any good in the current situation.

DAY 2: My first furlough day!  What better way to spend it than to watch Thor race cars against Frederik Zoller?  I head out to my favorite movie theater in northern Virginia to see Rush, Ron Howard’s flick about the 1970s rivalry between two Formula One drivers, British daredevil James Hunt and hyper-focused Austrian Niki Lauda.  Solid entertainment, and Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl are good foils, even if the script overplays the contrast between Hunt’s impulsive, hedonistic recklessness and Lauda’s relentlessly austere, Germanic precision.  Best line of the movie, from Lauda:

Happiness is the enemy.” 

Oh those Austrians. 

DAYS 3-4: No movies, but a discussion with my boyfriend about whether to see Gravity in 2D or 3D.  Although I normally hate 3D, this seems to be one of the few movies that really should be seen that way.  But boyfriend hates putting on those clunky 3D glasses over his glasses, so I do not insist – especially since I’m skeptical that any movie “needs” to be seen in 3D.  This decision will come back to haunt me in the days to come…

DAY 5: …though not on the day we actually see Gravity, which is still beautiful and harrowing and impressive in 2D.  Not quite transcendent; I find the score a bit overbearing, and can’t help wondering if George Clooney would be so cool and humorous under pressure in real life.  Probably not under that kind of pressure, I decide; Sandra Bullock, on the other hand, reacted more like I’d expect Sandra Bullock would.  Also decide that I would never under any circumstances want to be an astronaut.  But I already knew that since childhood, when everyone but me wanted to go to Space Camp.    

DAYS 6-7: No movies in theaters, though I discover that everyone in the world has apparently seen Gravity, too – and seen it in 3D.  And people are raving about how “immersive” it was!  I begin to worry that I’ve made a terrible mistake.  



Geeks OUT @ Comic Con

Reader Takeover Day! The Reader Spotlight is coming back soon but as a special triple treat here's the first of a few posts over the next 24 hours written by you, the reader. (Well, not you literally). Here's Charles Quittner to share his Comic Con adventure. TFE had neglected the annual NYC event (I was in LA) but Charles is here to rescue us! - Nathaniel

Here I am as a post-Disney acquired Spider-Man

Hello there! I’m Charles, a faithful reader of this fabulous site by way of a Google search for Oscar predictions 5 years ago. 

This weekend was the 8th annual New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits convention center. Media aficionados dressed in awesome costumes lined up 10th avenue to buy and browse merchandise of the geektastic variety and to catch glimpses of upcoming books, comic, TV series, and films from the mouths of the creators and stars. [More...]

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