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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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"Best known as pudgy British aristocrat Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey' Pudgy? How very Dowager Countess of you.- par

""from Jimmy Stewart to Terminator" - HA! LOVE this! And boy I loved this movie, I hope all the Downton fans flock to the theaters to see it." - jose



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Entries in Reader Spotlight (46)


'Best Shot' Awards - Season 5 Wraps

I wanted to do a little something extra special as wrap party for our very enjoyable and well attended 20 episode fifth season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot.  So imma give out awards since awards are what we love best. The episode I liked reading everyone's takes on the most were --  can I say all? -- the Jamie Travis short films since I never get to hear opinions on those (or any short films really) and Under the Skin as it needs to be spoken of and contemplated. And by as many people as possible. Spread the good word.

But really I could just as easily call everything else "tied for third" because I always love to hear so many perspectives. But no season is perfect: Zorba the Greek  turned out to be kind of a dud (I had never seen it so I blame the Oscars!). Two more episodes that were less popular than I expected were Cries and Whispers and Blow-Up which is a shame because they're such interesting films. Perhaps they've gone out of cinephile fashion and I hadn't yet noticed? 

MISSING: RJ at (Home) Film Schooled would surely be honored here somewhere if I could find him/her - There were a few great entries early in the season and then both the blog and R.J.'s email ceased to exist. If you're out there, let us know you're okay! Those were some good articles. 

MISSING #2: This list was made very quickly as I prepped for Toronto so I missed some key categories I had planned to do so if you don't see your blog represented, that's my bad, not yours. 

And now some nominees for "Best" of Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Season Five


Shane Slater of Film ActuallyTimothy Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy - 19 episodes
Conrado Falco, Coco Hits New York -17 episodes
Jason Henson, Entertainment Junkie -18 episodes
Shane Slater, Film Actually -20 films *winner*
Andrew Boyd Stewart, The Film's The Thing -15 episodes

These five blogs were fuel to keep going. Quite a few other people popped in and out and if that's you, know that I anticipate your return whenever you vanish. You'll be there for Season 6, right?

I reached out to Shane for an acceptance speech. He kept it short...

Click to read more ...


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?

Click to read more ...


Reader Spotlight: Santy Calalay

Today on Reader Spotlight we're talking to the very talented Santy Calalay from The Philippines whose interview was lost in my inbox for months. Sorry Santy! Without further ado... here he is with "the only Oscar winner I know"

Santy with Greg Curda, who won Best Sound for The Hunt for Red October"

TFE: Do you remember your first movie?

Santy: It was either one of three Disney movies: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Bambi. That or it was a Filipino film from the 70's where my father played the bad guy. Haha. My most vivid childhood memory regarding movies though is with Ghost. My mother loved watching that when it came out but she would never watch it alone. My sister and I were only 6 and 8 at the time so when THAT SCENE as we called it (clay. hands. white shirt. need I type more?) came up, my mother would tell us to go to the other side of the room and bury our faces in pillows while she watched.

I only saw that scene for the first time when I participated in Stinkylulu's 1990 Supporting Actress Smackdown. (Go Diane!)

Why do you read TFE?

Because you write about the movies the way I think about them. Plus TFE must be the most open-minded community when it comes to discussing movies as a business, as an art and as an obsession. I've learned so much from the knowledge of your contributors and commentators.

You're a photographer. How do you think that coincides with your movie love? 

Photography is in-between writing and filmmaking. It's Hit Me With Your Best Shot. It's me stopping the narrative and saying, "wow, this is what it's all about." For me, the most beautiful shot is still when Brigitte Lin takes her wig off in the alley in Chungking Express. My breath was taken away. Even the movie stood still for that moment. A photoshoot is just like making a movie, only you try to show your greatest frames and angles to tell the whole story. The brevity of a picture always appealed to me.

Brigitte Lin & Takeshi Kaneshiro in the mindblowingly beautiful "Chungking Express"

Have you ever broken up with someone over a movie?

Yes. After she said Orgazmo was a better movie than Casablanca. Have. Not. Spoken. Since.

Three favorite actresses 

Deborah Kerr because I have always loved a lady. Glenn Close because I have always admired someone who goes big and broke every time. And lastly, Thelma Ritter for Pick-up on South Street and the sincerity she always gave in her roles. Sorry Maggie Cheung, Nathaniel said just three.

Favorite director?

Robert Altman. Those casts! Enough said.

Take away an Oscar. regift it.

I'll do it but I'll hate myself in the morning: Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby to Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind since I only get ONE regift. [Editor's Note: He hated himself in the morning and sent a new response] Sally Field's Oscar for Norma Rae to Bette Midler for The Rose!

What's the last movie you saw before these questions?

Detective Story. Kirk Douglas growls. Eleanor Parker cries. Lee Grant is KOO-KY.

And in theaters?

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. I actually enjoyed the first movie because of Uma's delicious and highly-affected line readings as Medusa, reminiscent of her Poison Ivy. No such treasure in this one and it only reminded me that Shoreh Aghdashloo has no Oscar.

If you'd like to see Santy's photo work, check it out here. Such a good photographer and recently published in Vogue Italia. Congrats! 


Reader Spotlight: Angelica Jade Bastién

The Reader Spotlight series features you, The Film Experience community out there in the dark, watching movies and commenting or silently absorbing the conversation right here. I started this interview series because a) I'm grateful for your patronage and b) you're fascinating! Today we're talking to Angelica Jade Bastién who writes Madwomen and Muses.

TFE: Hi Angelica, do you remember your first movie?

ANGELICA: Honestly, I don’t. In my youth (can I say that when I am only 24?) films weren’t that important to me. I was quite a raconteur (which continues to this day) but I told my stories through poetry and painting. It wasn’t until I went to an art high school that I fell in love with film turning to words to tell my stories through scripts, essays and prose. The three films that changed my life and sent me into a heady love affair with cinema, particularly classic cinema, are To Have and Have Not, The Sting, and The Third Man. I haven’t been the same since. 

Why do you read TFE?

Even when I don’t agree with your conclusions I feel you bring such a fascinating perspective to looking at film. I started to look at why I love (or hate) certain films and actresses differently and was able to articulate my beliefs just a bit better from engaging with your site. 

a few of her favorite things

Three favorite actresses? 

Fuck me gently with a chainsaw, this is difficult. I will have to go with my cinematic spirit sisters/madwomen Bette Davis, Gina Torres and Barbara Stanwyck. Ask me tomorrow and the answer will change, although Bette Davis will always be in the lineup.

Take away an Oscar. regift it.

Funny enough, I am not at all obsessed with the Oscars. They’re on my periphery vision.

Babs in "Clash By Night"Since you're so into classic cinema, what's the last one you watched before this interview?

The last classic film I watched was Clash by Night (1952). I am currently writing an essay called Viper Slut: Reclaiming the Sexuality of the Femme Fatale. I am circling around the femme fatale archetype and how she has permeated into other genres and also been used to characterize real women (Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Gardner, for example). So, I have been rewatching a lot of my favorite films that have that character type some are noirs, some aren't. Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis and Gloria Grahame films have been playing a lot in my home because of this essay. Which isn't out of the norm! I also delve into my own history, sexuality and being a woman who has been labeled as transgressive. In essence, I believe that the femme fatale is a woman trying to gain power in a world that wants to make sure she wants none. 

Which movie would you want to live inside of?

I am already a walking, talking Douglas Sirk film. So I would say Written on the Wind crossed with The Lady Eve seen through the lens of Some Like It Hot. Just more diverse, since someone who looks like me didn’t exist in the classic films I love!

Other lovely ladies interviewed for this series:
Grace MaoMysjkinLynn LeeEsterLeeheeJamie and Dominique 


Reader Spotlight: Riccardo 

Get to know the Film Experience community! Today we're talking to Riccardo who is very succinct in his answers!

TFE: What's your first movie memory?

Riccardo: Bambi in the late 70s in an afternoon show with mum and sister.

Your three favorite actresses?

Nicole Kidman in The Hours. The scene at the station for me is very emotional and I love listening to her original voice and she was absolutely perfect. Michelle Pfeiffer is an absolutely underrated and talented actress even in a thriller like What Lies Beneath. And I can't explain exactly why I like Marilyn Monroe so much -maybe the mix of weakness and sensuality, that will never be found again. I could watch Some Like It Hot a ton of times without ever being bored. 

Take one oscar away from someone. Regift it.

From Meryl Streep of The Iron Lady. To Viola Davis for The Help.

If you were in charge of the movies for a year, what kind of movies would you greenlight? 
Real stories that tell about real people that changed the world with their acts, thoughts and feeling... A bit boring maybe?

What's the most recent movie you saw in theaters?

Now You See Me which I found it an interesting surpris and I loved Man of Steel  -  Mr.Cavill's personality helped a lot.  Plus lovely Amy and welcome back Kevin.

Hey those aren't real stories about real people! ;) Okay, since you're from Italy what are the three Italian pictures that you think everyone should see?

1. Once Upon a time in America by Sergio Leone is a truly complex masterpiece.
2. La Ciociara (Two Women) with Sophia Loren since I think her Oscar-winning role is one of the most memorable ever.
And recently...
3. Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni, a powerful film that just happened to have a huge advertising and Oscar marketing system behind it :)  

Ciao, Riccardo!

Previous Reader Spotlights


Reader Spotlight: Jeremy in New York

Jeremy EgglestonWe're getting to know The Film Experience readership, one-by-one. This will take a while and we love you for that. Thanks for being part of our ever-growing community. Today we're talking to Jeremy who I once met in a bar.

Do you remember your first movie?

Hmmm. My mom is a Wizard of Oz obsessive, so I'm sure it must have been this (on the small screen). Back before there was even VHS (ahhhhh!), I remember she would let me and my two younger brothers stay up late and stage a slumber party in the living room as we attempted to make it to the end. I fully credit my cinephile status to my mom. She made movies feel alive and transcendent.

What's your movie going diet like in a typical year?

Unfortunately, I am your typical cold-weather binge consumer. I blame the studios for this, and no point in going off on a typical rant with this one. One of the blessings of living in NYC is the smaller film festivals that go on throughout the year. For instance, earlier this year I saw Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell at the New Directors Festival through Lincoln Center (one sentence review: EVERYONE SHOULD SEE THIS MOVIE! Longer review:  I found it to be sublime and brilliant and funny and touching and above all, NEW).

I typically will get begrudgingly convinced to see one or two summer blockbusters, but other than that, fall is my season. It's not atypical for me to see two-to-three films a week between the months of September-December.

You are one of the few readers I've met (quite accidentally) and you did a little bow which was the most flattering thing ever though I was drenched in vodka (long story) so perhaps I hallucinated this. Do you remember this?

HA HA HA! Of course I remember this. I was out dancing with my friend Judith, and I spotted you out of the corner of my eye standing with your friends. I remember approaching you and saying what an honor it was to actually meet the face behind the blog. TFE was my first encounter with an internet site where you could feel the passion for film streaming through the computer screen. It was and remains a true honor. And it was fun to see your reaction of pure shock (and tinge of 'who-the-hell-is-this?' fear) 

Three favorite actresses?

  1. Nicole Kidman
  2. Julianne Moore
  3. Tilda Swinton

"I'm gonna do what I want!"

Nicole has recently de-throned Julianne, just based on their work during the past few years. I feel Julianne still needs a can't-take-your-eyes-off-type of role, ala Game Change on the big screen. She was robbed for Far From Heaven. Meryl is of course up there too, but sometimes, there's just gotta be room for another. (And if that's the case, I'd also pick Michelle Williams, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bette Davis, and now, Jessica Chastain)  

What's the last movie you saw before answering these questions?

On the small screen, my boyfriend and I are attempting to make it through AFI's Top 100 of all Time. But I must admit, we both fell asleep halfway through Vertigo the other night. I blame it on the rain.

Have you ever fallen asleep during a classic?
Do you agree with Jeremy's take on the state of Julianne Moore's career?

Previous Reader Spotlights


Reader Spotlight: Grace Miao

In Reader Spotlight we get to know The Film Experience community one by one. It's taking forever for which you know I'm grateful. Today we're talking to Grace in Toronto.

NATHANIEL: Hi Grace. Why do you read The Film Experience?

GRACE: I originally read it for your Oscar predictions, but I got hooked on the thoughts and insights in your movie reviews - and actressexuality! It's a little Ebert-esque, but love or hate a movie, you have an undercurrent of overall admiration and appreciation for the medium that keeps me coming back.

What's your first movie memory or obsession?

GRACE: E.T.  I'm so blood/gore-averse that I distinctly remember hiding my face behind my hands when Elliot cut his finger on the circular saw. And wanting a flying bicycle.

I know we have a mutual love of Tilda Swinton and Tony Leung since you've told me so. Name three other actors you always love to watch.

Nicole Kidman! I know she's on everyone's list, but her Monster Year in 2000/2001 kind of sealed the deal for me - I loved her in "Moulin Rouge", "The Others", then later in "Dogville" and "Birth". She's always good, but with an auteur director, it's absolute magic to watch her.

Maggie Cheung. I really miss seeing her onscreen, especially since Tony's still working (such amazing chemistry!). I was SO excited to hear that she was going to be in Inglorious Basterds and disappointed that they cut her scenes. She's one actor who, like Tilda, I can buy in anything and any role. Plus very few people can make Cantonese Chinese sound as elegant as she does.

I saw Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show in a high school English class and it sent me digging through his filmography and my Dad's video library. For years, I just couldn't get enough of him (though I skipped "Maid in Manhattan") - I could be repulsed by him ("Schindler's List"), swoon over him ("The English Patient") and every time he speaks, I just want to curl up and fall asleep in his voice. I could see someone like Tom Hiddleston following in his footsteps.

If I could pick runners-up, I'd choose Peter O'Toole, Kirsten Dunst and Russell Crowe. 

If you were in charge of Hollywood for a year, what kind of movies would you greenlight?

At this point, I think I'd greenlight virtually anything that isn't a prequel or sequel. I'd give the go-ahead to works that put story and character development at the forefront; if Lars Von Trier/Kar Wai Wong/Alfonso Cuaron/Hayao Miyazaki/David Lean's ghost are in any way involved with the project, I'd give it an automatic pass to production. And I'd have Christopher Doyle be the DP for everything.

What's the last movie you watched before answering these questions [note: we had this conversation a couple of weeks ago]

I'm embarrassed to say G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but that wasn't a voluntary choice. Can I redeem myself with No starring Gael Garcia Bernal, which I saw the week before with my BFF?

Yes you may. Good choice. Which movie would you love to live inside of?

The Fall. Specifically in Roy and Alexandria's imaginary world, in Eiko Ishioka's costumes.

Name your three favorite movies from each decade: 80s, 90s, and 00s 

80s: My Neighbour Totoro (I grew up on Hayao Miyazaki - I could have easily filled up this section with everything he produced that decade), The Last Emperor, and Ran

90s: LA Confidential, Porco Rosso, Apollo 13

00s: The Barbarian Invasions (my Dad had cancer years ago and passed away in 2010, so I can't tell you how much this movie resonated with me. I was weeping in my seat), Children of Men and Dogville (Trying to narrow down what I loved from this decade drove me nuts. I want to cram Spirited Away, In the Mood for Love and Amelie in here as well)

Thanks Grace! P.S. This picture you sent is amazing! So I GIF'ed it. I cannot  believe you were an extra in Mean Girls. That is so fetch.

GRACE: I was.  Right after the Mathletes victory is announced. Two Lindsay Lohan movies, one with Hillary Duff, a TV movie with Anna Sophia Robb and a handful of TV series, including "Monk"!

NATHANIEL: Well done!


Previous Reader Spotlights
And our imaginary Honorary Reader Oscars go to...
lovely ladies: Mysjkin, Lynn LeeEster, Leehee, Jamie and Dominique 
(and yes we need to hear from more of the girls) 
dashing gents: Peter C, Daniel M, Troy H, Morgan, Patrick, Christian, Lucio, Joey Moser, Zé V, Tony T, Andy H, FerdiK.M. SoehnleinSergioBorja, John, Chris, Peter, Ziyad, Andrew, Yonatan, Keir, Kyle, Vinci, Victor, Bill, Hayden, Murtada, Cory, Walter, Paolo, and BBats