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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 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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Emmy Aftermath - how to fix the Emmys?

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Entries in religiosity (36)

Monday
Jul282014

1973 Look Back: Biblical Musicals

Our celebration of 1973 continues with Andrew on Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar

In 1970 John-Michael Tebelak was completing work on his master’s thesis project about Jesus Christ at Carnegie Mellon University. Before long he would pair up with musician and lyricist Stephen Schwartz and in May of 1971 the musical Godspell would officially begin playing. Around the same time, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were finalising work on a rock album, a concept musical of sorts, on the last ten days of Jesus' life. The album would be released in the fall of 1970, and one year later Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical developed from the soundtrack, would open on Broadway. By some weird happenstance the fates of the two Jesus musicals would be tied*. Two years later, the two musicals (both moderate hits on stage by that time) saw screen adaptations released in 1973.

One religious stage-musical adapted to the big screen is a curiosity; two religious film musicals – both of them from recent stage hits -  in a single year is fascinating. Two religious film musicals in the same year from recent stage hits which both cover, generally, the same subject? Too intriguing to ignore.

Two Jesus musicals, two very different Jesuses. More...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May052014

Monday Monologue: Anne Baxter’s Nefretiri

Hollywood's found religion again so here's Andrew on The Ten Commandments

Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) is the epic by which all biblical epics should be judged. There's something for everyone: romance, drama, melodrama, religious feeling, glorious Edith Head costumes and a wide scope.  And, yet, despite so much to choose from and no matter the scene, I always find my eyes settling on Anne Baxter, my pick for MVP and the Best Supporting Actress of 1956 (she wasn't nominated). Baxter’s husky tones and lilting line-readings are so memorable that it's easy to reconfigure the film and the dialogue as a series of actressy monologues...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr242014

Tribeca: "Vara: A Blessing" A Colorful Hallucination

More Tribeca from Nathaniel...

Have you ever felt cheated by a movie you actually liked? If so sit down next to me and let's talk Vara: A Blessing over popcorn.

Vara: A Blessing
A general rule of thumb for non A-list film festivals: the foreign films will be better than the home-grown product. (There's a reason some films don't win the lottery of distribution beyond bad luck). So of all the films I saw at Tribeca one that I was quite excited for was Vara: A Secret, which is about a temple dancer named Lila (played with impish gorgeousity by Shahana Goswami) who is obsessed with Krishna, the blue skinned god. She decides to pose for a lowly field worker named Shyam who wants to be a sculptor. That's something quite above his station and will anger the village if they find out. 

Shyam looks like this... 

(and this isn't even a particularly flattering photo of first time acting beauty Devesh Rajan)

...which means Lila is in deep trouble and not just from spiritual ecstasy. She starts picturing Shyam as Krishna with blue skin in stylized hallucinations and continues to dance up a passionate storm, exciting the wealthy Landlord who is looking for a young wife. Lots of drama of the spiritual, social, political and carnal nature follows.

I was thoroughly engaged though you can see a lot of the plot points coming a mile away rendering several scenes redundant or extraneous when the film only really takes off whenever it ditches plot for Lila's imagination and worship; more dancing and hallucinations, please.

Maybe it's reductive of me, but I enjoy feeling like I've learned something about "exotic" (sorry) cultures when I go to the movies - escapism with subtitles. So color me perplexed that this extremely Indian film (very steeped in old school traditions and the caste system and the taxonomy of Hindi gods) was in English!!! I felt cheated that I didn't get to read the screen. (This also killed the US release of Kon-Tiki for me since I was so looking forward to all those hunky blonde Scandinavians speaking Norsk. Foreign actors speaking English in movies from their home country? No sale!)

Well, there were subtitles but Vara doesn't need them at all because all of the actors speak English well (the only time I've ever needed subtitles for English language films is during slang-filled movies about the British/Irish/Scottish underclasses, Trainspotting and Fish Tank and the like - you know the type.) B/B-

Sunday
Apr202014

Box Office: Christians Are For Real!

Amir here, with the weekend’s box office report. It’s Easter weekend and we have proof of it in the box office top ten. When was the last time three films with such strong religious overtones as Noah, God’s Not Dead and Heaven Is for Real were simultaneously in the top ten best selling pile?  The latter film was the new entry this weekend and shockingly grossed more than $20m, helping itself to the third spot behind holdovers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Rio 2. Can you think of any film with a more unappealingly on the nose title? The 3-minute trailer is an excruciating exercise in patience in its own right but I understand I’m not the target audience. I’m sure the people who saw it in droves enjoyed it. Right? Maybe. Possibly. Fuck, seriously? Is this film for real?

Yes, Greg Kinnear. Your son sees dead people (in the afterlife)

01 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER $26.6 (cum. $201.5) Review
02 RIO 2 $22.5 (cum. $75.3) 
03 HEAVEN IS FOR REAL $21.5 (cum. $28.5) 
04 TRANSCENDENCE $11.1 *new* 
05 A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 $9.1 *new*  
06 DRAFT DAY $5.9 (cum. $19.5)  
07 DIVERGENT $5.7 (cum. $133.9) Review
08 OCULUS $5.2 (cum. $21.1)
09 NOAH $5 (cum. $93.2) Podcast &  Jon Stewart on Noah - a must-see icymi
10 GOD’S NOT DEAD $4.8 (cum. $48.3) 

Transcendence was a failure of epic proportions and managed a 10% return on investment, which is disastrous in any industry. This is either due to the fact that the film’s title is only subtly religious or because Johnny Depp is no longer a draw. The latter is most likely the case and I can’t help but indulge in a bit of schadenfreude. In the 11 years that have passed since Depp delivered something resembling a performance, he’s made billions of dollars and the box office returns of Dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger weren’t nearly dire enough to be considered punishment.

At the arthouse Under the Skin edged past the million dollar mark and The Grand Budapest Hotel is now a single day away from beating Moonrise Kingdom as the top grossing Wes Anderson. Only Lovers Left Alive, however, has failed to draw in audiences, though its screen average is the third best behind Heaven Is... and John Turturro’s weird, Woody Allen-starring passion project, Fading Gigolo.

I spent my weekend cozying up to some Cannes classics, but I will be out soon to catch Disneynature’s Bears, because those things look cute as buttons. What have you watched this weekend?

Thursday
Apr102014

22 Link Street

actually there's only 15 links... 15 link street. Lots of reads for you today, here and elsewhere

My New Plaid Pants has a wonderfully incisive review of Joe starring Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan
The Film Doctor nostalgia in the Smithsonian. Notes on Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Empire brilliant stage actor Mark Rylance will play Johnny Depp's father in Eyesore in Wonderland's sequel Through the Looking Glass
The Wrap Matt Damon planning to go solo on Mars in the sci-fi thriller The Martian about an astronaut marooned there. Remember when Matt got lost in the desert in Gerry? That was intense. I'm so ready for Matt to impress me again but honestly he's been a little dull onscreen of late. Needs a role that will shake him up.
Cinema Blend 22 Jump Street gets a final red band trailer

The Front Row on dream projects and Darren Aronofsky's Noah
Theater Mania Bullets Over Broadway opens on Broadway today in the effort to make the Great White Way an all 90s film adaptation monopoly. (Seriously there are so many) 
The Wrap The Truman Show (my #1 of 1998) which was about a reality tv show starring a man who didn't know he was the star of a tv show may well become a tv show. The levels.
THR Taylor Kitsch talks about his, uh, crotch in his pants on The Normal Heart. Costume design by Daniel Orlandi
Coming Soon the posters for How to Train Your Dragon 2 have arrived. I love that first film muchly but I worry about a sequel as I always do
Pajiba Mae Whitman (Parenthood, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) inexplicably cast as Designated Ugly Fat Friend in new comedy
The Wire has done a smart thing, surveying where we've been with each crucial Mad Men characters these past six years as we begin the final season this Sunday 
Vanity Fair Kierna Shipka (Mad Men) can't promise she won't break our hearts 

Anniversaries
The Wire Joe Reid ranks the cast of indie hit Go (such a good one) long after that road trip movie on its fifteenth anniverary. My favorite part was always the subtitled cat. 
Film School Rejects looks back at Shaun of the Dead on its 10th anniversary. What does it teach us about relationships?  

Today's Watch
Jon Stewart educates the Christian Right / Fox News axis of evil on the Bible and Noah. I seriously would lose my sanity dealing with the news if it weren't for Jon Stewart