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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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Entries in religiosity (39)

Thursday
Nov202014

Interview: Patti Smith Doesn't Want Her Own Biopic!

What becomes a legend most? Not the biopics we see each year at the movies, Patti Smith suggests to me. We were meeting to talk about her first Original Song for a film, "Mercy Is" from this spring's $100 million hit Noah when the conversation veered into her own status as a showbiz legend, the godmother of punk. She shudders when I wonder aloud if anyone will make ever make a movie of her best-selling memoir "Just Kids" which recounts her storied relationship with fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Though she's undoubtedly been interviewed thousands of times by now in her forty years of stardom, and she questions (indirectly) the whole point of the star profile and the interviewing process  -- 'if you really want to know me, it's all there in the work' -- she is a patient and warm interview. She instantly recalls the old massive paraphenalia that journalists used to bring into the room to record with when she sees my tiny electronic device and she's eager to talk Noah, a project she felt immediately taken with when Darren Aronofsky first told her about his plans for it at the Venice Film Festival years ago. 

Patti Smith at a recent concert in Iceland

NATHANIEL: Movies aren’t something you've spent a lot of time with in your legendary career. Did you know Aronofsky’s work well before writing the song for Noah?

PATTI SMITH: Yes. I love the one with Rachel Weisz, The Fountain. And Pi. I saw Black Swan a couple of times and we talked about Black Swan as a metaphor for the artist process and things like that. But it was not so much Darren as the subject.

Nathaniel: But you’ve been asked about religion before in your career and you’ve called it ‘man-made dogma’ so why do a Biblical film?

PATTI SMITH: Well, I love the Bible. Just because I’ve extricated myself from religion doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the scriptures. I look at the Bible as itself. It’s a holy book, it has incredible literature in it and beautiful poetry - the Songs of Solomon and the Psalms. I studied the Bible seriously until I was young teenager. It was always part of our home education: talking about the Bible, arguing about the Bible, interpreting it. So I don’t connect prayer or scriptures with any particular religion so it’s not a contradiction in my life. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov032014

The Honoraries: Maureen O'Hara in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

In "The Honoraries" we're looking at the careers of this year's Honorary Oscar recipients (O'Hara, Miyazaki, Carriere) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Belafonte). Here's Nathaniel...

Sanctuary ! Sanctuary !

You often feel like you've seen the classics, even if you haven't. Victor Hugo published "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 183 years ago and like most enduring classics, including Hugo's other culturally imposing masterwork "Les Miserables,"  it feels familiar even if you have no first-hand experiences with it. Hunchback, like Les Miz, has been adapted several times but has actually been musicalized more often. I regret to inform that I had never seen the 1939 RKO version starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara until now so the Disney version was my only true cinematic reference point, at first forcing comparisons where I didn't want to see anyway.

The easiest comparison to shake off was Esmeralda, since Maureen O'Hara's fresh faced  breakthrough slipping through crowds and dancing in circles with her tambourine, beats Disney's Gypsy princess voiced by Demi Moore instantaneously. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct172014

What I have linked, I have linked.

Popwatch Julianne Moore tribute coming in January at the Museum of the Moving Image - let the coronation mark begin
In Contention Pedro Pascal for Ben-Hur and portrayals of Pontius Pilate on the screen
Salon what Gone Girl and Amazon's Transparent have in common
Interview talks to David Cronenberg
iTunes You can buy Norte: The End of History, The four hour acclaimed Philippines Oscar submission on iTunes now if you'd like.
Vulture talks to Kim Dickens from Gone Girl on claims that the movie is misogynist 

 

Awards Daily new trailer for Unbroken. I feel like there've been a lot of these
i09 compares Battlestar Galactica to Outlander given that they're from the same series creator Ron Moore
Criterion is releasing the classic The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant on blu-ray. Rainer Werner Fassbinder's movies are not available enough so this is great news
The Hollywood Reporter Clowns of America International (that's a real thing) is pissed about AHS: Freakshow's Twisty the Clown. In related news how come y'all didn't comment on the last AHS post. You led me to believe you were watching it!
Screen Daily Jane Campion developing a second season of Top of the Lake
Latino Review Actress Elizabeth Peña (Jacobs Ladder, La Bamba, Modern Family) has passed away at 55 
Towleroad Ezra Miller feels like surprise casting to me as The Flash in DC/WB''s superhero universe (unrelated: I'm enjoying the CW TV show of the same name thus far. It isn't great but it's light & fun, unlike Arrow which bored me silly)
Towleroad gays on television from ABC's hypersexual connivers & neutered comics to the wider queerness of premium and cable channels
Playbill that stage musical version of American Psycho is still happening and is now looking at fall 2015 on Broadway 

Awwww...
Times one thousand.

It's a teaser for the new Disney short Feast. This short apparently tells the life story of a Boston Terrier solely through his meals. It'll play before Big Hero 6 and we may be looking at a serious Best Animated Short Oscar contender. 

The Divas...
It's way too early to be thinking about Christmas but if you're an early shopper please know that Glen Hanson, an illustrator I just love, has designed a Liza Minnelli holiday ornament. Thanks to Boy Culture for the heads up. The proceeds go to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS.  If you want one you purchase here.

In other Broadway news, a special tribute to Elaine Stritch is coming on November 17th with performances by (are you sitting down) Patti Lupone, Betty Buckley, Christine Ebersole, Michael Feinstein, and my personal favorite of the theatrical divas of a certain age, Bernadette Peters

So who is singing what? They're keeping that a secret naturally.  

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?