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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 Reviews (293)

Monday
May182015

Cannes Review: Irrational Man

Diana Drumm sends us another review from Cannes... 

A promising premise and captivating performances fall flat as a philosophy professor leaps after a misguided notion of the philosophical imperative, tumbling after one of his own theoreticals to disastrous results. Like much of Allen’s lesser filmography, Irrational Man dabbles in some of the auteur’s favorite subjects (philosophy, middle-aged male crisis, May-December or in this case June-November romances) and takes on more than it can chew, choking up in the third act.

The film’s tone shifts with the stumbled abandon of a dizzied drunk trying to make up his mind whether to stand or stay seated, from murky to light to dark, sprawling discussions to tensed farce...

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Monday
May182015

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Michael C here to review my most anticipated film of the summer. Isn't it wonderful when anticipation and quality go together?

With each passing Summer the concept of the Event Movie gets a little more cheapened, a little more downgraded. Like eyes adjusting to darkness, we see weightless CG blurs collide with other weightless CG blurs and deem it good enough. That is until a film like George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road comes along to rip the curtains down and the light flood in. No, that image is not strong enough. Fury Road tears through the multiplex like a great cleansing fire, leaving the great herd of lesser, timid blockbusters scattering to escape its path. 

It may seem an odd declaration to make about a franchise reboot, itself the third sequel in a series dormant since 1985’s Beyond Thunderdome. But Miller proves that any project can attain greatness with the right spirit of reckless ambition. The prevailing mentality is that an established brand is an excuse to play it safe, to scrub a rehash of the original story down to a neutered PG-13 so as not to risk alienating a single ticket buyer on Earth. George Miller goes full tilt in the opposite direction, embracing the franchise’ twisted id...

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Sunday
May172015

Cannes Review: Carol

Our friend Diana Drumm is in Cannes and will be sending a few reviews our way. First up, Todd Haynes hotly anticipated Carol... (note: this review contains a couple of spoilers for those who haven't read the book)

Within a year of publication, Patricia Highsmith’s first novel “Strangers on a Train” became a seminal Hitchcock thriller. After half a century, her second novel “The Price of Salt” (published under the pseudonym of Claire Morgan) is now a Todd Haynes romantic drama (under the succinct title Carol). Whereas the former concerns two male strangers duplicitous in murder, the latter is about two women finding love in constrictive 1952 New York City. Turning the pulp novel into a palpable parable, Carol is a master stroke in Haynes’s 21st century oeuvre (Far from Heaven, Mildred Pierce, et al.), and harkens back to the pressurized strength of Safe and the sexual fluidity of Velvet Goldmine - both capturing and throwing off the starched restrictiveness of postwar America, and deftly upgrading the melodrama with social relevance.

Inspired by Highsmith’s own stint at Macy’s (and her affair with Philadelphia socialite Virginia Kent Catherwood), 20-something shopgirl Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) waits on and is struck by elegant “blondish woman in a fur coat” Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). A friendship builds between the two, to the jealousy of Therese’s huffy square boyfriend (Jake Lacy), who dismisses it as schoolgirl crush, and the consternation of Carol’s matinee-handsome, soon-to-be ex-husband (Kyle Chandler), who uses it as ammunition in their ongoing divorce negotiations. [More]

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Sunday
May102015

Review: Hot Pursuit 

This article was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

If you look really closely while watching Sofia Vergara act, you can sometimes catch little one frame jokes the animators have snuck in. You surely wouldn't be looking for subtlety if you sit down for Hot Pursuit, but perhaps you wouldn't be expecting a full-blown cartoon? In this new buddy comedy from director Anne Fletcher (Step Up, The Guilt TripThe Proposal) everything and everyone is broad, broader, broadest. And not just Vergara as America's favorite Colombian broad. Think The Proposal's strange dancing campfire scene between Sandra Bullock and Betty White. No, no. Not broad enough. Broader. Broadest! 

Sofia Vergara plays tempestuous Sofia Vergara while Reese Witherspoon plays Officer Cooper, a well meaning super uptight cop. It's the classic odd couple dynamic showbiz has relied on since the camera was invented. These types are comedies are never reinventing the wheel, nor should they be expected too, so the test is always in how funny they are and how good the star chemistry is. Hot Pursuit will immediately be compared to The Heat not just because it stars two women (gasp!) but because of this uptight/wild dynamic and a similar crime situation with dirty cops and a drug lord who keeps escaping the law.

1. Will this odd couple who immediately hate each other learn to work together before the end credits roll?  

2. Will Vergara & Witherspoon survive the McCarthy & Bullock comparisons?

The answers are after the jump...

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Sunday
May102015

Review: Maggie

Michael C. here to review Maggie

The buzz on Henry Hobson’s Maggie has focused on the novelty of blockbuster icon Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in a low-budget indie drama, which is akin to seeing Daniel Day-Lewis star in a Farrelly brother’s comedy. There is an undeniable fascination in seeing one of filmdom’s most famous men-of-action play a character defined by his powerlessness. The invincible violence machine that once laid waste to entire armies single-handedly now gets into a believable hand-to-hand struggle with some schmuck deputy sheriff and almost loses.

Arnold’s performance is one of the main reasons to see Maggie, and it doesn’t need to operate on that meta-level to work. There is nary a trace of the one-time blockbuster God on the screen this time out. There are no quips. No poses. No winks to the camera. As Wade, Schwarzenegger’s star charisma remains in tact, only this time it is tempered by a new vulnerability. Set well into an unfolding zombie apocalypse, all Wade wants is to rescue his daughter Maggie (Abigail Breslin) from the zombie virus with which she is infected, but we watch those Mr. Universe shoulders droop under the weight of sadness as Maggie’s veins gradually turn black and congeal. This disease is one enemy Arnold can’t destroy.

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Thursday
May072015

Review: Welcome to Me

Michael C. here with your non-Avengers review of the week

When we daydream about striking it rich the objects of our fantasies usually fall into tangible, straightforward categories. The things we will buy, the places we will travel, the jobs we will quit. Alice Klieg, the lottery winner with borderline personality disorder played by Kristen Wiig in Shira Piven’s Welcome to Me, has more abstract ideas. Alice has spent her whole life trying and failing to live in the world everyone else seems to inhabit with ease. Now, fresh off the decision to go off her meds and with 86 million at her disposal, she can finally force the rest of us to live in her world.

When we meet Alice prior to striking it rich, she is filling her lonely days watching her vast collection of Oprah episodes on VHS, mouthing the words along with the host. It makes perfect sense then, that when she finds herself thrust into the spotlight her first instinct is to cast herself in the role of self-help guru, albeit one with her own life as her first and only subject. [More...]

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