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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Big Little Lies

"I am blown away by this miniseries." -Michael R

"Laura Dern's Renata is crazy but she reminds me of several professional women that I know in the San Francisco Bay Area." -Jono

"Loved the jarring editing this week, and the reveal of what Perry did with the toys..." - DJDeeDay

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Melissa Leo (The Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (The Sense of an Ending)
Asghar Farhadi (Salesman)

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Entries in Reviews (502)

Tuesday
Mar212017

Review: Song to Song

By Eric Blume

It’s difficult to review Song to Song, the latest film from Terrence Malick, because based on the standards of cinema (plot, characters, structure, acting, etc.), it’s a pretty terrible movie.  But with this film, Malick continues his journey to discover some sort of new cinematic language and style that has a weird beauty all its own.

The story, such as it is, revolves around three people in the music business (played by Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, and Ryan Gosling).  They go in and out of relationships with each other and a few other folks (notably Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, and Bond girl Berenice Marlohe).  Malick gives you no real sense of time, so it’s never 100% clear what happens when exactly.  But there are many, many scenes with those five people running their hands over each others’ bodies while voiceover proclaims banalities about sex and connection...   

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Tuesday
Mar212017

Doc Corner: The Confined Spaces of 'Solitary'

by Glenn Dunks

Solitary could have gone in many different directions. Filmed over a year inside the supermax solitary confinement prison of Red Onion, Virginia, all sorts of independent narratives that are weaved throughout could have made for their own captivating feature. There are the guards, disturbed by what they see, and the death of the region’s prime coal mining industry that brought them to this line of work. There are the crimes of the prisoners, most of them violent, some of them not so. And then there is, like Ava DuVernay’s (broader, superior) Oscar-nominated 13th, the system itself that is obviously damaged and flawed at its very core.

It's nice, but also a little frustrating, then that director Kristi Jacobson (known best for 2012’s A Place at the Table) chose something far less sensational by focusing on the concept of nature versus nurture. Nice because that feels rare in film, but frustrating because it doesn't make the most of its unique access while doing so...

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Monday
Mar202017

Review: The Sense of an Ending

by Lynn Lee 

Elliptical and enigmatic, The Sense of an Ending has the quality of a mystery, but one that raises more questions than it answers.  That is, without a doubt, fully intentional.  It’s a film that’s designed to make you go “hmm,” not “aha,” and there’s something admirable about how studiously it avoids going for an obvious narrative or emotional knockout punch.  But by the same token, there’s something a little unsatisfying about it, too.

Based on the Booker Prize-winning novella by Julian Barnes, the film centers on an aging Londoner, Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent), who, upon being notified of an unexpected legacy, finds himself revisiting his memories of an incident from his youth and eventually coming to grips with the fact that he’s never fully acknowledged or even recognized the truth of what really happened...

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Friday
Mar172017

Stage Door: Sally Field in The Glass Menagerie

by Dancin' Dan

This is not your parents' Glass Menagerie.

It's not uncommon for theatrical "reinventions" to take place nowadays. Ivo van Howe has made it into a cottage industry of sorts, creating an intimate, visceral A View From the Bridge and a raw, elemental The Crucible in recent years. Sam Gold is of the same cloth. He made his name with an audacious revival of Look Back in Anger at the Roudabout in 2012, won the Tony in 2015 for his sensitive in-the-round staging of the musical Fun Home, and most recently directed a searing Othello with David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig off Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop.

But all those pieces benefit from a stripped back, in-some-cases radical rethinking. Tennessee Williams's memory play is a much more delicate thing, announcing as narrator Tom Wingfield does right at the start that this is a subjective work of art, a piece of memory that may or may not represent what actually happened. Productions of it generally take after the play's quietest character, the "crippled" Laura - they are generally fragile, gossamer things, as light and airy as a thought or memory hanging in the air in front of us...

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Tuesday
Mar142017

New Directors / New Films: Strong Island

New Directors / New Films which runs March 15th through the 26th is a festival of emerging international filmmakers here in NYC each year. We'll be covering a few titles including this unravelling of a Long Island murder in Glenn's weekly documentary spotlight.

Strong Island

“There’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place. And that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time: what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say exhume those bodies – exhume those stories.”

I thought of these words from Viola Davis’ Academy Awards speech last week while writing about the ABC queer rights miniseries When We Rise; thinking of all the men and women lost over the years to AIDS and what they could have done and who they could have been. I did not expect to be thinking of them yet again so quickly, but here we are. I thought of Viola’s words while watching Strong Island because exhume is exactly what first-time filmmaker Yance Ford has done with this film about the death of his older, 19-year-old brother, William, at the hands of a white man who the courts sort little interest in seeking justice for.

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Saturday
Mar112017

New Directors / New Films: Sexy Durga

New Directors / New Films which runs March 15th through the 26th is a festival of emerging international filmmakers here in NYC each year. We'll cover a few titles staring with a nightmare journey in India... 

Sexy Durga
Do you ever feel like you're missing something no matter how closely you pay attention? Not being well versed in Hinduism, it's difficult to make many inferences from the use of the goddess Durga in this film's title though calling her "Sexy" was quite a controversial move. I'm not sure why given that a quick bit of research reveals that she's a supreme goddess which sounds damn sexy to me...

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Tuesday
Mar072017

Doc Corner: 'Contemporary Color'

Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense is such an extraordinary piece of cinema that it is only natural that it casts a long shadow. That 1984 concert documentary of Talking Heads stuck in my mind a lot while watching Contemporary Color from directors Bill and Turner Ross. Not just because both films feature David Byrne as the primary artistic force behind them, but because they each suffuse music with performance with personality with theatricality. They both strive for an almost heightened sense of spirituality out of the creation of art. It’s just a shame that in the case of the Ross brothers' film, it just comes across as sloppy.

The film documents the performance of a special one-off performance at the Barclay Centre in Brooklyn. Spearheaded by Byrne and his newfound obsession with color guarding – a sort of synchronised swimming, but on land, and with way more prop rifles; Byrne describes them as “sophisticated folk art” – the event finds him inviting ten color guard teams and have them perform for a stadium audience alongside musical guests who wrote original songs as soundtracks. Songs, it must be said, that mostly sound like discarded album tracks and demos lifted out of storage and dusted off like it’s Woody Allen’s Irrational Man screenplay.

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