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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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Dreamworks Animation Pt 2: The Fall

"I loved this article. It reads like vintage EW, back when they relished the behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the studios." -John T

"Dreamworks should not have oversaturated the animation market. Home is Dreamworks 31st animated film. Do you know what is Walt Disney Animation's 31st film? Aladdin. It took Disney over 5 decades to get there." -Chinoiserie

Part 1 here if you missed it

 

 

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Entries in Reviews (279)

Monday
Mar162015

Run All Night and the Liam Neeson Ass-Kicking Hierarchy

Michael C. here.  It has been over six years since Liam Neeson reinvented as filmdom’s reigning action hero by making “I will find you, and I will kill you” sound less like a threat and more like a statement of simple fact. Since then, a sort of unofficial franchise has formed around the concept of Neeson as a grim dispenser of violence. This series, not including would-be franchises launches like Battleship and The A-Team, breaks down into three distinct groups. They are:

  • Pure, unadulterated schlock. Only the faintest trace of plot or character. Just Neeson methodically throat-punching his way through an unending supply of sleazy Euro-Villains bent on doing unspeakable things to his loved ones: Taken 1, 2, 3
  • Still schlock, but with bonus bells and whistles. Supporting characters, a high concept premise, and a plot of rapidly escalating absurdity. Slightly less throat punching than the Taken films, but still a lot of throat punching: Unknown, Non-Stop
  • Actual films of substance smuggled into theaters. Under the guise of another Neeson schlock-fest, naturally. Little to no throat punching. Occasional implied wolf punching: The Grey, A Walk Among the Tombstones

For a while it looks like the latest entry in this series, Jaume Collet-Serra’s currently underperforming Run All Night, is poised to join Grey and Tombstones in that elite third group...

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Sunday
Mar152015

Review: The New "Cinderella" Is a Real Beauty

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad.

The Game of Thrones Stark family was fond of the imminent warning "Winter is Coming" but their King of North, actor Richard Madden, doesn't need to worry this time. He's due a much happier Royal ending as the latest charming Prince to hit the movie screens. Winter is most definitely never coming to Kenneth Branagh's luxe adaptation of the most beloved of fairy tales, Cinderella. From its opening vista of a well-to-do country estate, filled with warm yellows and verdant greens and one very happy family, a pleasant merchant and his sunny wife (Ben Chaplin & Hayley Atwell) and their kind daughter Ella (Downton Abbey's Lily James), this Cinderella screams springtime and summer.

Its timing couldn't be better after this particularly long winter.

Spoilers if you're freshly arrived from another universe: Ella's loving parents are not long for this world and after imparting their wisdom and reinforcing her enchanted goodness (yes, she talks to animals), they take turns dying. Lady Tremaine, the stepmother, is introduced inbetween those deaths in clever multi-tasking voiceover courtesy of Fairy Godmother Helena Bonham Carter. [More...]

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Wednesday
Mar112015

Chappie, or "God, How I Hated That Robot"

Michael C here. The more coarse and petty the level of online discourse becomes the more determined I am to elevate things when I add my own voice to the mix. And yet, here I am sitting down to write about Chappie, a film that announces itself as being full of Big Ideas, and all I really want to say is, “God, how I hated that robot.” 

I could couch that in more academic terms. I could say Chappie’s grating personality exemplifies the many drastic miscalculations Neill Blomkamp made in crafting his latest sci-fi parable. But let’s cut to the heart of the matter. Chappie is the worst. Not Chappie the movie, which is bad, but not as Earth-shatteringly terrible as its buzz suggests. Chappie the character, the first robot to be programmed with a soul. I hated Chappie’s cloying, chirpy voice (courtesy of District 9's Sharlto Copley). I hated the supposedly cutesy-poo way Chappie refers to himself in the third person. I hated the attempts to make me go “Awww” by having Chappie relate to the children’s book The Black Sheep. And Sweet Jesus did I hate it when a gang of thugs teaches Chappie to mimic all their irritating mannerisms. [More...]

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Sunday
Feb222015

Review: 'Kingsman' is a Toxic Stew of Tone Deaf Mayhem

Michael C here with a question: When did it stop mattering if the hero saves the day?

Recently, it seems as long as the protagonist gives it the old college try that’s good enough to get rounded up to a victory. If a few thousand innocents die before he gets the job done, eh, nobody’s perfect. I started noticing this trend right around the time Man of Steel had to be careful to keep the piles of dead Metropolitans out of frame while Superman kissed Lois Lane on a pile of rubble.

Now we have Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service which ups the ante by not only having the hero fail to stop the villain from causing an outbreak of mass violence, but by lingering lovingly on the mayhem, including a mother who is brainwashed into attempting to murder her own baby. With previous examples of this trend, one could chalk it up to blockbuster inflation, with each movie trying to top its predecessors until the implications of all that destruction became unavoidable. With Kingsman, however, it feels like the showing of true colors, dropping the pretense that the film is about anything more than unashamedly reveling in a mass bloodletting. Vile stuff.

I realize I risk coming off as a prude and a scold by taking to task a film which wants only to be giddy escapist entertainment. [More...]

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Monday
Feb162015

Review: 50 Shades of Grey

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad. It is reprinted here with a couple of minor adjustments.

SPOILER ALERT: Nothing happens in 50 SHADES OF GREY. Nothing at all. The property’s idiot savant genius may be how well it achieves this tabula rasa narrative and aesthetic zen state. Its slate is so blank that the audience is free to project whatever they’d like on to it including the drama. BYOE: Bring Your Own Everything. Perhaps this accounts for its enormous “event” like status at the box office. 

We begin with an embarrassingly botched interview between a young woman who we're supposed to think of as a frumpy plain jane, an unstylish deer in the headlights if you will, and the snappily dressed über intimidating businessperson who will decide her fate. (Think The Devil Wears Prada plus sexual tension minus jokes). Naive and beautiful young Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), her name apparently downloaded from a romance novel generator, has gone to see the young billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) but she's not actually supposed to be there. She's doing it as a favor for her sluttier worldly BFF Karla (think streetwise Kit to impossibly virginal hooker Vivian in Pretty Woman) who happens to be sick on the day of her interview with the college's most successful alumnus/eligible bachelor. 

So our leads meet quite by accident. Is it fate? Will it get kinky? 

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Tuesday
Feb102015

Netflix Sneak: "Bloodline" with Kyle Chandler & Sissy Spacek

Last week here in Manhattan The Film Experience was invited to attend a very exclusive special screening and dinner for Netflix's new series Bloodline. How did they know we had a thing for Kyle Chandler and Sissy Spacek? Even more mysterious: How did they know about our deep abiding love for Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Finneran, two Tony-winning Broadway musical comedy sensations who are surprising but great choices to play husband & wife in a swampy thriller / family drama / murder mystery fusion. 

The storyline concerns the Raeburn family, a rich Southern Florida clan who own and run a very lucrative beachfront hotel. In the premiere episode the parents (Sam Shephard and Sissy Spacek) are celebrating an anniversary and home come there four adult children played by Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, and their eldest and most troubled prodigal son Ben Mendelsohn. (Mendelsohn's management team might want to look into a curveball next time he takes a role because seeing his face is now already shorthand for TROUBLE!)

More...

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Monday
Feb022015

Sundance: A Bleak Character Study Triple Feature

Michael C here to look at a trio of dark films that premiered at Sundance. What would Sundance be without some downbeat character studies? Every festival gets its share of films charting the process by which self-destructive people make a shambles of their lives. Some of them are utterly engrossing and have the audience hanging on the protagonist's every move. Many of them are a chore, dragging the audience through fifty variations of misery to no clear purpose. The type of film where you tip your hat to the artistry and to the gumption it took to get it made, while silently resolving that you never need subject yourself to that again.

(I Smile Back, James White and Patrick Wilson in Zipper after the jump)

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