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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 (276)

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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Sunday
Feb012015

Sundance: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Michael C here with some thoughts on the newly minted Sundance award winner

Trying to pull off the tone of the disease movie is a tricky proposition. Not only is there the risk of crossing into a bullying sappiness that all but demands the viewer fill a quota of tear-filled buckets, there is also the opposite risk, where the film's insistence that it doesn't want your tears becomes its own kind of pandering, a persistent nudging that we should be moved by the characters' bravery. 

The most impressive thing about Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is how well it walks that line. It isn't afraid of tears, but it makes the journey to the emotional climax count as much as the destination, building towards subtler, wiser epiphanies than the "life can be painful" for which a lesser film would settle. [More...]

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