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Entries in Reviews (523)

Sunday
Mar192017

Review: Disney's recreation of "Beauty and the Beast"

This review was previously published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Tale as old as time
True as it can be

You wouldn’t think that ‘tales as old as time’ would need so much retelling but they do. Certain properties never go away or are open to constant reinterpretation like the Shakespeare oeuvre or, well, fairy tales. A cursory bit of research reveals that there have been at least a dozen feature films or TV series from various countries based on Beauty and the Beast tale.

If you have never existed before today, here’s what you need to know: A cruel prince is cursed and transformed into a beast. If the Beast doesn’t learn to love and be loved in return by the time the last petal on a magic rose falls, the curse will become permanent. Enter a beautiful girl who could be the one to break the spell...

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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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Friday
Mar032017

Review: 'Catfight'

By Glenn Dunks.

I was recently chatting with a friend about Fist Fight, a new Ice Cube comedy that I honestly did not know even existed. They described how the film takes its entire runtime to work up to the titular action only to not have been at all worth it. No such problems with Onur Tukel’s Catfight, a brutal satire that is as subtle as a gut-punch but which certainly gives audiences exactly what it advertises. And does so over and over again. Early and often.

The film stars Anne Heche and Sandra Oh as old college friends Ashley and Veronica who find themselves consumed by hate and resentment towards each other for reasons of envy and self-hatred who soon wage a protracted game of revenge...

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Thursday
Feb232017

A Look at the Animated Shorts

Eric here with a look at the animated shorts. If you missed previous nominated shorts coverage, Glenn investigated the documentary options, I looked at the live action shorts, and Nathaniel interviewed the director of Sing.

Pros and cons and predictions after the jump...

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Tuesday
Feb212017

Doc Corner: The Istanbul Cats of 'Kedi'

In many ways, it’s only natural that a film like Kedi should come along. The internet loves cats, of course. Even if the internet doesn’t necessarily deserve cats. And a documentary about cats is a no-brainer of a concept (we’ll pretend Lil Bub & Friendz doesn’t exist because it is terrible). The real surprise then isn’t that Kedi exists, but that it quietly subverts any lazy reading that people would no doubt all too easily assign to it. Yes, it is the movie about street cats of Istanbul, but that’s just a hook for audiences whose attentions are being torn this way and that. The truth is that Ceyda Torun’s elegant and enchanting Kedi is so much more.

Even if it was just about the cats – what cats they are! In what can only be described as a particularly unique set of casting, Torun’s film shuffles across the city with vignettes about a collection of individual moggies, following them around as they roam the streets, finding food, fighting, hunting, battling for attention from humans who aren’t so much owners as casual caretakers, and thieving fish from markets and ports.

But, as I said, Kedi is much less interested in just being a film about cats. Rather it is a film that uses cats as a platform to dive into the history of a city, its people, its culture, and questioning what our relationship with cats says about us.

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