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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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JANE is the doc frontrunner

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Entries in Reviews (580)

Tuesday
Oct102017

Review: The Mountain Between Us

by Eric Blume

I know what you’re thinking:  you’ve watched the trailer for The Mountain Between Us, the new movie where Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are stranded in the mountains together after a plane crash.  And since you’re a smart moviegoer, you probably thought, 'okay the trailer looks a little bit terrible, but it’s Kate!  And Idris!  They’re so sexy and talented!  Surely the movie itself can’t be that bad?'

I’m sad to report, it truly is...

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Sunday
Oct082017

Nick's Foreign Film Take, Pt 1: Sheikh Jackson, First They Killed My Father...

by Nick Davis

There’s niche-marketing, and then there’s micro-targeting, and then there’s saying to your friend Nathaniel, “I hope you’ll still keep an eye out for Shahrbanoo Sadat’s Wolf and Sheep, even though Afghanistan didn’t select it as their Oscar submission.” We really do live in a weird bubble, but that is why one is grateful for The Film Experience, where folks are all the same kind of different as you. And as we all know, this site has been a longtime devotee of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in all stages of curation and competition. So, seizing the opportunity of a sympathetic audience, and amidst a season where many of the 84 movies put forward by their home countries as Academy Award contenders are floating around at festivals—big and small, rural and urban, American and elsewhere—I thought I’d weigh in on the titles I’ve caught.

Argentina, Zama
It’s an amazing vote of artistic confidence for Argentina to choose Lucrecia Martel’s deeply demanding, deeply rewarding colonialist-bughouse period drama as their contender. They passed over all three of her previous features as their submission, and as always, they had plenty of viable possibilities this year, including Santiago Mitre’s The Summit, an absorbing drama of North and South American political machinations. That movie’s somewhat televisual style might have made it palatable to some voters. Zama, by contrast, is as cinematic as they come. In fact, “they” don’t really come like this: a movie almost without establishing shots or hand-holding narrative cues, aggressive with its weird ambient sounds and literally eccentric frames. The movie telegraphs the protagonist’s escalating madness but without letting him go Full Aguirre and without entering the kind of outsized, Lynchian vortex that unmistakably makes the point: it’s easy to watch and think that you, not Zama, are failing to keep up. This seems like a Shortlist prospect with Oscar at the very best, but it’s also guaranteed to be among the year’s most extraordinary movies. Talk about a summit!
My grade:

Austria's Happy End, Cambodia's First They Killed My Father, and Egypt's Sheikh Jackson are after the jump...

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Tuesday
Sep262017

NYFF: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Before We Vanish"

by Jason Adams

I want you to close your eyes. I want you to close your eyes, and picture Love. Not Valentine's Day Heart Cards or little sugary candies that say Eat Me, and not the faces of the people you've held hands with on cold afternoon walks, although the latter will probably help you on your way of getting there. I want you to picture the entire concept of Love. The warmth and the palpable agony of it - the electricity of fingertips and further parts intertwining and entangling, and the aftershock of separation - the whole dang lot.

Now I want you to imagine the violence of all of that being torn out of your body...

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Sunday
Sep242017

NYFF: Faces Places

by Murtada

Agnes Varda, recently named one of 2017's Honorary Oscar recipients, retuns to cinemas very soon. Her latest documentary is Faces Places or Visages Villages - sounds more delicious in French, n'est pas? It's Varda's collaboration with visual artist JR to celebrate the power of images. For that it was the perfect confection to see first at NYFF. The two artists set out on a journey inside France, finding farmers, miners, dock workers and others to document and preserve in the places in which they reside and work. They don’t have a plan, they just go where luck takes them or as Varda puts it:

Chance has always been my best assistant.

Varda and JR operate their own separate cameras, but they were also recorded in their travels by multiple other cameras in both still and moving images. What we get is a delightful mix of the histories and stories of the people they meet, JR’s eccentricities (he never takes off his small rounded sunglasses), plus Varda’s grapple with her mortality (she’s 88 and has problems with her eyesight). A joy from start to finish. It’s worth the price of admission just for recreating the running in the Louvre scene from Godard’s Bande A Part (1964), with Varda’s age adding poignancy and exuberance.

Grade: B+

Faces Places screens at the New York Film Festival on October 1st and 2nd. It will be out in limited release on October 6th. On November 11th, she will be awarded the Honorary Oscar at the annual Governor's Awards in Los Angeles.
Friday
Sep222017

Review: Jake Gyllenhaal gets "Stronger"

by Eric Blume

Have patience watching director David Gordon Green’s film Stronger, which captures real-life Boston native Jeff Bauman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) as he’s caught in the 2013 Marathon bombing.  After a rickety start, Green relaxes into a nice rhythm and delivers an almost extinct creature: a true adult movie drama.

The first few scenes of Stronger come on a little, ahem, strong.  They’re written to show what a great guy Bauman is (he cuts out from work so he and his lucky beer can help the Red Sox win, he stands up for his gay boss), and Green has all the actors pushing too hard.  The initial scene where we meet Bauman’s family (including mom Miranda Richardson and girlfriend Tatiana Maslany) in a bar reeks of Boston cliché.  It’s a very tricky thing, honestly capturing that lower-middle-class Beantown language and attitude, and Green overplays his hand in this and several other early scenes.  The energy is overly commercial, and the movie gets off to an uneasy start.


But once the big sequence begins, where Bauman loses his legs in the terrible terrorist attack, Green begins observing smaller details, and starts scoring...

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Thursday
Sep212017

Three can't-miss movies directed by women on the festival circuit

our continuing adventures at TIFF with a little NYFF thrown in.

This year I made a conscious effort to see films directed by women at the Toronto International Film Festival. Nearly half of the films I screened had women behind the camera! Even though a few of them were unsatisfying, a handful were gems so praise be to TIFF that there were so many to choose from. Other festivals haven't been as inclusive. We've already discussed the tragic romance of Mary Shelley, the visually stunning The Breadwinner, the what-were-they-thinking Kings, the confounding but admirably crafted Zama, the dramatic misfire of Euphoria, and Hungary's strange and totally involving Oscar submission On Body and Soul.

I saved the three best for last. If you get a chance to see Western (playing at NYFF September 30th and October 1st), the Austrian costume drama Mademoiselle Paradis, or a hard to describe miracle from Indonesia called The Seen and the Unseen please take it. Unfortunately none currently have US release dates (though Western does apparently have some sort of stateside distribution planned for 2018). We'll take them alphabetically after the jump...

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