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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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Entries in Reviews (530)

Wednesday
Mar292017

ND/NF: "Menashe" and "The Future Perfect"

MOMa and Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual New Directors / New Films festival wrapped up this past weekend. Their goal each year is to celebrate "a group of filmmakers who represent the present and anticipate the future of cinema: daring artists whose work pushes the envelope and is never what you’d expect"  The big tickets this year were two buzzy Sundance titles: the gay drama Beach Rats (a subway misshap prevented me from making the screening - argh!) and the rap comedy Patti Cake$ which will be out in July. The latter prompted a bidding war with Fox Searchlight offering $10+ million. Beach Rats was picked up by a new distribution company called Neon so who knows when it will arrive. Colossal, that Anne Hathaway as a kaiju oddity, will be Neon's first proper release on April 7th. 

At ND/NF we previously reviewed Sexy Durga, Happiness Academyand Strong Island. Here are the two final films yours truly caught, one being maybe my favorite of 2017 thus far...

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Tuesday
Mar282017

Doc Corner: Meet the Girls of 'All This Panic'

“It’s just one of those things when you expect something to be amazing and perfect and it’s not.”

Those words are spoken by 16-year-old Lena in Jenny Gage’s gorgeous slice of life documentary, All This Panic, as she describes the feeling of liking a boy who didn’t like her back. Never mind that, though; aren’t they a perfect encapsulation of the teenage existence more generally? Lena is just one of a handful of teenage female subjects that Gage and her cinematographer husband Tom Betterton stumble upon in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn; the experiences of whom make up this exquisite debut feature.

Lena, socially forward but with a struggling family life, is joined by sisters Ginger and Dusty, Gage and Betterton’s neighbours, the elder of which has little concept of where she wants her life to go and confesses to being “petrified of getting old”; Sage, a rare African American student at a prestigious Manhattan school whose outspoken attitude is coupled with an internal battle between her class status and her face; and Olivia, who confides to the camera about her sexuality before she ever would her parents.

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Monday
Mar272017

When "Life" Goes Wrong...

by Nathaniel R

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a group of scientists are tasked with bringing samples of life back from outer space. Soon they are trapped in a nightmarish monster movie, as the alien life force picks them off one by one.

Life, the latest monster movie set in space, does a lot of things right despite its familiarity. Let's give credit where it's due. It hired capable involving actors in all the underwritten roles including Jake Gyllenhaal who we'll follow anywhere, even into deep space for a Alien ripoff. It's very handsomely lensed by prestigious cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. The direction by Daniel Espinosa (Child 44, Safe House) makes repeated smart use of the zero gravity setting, with well staged setpieces and even some unexpectedly beautiful compositions; the earliest casualty among the crew prompts the movie's eeriest morbidly pretty image. Apart from one confusing action sequence near the climax, the filmmakers seem to have a complete handle on the material.

So why then, is it unsatisfying? 

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Sunday
Mar262017

Review: "Wilson"

by Spencer Coile

Daniel Clowes struck gold in 2001 when he wrote the screenpay for Ghost World, an adaptation of his graphic novel of the same name. Telling the story of self-identified outcast Enid (Thora Birch), his first screenplay toyed with themes pertaining to isolation, the dissolution of friendships, and lots and lots of teen angst. It was relatable and altogether melancholic, but importantly-- it all worked. Drawing from his own work (no pun intended), Clowes pulled together some all-too-familiar film tropes, and managed to subvert them in thoughtful and oftentimes amusing ways. After a return to the screen with another adaptation of his own work, Art School Confidential in 2006, Clowes layed low, working primarily on writing/drawing and short films. He's back with Wilson, now in theaters, pairing with The Skeleton Twins director Craig Johnson, for another foray into the hilariously damaged human spirit...

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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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