Oscar History

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 (591)


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (For the Elderly and Beautiful)

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Outsource your elders. Ship them off to India!

Though some media pundits scoffed last weekend when The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened for business the same weekend as The Avengers (previously reviewed) it turned out to be a savvy move. Where else were the spandex averse or Downton Abbey addicts to go? (Rather perversely, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel denies Abbey addicts additional showdowns between Lady Crawley and the Dowager Countess; Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith's stories don't intertwine much) In fact, this British retirees in India dramedy should have opened even wider since they had the nation's second best per screen average and could have cracked the top ten with far fewer theaters than the other movies.

But enough about money. Hotel manager Sonny Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) is a dreamer, not a businessman. His family is losing patience with his dream and time is running out for the hotel. It's running out for the guests, too, as they near the end of their lives. The name of Sonny's establishment is actually “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for Elderly and Beautiful People”. The movie's title lops off those last five words which only proves Sonny's business model's point: he believes that most countries don't care about their elderly so he'll outsource old age. Come to India and live out your autumn years. [More after the jump]

Dev Patel, drinking the hotel's entire coffee budget before each take.

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Review: "The Avengers"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad...

If Agent Natasha Romanoff can interrupt an espionage interrogation to attend...

If Thor can find a way back to Earth without his rainbow bridge...

If Tony Stark can stop erecting enormous arguably phallic odes to himself for a moment...

If Captain America can get back in shape now that he's out of deep freeze...

And if Dr Bruce Banner can come out of self-imposed exile to join Marvel's THE AVENGERS, than I really ought to be able to review some movies again. Let's go.


After roughly four years of movie-length commercials for The Avengers (formerly known as: Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger) "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" have finally assembled. To fans of the superhero genre, this probably feels like an impossible dream realized. To non-fans of the superhero genre this might play like the perfect time for a showstopping climax -take a bow and give mere mortals some movies again! The latter group should brace themselves. This particular blockbuster is lively enough to greenlight an even bigger movie family of men (and hopefully some women) in tights. MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

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Smash: "Hell on Earth" and "Understudy"

Continuing our coverage of our favorite new show "SMASH" the only musical on television that makes any cohesive sense from epiosde to episode and is tangentially about the movies, too.

Karen and Ivy are slowly becoming frenemies. I'll drink to that 

In "Hell on Earth" the long form narrative gets back up on its feet after that episode that felt like it didn't happen: Ivy's sour downward mood continues as we see her phoning it in amusingly and then disastrously in the hit musical comedy "Heaven on Earth" (with special guest star, the awesome Norbert Leo Butz... who recently won the Tony for the Tom Hanks role in the musical adaptation of "Catch Me If You Can"); Eileen continues to push when others would have given up; Ellis continues to scheme and even puts out to get an "in" with a movie star; Debra Messing continues to make a case for an Emmy - holy hell she's great on this show even though her storylines have the least to do with the actual creation of a musical; Tom continues to clash with his Republican boyfriend; Karen continues to prove Ivy's point that everything comes easily to her when she books a national commercial.

Set Lists, Gayest Moments, and UMA THURMAN! 

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Review: "Mirror Mirror"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad.

Once upon a time there lived a director with big canvas visual ideas. He would stretch them across just about any surface and start painting. Serial killer craziness (The Cell), muscle queen mythology (The Immortals), and uncategorizable period fantasy (The Fall) were all fair game. Any topic would do including a comic spin on Snow White because why the hell not? 

His name was Tarsem Singh or Tarsem or Tarsem Singh Dwandwar or Tarsem Dwandwar Singh because he could never settle on a signature. He would halfheartedly skim screenplays until inspiration struck. Once the spell was cast, he'd toss the script into the fire, chug absinthe, and speed dial Eiko Ishioka. He'd sketch until the last of the words had turned to ash and only his drawings remained*. The end. 

*not his real process.

Whether you live happily ever after from watching his movies depends on what you go to the movies for. [Continue]

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Review: Hunger Games 

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad. Congratulations to Towleroad for winning Outstanding Blog at the GLAAD Awards

"The Hunger Games," now in their 74th year, began as a way to punish an uprising against the government. The totalitarian regime of Panem (in what remains of the former United States) maintains total control over the outlying districts. Each of the 12 districts is required to send forth two "tributes" annually, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 to 18 chosen by lottery. They are shipped to the Capital where they are paraded about and then shipped off to die for the amusement of the masses. Everyone in the nation watches. There are no alternatives in this dystopia. Only one adolescent will live bringing supposed honor (and maybe food?) to their starving district... or so claims the capital. What honor there is in forcing teenagers to kill each other is not a question the Capitol asks itself.

Any similarities that The Hunger Games has to the Japanese classic Battle Royale (2000), which also features schoolchildren forced to kill each other by a totalitarian regime -- only one survivor allowed -- are, according to The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, entirely coincidental. Another film in this subgenre, the little seen Series 7: The Contenders (2001) also features mandatory lotteried killing for televised amusement. In short, the ideas are nothing new, just the treatment; these are topics we're obviously grappling with in popular culture in this era of televised "reality" and winner takes all capitalistic vice. The gap between the haves and have nots grows and this dystopia gives it steroids.

"The Reaping" Effie chooses tributes from District 12

When 12 year old Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is named as tribute in "The Reaping" ceremony, her protective sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. The district also sends Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a sweet strong baker's son who Katniss knows a little. Will they kill or be killed? 

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Review: 21 Jump Street (The Movie)

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

"High concept" was the hot showbiz term of the 1980s. The thinking went that if you couldn't describe your movie/tv show in one sentence, it wouldn't sell. That popular marketing wisdom stuck and High Concept itself shrank. First it devolved into This meets That, each new pitch being a mashup of preexisting hits. Today instead of one sentence pitches or previous hit fusions most new potential blockbusters are required to rely on a simple colon. It works like so… "Title of That Thing You Already Know: The Movie!"

The 1987 cast of "21 Jump Street"

This has led to all sorts of unfortunate movies based on books, games, plays and tv shows (and vice versa) many of them big hits. The danger is obvious. When you don't even have to try to make your entertainment memorable because the audience brings half the affection with them, creative laziness can often follow. But every once in awhile the audience gets lucky and Title of That Thing You Already Know: The Movie is surprisingly fun on its own terms.

Chan & Jonah in High School21 Jump Street began its life as a high concept television series...

Young-looking cops go back to high school… undercover!"

And now it's a 21 JUMP STREET: THE MOVIE (the last half of that title is silent/implied) The twist is that rather than the earnest though light-hearted procedural drama it was in its infancy when it introduced us to Johnny Depp, it's now a full fledged buddy comedy starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Continued after the jump...

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Smash: "The Cost of Art", "Let's Be Bad" and "Chemistry"

It's no fun to get behind when covering television since the new episodes just keep arriving. Let's dance through the past three weeks of Smash, our new favorite show, and be thoroughly caught up. Who's joining this kick line with me?

1.4 "The Cost of Art"
In the stellar fourth episode, we've reached day one of workshop rehearsals. The show is speeding along like it's about to be cancelled and wants to cram everything in. In the past I've criticized the show for a mildly sedate energy in certain key moments but that hasn't been from the typical television problem of the plot not advancing. 

I love first days, don't you?

The episode title is a literal reference to Eileen's (Anjelica Huston) original Degas which she hopes to sell to finance her Marilyn the Musical workshop. Thematically its a foreshadowing of impending grief for these showbiz folks as they struggle through the creation of the musical. Ivy (Megan Hilty) didn't realize that Karen (Katharine McPhee) was in the chorus and there's lots of power plays and wounded feelings. Karen didn't realize that Ivy was sleeping with the boss and there's lots of unspoken judgement and wounded feelings. Derek continues to blow so hot and cold that Ivy can't function and there's lots of insecurity, sex and wounded feelings. Meanwhile Derek (Christian Borle) and Julia's (Debra Messing) new love interests suggest that these two just aren't very good at managing their personal lives outside of work.

"Rumor Has It" ...Bobby is so fierce.

LET'S BE BAD after the jump...

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This review was originally published in my film column at Towleroad.

Let's begin with a man and his dog. First, the dog. Woola is an unsightly creature but oddly endearing. He's the size of a pony but he looks more like a lizard or a toad albeit one with six visible legs and hundreds of sharp teeth. He reads all dog though -- a mutant pug. His assignment and then devotion is to guard the human prisoner John Carter (Taylor Kitsch).

John Carter of Virginia has been magically transported to Barsoom (aka Mars)  and the green martians who discover him don't know what to make of him though they love his mad jumping skill. Mars' gravity makes John Carter the Earthling a superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. When John Carter tries to escape his prison early in the film, he finds it impossible to elude Woola whose multiple legs carry him across the Martian desert in super sonic zig-zag fashion, clouds of dust trailing behind him like a Road Runner cartoon. The adorable mutant pug always appears wherever bouncy John Carter is about to land. Neither man nor beast are moving in a circular fashion but they're not getting anywhere. Eventually they'll be right back where they started.

Points of origin are important. Home, and our journeys to and from it, are at the heart of John Carter's multi-limbed adventure.


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