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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in RIP (90)


RIP: Melissa Mathison (1950 - 2015)

Melissa Mathison, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of E.T., has passed away at 65. 

She gave us the film's iconic "E.T. phone home," but what connects each viewing is her rich understanding of the hearts and minds of children. She got to the part deep within all of us that was afraid of growing up and change, of trying to hold tightly to what would only be taken away from us. Adding this insight with natural and efficient dialogue, she turned uncomplex phrases like "Be good" and "I'll be right here" into primal moments loaded with childhood longing.

A mother of two herself, her grasp of the young mindset was also at play in her adaptations of The Black Stallion and The Indian in the Cupboard, and provided unique insight into the Dalai Lama for Kundun.

A natural fit to the fascinations of Spielberg, her gifts will be greatly missed. Coming in the year ahead, we will luckily have one last collaboration from the pair: the Roald Dahl motion-capture adaptation of The BFG. Material perfectly suited to her skills, it's a chance to celebrate her again.

RIP Melissa Mathison


Farewell Fiery Lass. Maureen O'Hara (1920-2015)

As you have undoubtedly heard Maureen O'Hara passed away in her sleep this weekend. She was 95 years old after living a full life and leaving behind a pretty stellar filmography. Just one year ago she was celebrated in Los Angeles with an Honorary Oscar. They paid their respects in the nick of time. 

image via fanmail

And for our part here at The Film Experience, it is with great personal pride that we championed her for years for just that honor. In case you missed our celebration(s) our team recently appreciated the beauty of The Quiet Man (1952), and before that we revisited her breakthrough The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), her ravishing leading lady years via Black Swan (1942) and Miracle on 34th Street (1947). And also took two looks at the later years of her career with The Quiet Man (1952) and The Parent Trap (1961)... the latter of which just happened to be my favorite film as a child. 

She will be missed. Her family has a simple message to her legion of fans...

For those who ask what they can do to honour Maureen, we have a simple request: visit Ireland one day and think of her.

We will. 


Miscellania: Flatlining at Fury Road Hotel

• Ellen Page to lead the remake of 1990s film Flatliners [/Film]
• Leonardo DiCaprio walks the walk he talks. He joined a coalition of groups with combined holdings of 2.6 trillion dollars to defund climate change. (At this rate he'll win the Jean Hersholt before an actual Oscar) [New Yorker]
• Any mention of Twin Peaks is still making us tear up, given the Log Lady's recent death, but the 3rd season casting is well underway: Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard are joining [Empire]
• Do Dump or Marry...American Horror Story: Hotel edition [MNPP]
• Speaking of... Ryan Murphy has already offered Gaga Season 6 as well [Twitter]

• I don't really watch SNL (way too many DOA skits) but loved this bit with Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton opposite Hillary Clinton as bartender "Val". She does a pretty fun Trump impression [YouTube]
• Belgian director Chantal Akerman, whose most famous film was 1975's Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles and whose new film No Home Movie we just covered for NYFF, has passed away suddenly at only 65 years of age [The Guardian]
• You can learn a lot about filmmaking from George Miller's speech on Mad Max Fury Road [Mentorless]
• Claire Danes finally broke her silence on that whole infamous early Aughts scandal when she took up with Billy Crudup. [Pajiba]  
• What are the best performances and films from the past 5 years? Sati goes all in for Mad Max Fury Road from this year but it's fun to be reminded of a few others [Cinematic Corner]
• Will Smith confirms that Jared Leto was The Joker at all times on The Suicide Squad set. [Complex]
• Rooney Mara is still being asked about the whitewashing of Tiger Lily for Pan. Still has nothing useful to say about it beyond feeling "bad". Than why take the role, Rooney? It's not like you're hurting for offers! [People]
• 50 Cent, who is no longer popular as far as I'm aware, blames the slightly declined popularity of Empire (still mega popular) on its gay content. Charming. [Towleroad]
• Marvel is trusting its in-house writer's program. Black Panther, due in theaters in 33 months, hasn't been written yet, but will likely go to Joe Robert Cole, who is part of the program that Nicole Perlman (interviewed here) was in before Guardians of the Galaxy [Variety]  
• Ashley Judd now sharing with press that a studio mogul offered her an Oscar nomination for sexual favors. Gross. ("If only Oscar nominations were that easy to come by" - Everyone who has never received one.) [Variety]
• Channing Tatum stepping behind the camera for the first time as director for teen with gun murder drama Forgive Me Leonard Peacock [/Film]
• Not everyone is happy about Warner Bros choice of writer/director on their feature film version of The Flash the novelist Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter). (Also why do an unrelated film when the TV show is so good?) [CHUD]
• 15 best films from Fantastic Fest? FSR has a genre-loving list that includes festival titles we l-o-v-e like The Witch, the soon to open Crimson Peak, and even an Oscar submission, Belgium's Brand New Testament [Film School Rejects]
• George Miller claims that two more Mad Max sequels are coming. Don't hold your breath. Remember that Fury Road was in pre-production as early as the late 90s!  [Tracking Board


Link Catch-Up, Oscar Warm-Up

Some of these links are a smidge old since I've been away for two weeks in Toronto, others brand new.

Get Peanutized the Peanuts Movie is advertising like Straight Outta Somewhere... by going for an internet meme. You can make yourself into a character. The options are a bit limited so this the best i could do at approximating me. I really wanted to be holding a coffee cup or a laptop
Boy Culture Novelist Jackie Collins, sister of Joan, dies at 77. My favorite memory of her will always be Sandra Bernhard reading a passage from "Rock Star" on David Letterman and then tossing the book aside after "wanna pick a flower you lucky man?"
Dark Horizons Brie Larson to play tennis legend Billie Jean King. Good luck Brie because tennis movies never get good reviews!
The Daily Beast interviews Tom Hardy about Legend, The Revenant, dogs, and that sexuality question that keeps popping up
The Telegraph their excellent film critics rank all Woody Allen movies ranked. Good read/insights even if you quibble with order
NYT "Hooray for Hollywood... No Really" a must-read conversation between the smarty New York Times film critics 
i09 Johnny Depp's six most inexplicable career decisions
MNPP Quote of the Day Paul Bettany vs. Jason Statham. Meowwww

MNPP Do Dump or Marry: The X-Twinks - Ben Hardy, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Tye Sheridan
NYT Jack Larson, aka Jimmy Olsen from TV's original Superman, dies at 87 
Towleroad are these the top ten coming out scenes from TV history?
Empire Amanda Seyfried joining the cast of Twin Peaks Season 3 in a new role
/Film Pulp Fiction original cast wish list? This is so weird to consider 
Film Stage Charlie Kaufman discusses Anomalisa 

You Know Awards Season's Coming When...
The arguments get more heated. THR published a negative piece on Truth and Awards Daily thinks it's a hit job from the Right (with more to come from The Left). And Vulture's already declaring the winner which puts a big target on its back. My goodness. We're starting early this year, huh?! ICYMI I also pitted Truth and Spotlight against each other (for fun... I don't actually think they're after the same thing at all). And finally these two pieces framing this year's Oscar Best Actress race as "Under 30 Contest" and "Women of All Ages" just goes to show you how much framing by the media can count when it comes to narrative / awards shows. 

Yes yes. I'm going to start updating the Oscar charts to reflect Festival Madness. Probably tomorrow.

Today's Watch

Downton Wars Episode 1 Bates & Thomas draw lightsabers on each other... for a good cause. Rob James-Collier, tv's most delicious evil gay butler, filmed this for charity, in the downtime on set. Mashing up Star Wars and Downton is not quite as wonderful as it sounds but both episodes have a few good chuckles.
Downton Wars Episode 2 This one is better if way too slow. The asides to the Downton actors sending up their own characters are wonderful - particularly Daisy, Mrs Patmore, and Lady Mary. Bonus Points: Dowager Countess Jedi... Dame Maggie Smith 4evah ! 


Secret in Their Link

DListed - Ralph Fiennes breaks out the dance moves at the Venice premiere of A Bigger Splash
NYT Aretha Franklin suing to block festival showings of Amazing Grace, a recently finished documentary about the making of her album filmed in 1972.
Variety looks at the swift progress of new distributor Broad Green Pictures which surprised everyone with its acquisition of and good numbers for A Walk in the Woods. They also have Learning to Drive in theaters
The Globe and Mail an evening with Udo Kier (!)


AV Club in his continuing bid to not ever be remotely as cool / likeable as he once was Johnny Depp is joking about eating his dogs
WSJ Magazine "A day in the life of Danny Strong" a profile of the diminutive Emmy-winning ever busy actor/screenwriter of Buffy and Girls fame behind the scenes of Empire's second season
Yahoo Judy Carne (Laugh-In) dies at 76
MNPP Who Wore it Best: Luke Evans speedo edition 
Playbill Magic Mike ....the Musical may start its stage run in Las Vegas rather than on Broadway
Boy Culture Jean Darling of Our Gang silent serials has died at 93 
Comic Alliance on the "very serious" "no-jokes" "grimace" of Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Good conclusion
Variety Will Smith has replaced Hugh Jackman in Collateral Beauty and Rooney Mara has exited the project, too
The Broadway Blog looks back at The Pajama Gang which got a movie version in 1957
MNPP Jake Gyllenhaal gifs from Demolition. Sweet medicine. I'm seeing this Thursday night. woooo 

Oscar Season Cometh
Awards Daily on emergent Telluride Oscar contenders from Black Mass and a lot of praise for Spotlight
The Hollywood Reporter from Telluride: a lukewarm reaction to Carol (?), Black Mass's hilarious and haunting moments, great performances in Room, and not loving Suffragette

Image of the Day
How perfect is this photograph of Chiwetel Ejiofor from Interview by Sølve Sundsbø? Director Cary Fukunaga interviews him so it's double-handsomness).

FUKUNAGA: You have how many movies coming out this year?

EJIOFOR: Well, there's Secret and The Martian, and, next year, Triple 9. And then I'll be shooting the Doctor Strange movie.

FUKUNAGA: It's exciting. And I've done one thing that whole time. [Ejiofor laughs]


Goodbye to the Master of Horror, Wes Craven

Glenn Dunks, our resident "Scream" fanatic says goodbye to Wes Craven...

It’s not easy writing about the passing of Wes Craven. The director who was synonymous with the horror genre, and in particular the slasher franchises A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, died on Sunday at age 76 from brain cancer after having battled ill health for several years and the news hit like a stab to the chest. His three-year illness likely explains why he hadn’t directed a film since 2011’s Scream 4, but it hadn’t stopped him from working altogether. He was completing a horror comic with Steve Niles called Coming of Rage, was developing a remake of his 1991 film The People Under the Stairs, and continued to executive produce MTV’s long-form TV adaptation of Scream.

There are few older celebrities whose death could hit as hard as Craven. He wasn’t just a great filmmaker, or a filmmaker with a lot of films that people liked. No, Wes Craven was quite literally a filmmaker that changed lives. A lot of ‘em – and that’s not an exaggeration. It’s genuinely hard to make even one, let alone two, generation-defining movies and it’s been wonderful to hear so many people, friends and strangers alike, share their stories on social media of how A Nightmare on Elm Street was the first horror film they ever saw and how it turned them into scare-seeking horror fiends. Or how Scream made them want to write about film. I’m one of those people, and there are a few extra Film Experience writers who share the same sentiments, but the numbers I've seen cite that seemingly inocuous 1996 slasher as a life inspiration has been surprising and actually comforting.

So when I went to write about his passing, I actually couldn’t. Not immediately, anyway. How do you describe the man who made the movies that defined our life? I hope he knew the effect his films had on people beyond simply scaring them.


Click to read more ...


Goodbye Lovely Batgirl Yvonne Craig (1937-2015)


I've probably told you this before but when I was a child and they used to show reruns of the old Batman series on tv, I would tense up during opening credits. If the image to your left did not appear I would run outside to play. That sudden Batgirl swing with a kick (who knew that kicks made a "BONG!" sound?) meant that she would appear in the episode and even if I'd seen the episode before I would always watch again.

So yesterday when I heard the news that Yvonne Craig, one of the first celebrities I ever crushed on -- before I even understood what crushes were -- had died of cancer I couldn't even write about it. I needed time to process...

Click to read more ...