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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


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

 

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COMMENT DU JOUR
Love Affair (1994) - as "A Year With Kate" nears its conclusion

A YEAR WITH KATE... 2 episodes left

 "A really beautiful look into the careers of one of my favorite actors, but it's made me consider the careers of so many different actors and how the great ones adapt to eras while still staying true to themselves. This is a special, lovely series. I both cannot wait for and am so sad for the end next week.-John T

 

Beauty vs. Beast

Rhett is all "as if i could lose this poll" - Have you voted?

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Entries in RIP (69)

Monday
Nov242014

Beauty vs Beast: Guests Gotten, Hosts Humped

Howdy folks, it's Jason from MNPP here with a brand new round of "Beauty Vs Beast" and a brand new chance to pit the sorta-good against the sorta-bad, or the sorta in-between, and for us to choose our side with due diligence (at least with enough enough energy to click one way or the opposite). It was a slow creep realization when Mike Nichols died last week, what we'd lost - I'm not a Broadway person and as of late that's what I'd associated him with, so it was only once I started skimming back through his filmography, and once I read wonderful tributes like Nat's here, that my brain clicked into place that "Why yes, Jason, you've loved and been affected by a ton of this man's work for your entire life, duh." And so I've found myself going back and re-watching things I hadn't seen in many years - Working Girl (Sigourney MVP!) and Silkwood (probably my favorite Nichols film) and then today's piping hot dish of husband-wife combat for the ages...

 

 

If you're here in the US you'll probably spend sometime this week giving thanks to the turkey and stuffing for all the good stuff in your life, and I wouldn't blame anybody who placed these two performances on their Good Stuff Lists. Personally I'm Team George because 1) I've never been much of a Burton fan but I think he's phenomonal in this movie, and 2) I see way too much of myself in Martha, and that's the sort of thing you reflexively snap your eyes away from. You have one week to vote!

PREVIOUSLY Checking back in on the gorgeous ladies of 1870s society, last week's Age-of-Innocence Off ultimately sided with the poor unfortunate soul Countess Olenska (Michelle Pfieffer) over wily Winona's little Miss May; we do love a wounded bird. Said Murtada:

"Countess Olenska was way ahead of her time, a pioneer against vicious social mores. And she endured a false life despite getting a glimpse of a real one. Hasn't she suffered enough? She gets my vote."

Thursday
Nov202014

Mike Nichols (1931-2014)

Elaine May & Mike Nichols in the 50s"The Great Work begins..." that's a line from Angels in America but someone should've said it in the 1950s when one of the greatest figures in modern showbusiness began his career on Chicago stages as a university student. Mike Nichols, who died yesterday at 83, first gained fame as half of a celebrated comic duo "Nichols & May" with actress/director Elaine May but comedy sketches were only the beginning. He'd eventually conquer all realms of showbusiness winning a Grammy with May for a comedy album in 1961, the first of several Tony Awards for directing Barefoot in the Park on Broadway (1964), an Oscar for directing The Graduate (1967) which was only his second film, and in the last decade of his career, two Emmys for television triumphs with Wit and the aforementioned Angels.

Because I came of age in the 1980s, the Nichols collaboration that defined the director for me was with Meryl Streep who he directed four times for the camera. They were both Oscar winners before their first duet Silkwood (1983) which is, not coincidentally, my favorite Streep performance. Streep was worshipped and mythologized very early in her career but he brought her down to earth while still helping her ascend. Under his his guidance she was instantly more earthy and relatable, less the iconic mannered star than a goddamn amazing (and relaxed) genius of the craft. They made two more feature films together within a decade's span (Heartburn, Postcards from the Edge).

Gene Hackman as a director and Meryl Streep as an actress in Postcards from the Edge (1990)

In fact, whenever I watch Postcardsand marvel at that beautiful scene between director and actress that marks its emotional pivot point, it's easy to imagine Gene Hackman's patient benevolent director as the Nichols stand-in with Meryl representing for all actors struggling with inner demons, doubting their gift, or struggling with a particular performance. It's easy to imagine because Nichols was particularly great with actors directing several of them -- not just Streep -- to their all time best work.

As if aware that he directed three of Streep's least glamorous acting triumphs, his last gift to her was Angels in America (2003) in which they left the ground and transcended into the ghostly, the spiritual... the ecstatic.

Ectastic. That's a good work for his great work. Nichols left us with 22 films, three of which are largely undisputed masterpieces (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Angels in America), many of which are exemplary and perhaps still undervalued classics of their particular genres (Gilda Live, Silkwood, Postcards from the Edge) or just, you know, extremely popular entertainments (Working Girl, The Birdcage). Through it all, though this is not often true of mainstream-embraced prestigious entertainers, he rarely forgot the zeitgeist-capturing envelope-pushing us his handful of first films from Woolf through Carnal Knowledge and was still pushing movie stars into transcendence with newly revealing, riskier emotional terrain almost until the very end (Wit, Angels in America, Closer).

He will be missed but his work has more than earned its immortality.

 

Wednesday
Oct082014

Linktime Stories

Cinematically Insane #DontTouchTCM when it comes to Turner Broadcasting layoffs 
Richard Kelly, of Donnie Darko directing fame, lurves Gone Girl and write a whole epic essay about it while also touching on Eyes Wide Shut and Fincher's music videos
In Contention interviews cinematographer Robert Elswit (Inherent Vice, Nightcrawler)
MNPP gives Quote of the Day to Michael B Jordan on his costumes for Fantastic Four. "snug"
Deadline Scarlett Johansson about to do an Edith Wharton miniseries that was originally supposed to be a Michelle Pfeiffer feature film in the 90s. *sniffle*

Empire first images of Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange and Brie Larson in The Gambler remake
Vulture the exact moment Jennifer Garner fell in love with Ben Affleck 
Antagony & Ecstacy on The Boxtrolls. Glad Tim loved it
Boston Globe Mark Wahlberg's compound is finished. Holy third nipple, is he planning to house everyone who has ever appeared in any of his movies?
IndieWire 11 things learned about PT Anderson / Inherent Vice at the recent press conference
The Dissolve interesting video about shooting sex scenes from Joe Carnahan. Starring Patrick Wilson! Who...speaking of...
The Playlist interviews Jason Reitman who talks about the initial indifference to Young Adult, his Labor Day "misfire" and the critical savaging of Men Women and Children. I haven't seen the latter film yet so I don't know if it's gotten a fair shake or not but Reitman does have a point about film criticism today:

When I talk to directors and actors, "Young Adult" is their clear favorite of my films. I don't think ten years from now people will go, "Oh wow, I didn’t realize "Labor Day" was a such a masterpiece." But what it has taught me is that I can't really gauge what a movie is in the moment. To bring it round back to ["Men, Women & Children"]: film criticism has become a tweet. The moment the movie plays, people are writing about it and there's no digestive period.  

We were right about Young Adult all along, bitches.

 

I love this bookOff Cinema
Arts.Mic on the good news on GLAAD's annual gays on TV report. But...
Slate chimes in with a a more dismissive response: why count?
Pajiba ranking Kyle Maclachlan's TV roles since Twin Peaks

<-- Encyclopedia Madonnica I backed this 20th anniversary edition of the book at Kickstarter. There's a couple more days left to back it and insure your own copy. The book meant so much to me back in the day before you could look up everything instantaneously and when there weren't elaborate comprehensive fansites to celebrities yet. Plus it was just damn fun with lots of trivia and silliness. When I first met Matthew Rettenmund (Boy Culture) here in NYC several years ago I was a wee bit starstruck because of it. And speaking of the big M...
Billboard looks back at the Bedtime Stories album for its 20th anniversary 

Finally...
Esteemed stage veteran Marian Seldes has died at 86. Her regal mischievious face appeared semi-regularly in movies and on TV but usually in tiny roles. It was the stage where she experienced her enduring glorious reign.

I unfortunately only saw her perform live once. It was Edward Albee's "The Play About the Baby" (which also starred David Burtka, pre NPH) a sort of abstract minimalist reinterpretation of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and she was a-maz-ing in it. One of my favorite stories about her comes from 1978's "Deathtrap" in which she co-starred with Victor Garber. The hit comic mystery became a controversial movie in 1982 (a gay kiss - GASP!) with Dyan Cannon and Christopher Reeve taking Seldes and Garber's roles for the big screen. But when the movie premiered, Marian was actually still doing it on stage. She was with the play for its whole four year run and NEVER missed a performance. Amazing.

Here are good obituaries at The New York Times and Playbill

Tuesday
Sep232014

"Beauty, Brains, Breeding, and Bounty"

I'm such a square and Cry Baby don't like squares! I missed the entire John Waters festival here in New York (Blame Canada!) and also this past weekend the news that Polly Bergen had died. Goodbye to a lovely lady that had it all: beauty, brains, breeding, and bounty (of talent). 

Friday
Sep052014

R.I.P. Joan Rivers

By now, I imagine most of you have heard that Joan Rivers passed away today, at 81 years old, following complications from throat surgery. The loss is doubly shocking - not just because it came about so abruptly, without any history of health problems, but because Rivers was still such a prickly, alert life force: in her reliable appearances at red carpet events and her E! television presence, she had the same quick, tart wit that made her a pop culture mainstay for a solid half-century.

Rivers' presence in cinema was limited compared to her TV and stand-up: several cameos as herself, both in live-action and animation, and a part in Mel Brooks' sci-fi parody Spaceballs as a sarcastic robot make up virtually all of her movie roles of note. She did, however, appear as the subject of the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, a remarkably intimate and comprehensive look at her career from the earliest days. It's available for viewing on Netflix, and if you haven't seen it yet, I'd highly recommend it: its presentation of the aging Joan as unapologetically confident and aware of her own mind is bracing and hilarious, and the volumes of vintage footage of a much younger Rivers in the early days of her standup showcases a biting, shockingly fresh voice that those of us who only ever knew the comedian thanks to her latter-day profession as living punchline could hardly imagine.

The world is not full enough of women who get a chance to speak truthfully, angrily, and boldly about their minds, and can be absolutely hilarious while doing it, and a true icon has been lost today. The Film Experience expresses our condolences to Joan's family, and we keep them in our thoughts.

Tuesday
Aug192014

Curio: Memorabilia Memorials

Alexa here, with my late entry eulogizing last week's departed greats.  I always find it interesting when we lose two idols at the same time, and they become linked in our mourning.  There couldn't be two more different performers than Williams and Bacall, could there?  Bacall, with her sultry, almost somnolent cool, and Williams, with his live-wire kinetics. Here are some curios, vintage and handmade, to celebrate their careers in film.

Portrait print by Psychosthetics.

Here are some curios, vintage and handmade, to celebrate their careers in film.

Click to read more ...