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Entries in Screenplays (119)

Thursday
Jun252015

Introducing... The Supporting Actresses of 1948

It's your last day to vote on the Smackdown! Send in those ballots

Since your collective interest in pre '70s film years is often less robust, consider this an attempt to pump up your excitement levels with a teaser for this weekend's Smackdown. How are our contestants introduced in their movies, how soon, and is it clear from scene one that they'll be Oscar-nominated?

We'll take them in the order in which they appear in their movies, starting with "The End." Wait, what? Oh never fear it's just an ol' hoary framing device for our first contender, who's just finished writing the stories we're about to see unfold onscreen at the very beginning of her movie. 

Meet...

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Saturday
Jun202015

Emmy FYC: "The Leftovers" for Best Drama Series

A lot has been made of so-called “watercooler TV”, or what in today’s world we might call “hashtag-worthy TV”. But I’ve never really understood it. Discussions of “watercooler TV” mostly revolve around plot: “OMG did you SEE what happened on show X last night?” “LOL how freaking hilarious was that one moment on show Z?!?” But those watercooler or hashtag conversations rarely go much deeper than “What do you think is going to happen next?” TV shows typically prioritize this kind of storytelling over the much more interesting, engaging kind of storytelling - the kind that asks

What do you think this means?”

By that measure, The Leftovers, created by the formerly Lost Damon Lindelof and author Tom Perrotta, based on the latter’s novel of the same name, is the most deeply engaging show of the new millennium.

The show tells the story of the residents of Mapleton, NY in the aftermath of a terrifying event: The “Sudden Disappearance” of 2% of the world’s population. What exactly happened, no one is sure, and no answers are forthcoming. But what happened, how, and why, isn’t what’s important. What’s important is what people are doing in the present, how they are grappling with that event, and why.

Often ambiguous, deeply symbolic, and allegorical in its storytelling, The Leftovers is one of the most difficult shows to watch that any network has dared to air in quite some time. It also makes for one hell of a hypnotic viewing experience. The show isn’t afraid to barrage you with difficult questions. Not questions of plot or character, but of subtext and theme. Not what a certain action means for the narrative, but what it means to the viewer. This is a television show that invites deep discussion on a weekly basis - discussion that will reach far beyond the show and the (incredibly real) world it creates. And that is something we should be honoring.

previous Emmy FYCs

Saturday
Jun202015

Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Please welcome Kyle Stevens to The Film Experience team. You've previously heard him on the podcast, you can pre-order his book on Mike Nichols, and you should follow him on twitter as he is delightful. - Editor

Adapted from the hit radio play by Lucille Fletcher (who also wrote the screenplay), Sorry, Wrong Number follows Leona Stevenson, a headstrong young heiress who aims to one day be the sharpest battleaxe in the armory. She is also an invalid, relegated to her bed. We discover Leona telephoning inquiries into her husband’s whereabouts when the line fatefully clicks. She overhears a conversation between two men plotting a murder that night. For me, the whole movie hangs on the image of her listening to this narrative catalyst. It hovers over the entire film. Its power lets us never forget that this is Leona’s story, even when we get elaborate flashbacks from others. We recall it later when we see Leona disheveled and shining from tears and anxious sweat. Its tightness contrasts with the way the camera later wanders in and around people, tracing the distances between them that the telephone extinguishes. 

The magic here is all down to Barbara Stanwyck, giving one her best performances (and receiving the last of her four Best Actress nominations). We see Leona’s selfishness ebb as she intelligently listens to the heavies on the line. That is, Stanwyck doesn’t play an inner monologue. Her bright brown eyes and horseshoe furrows do not propose “Oh no!” and “What should I do now?”, as though telling us what Leona wants to say. Rather, Leona, in this moment, and for a change, is not about herself at all. She just listens. This remains a thing of beauty, reminding us how much intelligence just listening can demand. I don’t know of a better demonstration of the cliché that listening is one of those feats accomplished by only the best actors.

Written by a woman and showcasing a female character who fights for what she wants, Sorry, Wrong Number would probably be received as a feminist statement were it released today. But in the moment in which Leona hears unheard, I am reminded that it is not just the film’s gender politics that remain relevant. Over the complex lines of a switchboard (where, according to Hollywood, women controlled the flow of information), the epigraph warns:

In the tangled networks of a great city, the telephone is the unseen link between a million lives… It is the servant of our common needs—the confidante of our inmost secrets…life and happiness wait upon its ring… and horror…and loneliness… and death.”

The technology behind our phones may have changed, but in an age where we’d rather text than talk, we seem to still fear verbal connections. We worry about who’s listening, and we know, deep down, that the voice can give too much away.

Previously
Vintage 1948 - Best of the Year 
Supporting Actress Smackdown - The Schedule 

Tuesday
Jun092015

Cara Seymour on Playing Sister Harriet in "The Knick"

Cara Seymour (Adaptation, American Psycho, The Savages) is Guest Blogging all day today! - Editor
 

-by Cara Seymour

Getting to work on "The Knick" has been one of the greatest experiences of my career. I screamed with joy when I got the part and I'm not a big screamer of joy.  Amazing director, talented and really fun cast and all round impeccable team of super talented people in every department.  I'm madly appreciative of this.

Michael Begler, Jack Amiel and Steve Katz wrote this extraordinary character of Sister Harriet - she leapt off the page. But I wanted to know more about nuns in 1900 when The Knick takes place, so I ordered nun books.

"Through the Narrow Gate,"  by Karen Armstrong was an unflinching account of her life as a nun in a convent pre Vatican II -- read every word of that!

Didn't read them all from cover to cover. Not quite that crazy!

(more on The Knick after the jump)

Click to read more ...

Monday
May182015

Cannes Review: Irrational Man

Diana Drumm sends us another review from Cannes... 

A promising premise and captivating performances fall flat as a philosophy professor leaps after a misguided notion of the philosophical imperative, tumbling after one of his own theoreticals to disastrous results. Like much of Allen’s lesser filmography, Irrational Man dabbles in some of the auteur’s favorite subjects (philosophy, middle-aged male crisis, May-December or in this case June-November romances) and takes on more than it can chew, choking up in the third act.

The film’s tone shifts with the stumbled abandon of a dizzied drunk trying to make up his mind whether to stand or stay seated, from murky to light to dark, sprawling discussions to tensed farce...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May072015

Review: Welcome to Me

Michael C. here with your non-Avengers review of the week

When we daydream about striking it rich the objects of our fantasies usually fall into tangible, straightforward categories. The things we will buy, the places we will travel, the jobs we will quit. Alice Klieg, the lottery winner with borderline personality disorder played by Kristen Wiig in Shira Piven’s Welcome to Me, has more abstract ideas. Alice has spent her whole life trying and failing to live in the world everyone else seems to inhabit with ease. Now, fresh off the decision to go off her meds and with 86 million at her disposal, she can finally force the rest of us to live in her world.

When we meet Alice prior to striking it rich, she is filling her lonely days watching her vast collection of Oprah episodes on VHS, mouthing the words along with the host. It makes perfect sense then, that when she finds herself thrust into the spotlight her first instinct is to cast herself in the role of self-help guru, albeit one with her own life as her first and only subject. [More...]

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