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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. "Like it" on facebook!

 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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Entries in siblings (5)

Tuesday
Apr082014

"Poor Ivy”: August: Osage County’s Underappreciated MVP

Here's Andrew to celebrate the release of last year's embattled August: Osage County newly arrived on DVD. Significant spoilers ahead.

Each year there's at least one film which wins middling to good reviews and manages Oscar nods but is promptly forgotten as soon as it's released. August: Osage County was 2013's victim of that unfortunate annual tradition. Sure, it earned those two acting nominations it seemed assured early on but no one was particularly interested in talking about any aspect of August: Osage County, but for its Oscar belly-flop elsewhere and the Oscar queen at the centre. Perhaps, it was an automated response to Meryl Streep usually being at the centre of films with little else to offer than her star turn (The Iron Lady, Julie & Julia, Music of the Heart, etcetera). It's a shame because the former awards’ hopeful had so much more to celebrate than just the fire-breathing matriarch in the middle.

The strongest asset was undoubtedly that excellent cast. Aside from Streep and Roberts, only a few players picked up significant praise and even then the one most deserving was the one afforded hardly any attention: Julianne Nicholson as middle-child Ivy.

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Saturday
Feb082014

Last Words: The Court of Public Opinion

I'm really looking forward to that time later this year and next year and the year after that when the new Woody Allen picture arrives and we have to do this all over again.

I'll be much briefer this time, I promise.  The Farrow/Allen debacle gave us a valuable opportunity to discuss important topics: child abuse, power imbalances, the value and imperfection of the law, family dynamics and mental health, the problems inherent in identifying with and/or revering strangers or celebrities, the art and the artist and where and when they cohabitat and divide, gender politics, etc. Maybe some good could come of this harrowing story? But mostly we wasted the opportunity on misdirected rage, name-calling, witch-hunting, woman-hating. When emotionally difficult topics are brought to the public table we should talk and listen, not insist upon idealogical purity. I don't have statistics but I suspect that no one in the history of civilization has ever had their minds opened by opposing views by being a) shamed into it, b) being out-yelled, or c) forced into declaring absolute allegiance. I said some things I regret this past week or, at the very least, that I wish I had phrased differently. [more...]

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Thursday
Jan302014

Sundance: 'Lilting' and 'Happy Christmas'

Our last two Sundance movies! But for the roundup/index post in the morning, this is our final bit of coverage from Sundance 2014. Let's end with two movies featuring faces and topics I'm willing to bet you'll love: Ben Whishaw in a gay culture-barrier drama and Melanie Lynskey and Anna Kendrick in a dramedy about sister-in-laws.

Chang Pei Pei & Ben Whishaw in "Lilting"

LILTING
Remember Chang Pei Pei as Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon? She's just as pissed off in Lilting, but with good reason. Her only son Kai (Andrew Leung) has abandoned her by way of sudden death. This is not a Spoiler Alert: We see him in flashbacks but he's dead as the story begins. She's left grieving and alone... but for unexplained visits from her son's "best friend" (Ben Whishaw) though she can't fathom why he keeps dropping in since a) she hates him though she can't exactly say why and b) she doesn't technically know that her son was gay. Props to Pei Pei's performance that those two details are so willfully and obtusely fused together. She knows. By the very nature of its plot, particularly if you've lost someone you deeply loved way too early in life, Lilting is hugely moving; I was a wet-faced wreck. But while the film gets much thematic resonance from Chang's inability to adapt or communicate in her new homeland (she never learned the language and leaned on her son heavily), I did grow frustrated with the constant withholding. Ben keeps refusing to tell her the truth, even though he has every reason and backstory desire to do so. Lilting won the World Cinema Cinematography prize and, though its simple images have a kind of crystalline beauty, I can only assume this prize is for all the dreamy shots memorializing the peak beauty of Andrew Leung & Ben Whishaw lolling about shirtless and snug in bed. That peaceful aesthetic beauty amplifies the furiously unfathomable irreversible loss of love.

Grade: B
Distribution: Not at this point but LGBT films usually find their way eventually. It was much easier for LGBT to get traditional distribution years ago when gay people were loyal to the arthouses. (But that hasn't been the case in some time.)

The Cast of Happy Christmas © Larry Busacca/Getty Images

HAPPY CHRISTMAS
IMPORTANT NOTE: Chicago readers can see this later today at the Music Box Theater with Joe Swanberg in attendance doing a Q&A!
Happy Christmas is an intimate highly enjoyable and tighly focused dramedy about a husband and wife (Swanberg with Melanie Lynskey) with a newish baby (Jude Swanberg - too hilarious!) who are lending their basement to the husband's sister (Anna Kendrick) after her latest breakup. Leaving the theater afterwards I wondered how much better Swanberg's films might be with a little more time for second drafts or rehearsal. He keeps cranking them out and though they're all quality (I highly recommend All the Light in the Sky if you can find it) they don't quite crossover. But then I realized how uncharitable that was. Though Happy Christmas is perhaps too modest for greatness I must also quickly emphasize that it is wholly satisfying. Swanberg describes his impetus for making the movie as wanting to dramatize the process by which in-laws become siblings. That's a beautiful goal and a rare topic, too. Also rare: the opportunity to see great supporting actors like Lynskey dig into a large role and mix it up in zesty character-based comic scenes with Lena Dunham & Anna Kendrick. (Swanberg writes outlines but the actors fill in the details)

Lena Dunham & Anna Kendrick babysit Jude Swanberg in "Happy Christmas"

On a related in-house note, I wanted to give a shout out to a reader 'TB' who, in our recent post about Anna Kendrick and the Movie Musical, provocatively suggested the following:

that Anna Kendrick is emerging as the face of musicals is a fundamental sign that modern Hollywood doesn't understand what makes musicals work. She constantly positions herself as an actress above and outside her films, happily pointing to all of the places where it's not real. She's skittish around her own emotions. She has two feet FIRMLY planted in reality at all times. She's staunchly contemporary. It's not just that these are flaws, it's that these...directly work against what a musical needs to survive.

I thought that was an astute point even if I don't wholly agree that a very contemporary persona can't work within the movie musical, a more flexible genre than most will concede. But I am happy to report that there is a pretty great moment in a funny-touching scene in Happy Christmas with Lynskey wherein Kendrick totally embraces and uses this very quality described FOR her characterization, both playing it out and commenting on her own skittishness. I think she's really talented. And, as it turns out, self aware. 

Grade: B+
Distribution: Yes. It's Magnolia so a very limited release will happen eventually. No word yet on when. But if you're in Chicago,  GO SEE IT TODAY. It's fun and sweet and the ensemble is great. 

Wednesday
Dec182013

Top Ten: The Best Sister Acts in Hollywood History

Today's top ten list was inspired by the passing of the great Joan Fontaine, half of Hollywood's most embittered AND most successful sibling rivalry, all-female division. Usually when a movie star has a sibling, one is considerably less successful than the other which is why the Fontaine & de Havilland business was so enduringly fascinating. (If we're talking mixed gender siblings only Warren Beatty & Shirley Maclaine are truly comparable in terms of parallel mega-careers). I'm dedicating this list to the Talmadge sisters, silent screen stars (though most of their work did not survive) as well as the one and only Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorleac (her gorgeous elder sister who died way too young)... those Young Girls of Rochefort. But Rochefort is a long way from Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD'S TOP TEN FOURTEEN (ACTRESS) SISTER ACTS

The Sisters Mara: Kate & Rooney

14 Kate Mara (1983-) & Rooney Mara (1985-)
Rooney, currently playing Joaquin's ex-wife in Her, became a very big deal two years ago with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Kate is currently working the Netflix original House of Cards. If Hollywood futures are kind they'll climb this informal list.

13 more actressy-sibling sets after the jump

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Monday
Feb042013

"Bunheads" And Its Movie-Referencing Siblings

[Editor's Note: I keep forgetting to write about Bunheads so my friend Susan offered to step in. We both watch the show religiously so here's Susan with a take I mostly agree with -- if enough of you are watching we'll discuss again. I love the show.]

Sutton Foster in "Bunheads"

Up until this past summer, I had never watched a show on ABC Family. Not that I have anything against ABC . Or families. But thanks to Sutton Foster, I decided to give Bunheads a try. While the show’s rapid-fire, pop culture infused dialogue can sometimes be more exhausting than exhilarating; I’ve come to appreciate its rhythms and strongly beating heart. Those beats are familiar to fans of Amy Sherman-Palladino, who previously created the much-loved Gilmore Girls

I come to Bunheads as a virtual Sherman-Palladino virgin, bringing my appreciation for Foster and not much else. In some ways, I think that’s a good thing. I don’t watch Bunheads through a “this is like Gilmore Girls, this is different; this is better, this is worse” prism. Foster’s character, former showgirl Michelle Simms, is not Lorelai Gilmore-light to me, even if she does share some (fast-talking) characteristics with that previous Sherman-Palladino creation. 

As a newbie to the Sherman-Palladino-verse, I welcome insight from those who are more familiar with it or from those of you who are fans of Foster, Sherman-Palladino or the show [More after the jump including the show's love of movie references]

Hunter Foster guest stars on "Bunheads" starring his real life two-time Tony winning sister.

 

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