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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 silent films (40)



Film Grimoire bookmarking this "on location" series since I'm going to London soon and there's lots of fun places from famous movies
You Must Remember This Karina Longworth researches Hollywood's first openly gay star William Haines (way back in the silent era) 
The Guardian on Spear, the "Australia's first indigenous dance film" - we wanna see
Quartz a photographers new project "edits" out smartphones showing us our lonely new world of disconnection


Variety checks in with sales of Mexico's Oscar hopeful 600 Miles feat. Tim Roth
ICYMI <-- we previously covered the foreign submissions w/ recognizable stars like Roth
Buzzfeed Dreamboat Aaron Tveit sings stripped-down "Defying Gravity" from Wicked
Playbill looks at Broadway's oldest living leading ladies: Lansbury and Rivera aren't the only ones
AV Club childhood memories of Willow (1988) and an adult revisit
i09 the first image from The War of the Planet of the Apes looks familiar 
i09 on the superheroes that should get TV series rather than movies. Okay, I'd watch She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel.
i09 Captain America is outraging conservatives again, who forget that he's always been a political character
Variety The 33 and Where to Invade Next added to growing AFI Fest. Nathaniel and Anne Marie will cover this last minute Oscar nom -seeking festival for you as usual. 
Forbes YouTube's highest earning stars. I feel so removed from this wing of showbiz that it always startles me to realize that a) there are famous people that I wouldn't recognize even if they were standing right in front of me screaming their name and b) those same people are NOT from sports or reality television... the other areas to which I am blind

Lukewarm Off Presses
• Page Six I somehow missed this story of Daniel Craig getting in hot water with Sony execs with his repeated groaning about having to play James Bond again. But I like it. (It sucks when you have to work once every three years for shitloads of money, right). In related 'anything else!' news, Craig has signed on for a new production of Othello on the stage. He'll be playing Iago to David Oyelowo's Othello.

Celebrity Pic o' the Day



An excellent idea, prolly.

Garret Dillahunt is a marvelous actor and though Hollywood likes him best as a sinister possibly dim psycho (The Road, Amazon's Hand to God), he's just as good at decent if ineffectual lawmen (Winter's Bone and No Country For Old Men) and has proved his comedy bonafides on television in Raising Hope and The Mindy Project and also does stage work. In short: we are fond of him and he has more range than the roles he's offered. This great selfie he posted yesterday is exactly how it feels to watch him in his most unnerving roles, though. Love his caption "An excellent idea, prolly" Heh! 


"luck or no luck..."


Blogs He Linked

The Dissolve Disney's announces the replacement voice cast of The Good Dinosaur - what is going on with that movie?
Guardian this sounds really cool. Director Gillian Armstrong (Little Women, Mrs Soffel) has made a documentary about the Oscar winning costume designer Orry-Kelly called Women He Undressed. He had a fascinating career and was quite a famous figure in Hollywood's golden age, friends with Bette Davis and more than friends (rumored) with Cary Grant
They Live By Night "This is our Furiousa" a reflection on a rare quiet moment in Mad Max Fury Road
Elle randomness! Talking to the art director of the cover of Madonna's debut album 
NYT talks to the cast of Goodfellas on their 25 year old classic

The Playlist new images from Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups. Isn't it time to release this one? (I'm getting a To the Wonder vibe)
The Guardian looks back at Helen Mirren's breakout part at 22 (!!!) in Age of Consent (1969) 
Shadowplay has a super fun series called "The Sunday Intertitle" and the latest is about Tarzan (1929). I was brainstorming a similar series years ago but never committed so I'm so happy someone else has one! My only complaint is there is no way to link the complete series.
Pajiba wonders why critics and the internet are turning on Game of Thrones for doing the exact same things it's always done (gorey violence, lots of rape, brutal torture, etecetera). I knew to get out after the first season and second book -- definitely way too sadistic/sexist/exploitative for me -- so I've found the recent outrage peculiar since it's describing the show I saw five seasons ago to a T. 
EW Mark Harris on the sudden pop culture fascination with actual transgender celebrities as well as their fictional counterparts, particularly on television

Geeky Fandom
CineMunch continues their amusing favorite actress podcast showdowns. This one's about Pfeiffer, Witherspoon, Binoche, and The Lovely Laura Linney among others
Toybox Penny Dreadful action figures!
New Statesman Excellent piece on the enduring appeal and fan obsessiveness towards Star Wars
HuffPost Disney princes reimagined in queer context
Twitter Mulder & Sculley reunited

Two stories from the real world.
The first is horrific and the second heartwarming. A gay man has been severely tortured and his family's business vandalized in Delta, Utah. I bring this up because I've actually been to this tiny tiny city innumerable times in my life. My mom lives near there in an even tinier city and I've even posted about Delta's one movie theater before. Because that story is just too terrible to contemplate -- it could have been me or any LGBT person or any person thought to be gay whether they were gay or not and will likely be someone else in the future of any stripe (hate & violence being dumb, nonlogical, non discerning and pathological) unless the people are caught. Because that story is too depressing for words, here's a cute story about a NYPD officer who saved a kitten and now the kitten is named after him! Awwww. 


Beauty vs Beast: Full Metal Maria

Tis I, Jason from MNPP, here, with another week's new edition of our "Beauty vs Beast" series. So over the next several days The Film Experience is going to be diving into the cinematic realm of Artificial Intelligence (known as "A.I." to people in a hurry and Haley Joel Osment fans), and to get the ball rolling I figured we'd make ourselves like science-fiction and hop in the way-back machine to the year 1927, when a little chap who went by the name Friedrich Christian Anton Lang, known to his friends as Fritz, made a little movie called Metropolis. In case you don't know the story, it goes like this: Boy meets Girl, Girl Gets Clones Into Evil Robot, Dystopian Nightmare Explodes, and a Kiss, The End. Somewhere in there dancing happens, and it is crazy awesome.

But thanks to a ferocious performance from actress Brigitte Helm you really couldn't get more of a clean split between the two Marias to choose from - Original Maria is all Goodness and Light, while her robot counterpart is Sex and Chaos. But what Sex and Chaos! Where does your heart belong?

Whose team are you on?
Team Maria0%
Team Robot-Maria0%

You have one week to vote!

PREVIOUSLY While I was out of town last week Nathaniel took the chance to sneak a musical (a genre I'm somewhat allergic to) in - can I just tell you that even though I've lusted for The Ten Commandments era Yul Brynner a'plenty I've never seen The King and I? So I'll be damned if I know the right choice for this round, but y'all went with Anna (Deborah Kerr) by only a slight margin (54%). Said Jija:

"I'm maybe biased because I'm Thai but I find Yul's performance ... irritating. I don't expect accurate history or anything. It's a very lovely musical but I can't get past his overacting, silly gestures and ..that accent. He's very cartoonish. Deborah Kerr, on the other hand, is everything."


The Lumière Brothers' First Public Screening

Sebastian here, stealing sharing a great find by Slate's Dana Stevens, who tweeted out a video of the ten short films by the Lumière Brothers that were first shown to the paying public of Paris on December 28, 1895.

On their website, the Institut Llumière offers a look at the screening's program, handed out to the patrons of Le Salon Indien, a room in the basement of the Grand Café on Boulevard des Capucines.

Unfortunately the Institut's image is tiny and barely legible. So presented here, brought to you with the help of all the latest text-formatting technology, a reproduction, updated to include links to watch the films on YouTube:



14, Boulevard des Capucines, 14

Cel appareil, inventé par MM. Auguste et Louis Lumière, permet de recueillir, par des séries d'épreuves instantantées, tous les mouvements qui, pendant un temps donné, se sont succédé devant l'objectif, et de reproduire ensuite ces mouvements en projetant, grandeur naturelle, devant une salle entière, leurs images sur un écran.



Q&A: TV Queens, Musical Divas, and Bad Work by Great Actors

Time for more Reader Questions. Thanks for asking them. Only six this time and they're nearly all actressy (next week something differentd) but the answers are lengthy.

TROY: A performance by an actress in television -- either episodic, movie, or miniseries -- that could stand alongside the best of the best work of Oscar-winning divas.

NATHANIEL: This is an unfair question since the reason people have such affection for television performances from the miraculously good ones to the just competents ones is that the actor in question has had literally hours and hours of time to develop that character and the viewer has had hours, months and sometimes even years in which to fall in love with the role itself (and sometimes the actor, too). Different mediums, agendas, ways of becoming iconic. Apples / Oranges. But of TV-centric actresses that repeatedly deliver A grade awards-quality work no matter the show or character they're working with (an important distinction) my vote for the best television actresses ever are Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Edie Falco... Claire Danes for the bronze should she add a third performance as impressive as Angela Chase and Carrie Mathison to her series-ography (wait what do you call a television resume?).

Three final notes on this TV actress question. Movies no longer really have an equivalent to the kind of broad near slapstick comedy that TV often specializes in but literally no one makes me laugh harder than Jane Krakowski (Ally McBeal / 30 Rock / Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and I have a rage stroke every time I remember that she's Emmy-less. Three recent singular TV performances I think of all the time for hitting every possible pleasure spot in terms of delivering both great actressing and nuanced TV characterizations without ever starting to feel stale (the danger of long term work) are Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights, and Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks from Mad Men.

Finally, though I know it's not a popular opinion critically speaking (even though the show is historically very popular) I absolutely proclaim Sarah Jessica Parker a true genius for her work on Sex & the City. Gee-nee-us. Like Meg Ryan / Julia Roberts / Sandra Bullock / Goldie Hawn at their peaks rom-com perfection but for the small screen.  'Your girl is lovely, Hubble Sarah.' 

BENJI: What is your favorite silent movie/star+performance?

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

NATHANIEL: Maria Falconetti is unforgettable in The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) which I'd also call the best of the silents. But... Best is different than Favorite. And that masterpiece has a kind of fetishized suffering, like a Von Trier without the childish pranking, that you really have to be in the right mood for. So the truer answer to your question is Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box (1929). That's my favorite silent ever (which is saying a lot because I love so many of the ones I've seen) and I also think she's great in Diary of a Lost Girl... though that movie isn't quite at her level the way her best known film is. I love all the usual stars (Gish, Garbo, Valentino) but it's Brooks that does it for me the most.

Laika: Hollywood is calling. They NEED YOUR ADVICE. They are making an Avengers -style superhero-teamup film about the divas of musical theatre, but they are having difficulty casting key roles: Liza Minnelli. Carol Channing. Elaine Stritch. Ethel Merman. BARBRA. Some people are pushing to cast Blake Lively as Bernadette Peters! Who could they cast as these inimitable women?!


Only the originals will do. So think Expendables instead but with the budget and the quality of a Marvel Studios film like The Avengers. I've mocked up a dream cast list but perhaps you have different ideas?

Half of the budget is for the lawyers because trying to decide who gets top billing would be A NIGHTMARE. Maybe you can try to decide who gets top billing in the comments, but I fear the wrath of all of them if I place them in order.

TD: Least favorite performances by favorite actors?

NATHANIEL: This topic probably deserves a whole big post but then we'd have to dwell in disappointment and who needs that? So let's just throw a quick list out there. Let's start with a few actors that are actressy according to Nathaniel (i.e. great / obsession worthy). I don't really get what Fassbender in Dangerous Method or Jude in Contagion were going for or I do but I don't like it. Jeff Bridges has been phoning it in since the Oscar win which is a shame. Okay enough men. The women.

Hathaway is bad in Eyesore in Wonderland (but, then, who isn't? I mean, besides HBC). Streep is terrible in The Manchurian Candidate, overplaying everything. Chastain in Miss Julie, same thing. Too much too much. Modulate girl, you're so good at that in other films. I didn't understand what the hell was going on with La Pfeiffer in Up Close and Personal, did you? In regards to my idol, I praised her at the time as an obsessed fan, but I must accept in retrospect that her double 1999 star turn in The Deep End of the Ocean and The Story of Us (which I always think of together) are, like Streep's in Doubt, a strange mix of irritatingly off key and really great. Whenever that happens I wonder if the star is distracted by something we'll never know about on set or at home or in their heads... or if it's director or production problems that have worked their way into the editing bay.

Julianne Moore? Hmmm. Well, actually take a look at this image.

I meant to share this chart a few months ago when I first looked at it. This is a table of the biggest box office hits of Julianne Moore's career. Looking at it I suddenly realized why non-fans have sometimes had bizarre notions about the level of her talent. If all someone had seen was a handful of these and that handful didn't include both The Hours & Boogie Nights the casual moviegoer may have regarded either as flukes and been reasonably been misled into thinking that she wasn't that special and not understood the fuss. Not that she's bad in these movies but Julianne is a Kidman in the way that her best work is almost always in the most complicated and weirdest movies. i.e. the ones people have to be convinced to see either by nominations for awards or critics never shutting up about them. I've only thought Julianne was actively bad a few times. Let us never speak of Freedomland or Evolution or that scene in Laws of Attraction where she eats junk food again. Don't Speak! 

BRIAN: How do you feel about the word pretentious when used by film critics?

NATHANIEL: I hate it. Charitably it only means 'I don't like this person's ambitions,' whatever they may be. Uncharitably it can mean "I didn't understand this movie." It's as useless as the word "unforgettable" in film reviews. Real talk, film critics: We know you JUST walked out of that movie and are writing this for publication deadline tonight or tomorrow. Half the movies in existence are unforgettable for at least a good half hour after watching them. Save that word for a few months later at least so that it means something.

DANIEL: Did the work of Hilary Swank in The Homesman make you appreciate her more as an actress, or is she still hand in hand with Renée Zelwegger in your nemesis path? In terms of career which do you prefer ? Love from Brazil...

NATHANIEL: Big love right back at Brazil. The site has always had a big following in Brazil -- not sure why that is apart from Brazilians being awesome.

I made kind of a big deal about these two as my nemeses (I know some people think it's childish but it's like an internal barometer corrector since I'm The Man Who Loved Actresses Too Much.) but I don't deny their gifts. There are actresses I think are far less talented than either Hilary or Renee that are famous but they don't annoy me as much, largely I think because they don't appear in the type of films I am otherwise drawn to. I was actually a huge fan of Renée's from Jerry Maguire (1996) through Bridget Jones (2001) but irreconciliable differences; we had a brutal divorce soon thereafter.

I've never been a "fan" of Swank but I think she's just great in Boys Don't Cry (I have eyes) and she really is very good in The Homesman (2014), which I'd easily call her second best. Even in scenes that don't directly address it, unlike that touching faux-piano scene which does, she just comes across as ineffably sad but determined to march on. I think she could have made a real run for a nomination if the reviews had been better and if it had been a more straightforward film about her character rather than the shapeshifter movie that it was. 

Please chime in on my responses or with your own in the comments. 


Curio: Handmade Movies

Alexa here with your weekly arts and crafts. In a sort of continuation of last week's episode, here's an odd little obsession I've had brewing lately: making your own paper movie machines. I've always been into early cinema (TCM Silent Sundays were a must until my cable bundle dropped TCM) and reading up on the Lumiere brothers and all the strange optical toys that preceded the advent of photographic moving pictures. (Yes, Hugo was a thrill in this regard.) I went as far as to buy this book on etsy, which has very interesting instructions for making your own thaumatropes, kinematoscopes, rolloscopes and lots of other tropes and scopes I had no idea existed.

At one point I had a ridiculously analog notion to make strips from screencaps of my favorite films so I could watch them with my daughter through a zoetrope, until I realized this would totally make me a Portlandia punchline. I promise, I have no other steampunk leanings.

Various optical toys that replicate the wonder of the earliest moving pictures are being made by many, and antique machines are a collectors item. Flipbooks, praxinascopes and thaumatropes are after the jump.

Click to read more ...