NOW PLAYING

in theaters



new on DVD/BluRay


review index

HOT TOPICS



Welcome

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

 

Powered by Squarespace
Beauty vs. Beast

 

I think I know who the twins are voting for in our SHINING poll. But who are you voting for

 

Comment Fun

COMMENT DU JOUR
Birdman's Secret Advantage
Oscar Loves Theater Stage Movies

 

"My favorite movie about the theater is ALL ABOUT EVE, but then again that movie is my favorite movie about everything about movies and love and lust and life itself." - Jay

"TOPSY-TURVY perfectly captures the feeling of imminent failure that you get when you're in rehearsals." - Peggy

 

Keep TFE Strong

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

What'cha Looking For?
Subscribe

Entries in Sissy Spacek (11)

Friday
Jul252014

1973 Look Back: Terrence Malick's Debut "Badlands"

To give the impending Smackdown some context, we're looking at films from 1973. Here's Abstew on a spectacular debut...

With only a half dozen films released over the past 40 years, director Terrence Malick has already earned his place among the greatest American filmmakers. Despite his relatively small filmography, he has carved out a distinct brand of filmmaking that inspires (sometimes as much as it confuses or bores). But before he was an admired and respected filmmaker, he was just a former Rhodes scholar that graduated from Harvard working as a philosophy professor at MIT. His first film, Badlands, began to take take shape as he studied film at the American Film Institute. It was immediately hailed by critics on its initial release in 1973, where it was the closing night film at the New York Film Festival. That year's festival also saw the debut of Martin Scorsese's Mean Streetsm proving that 1973 was not only a very good year for film, but a landmark year for new voices. Both films were sold to Warner Brothers on the same day.

Set in South Dakota in the 1950s and loosely based on the real-life incident of Charles Starkweather who went on a killing spree with his teenage girlfriend in 1958, Badlands follows former garbage man Kit Carruthers (played by Martin Sheen in the role that established his own career in film, having working almost exclusively in television up until then) as he and his 15-year-old girlfriend Holly (Sissy Spacek in only her second film) take off cross-country after Kit kills Holly's disapproving father. Although seen as rebels (Kit is often compared to the original rebel without a cause, James Dean), the two are more simple-minded than that. They seem to be going along for a ride not quite knowing what they're doing or why exactly they're doing it. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May062014

Visual Index ~ 3 Women's Best Shots

Given that 3 Women is a different picture every time I lay eyes on it, I'm dying to see what other people see in it, too. Thus, this brilliantly strange atypical Robert Altman is an ideal film for Hit Me With Your Best Shot, wherein everyone is welcome to choose what they think of as the "best shot" from the pre-selected film.  Find out what others saw in this picture by clicking on the photos to read the corresponding articles at these fine blogs.

11 BEST SHOTS FROM 3 WOMEN (1977)

They float about as a pair throughout the film as creepily as those cinematic twins in another Shelley Duvall classic...
-The Film's The Thing 

She tries it on for size, decides she's gotten enough, and goes on her merry way... 
-Dancin Dan on Film

 

A magnificent construction that highlights all of these themes while subtly foreshadowing what will happen later in the film...
-The Entertainment Junkie 

I’m a sucker for shots involving reflections, so I find this one very beautiful...
- Coco Hits NY 

The film opens in a sort of dream space and never quite leaves even as many sequences (especially in the first hour or so) seem fairly straight forward...  
-Musings and Stuff 


I would attend the hell out of one of Millie's dinner parties...
- Stranger Than Most 

"Persona 2: One More Woman Makes 3"
-Best Shot in the Dark  

Point #2 is that this is the exact moment where the distinction between Millie and Pinky starts to break down...
- Antagony & Ecstasy 

Dreams can't hurt ya."
-Intifada 


Millie, singular and perpetually out of place Millie, with twins both literal and figurative...
- The Film Experience 

 

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this creepy, disturbing film...
- Film Actually  

Next on Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966) 

Tuesday
May062014

"We don't like the twins" - On Robert Altman's 3 Women (1977)

I've seen 3 Women exactly 3 times. Look at me all numeriffic. Each time it shapes-shift fluidly like its still half submerged in the embryonic waters of pools, aquariums, nursing home baths, and dream floods that keep engulfing the women, particularly Sissy Spacek as "Pinky" (or "Mildred" depending on how you read the picture). She's the most permeable of them all.

Permeable, maybe, but never painlessly transforming; if the movie camera had never discovered Sissy Spacek's face in various stages of psychotic breaks (see also Carrie) it would have missed its calling entirely. 

The first time I saw the film it was like looking a crystal clear umbillical cord between Persona (1966) and Mulholland Dr (2001). The second time it was a singular experience, untethered to other films from my favorite genre (Women Who Lie To Themselves™) and played as a remarkable feat of interiority and actressing (Shelley Duvall won "Best Actress" at Cannes and that jury deserves a prize of its own for going there.). With this third screening 3 Women morphed into a messy horror comedy, a pitch black and deeply uncomfortable but still funny horror comedy about social autism, menstrual cycles, and the terrors of having no center and no support system to reinforce your youness. Follow?

Whichever film 3 Women is while you're watching it, it's impossible to miss its obsession with twins.

We don't like the twins. You'll learn about them soon enough"

Or, I'd argue more emphatically, its obsession with triplets; two identical, one fraternal. Though Altman's undervalued picture spends most of its time with the odd twosome of Millie (Duvall) and Pinky (Spacek) and though Pinky's initial trajectory seems to be very Single White Female in her urge to be with (or just be?) Millie, we're almost always dealing with triplets; the third is easy to miss, never identical and nearly always silent. Whether we're looking at actual twins (unfriendly blondes Polly & Peggy) or one woman reflected who appears to be two, or two women who appear to be three or four (reflections galore and too many images to screencap) or an actual rarer three-shot of the film's stars there's always some sort of triangulation going on when the image is placed in its narrative context.

Which is why my choice for "Best Shot" multiplies the multiples yet further and encapsulates absolutely everything that's so rich and weirdly specific yet vaguely disconnected about Millie and the movie itself. Millie has just been displaced from her own bedroom by Pinky when she returns to work and talks about nothing but Pinky.

I think she'll be back to work next week. The doctors really thought she was going to die. What's worse there could have been brain damage! 

Millie, singular and perpetually out of place Millie (note how Duvall towers over the other women like some absurd weed that needs pruning), trails her oblivious co-workers down the hallway in a continuous shot, talking non-stop as she does for the entire film. No one is listening despite her dramatic flourishes. Each of them are paired with their twin, literal or figurative ("Doris the Chinese one - she and I are best friends") shutting Millie out entirely. The last line as the undifferentiated women begin to dissipate out of the shot is brilliantly apt. It starts out all inclusive before it shuts someone out with its casually exclusive desperation. It's as lonely as Millie's foldout bed outside the now shuttered bedroom door. 

She asked about each and everyone one of you... especially the twins."

There's every reason to believe that Millie didn't like Pinky as her perpetual shadow/other before the medical drama. But now she's alone again. And what could be worse than that?

More 3 Women?
Here's a Visual Index of all the "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" entries 'round the web. 

Oscar Shut-Out
Oscar voters had no time at all for 3 Women despite their fondness for Altman in the 1970s. I'd gladly hand it nominations for Actress, Director, and Art Direction for starters. In fact, an early aborted mental draft of this article was entirely about the art direction. 

Programming Note
One change in the upcoming schedule. I didn't realize that Warner Bros / DC had chosen an official day for Batman's 75th (the date of his birth is complicated) so we'll postpone that Batman-related Best shot episode until July in the second half of this season

 

Thursday
May012014

"You're going to be the patient, and I'm going to take you in"

Millie: Okay, now what's wrong with ya? 
Pinky: Nuthin'
Millie: Well there's gotta be something wrong with ya."
Meet Millie (Shelley Duvall, Cannes Best Actress Winner / BAFTA Best Actress Nominee) and Pinky (Sissy Spacek). You won't ever forget them once you do. Join us Tuesday night when Hit Me With Your Best Shot looks at Robert Altman's 3 Women (1977). It's available on Netflix Instant Watch, Amazon Instant, and iTunes. Watch it, choose a shot, and play along!
Thursday
Aug302012

Love Letters Pt. 1: Zachary Quinto, Ahna O'Reilly, Chris Messina

© Nick Stepowyj[Editor's Note: Melanie Lynskey (Hello I Must Be Going) is guest blogging. We love her. And now there's a lotta love to go around. - Nathaniel R]

After my love letter to Noah Taylor I thought it might be kind of fun to write to some people for The Film Experience and ask THEM who they'd want to write a love letter to. Hopefully this is making some kind of sense. So I made a little dream list of people I respect and admire beyond all reason and I sent them a little e-mail saying:

I've seen you do work that has made me want to write you a love letter because it's moved me so deeply. Who or what would you like to write a love letter to? What piece of art or artist or feeling has moved you in this way?"

Here are a few amazing responses I got from these talented and passionate individuals!

To the magnificent & unique Zachary Quinto "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: Angels In America!"

Zach's love letter:

I remember so vividly the first time i saw IL POSTINO. i was a freshman in college - completely ravenous for creative inspiration - and i found myself alone at one of the only art house movie theaters in pittsburgh at the time. i was so enraptured by the experience. the tenderness and intimacy of the story. the beauty of the landscape. the powerful exploration of love. and in particular the performance of massimo troisi. it stays with me to this day: his subtlety. his vulnerability. his openness. his humor. and as i learned more about the film and the tragedy of its star - my genuine love for the movie blossomed into something that still inspires me any time i think about it. troisi's commitment to this story ultimately cost him his life. he died just twelve hours after the film wrapped - and only days before he was meant to go to london for the heart transplant that likely would have saved him. but his connection to the project (which he also co-wrote) was so absolute and unwavering that - even in the face of his obviously weakened state - he would not back down until it was complete. and you can see it on screen. his passion and investment in the story is one of the most bittersweet manifestations i have encountered. i love that film and i love that performance. and i love the memory of the first time it all washed over me.
-ZACHARY QUINTO

To the incredibly brave & brilliant actor and director Joe Swanberg "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: Nights and Weekends..."

Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig in "Nights and Weekends"

Joe's love letter:

My love letter is to Elaine May. She's one of the coolest filmmakers alive and a constant source of inspiration. I watched THE HEARTBREAK KID and the first 20 minutes of ISHTAR about 5 times each this Summer when I was prepping my new film. She's a brave, adventurous filmmaker and it's a shame she didn't make more work, but what exists fills me with love and gets me excited about making my own stuff."
-JOE SWANBERG 

To the best actress I know, the incredible Tina Holmes "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: Six Feet Under..."

Tina's love letter:

There's a scene in the beautiful movie Oslo, August 31st that i can't get out of my head. the movie takes place on the last day of summer. 24 hours in which the main character is struggling to decide whether or not he can bear to go on living. it's sounds so grim, but the movie is filled with life and beauty. anyway the scene that blew me away is where he is watching some friends go for a swim at dawn after a long night's bender. he sits alone and watches them, especially this young beautiful innocent girl he has met that night. the camera stays on his face and he watches in silence and i swear to god you watch him engage with life and hope and then despair and engage and despair and engage and despair and back and forth. all that and i don't think his expression even really changes much. it's haunting. that's when i love acting. when you can see inside someone. it's not even anything they do. i don't even know how it happens really. some people just let you see their soul."
-TINA HOLMES

To the versatile, handsome, showing his heart and constantly working Chris Messina "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: Celeste & Jesse Forever..."

Chris's love letter:

I instantly thought of John Cazale and his performances in all 5 of his films. Each one of them so different and nuanced. Dog Day Afternoon was mind-blowing for me as a kid. To see New York in the 70's, the heat, the anti-establishment "Attica" chant, of course watching Pacino felt at the time like finding god. And John Cazale's silence and intensity is something that I will never forget. I was afraid at any moment that he would start shooting the Employees, and then Sonny, Pacino's character asks him what country he wants to go to when the robbery is over and Sal (Cazale) says "Wyoming" not played for laughs, you instantly see into Sal's heart all his vulnerability and desperation. A complex subtle performance that continues to amaze me each time I revisit it.

What Sidney Lumet did with that story and each and everyone of those actors brought to it... this was a defining moment for me in wanting to be a storyteller."
-CHRIS MESSINA

To the insanely funny, thoughtful director, writer, actor (and also a ridiculously gifted magician), David Wain "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: Wet Hot American Summer (obv); Wanderlust... "

Dear NASHVILLE,  thank you for enveloping me in your glow when I discovered you fifteen years after your release! I left our first (nearly 3 hour) date feeling exhilarated, inspired and spent. You opened my eyes to new possibilities in filmmaking, storytelling, comedy, acting, sound. You resonated with me over the last twenty years, always reminding me to be bold and to trust my voice!"
-DAVID WAIN

To the hilarious and authentic and awesome Natasha Lyonne "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: Slums Of Beverly Hills, you in Night At The Golden Eagle..."

[Natasha didn't get back to me with her finished thing but I thought I'd include the things she was thinking she'd write about because they're amazing choices: ' Think I'd choose susan tyrell in fat city or bob fosse & all that jazz ... or Terrence Stamp or Toby Dammit...]

To the super funny, super sweet, unlike any other person living, the genius Michael Showalter "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: "The Baxter"...

Michael Showalter's letter:

Call me sappy but if I'm gonna write a love letter it's gotta be for romantic comedies, so my love letter is for my favorite rom-com filmmaker Richard Curtis (writer/director of Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones, Love Actually.) His bittersweet world of laughter, loss and love is one that I really enjoy visiting - like your favorite bookstore or coffee shop. Everyone is smart, nice and funny. They are optimistic but not necessarily "happy." They like eating good food, talking at length about their neuroses and wear warm clothing. There's never anyone in a Richard Curtis story that feels "too cool." Nope, they are just people. Friends. Acquaintances. Trying to get by, trying to be good, to be better, fallible, trying to grab at some little piece of joy and sweetness.

To the brilliant and intense and funny and great actor Michael Weston I love everything you've ever done but my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: that amazing episode of Six Feet Under where you kidnap David..."

Michael Weston's letter:

You know, there are so many actors and movies and filmmakers who have inspired me... who continue to inspire me. I think I have been really blessed to have a group of friends who are so deeply creative and fun and funny and silly, and I find that they are always my greatest inspiration and what I dwell on in loving revery-time.

But, when I go back to the beginning... where I really felt the power of film and what still makes me laugh because I was so completely moved by it... was the movie "Flash Gordon". I know that's sort of like sitting in some crazy heavenly wine cellar and asking for a bottle of two buck Chuck. But, the truth is, the year was 1980, I was like 7, and that was the moment I wanted to be a part of film. In that finale scene where he's like driving the spaceship and he's about to skewer Ming The Merciless and that awesome music is playing "Flash! Ah-haaahhh! Duhn duhn duhn!". Man... I stood on my seat and f-ing cheered. Literally. I didn't give a hoot who was looking at me because I was so in it. I whooped. And was finally brought back to earth, pulled back into my seat by some kid I was friends with at the time. See, I don't remember who I was with, but, I still find myself, returning to that moment. And I still sing that theme song to myself... and others if they'll listen."
-MICHAEL WESTON 

To the extraordinary, radiant, gorgeous and real Ahna O'Reilly "my love letter to you is mostly me obsessing about: The Help..."

Ahna's letter:

I want to write Sissy Spacek a Love Letter for everything, especially "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "Carrie". I want to be her.

-Tommy Lee Jones/Robert Duvall in "Lonesome Dove", I saw this when I was little and it has meant a lot to me ever since. I think it was the first time I understood chemistry between actors.

-On the topic of things from when I was little: Hitchcock (Almost all of them except "Frenzy" and "Marnie," those were the two sexy ones we weren't allowed to watch); Fred Astaire & Ginger Rodgers ("Barkley's of Broadway" and many others); "The Sound of Music"; Audrey Hepburn ("Roman Holiday", "Sabrina"), Judy Garland ("Meet Me in St Louis", "Easter Parade"). These people and their movies were pretty much all my parents let us watch...ahhh to be sheltered. 

-Timothy Scott, my heart breaks for him even if I only see his face for a fleeting second in a movie (just re-watched "Days of Heaven" and there he was for 3 seconds, and I loved him).

 -The author Tracy Kidder.

-Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose. I know this is an obvious one. But I could watch this on a loop, the thought of it makes me cry."
-AHNA O'REILLY 

I'm so grateful to all these amazing people!

-Melanie

P.S. UPDATE: More love letters from Rosemarie DeWitt, Kathy Najimy, etcetera

 

Saturday
Apr282012

Happenings: Jackman, Spacek, Turner, Fillion, Kidman

I'm losing patience with today's scientists. The world has changed so rapidly in my lifetime but there doesn't seem to be any progress with teleportation. I don't know about you but I need to be in several places quite often and in quick succewssion. Who has time for planes, trains or automobiles? Look at how much there is to experience near you at unreasonable distances from each other.

War of the Roses (1989)

TORONTO
Today! Kathleen Turner will be honored today with a mini free film festival at the Carlton Cinema: Peggy Sue Got Married and Romancing the Stone this afternoon. The War of the Roses and Body Heat this evening. If you're near there, why miss it? I'd totally hit The War of the Roses because and Body Heat because I haven't seen it in ages (the former) and have never seen it on the big screen (the latter). I think the great lady is in town with her recovery drama High on stage. That closed quickly here on Broadway but they're sure pushing the tour which they can do if a star is willing to tour.

LOS ANGELES
Today Plus! The Getty is hosting a film series "What Becomes a Legend Most"  kicking things off with Rudolph Valentino's The Sheik and the incomparable Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks (which we've covered in our "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series previously. If you're in LA and have never seen it, do not miss the opportunity to see it on the big screen. Other classics coming in the Getty series include two more "Hit Me" alums A Streetcar Named Desire and Rebel Without a Cause

EDINBURGH
Monday The Railway Man, a new World War centric prestige drama about a traumatized soldier and a woman helping him confront his past, starts shooting. The film will star Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, and Stellan Skarsgard (incidentally a friend of the book's author). Kidman's role is apparently being beefed up from what it was on the book's pages. 

CANNES
May 16th-27th The world's most important film festival begins with an opening ceremony hosted by recent Oscar nominee Berenice Bejo and a screening of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom  and closes with the late Claude Miller's Therese Desqueyroux starring Audrey Tautou. Many significant things will happen inbetween. I love MUBI's easy to follow Cannes guide.

LOS ANGELES
May 18th-23rd marks the second annual Hero Complex Film Festival via the Los Angeles Times. They always show geek friendly movies with special guests like the actors of filmmakers. The most exciting day this year, according to me, is Sunday the 20th when they'll show WALL•E with Andrew Stanton there to discuss and preview Brave followed by Serenity (which we were just talking about) with Nathan Fillion appearing.

SEATTLE
June 7th  "An Evening With Sissy Spacek" ! The screen legend is being honored for Outstanding Achievement in Acting via the Seattle International Film Festival. I wonder what she makes of all the Carrie revisionism these days? I'm sure people will ask.

NEW YORK AND ON YOUR TELLY
June 10th The Tony Awards (more on these later) hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and undoubtedly featuring many screen and stage stars. 

NEW YORK
June 23rd Hugh Jackman will be hosting Trop Fest, the world's largest short film festival in Bryant Park. The festival is 20 years old and began in Australia, hence quite possibly the presence of our favorite musical theater mutant. You can reserve a space here -- the event is free but it will obviously "sell out".

What special events are happening in your town in the near future? Should we teleport there as well?

Tuesday
Oct252011

Oscar Horrors: Carrie White Burns In Hell

In the daily Oscar Horrors series we're looking at those rare Oscar nominations for horror movies. Happy Halloween from Team Film Experience.

Here lies… Sissy Spacek’s Oscar for Best Actress in Carrie (1976). Carrie White may burn in hell (along with her ill-fated off-Broadway musical), but Sissy Spacek’s nomination remains a shining beacon of hope that genre fare from little-known actors don’t have to be relegated to, ahem, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films Awards.

Can you conceive of it today? A 26-year-old actress, in one of her first major roles, portraying an introverted teenage high schooler with supernatural powers who kills the students at her senior prom. Sounds like fairly standard genre stuff, especially when coming from the minds of an up-and-coming writer (Stephen King was paid $2,500 for the book rights) and director (Brian De Palma). Yet somehow, it became one of the few horror titles to earn prestigious acting nominations at the Academy Awards. Can you picture this happening today?

Didn’t think so.

Spacek’s performance as the titular Carrie White was only her fourth major film role after Prime Cut (1972), Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973), and Ginger in the Morning (1974). Spacek would go on to win the statue just four years later for a musical biopic about Loretta “the Coal Miner’s Daughter” Lynn, which makes this breakthrough Oscar nomination all the crazier. Did the Academy see something in her that broke through the conventions of the genre, or was this merely one of those rare moments when they were able to look past all the barriers and recognise the defining, film-changing performance within? Her only other nomination and win of that awards season came from the National Society of Film Critics. High praise, sure, but tell that to Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Yolande Moreau, Sally Hawkins, Naomi Watts, Reese Witherspoon, Ally Sheedy… well, the list goes on (presumably...the strike rate was so high going back just 10 years that I figure there must be plenty more without spending the time to research.)

Somewhere behind the smooth as honey tracking shots, blood-splattered prom dresses and John Travolta (“in his first motion picture role!”) smashing a pig on the head with a mallet (I couldn’t quite stomach Carrie as a younger man due to this very scene), Spacek emerged. It probably helped that the young actress had the gloriously villainous Piper Laurie in her back pocket to help shine a light on her. Laurie, a previous nominee in 1962 for The Hustler, received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for being a mother that would make even Mary Jones shake in her boots. As mother/daughter combos go, the Whites are a doozy of a pair.

A quick look at the original trailer and you’d be hard-pressed to believe this was the sort of thing that would be to the Academy’s taste and yet Spacek’s repertoire of jutting sideward glances, shy upwards looks from behind flattened hair and high-pitched whelps of demonic terror makes for one of the greatest horror movie performances of all time. At a glance Carrie looks like little more a schlocky teen horror title; would Academy members even watch a film like that today? That Spacek lost the Oscar to Faye Dunaway in Network is hard to quibble with, but the miracle of the nomination is enough to keep me happy. 

 

Related
Oscar Horrors Rosemary's Baby, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Fly and more..
Top 100 Best Actress "Characters"
Sissy Gets Her "Star"