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Entries in Team Experience (54)

Thursday
Sep112014

Team Top Ten: All Time Greatest Voice Performances

Amir here, with this month’s edition of team top ten. As the art of acting and our interpretation of it evolve, definitions of what we consider a good performance change. It’s become an annual tradition to discuss whether a motion capture performance or some “alternative” form of acting deserves to be in the awards race. Last year’s topic of conversation was Scarlatt Johansson’s voice work in Her and that's the topic we’ve turned our attention to. (Thanks to Michael Cusumano for his suggestion!)

Voice acting has existed since cinema found sound and it has contributed to the medium in more memorable ways than a list of ten entries can represent. We were not limited in our option to animated films or any genre. So long as the voice performance was not accompanied by visual aids from the same performer (e.g. Andy Serkis’s work in LOTR was not eligible), it was fair game. Naturally, our list is animation-heavy, but there were others firmly in the race like Alec Baldwin's exquisite narration of The Royal Tenenbaums or especialy Marni Nixon – of whom The Film Experience is a big fan – who received several votes but just not enough.

Without further ado, here the collective top ten created from the rankings of each contributor's individual ballot

Top Ten Voice Performances of All Time

10. Peter O’Toole (Ratatouille)
Peter O’Toole’s Anton Ego doesn’t have much screen time in Ratatouille but his contribution to Pixar’s best film outside of the Toy Story trilogy is immeasurable. The final monologue by Ego – what an apt name for the food critic, or any critic, really – has become a reference point for film writers. The text is definitive, reminding us that “in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” Yet, the bitter truth in the text wouldn’t strike the right chords had it not been for O’Toole’s sombre, elegiac tone. Remarkably balancing his authority with a palpable sense of resignation, O’Toole’s final words elevate the scene beyond criticism.
-Amir Soltani

9. Eleanor Audley (Sleeping Beauty)
Angelina Jo-who? While the voluptuous star brought sexiness and unnecessary warmth to the part of Maleficent in this summer's blockbuster adaptation, she still doesn't hold a candle to the incomparable work of Eleanor Audley in the 1959 animated version. The actress bookended the 1950s for Disney through two of their most iconic creations, having also voiced Cinderella's stepmother in the 1950 version. For Beauty however, she was firing on all Machiavellian cylinders as she brought a sense of immeasurable dread to what was considered to be a children's film. Her Maleficent is barely in the film, but she makes every line count. We don't need to hear her entire (or any) backstory to know that she was truly evil in ways we could only begin to imagine. In a time before villains were cool, she's the most interesting character and when she says "listen well, all of you", you couldn't pay us to ignore her command.
- Jose Solis
(more on this performance

8 more great vocal performances after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jul192014

Team Top Ten: Best TV to Film Adaptations of All Time

Amir here, to welcome you to another edition of Team Top Ten, a poll of all of the website’s contributors. The topic du jour given that it's Emmy season is Best Films Adaptated from TV Series.

For as long as film and TV have coexisted, their fates, stars, successes, failures and histories have been entangled. Their ever-shifting dynamic has had an immense impact on both industries. The complexity of their relationship made devising a list like this one quite difficult, beginning with the question of what really constitutes an adaptation. For example, The Holy Grail and Life of Brian are not adapted from Monty Python's The Flying Circus; they are inspired by it, but one is more inspired than the other, so we rendered the former film eligible and the latter ineligible. On the other hand, series like Mission Impossible and Naked Gun present a different type of challenge because the sequels are continuations of the original film, rather than the TV series, but we considered them eligible nonetheless. We faced another difficulty with franchises like The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values, based on a series that is itself based on comics. The extent to which the films were inspired by either source was taken into account and we considered only the former film eligible in this case though the latter has far more ardent fans among the team here.

And so on and so forth. The point is to take this list with a grain of salt and add your personal favourites in the comments below. Without further ado…

TEAM TOP TEN
BEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME INSPIRED BY TV SERIES

10. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
Unlike these days, David Lynch needed to make a film in order to portray all of the incest, rape, pedophilia, murder and drugs that his and Mark Frost’s television series mostly only alluded to. While Twin Peaks, which ran for two seasons in the early 1990s, was a woozy blend of murder mystery, soap opera, dark comedy and surrealist imagery, the film was an altogether different beast. A dark and often brutally ugly ‘horror melodrama’, it angered many fans and even filmmakers (Quentin Tarantino was not a fan). For people willing to take the plunge, however, into the dark recesses of Lynch’s mind, it is a compelling and tragic affair that remains one of the definitive directorial statements of the ‘90s. Plus, David Bowie as an FBI agent who may be a ghost. Or an alien. Or a shape-shifter. Who can tell? –Glenn Dunks

9. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Ghost Protocol
seemed like a squeaker eligibility-wise, with the show a distant, tenuously related memory and three other movies interceding between them. But the film is one of the great pop entertainments U.S. studios have produced in recent years, dynamically edited and gorgeously shot by Robert Elswit without the self-conscious handsomeness of There Will Be Blood or Good Night, and Good Luck. With set-pieces as stunning as the Kremlin infiltration, the sandstorm chase, and everything else that happens in, on, or around the Burj Khalifa, this is top-notch, exuberant, and imaginative action filmmaking.  I liked De Palma’s gimcrackery and Abrams’ more traditional and character-driven suspenser, but Ghost Protocol is the franchise’s happiest marriage of scene construction, silliness, and star charisma (not just from Cruise, but from everybody).  Its division into discrete, flavorful sequences gives it the roaming energy of a television serial. You want to binge four more movies afterward. –Nick Davis

8 more after the jump

Click to read more ...

Saturday
May102014

Team Top Ten: The Best Cannes Winners of All Time

Amir here, to bring you this month’s edition of Team Top Ten, a monthly poll by all of our contributing team at The Film Experience. Cinephiles all around the world turn their attention to the south of France in May as the most prestigious film festival in the world gets underway in Cannes.

The festival’s history is a rich one, full of interesting cinematic and political narratives. It’s an event that has celebrated the best in cinema and operated as a launching pad for emerging artists as much as it has played games of politics and festival world favouritism. Still, when all is said and done, the list of Palme d’Or winners can rival any list of the best films ever made.

With this year’s edition of the festival just about to begin, we thought it would be a good time to revisit the past and choose our Top Ten Favourite Cannes Winners of All Time. For this poll, we’ve excluded the first two editions of the festival (1939, retroactively awarded to Union Pacific, and 1946, when the top prize was shared between 11 films.)

There is really no easy way to select the cream of the crop here, because these films are already... well, the cream of the crop. Consider the eight films that finished behind our top dozen: Pulp Fiction; Dancer in the Dark; Viridiana; 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; Farewell My Concubine; Secrets & Lies; The Tree of Life; The Pianist. Not to mention masterpieces like Black Orpheus, Wages of Fear and Rosetta that placed outside the top 20. The point is that this is the highest echelon of films awards so the standards are high and margins are slim. Some of you will surely disagree with our ranking, but we welcome that. Let us know what you think in the comments.

THE BEST CANNES WINNERS OF ALL TIME
a non-definitive poll which begins with a three-way tie for tenth

10= La Dolce Vita (Fellini, 1960)

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr052014

Team Top Ten: The Greatest Working Cinematographers

Amir here, to welcome you back to Team Top Ten, our monthly poll by all of the website’s contributors. For our first episode in 2014, we are looking at The Greatest Working Cinematographers in the (international) film industry. As long time readers of The Film Experience are surely aware, the visual language of cinema is something Nathaniel and the rest of us are very fond of discussing. Films and filmmakers that have a dash of style and understand cinema as a visual medium always get bonus points around these parts. We celebrate great works in cinematography on a weekly basis in Hit Me With Your Best Shot, but it was time to give the people behind the camera their due.
 

More than 50 cinematographers from all across the world received votes. If the final, somewhat American-centric, list doesn’t quite reflect that, chalk it up to the natural process of consensus voting. Cinematographers like Agnes Godard, Oleg Mutu, Mahmoud Kalari, Rodrigo Prieto and Eric Gautier all had their fans, as did Hollywood stalwarts like Dante Spinotti and Robert Richardson. Furthermore, Harris Savides’s name was attached to several ballots, with the unfortunate note that if he were still alive, he’d be on the list. That would have certainly been the case, so here’s Glenn Dunks with an honorable mention for Savides, and then on to the top ten:

Does anybody doubt that Harris Savides would appear on this list if it weren’t for his death in 2012 at the age of 55? I would even hazard a guess that he could have been number one. I distinctly remember wanting to know who this man was and what his career had been after witnessing Birth. The way he mixed golden hues of UWS high society with the chilly silver of a New York winter captivated me. That film alone with its graceful tracking shots and magnetic opera sequence would be enough of a game changer if it weren’t also for his prior film-defining work with Gus Van Sant on Elephant, Gerry and Last Days. He would later work with David Fincher (Zodiac), Noah Baumbach (Greenberg) and his last great collaborator, Sofia Coppola (Somewhere and The Bling Ring). A mighty force taken too soon.”

 

TOP TEN GREATEST WORKING CINEMATOGRAPEHRS

10. Dion Beebe
“Who on Earth is Dion Beebe?” felt like a common question in the early-to-mid-2000s when the Australian cinematographer stormed onto the Hollywood scene. Whatever it was that director Rob Marshall had seen of his prior work that gave him enough faith to turn to him for Chicago I’m not sure – Australian films Praise and Holy Smoke! were hardly indications to hire him for a lavish musical – but beautiful work it was. Still, if his further collaborations with Marshall on Memoirs of a Geisha (for which he won an Oscar) and Nine (for which he should have been nominated) suggests perhaps little more than a handsome craftsman, then it was his sensual and sensorial work on Jane Campion’s In the Cut, visually representing erotic tingles with images, and Michael Mann’s digital masterworks Collateral and Miami Vice that proved he was a bold and innovative one, too. – Glenn Dunks

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb012014

We Can't Wait #1: Carol

[The Film Experience's "We Can't Wait" series, highlighting the most exciting prospects of the 2014 film year concludes with new contributor Matthew Eng (you loved his Jennifer Lawrence piece) on the latest from Todd Haynes, long absent from the big screen. Thank you to Amir for managing this anticipatory series! - Nathaniel]

Carol
Set in 1950s New York City and based on the classic yet long-neglected novel of the same name (originally published under the title "The Price of Salt") by Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr Ripley), Carol traces the blossoming lesbian romance between Carol, an older, dissatisfied housewife, and Therese, a young, infatuated shop girl. 

Talent
At long last, that magnificent maverick Todd Haynes makes his long-awaited return to the big screen, a full seven years after I’m Not There, with a sterling cast that includes soon-to-be two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (stepping in for Mia Wasikowska) as the film’s central couple, as well as the recently-announced Sarah Paulson as Blanchett’s gal pal. Phyllis Nagy (HBO’s Mrs. Harris) is scripting, and movie maestro Carter Burwell (FargoWhere the Wild Things Are) is scoring the thing.

Why We Can’t Wait
If only the directors you loved most were the ones who were most prolific. Yes, it’s probably harder for a filmmaker as gloriously provocative and fearlessly risk-taking as Todd Haynes to get a new project off the ground than it is for say, Woody Allen or Tyler Perry to. But the movies need Todd Haynes, who hasn’t exactly been napping in the years since I’m Not There, even though his last buzzed-about effort, the 2011 HBO miniseries adaptation of Mildred Pierce, is likely to be remembered more as a mega-sized Kate Winslet awards-magnet than it is as a feat of occasionally flat but more typically immersive and intelligent filmmaking.

Haynes has assembled a rich, actressexual-pleasing cast of actors for Carol, including his I’m Not There star Blanchett, who, with this and Blue Jasmine, seems poised to have something like a Jennifer Lawrence-year in 2014, with two buzzy, presumably Oscar-friendly performances within only two years of each other; Mara, who I’d like to continue her string of smart and striking work, in projects more deserving of her than unsavory slop like Side Effects; and Paulson, who was so indelibly tense and terrifying in 12 Years a Slave and whose current career surge is a delight to witness. Carol, which caused quite a stir during its initial publication in 1952 for its uninhibited and unashamed depictions of homosexuality and female agency, sounds like a perfect fit for Haynes, who is one of our most groundbreaking gay filmmakers . He's made a commendable career out of wrestling madly and marvelously with explicitly queer ideas of desire, obsession, and identity. Plus, the last time Haynes worked in a fifties milieu...

...need I say more?

But We Do Have to Wait
Filming hasn’t even begun yet, likely due to the fact that Cate Blanchett couldn’t possibly provide us with the most priceless acceptance speeches of this awards season and deliver yet another tremendous performance, right on the designer heels of Jasmine. But have no fear, shooting commences in the spring, in both New York and London, with the Weinsteins distributing and Haynes’ go-to collaborator Christine Vachon and her indie outlet Killer Film producing. A release date is still TBD, but so very highly anticipated. We may never stop having to wait those grueling five, six, or seven years betwen Todd Haynes creations  on the big screen. But when they do arrive, they make you wonder how your moviegoing life ever went on without them. 

The Complete List of "We Can't Wait" Titles
We'll be following all these titles closely this year! Which of your most awaited, didn't make our list?
01 Carol (TBA)
02 The Grand Budapest Hotel (March)
03 Foxcatcher (TBA)
04 Under the Skin (April)
05 Inherent Vice (TBA)
06 Into the Woods (Christmas)
07 Snowpiercer (TBA)
08 Nymphomaniac (March)
09 Boyhood (May)
10 Big Eyes  (TBA)
11 The Last 5 Years (TBA)
12 Gone Girl (Oct)
13 Can a Song Save Your Life (TBA)
14 Veronica Mars (March)
Runners Up:  How to Catch a Monster, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1,A Most Wanted Man, Godzilla, Untitled Public School Project, Tammy, Magic in the Moonlight, Far From the Madding Crowd, and Interstellar

Friday
Jan312014

We Can't Wait #2: The Grand Budapest Hotel

the brilliant new poster[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Michael Cusumano on The Grand Budapest Hotel.)

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ralph Fiennes plays Gustave H, romancer of wealthy old ladies and concierge extraordinaire at a hotel in a fictional European country caught between wars. Told through the eyes of Zero Moustafe, Gustave’s lobby boy protégée, the tale concerns the theft of priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for a tremendous family fortune.

Talent
Wes Anderson’s latest rivals Gosford Park for the sheer volume of the cast. There are the returning Anderson champs like Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe and the grand marshal of every Wes Anderson parade, Bill Murray, alongside newbies to Wes World like Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan and Léa Seydoux. Equally exciting is the reunion of Wes and Moonrise Kingdom production designer Adam Stockhausen. (The title Stockhausen squeezed in between Anderson films? A little project called 12 Years a Slave.)

 

Why We Can't Wait
Even if you’re an Wes Anderson agnostic up to this point I don’t know how anyone can resist the ornate visual splendor promised by this film. The trailer was so beautiful I was tempted to put it on my top 10 list for 2013.

Grand Budapest looks like a perfect culmination of Anderson’s career up to this point. Rather than reinventing himself, Wes appears to be trying to see how far he could push his signature style, a choice I’m entirely on board with. Grand Budapest has the potential to be the director’s most purely farcical film that doesn’t feature stop motion woodland creatures. Even operating at his most screwball, though, I would be surprised if Anderson omitted the melancholy soulfulness that has become his trademark.

On a non-Wes related note this looks like the most fun Ralph Fiennes has had on screen since In Bruges. Comedic Ralph is my favorite Ralph Fiennes and it comes along all too rarely.

But We Do Have To Wait
The early months of the year can be a dead zone for interesting film but at least we won’t have to wait long. Anderson’s latest will open Berlinale in February before hitting theaters on March 7.  

Previously
Foxcatcher 4 Under the Skin 5 Inherent Vice 6 Into the Woods
Snowpiercer 8 Nymphomaniac 9 Boyhood 10  Big Eyes 11 The Last 5 Years
12 Gone Girl 13  Can a Song Save Your Life 14  Veronica Mars 
runners up

Friday
Jan312014

We Can't Wait #3: Foxcatcher

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Glenn Dunks on "Foxcatcher"]

Mark and Dave Schutlz played by Ruffalo and Tatum respectively

Foxcatcher 
Based on the true story of Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), Foxcatcher tells the story of how John du Pont (Steve Carell), member of the millionaire du Pont family, murdered Schultz's brother, wrestling champion Dave (Mark Ruffalo). 

Talent
Director Bennett Miller, unlike the David O. Russells of the world, is switching his casts with each movie. Here he is working with a screenplay by Oscar-nominated Dan Futterman and Emmy-nominated E. Max Eyre. Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum take the three major roles, but the peripheries are filled out with such names as Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall and prolific character actor Brett Rice.

Why We Can't Wait
Appearing, at least on first inspection, like a cross between the real life sport drama of Moneyball and the small town true crime drama of Capote - Foxcatcher looks like another winner from Bennett Miller who is three for three and that's before you even count his arguable best work (the bscure and bonkers documentary The Cruise)The eclectic cast should be interesting and it'll be exciting to see what Carell does with darker more challenging character material. The trailer that was released last year (and then pulled) looked disturbing and creepy and Carell appears to be on fire with the weight gain and voice weak like watered-down tea.

But We Do Have To Wait
Sony Pictures Classics will distribute later in 2014, which perhaps suggests that it's a smaller movie than many will expect with a cast such as this (and hoping for Oscar attention). It seems likely that it will premiere at one of the big festivals (Venice would suit).

Previously
Under the SkinInherent ViceInto the Woods , Snowpiercer , Nymphomaniac , Boyhood , Big Eyes ,The Last 5 Years , Gone GirlCan a Song Save Your LifeVeronica Mars and those that just missed the cut

Thursday
Jan302014

We Can't Wait #4: Under the Skin

Hey y'all. Now that I'm back from Sundance I can join in the "We Can't Wait" fun as we near the top of the Team Experience list. The team has been highlighting our top 14 (collectively) most anticipated films of the new cinematic year. We've already covered 13+ great movies and it falls on me to write up our fourth highest ranker.

Under the Skin
In which Scarlett Johansson plays an alien searching for man meat or skin or something. The men she seduces are never heard from again.

Talent
The entire reason this is on the list is surely The Film Experience's collective devotion to 2004's Birth, the misunderstood masterpiece by Jonathan Glazer. I don't have a pass/fail checklist of requirements for my team members here at TFE but if I did "Do you like Birth?" would be on the questionnaire. For reasons that are too too horrible to contemplate Glazer hasn't made a film since which makes Under the Skin something of a unicorn. Does it really exist? It must since we've seen stills of its delectable leading lady Scarlett Johansson all over the place and some lucky souls saw it at TIFF in the fall. I purposely avoided reviews hence this very vague write-up. I want to be surprised and transported. 

Why We Can’t Wait
Here's where I just repeat the intro points again: Glazer of Birth. Rare like a unicorn. Scarlett Johansson as extraterrestrial succubus.

But We Do Have To Wait
But only about 63 more days since A24, that godsend of a specialty distributor, is bringing it to us on April 4th.

 

Previously on "We Can't Wait"
05 Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson adapts Pynchon)
06 Into the Woods (Rob Marshall adapts Sondheim)
07 Snowpiercer (Boon JongHo does sci-fi)
08 Nymphomaniac (Lars von Trier Gone Wild)
09 Boyhood (Linklater's long-gestating family drama)
10 Big Eyes (Tim Burton back to the bio) 
11 The Last 5 Years (the Off Broadway classic goes cinematic)
12 Gone Girl (David Fincher thrills)
13 Can a Song Save Your Life (Keira Croons)
14 Veronica Mars (TV Sequel... hey, what's this doing her?)
runners up  just missed the cut