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Entries in The Beguiled (24)

Monday
Jan082018

FYC: The Furniture's 2017 Oscar Ballot

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Production design can be a tricky thing to award. Like so many other categories, there’s a tendency to simply recognize “most,” rather than “best.” Moreover, great design can hide in plain sight. Brilliantly-conceived sets can seem like ready-made locations, particularly in contemporary films. Transportive design elements sit in the background, working their magic under the radar. It can take both a close eye and a little extra research to identify the year’s best work.

Still, here we are. Oscar voting is open and it’s time to make a last pitch. Below are my ideal nominees for Best Production Design, five films that often press up against detailed realism, while never letting go of their own movie magic...

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Wednesday
Jan032018

Interview: on the Ghostly Costume Design of "The Beguiled"

 by Nathaniel R

The costume designer Stacey Battat has, to date, worked mostly in female-oriented contemporary indies. That's quite a perfect niche to build a design career from. Or at least it is when the women who've visually helped define your early work are such stylish talented icons themselves. Battat first made her mark on two Parker Posey features in the late Aughts (Broken English, Happy Tears). Soon after she was deep in the Julianne Moore business (Still Alice, Freeheld, What Maisie Knew). Other credits include The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her and Him and Mozart in the Jungle but it's been her partnership with writer/director Sofia Coppola that's come to define her young career.

The two began working together on the LA dreamy Somewhere (2010). Battat proved invaluable to all the fashiongasms of Coppola's arguably most underrated feature The Bling Ring (2013). Then came an atypical challenge: a forgotten girls school deep in the Civil War era.

I spoke with Battat recently by phone to talk about one of the most visually striking films this past year, The Beguiled, and what she brought to it. Our interview, edited for clarity and length follows...

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Monday
Nov272017

FYC: Young Performer Award 2017

by Nathaniel R

Remember when the Beguiled girls did that charity lipsynch to "Schuyler Sisters" from HAMILTON?

Each year one of our awards traditions here at The Film Experience is to help fellow BFCA members choose more wisely when it comes to the "Young Performer" category at the Critics Choice Movie Awards by sharing an eligibility list. Ballots don't come with lists of eligible choices so it's up to each member to think up a list and since the category is "under 21" it takes a bit of research for the teen/young adult performances; as is Hollywood tradition almost everyone playing high schoolers in Lady Bird or Spider-Man Homecoming are in their early-to-mid 20s. It's just a guess but I'm betting some members even leave that category blank on their ballots. If true that's a pity because there are always enough strong options to fill out a ballot. This year, in fact, has several high profile movies with options to choose from like the blockbuster horror film It, the controversial remake of The Beguiled, the Todd Haynes puzzle Wonderstruck, and Wonder is a star vehicle for Jacob Tremblay, a previous winner in this very category for Room (2015). 

Ballots go out to the BFCA today so here's a cheat sheet to help them vote after the jump. The actors are listed alphabetically (asterisks by their name indicate a previous nomination in this category). So which of these performances would make your ballot? Let us know in the comments...

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Monday
Oct162017

The Furniture: A Plaster Haze in The Beguiled

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is no sprawling epic of the Civil War. The Farnsworth Seminary for Girls, where Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) presides, is no Tara. There are no ballgowns or battlefields. There is only a big lonely house, the seat of a plantation that has decayed into an isolated finishing school for an especially isolated handful of girls.

Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is thrust into this setting, his leg wounded and his uniform bloodied. The resulting tension simmers for days, weeks even, before exploding in nocturnal chaos and violence. All the while the house stands silent, forcing these emotions up and down the stairs and into small, dimly-lit corners. There is a forever haze about this place, though never quite hot enough to break into a sweat.

This tightly-knotted mood owes a great deal to production designer Anne Ross, a frequent collaborator of Coppola’s, as well as art director Jennifer Dehghan and set decorator Amy Beth Silver...

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Monday
Aug072017

Race in Lady Macbeth and The Beguiled: Not so black or white?

by Lynn Lee

Florence Pugh in Lady Macbeth / Nicole Kidman in The Beguiled

In a summer filled with movies by or starring women of exceptional talent, The Beguiled and Lady Macbeth make an especially fascinating cinematic pairing.  Both films center on mid-19th century women who appear trapped by their societies’ constricting gender norms.  In both, the women are confined to an isolated, often claustrophobic space, yet nature is a constantly beckoning presence that at once shapes and reflects their desires.  (Both even have plots that turn on poisonous wild mushrooms!)  And in both, the women up-end the patriarchal structure of their circumscribed universe without liberating themselves.  If anything, they reinforce that power structure even as they seize momentary control of it, leaving not a feeling of triumph but a somber queasiness.

For all these thematic similarities, the differences between the two films are even more striking...

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Wednesday
Jul192017

150 Words on The Beguiled, The Big Sick, and Planet of the Apes

Three movies I didn't review when they were brand spanking new but opinions don't have expiration dates so why not share 'em, anyway? 150 words on each because you're busy and I'm busy, too. 

War for the Planet of the Apes
The freshest character in War for... is named  “Bad Ape.”  But really, who’s good? The final installment of the Apes reboot is, in essence, a war picture which means everyone is compromised. Yes, even noble Caesar (Andy Serkis) is tempted to do the wrong thing repeatedly. Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) gives the movie its only moments of levity but even those are pitiable, like the abused creature himself. The new film isn’t “fun” at all but proves a fitting capper to a surprisingly meaty trilogy. It’s a danger to interpret all current cinema in light of the apocalyptic choices of the US electorate of late but boy is this thing a compelling downer; you can argue that the final film is all about racism, evil lying fascists (Woody Harrelson), and the willful self-destructiveness of the human race. Let’s hope the series (if not our planet) wraps up right here. B

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