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Entries in The Film Experience (150)

Saturday
May142016

"Best Shot" Schedule for May

'Here's what's coming up the rest of this month on Best Shot if you'd like to join us. It's easy. You...

1) watch the movie
2) pick a shot, post it and say why you love it
3) let us know you did via twitter, email or comments and we link up 

May 24th Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
We pushed this back a month since it wasn't yet available to rent but it's time to revisit future jedi Rey as she takes on the patriarchy the resurgent Empire and evil Emo brat Kylo Ren with her newfound gifts (and swooning sidekicks Poe & Finn.)

May 31st Dietrich Double!
Morocco (1930) and/or Blonde Venus (1932) 

The Film Experience obviously loves Old Hollywood sirens so why have we given Dietrich so little attention? Let's rectify that weird gap and close our "Girls Gone Wild" month (yup, that's the theme for May) with either or both (your choice if playing) of these Von Sternberg classics as Marlene Dietrich breaks through from singing foreign curiousity to Hollywood superstar by way of androgynous seduction and chain smoking.

Wednesday
May112016

HBO’s LGBT History: The End

It's the final episode as Manuel has worked his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions

I began this project because, after watching and recapping Looking here, I became fascinated with the idea that, with that Andrew Haigh show, the cable network had somehow reached peak gay TV even as it also managed to alienate the very viewers it was trying to coax. I wanted to, in a way, put Looking in context by watching everything HBO had produced and aired that had tackled LGBT issues.

This required a lot of scavenging—despite their shiny HBOGo and HBO Now ventures, a lot of the network’s older and more obscure TV movies and shows remain unattainable. And so I reached back and watched a lot of not so great TV movies from the early 80s, caught up with key “very special episodes” of their most well-known dramas and comedies, and later got to re-watch some of their most recent entries into this, as it turned out, rather extensive canon.

We began with Harvey Fierstein’s Tidy Endings which a year later looks as perfect an intro to the HBO brand of LGBT representation as I could have envisioned: here was a character-driven drama adapted from a well-received property (Fierstein’s one-act play) that got a prestige boost with some grade-A casting (Stockard Channing) that treated its characters with dignity and complexity. That it was also an AIDS drama (in 1988!) also told me a lot about how button-pushing and social justice-minded the network was and remains. In fact, for the first handful of entries this column might as well have been called “HBO’s AIDS films.”

What surprised me most in this journey was both the diversity of stories being told and also the homogeneity of them at the same time. Taken individually, And the Band Played On, The Normal Heart, Vito, In The Gloaming, Angels in America and Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt are all urgent and necessary projects that build out the narrative of the AIDS crisis; but seen as a collective, you cannot help but see the very narrow racial and socio-economic stories being told here. Angels is a near-perfect play/miniseries but I do often wish Belize’s world and personal life had been offered to us in equal measure with his fellow characters. Similarly, while gay men were amply represented, I found myself dismayed (though not surprised) at the lack of lesbian stories.

These are, of course, issues that are larger and more systematic but they’re worth keeping in mind even as I still stand by the belief that HBO has championed LGBT representation like no other television network in history (though ABC and ABC Family/Freeform on the one hand and Netflix on the other might be giving them a run for their money right now).

Rather than offer an exhaustive index of everything I covered—22 television shows, 18 feature films, 16 documentaries, and 2 miniseries—I figured I’d offer a sampling, with three Top 5 lists. 

Manuel’s Favorites: Top 5 Discoveries

Part of the fun of this project was the chance to watch films that I'd never seen before and there 5 may not be the "best" but they are certainly the ones I'm most glad I got to catch and write about. Bonus: even in a gay male saturated canon, I got to talk about Michelle Williams, Vanessa Redgrave, Yolonda Ross, and Jessica Lange.

If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000)
Stranger Inside (2001)
Normal (2003)
Nightingale (2015)
Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures (2016)

Manuel’s Favorites: Top 5 TV

These were not only fun to write (I really could spend endless posts on my love for Andrew Rannells in Girls and the actressing work on that Mormon family drama Big Love) but also great exercises in focusing on the parts rather than the whole (say, Dane DeHaan's great turn, Rodrigo García's capable direction).

Six Feet Under, “A Private Life” (2001)
Big Love (2006-2011)
In Treatment (2008-2010)
Girls (2012-)
Sex in TV

Fan Favorites: Top 5 Most Commented

Auteurs, Sarah Jessica Parker & co., and Glenn Close drove the most spirited discussions this past year which, when you think about it, seems just about right. 

Elephant (2003)
Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Sex and the City (2008, 2010)
1998, The Year in TV
In the Gloaming (1997)

There's plenty more for you to dig through if you wanted to revisit the entire series, but for now we'll bid goodbye to the series which was challenging, exhiliarating, and exhausting, but never nothing short of rewarding. Thank you to Nathaniel, to all who commented, who shared in the experience, and who made it feel like I wasn't alone this past year. There may be another column in the future but for now, we rest (and patiently wait for Haigh's Looking film which will premiere at Frameline this June).

Saturday
Apr302016

Best of April Watching ICYMI

We're mixing up the month-end ICYMI post to hopefully make it more enticing/interesting with random awards and different categories like so...

5 Most Discussed Posts
Current Stars Who Deserve an Oscar Nod - they've earned momentum
Q&A -Animals & late 80s/early 90s films
Posterized: Tom Hiddleston - where to post-Loki?
Posterized: Melissa McCarthy - she's having quite a career
Pfeiffer & Aronofsky - yup, they'll be working together 

5 Favorite Posts
Bob's Burgers & The Birds - Hitchcock references for the win 
The Furniture: The Force Awakens - that myth-making forest! 
Witness - So pleasurable to revisit this for the Best Shot roundup
Please Switch Off Your Phone - the actresses are actressing, for chrissakes 
April Showers Blue Valentine - oh I need to see this again

Best of Nathaniel's Random April Watching
Best Old Thing: Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (1957)
Best New Thing: The Fits (2016)
Best Actor: Ben Whishaw in The Crucible on Broadway
Best Actress: Geraldine Page in The Beguiled (1971)
Best Supporting Actor: Idris Elba in The Jungle Book 
Best Supporting Actress: Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S2
Best Miniature Thing: Katya Zamolodchikova's I'm Not A Doctor
Best TV Episode: Drag Race S8.E8 "RuPaul Book Ball" (with Untucked)
Best Cameo: Scott Gill's penis in John Barrowman's live chat 
Cutest: Keanu in all the commercials for Keanu
Sexiest: Tom Hiddleston in High-Rise (runner up: Tyler Hoechlin, Everybody Wants Some !!)
Funniest: Titus Andromedon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt S2
Spookiest: Lady Asaji Washizu and The Silent Chamber in Throne of Blood

Congratulations are in Order!
Jose was quoted in the ads for the fashion documentary The First Monday in May after his interview here! How about that?

 

Getting your first big pull quote on your birthday week = priceless #criticslife #thefirstmondayinmay #annawintour

A photo posted by Jose Solis (@josesolismayen) on Apr 13, 2016 at 4:31pm PDT

 

Ongoing conversations
Tribeca - Manuel & Jason celebrated the highs / warned us of the lows
Actor Month -Viggo, Willem, Matthias, Andrew, and many more
April Showers - Gone Girl, Sicario, Margaret, Law of Desire, Carrie, Pee Wee's Big Holiday

April Downers
If we hadn't lost Chus Lampreave, and Ronit Elkabetz and had to say Farewell to Prince it would have been much much better month. But sometimes it snows in April. (Runners Up: The steep steep quality decline for "The Flash" of late which is so much mopier and with the slowest storyline --Zoom & Earth 2-- imaginable for a show about super-speedsters. And, of course, that Snatch Game episode of RPDR.)

How was your April?

P.S. Yes, yes, I'm finishing up the April Foolish charts today. Only the acting categories remain.

Thursday
Apr282016

Tribeca 2016 Review Index

Tribeca Film Festival wrapped this weekend and I want to hear a huge round of applause for Manuel Betancourt and Jason Adams who filed so many reports. The festival's main narrative competiton was juried by Anne Carey, Chris Nashawaty, and the actors James Le Gros, Mya Taylor and Jennifer Westfeldt. Additional juries handled documentaries, new directors, and international narrative features.

this Persona-riff won Best Actress for Mackenzie DavisFestival Winners Reviewed
Dean (Manuel) -Best Narrative Feature
The Fixer (Nathaniel) -Best Actor Dominic Rains 
Always Shine (Jason) -Best Actress Mackenzie Davis
Women Who Kill (Jason) -Best Screenplay Ingrid Jungermann 
Contemporary Color (Jason) - Documentary Cinematography Jarred Alterman and Documentary Editing Bill Ross
Madly (Manuel) - Actress in an International Feature Radhika Apte in "Clean Shaven," a segment in Madly 

Other Films Reviewed
All We Had (Manuel)
Califórnia (Manuel)
Charro de Toluquilla (Manuel)
Detour (Jason)
Elvis & Nixon (Jason) *now in theaters*
Equals (Jason)
Everybody Knows...Elizabeth Murray (Manuel) 
Fear Inc (Jason)
High-Rise (Nathaniel)
Holidays (Jason)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Jason)
A Kind of Murder (Jason)
King Cobra (Jason)
The Meddler (Manuel)
Memories of a Penitent Heart (Manuel)
Mother (Nathaniel)
Obit (Jason)
Rebirth (Jason)
Special Correspondence (Jason) *now on Netflix*
Strike a Pose (Manuel) 
Wolves (Jason) 

P.S. We'll have more on Strike a Pose (2016), the documentary about Madonna's dancers from Truth or Dare (1991) that Manuel reviewed, in a couple of weeks. You know we can't pass up the opportunity to celebrate Truth or Dare's 25th anniversary in style so we'll have a "blonde ambition" theme week (May 8th-13th) with Madonna madness and other cinematic blondes to mix it up. (We're now waiting impatiently for news about a proper release for Strike a Pose

Monday
Apr252016

Next up on "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"

 How to play? It's easy. You:

1) watch the movie
2) pick your shot
3) post it with the "why" 
4) and we link up. 

Tomorrow Evening April 26th
THRONE OF BLOOD (1957) 
Dir. Akira Kurosawa. Cinematographer Asakazu Nakai

Have we really not done a Kurosawa film in this series? My apologies. It's a Japanese classic with Kurosawa's muse Toshiro Mifune as a would be violent king with a scheming ambitious wife. Is it the best Macbeth movie ever made? Find out. (This is one of the gaps in my Kurosawa knowledge so I'll be discovering it with you.) [iTunes | Amazon

Tuesday Evening May 3rd
DEATH BECOMES HER (1992)
Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Cinematographer Dean Cundey

I need to talk about... Madeline... Ashton"

To celebrate the release of the new collectors edition BluRay (due April 26th), let's drink the potion with the vainglorious "Mad" (Meryl Streep) and vengeful "Hel" (Goldie Hawn) in this 'immortal' comedy classic, pun intended.  [Amazon | iTunesNetflix]

 

Tuesday
Apr052016

(tfw you dont comment)

Wednesday
Mar302016

March Highlights. April Sneak Peek.

The month began with final thoughts on last year's Oscars (yes, those were the 2015 Oscars no matter what search engines, IMDb, and the web say!) and the final podcast of the season. And then we bravely tried to forge ahead unmoored to any one topic, though we immediately lost our more fairweather readers. Damn you random people who aren't reading this!  Ah, well. They'll be back next season. 

MARCH HIGHLIGHTS
get caught up if you missed anything! 


Random March Highlights!
HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS and KRISHA acting showcases for older women 
GODS OF EGYPT and BATMAN v SUPERMAN bad movies: enjoyable & not
2016 CALENDAR a tentative list
MCCAMBRIDGE CENTENNIAL we had fun writing these!

Returning Series
POSTERIZED checked in w/ Sally Field & Saoirse Ronan. How familiar are you?
BEST SHOT hit Atonement (2007), and Daredevil (2016)
STAGE DOOR attended Broadway revivals The Color Purple & The King and I
TUES TOP TEN celebrated Zootopia and the Best Acting of this Decade 
Q & A returned with thoughts on superhero acting and the best of Australian cinema 

New Series!
THE FURNITURE a production design series launched w/ The Exorcist and Brooklyn
DOC CORNER new work celebrating Nora Ephron, and investigating abortion politics
READER'S CHOICE as you commanded: Gattaca and Cruel Intentions

COMING IN APRIL


APRIL FOOLISH OSCAR PREDICTIONS as we do
ACTOR MONTH A special detour to celebrate men (who get short shrift here, we know)
BEST SHOT SCHEDULE the more the merrier - join us!
APRIL SHOWERS shower scenes
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL coverage from Nathaniel, Manuel and Jason
NEW FILMS The Boss, Jungle Book, Demolition, Huntsman: Winter's War, Sing Street
REVISITS Crimes and Misdemeanors, Roman Holiday, Witness, Throne of Blood
AND MORE... to be announced