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Entries in The Natural (5)

Monday
Feb252019

On Glenn Close's Oscar Curse

by Nathaniel  R

At this point in her long and celebrated career, Glenn Close surely has reason to wonder. Consider it a reverse Sally Field: 'You don't like me? You really don't like me?'

There are many familiar time-tested ways to win an Oscar and Glenn Close has tried them all. She's tried the debut performance that makes everyone's jaw drop with 'who is THAT?' wonder (World According to Garp). She's tried being the actor who becomes a kind of symbolic representation of an entire film and cast (The Big Chill). She's tried having the necessary momentum, twice actually, with three consecutive supporting nominations ending in The Natural  early in her career, and then two consecutive lead nominations a few years later (ending with Dangerous Liaisons). She's tried having the kind of blockbuster zeitgeist hit that can carry you to win even when you aren't deserving though she certainly was (Fatal Attraction)...

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Wednesday
Aug312016

Smackdown '84: Glenn Close, Dame Peggy, Lahti, Crouse, and Page

Presenting the Supporting Actress Class of '84. The Academy looked way back in time for this vintage collecting characters from the 1920s through the 1940s: a British senior on an excursion to see "the real" India, a Depression era beautician, the ex-girl of a ballplayer, and a former singer working in a factory during World War II. The sole contemporary character was a chain-smoking furious mother from Greenwich Village...

Glenn Close and Geraldine Page were the regulars... about to lose again!

1984 
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN  

THE NOMINEES: The 1984 Supporting Actress list skewed more mature than usual. Lindsay Crouse, surely buoyed by the love for Best Picture player Places in the Heart, and the promising new star Christine Lahti who was the least familiar face to moviegoers at the time, were the youngest, both in their mid 30s. Glenn Close, on her third consecutive nomination in the category, and Geraldine Page with a surprise seventh nomination from a long and revered acting career, were the "names" of the category... and they were both about to lose again - this time to the stage actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft who had only rarely made films. 

Shut-Outs: There was very little consensus about supporting actresses beyond Ashcroft & Lahti who fought it out for the critics awards...

BAFTA & Globe nominees that failed to make the Oscar cut were many: Melanie Griffith (Body Double), Drew Barrymore (Irreconciliable Differences), Kim Basinger (The Natural), Lesley Ann Warren (The Songwriter), Tuesday Weld (Once Upon a Time in America) and Jaqueline Bissett (Under the Volcano); Other key women that voters could have chosen that year: Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters), Elizabeth Berridge (Amadeus), Polly Holliday (Gremlins), Sabine Azéma (who won the NBR for A Sunday in the Country), Holland Taylor (Romancing the Stone), Sharon Stone (Irreconciliable Differences), Dianne Wiest (Falling in Love), Amy Madigan (Places in the Heart) and Lonette McKee (The Cotton Club

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

Here to talk about the nominees are our panelists: Sheila O'Malley (The Sheila Variations), Noah Tsika (Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Queens College, CUNY and author of "Nollywood Stars"), Joe Reid (Decider.com), Nick Davis (Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern and author of "The Desiring Image") and your host Nathaniel R (The Film Experience).

And now it's time for the main event... 

1984 

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Saturday
Dec052015

Robert Loggia (1930-2015) ...and 80s Oscar Movies.

Tough guy Italian American actor Robert Loggia, arguably best known for supporting roles in gangster classics, has passed away at age 85. He had been suffering from Alzheimers. Condolences to his family and his fans.

The enduring character actor's career began on the Broadway stage in the 1950s but he quickly began mixing it up on television where he starred in a few short lived TV shows and made numerous guest appearances over the past five decades (!). His first big screen role (uncredited) was as "Frankie Peppo" in the Paul Newman classic Somebody Up There Likes Me but his film career didn't hit its peak until the 1980s with a string of hits including An Officer and a Gentleman, Scarface, Prizzi's Honor, and the comedy Big with Tom Hanks.

Though the earliest Oscar ceremony memory I have is Shirley Maclaine winning (1983), the first Oscar race I actively followed was in 1985, the year Robert Loggia was nominated for the courtroom thriller Jagged Edge. Now in the paleozoic pre-internet era "actively following" the race was much different. It required 1) going to movies that adults thought were great and 2) reading a few articles in weekly and monthly magazines about who might be nominated. That's it! [More...]

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Wednesday
Aug212013

Robert Redford is "The Natural"

To celebrate Robert Redford's imminent return to cinema in "All is Lost" Team Experience will be surveying some of his classics and key films. Here's Anne Marie on The Natural.

Robert Redford is as American as apple pie and baseball. Actually, it might be equally accurate to say that apple pie and baseball are as American as Robert Redford. Like Jimmy Stewart before him, Redford personifies the American Man ideal. But unlike Stewart's earnest Everyman, Redford, with his golden boy good looks and sweet-but-sardonic smile, is the Mythic American Man model. Redford is not the star you relate to; he's the star you admire from afar. Robert Redford has spent most of his career playing variations on this character, but nowhere is his inherent legendaryness used to greater effect than in the 1984 film The Natural. The Natural is a movie about the American Myth through the lens of the American Pastime.

It would be easy to mistake The Natural for "just another sports movie." The plot certainly reads as another sentiment-drenched schlock-fest.  Roy Hobbs, a nobody who's past his prime, changes baseball and wins a championship with his talent, his courage, and a baseball bat struck by lightning. (I rolled my eyes even as I typed that.) However, to take this movie too literally is to miss its point. 

The Natural plays on a grander scale. Roy Hobbs is the Arthurian Hero wielding a legendary weapon. It's no coincidence that he leads a baseball team called the Knights. Barbara Hershey, in a small but striking role as the woman who ends his career before it begins, is Temptation. Glenn Close makes a rare appearance as the Good Woman, representing the wholesome life Hobbs missed before but could win back. Kim Basinger makes a not-so-rare appearance as the Sinful Woman, a blonde version of Temptation that Hobbs will have to overcome again. These are Characters with a capital "C," more important for what they symbolize than for who they are. If you don't believe me, watch how often characters are backlit. Strong backlighting is cinematography shorthand for Significant And Symbolic Character.

Glenn Close as "Good Woman" a few years before evil was her forte

I have to confess: I usually hate sports movies. I, like Margo Channing, detest cheap sentiment, which is the currency most sports films trade in. The underdog story is overdone. There are only so many sacrifices a man can make for a game before I question his priorities; and really, Rudy made one sack in one play, so why are we cheering mediocrity?

By that measure, I should hate The Natural too. But I can't. Maybe it's Robert Redford's rugged handsomeness (there is no such thing as "middle-aged" Redford; like wine, cheese, and good art, he just gets better with time). Maybe I just really love watching Barbara Hershey vamp. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for movies about the American Dream, where one person can change the world thorugh earnest hard work. Whatever the reason, The Natural remains a personal favorite, as well as a classic.

Tuesday
Aug132013

Curio: All Things Redford

Alexa here. Robert Redford turns 77 this week. Although he's aged (somewhat) naturally, I still can't believe he is older than my father-in-law. The news of him joining the cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier seemed weird at first until I realized he's already played a superhero of sorts; give that Roy Hobbs a cape and he might as well be Superman.  Here are some curios that celebrate the indie godfather/mainstream icon.

The Candidate original Spanish poster, available here.

The Natural and more after the jump 

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