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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

 

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Entries in Tom Wilkinson (4)

Friday
Nov142014

Oscar's Acting Categories Take Shape. Or Do They?

If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.

Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?

Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May152014

I Forgot About "Belle" But The Story Shouldn't Be Forgotten!

A Brief Housekeeping Prologue: Behold the troubles of rapid festival-blogging and ill fated attempts to "save some for later" and plan ahead. What you're about to read are my first impressions of Belle, a costume drama which opened in theaters on May 2nd when I intended a fine tuned version of this review to go up. I first wrote this back in September at TIFF and when I learned the film was not yet "locked" as to its final cut and would open in May, I saved it, fully intending to revisit the film, in case further editing sharpened its compelling premise or performances. While searching for Godzilla showtimes just now (priorities) I've realized  that it's been in theaters for two weeks and I never published this or saw the film again! (In most professional blogger ways I vastly prefer Squarespace, where the site has been housed since January 2011, to Blogspot but scheduling posts for weeks ahead in the future -- a super handy function - is a trickier and less user-friendly feature here.)

I never did revisit the film so if you've seen it I'd love to hear your opinion of the final product... 

Beautiful British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the star of Belle, a costume drama about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay directed by Amma Assante. Dido's life story is fascinating and ripe for cinematic exploration. She was the illegitimate biracial child of a British Naval Officer (Matthew Goode, giving Goodeian gorgeous righteousness in a cameo) who claimed her as his own despite the scandal he knew it would cause.

He demanded that she be brought up in England at his home much to the surprise and resistance of his stuffy family (Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton and Emily Watson giving extremely Wilkinsonian, Wiltonesque and Watsonlike turns). Belle's life predicament stems from her skin color but is more than skin deep... it's existential. One obvious but psychologically upsetting scene has her confronting her beautiful dark skin in the mirror and momentarily attempting to rub it away. Though Dido is blessed with wealth and privilege she never fully belongs to the high society circles she travels in, and is not even allowed to dine with her family. Her 'coming out' into society, expected of women her age for courting purposes, is only considered by the family when they realize that her same-aged sister-cousin (Sarah Gadon not giving a very Gadonish performance) needs a companion. Meanwhile the debate over slavery reaches a fever pitch thanks to a gruesome court case her grandpa (that'd be Wilkinson) is judging about drowned Africans. 

forbidden love! Gugu & Sam Reid look great together

Belle isn't particularly accomplished as cinema goes, marred as it is by modern anachronisms in dialogue and behavior, and the unmistakable sense that it'd be miles better as a more fleshed out television miniseries. The acting, too, is highly uneven. Gugu has a few wonderful moments but spends too much (i.e. most) of the running time in wide-eyed confused victim mode. But the largest problem is that much of Belle makes no damn sense. Consider, if you will, that though the film begins with Belle as a child, we skip ahead to her adult yearsone or two scenes later but every single cast member (including Belle herself) reacts to the discomfort and unfairness of her peculiar situation like they've never considered any of the implications before; Every awkward interaction or racist affront is a virginal shock! Were they all cryogenically frozen until Belle was old enough to be dowried off to the highest bidder and the actress was old enough to carry both a romantic drama and a civil rights epic?

That said it's an easy film to watch, emotionally accessible and earnest of heart, which is just what I needed that morning at the festival and sometimes being the right movie at the right time on the right day can endear you to weary eyes... especially if you hand them some eye drops*. A- Story / C- Execution

*That's code for tears, which I did shed.

Saturday
May122012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (For the Elderly and Beautiful)

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Outsource your elders. Ship them off to India!

Though some media pundits scoffed last weekend when The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened for business the same weekend as The Avengers (previously reviewed) it turned out to be a savvy move. Where else were the spandex averse or Downton Abbey addicts to go? (Rather perversely, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel denies Abbey addicts additional showdowns between Lady Crawley and the Dowager Countess; Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith's stories don't intertwine much) In fact, this British retirees in India dramedy should have opened even wider since they had the nation's second best per screen average and could have cracked the top ten with far fewer theaters than the other movies.

But enough about money. Hotel manager Sonny Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) is a dreamer, not a businessman. His family is losing patience with his dream and time is running out for the hotel. It's running out for the guests, too, as they near the end of their lives. The name of Sonny's establishment is actually “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for Elderly and Beautiful People”. The movie's title lops off those last five words which only proves Sonny's business model's point: he believes that most countries don't care about their elderly so he'll outsource old age. Come to India and live out your autumn years. [More after the jump]

Dev Patel, drinking the hotel's entire coffee budget before each take.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun292011

Yes, No, Maybe So: "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"

The titles within this franchise always surprise with the punctuation. This one opts for one colon and a dash. A dash, huh? It must feel the need, the need for speed. This is the first time they've used a dash unless you prefer your Mission: Impossible 2 in its funkier weirdly abbreviated decapitalized M:i-2 format. Anyway.... the point is that Tom Cruise is back as agent Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol or M:I-GP Vol. 4 if you'd like to complicate it. Let's accept the mission to break down the trailer with our Yes, No, Maybe So protocol.

Tom Cruise Does His Own Stunt Running

YES You wouldn't know it from the trailer which focuses on reminding you of the stunttacular nature of this franchise and the familiar but arguably still special effect of Tom Cruise running-jumping-glaring (say what you will about Tom Cruise -- and we all have -- but there are few movie stars as committed/believable in action sequences) but Brad Bird directed this. BRAD BIRD. If it has the teensiest sliver of The Iron Giant's humanity and if the action scenes are anywhere close to as good as the ones in The Incredibles, it's going to be straight up awesome. The big question is: can Brad Bird work directing wonders with flesh & blood actors the way he can with animators?

NO -Did we really need a fourth picture? My biggest beef with this franchise, continued here with the title card insistence that only Tom Cruise is starring in the picture, is that the Mission: Impossible series would be so much better if it were more team-oriented. Ethan pulls too much focus and the team maneuvering and chemistry is the real spark it needs to generate fireworks.

Mission: Impossible - Team 4: Pegg, Renner, Cruise and Patton

MAYBE SO -On the other hand, even if they aren't given enough to do the cast is exciting: Simon Pegg, the always welcome until he gets too ubiquitous (any second now) Jeremy Renner, Josh Holloway, Michael Nykqvist, Paula Patton, Lea Seydoux, and Tom Wilkinson doing what he does best (that distinctive voice: authoritative but always suspect with hints of possible certifiable whack-a-doo pulsating underneath)

The Trailer... 

 

Do you think Tom Cruise will have the comeback he's looking for over?
Will Brad Bird work well with actors who can talk back?
If you were an action star would you do your own stunts?
Are you a Yes, No or Maybe So?

Related Post from the Archive:
Directors of the Decade: Brad Bird "Mr Complexity"