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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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Beauty vs. Beast

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Entries in Woody Allen (65)

Monday
Dec082014

Beauty vs Beast: All The Cool Girls

Jason from MNPP here, saying tis the time for a round of "Beauty vs Beast" once more. This week we're finally tackling one of this year's biggest movies, David Fincher's Gone Girl - financially it's the biggest hit of its director's career, and critically, well a lot of people loved it and are hoping to see it figure prominently in the upcoming awards races. (I am not one of those people; I reviewed it at NYFF saying "a lot of what makes Amy into 'Amazing Amy,' what makes her particularly spectacular on the page, is the deeply darkly funny specificity of her voice, unpeeling like an onion, and that falls away from the movie just when I needed it most.") Anyway there's a good chance Rosamund Pike will be nominated for her performance as Amazing Amy, and it'll probably show up in some other categories as well. And if there's a bigger He Said She Said movie of 2014 I certainly missed it, so let's see who we side with!

 

I might have gone a little vague there in the Cons maybe...? The Pros were easy to be spoiler-free on, but listing these two's Cons without giving away too much of the game, that defeated me. If y'all have seen the movie you've certainly got your own laundry list of them, so tell us all about it in the comments.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we tackled the sisters of Blue Jasmine for Woody Allen's birthday, and even though Sally put up a helluva fight, as with the Oscars we couldn't help ourselves from lavishing our love on the showier gal. The Great Cate makes one more successful trek to the podium! Said Jakey:

"Jasmine, because when my life falls apart, I also wonder why I can't just get a Stoli with lemon."

Monday
Dec012014

Beauty vs Beast: Woody and His Sisters

Jason from MNPP here wishing a happy Monday afternoon to everybody -- tis the time for our weekly fix of "Beauty vs Beast." Today's the 79th birthday of Woody Allen so I figured we'd dive into his back-catalog of rich characters for today's face-off, but where should we head? Villains in his films aren't easy to come by - I considered ScarJo vs Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Match Point but I haven't seen that film in too long; I briefly wandered towards the marital-bloodbath of Husbands and Wives but, well, let's leave Woody versus Mia off the table for the time being. No, it's his most recent success (I don't think anybody can consider Magic in the Moonlight a success) that I think gives us a good cloudy bout of good versus not-so-good to tango with.

 

Both ladies were Oscar nominated but only one stormed away with the gold - you've got seven days to decide who gets your personal gold star.

PREVIOUSLY True story: After dinner this weekend my boyfriend wandered into a strange bar to grab a beer and it turned out to be a scary hole in the wall and we each got to trot out our "What a dump" impersonations; it was awesome. So it would seem that like the rest of you, our big drunken hearts belong to Team Martha. Said Rick:

"Oh, hell...Martha seems like she's having way more fun than anyone else!"

Wednesday
Nov052014

The Way Big Hero Looks in the Moonlight

As you read this I am en route to L.A. to join Anne Marie & Margaret at the AFI this week so expect coverage of A Most Violent Year and The Gambler premieres, a sneak peek at Selma, a Sophia Loren tribute, and more. But before that all start, and as I fly over some of you, brief thoughts on...

THREE SCREENINGS

THE WAY HE LOOKS 
Opens November 7th in limited release
Glenn has already smiled upon this Brazilian coming-of-age film in our ongoing Oscar foreign film race coverage but I wanted to offer my own thumbs way up, too. Like all niche audiences, LGBT people are sometimes too forgiving of bad movies so long as they meet their particular niche needs. But you can love The Way He Looks without any of the guilt that sometimes accompanies pleasure because it's very good.

This affecting high school drama is a love triangle of sorts that plays, smartly, more like a friendship triangle... since all three of its leads are still feeling their way toward their own futures, figuring themselves out. That's particularly true of Leonardo, who is blind and painfully aware that that limits his options. He still dreams of moving out of his parents house and really wants to do a foreign exchange program. His two best friends are Gabriel, a new boy in town who immediately puts him at ease, since he's unphased though sometimes a bit confused about the blindness, and Giovana his best girlfriend since childhood who walks him home every day from school and is so protective that she's become entirely codependent. Giovana resents Gabriel's growing place in Leo's life and nobody ever understands quite what anybody else if feeling. They're all immediately bruised by each other but still walking tightly arm in arm which makes for a hugely sympathetic totally relatable tale of first loves, young friendships and heartbreaks. It's endearing and, like Big Hero 6 (discussed next) it admires the good natures of its characters and their capacity for kindness and love. I don't mind sounding Pollyanna about this: I love seeing basically decent loving people dramatized on film.  That seems to be out of fashion in film and television characters so it's a special treat now when you see it, like a unicorn. B+

BIG HERO 6
Opens November 7th
Daring the long long shadow of The Incredibles, one of the best animated films and one of the best superhero films of all time, this initially very charming movie is about a genius robotics nerd named Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) whose older supremely good-natured brother Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney), also a tech wizard, convinces him to develop his skills at college instead of wasting them on robot fights. Take that Real Steel! Tadashi's best invention is that white inflatable marshmallow like A.I. you've seen in the trailers named Baymax. A fateful series of events, which I won't spoil though I'm betting the trailers I haven't watched already did, changes everything and suddenly Hiro is furiously reconfiguring Baymax with armor and jetpacks and taking him far from his original purpose as an inhome nurse. Hiro teams up with his new college friends (hence the plurality of the title) to fight off a supervillain in a kabuki mask. The second half of the movie is quite a deflation, sadly. You can feel the pandering for all demographics and senses of humor and like so many visual effects movies the climax is just a mess of OVERLONG NOISY ACTION SETPIECE without much character weight, steering this movie towards "fun but predictable/disposable action-comedy".

But, you know, the things it does well are awfully hard to shake. And boy does that initial brotherly bond stick in the heart. The movie is decidedly pro education (nice to see in a movie), the animation is beautiful, and it's nothing short of wonderful to see a blockbuster family movie led, unambiguously, by people of color. They even used Asian actors for the voices. Well done.  B


MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT
Coming to DVD/BluRay in December
I had remembered this getting relatively mild reviews, inspiring neither loving nor loathing, so it was a surprise to discover a quite emphatically bad movie dully staring back at me. I didn't buy one single moment of it from Emma Stone's strangely lackluster star turn, to Colin Firth's mannered fussiness to the various relationships and plot "twists". I amend: I didn't buy one single moment of it that didn't involve Eileen Atkins as "Aunt Vanessa" who is the film's sole bright light, totally charming and authentically aunt-like both emotionally involved and appropriately removed from whatever is ailing her incorrigible celebrity nephew's heart and soul. That's really too bad because the core idea of the movie is "fun" if you will and there's a whole slew of good actors standing around with nothing good to play with. What's more the real life magician its riffing on, an Englishman who was globally famous, not as himself but in yellowface as a Chinese illusionist named Wei Ling Soo, is also richly fertile ground for a screenplay. It's easy to imagine a pretty great movie emerging from that historical figure and obviously several pretty great movies have emerged in the romantic comedy genre by pitting competing agendas against each other in the form of a man and a woman for whom falling in love is a gigantic inconvenience. But it doesn't remotely work, the romance especially (Firth & Stone have zero chemistry) and the smothering atmosphere is one of laziness... like no one is trying at all (particularly Stone & Allen) or like they're trying too hard (Colin Firth, Hamish Linklater) sensing the inconsequential piffle around them or like they're standing around wishing someone would ask them to try at all (Marcia Gay Harden). D

Friday
May232014

Yes No Maybe So: "Magic in the Moonlight"

Another year, another Woody Allen. Same as it ever was. Coming off another professional high Blue Jasmine but a personal low, will people turn out? Woody films are always hard to predict, reception wise both critically and at the box office (I'm still so alarmed at how successful To Rome With Love was despite being so so terrible), from abject failures to Oscar nominees. But let's talk about Magic in the Moonlight ... or at least our futurist perception of it based on its new trailer. 

The Yes No Maybe So™ breakdown is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May192014

RIP: Gordon Willis, cinematography of "The Godfather", "Manhattan", "All the President's Men"...

Here's one of my personal favorite critics, Tim Brayton, with a gracious crossposting of his lovely obituary for one of the greatest cinematographers who ever lived. - Nathaniel


It’s not tragic when an 82-year-old man, who had been happily retired for 17 years, following an incredibly strong and well-regarded career, dies. Any of us would be lucky and blessed to have that kind of live and that kind of death. But the loss of Gordon Willis on May 18 is heartbreaking anyway: it’s always heartbreaking when a true genius, visionary, and leader of his field passes away.

Willis was the most important cinematographer of the last 50 years of cinema. I don't know of any clearer or more concise way of putting it. If he'd only shot The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, a pair of films that fundamentally altered the way people used lighting and focus and the peculiar film stock of '70s American filmmaking, he would be one of the great masters of his field, and his passing a day of mourning for all cinephiles.

A beauty break featuring some of his greatest achievements after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May052014

Stage Door: Bullets Over Broadway

It's Tony season which means mucho theatergoing. Particularly if you've missed everything this year as I have. My first stop after that Estelle Parsons-free trip to The Velocity of Autumn was Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway and, if you can believe my luck, I got an understudy again. This time, though, it wasn't a big deal. Though the role was major ("Olive", the gangster's moll and terrible actress) I wasn't familiar with the actress playing her to begin with. And though the 1994 film won three deserved acting nominations this musical comedy's only nominated cast member is Nick Cordero who plays Cheech, the mob henchman who shows unexpected flair for dramaturgy.

Memories of the movie and pros & cons of the stage version after the jump...

Click to read more ...