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 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 Xavier Dolan (21)

Monday
Feb022015

Musical Break: Mommy's Céline

Manuel here trying to turn this wet and slushy frown upside down with some help from the movies.

Um...

As Nat noted this weekend, that might be one of the better responses to an alleged Oscar snub in recent memory but as with all "snubs," we have the films and boy has Xavier Dolan's Mommy seared itself into my brain. And so I'm using it today to help me brave this icy, cold, rainy weather we're having in the North East today (anyone buried under lots of snow?)

One of the best scenes in Dolan's film is set to Céline Dion's "On Ne Change Pas" and that song has been in constant rotation on my Spotify ever since (actually all of the songs from that film have!) Dolan has quite the gift for pairing radio-stamped hits with transgressively appealing scenes that don't just work as stylistic juxtapositions but as helpful characterizations. In the film, Céline's song functions as a cultural touchstone as well as an opportunity for bonding between the three main characters, leading to one of the most memorable dancing sequence in a film this past year. Kudos to Antoine Pilon for making Ms Dion so youthful and sexy even as most of us had written her off as, ironically enough, mom-soundtrack material. If you needed more reason to seek out this film, let it be a reminder (or, in my case, an introduction) to the beauty that is Céline's French-language repertoire:

Dolan's film is out in 83 screens; has it made it near you yet? Did you enjoy its synaesthetic sensibility and have also since rediscovered Dido, OneRepublic and Eiffel 65? 

Monday
Dec292014

Interview: Yves Belanger on Shooting Reese's Face as Landscape in "Wild"

I didn't come up with this analogy but it's a good one: Yves Belanger is like Ginger Rogers to Reese Witherspoon's Fred Astaire in Wild. He does it backwards. While in heels. While carrying tons of camera equipment! 

One of the most beautiful film experiences you can have this year is taking a cathartic hike with Wild. The adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's popular memoir has been praised extensively for its heartfelt actressing but less attention has been paid to the indelible contributions of the men recording and dramatizing the journey. In addition to a fantastic sound mix and accomplished editing, the cinematography by Yves Belanger contributes greatly to this film's evocative journey.

Wild is Belanger's second film with Jean Marc-Vallée and I talked to him about his director, his rapport with Reese and capturing the human face as landscape.

NATHANIEL R: I understand you've known Jean-Marc Vallée for a long time so why did it take so long to work togther? It must be going well since you've at work on your third consecutive feature together.

YVES BELANGER: I met Jean-Marc in 1991. He was starting as a young director in commercials. They matched us together but when he did his first feature, I don't know why, he took someone else. With C.R.A.Z.Y. it was like bad timing - we spoke about it but the money comes very fast and when he was ready to do it I couldn’t. Since Dallas Buyer's Club we are back together. 

Both of your films together have major movie stars. Do you feel you've gone 'full Hollywood' ?

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Wednesday
Dec102014

Bates, Sarandon & Curtis: Actressexual News Galore!

Manuel here bringing you some delicious actressexual news that'll make all of you 80s/90s film lovers really happy. 

A photo posted by xavierdolan (@xavierdolan) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:41pm PST

Xavier Dolan's upcoming English language debut film, The Death & Life of John F. Donovan is slowly amassing quite the cast. The Mommy director had already announced the casting of Jessica Chastain and Kit Harrington but he's also added Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates to the cast. Needless to say, the boy has taste. Also, if you're not following him on Instagram, you're really missing out. That's where he's been sharing tidbits from his upcoming film, but also more NSFW-ey stuff like this (think he was celebrating casting Kit, Susan & Kathy?).

In other news, Ryan Murphy, who has yet to meet an 80s or 90s cinema goddess he doesn't want to shower with a juicy part (see: Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett), has conscripted Jamie Lee Curtis for his upcoming horror/comedy anthology seriesScream Queens. You have to admit, that's some amazing casting. Joining her is Emma Roberts, a regular member of the Murphy AHSacting ensemble (and a Scream queen herself!). I won't hold my breath for this being a great show, but I will look forward to the sure to be batshit crazy stuff he'll have Curtis do. If nothing else, he'll have rescued her from a career as yogurt spokesperson so we should be grateful for that. 

Which 80s/90s star do you wish were given a plum role by an established TV mogul and/or a tantalizingly exuberant up and comer? 

Friday
Nov282014

Amir's Thank Yous

Editor's Note: I asked Team Experience to tell us what they're thankful for this year during the holiday weekend. Here's Amir in the cinematic spirit.

Amir here. As a quick browse through the comments sections on my box office columns can attest, many readers of this website think that I'm the Grinch. It's hard to blame them but the truth is that, if we move away from the dross that Hollywood offers in thousands of theaters, I enjoy quite a healthy relationship with contemporary cinema. Here, for a change of mood, is a positive, complaint-free post.

I'm thankful...

For, first and foremost, TIFF as an organization in Toronto, especially their year-around programming of older films and for the festival that doesn’t just bring great cinema to the city, but great people, too. (If not for this festival, how else could I attract Nathaniel and Nick to town for shared screenings and dinner?) The experience of having all my favourite fellow writers here at home for a few days is what I cherish most about cinema every year.

For courageous filmmakers, this year more than ever, for films like The Look of Silence, Closed Curtain, Citizenfour and Silvered Water: Syria Self Portrait; and for our modern auteurs raising the bar for themselves even further with great works like The Immigrant, Under the Skin and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

For Jake Gyllenhaal challenging himself with interesting roles (and, let’s be honest, thankful that we get to look at him) and Marion Cotillard who delivers masterworks with such frequency that we forget how complicated her performances really are (and, let’s be honest, thankful that we get to look at her).

For the discoveries of Gugu MBatha-Raw and Adam Bakri. And Jenny Slate crossing the border to films with a remarkable debut and for Elisabeth Moss reproving her brilliance on the big screen this time.

For Xavier Dolan finally directing his first good film – oh, look, there I go again, being cynical – and for smart, intelligent films like The Strange Little Cat and A Most Wanted Man.

For, most of all, Nathaniel for keeping me around here and for Team Experience for making compiling all our polls really fun. And you too, readers! If you’ve made it this far, know that I’m really grateful that you’re reading!  

-Amir

 

Related: Nathaniel gives thanks, Jose gives thanks 

Friday
Nov142014

Stockholm Film Festival: 'Imitation Game', 'Mommy' and 'Human Capital' Shoot for Oscar Glory

Glenn has been attending the 25th Stockholm Film Festival as a member of the FIPRESCI jury where he saw a selection of Oscar hopefuls including ‘The Imitation Game’ and foreign language competitors ‘Human Capital’ and ‘Mommy’.


The Imitation Game
One of the curious things about festivals in a city like Stockholm is that, due to delayed distribution methods, films like Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman (the director’s memo about the name change apparently hasn’t crossed oceans) can compete for prizes alongside global curiosities like Pascale Ferran’s Bird People and Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s The Owners. They feel unfairly situated alongside arthouse titles from the whole globe.

My fellow jurors were surprised when I informed them that The Imitation Game was an Academy frontrunner. Given that the Oscar Best Picture competition at this stage appears to be quite polarizing and auteur-focused, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tyldum’s film about the cracking of the WWII enigma machine cracks its own way into the runaway position. Nor would I be able to be all that angry as it’s really a rather good movie that has been handsomely produced and features several great performances, including Keira Knightley who is, yet again, on film quality-raising duty. While I found its very British respectability somewhat hard to truly embrace, it meant that I was impressed it didn’t always merely go for the easiest of sentimental choices. There are rousing, emotional moments, sure, with plenty of speeches about what's right and just while they wear their primly knitted sweaters and suits, and the end especially will give plenty of viewers less ice-hearted than I a good sniffle, but for the majority of the film’s length it holds its cards relatively close to its chest. At least until the final act, where its quivering stiff upper lip gives way entirely. It’s the cup of Earl Grey of the season: reliably, dependably solid. B+

More films after the jump...

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Thursday
Sep112014

X(avier) Marks the Spot for Jessica Chastain

Glenn here to talk about two of my favourite people, Xavier Dolan and Jessica Chastain. We don't usually discuss casting here at The Film Experience, especially this early into a film's existence, because they can so easily fluctuate and change without a moment's notice. This, however? This is casting news we absolutely must discuss.

Dolan's most recent film (it's hard to keep track) is Mommy, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes and is getting big plaudits out of Toronto including this one from Nathaniel labelling it his best work best. Not one to rest on his 25-year-old laurels, the Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan has cast Jessica Chastain in his English-language debut!! I'm not sure how much about The Death and Life of John F. Donovan we know already, but the exceptionally coiffed Dolan says it is a satire of the industry and that Chastain will play the villain, an editor-in-chief of a gossip magazine. Jessica is getting her Miranda Priestly on and I'm sure Dolan's hyper-stylized panache will make it yet another must see for both exceptionally talented individuals. Here's what he had to say, courtesy of /bent.

It was this friend of mine -- a journalist -- who had brought to my attention that Jessica Chastain had seen Mommy in Cannes and had liked it and tweeted about it ... It dawned on me that I should ask Jessica about playing the 'villain' role in 'John F. Donovan ... I reached out to Jessica and she read the script. She loved it, and we got along like hotcakes. That's basically it. I can already foresee all the pleasure we'll have working together.

This is the tweet in question and it's yet another example of why it amuses me so much to see filmmakers actually talking about other films and filmmakers. It's a great way of predicting who will be in this industry for the long haul if they're out there seeking films beyond the usual LA/NY red carpet events. It shows they're much deeper into their craft than it being a mere "job". Kudos to Chastain.

Despite how amazing the two of them are, the news makes me doubly happy because it will surely mean that  Xavier Dolan will get even more of a name for himself and hopefully his films can start coming out in America faster than they have been (Tom at the Farm *still* doesn't have a distributor!) What their collaboration will produce who can tell, but good grief are we keen! Not even the news that Dolan wants Taylor Kitsch, too, can dampen the excitement. What about you, does Jessica or Xavier excite you more?

Friday
Sep052014

TIFF: Mommy = Xavier Dolan's Best

Nathaniel's adventures at TIFF. Day 1

Technically speaking day 2 has just ended and it was an incredible day with consistently great films and memorable offscreen moments. But one day at a time. Day 1's highlight was the Cannes holdover Mommy from Xavier Dolan.

It's attention-grabbing from its first frames with an unusual aspect ratio. Technically speaking it's a 1:1 but if that means nothing to you (I'm not an aspect ratio geek either) know that it's square. Since square is not our beloved and horizontally familiar widescreen, the image feels alarming vertical, more akin to a cel phone shape. This description helps convey the movie's undeniable modernity but it doesn't convey it's lush beauty. (I've heard Mommy knocked as 'the first instagram movie' but, hey, Emmanuel Lubeszki is on instagram so let's not knock it as a Beauty Delivery System.) 

Technical film geekery aside, know this: the screen can barely contain the movie's explosive feelings. Hell, the aspect ratio can't even contain this movie's explosive feelings in one of its own best and most atypically tender jokes. 

MORE...

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