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Entries in Year in Review (100)

Monday
Jan232012

Extremely Link

Weinstein Co a live chat today with The Artist team (4:30 PM EST)
Gold Derby "Oscar nominations we're rooting for"
Deadline exciting sounding project alert. Gyllehaal mama Naomi Foner, who wrote the brilliant Running on Empty (1988) is making her directorial debut with Very Good Girls. Elizabeth Olsen and Dakota Fanning to star as best friends just out of high school eager to lose their virginity.
Nicks Flick Picks' Best Actress Birthday Parties are getting more and more festive. I died at one particular one-liner in the Piper Laurie Tim review and now I simply must see the movie. 

Slash Film Remember that biopic Big Eyes about artist-marrieds Margaret and Walter Keane which was supposed to star Kate Hudson years and years ago? No? Well, it's back in development only this time with Reese Witherspoon. I don't know how you make a movie called Big Eyes and cast anyone but Our Miss Hathaway though. 
AD Jameson How many movies can you see? An obsessive discussion about what's feasible or worthwhile.
By Ken Levine "guys are not going to want to f*** her" on pursuing a role in TV pilots. A scary read for actors!

Fun videos with Charlize, Fassy & Viola after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan112012

20:11 The Tree of Midnight Bridesmaids

Year in Review Fun!. Herewith the 20th minute and 11th second of the movies of 2011 in chronological order of US release dateIt's like flipping channels for snapshots of the film year! For those who like a challenge, I've written the film titles in invisible ink (you can highlight to see them) below the screencap. What kind of memories does this bring back? Do these tiny glimpses make you want to stop flipping channels and watch?

Jan | Feb | March | April

Part 5: May

You're nothing but a boy trying to prove himself a man!"

THOR

Mmmm. Now that... that feels good. That's a good one. That's a good one."

JUMPING THE BROOM... I still haven't made my mind up about Paula Patton. Have you?

Salvation is right here in my very hands. Authenticated by the clergy themselves. Purchase this holy water and keep your loved ones safe..."

PRIEST 

wedding rehearsals, scary fountains, yummy noodles and more after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan032012

Best of Year Pt 3: Nathaniel's Top Ten List

Best of Year Pt 1: Thirty-two flavors and then some. 2011 Treasures, guilty and otherwise.
Best of Year Pt 2: Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, Young Adult, Pariah, The HousemaidShame.

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN OF 2011

And so we reach the top ten list about which I endured my usual personal angst until I finally gave up the flip flopping, the future hindsight worrying and all the old ways and accepted the new sabremetrics of the game since I had accidentally shoved 11 films in. I ran out of time outs and it was either hit publish or forfeit my chance to play this beloved listing game.

MONEYBALL (Bennett Miller)
Columbia Pictures. September 23rd.
Who knew that a film about sports strategies and mathematic calculations -- two things I personally find enormously difficult to understand and care about even less -- could be so stirring?  Thank the typically sharp writing of Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian, the assured unfussy direction from Bennett Miller who really knows his way around these sharply focused biographies (see also Capote) and an intensely pleasurable star turn from a perfectly cast Brad Pitt as a former golden boy trying to up his own game before his time runs out.
[Review]

CERTIFIED COPY (Abbas Kiarostami)
IFC. March 11th.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, than so to is the worth of any piece of art, whether it's a bonafide original or a copy. The worth of Kiarostami's dizzying intellectual game of a movie will vary greatly from viewer to viewer depending on whether they think the movie transcends its intellectual exercize. It's worth may even vary from screening to screening. For example, the first time I saw it I was riveted by the dialogue and Binoche's face though I thought it outstayed its welcome but the second time I was slightly annoyed with its archly comic tonal shift late in the film but also more impressed with its visual intricacies. Certified Copy spends a day in Tuscany with a weary antique shop owner (the exquisite Juliette Binoche as "She" --her character is never named) and an author by the name of James Miller (opera star William Schimmel). They are ostensibly strangers and their conversation about originals and copies (the subject of Miller's book) gives way to an increasingly complicated sense that the two of them are either play-acting at being lovers or are actually estranged spouses whose current union is a disappointingly inferior fascimile of its original form.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (Sean Durkin)
Fox Searchlight. October 21st

Martha Marcy May Marlene

With Lizzie, John Hawkes, Durkin's Team
A Perfectly Titled Time Machine
Martha Marcy May Marlene

Incantation. Puzzle. Dream.

[Review, Interview, Comic Strip]

BRIDESMAIDS (Paul Feig) Universal. May 13th
MELANCHOLIA (Lars von Trier) Magnolia. November 11th 
You're invited to a wedding. Don't start throwing rice yet. They're meant to be happy events but god do they try the patience. Especially when the bride or maid of honor is enormously depressed -- apocalyptically depressed even!

Brides, drivers and romantic troubles after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan022012

Best of Year Pt 2: Sweet 16 from Primordial Ooze to YA Novels

Part One: I Am Thirty Two Flavors 
Other pictures from 2011 that The Film Experience's year wouldn't have been complete without.

Part Two: Honorable Mentions
The year's best movies stretched all the way from the creation to the apocalypse and everywhen in between; time hardly seemed linear in 2011 but immeasurably flexible instead. The year's best films also twisted and shape-shifted in scale and meaning, wrapping big themes around human-sized packages.

THE TREE OF LIFE (Terrence Malick)
Fox Searchlight. May 27th. 
I really didn't know that our Burning Questions columnist Michael C felt so similarly about Terrence Malick's latest so two somewhat agnostic appreciations back-to-back were not intended here at The Film Experience. I greatly admire The Tree of Life's grandiose reach (the creation segment being my favorite chunk) and breathtaking physical beauty but often I felt like I was visiting an impenetrably random museum installation. Still... it's hard to shake the imagery and in a few key sequences -- children playing in poison clouds, brothers crying in tall grass, and especially in the different ways that Mrs O Brien (an ethereal Jessica Chastain) and Mr O'Brien (Brad Pitt's second great performance of the year... can we please give him an Oscar now, people?) touched and taught and looked at their children, the movie was fiercely moving.

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (Woody Allen)
Sony Pictures Classics. June 10th.
Let's not call it a comeback. Woody Allen has never gone away and his filmography runs the gamut between masterful and mediocre -- sometimes within the very same movie! What sets Midnight in Paris apart from the pack is a conceit so clever and insightful that it works both within the famed auteur's current limitations and as charming cover for them. It's okay that the present feels so tired and one note when hack screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson) feels exactly this way about the life he's leading. It's definitely okay that the nostalgic past feels shallow and cartoony since nostalgia is fantasy, a very specific escapist (rear) projection. Quibbling is easy -- it's no Purple Rose of Cairo (an Allen masterwork treading somewhat similar ground) -- but why quibble when Corey Stoll is so funny as Hemingway, Adrien Brody is so amusing as Dali "Rhi-no-ce-ros" and Marion Cotillard's muse complicates the movie so beautifully by rejecting its message entirely and exiting the picture with so little fuss.

THE HOUSEMAID (Im Sang-soo)
IFC. January 21st. 
This erotic melodrama, a remake of a Korean classic (which I have yet to see), is either the year's most elegantly trashy soap opera or its most biting political metaphor for the carnivorous and consequence-free behavior of the super wealthy and the impotent dramatics of the working poor. Maybe both. Either way it's uncomfortably steamy, beautifully filmed, and superly acted (South Korea is where it's at for actresses these days. Period.) It's also unusually entertaining once the bad behavior and catfights begin. I watched it twice in one week when I first saw it and if my schedule weren't so tight, I'd do so again right now.

PARIAH (Dee Rees)
Focus Features. December 28th. 
Two important new voices emerged in queer cinema this year, writer/directors Dee Rees and Andrew Haigh (his Weekend up later in the countdown). Both filmmakers previously directed one documentary-style feature so they weren't in the discussions of "best debuts" but what debuts these narrative features were! Coming out stories are a staple of gay cinema but few of them have carved out as much emotional nuance from raw feeling. Pariah has so much feeling for its characters that it occassional gets distracted with tangential subplots but better too much genuine feeling than not enough of it or the poorly manufactured variety. This story of a shy closeted lesbian high school student (Adepere Oduye, just wonderful) in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood just aches with emotion and, best of all, future possibility. You find yourself wondering about Alike's journey after the movie ends. The best characters, gay or otherwise, live beyond the end credits [Best LGBT characters of 2011]

SHAME (Steve McQueen)
Fox Searchlight. December 2nd. 
Brandon only has room for one thing in his life. His apartment and office are as barren as his emotional life. Michael Fassbender enters the picture on a naked loop as he travels from bed to phone to bathroom, one day being any day and every day empty but for bodily functions and the pursuit of the next fix. It's the first of many smart decisions that Steve McQueen, one of the most exciting new cinematic voices to emerge in the past decade (see also: Hunger), makes in this visually spare but daringly operatic take on addiction. Shame isn't perfect -- for every "New York New York" segment -- a telepathic conversation? a sung monologue? --  there's another moment that's too on the nose. The best thing about Shame is McQueen's voyeuristic addiction to the contact high of great actors. His camera stalks them ceaselessly but wisely never gets in their way, freezing in place to watch them work their inimitable magic.

YOUNG ADULT (Jason Reitman)
Paramount. December 9th
The first painful chortle of recognition I experienced watching Young Adult was the ease at which YA writer Mavis Gary (a brilliant Charlize Theron) became distracted from her work. A sentence or two, tops, was all she could manage before she was on to more pressing things like e-mail, Diet Coke, pet care (of sorts), and other absent-minded rituals. Sigh. I know the feeling on all counts. It was the first chortle of many. Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, who previously made Juno together, make another compelling case for continued partnership here in this diamond sharp perfectly condensed comedy about prolongued adolescence, untreated mental illness, and terrible cultural values (note how Mavis isn't the only one who worships her skin-deep beauty or encourages her self delusions). 

P.S. It took me half an hour to write that paragraph and it's not even a good one! Thankfully I did not hatch any plan as spectacularly ill conceived as "return to hometown. steal ex-boyfriend away from wife and infant daughter" during the fitful pauses. 

and now... the top ten.

Sunday
Jan012012

Best of Year Pt 1: I Am Thirty-Two Flavors

I tossed. I turned. I Excel'ed. I Worded. I laughed at myself. I laughed at everyone else and their equally crazy assertions during top ten season. I worried what y'all might think. I worried about how I do think! And then I cast it all aside and just started typing and getting real with myself. You see, in earlier drafts of this Hugo and The Tree of Life, for example, were much higher but you know what? This is not consensus. This is me. Year End "Best" naming rituals are meant to be personal even though they're communal. Gather 'round my fire. There are plenty of places to keep warm, this being just one of them. (If you must skip ahead a few pages The Tree of Life dropped a few notches and Hugo no longer appears at all; I do not miss it all and, thus, made the right call.)

I kept trying to find a cutoff point for my year end "best" that I feel comfortable with and the magic finally happened at 32! The thirty-two highlighted films are my touchstones from this year at the multiplex. They're the only ones I just could not let go of when I tried to gather my memories and glue them awkwardly into this online scrapbook thingie known as The Film Experience. Two of the films even got glued together and I couldn't get them unstuck (Longtime readers will know I don't approve of ties but what the hell: new decade, more flexibility! If you're a purist shove everything else down one notch.)

squint your eyes and look closer
I'm not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some
and I'm beyond your peripheral vision
so you might want to turn your head
cause someday you're going to get hungry
and eat most of the words you just said

The following thirty-two pictures were presented in vaguely ascending order but then the stairs were all rearranged to fit them into categories and for flow so don't read anything into the order...

Planet Ape
The year's cinema was overflowing with adorable dogs (too many to mention) and doomed cats (The Future, Dragon Tattoo) but the animal that seized the heart and truly shook us -- opposable thumbs are so handy! -- was the chimpanzee. The Oscar documentary finalist Project Nim charts the disastrous emotional fall out of a science experiment in the 1970s in which a chimp ("Nim") was raised by agonizingly fallible humans and taught sign language. Rise of the Planet of the Apes charts the disastrous sociological fall out of a science experiment in the right-now in which a chimp ("Cesar") is raised by a agonizingly naive human and granted super intelligence. Nim was a very real living thing and his heartbreaking story makes you want to scream "NOOOooooooo" as forcefully as the imaginary Cesar does at the climax of his own tale. That Cesar feels nearly as real as Nim is thanks to the Marlon Brando of mo-cap acting Andy Serkis, a brilliant visual effects team, and the superb action direction of Rupert Wyatt. (Wyatt's command is so impressive that the pictures fairly obvious flaws don't even register until well after the movie ends. If I were a Hollywood executive I'd be wining and dining him and offering him every franchise job on the calendar until he picked one.)

Favorite Unrewardables
The best thing I saw this year that's not eligible for my annual Film Bitch Awards is The Loneliest Planet (previously reviewed), about an engaged couple exploring a foreign land, which went unreleased. It had me from the stomping alien mundanity of its first image but in the end what really made it work for me was its sense of touch. That's rarer and rarer in our weightless CGI world but the images just felt so tangible: a lovers caress, cold water in your hair, rocky ground under foot; turns out when a movie is that good at touching, it's hard not to feel it. I could reward Clio Barnard's The Arbor, which did get a brief release, but I wouldn't know how. It's ostensibly a memoir doc about the short life of the troubled playwright Andrea Dunbar. But is it a documentary? Barnard's riveting experiment still uses traditional documentary tools like reenactments and talking head interviews but performs them instead, with actors lipsynching. There are so many layers it's suffocating; all the better to pull you under with these lives trapped in hand-me-down poverty and addiction. That probably doesn't sound like an endorsment but The Arbor sure is a fascinating novelty act.

Hip To Be Square
Who knew that we needed a 29th version of dusty Jane Eyre? Turns out we did! Okay okay okay... even if we didn't it was welcome since it was a beautifully rendered stride forward in four cinematic journeys we're on board with: Michael Fassbender seems to take another leap forward every three months, Mia Wasikowska is one of our most promising young actresses and this is her best film performance yet, director Cary Fukunaga and his cinematographer Adriano Goldman, who are two for two (see also Sin Nombre) are not just unusually capable but also unpredictable. We'll jump on their next vehicle whether that means more speeding trains or horse drawn carriages or something else entirely.

Two more unhip choices, abundant foreign pleasures and a few "only you could make this" treasures... After the jump.

Click to read more ...