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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Cannes Jury

"The Jury Lineup is very diverse and unconventional " - Amy

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Thursday
Jan132011

Link Catches Us

NOTE: Sorry about the delay in the top ten -- probably tonight. maybe tomorrow morning. Depends on how the day goes. The writeups take awhile. But now... news and linkage.

  • The Advocate Rabbit Hole's John Cameron Mitchell (He never ages. 47!)
  • A.V. Club interviews Aaron Eckhart, also of Rabbit Hole. And in case you missed it...
  • The Film Experience ...that's my 11th favorite of the year
  • The Telegraph Bond is not a director's franchise, Tim Robey, reminds us as Sam Mendes preps Bond 23 (to be titled later obviously)
  • In Contention DGA's documentary nominees. YES on Lixin Fan for Last Train Home. The Academy really botched that one. It's one of the best films of the year.
  • Rotten Tomatoes gives out its Golden Tomatoes for the best reviewed movies of 2010. Naturally the animated films dominate as they're generally critic proof if they're any good at all. Though we're slightly weirded out that the best reviewed ten is very very close to the expected Oscar ten. What happened to the days when Oscar ignored critical darlings? My guess is both Oscar and Critics have changed, everyone moving to the center.
  • Serious Film Great use of pop songs in recent movies

Kerry catches usIf it interests you, Reel Talk has the complete NAACP nominees. Night Catches Us gets some nominations but no Best Picture bid? Just Wright is there, though with For Colored Girls, The Book of Eli, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too and... The Kids Are All Right (???). Confusing. So for what it's worth, here are the actress nominations. You know how I obsess on the actressing.

Best Actress

  • Halle Berry Frankie & Alice
  • Janet Jackson Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
  • Queen Latifah Just Wright
  • Zoe Saldana The Losers
  • Kerry Washington Night Catches Us

Best Supporting Actress

  • Kimberly Elise For Colored Girls
  • Whoopi Goldberg For Colored Girls
  • Phylicia Rashad For Colored Girls
  • Anika Noni Rose For Colored Girls
  • Jill Scott Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?

The message of the nominations is simple: join Tyler Perry's creative entourage. (I wish I'd seen For Colored Girls. I like almost everyone in it.)

Wednesday
Jan122011

Jacki Weaver "Grinning Like a Cheshire Cat"

Exclusive Interview
Before Animal Kingdom, the Australian crime drama which Jacki Weaver so memorably inhabits as den mother Janine "Smurf" Cody, she was unknown to many American moviegoers including myself. The last time I see her onscreen, perusing a few key scenes from the film prior to the interview, she's training those enormous unblinking peepers on good cop Guy Pearce. They're in a sterile grocery store but the conversation is anything but; the words are loaded and coded. Her stare is equal parts dare, gloating and faux sweetness. "I hope you catch the killers," she tells him, with disingenuous grandmotherly concern, both of them fully aware of who is getting away with murder and why.

In person, what can you expect: An evil granny? A diva actress? A regular woman? When we sit at the Regency for a half hour chat over coffee, Smurf departs leaving only Jacki the "Oscar Hopeful" (more on that in a bit).

try "Greatness" - get that Oscar nom, Jacki!

"I should rewatch it," she tells me when I mention my pre-interview visual cram session with her movie. She's seen Animal Kingdom four times but not recently. She remembers the plot details and her co-stars frequently. She's quick to praise Ben Mendelsohn's "amazing" work. (He plays her son Pope, the only character more unsettling than Smurf.) But when it comes to her own part, the famous dialogue is escaping her. "They keep quoting lines that I said" she says "I have no recollection of them at all. It's been two years since we shot the movie. I've been in six different plays since then so's the slate has been a bit wiped clean."

Why hasn't she watched it recently?

Jacki: I find it quite distressing. It's really heart in the throat stuff. Even though I know what's going to happen.

Nathaniel: Was it disturbing to shoot?

Jacki: It wasn't at the time, no. It was more exhilarating than distressing because I felt we were doing such good work and it had a ring of authenticity about it all the way.

Nathaniel: I know you do a lot of theater and Animal Kingdom actually reminded me a little of a stage play. It's very cinematic but he's [David Michôd, the director] often using medium shots, which I loved, and showing you the crucial interplay between the actors. Do you think of stage and movie acting differently?

Jacki: I think of them the same way. In movies, you have the luxury of being able to whisper [Laughter].

Coffee has arrived and we chat for a bit about filmmaking. Jackie says "I love a good editor" [don't all smart actors?] and shares with me a bit of Oscar trivia that I hadn't connected: Animal Kingdom's editor Luke Dolan was up for an Oscar just last year for the short film "Miracle Fish". "He's just turned 30," she says, marvelling. "That's impressive." While she's on the subject of fresh careers we naturally drift over to her director. He's a fully formed talent already, I think, and this is only his first feature.

Nathaniel: I met with Michôd this summer when the movie came out. He called you a "National Treasure."

Jacki: [Laughter] I'm more of a national relic, i think. I've been around so long. I keep telling people that I think Australians think of me as a comfortable old piece of furniture that they're not quite ready to throw out yet.

Nathaniel: You've been in the industry a long time.

Jacki: 48 years.

Nathaniel: Have you seen it all or this year special? I mean, if i tried to list all your honors from the movie I think we'd be here for hours.

Jacki: I've lost count. I'm totally overwhelmed.

Nathaniel: When you were filming it, did you ever think...

Jacki: No! [Sensing the awards question coming.] Well, you never do...

AFTER THE JUMP... Jacki on awards buzz, "Smurf" character choices, loving Cate Blanchett, kissing Sullivan Stapleton, and her brief scenes in Aussie classic Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975).

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan122011

NYFCC: Annette's Eyes, Darren's Humor, Kerry's Deliciousness

Yesterday you probably read some purposefully sensationalist headlines about notorious contrarian self-publicist Armond White making Annette Bening cry at the NYFCC ceremony Monday night. I wasn't going to say anything and I'm not going to link to any of the articles but I'm just going to get two things off the chest. 

One, When Annette tears up, be assured that you will feel it. You will find it impossible to be so unmoved as to write snarky misleading headlines about it.

The Bening is All Right

Case in point: Her Majesty's quite awesome and NYFCC award-winning performance in The Kids Are All Right. When she tears up, only non-carbon-based life forms don't feel it.

Her acceptance speech went, according to the Post, something like this.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan122011

Follow the Red Carpet Road

Just for kicks -- synchronized kicks while singing "We're Off to See The Wizard" -- I've been casting some of this year's behind the scenes Oscar hopefuls as denizens of the that magical land Over the Rainbow. It's less gay than it sounds, I promise. I blame Hailee Steinfeld's pigtails for the inspiration. It's all her fault.

Find out which character each Best Director candidate plays and help me cast the other players. Read the article at Tribeca Film

Wednesday
Jan122011

Y los nominados son... 

Jose here. The nominations for the 25th Annual Goya Awards have been announced and leading the pack is none other than The Last Circus, Alex De La Iglesia's killer clown allegory which not only earned him a Best Director award at last year's Venice Film Festival but also picked up some of the worst reviews of any movie in any festival during 2010.

 

Best Film

The bad reviews didn't seem to deter the Spanish Film Academy which showered the film with nods (a whopping 15! More than any other movie this year) including Breakthrough Actress for the appropriately named Carolin Bang and of course Best Picture and Best Director. Interestingly enough, de la Iglesia is also the Academy's president. But before we scream nepotism we have to take into consideration that Spain makes fewer movies than many countries with film awards and will, well, sometimes nominate anything.

Best Actor Nominees: Javi & Ryan

Speaking of which, Ryan Reynolds is nominated for Best Actor for his work in Buried (which was made by a Spaniard, Rodrigo Cortés, and is therefore eligible). It's not that Reynolds' work isn't good or maybe better than he had any right to be or better than anything anyone ever expected from him, but when you see he's nominated next to Javier Bardem (for Biutiful) things just seem odd, huh?

Best Actor

  • Javier Bardem -Biutiful
  • Ryan Reynolds -Buried
  • Luis Tosar -Even the Rain
  • Antonio de la Torre -The Last Circus

The lovely Elena Anaya (pictured left) is up for Best Actress for her work in Room in Rome (read my review here) we'll see her next in Pedro Almodóvar's new film! Rome also won nominations for Breakthrough Actress and Best Song (I wonder where its nomination for Best Use of Google Maps is...)

Best Actress

  • Elena Anaya -Room in Rome
  • Nora Navas -Pa Negre
  • Belén Rueda -Julia's Eyes
  • Emma Suárez -The Mosquito


The actress category looks unimpressive when you remember that last year the nominees were Lola Dueñas, Rachel Weisz, Maribel Verdú and Pe! 

Considering that most of the films selected for the Goyas rarely get release dates in our continent let's head over to see international categories.

Best Latin American Film


Best European Film


Don't you just hate when last year's releases compete with this year's releases for awards? Let's all dream of a day when EVERY movie will be released around the world at the same time. It would make for some exciting global unity sort of thing huh?

So, dear readers in Europe, you're probably more equated with these films: Anyone you're rooting for? Anything we should be looking forward to when it's released here?

[More categories at the Goya Awards Official Site]

Wednesday
Jan122011

Wow! Luise Rainer is 101

Happy birthday to the oldest living Oscar winner, Luise Rainer

"The Good Earth" and "The Great Ziegfeld"May she live to be as old as she wants to!

Luise was the first actress to become a double Oscar winner (36/37) and the first thespian to do it back-to-back though Spencer Tracy repeated her trick immediately (37/38); Katharine Hepburn (67/68), Jason Robards (76/77) and Tom Hanks (93/94) followed suit.

Tonight
TCM is airing interviews with Luise

OLDEST LIVING OSCAR NOMINEES

  1. LUISE RAINER (two time Best Actress winner), now 101.
  2. NORMAN CORWIN (nominee, wrote Lust for Life) is 100 1/2.
  3. DOUGLAS SLOCOMBE (3-time nominee, shot Raiders of the Lost Ark) is 98 next month.
  4. ELMO WILLIAMS (Oscar winner, editing High Noon) is 98 in April.
  5. OSWALD MORRIS (Oscar winner, shot Fiddler on the Roof) recently turned 95.
  6. OLIVIA deHAVILLAND (two time Best Actress winner and featured in fav actresses gallery) is 94
  7. KIRK DOUGLAS (Michael Douglas pappy and 3 time nominee) just turned 94.
  8. ERNEST BORGNINE (Best Actor winner, Marty) turns 94 this month. He was last seen in the action comedy Red (2010).
  9. CELESTE HOLM (Best Supporting Actress winner for Gentleman's Agreement which we were just discussing and the best thing about a million movies, don'cha think?) is 93.
  10. JOAN FONTAINE (Best Actress winner, Suspicion) is 93.

lots more here though I can never decide if the keeping of this list is too morbid or appropriately celebratory of longevity. Wouldn't it be great if they asked ANY of them to present an Oscar this year? Nah, they'll probably ask Miley Cyrus again instead, DAMNIT.

Tuesday
Jan112011

Best of 2010: Prophets, Toys, Fish Tanks and Rabbit Holes

Previously: Honorable Mentions
(Short on time so the second half has to wait. Apologies.)

Part 1
The Film Experience loves nothing more than being transported by the movies. The year's top dozen (a baker's dozen) took us deep inside French prisons, soared over Viking villages, danced into British projects and stumbled into Australian crime dens. This year's best films wandered 'round places both far flung (wealthy Italian estates) and right next door (New York City's Lincoln Center wherein a certain ballerina frets and pirouettes and transforms).

 

Wherever the year's best took us, we wanted to go. In fact, we're ready to go again. Just let us grab that unpublished manuscript and a treasured childhood toy for the journey. And, oops... just -- updating facebook status. Okay, now we're ready. Let's go!

[mild very vague spoilers on The Ghost Writer and Fish Tank]

RUNNERS UP



Un prophète dir. Jacques Audiard
[Sony Pictures Classics, Feb 26th]
Last year's shouldawontheforeignoscar contender treads excessively familiar ground patiently, biding its time. Malik (breakthrough sensation Tahar Rahim) may be a criminal savant but Jacques Audiard is the alpha dog in this dank dangerous racially charged prison (and outside of it as well). The French auteur's always expressive cinematic voice makes full use of both image and sound. They flicker and pulse as if in whispered conversation, haunting each other with their most awful details. Malik's horrifying character arc from remorseful killer to skilled death-dealer is so gradual that you're as surprised as he when you fully grasp the new criminal ecosystem when exiting this prison.

Toy Story 3 dir. Lee Unkrich
[Disney/Pixar, June 18th]

This latest and hopefully last Toy Story adventure expertly capitalizes on nostalgia for itself. (Please don't make another one Pixar as you'll taint the beautiful full circle affect of this one.) Scene for scene TS3 is maybe both the best comedy and the best tearjerker of the year.  The only reason it's not in the top ten -- shush, I realize it's supposed to be -- is that its deep comforts and emotional potency are inarguably the product of 15 years of other movies and cozy familiarity with the characters. Its considerable charm and four hankie finale is not exactly derived from this movie itself. In other words, it's got an enormous advantage over practically everything else that came out in 2010. It's like when everyone declared the end of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith so epic and moving and pretended that the movie didn't suck while it borrowed its emotional affect from the Force being with us for 30 years. The difference here (he quickly adds) is that Toy Story 3 is a marvelous movie in its own right: inventive, hilarious, beautifully staged.

Rabbit Hole dir. John Cameron Mitchell
[Lions Gate, Dec 17th]
This is a refreshingly unhistrionic portrait of grief and those are rare beasts. Its unassuming strengths, and maybe that hushed release in the noisiest of movie seasons, might be the thing(s) preventing it from breaking out. Which, come to think of it, is reflective of Becca herself (a great Nicole Kidman) as she's always getting in her own way. David Lindsay-Abaire's expert screenplay gets so many things about grief right. It understands that those most in need of comfort often push it away, it gets the way righteous anger leaks out as freeform hostility, and it sees that strangers can offer clarity and windows to healing that loved ones, with their messy intimacies, cannot. This might not sound like fun but it's sometimes bracingly funny. Rabbit Hole begins with a shot of Becca opening a bag of soil while she tensely gardens. Mitchell's sensitive direction and the fine cast do the work, but they trust you to notice their eventual flowering.

Top Ten List 


How To Train Your Dragon
dir. Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
[Dreamworks, March 26th]
Here's to happy miracles. When was the last time you saw a movie boy rewarded for using his smarts and intuition and accepting his peaceful nature? When was the last time the hero of an epic was a pacifist rather than a warrior? I won't hold my breath waiting for the answer. (Gandhi?) How to Train Your Dragon figures out how to have it both ways of course (this is mainstream cinema) and like Tangled, it trips on nervous bids at popularity: why do the kids speak with modern American snark while all the adults have Scottish accents? I haven't a clue! But its flight sequences are as magical as Avatar's and Toothless, the dread Night Fury is a brilliantly executed character. This is a personal choice but this movie arrived in my life right when I needed it. Our top tens ought to be a personal, else why make them? Dragon might be the best hug-your-pet movie since Babe (1995); it's not perfect but that'll do.

The Ghost Writer dir. Roman Polanski
[Summit, March 19th]
We never learn the name of the ghost (Ewan McGregor) hired to shadow and write about a politician under investigation (Pierce Brosnan) and why should we? The movie also plays it coy. Polanski's amazing sleight of hand alternately flashes us a political satire, a nihilistic comedy, a murder thriller and maybe even a drama about having a really shitty job for which no rewards or public acknowledgement will ever come. The Ghost Writer has memorably sinister interiors filled with sharp angles and splashes of blood red color. The exteriors are no safer as the endless stormy weather, slick streets and bodies washed ashore portend. Can a whole film be a red herring? It all builds towards the year's most brilliant ending, a vanishing act, a negation.


Fish Tank dir. Andrea Arnold
[IFC Films, January 15th]
Arnold's sophomore feature follows an angry British girl Mia (Katie Jarvis) around in her grim daily life as she hates on her family, picks fights with the neighbors, crushes on her mom's new man (Michael Fassbender, predictably excellent), and dreams of becoming a professional hiphop dancer. There are plentiful movies about downtrodden inarticulate characters each year but few this acutely observed. Even when Fish Tank risks going off the rails by willfully slamming into metaphor (the horse) or veering towards the edge of genre territory (an abduction) it works a peculiar beguiling magic. Just when you think the movie can't possibly resolve the gangly awkward impulses of its teen protagonist towards any satisfying conclusion, it stages a farewell dance that's both perfectly surreal and absurdly mundane. Wow.

..CONTINUE TO THE COMPLETE TOP TEN