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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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the design of THE LOVE WITCH

 

"The look of the film is really fantastic, but the script begins to run out of steam after the first quarter." -Rob

"Great write-up. I had the pleasure of seeing this beauty in 35mm." -Roger

 

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Melissa Leo (The Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (The Sense of an Ending)
Asghar Farhadi (Salesman)

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Monday
Mar202017

The Furniture: Thoroughly Modern Millie

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

Thoroughly Modern Millie opened 50 years ago this week, in the spring between San Francisco’s Human Be-In and the Summer of Love. None of 1967’s Best Picture nominees, immortalized as the birth of the New Hollywood in Mark Harris’s Pictures at a Revolution, had yet opened, but there was already something in the air.

Director George Roy Hill capitalized on this countercultural moment with an extravagant show of concentrated nostalgia. Thoroughly Modern Millie leaps back to the Roaring 20s, America’s last moment of liberated sexuality and conspicuous consumption before the Great Depression. Its flamboyant, frenetic ode to the flappers and their world was a big hit, making more than $34 million and landing 10th at the yearly box office. The film was nominated for seven Oscars including Art Direction-Set Decoration.

Yet its portrayal is not without contradictions...

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Sunday
Mar122017

Beauty Break: Happy 25th Anniversary to Bening & Beatty

I believe this was the first photoshoot they did together to promote Bugsy

Warren Beatty and Annette Bening were married on this day in 1992 (or thereabouts* -- different sources online disagree on which day in March. Google and On This Day say March 12th, IMdb and Wikipedia says March 3rd). In other words just couple weeks or so before the 1991 Oscars where their film was to be honored...

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Monday
Mar062017

The Furniture: A Scenery Buffet for the Battling Burtons

Editor's Note: "The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. We strongly suggest going forward that you click on the images to see them in their more detailed large glory. Many older films were of course designed for giant screens, not thinking of their eventual home as phones or small TV set. 

by Daniel Walber

 Franco Zeffirelli is not a man of subtle tastes. When he’s lucky, his opulent excesses achieve camp status. But when he’s not, it rolls over the audience like an 18-wheeler full of circus elephants. This has generally been the rule for his theatrical productions, some of which have nonetheless become war horse mainstays at major opera companies.

And so it may come as something of a surprise that the director’s overzealous artistic passion actually works quite brilliantly in his film version of The Taming of the Shrew, which opened 50 years ago this week. It turns out that his style is perfect for the frenetic madness of William Shakespeare’s screamiest comedy, heightened to a fever pitch by the deafening roars of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The setting is Renaissance Padua, introduced by way of a delightfully pastoral matte painting. Not content simply with a city in the rain, Zeffirelli showcases a rainbow. Two-dimensional sheep mingle with their three-dimensional, breathing brethren...

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Monday
Feb202017

The Furniture: A Canadian Air Show in Captains of the Clouds

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

The United States may have entered World War II late, but American studios didn’t wait nearly as long to start making propaganda. Hollywood produced a number of pro-Allied films before the American entry into the war, from A Yankee in the RAF to the comparatively subtle Sergeant York. Though this ruffled some feathers in Washington, the debate became moot in December of 1941.

Captains of the Clouds falls right on the cusp, shot before Pearl Harbor but released in February of 1942. The film, directed by Michael Curtiz, was intended to drum up support for the Canadian war effort. The first major Hollywood production to be shot north of the border, it’s a technicolor extravaganza starring James Cagney and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

It also received two Oscar nominations. Sol Polito was recognized in the Best Cinematography category for the film’s breathtaking aerial sequences, a no-brainer. 

The nominated work of art director Ted Smith and set decorator Casey Roberts, however, is less flashy...

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Friday
Jan272017

The Sex Appeal of Garbo, Valentino and a 150-Year-Old Novelist

By either bizarre coincidence or brilliant intuition, Greta Garbo and Rudolph Valentino began their careers in nearly the same way. Both achieved overnight success with adaptations of one Spanish novelist, a writer who has almost entirely faded from popular consciousness since then. At the time, though, he was more famous than either actor.

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Monday
Jan232017

The Furniture: Celebrating the Tackiness of "The Oscar"

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

Tomorrow is twice blessed. You’re probably already excited for the first reason, the Oscar nominations announcement. It’s also the centennial of Ernest Borgnine, an actor I have never particularly liked. But this coincidence makes today a perfect opportunity to talk about one of the worst movies ever produced by a Hollywood studio: 1966’s The Oscar.

The film begins and ends at the Academy Awards, where fictional Frankie Fane (Stephen Boyd) is as Best Actor nominee for Breakthrough, perhaps the most on-the-nose fictional title of all time. His newly estranged best friend Hymie Kelly (Tony Bennett, in his film debut), glares at him from the next row. Bennett would retire from acting immediately after The Oscar, for reasons that are obvious from the moment he starts talking...

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Thursday
Jan192017

Happy 25th, Logan Lerman!

by David Upton

Congratulations are due: Logan Lerman’s endearing baby face has lasted to his twenty-fifth birthday! It's not that unusual for actors to play teenagers even into their thirties, but Lerman seems especially stuck in transition, repeatedly playing similar tunes of young men who are particularly prey to societal pressures. Last year’s Indignation threw him back in time, with his personal dramas set against an Ohioan college in 1951, but it was his previous college adventure that has proven Lerman’s career high to date...

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