20 items from 2014
What’s new, what’s hot, and what you may have missed, now available to stream.
streaming now, before it’s on dvd
The Lego Movie: you’ve seen this all before — it’s Toy Story meets The Matrix — just not done in Legos [my review] [at iTunes UK] The Lunchbox: a charming, bittersweet, utterly chaste love affair forged over food and cemented by kindred spirits [my review] [at iTunes UK] 112 Weddings: startling and welcome breath of reality for an institution overladen by fantasy in our culture: happily ever after is hard! [my review] [at iTunes UK] Visitors: a weirdly beautiful film, eerie in its complicated simplicity, and open to seven billion interpretations, all of them valid [my review] [at iTunes UK] The Zero Theorem: Terry Gilliam’s latest is chock full of glorious Gillam style and a fun performance from Christoph Waltz, but little else [at iTunes UK]
streaming now, before it’s on dvd
- MaryAnn Johanson
Behold the Oscar-nominated Supporting Actresses of 1964: two wealthy matriarchs with strained relations to their children, one desperate widow who would very much like relations of any kind, an irritable church group leader watching your every move and one sweaty possessive housekeeper lurking around the corner.
Moorehead, Evans, Kedrova, Cooper, Hall
1964's shortlist is one of the most senior in any acting category ever with an average age of 61. This 50 year old Oscar contest also acted as a finale for three enduring character actresses who Hollywood adored (Cooper, Evans, and Moorehead) but never quite enough at the right time to hand them the gold man. (In truth Dame Edith Evans, who did not attend the ceremony, was nominated one last time and quite deservedly for The Whisperers but that nomination is sadly almost as forgotten as the confused woman she masterfully played.)
This Month's Panelists
- NATHANIEL R
The Supporting Actress Smackdown of '64 is just 8 days away. So it's time to get your votes in on the nominees that year. Readers, collectively, are the sixth panelists, so grade the nominees (only the ones you've seen) from 1 to 5 hearts. Your votes count toward the smackdown win!
Agnes Moorhead Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte
Grayson Hall Night of the Iguana
But before we here at Tfe get to that particular metaphorical musical-horror mishmash of films with one of the most senior lineups the Academy ever offered up in this category, let's meet our panelists for this 50th anniversary retrospective competition.
- NATHANIEL R
They're talented, individual, but could, possibly, do with a bit of editorial guidance. Could these directors use a boss, we wonder?
In truth, we're a bit frightened about this one. Several times in pub/coffee shop/cider drinking in the park conversations, we've chatted about film directors who perhaps have got too powerful, that they seem to be able to get their own way without having someone to call bullshit on them - be it a good boss, or a very good friend that they trust and listen to.
This can be a very good thing. After all, we want film directors to be free to tell their stories. We don't want studio suits calling the shots. And some directors use their independence wondefully well, without losing what bought it to them in the first place (so, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Robert Zemeckis and such like).
Thirteen years since the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, star Viggo Mortensen isn’t holding back in expressing his true feelings for the Peter Jackson trilogy. In a candid interview with The Telegraph, the 55-year-old actor calls the process of making the epic films an epic disaster.
Mortensen, who portrayed Aragorn in the trilogy, says Jackson and producers “were in a lot of trouble” before the first film proved to be a massive hit with both critics and moviegoers. “Officially, could say that he was finished in December 2000 — he’d shot all three »
- Amber Ray
Most filmmakers love technical toys, and Peter Jackson is a shining example of that. The New Zealand director aggressively pursues the latest in technology for his films, sometimes resulting in advancements for filmmaking across the board. Mostly it works, pretty much everything Weta has done has been gold for example, but sometimes it doesn't such as the push for higher frame rates.
The worry with any director who loves playing with new toys is if those toys are enough of a distraction that they interfere and/or hamper the narrative they are trying to convey. When the tech stops becoming a tool used for a function and starts being used just for the sake of being used, the result is often bloat or far more important aspects of the film (script, performances, pacing, etc.) suffering a quality drop from lack of adequate attention. The "Star Wars" prequels serve as an excellent example of that problem. »
- Garth Franklin
In an interview with The Guardian, Viggo Mortensen has gotten directly to the point when it comes to Peter Jackson and his films, particularly everything since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring up to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. He's not exactly saying anything new as he notes Jackson's increasing interest and use of advanced filmmaking technology and how he believes it has replaced his earlier, more subtle work: Mortensen thinks - rightly - that The Fellowship of the Ring turned out the best of the three, perhaps largely because it was shot in one go. "It was very confusing, we were going at such a pace, and they had so many units shooting, it was really insane. But it's true that the first script was better organised," he says. "Also, Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, »
- Brad Brevet
Ineffectual and cartoonish, “Perfect Sisters” dramatizes a case that shocked Canada a decade ago, when two teenage girls killed their alcoholic mother in order to be free of the chaos wrought by her perpetual irresponsibility — a well-planned crime that several of their classmates knew about before it happened. TV producer Stan Brooks’ first directorial feature provides scant psychological depth, drawing its characters and staging their incidents in crude fashion, despite superficial production gloss. A limited U.S. theatrical launch April 11 is unlikely to significantly heighten visibility for a pic already available on demand and destined primarily for smallscreen sales.
Based on Toronto Star reporter Bob Mitchell’s true-crime tome (which is purportedly far less sympathetic toward the protags), Fabrizio Filippo and Adam Till’s script introduces us to high schoolers Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth (Georgie Henley of “The Chronicles of Narnia” films) as they, along with a little brother, »
- Dennis Harvey
Sister, My Sister: Brooks’ Uneven Debut Fumbles
Producer Stanley M. Brooks makes his directorial debut with Perfect Sisters, one of those tawdry sounding stories about familial dysfunction concerning a pair of teenage sisters that decided to kill their mother in 2006. There’s something perversely shocking about matricide, even by today’s glib standards, and the cinema is rife with similar examples, particularly in exploitation efforts and/or other morose endeavors. Brooks’ film will most likely recall Peter Jackson’s exceptional debut, 1994’s Heavenly Creatures, itself taken from the true life account of a woman that would grow up into author Ann Perry. However, Brooks’ isn’t quite as adept as Jackson with this tonally awkward exercise that is particularly grating until its second half, when the film actually manages to balance a murder with chilling detail, speckled with dark humor an a surprising alacrity considering the groan worthy extravaganza that came before. »
- Nicholas Bell
New Zealand actress Melanie Lynskey made her breakthrough into movies and cinema history with Peter Jackson's true-crime drama Heavenly Creatures back in 1994. Since then, she's become an actress utterly beloved by critics and indie movie fans for her layered performances in films like Win Win, Away We Go, Up In the Air and Hello I Must Be Going. In the new-to-iTunes comedy Putzel, Lynskey learned to embrace her inner shiksa to play Sally, the spunky center of this raunchy rom-com's tricky love triangle. Putzel stars Jack Carpenter (I Love Beth Cooper) as Walter "Putzel" Himmelstein, a neurotic New York Jew who has become so engrained into the daily operations of his family's Upper West Side bagels and lox shop that the very thought of stepping outside the neighborhood fills him with crippling anxiety. He attempts to buckle down and prove to his uncle Sid (John Pankow) that he's ready »
Kate Winslet has done just about the lot when it comes to her movie career: crossed the Atlantic on a doomed liner in Titanic, had Jim Carrey wiped from her mind in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and battled a lethal virus in Contagion.
However, Divergent marks a first for the British Oscar winner - her debut as a chilling Hollywood villain. As Jeanine Matthews - leader of the Erudite faction seeking to wipe out Shailene Woodley and her fellow 'divergents' - Winslet blends the sky-high intellect of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates with something more sinister.
"I like the idea that she has this level of scientific intelligence coupled with high heels and a wicked tongue. It somehow made her a really nifty baddie. »
Kate Winslet is back in the spotlight this month thanks to a pair of roles in very contrasting films. In Jason Reitman's Labor Day (out in the UK now) she plays a single mother who takes in an escaped convict, while Divergent sees her play an icy cool villain opposite Ya's latest heroine Shailene Woodley.
Not only that, but the Oscar-winning British star has finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With that in mind, we take a look back at our five favourite Kate Winslet screen roles...
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
This highly-charged drama was based on the notorious Parker-Hulme murder case in New Zealand, and cast Winslet as a girl firmly entrenched in a fantasy life with best friend (Melanie Lynskey). Prior to this, the actress had only worked on British TV (including the required stint on Casualty), but she was a complete big-screen natural. The »
A is for Aladdin
Starting with Cadillac Man and ending with Bicentennial Man, Robin Williams made 27 films over the course of the 90s. That's a whole spectrum of Robin Williamses: kooky (Mrs Doubtfire), mournful (What Dreams May Come), creepy (Jack) and annoying (again, Bicentennial Man). Yet the most 90s Robin Williams performance of all is his turn as the Genie in Disney's Aladdin, in which he is allowed to blabber and gibber and yelp and riff about nothing at a mile a minute for ages. It's brilliant, but exhausting. Remember, this film had two sound editors. Pray for them.
B is for The Blair Witch Project
A definitively 90s film because it was »
- Stuart Heritage
Sticking closely to shoe-string budgeted films and appropriately titled "splatstick" horror comedies, Peter Jackson wasn't exactly the biggest name being passed around the film community back in the day. It wasn't until he received recognition for his work on Heavenly Creatures that he was able to break away from the cult director status he associated himself with and before long, he was on his way to directing one of the biggest and most influential film trilogies of all time. »
No offense to entertainment journalists and film critics, but Kate Winslet doesn’t read what they write about her. It’s nothing personal. And it’s not as if she’s inaccessible. In fact, she’s one of the more engaging interviewees one is likely to encounter: sharp, unguarded, down-to-earth, hilarious in a salty-tongued way. This willful indifference to the media is more an act of preservation than anything else.
“It’s the only way I’ve been able to stay sane in these last 20 years,” says the oft-decorated actress, who’s being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 17.
The sentiment is not a recent affectation. Back in 2007, when she was being honored with a Britannia award from BAFTA/La and had just garnered her fifth Oscar nomination, the message was the same. “It’s sort of a survival instinct on some level,” she told Variety at the time. »
- Steve Chagollan
Guess what unforgettable movie about people wanting to forget is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary?
Have you ever thought about what your favorite shot from it is? Or which shot best represents the movie as a whole? Have you ever wondered how it can possibly be that the cinematographer Ellen Kuras has only done 4 narrative features in the ten years since?
You know where this is going right?!
Break out the bubbly because "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" returns on March 18th (We're moving it to Tuesdays at 9 Pm to give people the weekend to screen the movies and be ready!). If you're new to the blog or haven't yet experimented with actually participating, I guarantee a good time. Everyone who has participating religiously has said that they've gotten a ton out of it. Plus it proves the point 'the more the merrier' because the best episodes offer »
- NATHANIEL R
3 Notes. Oh don't click away you have time to read them. And yes I'll be live tweeting and a little light blogging tonight
01. Like The Film Experience on Facebook. Follow Nathaniel on Twitter, Pinterest? Why am I so needy? It's like this: Once Oscar night wraps up I experience something like a free fall; help me pull that parachute string.
02. We're here all year -- it's not just an Oscar site so don't abandon us if you're exhausted by Oscar shenanigans. There's only one more week of it, recapping this year's Oscars, filmbitching, and we'll close out the annual festivities with that Supporting Actress Smackdown we promised (yes, the one I flubbed that you've been impatient for). After that one eye returns to brand new movies and pinch of tv and the other to occasional trips back to favored oldies in A Year With Kate, Seasons of Bette, and Hit Me. »
- NATHANIEL R
February is upon us which means an endless barrage of Valentine's Day reminders. But not everyone is a fan of Hallmark holidays. This February 14th, you can snuggle up with someone special and watch The Notebook, or you can check out these twisted and not-so-feel-good tales of love and physical affection.
The "Crazy in Love" Category
Haute Tension (2003)
Despite its one gaping flaw (those who have seen it know exactly what I mean), this popular French horror is the bleakest, bloodiest tale of unrequited love since the works of Shakespeare. It follows a young woman as she desperately tries to rescue her friend who has been kidnapped by a serial killer. When I think of lovelorn psychos, the final shot of this film definitely comes to mind.
The Loved Ones (2009)
When a lonely Australian girl is turned down for prom by her crush, Brent, she takes matters into her own hands. »
- Heather Seebach
Trevor Hogg chats with Matt Aitken about a shape-shifter, Elves who live underground, and the awakening of a dragon named Smaug...
Matt Aitken“We grew fast at the beginning of Weta Digital and by that stage there wasn’t the expertise within the country to grow the company as fast as we had to,” explains Weta Digital Visual Effects Supervisor Matt Aitken who was one of the native New Zealanders working for the company during the production of The Lord of the Ringstrilogy. “But since the time of Rings we have been actively working recruiting local graduates. We have our own in-house training program and the percentage of the crew that is Kiwi is growing all of the time.” The opportunity to pursue visual effects as a career enabled the Oscar nominee to merge his different interests. “I pursued Mathematics as my first degree and have always been interested in »
My name is Andy and Kate Winslet is my favorite actress.
From the moment I saw her walk across the rain-drenched moors to see Willoughby's house in Sense and Sensibility, I was hooked. (I watched that movie nearly once a week in high school - a fact I mentioned to her years later when I met her.) After catching up with her mesmerizing film debut in Heavenly Creatures and seeing her follow-ups to Sense and Sensibility, 1996's Jude and Hamlet, there was no question in my mind; Kate Winslet was the greatest actress of her generation. I wasn't the only one that thought so. [More...] »
20 items from 2014
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