Monday, October 20, 2014

Possession (1981 film)




Directed by Andrezj Zulawski and written by Zulawski and Frederic Tuten, Possession is the story of a woman who starts to behave very strangely after asking her international spy husband for a divorce. The film explores a marriage coming apart as well as a woman unraveling amidst the decision to end her marriage. Starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill. Possession is a terrifying yet provocative film from Andrezj Zulawski.

A spy returns home from a mission as his wife asks for a divorce as she starts to behave erratically as he wonders what is wrong with as their marriage starts to crumble. It’s a film that plays into questions about how a marriage can fall apart as questions of infidelity come into play but things become more complicated due to the behavior of the wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani) who becomes neglectful towards her son Bob (Michael Hogben) as well as being unkempt and goes away for long periods of time. For the husband Mark (Sam Neill), he wonders what Anna is up to as he asks her friend Margie (Margit Cartensen) and a lover of Anna in Heinrich (Heinz Bennent) as they don’t really know. Eventually, the answer that Mark finds would force him to question to his own devotion to his own wife.

The film’s screenplay starts off with Mark returning home as it showcases that his life as a spy is an ambiguous one where not much is revealed as his home life isn’t great either due to his numerous absences as he desires to stay home. Upon this decision, his life would unravel as he sees his marriage fall apart where Anna would leave for days as her decisions become questionable to the point that he would give her space until the realization that he couldn’t leave her. In some ways, the film is a love story of a man trying to prove his devotion to his wife who wants nothing to do with him as well as some revelations about how their marriage disintegrated. Even as Mark is tempted move on from his marriage after meeting Bob’s schoolteacher Helen (Isabelle Adjani) who is the exact opposite of Anna. Still, Mark is eager to help Anna who starts to unravel as he hires private detectives to find out what she is doing as it would involve some extremely dark aspects relating to Anna’s odd behavior.

Andrezj Zulawski’s direction is very stylish in not just some of the tracking shots he creates that are very elaborate. It’s also in some of the intimate moments between Mark and Anna where it showcases a lot of dramatic tension and quieter moments that showcases their disintegrating marriage. Notably a scene at a restaurant where Mark makes a scene as it showcases some of the film’s manic tone where Zulawski uses a lot of hand-held cameras to capture the action along with some long takes. Even the tracking shots that are created go on for a while to play into the world the characters are in as it’s set in West Berlin near the Berlin Wall where Mark often sees guards looking at him from the Wall. The use of the locations has Zulawski play into something where it serves as a metaphor for where Mark and Anna are in their life and marriage.

The sense of maniacal terror definitely looms once it becomes clear into why Anna has become quite secretive as it includes this eerie flashback scene of a meltdown in a subway tunnel that is just fucked up beyond recognition. It’s a moment in the film where it’s very primal and visceral where Zulawski’s use of hand-held cameras and the location itself adds to that sense of terror that looms. Even as the film progresses where this mix of horror, drama, and suspense come together where it plays into what Mark wants from Anna. Overall, Zulawski creates a truly mesmerizing yet haunting film about a man’s attempt to save his marriage.

Cinematographer Bruno Nuytten does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its use of grayish colors to play into the dreariness of the locations and its tone of horror. Editors Marie-Sophi Dubus and Suzanne Lang-Willar do fantastic work with the editing with its use of jump-cuts from a film that Mark watches about Anna to some of the rhythmic cuts in the film‘s suspenseful moments. Art director Holger Gross does amazing work with the look of the apartments the characters look including the apartment that Anna lives in all by herself.

Costume designer Ingrid Zore does terrific work with the costumes from the blue dresses of Anna to the more white dresses that her doppelganger Helen wears. The sound work of Norman Engel and Karl-Heinz Laabs do brilliant work with the sound from some of the effects it play into the film‘s horror as well as the mixing to convey some of its suspense and ominous moments. The film’s music by Andrezj Korzynski is superb for its very chilling use of pianos and discordant string arrangements as well as sound textures that play into the sense of terror that looms in the film.

The film’s incredible cast include some notable small roles from Carl Duering as a private detective hired to follow Anna, Shaun Lawton as the detective’s partner, Joanna Hofer as Heinrich’s mother, Maximillian Ruthlein as an associate of Mark from the spy service, and Michael Hogben as Mark and Anna’s son Bob who wonders about his mother’s many absences. Heinz Bennent is terrific as Anna’s lover Heinrich who is a very strange man who claims to love everything as he is also a skilled fighter as he is someone that tests Mark. Margit Cartensen is wonderful in a small role as Anna’s best friend Margie whom Mark doesn’t like very much as she is aware that something about Anna isn’t right as she helps Mark in looking after Bob.

Sam Neill is great as Mark as this spy who returns home to see his marriage unraveling as it’s a performance that is terrifying at times in terms of Mark’s devotion to Anna as he also displays a darkly comic sense of charm to his role. Finally, there’s Isabelle Adjani in a performance for the ages in the dual roles of Anna and Helen. In the latter, there is a sweetness to the character of Helen as she represents everything that Anna isn’t while being offbeat in her look due to the green eyes she has. In Anna, Adjani goes all out as it is over-the-top at times but also a performance that is just visceral and frightening to watch. Most notably the scene at the tunnel where Adjani is like a wild animal coming apart as it’s a performance that is unquestionably one of the scariest performances captured on film.

Possession is a phenomenal film from Andrezj Zulawski that features a very terrifying and unforgettable performance from Isabelle Adjani. The film is without question one of the most intriguing films about marriage as well as being a smart genre-bender that refuses to define itself into one genre. Even as it has something for everyone including horror fans in how it can go to great extremes. In the end, Possession is a magnificent film from Andrezj Zulawski.

Andrezj Zulawski Films: (The Third Part of the Night) - (Diabel) - (The Most Important Thing: Love) - (The Public Woman) - (L’Amour braque) - (On the Silver Globe) - (My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days) - (Boris Godunov) - (Szamanka) - (Fidelity)

© thevoid99 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jodorowsky's Dune




Directed by Frank Pavich, Jodorowsky’s Dune is the story about French-Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to create a film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi novel Dune to the big screen in the 1970s. The documentary reveals many of Jodorowsky’s ideas that really paved the way for a lot of the future sci-fi films to come and how the project fell apart as Jodorowsky reveals what happened. The result is one of the fascinating stories about one of the greatest films that never got made.

The film explores Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to transform Frank Herbert’s novel Dune into a feature film as Jodorowsky had gained some success as a cult filmmaker with two out-of-this-world film in El Topo and The Holy Mountain. The success of the latter gave him carte blanche to create anything he wanted as Jodorowsky wanted to do Dune with the help of French producer Michel Seydoux. The ambitious ideas that Jodorowsky had for the film were beyond anything imaginable as the documentary showcase many of the ideas that Jodorowsky. With the contributions of the late artist Jean “Moebius” Girard and the late visual effects designer Dan O’Bannon as well as artist Chris Foss, the visual ideas that Jodorowsky would have were grand.

Even the ideas for the film’s music were bold as Jodorowsky wanted the French band Magma and Pink Floyd to contribute while the casting was also insane as it would include Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, model Amanda Lear, Orson Welles, David Carradine, and Jodorowsky’s son Brontis in the lead role of Paul Atreides. Frank Pavich would do many of the interviews in a very simple and direct way while letting the film clips from other films as well as animated storyboards to showcase what Jodorowsky wanted. Many of the drawings that Moebius, Foss, and the late H.G. Giger created weren’t just ahead of its time but through the animation of Syd Garon and 3D animator Paul Griswold. It showcased something that would’ve changed cinema itself.

With the help of cinematographer David Cavallo, editors Paul Docherty and Alex Riccardi, and sound editor Jesse Flower-Ambroch, Pavich would create a documentary that didn‘t just explore a lot about what Jodorowsky wanted but how the people who would collaborate with him were in tune with what he wanted. Filmmakers Richard Stanley and Nicolas Winding Refn revealed that Jodorowsky was so ahead of his time as many of the ideas he put in towards the film would set the seeds for many ideas in the years to come as Refn believed that everything with modern sci-fi begins with this unmade film. Refn also believes that the reason the film was never made because Hollywood was afraid of Jodorowsky and what he wanted to do.

Of the people interviewed, Jodorowsky is clearly the star as his enthusiasm is really fun to watch as it proves that age is nothing but a number. With the film’s music by Kurt Stenzel that is largely an electronic-based score to play into the sci-fi tone of the film. Pavich creates something that has a lot of energy but also some melancholia since Jodorowsky never got the chance to make his dream film though he was pleased to see that he did make an impact as it led to a reunion between himself and Michel Seydoux for 2013’s The Dance of Reality which was considered a comeback film for the director.

Jodorowsky’s Dune is a phenomenal film from Frank Pavich about Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to make Frank Herbert’s novel into a true cinematic event. It’s a documentary that showcases what could’ve been as well as the impact the unmade film would have on many films as well as Jodorowsky’s own reaction to the eventual film version by David Lynch. In the end, Jodorowsky’s Dune is a spectacular film from Frank Pavich.

Alejandro Jodorowsky Films: (Les tetes interverties) - (Teatro sin fin) - (Fando y Lis) - (El Topo) - (The Holy Mountain) - (Tusk) - (Santa Sangre) - (The Rainbow Thief) - (The Dance of Reality)

Related: (Dune (1984 film))

© thevoid99 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tideland




Based on the novel by Mitch Cullen, Tideland is the story of a young girl who goes to her grandmother's house with her father following her mother’s death as she embarks into a fantasy world to escape her dreary life. Directed by Terry Gilliam and screenplay by Gilliam and Tony Grisoni, the film is an exploration into the life of a young girl as she seeks to create a fantasy world amidst the chaos of her troubled family life. Starring Jodelle Ferland, Brendan Fletcher, Janet McTeer, Jennifer Tilly, and Jeff Bridges. Tideland is an enchanting but very flawed film from Terry Gilliam.

The film follows the life of a young girl who goes to Texas with her drug-addict musician father following her mother’s death as she retreats into a world of fantasy with her doll heads. It’s a film that plays into this world of death as this young woman named Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) is someone with a vivid approach to imagination as she surrounds herself with doll heads while meeting eccentric characters during her stay in this house in the middle of the Texan fields. Especially as her imagination finds her drifting further away from reality as well as what is really happening to her father and who the people she meets really are. The film’s screenplay follows much the life of Jeliza-Rose as she lives with her drug addict parents where her father Noah (Jeff Bridges) was a once famous musician whose career is all but washed up as they both have to tend to Jeliza-Rose’s lazy mother (Jennifer Tilly) until she dies of an overdose.

Upon going to Texas where Jeliza-Rose retreats to her fantasy world, she meets a mentally-challenged young man named Dickens (Brendan Fletcher) and his strange taxidermist sister Dell (Janet McTeer). The story becomes weirder where it would meander at times as it often follows Jeliza-Rose’s world of imagination and her time with Dickens as it sometimes go on for a little too long. Especially as the story becomes less plot-driven and much looser as it would slow the story down though there are moments where Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni try to infuse a lot of humor. While the relationship between Jeliza-Rose and Dickens is quite creepy and discomforting, it plays into the weird aspects of the film as it showcases how removed Jeliza-Rose is with the real world.

Gilliam’s direction is very stylish in the way he creates a film that is a fantasy but from a much smaller scale. Shot largely in Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada as Texas, the film does have this sense of beauty in its location where Jeliza-Rose can roam around by herself. Even as the location has a bit of fantasy where it feels very removed from the dark world that Jeliza-Rose lives in as her grandmother’s house is a place of ruin and abandonment. Much of Gilliam’s compositions involve a lot of slanted angles to play into the weird tone of the film with his use of close-ups, medium shots, and wide shots. While there are some fantasy sequences that occur, Gilliam is unable to really keep things going due to the looseness of the story where some of the moments in the film tend to drag on for too long. Even in the actions of Dell and Dickens as it sometimes get too weird for its own good. Overall, Gilliam creates a worthwhile but troubled film about a young girl escaping into her world of fantasy.

Cinematographer Nicola Percorini does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the naturalistic look of the exterior locations to the usage of stylish lighting schemes for the interior scenes in day and night. Editor Lesley Walker does superb work in the editing in creating a few montages while playing to the film‘s offbeat tone with some stylish cuts. Production designer Jasna Stefanovic, with set decorator Sara McCudden and art director Anastasia Marano, does fantastic work with the look of the home that Jeliza-Rose and her father lives in as well as the house that Dickens and Dell live in.

Costume designers Mario Davignon and Delphine White do amazing work with the stylish clothes of the characters including the costumes that Dell wears. Visual effects supervisor Richard Bain does nice work with the visual effects such as a few fantasy scenes involving Dickens‘ submarine and the doll heads of Jeliza-Rose. Sound editor James Mather does terrific work with the sound work from the sound of the squirrel to other sound effects that play outside of the house where reality would creep in. The film’s music by Jeff and Mychael Danna is wonderful for its orchestral-driven score as it feature some somber, piano-based pieces to more offbeat cuts to play into the film’s humor.

The casting by Deirdre Bowen is brilliant as it features a few notable small roles from Dylan Taylor as a farm boy who brings food to Dell, Wendy Anderson as the voice of the squirrel that Jeliza-Rose encounters, and Jennifer Tilly in a very wild performance as Jeliza-Rose’s trashy, chocolate-eating mother. Brendan Fletcher is terrific as Dickens as this mentally-impaired young man who intrigues Jeliza-Rose in their love of imagination as he fears a monster that often lurks around. Janet McTeer is fantastic as Dell as this woman who is blind in one eye as she is a very eccentric figure who dresses like a witch as it’s a role that is both comical and terrifying.

Jeff Bridges is excellent as Jeliza-Rose’s father Noah as this musician whose time has come and gone as he resigns himself into his addiction to heroin while helping Jeliza-Rose in any way he can. Finally, there’s Jodelle Ferland in a remarkable performance as Jeliza-Rose as this girl with a great sense of imagination as she tries to retreat into her fantasy world while dealing with some of the dark encounters of reality as Ferland also voices the doll head friends she has.

Tideland is a pretty good though flawed film from Terry Gilliam. While it has a great cast and some amazing technical work, it’s a film that tries to be a lot of things but ends up being a bit flat in its approach to being weird. Still, there’s moments in the film that showcases Gilliam’s fascination with imagination and its battle with reality. In the end, Tideland is a terrific but messy film from Terry Gilliam.

Terry Gilliam Films: Jabberwocky - Time Bandits - Brazil - The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - The Fisher King - 12 Monkeys - Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas - The Brothers Grimm - The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - The Zero Theorem - (The Auteurs #38: Terry Gilliam)

© thevoid99 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Lady Vanishes (1938 film)




Based on the novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, The Lady Vanishes is the story of an elderly woman who suddenly disappears on a train traveling across Europe as her young companion leads an investigation. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and screenplay by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder from a screen story by Alma Reville, the film is a mystery that explores a woman’s disappearance where a small group of people try to solve that mystery. Starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, and Dame May Whitty. The Lady Vanishes is a thrilling and exciting film from Alfred Hitchcock.

The film is about an elderly woman who disappears on a traveling through Europe as her young companion tries to find her with the help of a young musician. Along the way, many claim to have not seen the old woman as there are questions into whether this young socialite is either lying or is just being crazy since she did get hit in the head by a falling object. It all plays into this mystery where it starts off at an inn where many characters are waiting for a train to arrive as much of the story takes place on this train to Europe. The film’s screenplay does have this unique structure where it begins at an inn which serves as a way to introduce the characters as it includes the socialite Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) who is engaged to be married as she finds herself annoyed by the musician Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) over the loud music he makes.

Upon meeting this governess in Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) who maybe a target for some kind of political scheme, Iris becomes attached to the old lady where they become friends. Still reeling from the falling object that hit her, Iris wonders where did Miss Froy go as people claim that they never saw her as only Gilbert believes her. Adding to this sense of mystery are an array of characters who are either oblivious to Iris’ claims or are in denial as a brain surgeon in Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas) believes that Iris is being delusional. With Gilbert aiding Iris in the investigation, he also would realize that maybe Iris isn’t lying or being delusional as he becomes a key aspect into solving the mystery of Miss Froy’s disappearance.

Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is very stylish not just for the fact that much of the film’s second and third act is set almost entirely inside a train. It’s the fact that it has this sense of ambiguity that goes on in the train about whether Iris is telling the truth or is she just being delusional due to the bump on the head she’s suffering from. Hitchcock’s direction in the first act takes place inside an inn where it is about establishing the people who are going to be onboard this train where there’s a lot of things that are happening. Even as questions into why Miss Froy is listening to some folk singer outside of her window as there’s also some funny moments involving a couple of cricket players rooming with a maid who can’t speak English or an inn servant dealing with women wearing only their underwear.

The direction has Hitchcock take great advantage of the film’s very intimate but claustrophobic feel inside the train where he uses a lot of close-ups and medium shots. Even in scene where he will shoot a certain object as it will play into the suspense as well as some of the ambiguity that occurs in the film. There’s also moments where Hitchcock will find ways to create some kind of payoff that occurs in the third act as it involves all sorts of things where some of the passengers who often appear start to play key roles in the finale. Overall, Hitchcock creates a very sensational and engaging film about a woman’s mysterious disappearance.

Cinematographer Jack Cox does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography as it‘s very straightforward with the exception of a few scenes set in the dark such as the train tunnels and at the inn at night. Editor R.E. Dearing does superb work with the sound in creating a few montages such as the effects that Iris would have from her injury as well as some rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense. Set decorator Alex Vetchinsky and art director Albert Whitcock do brilliant work with the look of the inn from the room that the cricket players were forced to stay as well as the train compartments where many of the characters are in throughout the film.

Sound recordist Sydney Wiles does nice work with the sound work from some of the layers of sound that occurs inside the train to the scene where Iris is annoyed by the music that Gilbert is playing at the inn. Music director Louis Levy brings in a wonderful mix of music ranging from folk to standards as well as some original music by Charles Williams whose orchestral score plays into some of the film‘s suspenseful moments.

The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford as the cricket players trying not to distract themselves so they can prepare for their test match, Cecil Parker as a cowardice lawyer, Linden Travers as his mistress, Catherine Lacey as a suspicious nun, Mary Clare as a baroness who is very quiet, Philip Leaver as the magician Signor Doppo, and Emile Boreo as the overwhelmed innkeeper. Paul Lukas is excellent as the mysterious Dr. Hartz as a man who examines Iris as he believes that everything she is seeing is in her head.

Dame May Whitty is fantastic as Miss Froy as this woman who is a bit of an eccentric but also kind and witty. Michael Redgrave is brilliant as Gilbert as this musician who annoys Iris as he would help her in the investigation as he wonders if Iris really telling the truth as Redgrave brings a great sense of charm to his role. Finally, there’s Margaret Lockwood in an amazing performance as Iris as this young socialite who tries to find Miss Froy as she wonders if she is telling the truth or is losing due to a head injury as it’s a very engaging and exciting performance from Lockwood.

The Lady Vanishes is a spectacular film from Alfred Hitchcock. Armed with a great cast and a premise that definitely sells itself, the film is truly one of Hitchcock’s finest films in British studio period. Even as it’s a film that manages to play with the conventions of suspense while taking its time to let the mystery unfold itself. In the end, The Lady Vanishes is a phenomenal film from Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock Films: (Number 13) - (The Pleasure Garden) - (The Blackguard) - (The Mountain Eagle) - (The Lodger) - (A Story of the London Fog) - (The Ring) - (Downhill) - (The Farmer’s Wife) - (Easy Virtue) - (Champagne) - (The Manxman) - (Blackmail) - (Juno and the Paycock) - (Murder!) - (The Skin Game) - (Mary) - (Lord Camber’s Ladies) - (Rich and Strange) - (Number Seventeen) - (Waltzes from Vienna) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 film)) - (39 Steps) - (Secret Agent) - (Sabotage) - (Young and Innocent) - (Jamaica Inn) - (Rebecca) - (Foreign Correspondent) - (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) - (Suspicion) - (Saboteur) - (Shadow of a Doubt) - (Lifeboat) - (Spellbound) - (Notorious) - (The Paradine Cage) - (Rope) - (Under Capricorn) - (Stage Fright) - Strangers on a Train - (I Confess) - (Dial M for Murder) - (Rear Window) - (To Catch a Thief) - (The Trouble with Harry) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film)) - (The Wrong Man) - Vertigo - (North by Northwest) - Psycho - The Birds - (Marnie) - (Torn Curtain) - (Topaz) - (Frenzy) - (Family Plot)

© thevoid99 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Club Dread




Written by and starring the Broken Lizard troupe, that consists of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske, and directed by Chandrasekhar, Club Dread is a slasher comedy set in a tropical island where a mysterious killer is killing guests and staff members prompting its owner and surviving staff members to find out who the killer is. The film is a spoof of sorts on the slasher films as well as comedies based on paradise retreats. Also starring Brittany Daniel, M.C. Gainey, Jordan Ladd, Lindsay Price, and Bill Paxton as Coconut Pete. Club Dread is an enjoyable yet flawed film from the Broken Lizard troupe.

Set in an island near Costa Rica, the film explores about a series of mysterious deaths that occur in an island owned by the famous musician Coconut Pete as several staff members try to find out who the killer is. Along the way, a fan/masseuse named Lars (Kevin Heffernan) takes part in the investigation as he becomes one of several suspects where a lot of trust issues occur. Even as the number of victims begin to pile up as well as motives into why the killer is killing people. While it does play into the formula of various slasher films, the film’s script does manage to create ideas where it sort of makes fun of the formulas as well as an array of characters who could be the killer as they all have some kind of motive. Though the story does try to balance a lot of comedy where it plays into a sense of distrust as well as staff members trying to entertain the staff. Some of the aspects of the script in being a horror-comedy ends up making it uneven.

Jay Chandrasekhar’s direction does play into many of the tropes that are typical of slasher films but also infuses it with a lot of humor. Notably where there’s some scenes where a character tries to flee from the killer but ends up being a victim in the most comical way. Shot on location in Mexico, Chandrasekhar does take advantage of the location’s beautiful location with its use of wide shots plus some medium shots and close-ups to play into the humor and terror. While some of the funny moments are inspired as well as its approach to the slasher genre. Chandrasekhar isn’t able to find a balance between the two as it reaches its third act where it does begin to suffer in its pacing as characters get killed off until the reveal starts to emerge which is sort of a let down. Overall, Chandrasekhar creates a very entertaining but messy film about a series of murders on a tropical island.

Cinematographer Lawrence Sher does excellent work with the film‘s colorful cinematography with its highlights being the scenes at night with its approach to lighting as it would set the mood of terror in the film. Editor Ryan Folsey does nice work in the editing by creating some offbeat rhythms as well as stylish cuts to play into its suspense and humor. Production designer Ben Conable, with set decorator Melo Hinojosa and art director Theresa Wachter, does fantastic work with the look of the paradise retreat which is a mix of island architecture with modern aesthetics. Costume designer Melissa Bruning does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with some Hawaiian shirts as well as the look of the Coconut Pete character. Sound designer Stephen P. Robinson, with sound editors Andrew DeCristofaro and Kim Secrist, does superb work with the sound to create some sound effects as well as capture the atmosphere of the parties. The film’s music by Nathan Barr is wonderful as it plays this unique mix of orchestral music for its suspense and some island music plus some original material for Coconut Pete while music supervisors Barry Cole and Christopher Covert bring in a soundtrack of electronic music, reggae, and dance music.

The casting by John Papsidera is amazing as it features some notable small roles from Nat Faxon, Dan Montgomery Jr., Julio Bekhor, Elena Lyons, and Tanja Reichart as some unfortunate staff members, Samm Levine as a tourist who likes to mock the tennis instructor Putman, Lindsay Price as a worried staff member in Yu, and M.C. Gainey as a former FBI agent named Hank who tries to find the killer. Jordan Ladd is wonderful as a young tourist named Penelope in whom Juan has a thing for while Brittany Daniel is terrific as the fitness instructor Jenny who is often the smartest person of the pack as she tries to deal with the chaos of the murders. Bill Paxton is great in a hilarious role as Coconut Pete as this musician inspired by Jimmy Buffett who often gets stoned as he tries to deal with the chaos of the murders as he starts to lose his mind.

Finally there’s the Broken Lizard troupe as Erik Stolhanske is excellent as the Fun Police Sam who takes an immediate dislike towards Lars whom he suspects. Paul Soter is fantastic as the DJ/party host Dave who always does drugs and try to run things. Steve Lemme is superb as Juan as he sports a very bad Latin accent as he likes to get laid and do all sorts of things while having a thing for Penelope. Jay Chandrasekhar is hilarious as the British tennis instructor Putnam who doesn’t like Lars very much as he sports some bad dreadlocks while having a thing for Jenny. Finally, there’s Kevin Heffernan in a brilliant performance as Lars as this hardcore fan of Coconut Pete who becomes the retreat’s masseuse as he is also a skilled ninja as he tries to find out who the killer is while knowing he is a suspect.

Club Dread is a good but messy film from Jay Chandrasekhar and the Broken Lizard troupe. While it does have some funny moments in the way it pokes fun at the slasher films, it’s a film that tries to do a lot but ends up being underwhelming at times. In the end, Club Dread is an entertaining film from Jay Chandrasekhar and the Broken Lizard troupe.

Broken Lizard Films: (Puddle Cruiser) - Super Troopers - Beerfest - (The Slammin’ Salmon)

© thevoid99 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sorcerer




Based on the novel Le Salaire de la pleur (The Wages of Fear) by Georges Arnaud, Sorcerer is the story of four different men in a South American village who take a job to carry a transport cart full of nitroglycerine through the jungles. Directed by William Friedkin and screenplay by Walon Green, the film is a remake of the 1953 film The Wages of Fear by Henri-Georges Clouzot, the film is an exploration into the world of fear and what drives men into taking a dangerous job where they risk their lives for money. Starring Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Ramon Bieri, and Amidou. Sorcerer is a mesmerizing and very dark film from William Friedkin.

The film is about four different men from four different countries who take a job to carry two trucks full of nitroglycerine through the South American jungle in order to defuse an oil well explosion just 200 km from a small town. It’s a film where these four men from very different worlds are forced to work together as they’re putting their lives on the line as well as be well-paid once the job is done. Yet, carrying a truck full of nitroglycerine through 200 km of treacherous South American jungle as well as bad weather and narrow roads through its mountains. Walon Green’s screenplay definitely has an unusual structure where it’s first act takes place in four different locations to establish who these four men are and why they would go to this very poor town in South America. The second act is about these four men where three of them take on different identities as they work through odd jobs against the comfort of the previous lives where they find out about this job where money is the motivation.

For the American Jack Scanlon (Roy Scheider) who is a fugitive for the mob, it’s a chance to remain in hiding while French banker Victor Manzon (Bruno Cremer) is also a fugitive for different reasons as he was forced to leave his wife and quaint life to avoid going to jail. The other two is an Arab terrorist named Kaseem (Amidou) who has fled Jerusalem following a bombing that he took part in while the wild card is an assassin named Nilo (Francisco Rabal) who was supposed to stay in this small town temporarily but ends up staying because he wants the money. Much of the film’s second half is about the journey through the jungle as the stakes become more treacherous where it’s not just about these four men using their skills but also having to work together despite their differences.

William Friedkin’s direction is truly intense from the way he opens the film to introduce the four principle characters all in the span of 24 minutes. All of it takes place in four different locations as well as in shooting styles where Nilo’s line of work in Vera Cruz displays his personality as everything he does is simple and to the point. The activities of Jack and Kaseem are very violent where the former was just a driver for a mob heist that went wrong while Kaseem is forced to watch his friends be killed and captured. For Victor, he is forced to flee France because of a bribery and fraud scandal that he had been accused of as all of his chances for alibis fall by wayside. Much of the direction for these scenes are simple and quaint where there’s a sense of comfort. All of that goes away once the film moves to this very desolate village in South America where much of it is shot in the Dominican Republic as well as some locations in Mexico and New Mexico.

There are moments in the film where Friedkin goes for these entrancing wide shots of these jungles where it’s a world that has a sense of beauty but it’s also unforgiving. There’s also some tense moments in the film where Friedkin makes the journey to be on where men have to trust each other as it includes this very gripping sequence in the rain where the trucks each carrying three boxes of nitroglycerine has to cross this already fragile suspension bridge through heavy rain. It’s a moment in the film where it’s about the sense of unknown and whether anyone will survive or will the bridge break and the truck will fall into the river and blow up. It’s among these moments that Friedkin creates that plays into the suspense as he also adds moments of surrealism in a very famous sequence involving this very strange landscape. Overall, Friedkin creates a very intense yet harrowing film about four men who play with their lives for money.

Cinematographers John M. Stephens and Dick Bush do amazing work with the film‘s cinematography from the use of lighting schemes for the scenes set in the jungles along with some unique lights for some of the stranger moments as well as some darker moments for the scenes set in the rain. Editors Bud Smith and Robert K. Lambert do brilliant work in the editing to create some very unconventional rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense as well as some stylish dissolves for the surrealistic moments. Production designer John Box, with set decorator Robert W. Laing and art director Roy Walker, does fantastic work with the set design from the different places the men live in their previous lives to the suspension bridge as well as the small South American town they live in.

Costume designer Anthony Powell does nice work with the ragged look of the men with the exception of Nilo who often wears some designer suit. Sound editor Charles L. Campbell, with additional sound design from Aaron Levy for the remastered version of the film, does excellent work with the sound to play into the sense of terror such as the suspension bridge scene as well as the scenes set in the jungle. The film’s music by Tangerine Dream is just incredible as its electronic-driven score plays into the sense of tension and suspense that occurs in the film as it features additional pieces by Keith Javert, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis.

The casting by Louis DiGiamo is superb as it features some notable small roles from Anne-Marie Deschott as Victor’s wife, Friedrich von Ledebur as a bartender at a bar the men often frequent at, Joe Spinell as a friend of Scanlon in South America, Rosario Almontes as a barmaid who would give Victor a cross as a sign of good luck, Karl John as a German friend of Kaseem who was supposed to be the fourth man, and Ramon Bieri as the oil company representative who would pick the men for the job as well as the one who would pay them. Amidou is excellent as an Arabic terrorist who flees Jerusalem to hide from the Israelis as he is efficient in engineering in creating some things as well as having an intense dislike for Nilo. Francisco Rabal is amazing as the assassin Nilo who is a man that can do anything to get what he wants as he has this mix of being a cunning killer who tends to rub everyone the wrong way.

Bruno Cremer is fantastic as Victor as this French banker who becomes disgraced due to accusations of fraud as he is forced to leave his posh life to work in order to survive as he takes the job in hopes to find redemption as he would befriend Kaseem and Scanlon. Finally, there’s Roy Scheider in a marvelous performance as Jackie Scanlon as this former criminal who is hiding from the mob as he is this everyman that just wants the money and the chance to not be in danger from the mob as it’s a very gritty and engaging performance from Scheider.

Sorcerer is a phenomenal film from William Friedkin that features a great leading performance from Roy Scheider as well as strong supporting work from Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, and Amidou. The film is definitely one of the rare remakes that manages to be as good or as equal as to the original as it isn’t just a worthy homage to The Wages of Fear but also manages to be something of its own. In the end, Sorcerer is a tremendously sprawling and exhilarating film from William Friedkin.

William Friedkin Films: (Good Times) - (The Birthday Party) - (The Night They Raided Minsky’s) - (The Boys in the Band) - The French Connection - (The Exorcist) - (Brink’s Job) - Cruising - ((Deal of the Century) - To Live and Die in L.A. - (Rampage (1987 film)) - (The Guardian (1990 film)) - (Blue Chips) - (Jailbreakers) - (Jade) - (12 Angry Men (1997 TV film)) - (Rules of Engagement) - (The Hunted (2003 film)) - Bug - Killer Joe

Related: The Wages of Fear

© thevoid99 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

King Kong (1933 film)


Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 12/13/05 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions



Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack from a story Cooper and Edgar Wallace and screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose, King Kong is a simple tale of an ape going bananas for a girl only to try and protect her from her own world and the creatures in his world. Using stop-motion animation to create the effects of King Kong, the film remains a technical masterpiece of all levels while proving to be more powerful in its story which features something for everyone. Starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot. King Kong is a spectacular film from Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack.

It's 1933 as megalomaniac film director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is hoping to go an island to shoot his next movie. Already had film movies about wildlife, Denham hopes to go for something big until his producer Charles Weston (Sam Hardy) tells him he’s got no star. Denham decides to try and find a female lead for his movie when he catches a woman named Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) trying to steal an apple. Enchanted by her looks and desires to be an actress, Denham hires her. Already joining the ship with a crew full of men including an Asian cook (Victor Wong) and a brooding but handsome man named Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), they set for the mysterious Skull Island. After hearing about legends of this monster called Kong, Denham hopes to capture that creature on picture but the ship's captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher) is suspecting trouble.

Upon landing on the island, they catch a ceremony by the tribe until the chief (Noble Johnson) catches them. After Englehorn does the translation of negotiations, the witch doctor (Steven Clemente) wants Ann for a sacrifice as a bride for Kong but Driscoll refuses as Denham and crew leave to return to the ship. After Ann gets kidnaped for the sacrifice, Driscoll, Denham, Englehorn, and a bunch of sailors try to retrieve her only to learn that she's been taken by the giant ape known as Kong. Driscoll and Denham decides to go after Kong only to catch up with dinosaurs while Kong fights them along with killing a bunch of sailors. With Driscoll and Denham the only survivors, Driscoll decides to catch up with Kong while Denham waits for him at the wall gates. After Driscoll successfully retrieves Ann, while Kong breaks into the gate walls where he is hit with a gas bomb by Denham. Realizing that he's got a gold mine, he takes the unconscious Kong back to New York City for a huge event. Instead, it becomes a disaster as Kong takes Ann and terrorizes New York City before a huge climax on top of the Empire State Building against some fighter planes.

While it's a film that maybe a product of its time due to some off-colored dialogue with a lot of awful stereotypical references along with a sense of sexual creepiness in Kong's infatuation with Ann Darrow. It is a film that manages to be entertaining in the sense that Kong doesn't know any better. He's a giant ape basking in his testosterone physique to beat up monster and destroy things. It's not really an art film, it's just pure entertainment and it's a lot of fun to watch. It's got adventure, romance, action, comedy, whatever any fancies. This is something directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack were aiming for. It's not hard to follow and it's not dull either. The script pretty much goes for simplicity while a lot of the dialogue, though stylized for its time, is pretty catchy especially with some memorable moments with the final scene that has the great last line.

The directing is wonderful since it's just trying to capture a simple tale but on a technical scale, it's astounding in the way it mixed stop-motion animation with live-action. With the special effects created by Willis O'Brien, the stop-motion animation is amazing in the way it brings a realness to the movements and faces of the creatures, especially King Kong. While the work on stop-motion is hard and tedious, it's worth it to capture a three-dimensional feel of the creatures to the point where Kong becomes a character. It is very groundbreaking work for the times while its technical achievements, particularly the work of Willis O'Brien should be noted.

While the film is black-and-white, the full-screen cinematography of Eddie Linden, J.O. Taylor, and Vernon Walker is amazing for its look, especially in the mix of animation and live action. Ted Cheesman also does nice stylized editing of dissolving, fade-in, fade-out cuts while playing into the film's suspense with some well-paced methodical rhythms. Alfred Herman does some great work in the art direction for the film's native scenes as well as costume designer Walter Plunkett who does nice work on the dresses of Ann Darrow. Finally, we have Max Steiner who is one of the first composer to belt out an original film score and he does an amazing job with the score to capture the action and drama of the movie.

The film's cast is wonderful with some nice small performances from Steve Clemente and Noble Johnson as the tribe leaders along with great character actor Victor Wong in a stereotypical yet funny role as the Asian chef. Also memorable in some scenes are Sandra Shaw as a woman dropped by Kong, Vera Lewis as a theater patron, and Paul Porcasi as the fruit vendor. Frank Reicher is wonderfully memorable as the ship's captain who kind of serves as voice of reason for the megalomaniacal Carl Denham while having a memorable scene as the translator for the tribe chiefs. Robert Armstrong is brilliant as egomaniacal, ambitious Carl Denham with his desires to make it big and score a lot of money as he has some great one-liners. Bruce Cabot is also great as the brooding turned heroic Jack Driscoll with love for Ann while using his smarts to outwit and outrun Kong.

The best human performance is Fay Wray as the beautiful Ann Darrow who has an innocence and desire to become a great actress while most of the performances requires her to just scream her lungs out as Wray brings a lot of imagination to her performance. The best performance is hands down, goes to King Kong. Sure it's a monster who loves to beat up dinosaurs and other sorts of creatures but he's a lovable ape. Sure, he doesn't really know how to treat a woman by stripping her a bit and sniffing her clothing but he's learning. It's a hell of a character who just cares for this young woman and will do anything to protect, even from her own kind and those awful camera bulbs. Still, Kong remains one of those old-school bad-asses and how can anyone not love an ape who beats up T-Rexs and other dinosaurs?

King Kong is a phenomenal film from Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack that features great performances from Fay Wray and the titular ape. It's definitely a film that is full of terror but it's also so entertaining as it showcases what was done in terms of special effects as they manage to be very exciting to watch. In the end, King Kong is a remarkable film from Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack.

© thevoid99 2014