Friday, August 23, 2019

Against the Crowd Blog-a-Thon 2019

It’s time once again for the annual tradition that is the Against the Crowd Blog-a-Thon which has become this annual tradition every August hosted by Wendell of Dell on Movies. Having been an active contributor to the blog-a-thon in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. I decided to participate once again as here are the rules:

1. Pick one movie “everyone” loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have score of 75% or more on Tell us why you hate it.

2. Pick one movie that “everyone” hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of 35% or less on Tell us why you love it.

3. Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.

4. Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own (just include all the pertinent details).

5. Let us know what two movies you intend on writing about in one of the following ways: Comment on this or any ACB 2019 post on this site, Tweet me @w_ott3, E-mail me:

6. Publish your post on any day from Friday, August 23 through Sunday, August 25, 2019 (tighter schedule this year), and include a link to this announcement. If you’re a podcaster or YouTuber that is interested in participating just talk about your chosen movies during your closest podcast and/or video to those dates and mention that you are taking part in this blogathon. You could also just tweet about it!

By the way, should a movie you select not have a grade on, use a score of at least 7.5 on for ones you hate and less than 4.0 for ones you love.

On Monday, the 26th, I will publish a wrap-up post which will include a link to all entries. Now go find some movies to disagree with us on!

Let’s take Goodfellas out of the conversation for a discussion about this film as let’s talk about the other films that were nominated for Best Picture. Awakenings was a damn good drama that never was Oscar-bait driven as it was a more low-key drama that featured high-caliber performances from Robin Williams and Robert de Niro. Ghost is a supernatural romantic drama that still holds up as a tearjerker as well as being a film that explores grief and making peace with it. The Godfather Part III was definitely flawed in a few bits of the narrative as well as the casting that includes Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone though let’s be happy that she’s chosen a better profession in the world of film as a writer/director. If Goodfellas wasn’t going to win and would’ve lost to either Awakenings or Ghost, I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all. Then there’s the film that did win the Oscar for Best Picture… ugh…

I first saw the film on TV either when I was 11 or 12 as I found myself bored by it and I felt the title was totally misleading at the time as I wanted to see Kevin Costner dancing with wolves and he never does. Years later as I grasped upon more knowledge on films and had an understanding of storytelling. I found myself baffled more about why this film beat fucking Goodfellas. It’s got nice visuals and some soaring music by John Barry but I found the story to be uninspiring while Costner’s direction doesn’t really do much to make it more compelling. I found myself not really caring for the main character and his changes while there are also elements in the narrative that doesn’t do much to establish the cavalry and their own motivations. It’s a film that is mainly style over substance and I’m also bothered by the fact that the film is considered a western which isn’t exactly true since there aren’t many cowboys nor are there any kind of conflicts involving outsiders or those who are affiliated with the law. It’s a film that hasn’t aged any better and one I still have no desire to revisit as it’s just a total bore.

While Ernest R. Dickerson is known mainly for his work as a cinematographer for Spike Lee during the late 80s/early 1990s, he has made a solid career as a filmmaker starting with 1992’s Juice. His sophomore feature in this 1994 thriller about a homeless man who is saved by a mysterious man during a suicide attempt as gives the man a job as a hunting guide. Yet, what the homeless doesn’t realize is that he’s the prey and all of these rich men including a rich man’s son are tasked to hunt him for their own sick game of pleasure. It’s an exhilarating thriller that never takes itself seriously while the premise itself should never work but it does. Plus, to have Ice-T as the prey who has to fend off the likes of Rutger Hauer, Gary Busey, John C. McGinley, Charles S. Dutton, and F. Murray Abraham. What more could you ask? Oh, and there’s William McNamara as Abraham’s pussy son as he’s the one person that is oddly miscast.

It’s a film that doesn’t get a lot of love but it’s so fucking cool. Plus, it has these cool moments with Rutger Hauer leading the charge while Gary Busey does this nice monologue about hunting and in one entire take. A lesser filmmaker would try to cut it and maintain that sense of rhythm but Dickerson is much smarter than that as he knows that if Busey is doing a monologue. Just shoot it in one entire fucking take.

© thevoid99 2019

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Actors in Multiple Roles

For the 34th week of 2019 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We venture into the subject of actors in multiple film roles. It is a device where an actor can take on multiple roles either for laughs or for something dramatic. Here are my three picks as it all relates to the brilliance of Eddie Murphy:

1. Coming to America

The second and best collaboration between Eddie Murphy and John Landis also one of the most quotable films of the 20th Century. It follows Murphy as an African prince traveling to America with his friend to find his bride where Murphy and Arsenio Hall both take on multiple roles. With Murphy and Hall respectively playing Prince Akeem and servant Semmii, the other roles they play in the film with the help of makeup artist Rick Baker has them do so much. Murphy also plays a barber, a Jewish man, and a singer named Mr. Randy Watson while Hall plays a barber, a preacher, and an ugly-ass woman. “I hope you don’t mind me coming over and sitting down but I’ve been watching you all evening and I want to tear you apart! And yo’ friend too!”

2. The Nutty Professor

The remake of the legendary 1960s comedy starring Jerry Lewis has Murphy play Sherman Klump who is a fat college professor trying to be thin yet he has a family that is also fat as they’re all (except for a young boy) played by Murphy while Murphy would also play Klump’s alter-ego Buddy Love and a parody of Richard Simmons. Murphy definitely brings a lot of laughs as the loudmouth love yet he is a riot as Klump’s parents and grandmother who says a lot of nasty shit.

3. Bowfinger

One of the most underrated comedies of the 1990s comes a film that marks the rare pairing of Murphy and Steve Martin as well as probably one of the last great films they ever did. It’s a film that has Martin as a failed filmmaker trying to get a film made with Murphy as a big-time movie star with a lot of problems as Murphy plays the role of the movie star and a nerdy look-a-like. It is proof of Murphy’s talents as an actor and what happens when he’s working with the right people as well as people such as Frank Oz who at least cares about quality rather than cheap laughs. Even as I close this piece with a classic clip from Saturday Night Live which proves why Murphy was a comic genius and why he might prove once again why he was so awesome:

© thevoid99 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sweet Virginia

Directed by Jamie M. Dagg and written by Benjamin and Paul China, Sweet Virginia is the story of a motel manager who befriends a mysterious visitor who may be involved in a wave of violence nearby. The film is a neo-noir thriller that explores unlikely friendship between two men as well as a small town coming undone by this wave of violence. Starring Jon Bernthal, Christopher Abbott, Imogen Poots, Rosemarie DeWitt, Odessa Young, and Jared Abrahamson. Sweet Virginia is a haunting yet gripping film from Jamie M. Dagg.

Following a murder at a restaurant/bar in a small Alaskan town, the film revolves in an unlikely friendship between a former rodeo champion who manages a motel and a mysterious drifter who has stopped by as the former isn’t aware that the latter is a hitman. It’s a film that play into a small town that is shaken by this act of violence while they try to move on as a few people deal with the tragedy as well as the motivations of why three men were killed inside a bar. The film’s screenplay by Benjamin and Paul China open with three men at a bar/restaurant getting ready to play a card game when this mysterious drifter in Elwood (Christopher Abbott) arrives wanting a late breakfast as he is refused only to gun down the three men. The film’s narrative follows the lives of Elwood and the motel manager Sam Rossi (Jon Bernthal) who runs the Sweet Virginia motel for his late brother while is an on-off affair with Bernadette Barrett (Rosemarie DeWitt) whose husband Tom (Joseph Lyle Taylor) was one of the three men killed by Elwood.

The script also play into why Elwood is in town as he had been hired to kill one of the men but ends up doing much more which only complicates things for one of the men’s wives in Lila (Imogen Poots) who thought she would inherit money only to learn that her husband was in some serious debt. Elwood’s stay in the town is extended as he would befriend Sam whom he had heard about through Sam’s time as a rodeo cowboy until he retired due to injury. Sam is a man that is someone who was poised for so much only to lose a lot as he’s divorced with a child who barely sees him as he spends his time with his niece Maggie (Odessa Young) whenever he’s not with Bernadette. There’s not much plot to the story as it’s more about characters living their lives but the drama and suspense do pick up toward its third act.

Jamie M. Dagg’s direction is largely straightforward although he doesn’t really go for anything stylistic other than some lingering long shots in parts of the film. Shot largely on locations in British Columbia in Canada including parts of Vancouver, Dagg’s direction does use some wide shots to establish the location but also in some eerie moments as it play into Elwood haunting certain characters or where he is about to go as there are also some medium shots from afar that show him talking on the phone and then beat up a couple of guys. There aren’t a lot of close-ups in Dagg’s direction except in some intimate moments as well as a chilling confrontation between Elwood and Lila late in the film. The film’s opening scene starts off slow while the violence is quite intense but not overtly-bloody and graphic where Dagg is more concerned with a town that is trying to understand what had happened and why as well as these two men ravaged by their past with Elwood also being someone who is extremely troubled. Even in the third act as it is about the money Elwood is owed for his services as the suspense is approached in a low-key manner that would also be followed by Elwood being confronted for his actions. Overall, Dagg crafts a riveting yet eerie film about a motel manager and his encounter with a mysterious yet troubled drifter.

Cinematographer Jessica Lee Gagne does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it maintains a naturalistic look for scenes in the day and at night with its usage of available light as well as using some low-key lights for some interior scenes at night. Editor Duff Smith does nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts to play into some of the conversations. Production designer Danny Vermette, with set decorator Robin Tilby and art director Justin Ludwig, does fantastic work with the look of Bernadette’s home in the interior as well as the bar/restaurant in the film’s opening scene and the motel that Sam runs.

Costume designer Mia Fiddis does terrific work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward that includes the ragged look of Elwood including some of the shirts he wears. The sound work of Brody Ratsoy is amazing for its low-key approach to the sound as it maintains something that feels natural but also help to play up the suspenseful moments of the film. The film’s music by Brooke and Will Blair is wonderful for its low-key ambient score that play sparingly into parts of the film as it add to drama and sense of loss that occur throughout the film while music supervisor Natasha Duprey provide a soundtrack of music that is played on location as it include a couple of pieces from the Butthole Surfers and Rolla Olak.

The casting by Kate Caldwell, Kara Eide, Melissa Kostenbauer, and Kris Woz is superb as it feature some notable small roles from Garry Chalk as one of the victims in the film’s opening sequence, Gabrielle Rose as an old woman living at the motel, Jonathan Tucker as Elwood’s intended target in Lila’s husband Mitchell, Joseph Lyle Taylor as Bernadette’s husband Tom, and Jared Abrahamson as a young mechanic named Paul who is asked by Elwood to help him retrieve the money he’s owed. Odessa Young is terrific as Sam’s niece Maggie as a teenage girl who helps him with the motel while pondering about her dad as well as her uncle’s own issues with the world in general. Rosemarie DeWitt is fantastic as Bernadette Barrett as a woman who had just lost her husband although she doesn’t feel anything about his passing leaning back to an on-again, off-again affair with Sam while dealing with some truths about her own marriage and how it fell apart.

Imogen Poots is excellent as Lila McCabe as a young woman who hired Elwood for a job only for things to get complicated as it relates to money as she deals with what she’s done prompting her to try and avoid Elwood anyway she can. Christopher Abbott is brilliant as Elwood as a hitman drifting from town to town for a job as he starts to unravel over his lack of payment as he displays a creepiness and an instability that makes him a dangerous person to encounter. Finally, there’s Jon Bernthal in an amazing performance as Sam Rossi as a former rodeo champion who has retired due to injury to run his late brother’s motel as he tries to keep things to himself and engage in his relationship with Bernadette where he later befriends Elwood unaware of who Elwood really is as he later becomes troubled by some of the violence that is happening in his town.

Sweet Virginia is a marvelous film from Jamie M. Dagg. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, an eerie music score, and a chilling premise that play into loss and mental illness. It’s a neo-noir film that doesn’t play by the rules while doesn’t emphasize a lot on plot in favor of character study. In the end, Sweet Virginia is a remarkable film from Jamie M. Dagg.

© thevoid99 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Witness

For the 33rd week of 2019 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We focus on the subject of witness as it relates to witnessing an event or a murder. All of which play into some kind of suspense or something else to have happened. Here are my three picks:

1. Some Like It Hot

From Billy Wilder is a remake of an obscure French film that takes place on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of the 1920s in Chicago. Two musicians trying to find work would unknowingly witness a murder and had to hide from the gangsters but how? Well, they would dress up like women and join a women’s band featuring Marilyn Monroe and go down to Florida where Tony Curtis tries to woo Marilyn while Jack Lemmon realizes the upside of being married to another man.

2. Sleepers

From Barry Levinson is one of the 1990s most overlooked films of the decade as it play into the life of four young boys in the 1960s whose prank had unfortunately killed someone as they spend their time in a brutal juvenile hall where they endure abuse of the worst kind. Yet, the witness in hand revolves around the events of the second act where two of the boys kill one of their abusers at a bar/restaurant although the witness wasn’t there but had a moral dilemma into what he had to do for two of the boys as one of the boys is also the prosecutor. It is an incredible film that continuously gets better with every re-watch.

3. Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon’s noir-based novel set in 1970 is definitely one of the weirdest films that a major Hollywood studio would ever produce. Yet, it is definitely a film that has all of the qualities of a cult favorite as it follows Joaquin Phoenix as a hippie private detective who is asked to find a few people including an undercover agent who is unable to get out of assignment as he’s also a witness to the events that is happening around Los Angeles. It’s a film that gets better with each viewing as well as maintain its sense of ambiguity.

© thevoid99 2019

Monday, August 12, 2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home

Based on the Marvel comics series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man: Far from Home is the sequel to the 2017 film Spider-Man: Homecoming in which Peter Parker/Spider-Man deals with the aftermath of the Infinity Wars as he struggles with expectations of being a superhero while wanting to be a normal teenager who goes to Europe with his friends as they encounter mysterious beings known as Elementals. Directed by Jon Watts and screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, the film is the final film of the Infinity Saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Parker copes with its aftermath as he teams up with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Quentin Beck/Mysterio to face off against the Elementals in Europe as Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. Also starring Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Tony Revolori, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, J.B. Smoove, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Spider-Man: Far from Home is an adventurous and riveting film from Jon Watts.

Five years after the events where people had disappeared only to reappear suddenly five years later known as the Blip, Peter Parker goes to Europe for a school trip with friends as he is hoping to woo a classmate yet they would all encounter mysterious beings known as Elemental as Parker is aided by S.H.I.E.L.D. and a hero named Quentin Beck/Mysterio who claims to be from an alternate version of Earth. It’s a film that play into events where Parker has to once again put on the suit and other variations of the suit to fight against these mysterious beings yet is overwhelmed with his duties as he just wants to be a normal teenager. The film’s screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers follow the events of the Blip where kids who didn’t die of the Blip would deal with those who survived the Blip as they have age better as well as be more mature. It’s a new reality that some of Parker’s classmates such as Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), Betty (Angourie Rice), and Flash (Tony Revolori) are dealing with as Parker’s attempts to woo MJ is being challenged by another classmate in Brad Davis (Remy Hii).

The first act isn’t just about this new reality and Parker’s trip to Europe but also the overwhelming expectation of taking on the mantle as the new Iron Man as Parker isn’t sure if he wants to follow in Tony Stark’s footsteps. Upon arriving in Venice, Italy after blocking phone calls from Nick Fury, Parker finally meets with Fury after an incident involving a water Elemental where Parker would also meet Mysterio. The script does play into Parker’s resistance to help out as well as Fury’s increasing paranoia over what is happening while Beck acts as a mediator of the two while helping Parker dealing with growing pains. Beck is a fascinating figure as someone who has these mysterious powers to fly while wearing a fishbowl helmet to help unleash his powers against the Elementals. There is also some intrigue about Beck during the second act in why he’s so powerful as he and Parker work with each other during a mission in Prague as it would also involve a few of Parker’s classmates including MJ who would make a major discovery about the Elementals. The film’s second half doesn’t just play into some revelations over what MJ found but also a pair of glasses called E.D.I.T.H. (voice of Dawn Michelle King) Parker would inherit from Tony Stark that reveals a lot of information including some insight about the Elementals. The script doesn’t just play up the stakes of what Parker is facing but also so much more that would alter his own reality.

Jon Watts’ direction does have some elements of style but much of its compositions and setting are grounded in reality and remains straightforward. Shot on various locations in Prague, London, Berlin, Croatia, and parts of New York City and Newark, New Jersey, the film does showcase Spider-Man being part of a world that is bigger where Watts allows Parker to feel overwhelmed by his surroundings as he just wants to be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man from Queens New York. The new surroundings that Parker encounters does allow him to find new ways to face off foes as well as save people as he is aware of his role but the monumental power of the Elementals isn’t enough for him to save people which is why Beck is there to help him. Watts’ direction has a looseness in terms of what Parker and his friends are doing in Europe including some moments of humor that includes a subplot of Ned and Betty being a couple as well as one of the chaperones in Julius Dell (J.B. Smoove) believing that all of these Elementals appearing are from some source of witchcraft.

Watts’ usage of wide and medium shots manage to get great coverage of the locations and its sense of geography of where the Elementals would pop up but there are also some close-ups and moments that is more about characters interacting as well as developing relationships such as the one between Parker and MJ. The film’s third act with its grand set pieces and revelations about who is the mastermind of the Elementals as well as that person’s motivations does add a lot of intrigue as well as these moments that are thrilling and exciting. Even as it add to the stakes of what Parker is facing as well as what he would have to endure in the aftermath as it play into what is to come for Parker and other allies along with a few twists of those Parker would encounter. The film also has Watts relying on past films that add to the dramatic revelations in the third act as it all play into Parker trying to live up to someone’s legacy when he just needs to be himself. Overall, Watts craft an exhilarating and evocative film about a young superhero dealing with mysterious forces as well as expectations to be the next big superhero.

Cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward to play into the different colors of the cities that the characters go to including some of the neon lights at night for the carnival at Prague. Editors Dan Lebental and Leigh Folsom-Boyd do excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward with some stylish cuts for the action including moments where let shots linger on to establish what is happening. Production designer Claude Pare`, with supervising art directors Grant Armstrong and Jann K. Engel plus set decorators Tina Jones and Delia Picirilli, does amazing work with the look of some of the places the characters go to including the dilapidated hotel in Venice, the opera house in Prague, and a few other places in and around Europe. Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard does nice work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward with the exception of Mysterio’s costume and the variation of Spider-Man’s suits.

Hair/makeup designer Peter Swords King does fantastic work with the look of Beck as well as the new beard that Happy Hogan has. Special effects supervisors Roy K. Cancino, Pasquale Catalano, and Andy Williams, with visual effects supervisor Janek Sirrs, do incredible work with the film’s visual and special effects with the design of Mysterio when he’s flying as well as the Elementals and a sequence that play into the idea of reality and fantasy. Sound designers Chris Diebold, Andy Sisul, and Steven Ticknor, with co-sound editor/re-recording mixer Tony Lamberti, do superb work with the sound as it play into the effects of how the Elementals sound as well as some gadgets and how music is presented on a location or at the carnival in Prague. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino is great as it features some flourishing orchestral themes and some somber pieces as it help play into the drama and sense of adventure Parker would endure while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a fun music soundtrack that feature an array of music from Whitney Houston, Umberto Tozzi, the Go-Gos, the Jam, the Specials, Caterina Valente with Werner Muller and his Orchestra, Mina, Marcela Laiferova, Flipbois, the Matadors, AC/DC, and the Ramones.

The casting by Sarah Finn, Jina Jay, and Maya Kvetny is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Numan Acar and model Toni Garrn as a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, the quintet of Zach Barack, Zoha Rahman, Yasmin Mwanza, Joshua Sinclair-Evans, and Tyler Luke Cunningham as classmates of Parker’s who are part of the European trip, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Betty’s fellow school newscaster Jason Ionello, Peter Billingsley as a former Stark tech employee in William Ginter Riva, Dawn Michelle King as the voice of the A.I. glasses tech E.D.I.T.H., and Remy Hii as Parker’s rival for MJ’s affections in Brad Davis as a kid who survived the Blip to go from nerd to hunk as he would endure some funny moments. Martin Starr and J.B. Smoove are terrific in their respective roles as the school chaperones in the academic decathlon teacher Mr. Harrington and Mr. Dell as the former is baffled by the upgrades he received while the latter believes these events are from some form of witchcraft.

Tony Revolori and Angourie Rice are superb in their respective roles as Flash Thompson and Betty Brant as two of Parker’s classmates as the former is hilarious in his attempts to film everything for his vlog while the latter finds herself in a European romance with Ned that provides some sweet and funny moments. Jacob Batalon is fantastic as Ned as Parker’s best friend who finds himself in a romance with Betty while being one of the few to know Parker’s true identity as Spider-Man. Marisa Tomei and Cobie Smulders are excellent in their respective roles as Aunt May Parker and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill as the former is helping others who were killed by the Blip and later revived find new homes while the latter helps out Fury with the growing threat as well as be a voice of reason.

Jon Favreau is brilliant as Happy Hogan as Tony Stark’s bodyguard/Parker’s aide who watches over him as he understands what Parker is dealing with while he has a funny subplot as it relates to a possible relationship with Aunt May. Zendaya is amazing as Michelle “MJ” Jones as Parker’s classmate who is often filled with sarcasm and witty humor which is a disguise of sorts for her own shyness while being someone who gets to know Parker as well as make key discoveries over the Elementals and where they come from. Samuel L. Jackson is marvelous as Nick Fury as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is asking for Parker’s help as other members of the Avengers and fellow allies are unavailable as he is asking a lot from Parker while also acting more paranoid than usual.

Jake Gyllenhaal is incredible as Quentin Beck/Mysterio as this man from an alternate version of Earth who is battling the Elementals as he has powers but is also trying to help Parker with growing pains as there’s also many layers to what Gyllenhaal brings to the character that makes him a total standout in the film. Finally, there’s Tom Holland in a remarkable performance as Peter Parker/Spider-Man as someone that is trying to retain his youth and wanting a break from being a superhero as he copes with not just loss and responsibility but also the need to be someone he’s not as Holland brings that grounded realism to the performance but also a youthful exuberance that is Peter Parker and showcase who Spider-Man really is as someone that understands his role and what he needs to be for himself.

Spider-Man: Far from Home is a sensational film from Jon Watts that features top-notch performances from Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel L. Jackson, and Zendaya. Along with its ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, amazing visual effects, a soaring music score, a fun music soundtrack, and a story about expectations and responsibility. The film isn’t just another winning entry in the Spider-Man story but it also serves as a fitting touchstone for the Infinity Saga storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as set up for new adventures to come. Even as the film manages to be a lot of things but also so much more than just a typical superhero film but also a film about growing pains and responsibility. In the end, Spider-Man: Far from Home is an incredible film from Jon Watts.

Jon Watts Films: (Clown (2014 film)) – Cop Car

Spider-Man Films: Spider-Man - Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man 3 - The Amazing Spider-Man - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame

Post-Infinity Saga: Phase Four: (Black Widow (2020 film)) – (Eternals (2020 film)) – (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) – (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) – (Thor: Love and Thunder)

© thevoid99 2019

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Mrs. Robinson

For the 32nd week of 2019 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We venture into the subject of Mrs. Robinsons from a suggestion by Getter. The subject of older women seducing younger men and all sorts of hilarity occur as well as scandal. Here are my three picks:

1. Private Lessons

A 1981 sex-comedy about a 15-year old kid who has fallen in love with his French housekeeper who is played by erotic film legend Sylvia Kristel. It’s an OK film where despite the oversaturated usage of music by Rod Stewart, it has some moments that I’m sure a lot of young straight men back then wanted to do with Kristel. Yet, the film is disappointing considering that Kristel used a body double for some parts of the film which totally kills the mood although it’s a film that wouldn’t be made now considering that the woman is older and the boy is underage.

2. Scorned

A softcore film classic by Andrew Stevens that he also stars in revolves around a woman whose husband had committed suicide due to business issues as she seeks revenge on her husband’s boss and family after her husband had pimped her out for nothing by pretending to be the boss’ son’s tutor. In the meantime, she fucks the boss’ young son and also seduces the boss’ wife and the boss himself while killing some people along the way. It’s a film that is typical of 1990s softcore films that starred Shannon Tweed yet it is so fun but also so goddamn sexy.

3. American Pie

From the Weitz brothers comes the film that sort of brought back the teenage sex comedy before the end of the 20th Century as it included a storyline about one of the four high school seniors who pledges to lose his virginity before the end of high school as he fantasizes about having sex with one of classmate’s mother. During its third act, he would meet that friend’s mother and it’s in this film where the term MILF (mother I’d like to fuck) is invented as she is played by Jennifer Coolidge who would be a regular for the film series (not counting those awful straight-to-DVD fare).

© thevoid99 2019

Tuesday, August 06, 2019


Based on the play by William Shakespeare, Coriolanus is the story of a general who seeks a spot in the world of politics only to put himself in trouble as he seeks the aid of an enemy to seek revenge. Directed and starring Ralph Fiennes in the titular role of Caius Martius aka Coriolanus and screenplay by John Logan, the film is a modern take of Shakespeare’s tragic play as it set in a 21st Century re-imagining idea of Rome where a man’s ambitions get him into trouble prompting him to fight back. Also starring Jessica Chastain, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, John Kani, James Nesbitt, Lubna Azabal, and Brian Cox. Coriolanus is a gripping and evocative film from Ralph Fiennes.

A powerful yet polarizing Roman general seeks to be in the world of politics yet a couple of political officials and local Romans successfully banish him from the city forcing the Caius Martius Coriolanus to seek the alliance of his sworn enemy in Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to seek revenge on Rome. It’s a film that play into the fallacy of ambition and vengeance as it follows a man whose arrogance and disdain for low-class citizens puts him at odds with those in the Roman Senate where a couple of tribunes try to discredit him as they would do things that are just as bad as what he’s done. John Logan’s screenplay opens with Coriolanus’ rise as a general who is cunning in his beliefs as well as maintaining some rule in Rome while is at war with a neighboring nation of Volsci that is led by Aufidius. Coriolanus’ victory against Aufidius would give him stature with Coriolanus’ mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) encouraging him to go into politics.

Logan’s script doesn’t just retain much of the dialogue written by William Shakespeare but also its approach to character study with characters scheming and such for their own gain such as the characters of the tribunes Brutus (Paul Jesson) and Sicinius (James Nesbitt) vehemently dislike Coriolanus as they even gain the alliance of citizens who hate Coriolanus to join them. The film’s second half play into the aftermath of a TV interview with Coriolanus that fell apart as he’s been exiled from Rome with his family angry over the government with longtime family friend in Senator Menenius (Brian Cox) trying to smooth over the conflicts. Coriolanus goes to Volsci to find Aufidius to allow him to settle their conflict yet Aufidius is moved by his journey allowing Coriolanus to join him as both men have issues with Rome and its government that would create this unlikely alliance.

Fiennes’ direction definitely bears elements of theatricality in some scenes yet some of the film also bear elements of modern-day political films as it is shot on location partially in Britain but also areas such as Serbia and Montenegro where the story is set in the early 21st Century as if the idea of Roman times is in the modern world. The usage of the locations add to this air of chaos that is happening where Rome is presented as this rich and organized world that is shot on Britain while Volsci and other locations shot in Serbia and Montenegro showcase a world that hasn’t prospered like Rome has. Fiennes’ compositions does have elements of style such as the battle scenes where he presents it with hand-held cameras for close-ups and medium shots including the scene of Coriolanus on a TV show where he goes after his critics including the tribunes who are scheming against him. While there are some wide shots to establish some of the locations as well as scenes involving crowds and in some eerie compositions to play into the position of power. Fiennes does maintain this air of theatricality in the direction with the actors and how would place them into a frame or to create this chaos in the riots.

Even the usage of TV news add to the dramatic elements of the film as it play into Coriolanus’ journey where the third act shows him going mad with vengeance with little chance of seeing reason and make peace. Fiennes’ direction showcases a man on the edge as he is intent on destroying Rome but there are those who love and care about him who want him to stop. The tragedy isn’t just about Coriolanus’ downfall and descent into madness but also the compromises he had to make where Fiennes showcases a man who had put himself into a world that he doesn’t know little about but only to make more enemies than he did when he was just a soldier. Overall, Fiennes craft a riveting and chilling film about a Roman general’s downfall and his revenge against those who ousted him from Rome.

Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd does brilliant work with the film’s grainy digital cinematography as its usage of close-ups add to the grimy detail of the visuals as well as maintaining a drab yet naturalistic look for the scenes set at Volsci. Editor Nicolas Gaster does excellent work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and montages while maintaining some unique rhythm to capture the energy of some of the monologues. Production designer Ricky Eyres, with set decorator Lee Gordon and art director Radoslav Mihajlovic, does amazing work with the look of the Roman government buildings and the home that Coriolanus and his family lives in as well as the drab home base of Aufidius. Costume designer Bojana Nikitovic does fantastic work with the look of the Roman military uniforms as well as the posh clothing of the Coriolanus family that is a sharp contrast to the more rugged look of the Volsci and its people.

Hair/makeup designer Laura Schiavo does terrific work with the look of the scars on Coriolanus’ face and body as well as the tattoos he would later gain. Special effects supervisor Jason Troughton and visual effects supervisor Angela Stanley do some nice work with the look of some of the TV footage along with a few set-dressing for scenes to play into the atmosphere of war. Sound editor Oliver Tarney does superb work with the sound as it play into the raucous atmosphere of the protests, riots, and sounds of war along with the disconcerting tone in some of the dialogue in certain rooms or sets. The film’s music by Ilan Eshkeri is wonderful for its low-key orchestral/ambient score that play into the dramatic suspense as well as some of the film’s war scenes while music supervisor Ian Neil provides a music soundtrack that features a traditional music piece performed by Goran Bregovic as well as a couple of contemporary pieces by Lisa Zane and Sheer K.

The casting by Jina Jay is incredible as it feature some notable small roles from Jon Snow as a TV anchorman, Harry Fenn as Coriolanus’ young son Martius, Dragan Micanovic as Coriolanus’ subordinate Titus, Slavko Stimac as a Volsci lieutenant who doesn’t trust Coriolanus, the duo of Lubna Azabal and Ashraf Barhom in their respective roles as leading protestors against Coriolanus in Tamora and Cassius, and John Kani in a terrific performance as Rome’s leader General Cominius who is trying to ensure peace and reason despite so much opposition and controversy. Paul Jesson and James Nesbitt are superb in their respective roles as tribunes Brutus and Sicinius as two political figures who hate Coriolanus as they scheme to discredit him only to put Rome in danger during its second half. Jessica Chastain is fantastic as Coriolanus’ wife Virgilia as a woman trying to be supportive but also raises concern for her husband’s well-being as she also copes with his exile.

Brian Cox is excellent as Menenius as a Roman senator who is close with Coriolanus’ family as he is eager to help Coriolanus anyway he can while having to deal with the opposition as he struggles to maintain order and later to try and reason with Coriolanus in his vengeance towards Rome. Vanessa Redgrave is brilliant as Volumnia as Coriolanus’ mother who is an influential figure in Rome as she encourages her son to go into politics while being very angry at the tribunes who successfully banished him prompting her to get her son back and see reason. Gerard Butler is amazing as Volsci military leader Tullus Aufidius as Coriolanus’ sworn enemy who is hoping to destroy Rome and Coriolanus where he is later moved by Coriolanus’ determination following his exile as he helps him seek revenge on Rome. Finally, there’s Ralph Fiennes in a phenomenal performance as the titular character as a general who is a polarizing figure for his disdain towards common folk while is eager to rise to power only to be kicked out of Rome prompting him to seek vengeance as there’s an intensity to his performance but also an eeriness of a man driven to the edge.

Coriolanus is a marvelous film from Ralph Fiennes that features a great ensemble cast, a modern take on William Shakespeare’s character study, gritty visuals, and themes of ambition and vengeance. It’s a film that explore a man’s descent into madness in his attempt to go into politics only to be banished by the people in his home country as he also endures humility and shame that prompts him to seek revenge but at the cost of his own spirit and soul. In the end, Coriolanus is a remarkable film from Ralph Fiennes.

Ralph Fiennes Film: The Invisible Woman (2013 film) - (The White Crow)

© thevoid99 2019