Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Swan

 

Based on the short story by Roald Dahl, The Swan is the story of a young boy who is pursued by two ignorant bullies until one of them kills a swan to the horror of the young boy. Written for the screen and directed by Wes Anderson, the film is the second film in a series of short films based on short stories by Dahl as it explores a young boy coming of age. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Rupert Friend, Asa Jennings, Eliel Ford, Truman Hanks, Benoit Herlin, and Octavio Tapia. The Swan is a touching and somber film by Wes Anderson.

The film revolves around a young boy had been bullied by two ignorant older boys who get a kick out of killing small birds as they bully the boy and kill a swan in front of him. It is a 17-minute short film that explores a young boy who is pushed to the edge as he is a bird lover as it is told by a man named Peter Watson (Rupert Friend) who was that young boy as he recalls this entire incident that shaped his life. Wes Anderson’s script is largely told through Peter Watson as he accompanies his younger self (Asa Jennings) over this incident in which he witnesses two older boys shooting small birds with a rifle where he is put into a near-death experience and the witness the death of a swan as these bullies would push the young Peter to the edge. Notably as it would have this aftermath over what happened as Roald Dahl (Ralph Fiennes) tells it.

Anderson’s direction does have its sense of style with carefully tight compositions in the wide and medium shots while also in its usage of tracking and dolly shots in its 1:33:1 aspect ratio. Shot on location at the Maidstone Studios in Kent, England, Anderson maintains a stripped-down approach in the setting of long fields and a train track while stagehands appear every now and then. Anderson also maintains an intimacy in the direction in the usage of close-ups in a scene where the older Peter talks about his near-death experience with the younger Peter watching in the background. Anderson also plays into the violence though he doesn’t show anything but rather through older Peter’s narration and a scene where the older Peter wear swan wings as it would lead to this conclusion narrated by Dahl. Overall, Anderson creates a compelling and evocative film about a man reflecting on a terrible incident he dealt with as a child.

Cinematographer Roman Coppola does brilliant work with the film’s straightforward photography to play into the bright look of the fields as well as some low-key lighting for a few of the film’s interior scenes. Editors Barney Pilling and Andrew Weisblum do excellent work with the editing where it is straightforward with very few rhythmic cuts to play into the rhythm of Peter’s narration. Production designer Adam Stockhausen, along with art directors Claire Peerless and Kevin Timon Hill, does incredible work with the look of the pond and fields that is used for the environment along with a few interior settings to play into the artificiality to play into this man’s story. Costume designer Kasia Walicka Maimone does nice work with the costumes with a few clothes the young Peter wears as well as the suit the older Peter wears.

Hair/makeup designers Naomi Donne and Frances Hannon do fantastic work with the look of the characters that include the haircuts that the characters have including a few wigs that the stagehands wear. Visual effects supervisor Jean-Francois Ferland does terrific work with the visual effects as it is set-dressing for a few backgrounds including the scene involving the swan. Sound editor Wayne Lemmer does superb work with the sound in the sound effects that are created including some of the sparse moments as it is a highlight of the film.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast features some notable small roles from Eliel Ford, Truman Hanks, Benoit Herlin, and Octavio Tapia as stagehands who play various roles while providing props needed for the film. Asa Jennings is fantastic as the young Peter where he does maintain a low-key presence despite not having any dialogue yet does bring a lot of importance to this story of a kid being bullied. Ralph Fiennes is excellent in his brief appearance as Roald Dahl as the man who authored the story while adding some insight into the aftermath of the story that is being told. Finally, there’s Rupert Friend in an incredible performance as the older Peter who narrates his own story about a troubling incident he encountered as a kid where he narrates what happened to him while also doing so many things as it is a restrained yet engaging performance from Friend.

The Swan is a phenomenal film by Wes Anderson. Featuring a great cast, a compelling story of trauma, a stripped-down setting, and its unconventional approach to storytelling while breaking down the fourth wall. The short film is a charming yet simple short that plays into a man reflecting on a traumatic event while also reflecting on what pushed him to the edge. In the end, The Swan is an incredible film from Wes Anderson.

Wes Anderson Films: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Hotel Chevalier - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Moonrise Kingdom - Castello Cavalcanti - The Grand Budapest Hotel - Isle of Dogs - The French Dispatch - Asteroid City - The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar - (The Rat Catcher) – (Poison) – (The Phoenician Scheme) - The Auteurs #8: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson Film Soundtracks: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Seu Jorge-The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - (Moonrise Kingdom) – (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – (Isle of Dogs) – (The French Dispatch) – (Asteroid City)

© thevoid99 2024

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Inside Out 2

 

Based on the 2015 film Inside Out, Inside Out 2 is the sequel to the film in which the character of Riley becomes a teenager where her five core emotions deal with new emotion avatars who are taking over during the weekend at a summer hockey camp. Directed by Kelsey Mann and screenplay by Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein from a story by Mann and LeFauve is an exploration of teen angst and the many complexities that a teenage girl deals with while her five key emotions deal with these new changes as they try to deal with the new emotions who have taken over. Featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Tony Hale, Liza Lapira, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri, Adele Exarchopoulos, Paul Walter Hauser, Kensington Tallman, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, and June Squibb. Inside Out 2 is a majestic and riveting film from Kelsey Mann.

The film follows a young girl who is asked to attend a summer weekend hockey camp with her two friends until she gets news from them that would change everything where she deals with new emotions as well as the need to fit in with members of an elite high school hockey team. It is a film that explores a young girl becoming a teenager with her emotional avatars trying to figure out how to adjust to this new phase in her life while dealing with four new emotional avatars who are trying to take over. The film’s screenplay by Meg LaFauve and Dave Holstein, with additional contributions from Ronnie del Carmen, explore the five key emotions in Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale), and Disgust (Liza Lapira) who are overseeing the emotional state of Riley Andersen (Kensington Tallman) while they have created a new section under their main console in a tree-like series of threads known as Sense of Self that gives Riley her identity and personality. When the puberty alarm goes off, the team deals with not just their headquarters becoming shambolic but also meeting four new emotional avatars in Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adele Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser).

The new team led by Anxiety is trying to come up with many scenarios that she believes would hurt Riley leading to a power struggle in which Joy and her team are cast out along with their symbol of Riley’s Sense of Self that is discarded along with a mountain of bad memories forcing Joy and the gang on a new quest to return to headquarters. It is in this journey where Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust all work together to try and stop Anxiety from creating a sense of chaos where Riley wouldn’t just alienate her friends but also try to win over the team’s captain Val (Lilimar) for a spot in their elite hockey team. The script also has more development in the characters in which Fear, Disgust, and Anger do bring in more ideas with Joy becoming overwhelmed in trying to maintain her optimism while Sadness finds a way to return to headquarters and take control of Joy’s new discarding device that would allow their Sense of Self to return. Still, things become more complicated with Anxiety trying to steer Riley into a place where she feels she can be accepted that only adds to more problems.

Kelsey Mann’s direction is broad in its overall presentation where she expands this world that Riley’s mind is in as there are more islands that represent her personality with the Sense of Self being an underground where memories could be stored in a river and create new threads. With the aid of animation directors David Torres and Amanda Wagner and character designers Dean Heezen and Deanna Marsigliese, Mann creates a world that is vast where the main headquarters where Joy and her team are overseeing Riley’s emotional and mental state while the room where Riley’s memories are planted for the Sense of Self tree is world that is unique until Anxiety and her team would take over where there is a shift in tone in the film as well as the look of the Sense of Self tree that Anxiety has created. Mann’s compositions in the wide and medium shots do add to the sense of wonderment in the world. They include the scenes outside of headquarters where Riley’s memories are stored and archived including a vault where Riley’s secrets are held.

With the aid of cinematographers Adam Habib and Jonathan Pytko, production designer Jason Deamer, along with art directors Rona Liu, Laura Meyer, Keiko Murayama, Joshua West, and Bill Zahn, and visual effects supervisor Sudeep Rangaswamy, Mann would create new variations of worlds including Imagination Land that Joy and Sadness used to go but Anxiety’s arrival has changed things. Joy and the gang would also meet a couple of 2D hand-drawn animated characters in Bloofy (Ron Fuches) who was a character that Riley liked as a kid as well as Floofy’s assistant Pouchy (James Austin Johnson) as it adds to this sense of surrealism to what Joy and her team would deal with. The sense of lighting and mindfulness in Riley’s face adds to the complexity of her emotions where Mann really plays into the ideas of emotional and mental chaos. Even where Joy faces realizations in what Anxiety is trying to do along with Envy, Ennui, and Embarrassment where these nine emotions all play a role in Riley in who she is and what she can be. Overall, Mann crafts a rich and evocative film about emotional avatars dealing with the complexities of a girl becoming a teenager.

Editor Maurissa Horwitz does brilliant work with the editing as it is straightforward to play into the humor and action while allowing shots to linger for some of the dramatic moments in the film. Sound designer Ren Klyce and sound editor Coya Elliott do amazing work with the sound as it plays into some unique sound effects as well as how a keyboard sounds in a device that Anxiety uses. The film’s music by Andrea Datzman is wonderful as it features variations of Michael Giacchino’s themes while creating some flourishing and bombastic orchestral pieces along with some electronic bits while the music soundtrack features some mixture of pop and indie music including a song by the Linda Lindas.

The casting by Natalie Lyon and Kevin Reher is incredible as it features some notable small voice appearances from Flea, Paula Poundstone, and Bobby Moynihan as a few characters Joy and her team bump into, Frank Oz and Dave Goelz as a couple of mind cops, John Ratzenberger and Kirk Thatcher as a couple of construction people who destroy headquarters to create something new for the new avatars, Pete Docter as Dad’s Anger, Paula Pell as Mom’s Anger, Grace Lu and Sumayyah Nuridden-Green as Riley’s best friends in Grace and Bree respectively, Lilimar as the hockey team captain Val, Yvette Nicole Brown as Coach Roberts as the head of the hockey camp who takes the progress of her players seriously, and the duo of Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane as Riley’s parents who both deal with the fact that Riley is now a teenager with their emotional avatars realizing they’re about to enter a bumpy ride. The duo of Ron Fuches and James Austin Johnson are fantastic in their respective roles as the 2-D hand-drawn cartoon characters Bloofy and Pouchy whom Joy and her team meet in the back of the mind as they are childhood idols of Riley.

Yong Yea and Steve Purcell are superb in their respective roles as the video game character Lance Slashblade, who was a secret crush of Riley, and Deep Dark Secret as a gigantic figure who prefers to remain mysterious as he represents the deepest darkest secret that Riley does not want anyone to know. June Squibb is amazing in her brief role as a tenth avatar known as Nostalgia who pops in every now and then who arrives too early to be used. Kensington Tallman is excellent as Riley Andersen as the young girl who has become a teenager where she deals with many different emotions as well as a lot of uncertainty that plays into the many mistakes and confusion that teenagers often endure. Paul Walter Hauser and Adele Exarchopoulos are brilliant in their respective roles as the emotional avatars Embarrassment and Ennui with the former not saying much as he’s often shy and flustered over his actions where he unexpectedly bonds with Sadness while the latter is hilarious in how bored she is while having a rubbery look where Exarchopoulos allows Ennui to have some of the funniest lines in the film.

Ayo Edebiri is amazing as Envy as this tiny, cyan-colored avatar that is trying to do whatever she can to make Riley be impressive while is in awe of many things where Edebiri brings a lot of nuances to her voice. Tony Hale and Liza Lapira are incredible in their respective roles as Fear and Disgust with the former being more concerned with Riley’s state of mind while also being prepared for the worst while the latter brings a lot of humor in her own crush towards Slashblade while also dealing with Riley’s growing pains where she also must step up her game in trying to help Riley. Phyllis Smith and Lewis Black are great in their respective roles as Sadness and Anger with the former becoming concerned with what Anxiety is doing where she knows that Riley is going into emotional chaos while she befriends Embarrassment. Black’s voice role as Anger has a lot of humor in the way he overreacts and gets mad at while he also becomes aware of how overwhelmed Joy has become where he helps lead the charge to help Riley.

Maya Hawke is phenomenal in her voice role as Anxiety as this orange-like avatar that is this representation of anxiety that is trying to protect Riley by visualizing the worst possible case scenarios while also doing what she can to make Riley look cool in front of new people. Finally, there’s Amy Poehler in a spectacular voice performance of Joy as the leader of Riley’s emotional gang who is trying to maintain Riley’s emotional/mental state while hoping to discard bad memories as a way to protect her only to find herself in a power struggle with Anxiety as Poehler brings more emotional weight to her character who starts to become overwhelmed while also to coming to terms with the complexity of Riley’s emotional and mental well-being.

Inside Out 2 is a sensational film from Kelsey Mann and Pixar. Featuring a great ensemble voice cast, wondrous visuals, and its exploration of growing pains in the mind of a young teenage girl. The film is a coming-of-age film that does not just explore a girl’s mental state but also the many trials and tribulations that a bunch of emotions must endure to help this young girl’s state of mind as she is growing up and dealing with changes that can be horrifying but also welcoming. In the end, Inside Out 2 is a phenomenal film from Kelsey Mann.

Pixar Films: Toy Story - A Bug's Life - Toy Story 2 - (Monsters Inc.) – (Finding Nemo) – The Incredibles - Cars - Ratatouille - WALL-E - Up (2009 film) - Toy Story 3 - Cars 2 - Brave (2012 film) - Monsters University - Inside Out - The Good Dinosaur - (Finding Dory) – (Cars 3) – Coco - The Incredibles 2 - (Onward) – Soul (2020 film) - (Luca (2021 film)) – Turning Red - (Lightyear) - (Elemental (2023 film)) – (Elio (2024 film)) – (Toy Story 5)

© thevoid99 2024

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

 

Based on the short story by Roald Dahl, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is about a man who learns about a guru who sees things without using his eyes hoping to master this technique to cheat at gambling. Written and directed for the screen by Wes Anderson, the 37-minute short film is the first of a four-part short film series that adapts the works of Dahl as it is told in the offbeat yet meticulous style that Anderson is known for. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel, and Richard Ayoade. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is an imaginative and wonderous film from Wes Anderson.

The film is the simple story of a rich man who discovers a book about a doctor’s report on a guru who can see things without his eyes where the man hopes to master this skill to cheat at gambling. It is a film told in a multilayered style as it is told through different characters with Roald Dahl (Ralph Fiennes) doing the narration as well as how he authored this story with claims that it is based on a real man. Notably as the titular character (Benedict Cumberbatch) was at an event bored where he walked to the library where he discovered this book written by Dr. Chatterjee (Dev Patel) who recounts his meeting with a circus performer in Imdad Khan (Ben Kingsley) who asked to be blindfolded for an upcoming performance. Dr. Chatterjee and his colleague Dr. Marshall (Richard Ayoade) would ask Khan these questions about where he learned this trade where Khan would tell the story of how he met this guru (Richard Ayoade) as it plays into Henry Sugar’s obsession to learn this skill, yet it would succeed in learning it, but its aftermath would prove to be unfulfilling.

Wes Anderson’s direction plays in a style that includes a lot of static shots and so much mindfulness in the setting where it does feel like the fourth wall is broken. Shot on location at the Maidstone Studios in Kent, England, Anderson’s usage of un-broken long shots, unique camera angles, and sets being moved from set to another adds to this unconventional presentation where characters narrate this story and the layers upon which it plays into Sugar’s newfound obsession. While the film is shot in a 1:33:1 full-frame aspect ratio on 16mm film to maintain an intimate style while still using some wide shots. Anderson’s usage of medium shots and close-ups do add to the sense of whimsy as well as intrigue into whether these stories were true as the characters would talk to the camera to play into this ambiguity with actors also playing multiple roles. It would all play into this journey of a rich yet lonely man who wants more money and wealth, yet it is through this skill to see things without his eyes that would reveal so much more than what wealth can offer to him. Overall, Anderson crafts a delightful and rapturous film about a rich man’s discovery of a secret skill that can make him wealthier.

Cinematographer Robert Yeomen does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with the usage of vibrant colors and heightened lighting for some of the daytime exteriors as well as stylish lights and low-key lights for some scenes at night. Editors Barney Pilling and Andrew Weisblum do excellent work with the editing as it has a few jump-cuts while a lot of it is straightforward in its cutting in allowing shots to linger for a few minutes. Production designer Adam Stockhausen, with supervising art director Kevin Timon Hill plus set decorators Cathy Featherstone and Anna Pinnock, does brilliant work with the look of the sets in the interiors of Sugar’s home, the hospital in India, and some of the backdrops created for Khan’s story. Costume designer Kasia Walicka Maimone does fantastic work with the costumes in the posh clothing that Sugar wears as well as the different clothing that Dahl and other characters wear.

Hair/makeup designer Frances Hannon does amazing work with the hair/makeup design in the different looks that the characters would have included Sugar late in the film. Special effects supervisor Chris Reynolds, along with visual effects supervisors Jep Hill, David Lebensfeld, Tim Ledbury, and Grant Miller, does terrific work with the special effects in some of the backdrops with some little mechanical animation in the background and rear projection in a few bits. Sound editors Wayne Lemmer and Christopher Scarabosio do superb work with the sound as it plays into some of the natural sound effects as well as some sound effects created to play into the environment the characters are in. Music supervisor Randall Poster creates a wonderful soundtrack that consists of a classical music piece that is played sparingly in parts of the film.

The film’s ensemble cast features a few small appearances from Jarvis Cocker in various roles as friends of Sugar as well as a casino receptionist and David Gant as a casino croupier. Richard Ayoade is excellent in a dual role as Dr. Marshall who assists Dr. Chatterjee in his study of Khan as well as the Great Yogi who would teach Khan this trick to see things without his eyes. Dev Patel is amazing in a dual role as Dr. Chatterjee who is fascinated by Khan’s story where he would author the book that Sugar would read and as Sugar’s family accountant John Winston who would oversee Sugar’s business later in the film. Ben Kingsley is brilliant in a dual role as the circus performer Imdad Khan who would gain fame through a trick in seeing things without his eyes where he presents himself in a calm manner and in another role as a casino blackjack dealer.

Ralph Fiennes is incredible in a dual role as Roald Dahl as the man who revealed how learned this story about Henry Sugar and his meetings with him and in a small role as a policeman who is upset with an incident that Sugar causes. Finally, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch in a phenomenal dual performance as the titular character who is this wealthy man that becomes obsessed in learning this skill so he can win at gambling only to gain something even more fulfilling while Cumberbatch also plays a small role as a makeup artist who works for Sugar later in the film.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a tremendous film by Wes Anderson. Featuring a great cast, wondrous visuals, and an inventive screenplay. It is a short film that takes one of Roald Dahl’s overlooked short stories and turns into a story of a man’s obsession in a story he read only to find something far more valuable than what he originally intended to use with this skill he discovered. In the end, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a spectacular film from Wes Anderson.

Wes Anderson Films: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Hotel Chevalier - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Moonrise Kingdom - Castello Cavalcanti - The Grand Budapest Hotel - Isle of Dogs - The French Dispatch - Asteroid City - The Swan – (The Rat Catcher) – (Poison) – (The Phoenician Scheme) - The Auteurs #8: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson Film Soundtracks: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Seu Jorge-The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - (Moonrise Kingdom) – (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – (Isle of Dogs) – (The French Dispatch) – (Asteroid City)

© thevoid99 2024

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Tori & Lokita

 

Written and directed by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, Tori & Lokita is the story of two young African immigrants who arrive in Belgium as they hope to gain residence while pretending to be siblings. The film is a look into the migrant situation in Europe in which two different African immigrants try to survive and hope to find a home in Belgium. Starring Pablo Schills, Mbundu Joely, Alban Ukaj, Tijmen Govaerts, Charlotte De Bruyne, Nadege Ouedraogo, and Marc Zinga. Tori & Lokita is a riveting and somber film from the Dardenne Brothers.

The film revolves around two young and different African immigrants who live in Belgium as one of them hopes to get immigration papers while they both do all sorts of things including drug deals for a sleazy chef and such. It is a film with a simple premise, yet Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne create a story that does have a political slant as it relates to the plight that migrants deal with as they try to enter a country legally as well as the terrible social conditions, they must endure including the bureaucratic process into getting immigration papers. Yet, at the heart of the story are these titular characters as Tori (Pablo Schills) is a 12-year-old from Benin and Lokita (Mbundu Joely) is a 17-year-old from Cameroon as they pretend to be siblings as they work as couriers for a restaurant owner in Betim (Alban Ukaj) while the latter is forced to do sexual favors for him. Lokita also must deal with the people who brought here as she owes them money while is hoping to get money for her mother back in Cameroon and legal documents that Tori already has. Lokita takes an offer from Betim to make some more money and get legal documents but what she learns is that she must be separated from Tori to work in a remote marijuana farm.

The direction of the Dardenne Brothers is engaging for the sense of urgency that occurs but also in its simplicity. Shot on location in Liege and areas around the city in Belgium, the Dardenne Brothers maintain a sense of intimacy with the close-ups and medium shots with some wide shots in some of the locations including a few scenes in its third act. Still, there is that sense of realism in their direction with some long shots that linger for a few minutes with hand-held cameras as if they are making a documentary film. The direction also displays the sense of location in where the titular characters must go to sell the drugs to Betim’s clients including a club doorman who feels like he is overpaying though Tori, later in its third act, offers to sell him some weed cheap. Though being couriers for Betim has its benefits financially and the food they eat, Lokita unfortunately must do more to get money as she is in a terrifying position due to the money, she owes to a smuggler in Firmin (Marc Zinga).

The direction also plays into this underworld that migrants must take part in as Lokita is sent to a remote farm where she must do a lot of duties in remote isolation as it is hard for her to deal with. Even as she deals with being away from Tori who still goes to school while he is concerned for Lokita knowing she also has health issues. The third act does not just play into Tori’s willingness to help Lokita as well as finding where she is where he discovers this underworld that is terrifying. Still, Tori is someone that has a lot of determination and street smart to get things done yet he also must contend with the dark underworld that he and Lokita are to get the latter her immigration papers. Overall, the Dardenne Brothers craft a gripping yet mesmerizing film about two African migrants struggling to get by and find a home in Belgium.

Cinematographer Benoit Dervaux does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is straightforward for much of the film’s daytime scenes with its natural lighting while using some stylish lighting for the interior/exterior scenes at night. Editor Marie-Helene Dozo does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward in its presentation with a few jump cuts for some of the suspenseful moments in the film. Production designer Igor Gabriel, along with art directors Julien Denis and Paul Rouschop, does amazing work with the look of the kitchen where Betim works as well as the room where Lokita lives in the farm.

Costume designer Dorothee Guiraud does nice work with the costumes as it is casual with some coats and colorful clothing. Sound editor Valene Leroy and sound engineer Jean-Pierre Duret do superb work with the sound in how it plays at a certain location through small sparse moments as well as loud moments including scenes where music is played including a few songs that the titular characters sing.

The casting by Kevin Dardenne is wonderful as it features some notable small roles from Nadage Ouedraogo as an associate of Firmin, Thomas Doret and Annette Closset as a couple of Lokita’s caseworkers, Emma Cohen-Hadria as Tori’s teacher, Tijem Govaerts as a marijuana farmer who runs everything for Betim while not giving Lokita access to a phone so that no one can find the farm, and Charlotte De Bruyne as a drug farmer in Margot who tries to warn Lokita of what she has to deal with. Marc Zinga is fantastic as the smuggler Firmin as the man that brought Lokita to Belgium as he is also this cruel figure that wants Lokita to pay him the money she owes though he is someone that could not intimidate Tori knowing Tori already has legal papers. Alban Ukaj is excellent as Betim as an Italian restaurant owner who is also a drug dealer that is trying run things despite overcharging for some clients while he also forces Lokita to do sexual favors for him.

Finally, there is the duo Pablo Schills and Mbundu Joely in tremendous leading performances in their respective roles as Tori and Lokita. Schills’ performance is full of energy and street-smart as this 12-year-old kid who always finds a solution while also knows how to deal with clients where he presents himself as a mature kid while also being a kid who does attend school. Joely’s performance as Lokita is more reserved as this 17-year-old young woman who is dealing with a lot on her plate in owing money to her smuggler, doing interviews to get legal documents, and working for Betim whom she must do sexual favors for him. Schills and Joely together bring this sense of camaraderie as well as this sense of urgency into the situations they are in as well as help each other by pretending to be siblings as they are a highlight of the film.

The 2023 Region A Blu-Ray from the Criterion Collection as part of the Janus Contemporaries series presents the film in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio with an uncompressed 5.1 Surround Sound in French with English subtitles. The lone special feature in the Blu-Ray is a 24-minute interview with Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne as they talk about the film as well as their own background in documentary that includes footage of the early documentary films they have done since the late 1970s. They also reveal their approach to directing actors and how it had evolved in their career along with mentioning a few key collaborators in sound engineer Jean-Pierre Duret, editor Marie-Helene Dozo, production designer Igor Gabriel, and one of their sons in Kevin who was a prop master and has become their casting director.

The Blu-Ray set also features a booklet that contains an essay by film critic Michael Joshua Rowin entitled Tori and Lokita: No Safe Harbors. The essay discusses the film as well as the subject matter as it relates to the migrant situation that had been occurring since the late 2010s. Even as the essay reveals how the Dardenne Brothers produced the story by talking to educators to young migrant children along with information about their troubled situations as they hoped the film would give voice to these children. Since Schills and Joely are not professional actors and this was the first film for both, the Dardennes revealed how they had to adjust their own filmmaking process to get the two to find what they need for the characters they play as the essay is a fine read.

Tori & Lokita is a tremendous film from the Dardenne Brothers that features great performances from Pablo Schills and Mbundu Joely in their respective titular roles. Along with its ensemble cast, natural visuals, and a gripping story of survival and the plight of young African migrants living in Europe. It is a film that explores the journey of two outsiders living in a foreign world where they try to survive and find a home there while dealing with many obstacles. In the end, Tori & Lokita is a spectacular film from the Dardenne Brothers.

Dardenne Brothers Films: (Falsch) – (I Think of You) – La Promesse - Rosetta - Le Fils - L'Enfant - To Each His Own Cinema-Darkness - Lorna's Silence - The Kid with a Bike - Two Days, One Night - The Unknown Girl - Young Ahmed

© thevoid99 2024

Monday, June 03, 2024

The Unknown Girl

 

Written & directed by Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, La Fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl) is the story of a doctor who is consumed with guilt in turning away a young girl who would later die as the police are unable to identify her body. The film is a study of a woman dealing with a demanding job as well as the guilt in turning away a young African woman. Starring Adele Haenel, Jeremie Renier, and Louka Minnella. La Fille inconnue is a riveting and haunting film from the Dardenne Brothers.

Set in the town of Liege in Belgium, the film revolves around a young doctor who turned away a young girl late one night only to learn that the girl died a day later nearby as she feels responsible for her death. It is a film that explores not just guilt but also a doctor trying to learn who this girl is and why she died as someone was chasing her. The film’s screenplay by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne has a straightforward narrative yet it is the first script where they flirt with a genre in suspense-mystery as it plays into the journey that Dr. Jenny Davin (Adele Haenel) takes where she had been working all day with her intern Julien (Olivier Bonnaud) at a clinic as it was past closing time is when she refused to open the door even though Julien wanted to help this young girl who was being chased. Upon learning about this girl who died as no one had been able to identify her, Dr. Davin becomes obsessed with as she talks with the police, the previous owner of the clinic she runs, and various locals including some patients if they knew this girl. Even as she also works being a doctor who drives from place to place to help them.

The direction of the Dardenne Brothers is entrancing for not just its simplicity but also in how restrained it is in terms of using hand-held cameras where there is not a lot of shakiness in the camera movements. Shot on location in Liege, the Dardenne Brothers’ direction aims for intimacy in the usage of medium shots and close-ups though there are a few wide shots in the film. Yet, they do maintain this style of cinema verite that gives the film a realistic feel as if they are presenting the film as a documentary but with a polished look. It adds to the sense of realism where the Dardenne Brothers use the locations in Liege to highlight a world that Dr. Davin is going into while also tending to other patients outside of her clinic. The Dardenne Brothers display that despite the poor social standing that Dr. Davin’s clients live in, she will go to them to treat them and such while asking if they know the identity of this young girl she turns away.

The element of suspense and mystery do come into play where Dr. Davin asks one of young patients in Bryan (Louka Minnella) if he knew this girl as he said no at first only to later revealed that he did see her with a friend leading to more revelations about some of the seedy things in town. Notably as she gets some information from both Bryan’s father (Jeremie Renier) and a man who runs an illegal garage though she still does not get this girl’s name. It does play into an underworld of sorts that Dr. Davin must confront though she is not only the person filled with guilt over what happened as there are others who did know this girl but were either afraid to reveal her identity or had a hand in her death. Overall, the Dardenne Brothers craft a gripping yet somber film about a young Belgian doctor dealing with her role in a young girl’s death.

Cinematographer Alain Marcoen does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is straightforward in its natural lighting for many of the daytime interior/exterior scenes as well as some additional lighting for some exterior scenes at night. Editor Marie-Helene Dozo does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward with shots lingering for more than a few minutes with a few jump-cuts to play into the suspense. Production designer Igor Gabriel, along with set decorators Millie Dardenne and Amanda Petrella plus art director Paul Rouschop, does fantastic work with the interiors of the clinic that Dr. Davin runs as well as the small apartment she lives in above the clinic. Costume designer Maira Ramedhan Levi does terrific work with the costumes as it is straightforward with everyone wearing casual clothing including the coats that they wear as it is set in the fall/winter. Sound editor Benoit De Clerck does nice work with the sound as it is straightforward in capturing everything that is on location as well as the way something sounds like from afar or in another room.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast feature some notable small roles and appearances from Thomas Doret as a cancer patient of Dr. Davin who wrote a song for her, Marc Zinga as a pimp who threatens Dr. Davin, Jean-Michel Balthazar as a diabetic patient who helps Dr. Davin in trying to find the girl’s identity, Ben Hamidou and Laurent Caron as a couple of police inspectors, Yves Larec as Dr. Davin’s previous boss who tried to help her in identifying the girl through his records, Pierre Sumkay as an old patient in Monsieur Lambert who revealed that he did meet the girl and knows who she is, Myriem Akheddiou as an assistant of a boss of Dr. Davin, Nadege Ouedraogo as a cashier at a cybercafe, Christelle Cornil as Bryan’s mother, and Fabrizio Rongione as Dr. Riga as a boss of Dr. Davin who gave her a job that would help her fund her clinic.

Olivier Gourmet is terrific as Monsieur Lambert’s son who runs a garage where the titular girl had done something in his camper van as the man does not want anyone to know. Louka Minella is superb as Bryan as a young kid with indigestion issues who had seen the girl but knows more to protect a friend of his. Jeremie Renier is excellent as Bryan’s father who also knows the girl but is also secretive into what had happened. Olivier Bonnaud is fantastic as Dr. Davin’s intern Julien who had quit the clinic the day after the news of the girl’s death as he reveals what happened on that day all because of a child who had a seizure. Finally, there’s Adele Haenel in a phenomenal performance as Dr. Jenny Davin as a young woman who works and runs a clinic while also going to various homes to treat patients while dealing with the guilt of turning away a young girl being chased that led to her death. It is a somber yet restrained performance from Haenel who captures not just the sense of guilt in her actions but also trying to understand who this girl is and why did she die as it is one of her finest performances.

La Fille inconnue is a tremendous film from Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne that features a great leading performance from Adele Haenel. Along with its ensemble supporting cast, realistic visuals, a simple yet engaging premise, and its unconventional take on suspense and mystery. It is a film that is not just a fascinating study of guilt but also a woman trying to deal with a mistake and rectify it so she can bring peace to herself and those who knew this young girl. In the end, La Fille inconnue is a spectacular film from Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne.

Dardenne Brothers Films: (Falsch) – (I Think of You) – La Promesse - Rosetta - Le Fils - L'Enfant - To Each His Own Cinema-Darkness - Lorna's Silence - The Kid with a Bike - Two Days, One Night - Young Ahmed - Tori & Lokita

© thevoid99 2024

Friday, May 31, 2024

Films That I Saw: May 2024

 

Summer is about to arrive, and it is already getting hot as there is so much shit happening right now as the Israel-Hamas war has gotten worse with our president Joe Biden still showing his support for Israel. OK Joe, enjoy the remaining days of your single term. There has been a lot of shit happening around the world as well as Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province endured one of the worst landslides ever with thousands of people killed. There has been some awful shit here in the U.S. with tornadoes and all sorts of storms and we are not even at the half-way point of the year. This has been quite insane as far as I do what I can to read the news, but I also try to find ways to not be too invested in it as it would be a total fucking downer.

I have been able to find things to escape to as this year’s Cannes Film Festival has always given me some excitement about what to look forward to in the world of cinema. I’m happy for Sean Baker whose newest film Anora won the Palme d’Or as that is a film I’m eager looking forward to as well as Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds of Kindness that gave one of its stars in Jesse Plemons the Best Actor prize while Jacques Audiard’s Emilia Perez took home the third-place Jury Prize and the Best Actress prize to its ensemble that includes Selena Gomez and Zoe Saldana. Other winners include the Grand Jury prize winner All We Imagine is Light by Payal Kapadia, the special prize winner to The Seed of the Sacred Fig by Mohammad Rasoulof, Best Screenplay winner The Substance by Coralie Fargeat, and Best Director winner Miguel Gomes for his film Grand Tour are films that I hope to see soon.

While the coverage has been great, the one thing that has put me off about this year’s festival was the numerous reports of standing ovations and that irked me. With Cannes, I usually expect some chaos or dramatic reactions at the screenings with films being booed and howled as that is what makes the festival fun to read about. This year saw some big releases such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis and Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 all getting these long-standing ovations despite the mixed reviews the films have received. That is weird as I had recently listened to the MUBI podcast on YouTube where Wim Wenders talked about his own experience with standing ovations during a screening for one of his films with Sam Shepherd as they had a long-standing ovation, but it became very uncomfortable for both Wenders and Shepherd after a few minutes in which the latter left the theater because it was overwhelming.

Personally, I would have rather dealt with being booed and I would at least respond to that reaction by giving the audience the finger. That is what Carl Theodor Dreyer did when he screened his final film Gertrud in 1964 as that film was not well-received at the festival yet he went to the stage and flipped off the audience. Those are things that make Cannes so fun as this year’s festival overall felt a bit lackluster for me in the end.

After more than 7 years with a gray HP laptop that I had bought and used as I have written a lot of my work. It was time to get a new one as I bought a brand-new HP Pavilion laptop in its latest form for a lot of money which I am fortunate to have. At the same time, I purchased some software including a new anti-virus and other services that I need including a new Netflix account which I am in control of overseeing. My mother had been complaining about not seeing things in her iPad but with the new account I have created. She is relieved to do that as well as watch her favorite stuff on YouTube. The timing was right as I am now working on the newest version of Microsoft Word with a new editor program that has really done wonders for me as I feel like I can improve as it is going to help me overall.
In the month of May 2024, I saw a total of 23 films in 13 first timers and 10 re-watches with only one film directed/co-directed by a woman as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. A somewhat underwhelming month although still pretty good as one of the highlights of the month is my Blind Spot film in East of Eden. Here is the top 10 first timers that I saw for May 2024:

1. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
2. Let It Be
3. Young Ahmed
4. Miracle in Milan
5. Starlet
6. Khaite FW21
7. Snowbird
8. Elton John: Visions
9. Hi-Fi
10. Senior Year
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I am Watching

Wish
For a film that is meant to celebrate the 100th anniversary for Disney Animation Studios, this was a fucking let down as I expected better from Disney. There was a lot of hype for it, but I was worried about it as the animation upon its previews had me worried. I watched the film with my niece and nephew who were both bored by it as it had a terrible story of a young woman who is an idealist that is hoping to become a king’s apprentice, but he refuses to grant her grandfather’s wish. Upon getting a fallen star that can grant wishes, the king gets upset and a lot of dumb shit occurs as I hated how pandering it was while the animation was wobbly in its attempt to make it look like an old hand-drawn animated film with some 3D computer animated movies. It was one of the things that irked me though the only redeeming quality is Chris Pine as the evil king though I felt like his character had some points about not wanting to grant some wishes, but the story did the character no favors. Even the songs that were made for the film were just fucking terrible as this is not a film for kids to see and Disney should have done better.

nothing, except everything
Wow… I have seen some awful shit in my life but goddamn. This is truly one of the worst things I had ever seen as I saw it out of curiosity as it was made by Wesley Wang who was given all this money to make a student film, and this is a film that is HATED by the Letterboxd community. It is this piece of shit which uses quotes by Karl Marx, Carl Jung, and Marya Hornbacher to explain this young man’s existential crisis, but Wang really has no context of who these writers are. All the film is some whiny little fuck who obsesses over the number 7 and what to expect in life as this is just some idiotic millennial bullshit filled with pretty people. The acting is horrible with some offensive usage of music by Beach House as that band should sue Wang. If Wang ever reads this, I hope he kills himself because if this is the future of cinema. FUCK OFF!

Senior Year
A film I saw on Netflix about an Australian teenager who moves to America and hopes to become a popular girl only to fall on her head during a cheerleading routine and then wake up 20 years later realizing how much the world has changed. It is a harmless comedy where Rebel Wilson re-enrolls herself to high school to finish her senior year as there are so many different things that happen. Wilson is hilarious in this as well as being heartfelt as a young woman who had lost much of her life but also her mother as she copes with adulthood as well as trying to realize that high school is not the peak of one’s life. It is a harmless and fun film with a great cast including an amazing cameo from Alicia Silverstone and Angourie Rice as the younger version of Wilson’s character.

Elton John: Visions Before Beyonce popularized the idea of the visual album with 2016’s Lemonade, the first of its kind was Blondie’s 1979 album Eat to the Beat that featured all its songs with a music video for each song. This was before the emergence of MTV as Elton John would create a visual album for his 1981 studio release in The Fox. For many years, the video album had been unavailable until a few days ago as Elton John’s YouTube page released all the videos from that album in a new remastered form. It is quite ahead of its time as well as making the case for being one of John’s more underrated recordings as the 80s was a messy decade for him despite some major hits at that time.

Snowbird



One of three shorts/ads directed by Sean Baker that I saw on YouTube is set in a desert trailer park starring Abbey Lee as a young woman who bakes a cake for many of her neighbors in this small trailer park. Featuring appearances from Mary Woronov and Clarence Williams III, the short is really an advertisement for Kenzo’s 2016 spring/summer collection with Lee wearing one of its clothing. She looks good in the clothes while also adding some naturalism to her performance as well as eating a piece of cake with her neighbors as it is a fun short by Baker.

Khaite FW21



The second short by Baker that I saw on YouTube is a four-minute ad/short commissioned for Khaite’s fall/winter collection as it featured models acting like gangs. Obviously inspired by Walter Hill’s 1979 film The Warriors, it has models walking around acting as a gang doing all sorts of shit with Ace Frehley’s New York Groove playing in the background. It is a fun short to watch and certainly something for fans of Baker to see.

Hi-Fi



The earliest short film of Baker that I saw on YouTube came from 2001 as it is a five-and-a-half-minute short film involving four young teenagers riding around New York City through its tunnels and streets. At first, it feels like this is going to be something fun and innocent until drugs come into play. It is a short that plays into the many themes that Baker has explored in outsiders living away from mainstream society. Even though it has a style that is akin to what was happening at the time, it is really a look into Baker honing his craft as a filmmaker.

Dark Side of the Ring (season finale)
The final episode of the fifth season of this series revolves around the incident known as Black Saturday. It is an event on July 14, 1984, in which WWE had taken over a timeslot on TBS that had previously aired professional wrestling through Georgia Championship Wrestling. It is an event that did mark a major change in professional wrestling as it would put WWE on a national level though it angered many fans of GCW as it revealed a lot into how Jack and Gerald Brisco sold their stakes of GCW to Vince McMahon Jr. much to the anger of Ole Anderson. Gerald Brisco, Jim Cornette, and Ole’s son Bryant Rogowski are among those who are interviewed as it plays into how this event would not only play into McMahon’s rise in professional wrestling but also the beginning of a rivalry with TBS owner Ted Turner though the episode was dedicated to Ole Anderson who died this past February while adding a post-script about McMahon’s most recent departure from WWE due to his many scandals including sex trafficking.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
2. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
3. Solo Con Tu Pareja
4. What Did Jack Do?
5. Frozen
6. Moana
7. Boomerang
8. Madrid, 1987
9. Dragon Around
10. Sliver
That is all for May. Coming in June will be a few films that I meant to do for my mini-Cannes marathon as well as hopefully a few theatrical releases in Inside Out 2 and Kinds of Kindness. I am not sure what film I will watch as my next Blind Spot film though I am however going to start work on my Auteurs piece on Michael Mann by watching two TV films of his available on YouTube along with The Insider and Ferrari for the rest of the summer. Before I leave, I want to express my condolences to those who have passed away this month including the writer Paul Auster who died at the end of April. Among those who have passed this month include the basketball legend Bill Walton, Elizabeth McRae, film producers Albert S. Ruddy and Fred Roos of The Godfather films, the legendary songwriter Richard M. Sherman, Johnny Wactor of General Hospital, Doug Ingle of Iron Butterfly, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, actor Darryl Hickman, music composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, the great Dabney Coleman, comic book artist Don Perlin, writer Alice Munro, actor/producer Samm-Art Williams, drummer Dennis Thompson of the MC5, drummer John Barbata of the Turtles, Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship, Susan Buckner from Grease, Richard Tandy of Electric Light Orchestra, and the legendary Roger Corman. We will miss you all. This is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2024

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

 

Based on the characters created by George Miller and Byron Kennedy, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is the story of a young woman living in an apocalyptic desert wasteland as she is taken by a warlord whom she would get her revenge on years before she would meet Mad Max. Directed by George Miller and written by Miller and Nico Lathouris, the film is a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road as it relates to the character of Furiosa and how she would become this dangerous figure and future ally to Mad Max as both Anya Taylor-Joy and Alyla Browne portray her. Also starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Burke, Nathan Jones, John Howard, Angus Sampson, Charlee Fraser, and Lachy Hulme as Immortan Joe. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a grand and astonishingly terrifying film from George Miller.

The film revolves around the titular character who gets abducted by a biker gang from her idyllic yet remote home as she becomes a prisoner to a warlord and later traded to another one where she later seeks vengeance on the man who had taken her away from her home and killed her mother. It is a revenge film set years after a global apocalypse where this young girl lives in an idyllic, yet remote area known as the Green Place where she encounters a group of bikers who would kidnap her prompting her mother Mary (Charlee Fraser) to go retrieve her. Unfortunately, Mary meets the warlord Dr. Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) who wants to rule the wasteland as he takes Furiosa for himself and is later traded to another warlord in Immortan Joe in an act of peace. The film’s screenplay by George Miller and Nico Lathoruis is straightforward in its narrative as it is told in five acts with the first two acts revolves around the young Furiosa who must endure so much torment as a prisoner and later become a slave for Joe where she would later disguise herself as a mute boy for its third act. Part of the film’s narrative feature some narration from a prisoner of Dr. Dementus in the History Man (George Shevtsov) who would provide some insight into the world and what had happened.

Furiosa would help create a massive supply tanker that would be armed with weapons and such as it would be driven by Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke) who would take Furiosa under his wing as they would work for Immortan Joe who becomes restless over the deal he made with Dr. Dementus who had turned his fortress of Gastown into ruin. Jack would not just be a mentor for Furiosa but also give Furiosa another person to really care about as there’s hints of love between them. Even as Burke is willing to help Furiosa return home as they later deal with Dr. Dementus who has become unruly in his pursuit of dominance as he goes to war against Immortan Joe over the latter’s land known as the Citadel.

Miller’s direction is grand in terms of the scale that he creates as he would shoot the film on location in New South Wales in the towns of Hay and Silverton with the desert in the region being its main location. Miller’s usage of wide and medium shots does not just play into the vastness of these locations with such diligence in the caves and dunes in the deserts along with these sandstorms that would often emerge in the film. There are also a lot of worlds building that Miller goes into as it relates to the territories of Immortan Joe such as the fortresses he has including his main home at the Citadel where there are plants available though it is under Joe’s control. Miller does maintain a sense of intensity and suspense that plays into what Furiosa would encounter as a young girl and later as a woman. Even as he uses close-ups to play into her reaction as well as her silent demeanor when she is a woman disguised as a boy where she can observe her surroundings and situations.

With the aid of action designer Guy Norris as a co-director and a stunt coordinator, Miller creates these amazing set pieces for some of the film’s action sequences where this so much diligence in what is happening. Notably a scene in the second act where Furiosa works at the war rig as she would fix things under the truck and kill some rogue bikers while Jack is driving the war rig. The different camera angles as well as the different compositions that Miller creates do add to the sense of danger in these stunts and action set pieces. Notably in the film’s climax as it plays into this conflict of two warlords with Furiosa intent on killing Dr. Dementus herself following an encounter that revealed how she lost a part of her left arm. Miller also plays into the idea of vengeance as it relates to Furiosa but also in what she is taught about Dr. Dementus who had lost everything during the apocalypse as he is eventually pushed to the limit when his back is against the wall. Overall, Miller crafts an epic and exhilarating film about a woman who goes on a journey for vengeance.

Cinematographer Simon Duggan does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of natural photography for many of the daytime exterior/interior scenes along with some stylish filters for some scenes at night. Editors Margaret Sixel and Eliot Knapman do excellent work with editing with its usage of jump-cuts and fast-cutting as it help play into the action and suspense without deviating towards chaotic cutting as shots are allowed to linger for more than a few seconds Production designer Colin Gibson, along with set decorator Katie Sharrock and supervising art director Sophie Nash, does brilliant work with the look of some of the places in the film such as Gastown and the Citadel as well as the design of the war rig. Costume designer Jenny Beaven does amazing work with the costume designs in the usage of leather for what Dr. Dementus and his gang wear as well as some of the unique clothing of Immortan Joe and his associates along with the many different clothes that Furiosa wears throughout her time.

Hair and makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt does fantastic work with the design of some of the hairstyles of some of the characters as well as the prosthetic nose that Dr. Dementus has as well as the makeup of some of the people in Dr. Demtentus’ gang. Special effects supervisors Lloyd Finnemore and Andy Williams, along with visual effects supervisors Xavier Matia Bernasconi, Dan Bethall, Paul Butterworth, Andrew Jackson, and Jo Plaete, do marvelous work with the visual effects with its mixture of practical effects that gives the film a sense of realism into the stunt work and action with some computer-based visual effects for some of the scenery and small bits to play into its sense of terror.

Sound designers James Ashton and Robert Mackenzie do superb work with the sound as it is a highlight of the film for how massive an engine sounds from afar or up close as well as the way things sound on location as is top-tier work from Ashton and Mackenzie. The film’s music by Tom Holkenborg is phenomenal for its bombastic mixture of orchestral music and electronic music that plays into the intensity of the action as well as the suspense as it is a major highlight of the film.

The casting by Nikki Barrett is remarkable as it features some notable small roles and appearances from Dylan Adonis as Furiosa’s younger sister Little Valkyrie, Quaden Bayles as a war pup who is a warrior in the war rig, Daniel Webber and Sean Millis as a couple of war boys, Peter Stephens as the main guardian of Gastown until he meets Dr. Dementus, George Shevtsov as a prisoner of Dr. Dementus in the History Man who is also the film’s narrator, Angus Sampson as a doctor who worked for Dr. Dementus and later for Immortan Joe, and Jacob Tomuri as a mysterious man who finds Furiosa in the desert in the film’s third act. Josh Helman and Nathan Jones are terrific in their respective roles as Immortan Joe’s sons Scrotus and Rictus Erectus as two men who are trying to run things for their father as well as deal with the chaos that is Dr. Dementus and his forces. John Howard is superb as the People Eater as Joe’s advisor who is also a military strategist who is trying to deal with the chaos of Dr. Dementus.

Charlee Fraser is fantastic as Furiosa’s mother Mary Jabassa as a woman from the Green Place who is a cunning warrior that tries to retrieve Furiosa only to deal with Dr. Dementus and his horde of bikers. Elsa Pataky is excellent in a dual role as a Vuvalini general who helps Mary in her pursuit and as a deformed biker known as Mr. Norton. Lachy Hulme is amazing in a dual role as a lieutenant of Dr. Dementus in Rizzdale Pell and as the warlord Immortan Joe as this monstrous figure who sports a mask that runs the Citadel and much of the Wasteland where he finds himself challenged by Dr. Dementus only to later feel betrayed and conned by him prompting him to go to war. Alyla Browne is brilliant as the young Furiosa as a child from the Green Place who is kidnapped by Dr. Dementus’ horde of bikers as she later becomes his prisoner as she reminds him of what he once had and later trade her to Immortan Joe as a possible future wife where she deals with having to do things herself. Tom Burke is great as Praetorian Jack as the driver of the war rig who becomes Furiosa’s mentor as well as a life partner as he teaches her how to survive while also hoping to help her return home.

Chris Hemsworth is phenomenal as Dr. Dementus as a warlord who likes to ride a chariot of motorcycles as he is hoping to create havoc and rule the Wasteland where he is eager to find vegetation and such from the Citadel only to later rule Gastown into absolute disarray. It is a performance filled with humor but also a lot of terror as Hemsworth really provides this air of cruelty of a man who had lost everything and wants people to feel his pain including Furiosa. Finally, there’s Anya Taylor-Joy in a performance for the ages as Furiosa as this young woman who had endured a lot as she is also cunning in her pursuit of vengeance while also not saying very much as she only has thirty lines in the entire film. Taylor-Joy also has a way in the way she reacts to things as well as an icy stare that expresses so much by having her do so little as this is truly an iconic performance from Taylor-Joy.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is an outstanding film from George Miller that features a tremendous leading performance from Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role. Along with its ensemble cast, ravishing visuals, high-octane action set pieces, immense sound design, a riveting music score, and a gripping screenplay in its exploration of vengeance and loss. The film is an example of what an action film should be while also giving audiences a look into the life of a beloved character with her own story that proves to be as thrilling as another of one of Miller’s great characters in Mad Max. In the end, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is a magnificent film from George Miller.

George Miller Films: Mad Max - Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior - (Twilight Zone: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet) – (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) – (The Witches of Eastwick) – (Lorenzo’s Oil) – (40,000 Years of Dreaming) – (Babe: Pig in the City) – (Happy Feet) – (Happy Feet Two) – Mad Max: Fury Road - (Three Thousand Years of Longing) - (Mad Max: The Wasteland)

© thevoid99 2024