Monday, January 26, 2015

Sherlock Jr.




Directed and edited by Buster Keaton, with additional direction from Fatty Arbuckle, and written by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez, and Joseph A. Mitchell, Sherlock Jr. is the story of a film projectionist who dreams about being in a mystery movie as he finds himself in the movie. The film is a mystery-comedy where a man finds himself being part of a case and does whatever to help the characters in the film. Starring Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, and Ward Crane. Sherlock Jr. is a whimsical and dazzling film from Buster Keaton.

The film revolves around a wannabe detective who works as a film projectionist as he dreams about being in a movie where he plays a detective trying to solve a mystery. It’s a film that sort of mirrors what is happening with this young projectionist in the real world as he has been accused of stealing his girlfriend’s father’s pocketwatch and pawning it off. It’s a film that blurs the idea of reality and fiction where this young man dreams that he is in a movie by walking into the movie that he is playing in the theater and becomes part of it. It’s an idea that is truly filled with a lot of imagination as well as ideas of how cinema can shape the direction of a young man. Even as the movie he is in has him fulfilling his own fantasies to become a detective.

Buster Keaton’s direction is definitely filled with lots of imaginative ideas not just in his approach to gags but also in how the ideas of fantasy can play into a young man’s desire to succeed. Much of it involves some inventive use of compositions in the way Keaton frames himself in the projection booth or in medium shots to showcases his approach to comedy. Even as the gags are very spectacular such as a car chase scene or Keaton playing the detective in following the man he suspects. Keaton’s usage of tracking and dolly shots to capture some of the action as well as his own inventive use of editing in a very funny sequence of his character being in one scene and then in another in a rhythmic cutting style that adds to the whimsical tone of the film. Overall, Keaton creates a very charming and majestic film about a young projectionist who wishes to be a detective.

Cinematographers Byron Houck and Elgin Lessley do excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to create some unique lighting schemes for a few of the film‘s interior settings including the sequence where Keaton enters the movie screen. Art director Fred Gabourie does brilliant work with the set pieces from the homes that are used for some very spectacular gags as well as the look of the theater where Keaton‘s character is working at. Costume designer Clare West does superb work with the costumes from the clothes in the real-world scene to the more lavish look of the clothes in the movie-within-a-movie sequence. The film’s music by the Club Foot Orchestra is amazing for its approach to old-school jazz music and orchestral music to play into its humor and romance as it adds a lot of energy to the film.

The film’s fantastic ensemble includes some notable small performances from Erwin Connelly in a dual role as a butler and a hired hand for the film’s villain in the fantasy sequence as well as Joe Keaton in a terrific performance as the girlfriend’s father in both the real-world and fantasy sequences. Ward Crane is excellent as the film’s antagonist in dual versions as the rival in the real-life scene and as the thief in the fantasy scenes. Kathryn McGuire is amazing as the girl whom the film’s protagonist loves as she appears in both the real-life sequences and the fantasy sequences as she is far more interesting in the real-life sequences. Finally, there’s Buster Keaton in a phenomenal performance as the projectionist who wants to be a detective as he would live out his fantasies as the titular character where Keaton’s approach to physical comedy and intricate stunt work is among one of the reasons why he was so revered in the era of silent films.

Sherlock Jr. is a remarkable film from Buster Keaton as it’s definitely one of his finest films as well as one of the essentials in silent comedies. It’s a film that has a lot of ambition but also imagination that manages to showcase what could be done with cinema. Especially as it manages to transcend ideas about reality and fiction. In the end, Sherlock Jr. is an incredible film from Buster Keaton.

Buster Keaton Films: (The Rough House) - (One Week (1920 short)) - (Convict 13) - (The Scarecrow (1920 short)) - (Neighbors (1920 short)) - (The Haunted House (1921 short)) - (Hard Luck (1921 short)) - (The High Sign) - (The Goat (1921 short)) - (The Playhouse) - (The Boat) - (The Paleface) - (Cops) - (My Wife’s Relations) - (The Blacksmith) - (The Frozen North) - (The Electric House) - (Day Dreams (1922 short)) - (The Balloonatic) - (The Love Nest) - (Three Ages) - (Our Hospitality) - (The Navigator) - (Seven Chances) - (Go West (1925 film)) - (Battling Butler) - The General - (College (1927 film)) - (Steamboat Bill Jr.) - (The Cameraman) - (Spite Marriage) - (The Gold Ghost) - (Allez Oop) - (Tars and Stripes) - (Grand Slam Opera) - (One Run Elmer) - (Blue Blazes) - (Mixed Magic) - (Love Nest on Wheels)

© thevoid99 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Blackhat



Directed by Michael Mann and written by Morgan Davis Foehl, Blackhat is the story of a convicted hacker who is asked by U.S. and Chinese government officials to aid them in uncovering a cyber-terrorist following a series of cyber-terrorist activities. The film is an exploration into the world of cyber-terrorism as it is becoming prevalent in the 21st Century where a hacker is asked to find the criminals as he copes with some of his actions. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Holt McCallany, Wang Leehom, and Viola Davis. Blackhat is a riveting and compelling film from Michael Mann.

With the news of cyber-terrorism finally coming into the forefront of the public, the film is about the dangers of cyber-terrorism when a Chinese nuclear power plant was attacked prompting a Chinese government official to work with the American government to get an old friend out of prison so he can help uncover these acts of cyber-terrorism. It’s a film that plays into the idea of what is a new world order as well as the dangers of technology in how it can create chaos where the enemy itself are faceless individuals who are wreaking havoc on the world of economics which makes countries vulnerable. There’s a lot of intriguing ideas that goes on in the film as it relates to the world of cyber-terrorism but it has elements in the script by Morgan Davis Foehl that doesn’t work.

Part of the flaws in the screenplay involves some of the conventional dramatic elements involving its protagonist Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) and Chen Lien (Tang Wei) as the latter is the younger sister of China’s cyber warfare official in Captain Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom) who was a former college roommate of Nick and was the one that got him out of jail so that Nick can be helpful. The romance between Hathaway and Lien feels like it’s part of another film as it doesn’t really seem necessary to the story as a lot of it involves intrigue and what needs to be done. Especially as the trio are working with two FBI agents in Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and Jessup (Holt McCallany) to find out who are the hackers and why they’re creating chaos. The eventual reveal of the villains themselves do come to ahead but their motivations aren’t very clear other than money as it is very ambiguous where it is among some of the conventional elements of the script that doesn’t really work.

Michael Mann’s direction is very entrancing as it is set in various locations in order to make the film play into this feeling of a new world that is being torn apart by modern technology. Much of Mann’s direction has him playing into a world that is chaotic where he uses a lot of hand-held cameras for some of the film’s action and gunfight sequences while creating elements of suspense in other scenes to convey this sense of a new world order. Shot in various locations in places like Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Kuala Lampur in Malaysia, and Jakarta, the film does have this sense of a feel that this worldwide where Mann’s approach to wide shots add to a film where it’s taking place around the world. Even as Mann creates feels very intimate in some of the drama with his usage of close-ups and medium shots to play into these characters embarking on something that they don’t really know.

Much of that intimacy and frenetic approach to action and suspense is shot on digital where Mann definitely aims for something that is not very polished but rather grainy as if it adds to this dark tone of the film. Especially for scenes set at night where Mann seems at home in displaying these elements of gunfights as well as in the action that includes its chilling climax in Jakarta. The usage of sequences inside the computers add to the air of suspense as well as the feeling that this is a new world and terror could come from anywhere. Even as the weapon is a simple laptop can trigger a nuclear power plant meltdown as it adds to the sense of a world that is far more dangerous than what it was. Though not everything in Mann’s direction works as well as the flaws that are present in the film’s script. The overall results still showcase Mann creating a very engaging film about the world of cyber-terrorism.

Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh does brilliant work with the film‘s very wobbly yet entrancing cinematography with its element of blurry images as well as the use of lights for many of the scenes set at night in the film‘s many different locations. Editors Joe Walker, Stephen Rivkin, Jeremiah O’Driscoll, and Mako Kamitsuna do excellent work with the editing with its usage of montages to play into the effects of the hacks as well as some intense rhythmic cuts to play into the action and suspense. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, with set decorator Victor J. Zolfo and supervising art director Tom Reta, does fantastic work with the set designs from the FBI and Chinese government offices to the quaint apartments in Hong Kong where the main characters do their work.

Costume designer Colleen Atwood does nice work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with the exception of the uniform that Dawai wears in China as well the stylish clothes that Lien wears. Visual effects supervisors Phil Brennan, Joe Farrell, and John Nelson do superb work with the visual effects for the computer hacking sequences as well as a few moments in the action scenes. Sound editor Victor Ray Ennis and sound designer Tony Lamberti do terrific work with the sound to play into the way computers and their codes hack into certain places as well as the moments in some of the film‘s action scenes. The film’s music by Harry Gregson-Williams, Atticus Ross, and Leo Ross is wonderful for its score as it is largely electronic-based courtesy of the Ross brothers with a few orchestral flourishes from Gregson-Williams while music supervisor Gabe Hilfer brings in bits of traditional Asian music, electronic, and rock music into the mix.

The casting by Bonnie Timmerman is incredible as it features small performances from William Mapother and Jason Harner Butler as FBI officials, Andy On as a Hong Kong police inspector, Ritchie Coster as a mysterious figure named Kassar, and Yorick van Wageningen as another mysterious figure who is connected to the acts of cyber terrorism. Holt McCallany is terrific as FBI Agent Jessa as someone who is keeping an eye on Hathaway while knowing what is at stake as it relates to the mission at hand. Viola Davis is fantastic as FBI Agent Carol Barrett as this no-nonsense agent who knows about Hathaway’s reputation as she is reluctant to trust him while becoming aware that she and her team are facing an unknown enemy as Davis plays it straight with bits of humor into her performance. Leehom Wang is brilliant as Captain Chen Dawai as an old friend of Hathaway who asks for his help as he tries to uncover the mystery of the hacks as well as dealing with what he’s being asked to do by his bosses.

Tang Wei is excellent as Dawai’s sister Lien as she is also good with a computer as she aids in uncovering the mystery while dealing with her attraction towards Hathaway. Finally, there’s Chris Hemsworth in a superb performance as Nick Hathaway as this accomplished hacker who is temporarily released from prison as he helps the FBI uncover the hacker attacks as he copes with returning to prison as well as the dangers of what he’s facing.

Blackhat is a stellar yet flawed film from Michael Mann. While it has an excellent cast as well as compelling ideas about cyber-terrorism, it’s a film that falls short as it relates to being far more intriguing due to some of the conventions of the screenplay. However, it does play into a world that is becoming more uneasy as cyber-terrorism is becoming big news in the modern world. In the end, Blackhat is a very good film from Michael Mann.

Michael Mann Films: (The Jericho Mile) - (Thief) - (The Keep) - (Manhunter) - (L.A. Takedown) - (The Last of the Mohicans (1992 film)) - (Heat (1995 film)) - (The Insider) - (Ali) - (Collateral) - (Miami Vice) - (Public Enemies (2009 film))

© thevoid99 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Go West (1940 film)




Directed by Edward Buzzell and written by Irving Brecher, Go West is the story of three men who travel to the American West to thwart some bad guys and help a couple in their relationship. The film is a western-comedy that stars the Marx Brothers in Groucho, Chico, and Harpo as they bring in their unique approach to chaos-based comedy. Also starring John Carroll, Diana Lewis, and Tully Marshall. Go West is a messy yet entertaining film from Edward Buzzell and the Marx Brothers.

The film revolves a group of three men who travel to the American West where two of them are given land which a young man wants to use for the railroad where a group of scheming businessmen want to get that land for themselves. It’s a film with a simple premise as it features many of the attributes that is expected from the Marx Brothers in their approach to chaos. Yet, the story does lose sight as it’s quite messy and a bit hard to follow because there’s so much that is going on. Even as the motivations of the supporting characters for the main story gets overwhelmed by the antics of the Marx Brothers.

Edward Buzzell’s direction does have some unique compositions as well as elaborate gags and set pieces. Especially in scenes involving the train where there’s a lot of chaos that goes one while some of the dialogue features a lot of anachronisms that are intentional. It adds to the sense of chaos in the film with its use of close-ups and medium shots to capture the sense of action as well as some of the musical numbers in the film. There is a lot of energy that occurs but once the story involving the leads and the other characters come together, it loses some of its luster only to pick things up in its third act that involves a train chase and a confrontation with its antagonists. Overall, Buzzell creates a very entertaining but uneven film about three guys trying to stop crooked businessman from stealing land in the American West.

Cinematographer Leonard Smith does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of low-key lights for scenes set at night while using some stylish ones for some of the film‘s interior scenes. Editor Blanche Sewell does nice work with the editing as it‘s straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts for the comedic moments plus fade-outs and transition wipes. Art director Cedric Gibbons and set decorator Edwin B. Willis do fantastic work with the look of the saloon where some of the characters encounter each other as well as the small town where much of the film is set. Costume designers Gile Steele and Dolly Tree do terrific work with the costumes from the hats and clothes of the men designed by Steele to the women dresses created by Tree. Sound recordist Douglas Shearer does superb work with the sound to create some of the sound effects and capture the sense of chaos in some of the film‘s comical moments. Music director Georgie Stoll creates a wonderful soundtrack filled with original score music by Stoll plus a lot of original songs that are co-written by Gus Khan.

The film’s phenomenal cast includes some notable small roles from Mitchell Lewis as an Indian henchman, Joe Yule as the saloon bartender, Tully Marshall as the owner of the land who gives it away as he has no use for it, June MacCloy as a showgirl that is often flirted by Quayle, Robert Barratt as a devilish gunslinger named Baxter, and Walter Woolf King as the antagonist in the scheming John Beecher. Diana Lewis is wonderful as the land owner’s granddaughter Eve who is love with the man who is a family rival who wants to help the land. John Carroll is terrific as Terry Turner as Eve’s lover who wants to gain access to her grandfather’s land so he can use it as a railroad station and make money for the town and for her grandfather to settle a long-standing feud. Finally, there’s the Marx Brothers in brilliant performances with Chico as the smart-talking and cautious Joseph Panello while Harpo is hilarious as the silent but cunning Rusty Panello. Groucho is superb as S. Quentin Quayle as a schemer that wants to buy the land and help Turner and the Panello brothers make money while being very wry in his comments about everything.

Go West is a stellar and superb film from Edward Buzzell and the Marx Brothers. While it may not have a strong story that is often overshadowed by the antics of the Marx Brothers which makes it uneven and messy. It is still a film that is very enjoyable where they do bring in some fine laughs. In the end, Go West is a very good film from the Marx Brothers.

Marx Brothers Films: (Humor Risk) - (I’ll Say She Is) - (The Cocoanuts (1925)) - (Animal Crackers (1928 film)) - (The Cocoanuts (1929 film)) - (Animal Crackers (1930 film)) - (The House That Shadows Built) - (Monkey Business) - Horse Feathers - Duck Soup - A Night at the Opera - A Day at the Races - Room Service - At the Circus - (The Big Store) - (A Night in Casablanca) - (Love Happy) - (The Story of Mankind)

© thevoid99 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

2015 Blind Spot Series: The General (1926 film)




Based on William Pittenger’s novel The Great Locomotive Chase, The General is the story of a Confederate train driver who steals a Union train during the American Civil War. Directed by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman and screenplay by Keaton, Bruckman, Al Boasberg, Paul Girard Smith, and Charles Henry Smith. The film is a comedy that explores a man’s desire to help the Confederate as well as gain the admiration of his fiancee. Starring Buster Keaton and Marion Mack. The General is a spectacular and adventurous film from Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman.

Set in the early years of the American Civil War, the film revolves around a train engineer who wants to enlist in the Confederacy to gain the favor of his girlfriend only to be rejected until he sees his beloved train being captured by Union spies prompting him to be involved. It’s a film with a simple premise but one that manages to play into a sense of adventure as well as what is at stake for the protagonist Johnnie Gray (Buster Keaton). It is clear that he wants to help out in the war but he is seen by some as too valuable for the railroad service as it’s key to the survival of the South. Once the element of suspense emerges where his train known as the General is taken with his beloved Annabelle (Marion Mack) also captured. Gray does what needs to be done where it is more than just about his train and girlfriend but also his home as the Confederates are outnumbered against the Union.

The film’s direction by Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman is quite mesmerizing for not just its inspired use of tracking shots and capturing the scenery of its locations. It’s also in the use of wide shots and capturing the vast look of the locations as it’s shot in a small town in Oregon to play into the look of the American South. Much of it involve crowd scenes as well as shots that require massive set pieces and special effects that involve the scenes in the train. There’s also a chase sequence where it’s Keaton that uses his unique approach to physical comedy to play into the sense of adventure and Gray’s determination to be the hero despite the fact that he’s kind of a screw-up. Yet, that adds to the whimsical tone of the film Keaton and Bruckman allow a character to root for as there’s some very intense scenes in the train where he has to do whatever to stop the Union from unleashing their plans.

All of which would lead to a climax that is very sprawling where it’s use of wide and medium shots as well as tracking shots would play into something that is thrilling and explosive. Especially in the fact that it requires moments of suspense and elements of humor as it plays to Grey being in a situation and how he tries to defuse things with some minor success. Overall, Keaton and Bruckman create a very fun and exciting film about a train engineer doing his part for the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

Cinematographers Bert Haines and Devereaux Jennings do brilliant work with the film‘s black-and-white photography with some unique lighting schemes for a key scene in the climatic battle as well as the use of blue filters for the scenes set at night. Editors Buster Keaton and Sherman Kell do amazing work with the editing as it‘s very straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for some of the film‘s action and comical scenes. Art director Fred Gabourie and set decorator Harry Roselotte do fantastic work with the design of the trains as well as the bridges for some of the film‘s extravagant sequences. The film’s special effects by Jack Little are excellent for some of the intense action sequences as well as a key scene where Grey sees Annabelle at a Union cabin. The film’s music by Carl Davis is superb for its thrilling and bombastic orchestral score with themes that play to period of the times as it’s always adding tone to the film in its humor and suspense.

The film’s phenomenal cast includes some notable small roles from Joe Keaton, Mike Donlin, and Tom Nawn as a trio of Union generals, Frederick Vroom as the Confederate general, Charles Henry Smith as Annabelle’s father, Frank Barnes as Annabelle’s brother, and Jim Farley as the Union general Thatcher who would be part of the scheme to attack the Confederates. Glen Cavender is terrific as the Union spy Captain Anderson who leads the train theft as he would also kidnap Annabelle. Marion Mack is brilliant as Annabelle as a woman who loves Johnnie but sees him as a coward when he doesn’t enlist as she would later prove to be useful in the third act where her character isn’t just a foil but also someone that can get things done. Finally, there’s Buster Keaton in a marvelous performance as Johnnie Gray as this young train engineer who is trying to show his courage by trying to save his train and his girl while doing whatever to save his small town from the Union as it’s one of Keaton’s funniest and most touching performances.

The General is a magnificent film from Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman. The film is truly not just one of Keaton’s most entertaining films but also a film that is filled with ambition and manages to exceed those ambitions with a sense of humor and adventurous moments. It’s also a film that showcases what could be done in comedy as it’s really one of the finest films in the era of silent comedies. In the end, The General is a tremendously sensational film from Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman.

Buster Keaton Films: (The Rough House) - (One Week (1920 short)) - (Convict 13) - (The Scarecrow (1920 short)) - (Neighbors (1920 short)) - (The Haunted House (1921 short)) - (Hard Luck (1921 short)) - (The High Sign) - (The Goat (1921 short)) - (The Playhouse) - (The Boat) - (The Paleface) - (Cops) - (My Wife’s Relations) - (The Blacksmith) - (The Frozen North) - (The Electric House) - (Day Dreams (1922 short)) - (The Balloonatic) - (The Love Nest) - (Three Ages) - (Our Hospitality) - Sherlock Jr. - (The Navigator) - (Seven Chances) - (Go West (1925 film)) - (Battling Butler) - (College (1927 film)) - (Steamboat Bill Jr.) - (The Cameraman) - (Spite Marriage) - (The Gold Ghost) - (Allez Oop) - (Tars and Stripes) - (Grand Slam Opera) - (One Run Elmer) - (Blue Blazes) - (Mixed Magic) - (Love Nest on Wheels)

© thevoid99 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Total Balalaika Show




Written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki, Total Balalaika Show is a concert film featuring the Leningrad Cowboys and Alexandrov Ensemble that took place in June of 1993 in Helsinki, Finland. The film is an exploration into Europe’s reunification after the Cold War where Kaurismaki showcases an event at Helsinki’s Senate Square where 70,000 people attended this event. The result is one of the most entertaining concert films ever made.

The film is essentially a concert film where at the Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland on June 12, 1993 as it’s headlined by the Finnish comedy rock band the Leningrad Cowboys as they team up with the Alexandrov Ensemble as the latter consists of a male choir, an orchestra, and dancers from Russia as they’re part of the Red Army in the former Soviet Union. The concert is a mixture Western rock-pop music and traditional Eastern European music all mixed into one as a symbol of Europe’s reunification following the Cold War all through music. Both groups sing various popular rock songs from acts like ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynard, Bob Dylan, and several others as well as traditional European songs.

Through Aki Kaurismaki’s direction, the film captures what goes on in the performance that includes some dance numbers during the songs as the dancers are dressed in traditional folk costumes to a few of the rock songs and some of the traditional songs. Kaurismaki uses some wide shots but also medium shots to present these dances. Even as there’s shots the audience to display how huge the event is as there’s also wide shots of the stage itself. It’s a concert full of exuberance and humor where the Leningrad Cowboys are seen with huge pompadour hairdos and big shoes singing rock songs. The Alexandrov Ensemble are dressed in military uniforms which is a total contrast to who the Cowboys are. However, both groups definitely seem to enjoy themselves as it adds to something that feels special and fun in these performances.

With the help of cinematographer Heikki Ortamo, Kaurismaki definitely gives the film a unique look while the editing of Timo Linnasalo is very straightforward without devolving towards fast-cutting styles so that Kaurismaki can capture a moment and let it happen. The sound work of Jouko Lemme help adds to the sense of exuberance in the music as well as the delight of the audience as it‘s key to the success of the concert.

Total Balalaika Show is a phenomenal film from Aki Kaurismaki. The film isn’t just a concert film that manages to be very entertaining but it’s also filled with great music and performances that showcases a continent reuniting following a dreary period of tension and unrest. In the end, Total Balalaika Show is a dazzling film from Aki Kaurismaki.

Aki Kaurismaki Films: (Crime and Punishment (1983 film)) - (Calamari Union) - Shadows in Paradise - (Hamlet Goes Business) - (Ariel) - (Leningrad Cowboys Go America) - (Dirty Hands) - (The Match Factory Girl) - (I Hired a Contract Killer) - (La Vie de Boheme) - (Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana) - (Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses) - (Drifting Clouds) - (Juha) - (The Man Without a Past) - (Lights in the Dusk) - Le Havre

© thevoid99 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

25 2015 Films that Will Definitely Suck!




For every year in film, there are always films that people want to see. Yet, there are those who would fall for some kind of trap where they not only realize they just wasted their money but also their time. It’s something that needs to stop as 2015 is already a big year for the kind of movies that are coming out. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to be winners as there’s going to be some that will just plainly fucking suck. So here it is….

The 25 Films of 2015 You Would Rather Jump Off a Cliff to the Death Than Destroy Yourself with Cinematic Trash

1. The Visit



Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Kathryn Hahn, Ed Oxenbould, Peter McRobbie, Olivia De Jonge, and Benjamin Kanes.

There has been no name in the past decade that has garnered more groans and face palms than M. Night Shyamalan. Once called the next Steven Spielberg, the man has managed to create one shit film after another as people question if his successes were really good to begin with. 2013’s After Earth was not surprisingly another bad film though Shyamalan wouldn’t get the full blame as much of it went to Will Smith and his son Jaden. In the first of two projects, Shyamalan will return to his roots of horror in a comedy of sorts as Shyamalan wants to get people scared once again and have some laughs. Oh boy…

2. Labor of Love



Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Bruce Willis, Ana Villafane, and Ben Winchell.

The second of new films by Shyamalan will have him reunite with Bruce Willis who was instrumental in Shyamalan’s success with such films as The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. It’s clear that Shyamalan is desperate to capture the magic of those success while Bruce Willis is in need to stretch his acting chops again after a series of uninspired action films. Yet, their project which will be a mystery-romance film doesn’t seen promising though it is rumored to be a much smaller film than anything Shyamalan has done in the past. Unfortunately, there’s also questions into what tricks he might pull.

3. Fifty Shades of Grey


Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Screenplay by Kelly Marcel. Based on the novel by E.L. James. Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk, Max Martini, Jennifer Ehle, and Marcia Gay Harden.

The book for Fifty Shades of Grey was a best-seller since its 2011 release as it explored the world sadomasochism and eroticism to a new generation yet not everyone in the world was up in arms about it. It’s clear that the film version based on its trailer wants to do the same thing but it’s the kind of material that has been told in better stories that were dangerous and far more compelling. It’s a shame that some of the talent that is involved with this project is going to be in something that is surely going to suck ass.

4. Focus


Written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, BD Wong, Gerald McRaney, and Rodrigo Santoro.

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa shouldn’t be in this list since they’re actually good filmmakers who have made some offbeat films. Yet, this is their most mainstream work to date as it revolves around the world of con artists. Yet, it doesn’t seem promising at all as its star Will Smith has definitely been in a decline and this looks like another atypical performance of his. Plus, it looks like the kind of film that wants to be so many things as it’s likely to be a real mess.

5. Pixels



Directed by Chris Columbus. Screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling. Screen story by Tim Herlihy. Based on the short film by Patrick Jean. Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Ashley Benson, Jane Krakowski, and Brian Cox.

A film about the world of video games is something that should work but in the hands of Chris Columbus. It’s likely it won’t be good as Columbus hasn’t made a good film in years. Adding to the trouble is Adam Sandler whose name is pretty much something most people refuse to see. It’s a film that shouldn’t be in the list because the presence of Sandler and whatever he is going to do is likely to make this a really bad film.

6. The Age of Adaline


Directed by Lee Toland Krieger. Written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz. Starring Blake Lively, Michael Huisman, Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker, and Ellen Burstyn.

The idea of a woman who doesn’t age through a freak accident is an interesting concept but in the forms of a melodrama. It’s fucking terrible. Based on the film’s awful trailer, it is clear that they’re trying to go for something that is dramatic as it’s clear that Blake Lively isn’t a very good actress. It’s bad enough that Harrison Ford is in this as one of her former lovers but Ellen Burstyn as Lively’s daughter? That is a fucking insult.

7. Entourage


Written for the screen and directed by Doug Ellin. Story by Doug Ellin and Rob Weiss. Based on the TV series by Doug Ellin. Starring Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrera, Perrey Reeves, Emmanuelle Chirqui, Debi Mazar, Rex Lee, Scott Caan, Rhys Coiro, Billy Bob Thorntonand Jeremy Piven.

Entourage was once a great TV show for HBO that explored the world of the Hollywood yet its last season was considered to be a very poor one after a period of inconsistency in its last few seasons. Though its ending did set up ideas for a film, it looks like it will be the same old bullshit that plays into egos and excess. Especially as the Vincent Chase character tries to become his own filmmaker as everything is going wrong. Well, we know what’s going to happen so what’s the fucking point of seeing this?

8. Get Hard


Directed by Etan Cohen. Written by Jay Martel and Ian Roberts. Starring Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, Alison Brie, Edwina Finley, and Craig T. Nelson.

Will Ferrell is a funny guy though his recent output has been uneven as he’s teaming with the new star of comedy in Kevin Hart for a film about a guy who asks his friend to prepare him for prison after being charged with tax evasion. Anyone who knows these two men know what to expect as it’s likely to be very unfunny as Hart is a polarizing individual and Ferrell is often forced to succumb to schticks that has stopped working.

9. The Longest Ride


Directed by George Tilman Jr. Screenplay by Craig Bolotin. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Starring Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Melissa Benoist, Lolita Davidovich, and Alan Alda.

Blah-blah meets blah-blah. Blah-blah-blah and blah-blah-blah-blah. It’s a fucking Nicholas Sparks adaptation with the same, lame bullshit. What the fuck do you expect?

10. Point Break



Directed by Ericson Core. Screenplay by Kurt Wimmer. Based on the 1991 film by Kathryn Bigelow. Starring Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Delroy Lindo, and Ray Winstone.

Of all the films that is being remade, they need to do Point Break? It’s one of these films that should never be remade as it’s just Hollywood being lazy and cash in on something in the hopes that it will be good. Besides, will it be more gay than the original or more braah!

11. Mortdecai


Directed by David Koepp. Screenplay by Eric Aronson. Based on the book by Kyril Bonfiglioli. Starring Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jonny Pasvolsky, Paul Bettany, and Jeff Goldblum.

Remember when Johnny Depp used to be interesting and cared about the films he’s making? Well, he’s becoming a parody at this point as he decides to play weird characters with all sorts of makeup in an attempt to be relevant. Yet, it looks stupid as adding to that is Gwyneth Paltrow as his wife as she just adds to the sense of stupidity of this film.

12. The Boy Next Door


Directed by Rob Cohen. Written by Barbara Curry. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, and John Corbett.

J-Lo in a film where she sleeps with a young guy and he later stalks her. Wow…. That is definitely going to be terrible as it’s in the hands of someone as incompetent as Rob Cohen who hasn’t made a lot of good movies. Plus, J-Lo maybe back in the spotlight but it still doesn’t change the fact that she’s a fucking ice queen who has been coasting on her past glories which don’t amount to shit these days.

13. Jem & the Holograms



Directed by Jon M. Chu. Screenplay by Ryan Landels. Based on the cartoon series by Christy Max. Starring Aubrey Peebles, Stefanie Scott, Hayley Kiyoko, Aurora Perrineau, Ryan Guzman, and Molly Ringwald.

The 1980s animated series was very popular due to the fact that it was based on a woman trying to make it on her own terms with her band. Considering how awful today’s pop music scene, it’s likely that this film will feature a lot of dumb pop music or whatever it’s called as it’s the hands of the guy who directed Justin Bieber documentaries. Molly Ringwald’s appearance in the film is likely used for nostalgic reasons as the 80s film icon deserves better.

14. Superfast



Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.

Two of the most reviled men in the film industry, there’s no duo that caters to the lowest common denominator than Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer as they’re known for making lazy parody films that are never funny. Hell, they’re not even movies since there’s no effort into anything they do. Their next project will have them spoof all movies revolving cars and racing as the most notable franchise their spoofing is The Fast and the Furious franchise. It’s a shame that they’re still allowed to be involved in the film industry as some ask if there’s a special place in hell for these shitheads.

15. Masterminds



Directed by Jared Hess. Written by Chris Bowman, Jody Hill, Danny McBride, Hubbel Palmer, and Emily Spivey. Starring Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Sudeikis.

Jared Hess maybe a darling of Sundance for his 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite but not everyone liked that film. 2009’s Gentleman Broncos was without question one of the worst films ever made as he’s now tackling a heist movie based on the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina. With five writers credited for the script, it seems like it’s going to be a heist comedy that is all over the place.

16. Amityville: The Awakening

Directed by Franck Khalfoun. Written by Franck Khalfoun, Daniel Farrands, and Casey La Scala. Starring Bella Thorne, Cameron Monaghan, Thomas Mann, Kurtwood Smith, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

17. The Duff


Directed by Ari Sandel. Screenplay by Josh A. Cagan. Based on the novel by Kody Keplinger. Starring Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca A. Santos, Ken Jeong, and Allison Janney.

18. Hot Tub Time Machine 2


Directed by Steve Pink. Written by Josh Heald. Starring Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Adam Scott, and Chevy Chase.

19. Skiptrace

Directed by Renny Harlin. Screenplay by Jay Longino, Brian Gatewood, and Alessandro Tanaka. Story by Jackie Chan. Starring Jackie Chan, Fan Bingbing, and Johnny Knoxville.

20. Tracers


Directed by Daniel Benmayer. Written by Kevin Lund, Leslie Bohem, Matt Johnson, Matthew Johnson, and T.J. Scott. Starring Taylor Lautner, Marie Avgeropoulos, and Adam Rayner.

21. The Moon and the Sun

Directed by Sean McNamara. Screenplay by Ronald Bass, Barry Berman, Laura Harrington, Bill Mechanic, and James Schamus. Based on the novel by Vonda N. McIntyre. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Kaya Scoldelario, Benjamin Walker, Fan Bingbing, and William Hurt.

22. Unfinished Business


Directed by Ken Scott. Written by Steve Conrad. Starring Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Tom Wilkinson, Sienna Miller, June Diane Raphael, and James Marsden.

23. 12 Hours

Written and directed by Uwe Boll.

24. Jenny’s Wedding

Written and directed Mary Agnes Donoghue. Starring Katherine Heigl, Alexis Bledel, Grace Gummer, Linda Edmond, and Tom Wilkinson.

25. Madea’s Tough Love

Written and directed by Tyler Perry. Starring Tyler Perry.

There’s a lot of bad films coming as hack-extraordinaires in Tyler Perry, Renny Harlin, Sean McNamara, and Uwe Boll will return with new films for those that want to get their brains bashed in. Fading stars in Katherine Heigl and Vince Vaughn will appear in some bad films that will continue to drive people away while Taylor Lautner will try to prove to everyone that he can be an action star no matter what action film fans will think (and they know that he will never be a badass). Teen comedies will return in The Duff while cyber-bullying will enter the realm of horror in Unfriended. Finally, there’s the sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine but without John Cusack who wisely decided not to show up.

Well, that is all for what is ahead in 2015. Let’s just make sure we don’t see these awful crap.

Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3

© thevoid99 2015

At the Circus




Directed by Edward Buzzell and written by Irving Brecher, At the Circus is the story of a lawyer and his two buddies who help try to save a circus from bankruptcy as they also deal with some goons. The film is a simple story that involves the Marx Brothers in Groucho, Chico, and Harpo who do whatever to save a circus and cause chaos along the way. Also starring Eve Arden, Margaret Dumont, and Kenny Baker. At the Circus is an exciting and fun film from Edward Buzzell and the Marx Brothers.

The film revolves a young man trying to save the circus that he runs as the money that was supposed to save the circus was stolen prompting a lawyer and his two friends to get it back and deal with the goons. It’s a simple story that is filled with lots of shenanigans as it’s all about saving a circus where the goons are a strongman, a midget, and a circus manager who want the money for devious reasons. The film’s screenplay doesn’t really do anything to make the story compelling other than make it more about the adventures and what is at stake. Especially as this character in the young man named Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker) needs the money or else he loses everything including the chance to marry a top circus performer.

Edward Buzzell’s direction is quite lively for not just in his compositions and approach to comedy. It also includes some dazzling sequence that include a scene where the lawyer J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx) is trying to flirt with a circus performer as it involve unique compositions as well as how to set up something that would be funny. Another scene involves Loophole and his buddies interrogating a midget (Jerry Maren) where it’s shot in a small set as it has all sorts of gags. The film also features some musical numbers and sequences that are quite lively as it adds elements to the story as well as what Wilson is trying to do as he is in need to make it on his own. Especially as its climax is lavish as well as filled with lots of hilarity and chaos. Overall, Buzzell creates a very thrilling and exhilarating film about a group of guys trying to save a circus.

Cinematographer Leonard M. Smith does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography as it‘s very straightforward with a few key scenes set at night that includes some of its musical numbers. Editor William H. Terhune does nice work with the editing as it‘s straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for the humor and music sequences as well as fade-outs for the transitions. Art director Cedric Gibbons and set decorator Edwin B. Willis do brilliant work with the set pieces from the tent where Loophole tries to flirt with a performer to the scene where he and his buddies try to interrogate the midget. Costume designers Dolly Tree and Valles do superb work with the costumes with Tree creating the clothes for the women and Valles on the clothes the men wear. Sound recordist G.A. Burns does terrific work with the sound to create some moments in the gags as well as in the film‘s climax. The film’s music by Harold Arlen is fantastic for its playful score as well as songs co-written with Yip Hardburg that are just a delight to hear.

The film’s marvelous cast includes some notable small roles from Jerry Maren as the midget, Nate Pendleton as the strongman, Eve Arden as the beautiful circus performer Peerless Pauline, Charles Gemora as the circus gorilla Gibraltar who would witness the theft, and James Burke as the villainous circus manager James Burke. Margaret Dumont is wonderful as Jeff’s estranged aunt Mrs. Susanna Dukeburry who is often the foil for many jokes while Florence Rice is terrific as the circus performer Julie Randall whom Jeff wants to marry. Kenny Baker is excellent as Jeff Wilson as the circus owner who is trying to save the circus as he deals with being robbed and losing the chance to marry Julie. Finally, there’s the Marx Brothers in phenomenal performances with Chico as the helpful Tony who is very loyal to Jeff as he is very funny while Harpo is just hilarious as the silent circus performer Punchy who comes out with some great gags to keep the humor going. Groucho is a riot as J. Cheever Loophole with his witty banter and willingness to cause chaos.

At the Circus is a remarkable film from Edward Buzzell and the Marx Brothers. The film is definitely one of their finest comedies in terms of set pieces and gags as well as the willingness to bring in some anarchy into any kind of situation. In the end, At the Circus is a sensational from Edward Buzzell and the Marx Brothers.

Marx Brothers Films: (Humor Risk) - (I’ll Say She Is) - (The Cocoanuts (1925)) - (Animal Crackers (1928 film)) - (The Cocoanuts (1929 film)) - (Animal Crackers (1930 film)) - (The House That Shadows Built) - (Monkey Business) - Horse Feathers - Duck Soup - A Night at the Opera - A Day at the Races - Room Service - Go West - (The Big Store) - (A Night in Casablanca) - (Love Happy) - (The Story of Mankind)

© thevoid99 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Great Train Robbery (1903 film)




Directed, edited, and co-shot by Edwin S. Porter and written by Porter and Scott Marble, The Great Train Robbery is a twelve-minute silent film about a train robbery. Among one of the earliest films to come aboard in the 20th Century, it is also considered one of the very Westerns as it displays everything into what cinema could do. The result is one of the early triumphs in the art form that would become cinema.

The film is a simple story as it revolves around four guys robbing a train and evading the authorities. All of which is told in twelve minutes with no sound nor music as it’s all about image and what it is saying. It’s a film that features some unique compositions as it’s shot by director Edwin S. Porter and co-cinematographer Blair Smith in a grainy style with very little color though it is shown in a sepia-like color due to its preservation. Yet, there is a sense of urgency into the action that happens as Porter definitely showcases something that might’ve happened in those times. Even as he knows where to place the camera though it never moves with the exception of a scene where it’s shot on a train where the camera is shaky.

Though the acting might not seem great as the moments where characters are show are over-dramatic, it does play into the idea that these things did happen during the west. Moments involving gunfire and explosions are presented with bits of color that was painted on the film as well as a few scenes involving characters in dresses. It plays into a sense of what it was like while Porter knows where to place the camera to capture all of the characters in the film. Even as his editing presents early elements of cross-cutting for the scenes in the robbery and the authorities trying to catch the robbers. All of which plays into the thrill of the west as it ends on a major note with this shot that plays into the power of cinema.

The Great Train Robbery is a phenomenal film from Edwin S. Porter that has to be seen for anyone interested in the art of film. Especially as it’s the film where the genre that would become the western comes from in all of its elements. In the end, The Great Train Robbery is a sensational film from Edwin S. Porter.

© thevoid99 2015