Friday, June 24, 2022

Tangerine (2015 film)


Directed, edited, and co-shot by Sean Baker and written and casted by Baker and Chris Bergoch, Tangerine is the story of a transgender sex worker who learns her pimp/boyfriend has been cheating on her following her 28-day prison stay as she joins a friend in trying to get money during Christmas Eve. The film is an exploration of two sex workers who try to uncover some truth while dealing with other things as they work in Los Angeles. Starring Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, and James Ransone. Tangerine is an entrancing and riveting film from Sean Baker.

It’s Christmas Eve as a transgender prostitute has returned from a 28-day prison stay where her friend revealed that her pimp/boyfriend has been cheating on her prompting this woman to find him and his new girlfriend while also trying to get some money in their profession. It is a film that has a simple premise that also include a subplot involving an Armenian cab driver trying to get his own fix as he knows the two women as one of them is doing a show singing at a club later in the night. The film’s screenplay by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch is largely straightforward though it would have a trio of narrative strands that involve the activities of the sex workers Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) as well as the Armenian cab driver Razmik (Karren Karagulian) throughout the course of an entire day. Notably as Sin-Dee tries to find her boyfriend/pimp Chester (James Ransone) over accusations that he’s been cheating on her with another prostitute while Alexandra tries to defuse the situation while wanting people to come see her perform at a club with Razmik promising to attend despite having to attend a Xmas family dinner around the same time.

Baker’s direction is definitely ravishing in terms of the fact that he shoots the film largely on three iPhone 5S smartphones with co-cinematographer Radium Cheung as it is also shot on exact locations in Hollywood, California including areas such as West Hollywood and Santa Monica Boulevard. Baker’s direction has this air of realism to the film in the way it’s shot as if it is presented in a form of cinema verite while also using Steadicams for some tracking shots in the city where Baker uses a lot of wide and medium shots to capture characters walking on the street and the surroundings they’re in. There’s also some close-ups in scenes inside Razmik’s cab or in some of the places where characters go into a room or a place as well as scene where Sin-Dee and another sex worker in Dinah (Mickey O’Hagan) smoke some meth in the bathroom as a way to make peace since Dinah is Chester’s new mistress.

Also serving as the editor, Baker maintains a sense of style in the visual presentation with some jump-cuts in the editing as it adds to the film’s offbeat presentation while he and Cheung maintain a sense of naturalism into their photography as it has this colorful presentation. Notably in some of daytime/evening scenes where there is this air of beauty in many of the exterior settings while not straying from the story in order to showcase the struggles that Sin-Dee and Alexandra have to endure in being transgender as well as Razmik’s desire for sexual satisfaction. The film’s third act that involves Alexandra’s own performance at a club also play into Razmik’s own family drama as well as a confrontation between Sin-Dee and Chester. There is that sense of realism in these locations and dramatic moments that occur including the fact that these two transgender workers are outsiders but do whatever they can to thrive on no matter the bullshit they have to deal with. Overall, Baker crafts a ravishing and intoxicating film about a day in the life of two transgender workers dealing with personal issues and such during Christmas Eve.

Costume designer Shih-Ching Tsou does nice work with the costumes to play into the look of both Sin-Dee and Alexandra as well as the wigs they wear to play up their need to attract customers. Sound editor Jeremy Grody does excellent work with the sound as it play into the way music sounds on location or in a car as well as other sounds on location. Music supervisor Matthew Hearon-Smith creates an incredible music soundtrack that features an array of music ranging from classical, holiday, hip-hop, pop, and electronic music from acts such as Mya Taylor, Harry Horlick and his Orchestra, DJ Heemie & DJ Lightup, White Night Ghosts, Haterade & Skellism, Sirusho, Mr. Batou, Matthew Engst & Tobias Karlsson, Mariachi De Maiz, Ludwig van Beethoven, BrainDeaD, Neil Davidge with Stephonik, and Duwell.

The film’s casting by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch is wonderful as it feature an array of mostly non-actors including costume designer Shih-Ching Tsou as the donut shop owner, Jason Stuart as a club doorman in Joey, Josh Sussman as a drunk guy who vomits in Razmik’s cab, porn star Ana Foxxx as a prostitute that Razmik tries to have sex with only to realize what she doesn’t have, Arsen Grigoryan as a fellow Armenian cab driver, Ian Edwards as a businessman named Nash, Julie Cummings and Rae L. Siskind as a couple of cops who deal with an incident involving Alexandra and a customer, Scott Krinsky as Alexandra’s customer who couldn’t get hard, Richard-Lael Lillard as a woman in a motel room who runs a ring for Chester, and Clu Gulager as an old man who is part Cherokee.

Louisa Nersisyan and Alla Tumanian are fantastic in their respective roles as Razmik’s wife Yeva and mother-in-law Ashken as the former is a woman that is just trying to have a good family dinner while not wanting to know what her husband does while the latter is nosy and ends up making a lot of trouble during the donut shop scene late in the film. Karren Karagulian is excellent as Razmik as an Armenian cab driver spending the day to do his job while also wanting some sexual satisfaction as he prefers transgender over real women as he is also friends with Sin-Dee and Alexandra as that friendship would put him in trouble. Mickey O’Hagan is brilliant as Dinah as Chester’s mistress/bottom bitch whom Sin-Dee accuses of being his mistress as she is dragged by Sin-Dee to find Chester while also revealing to be someone who has been used by him as she often has something funny to say.

James Ransone is amazing as Chester as Sin-Dee’s boyfriend/pimp who is seen in the film’s third act as someone that is just trying to do his business while also bullshitting everyone about what he does including why Sin-Dee went to jail. Finally, there’s the duo of Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor in incredible leading performances in their respective roles as Sin-Dee and Alexandra with the former being full of energy and aggression as a transgender sex worker who feels wronged and is trying to get answers after being in jail for 28 days. Taylor’s performance as the latter is more subdued but also has some charm and energy as someone trying to get everyone to watch her sing as well as to calm things down. Rodriguez and Taylor together have amazing chemistry in the way they feel ostracized by society as well as being part of a community struggling to be part of an inclusive world yet they’re also people who are just trying to get their money and have a nice Christmas Eve.

Tangerine is a phenomenal film from Sean Baker. Featuring a great ensemble cast, ravishing visuals, a hypnotic music soundtrack, and its exploration of transgender sex workers trying to deal with the bullshit of society. It is a film that is raw yet entrancing in its presentation while also showing a world where a couple of transgender women just trying to get some money during the Christmas holidays and enjoy themselves despite the bullshit they often have to deal with. In the end, Tangerine is a sensational film from Sean Baker.

Sean Baker Films: (Four Letter Words) – (Take Out (2004 film)) – (Prince of Broadway) – (Starlet (2012 film)) – The Florida Project - (Red Rocket)

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Island Movies


For the 24th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of island movies as it all play into films set in islands and such. A place where people can be isolated and be free from the trappings of society or a place that is essentially one’s private Hell. Then, there’s those films that have no plot as they’re all just an excuse to show ass and titties. Here are my three picks:

1. Savage Beach
From the late, great Andy Sidaris is one of his quintessential film about two DEA agents who are trapped in a storm as they crash onto an island that supposedly feature lost gold that the Japanese had hidden back in World War II. While waiting for help, the ladies skinny-dip while later dealing with some nefarious drug dealers who want the gold as all hell breaks loose. Beautiful movie. Guns, boobies, beautiful locations. What more could a guy want?

2. Dinosaur Island
From the legendary Roger Corman and two of softcore cinema’s great auteurs in Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski is a B-movie schlock fest about a group of military airmen who land on a mysterious woman that is largely inhabited by tribal women as they all have to deal with dinosaurs wreaking havoc. Along the way, three of the soldiers get it on with these fine ladies as well as prove they are be all they can be when it comes to killing off dinosaurs and getting laid.

3. Survival Island
While this film doesn’t actually feature an original scenario since it is a lower-budget version of Guy Ritchie’s remake of Swept Away but with an extra man involved. It is a film in which a yachting accident leaves a rich woman and a cook stranded on an island while her husband also arrives as the rich couple lack survival skills while the cook knows how to survive. Alas, sexual tension emerge between the cook and the rich woman as it would create trouble. It isn’t a great film though it does feature a hammy performance from Billy Zane as well as some nice topless scenes from Kelly Brook.

© thevoid99 2022

Monday, June 20, 2022

2022 Blind Spot Series: Celine and Julie Go Boating


Directed by Jacques Rivette and written by Rivette, Juliet Berto, Dominique Labourier, Bulle Ogier, and Marie-France Pisier with additional dialogue by Eduardo de Gregorio and text based on original stories by Henry James, Celine et Julie von ten bateau (Celine and Julie Go Boating) is the story of a librarian who meets a magician as they embark on a series of adventures ranging from all sorts of worlds and stories including a murder-mystery. The film is a genre-bending tale that feature two women who embark on this adventure that takes them to places of fiction and other forms of reality as the titular characters are portrayed by Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier respectively as Celine and Julie. Also starring Bulle Ogier, Marie-France Pisier, Barbet Schroeder, Nathalie Asnar, Marie-Therese Saussure, Philippe Clevenot, Jean Douchet, Adele Taffetas, Monique Clement, Jerome Richard, Michael Graham, and Jean-Marie Senia. Celine et Julie von ten bateau is a majestic and whimsical film from Jacques Rivette.

The film is the story of two women with a fascination for magic who meet as they embark on a series of adventures where they encounter a house as they would play the role of a maid in a murder mystery from the past. It is a film that doesn’t have much of a plot as its screenplay is loose in its presentation but also has these layers of stories within a story that includes this murder mystery from the past. The script does feature a lot of literary references in not just some of the works of Henry James but also Lewis Carroll and Marcel Proust in relation to the idea of alternate realities. The film begins with Julie reading a book on magic where she catches Celine running through a park leaving things as Julie would follow her as the two eventually meet and become friends with Celine moving in to Julie’s apartment. Julie is a librarian while Celine is a cabaret performer/magician as the two would know more about each other’s lives but also this home near a house where a childhood neighbor of Julie lived in. There on different days, they would separately encounter this story of two sisters who are in a love triangle with a man as Celine and Julie would play a maid on different occasions where a young girl is murdered.

Jacques Rivette’s direction is largely simple in its presentation as it doesn’t emphasize on anything stylish but rather shoot on actual locations as the film is largely set in Montmartre near Paris. Shot on the 1:37:1 aspect ratio, Rivette uses the format to play into the film’s simple presentation as there are some unique wide shots of the location as well as a few scenes in a room with one of the characters in the foreground and another in the background. There are also some incredible compositions that Rivette uses in the close-ups and medium shots as it play into the way Celine and Julie interact with one another but also in how they try to figure out this murder mystery in this old house where it’s opened at a specific time. There are also these moments in the film where whenever Celine or Julie leave that house. They are disoriented as they would get these flashes of what they had experienced while they would eat a piece of candy later on where they remember what they saw. The scenes inside the house showcase these two women in Camille (Bulle Ogier) and Sophie (Marie-France Pisier) who are sisters who are taking care of their niece Madlyn (Nathalie Asnar) while pursuing her father Olivier (Barbet Schroeder) on Madlyn’s first birthday since the death of her mother.

Rivette’s direction also play into individual pursuits of Celine and Julie with the former being a magician and the latter is a librarian as they would eventually switch roles with the former trying to deal with the latter’s childhood sweetheart and the latter filling in for the former in an audition. It adds to the film’s whimsical tone while also playing into how they uncover the mystery from this candy that they eat as they would take notes on what they remember. The film’s climax is about uncovering what really did happen but also play into this idea of what is real and what is fantasy as it is followed by an aftermath that blur the lines of all of that and more. Overall, Rivette crafts an intoxicating yet exhilarating film about two women who embark on a weird adventure involving a murder mystery from the past and other alternate universes.

Cinematographer Jacques Renard does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as its usage of natural lighting for many of the daytime exteriors as well as the usage of lights for some interior scenes in the day and night. Editor Nicole Lubtchansky does amazing work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump cuts to help blur the ideas of fantasy and reality. Costume designers Jean-Luc Berne, Pierre D’Alby, and Laurent Vicci do fantastic work with the costumes from the more conservative look of Julie to the more hippie-inspired look of Celine as well as the posh clothing of Camille and Sophie. The sound work of Paul Laine is superb for the way sound is presented in its natural setting including some of the music that is played on location. The film’s music by Jean-Marie Senia is wonderful as it is largely a cabaret piano-based piece that is performed for Celine’s stage performance.

The film’s incredible ensemble cast feature some notable small roles from composer Jean-Marie Senia as the piano player Cyrill, Jerome Richard and Michael Graham as a couple of men watching Julie’s audition, Adele Taffetas and Monique Clement as a couple of fellow performer friends of Celine, Anne Zamire as a co-worker of Julie at the library, Jean Douchet as Celine’s boss at the club, Philippe Clevenot as Julie’s childhood sweetheart Guilou, and Marie-Therese Saussere as an old neighbor of Julie in Poupie whom Julie asks about the house next door. Nathalie Asnar is fantastic as the young girl Madlyn who deals with her upcoming birthday but also unaware of the tension surrounding her family with Celine and Julie observing her. Barbet Schroeder is excellent as Madlyn’s father Olivier who is in love triangle with her aunts as he deals with being in love with two women but also trying to seduce the family maid who are played on different occasions by Celine and Julie.

Bulle Ogier and Marie-France Pisier are phenomenal in their respective roles as Camille and Sophie as two sisters who are watching over their niece but also vying for the affection of Olivier with Ogier being more out there as someone who is losing her mind while Pisier plays a woman with an immense fear for flowers. Finally, there’s the duo of Julie Berto and Dominique Labourier in spectacular performances in their respective roles of the titular characters in Celine and Julie. Berto provides a bit of sensuality in her work as a magician but also this exuberance in the way she is introduced into the film while Labourier is more reserved early on while also having a few quirks of her own. Together, the two women display an air of mischievousness in how they plot schemes but also play into the way they react to the other world they’re in as they are a major highlight of the film.

Celine et Julie von ten bateau is a magnificent film from Jacques Rivette that features tremendous leading performances from Julie Berto and Dominique Labourier. Along with its ensemble cast, colorful visuals, whimsical presentation, and its story of two women going into a moment in time that also involve alternate worlds. It is a film that is definitely offbeat in its presentation and premise yet it has a looseness that is engaging to watch as well as what two women would do to uncover this murder mystery but also themselves. In the end, Celine et Julie von ten bateau is an outstanding film from Jacques Rivette.

Jacques Rivette Films: Le Coup du berger - (Paris Belongs to Us) – (The Nun (1966 film)) – (L’amour fou) – (Out 1) – (Duelle) – (Noroit) – (Merry-Go Round (1981 film)) – (Le Pont du Nord) – (Love on the Ground) – (Hurlevent) – (Gang of Four (1989 film)) – (La Belle Noiseuse) – (Joan the Maid) – (Up, Down, Fragile) – (Lumiere and Company-“Une aventure de Ninon”) – (Secret Defense) – (Va savoir) – (The Story of Marie and Julien) – (The Duchess of Langeais) – (Around a Small Mountain)

© thevoid99 2022

Friday, June 17, 2022

Le Coup du berger


Based on the short story Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat by Roald Dahl, Le Coup du berger (Fool’s Mate) is a short film about a woman who is having an affair with another man who bought her a new coat as they try to hide it from her husband. Directed by and narrated Jacques Rivette and screenplay by Rivette, Claude Chabrol, and Charles Bitsch, the short film is an exploration of a woman trying to hide her affair with this coat being the evidence of this affair. Starring Virginie Vitry, Anne Doat, Etienne Loinod, and Jean-Claude Brialy. Le Coup du berger is a witty and engaging film by Jacques Rivette.

The film is the simple story of a woman having an extramarital affair with another man who has purchased a new mink fur coat that they need to hide from her husband. It plays into this woman in Claire (Virginie Vitry) who is given this fur coat from her lover Claude (Jean-Claude Brialy) as they would hide it to avoid suspicion from her husband Jean (Etienne Loinod). The film also features narration where it play into Claire’s need to be one step ahead of her husband as if they’re playing chess until a mix-up over the coat emerges.

Rivette’s direction is definitely stylish in the way he shoots on location in Paris as it serves as a template for a lot of the films that would be part of the French New Wave. While there are a few wide shots including some scenes inside an apartment, much of Rivette’s direction is intimate in the way he presents this affair but also Claire’s need to hide her affair from her husband as she also gets help from her sister Solange (Anne Doat). Rivette’s usage of medium shots and hand-held camera for scenes in a car add to this energy within the film as well as playing up the suspense right to the film’s ending as it does play like a chess game as it include some rhythmic cuts from editor Denise de Casabianca who employ ideas that would become the jump-cut. Shot in black-and-white by co-writer Charles Bitsch, Rivette would maintain a distinctive look that add to the film’s energetic tone that is supported by Francois Couperin’s playful orchestral score. Overall, Rivette crafts a delightful and exhilarating short film about an adulterous wife’s attempt to hide a fur coat from her husband.

The film’s ensemble cast features cameo appearances from future filmmakers of the New Wave in Claude Chabrol, Francois Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard as well as Rivette as party guests at the film’s ending along with a fantastic performance from Anne Doat as Claire’s sister Solange who is always wearing clothes that Claire needs to hide. Etienne Loinod is superb as Claire’s husband who seems to not know anything until later in the film where he starts to act suspicious. Jean-Claude Brialy is excellent as Claude as a smooth and charismatic man who thinks he is clever although he would make a mistake that would get them into some trouble. Virginie Vitry is amazing as Claire as this beautiful woman who feels like her husband doesn’t do enough for her as she loves being with Claude but things get complicated over a mix-up as she ponders if the affair is worth all of the trouble.

Le Coup du berger is a phenomenal film from Jacques Rivette. Featuring a great cast, riveting visuals, and an engaging study of adultery and one-upmanship, it is a short film that isn’t just fun but also serves as a template of sorts of the ideas that would define a new era in cinema that would become the French New Wave. In the end, Le Coup du berger is a sensational film from Jacques Rivette.

Jacques Rivette Films: (Paris Belongs to Us) – (The Nun (1966 film)) – (L’amour fou) – (Out 1) – Celine and Julie Go Boating – (Duelle) – (Noroit) – (Merry-Go Round (1981 film)) – (Le Pont du Nord) – (Love on the Ground) – (Hurlevent) – (Gang of Four (1989 film)) – (La Belle Noiseuse) – (Joan the Maid) – (Up, Down, Fragile) – (Lumiere and Company-“Une aventure de Ninon”) – (Secret Defense) – (Va savoir) – (The Story of Marie and Julien) – (The Duchess of Langeais) – (Around a Small Mountain)

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Shopping Mall


For the 23rd week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the world of shopping malls as I’m sure for anyone here from the 1980s and 1990s would definitely remember those places even though they’re on their way out. Even here in Smyrna, GA as Cumberland Mall, which was once a great place filled with so many cool things, is now a shithole. Here are my three picks:

1. Mallrats
Though it was maligned upon its initial release in late 1995 more than a year after Kevin Smith broke through with his debut film Clerks the year before. It is a film that deserve its cult status as it play into two slackers dealing with girl issues as they spend much of their time at a mall. There’s some hilarious moments including a gag involving Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob character trying to use Jedi mind tricks or flying where he would get a look at a topless Joey Lauren Adams or Ethan Suplee trying see what’s in the Magic Eye painting. Add a great cameo from Stan Lee and a topless Priscilla Barnes with a third nipple, it is a joy to watch as it also features an early appearance from frequent Smith collaborator Ben Affleck.

2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop
While it is mainly Die Hard in a mall with a fat security guard with hypoglycemia, it is still a fun and entertaining film in which the titular character is really a good guy who works his ass off. It is a film that doesn’t take itself seriously with Kevin James delivering a solid performance as the titular character who just tries to make the mall safe during the Thanksgiving holidays until a bunch of thieves come in to try and steal some money but they have to deal with Paul Blart. He maybe the underdog in this scenario but he’s got a lot of heart and if he’s carrying some sugar. He will be a powerhouse. This was a film not well-received by many critics but it did get a nice praise from the late, great Roger Ebert.

3. Observe and Report
Jody Hill’s mall cop comedy about an unstable young man who is trying to apprehend a flasher while also trying to win over a bitchy make-up counter worker is a film that has some good moments. Yet, it tries too hard to be a lot of things with Hill wanting to be a funny version of Taxi Driver (which is really King of Comedy) where he does succeed in a few moments thanks in part to Seth Rogen’s performance as well as a great supporting turn from Michael Pena as his partner. Still, it is an uneven fare that doesn’t do much for its ensemble cast despite some solid supporting work from the late, great Ray Liotta.

© thevoid99 2022

Monday, June 13, 2022

Matthias & Maxime


Written, directed, co-costume designed, edited, and co-starring Xavier Dolan, Matthias & Maxime is the story of two longtime childhood friends who take part in a short film where lingering feelings for one another lead to some major revelations. The film is an exploration of two men dealing with their own feelings for one another but also in how it would affect their social circle. Also starring Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas, Pier-Luc Funk, Samuel Gauthier, Antoine Pilon, Adib Alkhalidey, Anne Dorval, Micheline Bernard, Marilyn Castonguay, and Catherine Brunet. Matthias & Maxime is an extraordinary and somber film from Xavier Dolan.

The film follows two lifelong friends in their late 20s as they attend a party with other friends where one of the friend’s younger sister is there asking for help to appear in a student short film as the two volunteer to do something leading to many revelations following their contribution to this student film. It is a film with a simple premise as it play into these two different men at crucial stages in their life as they wonder if they do have feelings for one another as Xavier Dolan creates a script that is grounded in these ideas but also play into the dynamic of the individual lives of the titular characters in Matthias (Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas) and Maxime (Xavier Dolan).

They attend a friend’s lake house for a little get together since Maxime is set to leave for Australia for two years to work while Matthias is on his way to a promotion as a young film student asks them to take part in a student film she’s making as it lead to one thing to another. Even as their individual lives is fraught with struggle as Matthias is in a relationship with a woman while Maxime is dealing with his abusive, alcoholic mother and preparing to leave. Though both men have different personalities, their friendship often brings the best in both of them yet this participation in this student film changes everything.

Dolan’s direction does have some element of style yet a lot of is straightforward in terms of its overall presentation as it is shot on location in areas at the province of Quebec and places near Montreal. While there are wide shots of these locations, including a lake where Matthias would swim in the morning after the night he and Maxime participated in the student film, where Dolan play into a world where the titular characters can thrive in. The usage of medium shots and close-ups would play into the different world of the titular characters where Matthias is often seen in a world with other people including his girlfriend Sarah (Marilyn Castonguay) and later an American friend in McAfee (Harris Dickinson). Maxime’s world has Dolan shoot him in different visual styles as it play into his shy persona as well as the troubled home life he has with his mother (Anne Dorval). These moments play into the film’s second act as it relates to the twelve days left before Maxime leaves for Australia as he and Matthias both cope with what happened on that night.

Also serving as the editor, Dolan would keep things straightforward in some of the edits while he would also use jump-cuts including some stylish cutting in a sequence for the film’s climatic going-away party scene for Maxime where Matthias and other friends attend. It would play into this world that they’re in yet Matthias is starting to also spend less time in due to the fact that he’s part of the corporate world as he has a hard time trying to balance both as well as his own thoughts on Maxime. Dolan, who also does the costume design with Pierre-Yves Gayraud, would also play up that sense of isolation in the two men in the way they dress as well as the struggle in figuring out what they are in the end. Overall, Dolan crafts a riveting and mesmerizing about two lifelong friends who deal with an act that they did that changes everything.

Cinematographer Andre Turpin does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it play into some of the natural and colorful elements in some of the suburban locations with the usage of natural lighting for scenes at the lake. Production designer Colombe Raby, with art director Claude Tremblay plus set decorators Genevieve Boivin, Pascale Deschenes, and Marzia Pellissier, does excellent work with the look of the lake house as well as the condo that Matthias lives in as well as the chaotic home Maxime’s mother lives in. Special effects makeup supervisor Erik Gosselin does nice work with the look of the right side of Maxime’s face that features a blotch as it play into his flawed look.

Special effects supervisor Mario Dumont and visual effects supervisor Jean-Francois Ferland do terrific work with some of the film’s special effects as it mainly features Matthias’ swim on the lake and a few bits of set-dressing. Sound designer Sylvain Brassard does superb work with the sound as it play into the way music sounds in a room or how a conversation is presented during a meeting Matthias has with his boss. The film’s music by Jean-Michel Blais is amazing for its somber piano score that features flourishes of classical elements while music supervisor Craig Gering provides an array of music that includes a classical piano piece by Franz Schubert as well as music from Britney Spears, the Pet Shop Boys, Amir Haddad, Alex Cameron and Angel Olsen, Phosphorescent, Boards of Canada, DYAN, Cass McCombs, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, George Fitzgerald and Lil Silva, Zola Jesus, the Get Up Kids, Half Moon Run, and Arcade Fire.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast include some notable small roles from Camille Felton as the film student Ericka who asks the titular characters to appear in her student film, Harris Dickinson as an American friend of Matthias in McAfee, Anne Dorval as Maxime’s alcoholic mother, Micheline Bernard as a maternal figure for the titular character and their friends in Francine, Catherine Brunet as a friend of Maxime in Lisa, and Marilyn Castonguay as Matthias’ girlfriend Sarah who believes that something did happen that night and Matthias is not saying anything. Antoine Pilon and Adib Alkhalidey are fantastic in their respective roles as Brass and Shariff as two longtime friends of the titular characters who like to party and have fun while also knowing that the student film is bringing some revelations about the titular characters. Samuel Gauthier is superb as Frank as another friend of the two characters who is a party animal as he becomes concerned about the two during the film’s climatic party knowing that he does care despite his own wild antics. Pier-Luc Funk is excellent as Rivette as a young man who is another friend of the titular characters as he is also from a posh family that includes Ericka where he knows something is up between the two while also realizing it’s going to change things in their friendship.

Finally, there’s the duo of Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas and Xavier Dolan in incredible performances in their respective roles as the titular characters of Matthias and Maxime. Freitas’ performance is more restrained as someone who has all of the qualities of a man that is set to have it all as he’s also good looking but is struggling to deal with his own feelings for Maxime just as he’s about to get a major promotion. Dolan’s performance as Maxime is also a bit restrained except for scenes in the way his character interacts with his mother while he is also a bit more energetic at times despite his interactions with those he doesn’t know. Freitas and Dolan together do have this amazing chemistry in the way they talk with each other as well as play into this idea that they’ve been friends since childhood that lead to bigger things despite their different personalities.

Matthias & Maxime is a sensational film from Xavier Dolan that features great leading performances from Dolan and Gabriel D’Almeida Freitas. Along with its supporting cast, gorgeous visuals, study of lingering feelings and confusion, and a fun music soundtrack. The film definitely marks a newfound maturity in Dolan’s exploration of sexual identity and youth as well as the struggle to grow up further into adulthood. In the end, Matthias & Maxime is a phenomenal film from Xavier Dolan.

Xavier Dolan Films: I Killed My Mother - Heartbeats (2010 film) - Laurence Anyways - Tom at the Farm - Mommy (2014 film) - (It’s Only the End of the World) – The Death and Life of John F. Donovan - (The Night Logan Woke Up) - The Auteurs #46: Xavier Dolan

© thevoid99 2022

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Florida Project


Directed and edited by Sean Baker and written by Baker and Chris Bergoch, The Florida Project is the story of a six-year old girl who is trying to get funds to stay at a motel with her unemployed mother in Kissimmee, Florida as they try to not go homeless. The film is a coming-of-age story in which a six-year old girl deals with the realism of her surroundings as well as the fact that the adults around her are unsure of how to deal with their situation with a motel manager being sympathetic to their situation. Starring Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Caleb Landry Jones, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, and Willem Dafoe. The Florida Project is a ravishing and exhilarating film from Sean Baker.

Set in Kissimmee, Florida at the Magic Castle Inn motel, the film revolves around a six-year old girl who spends much of her time playing with other kids including a new kid at another nearby motel as she deals with her young mother trying to make ends meet while they’re watched by a tough yet fair motel manager who does care about the young girl. It is a film with a simple premise as it’s more about the many adventures a six-year old girl and her friends take part as they scrounge up whatever money they can get while living in this motel near Walt Disney World. The film’s screenplay by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch is largely straightforward in its narrative but has a looseness in its structure as it follows the exploits of Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) as she plays with her friends as they do all sorts of things and beg for money to buy an ice cream cone while she lives in a motel with her young mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) who works as an exotic dancer until she loses her job.

While she does get free food from a friend in Ashley (Mela Murder) whose son Scooty (Christopher Rivera) is a friend of Moonee, Halley would also sell perfume outside other motel/hotels nearby to pay the rent. Still, she is hoping to go out and party yet things become problematic as well as the fact that she and Ashley fall out over an incident involving Moonee and Scooty at an abandoned condominium area with their new friend Jancey (Valeria Cotto). It would lead to some trouble though Halley doesn’t make things better in how she would get rent money as the motel manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe) has been keeping an eye on things as well as watch over the children. While Bobby is a character that is tough on the rules and can tolerate the children in their mischievous antics. He does care about them as well as Moonee knowing that this girl can fend for herself despite her mother’s immaturity as he would also fend off a pedophile trying to chat up with the kids.

Baker’s direction doesn’t just feel loose in its presentation but it also has this colorful feel to it as it is shot on location in Kissimmee with the U.S. Highway 192 route being the main part of the film as it is a major character in the film as is the Magic Castle Inn. Baker’s usage of the wide shots are definitely striking as he definitely captures the scope of the building as well as the many different areas in the town as it showcases the world that Moonee and her friends live in. There’s a vibrancy to the visuals as it does play into a world that is magical in some ways yet there is also a realism into the fact that it is nearby one of the most famous attractions in the world in Walt Disney World where these real-life places add to this air of Americana that is unique. Baker’s usage of the medium shots and close-ups play more into the life at the Magic Castle motel including the room that Moonee and Halley stay in as it play into the world that these characters live in.

Also serving as the film’s editor, Baker maintains that air of looseness in the editing as it play into the sense of energy in the film where Baker uses jump-cuts to capture some of the energy in the kids running around the motel parking lots and such. Even where Baker would use hand-held cameras to bring up that air of realism as he also employ a lot of non-actors in the film. It gives the film that grounded presentation where Baker also shoots the film in 35mm for much of the film with the exception of the ending as it was shot on an iPhone 6S Plus. Still, Baker does maintain that sense of vibrancy in the visuals though it becomes more realistic during its third act as it does play into Halley’s activities in her room and the trouble she brings despite her intentions to raise Moonee though it would come with many complications. Overall, Baker crafts an exquisite yet entrancing film about the life of a six-year old girl and her young mother living and creating chaos at a motel in Kissimmee, Florida.

Cinematographer Alexis Zabe does phenomenal work with the film’s cinematography as its emphasis on capturing the vibrancy of the locations with all of its colors has something that does feel like a fantasy though it set in real locations while many of the scenes at night are low-key in its lighting as it is a highlight of the film. Production designer Stephonik Youth and set decorator Kurt Thoreson do excellent work with the look of the motel room that Moonee and Halley live in as well as the motel lobby and a few places the characters go to. Costume designer Fernando Rodriguez does fantastic work with the costumes as it is play into the look of the film with all of its colors and neon-like look in some of the things the characters wear.

Special effects supervisor James. L. Roberts and visual effects supervisor Philippe Desiront do terrific work in some of the film’s minimal set pieces that include the scene of the kids burning a pillow at a condo that goes wrong. Sound editor Jesse Pomeroy and sound mixer Mark Weber do amazing work with the sound as it help play into the real atmosphere of the locations as well as the way music sounds from another room. The film’s music by Lorna Balfe is wonderful as it is largely low-key as it appears mainly in the film’s ending as this soaring orchestral piece that play into the drama while music supervisor Matthew Hearon-Smith cultivates a fun soundtrack that ranges from hip-hop, pop, R&B, Latin music, and such from acts such as Kool & the Gang, Nao, Vee tha Rula, Bobby Harden, Frank Fuchs, Bronze, Rich White, Hatuey, Ghosmerick, Skeey, Men Envy Children, Doug Walker, Renz Young, Coca Vango, Ryan Oakes, Mikey Amare, Noah North, Jennie Dapello, the Zinghoppers, Prez P and Big Nic, STS, Friends of the Friendless, Creig Camacho, Holfix, and George Pollis as a lot of is played on location.

The casting by Carmen Cuba is incredible as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Macon Blair as a tourist who claims Halley stole some wrist bands, Sandy Kane as an elderly lady who likes to be topless at the pool area, Aiden Malik as a friend of Moonee and Scooty in Dicky, Edward “Punky” Pagan as Dicky’s father, Josie Olivo as Jancey’s grandmother, Andrew Romano and Carolina Grabova as a Brazilian newlywed couple on their honeymoon, Terry Allen Jones as a cab driver in Patrice, and Caleb Landry Jones in a small role as Bobby’s son Jack who shows up when his father asks for help at the motel. Valeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera are amazing in their respective roles as Jancey and Scooty with the former being a new arrival at a nearby motel who joins in the fun and see the locations while the latter is a kid who likes to find things including a lighter that would ultimately raise suspicion from his mother. Mela Murder is excellent as Scooty’s mom Ashley who works at a diner as she helps bring in free food to Halley and Moonee until an incident forces her to be a mother and keep Moonee away from Scooty.

Willem Dafoe is phenomenal as Bobby Hicks as a manager for the Magic Castle motel who watches over everything as there’s moments where he’s stern and has to not take any bullshit from anyone but there is also a sensitivity in the way he acts towards the kids including Moonee as he becomes concerned for her well-being due to the activities her mother is doing in the film’s third act. Bria Vinaite is brilliant as Halley as a young woman who loses her job as an exotic dancer as she does what she can to pay her rent and be a good mom although she doesn’t make the best decisions and acts immature at times which adds to the realism of her performance. Finally, there’s Brooklynn Prince in a sensational performance as Moonee as a six-year old girl who likes to play around and do fun things despite the chaos she brings that naturalistic energy and innocence to her character as well as a sense of heartbreak into the situations she has to endure as it is a true breakthrough performance.

The Florida Project is a tremendous film from Sean Baker that features great performances from Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, and Willem Dafoe. Along with its ensemble cast, rapturous visuals, a vibrant and realistic setting, study on poverty near a world that is meant to be magical, and its bumping music soundtrack. It is a film that explores life seen from a young girl’s perspective as she tries to have fun during the summertime while dealing with the reality of her environment. In the end, The Florida Project is a spectacular film from Sean Baker.

Sean Baker Films: (Four Letter Words) – (Take Out (2004 film)) – (Prince of Broadway) – (Starlet (2012 film)) – Tangerine (2015 film) – (Red Rocket)

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