Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Films That I Saw: October 2012



Well, this was a really good month for me in terms of the films that I saw. Notably as I decided to see a slew of horror films as well as a few new films that came out this year. With my own horror marathon, I got a chance to not just see films of that genre that were considered classics but also the ones that came from different countries and in different styles. The result wasn’t just fascinating but also gave me insight into what many of today’s horror films seem to lack. A lot of it had to do with storytelling. It’s OK to have shock and gore in a film but it has to mean something and if there’s no story to back it up, the film will suck.

In the month of October, I saw a total of 52 films which is slightly up from last month. 28 first-timers and 24 re-watches. Definitely a major achievement considering the new slate of films that were coming out along with the films I chose to see for my Halloween marathon. Here are the 10 best first-timers I saw in October:

1. Repulsion


2. Looper


3. Aliens


4. The Thing


5. Near Dark


6. The Host


7. Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007


8. Les Diaboliques


9. Empire of Passion


10. Leaves from Satan's Book


Monthly Mini-Reviews:

CM Punk: The Best in the World



I watched this on YouTube just as the DVD was getting released at the time. While I’m not a fan of what WWE creative is doing with CM Punk’s character in making him look like a bitch. I’m still glad Punk is the guy that is currently the WWE Champion as this documentary shows his rise from the indies to being the top guy in the WWE. He is simply the Best in the World not just for the great matches he brings but is also one of the best talkers. The guy deserves all the respect he’s craving for. I just hope they put him in better matches as I also hope he faces my favorite wrestler of all-time in the Rock at the 2013 Royal Rumble.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked


I had seen the previous films and I much prefer the cartoon versions. The live-action versions with the CGI are crap and this one is truly the worst. I managed to watch this on TV and I just wanted to see how bad it is. Boy, it exceeded all of my expectations. How bad it can get? Well, you have the Chipmunks and the Chippettes stranded on an island with Jenny Slate. Check. You have the Chipmunks and Chippettes singing horrible pop songs that are just as bad as the original. Check. You see Jason Lee and David Cross both being put into humiliating situations. Check. Yes. It fulfilled everything I wanted in a bad movie and more. Notably by the look of David Cross’ face as it is obviously he is having the worst time of his life. No wonder he was so public about how bad this movie was.

Re-Watches:

1. Apocalypse Now


2. The Shining


3. Big Trouble in Little China


4. Casino Royale


5. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


6. Sixteen Candles


7. Reagan


8. The Breakfast Club


9. The Running Man


10. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl


Well, that is it for October. Next month will see the conclusion of the James Bond marathon with the upcoming release of the much anticipated film Skyfall that will be followed by a post-mortem on the marathon. Other new releases slated for November will probably be films like Anna Karenina, The Silver Lining Playbook, The Life of Pi, Jack & Diane, and a few others on VOD or in theaters. Also slated will be a few 2011 releases like Goon, Pariah, and Warrior as well as reviews of films by Samuel Fuller, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Robert Bresson, John Carpenter, Fritz Lang, and Quentin Tarantino who will be the profile of my next part of the Auteurs series. Until then, hope everyone has a good Halloween and keep the candy for yourselves.

© thevoid99 2012

The Shining (1980 film)




Based on the novel by Stephen King, The Shining is the story of a writer who is asked to become a caretaker for an isolated hotel as he brings his family along where things go wrong as he starts to become insane and terrorize his family. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and screenplay by Kubrick and Diane Johnson, the film is an exploration into madness as well as the world of the supernatural in a strange hotel. Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd. The Shining is a terrifying yet visually-entrancing film from Stanley Kubrick.

After taking a job to be a caretaker for the Overlook Hotel in the middle of Colorado, writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) brings his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) to the place where they’ll stay for five months during the winter time where the hotel is closed for the time being. Jack hopes to use the time to write a novel as he and Wendy meet up with the people running the hotel as it includes a chef named Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). Dick notices that Danny as telepathic powers that communicate with other people with their minds as they briefly talk as Dick asks Danny not to go to the mysterious room 237. A month goes by as Jack’s novel is going nowhere while Wendy and Danny spend most of their time looking around the hotel and its many sites including a maze outside of the hotel.

When winter arrives with a terrible snowstorm, things start to get strange after Danny runs into a couple of twins (Lisa and Louise Burns) while noticing that someone left room 237 open. After Jack wakes up from a nightmare and Wendy notices bruises on Danny’s neck believing that Jack did it, Jack goes into the Gold Room where he talks to its ghostly bartender Lloyd (Joe Turkel) where Jack gets to vent. When Wendy talks to Jack claiming it was a woman at room 237 who attacked Danny, Jack goes to room 237 where he encounters some strange moments as he decides to stay at the hotel to live up to work. After attending a party at the Gold Room where he meets a waiter whose name is Grady (Philip Stone), Jack realizes he was the previous caretaker who had rumored to have killed his wife and two daughters. Yet, Grady says that Jack had always been the caretaker and what he did to his family was correct them.

After getting a psychic connection with Danny who has been seeing things that are becoming true, Dick decides to fly from Florida to Colorado to see what is going on at the hotel. Wendy meanwhile, notices that Jack’s behavior has gone out of control after she suggests that she should take Danny away from the hotel as Jack starts to go insane. After knocking Jack out and locking him inside the pantry, Wendy realizes that she and Danny could not escape as the snowstorm is getting worse. When Jack manages to get out of the pantry, all hell breaks loose as he goes after his wife and child in an insane quest to get rid of them.

What happens when a man decides to be a caretaker at a hotel in middle of nowhere as he starts to go insane in this mysterious hotel? That is simply the premise of the film as it is an exploration into the supernatural and madness. Yet, it’s a film that shows a man completely losing touch with reality as he starts to see things around him where he starts to vent his frustrations on his wife for disrupting his work. Notably as his wife is becoming concerned about their son who has these strange visions along with an imaginary friend called Tony. When the boy starts to realizes that the images he saw prior to going to the hotel are coming true, he goes into a trance as Tony starts to take over leaving the boy’s mother to finally worry as she starts to realize what is going on.

The film’s screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Diane Johnson is quite eerie in the way it explores a man’s descent into insanity. Yet, it is a script that takes its time to let the mystery unravel though there’s a lot that is revealed early in the film that Jack Torrance seems to ignore such as the fact that the previous caretaker killed his family and later himself in a strange incident similar to what Jack went through. Another noted fact is that the hotel was built on an old Indian burial ground which definitely explains a lot of supernatural elements that occurs in the story. Then there’s Jack Torrance himself as he’s a man with a dark past as he once an alcoholic who had accidentally broken his son’s arm as he’s unaware that he’s a danger to himself and everyone. For his wife Wendy, she becomes more unsure about Jack just as she was starting to regain his trust as it leads to all sorts of trouble.

Danny is another key element to the film as he’s this boy with telepathic powers where he communicate people with their minds as he meets this very kind chef named Dick Hallorann who also has telepathic powers. Dick realizes that Danny has these visions as he gives Danny a warning about not entering this very strange room yet thing suddenly go wrong when the room’s door opens. It becomes a major plot point that leads to all sorts of moments where Jack starts to descend further into madness after meeting a ghost as they would tell Jack to deal with the situation about his family. This leads to a third act where it becomes this very chilling-suspense thriller as Jack goes insane and terrorizes his family.

Kubrick’s direction is very entrancing for the way he presents the film such as the opening sequence of Jack’s car driving around the Rocky Mountains in Colorado through these sprawling wide shots from a helicopter. Kubrick’s direction is also very stylized such as the way he shoots wide shots of conversations where the camera is far away from the actors. It’s part of the style that Kubrick wants to convey where it’s not just him capturing the conversation but the locations themselves as it establishes the world that Jack and his family are about to enter. Immediately, the audience will think that this nice hotel is a nice place to stay but once it’s just Jack, Wendy, and Danny all alone in this hotel. That’s where things start to go wrong. It’s not just the sense of isolation that eventually starts to take a toll on Jack but also his writer’s block.

Once the Torrance family stays in the hotel for a month where Kubrick utilizes these stylish steadicam shots to capture Danny’s movements on the big wheel tricycle along with the scenes in the maze. It shows that Danny and Wendy are having fun but Jack is troubled as it features that famous Kubrick stare of Jack who is slowly descending. This definitely leads to an element of suspense that Kubrick builds in a very slow, meticulous to have things unravel bit by bit. Through these montages that includes a pool of blood coming out of an elevator and all of these strange images, it is to reveal what is to come. Along with some amazing tracking shots and camera movements to maintain that air of suspense, Kubrick plays up the stakes that Wendy and Danny had to go through.

It’s not just Jack and the supernatural they have to face but also nature itself as they do whatever they can to survive Jack’s terror. This would eventually play out to the horror that occurs as Kubrick maintains this very unsettling atmosphere that occurs not just in the hotel but outside. Even as Kubrick would intensify the camera movements and scenery to play up the horror up to the fullest. Overall, Kubrick creates a mesmerizing yet unsettling horror film that does more than its premise offers.

Cinematographer John Alcott does fantastic work with the film‘s evocative photography from the lush look of the film‘s daytime exterior scenes including the gorgeous ones during the snow to the more stylized yet entrancing look of the scenes at night in the interior scenes as well as the exteriors during the maze sequence at night as Alcott‘s work is a major highlight. Editor Ray Lovejoy does brilliant work with the editing to create some unique rhythmic cuts to play out the film‘s structure and suspense along with some stylized jump-cuts and dissolves for the transitions including some very eerie montages for Danny‘s visions. Production designer Roy Walker and art director Leslie Tomkins do amazing work with many of the film’s interiors for the scenes in the hotel from the carpets that Danny plays at to the Gold Room and its stylish bathroom along with the other hotel rooms the characters encounter.

Costume designer Milena Canonero does wonderful work with the costumes from the dresses that Wendy wears to costumes worn by the ghosts at the Gold Room party. The makeup work of Barbara Daly and Tom Smith, along with the hair by Leonard, is terrific for the scenes at the Gold Room party that plays up to the period that Jack is entranced by. Sound editor Dino Di Campo, Jack T. Knight, and Winston Ryder do excellent work on the sound from the way the Big Wheel sounds on the floors to the atmosphere it creates in some of the film‘s most chilling moments as the sound work is another major highlight of the film. The film’s superb music soundtrack consists of a variety of pieces from the opening electronic score by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind to set a dark mood to the film to an array of eerie orchestral pieces from Gyorgi Ligeti, Bela Bartok, and Krzysztof Penderecki as well as old standard pop music from Henry Hall, Ray Noble, Al Bowlly, Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly, and Harry Woods.

The casting by James Liggat is great for the ensemble that is created as it features notable small roles from Lisa and Louise Burns as the Grady twins, Anne Jackson as a doctor who visits Danny early in the film, Tony Burton as Dick’s friend Larry, Barry Nelson as the hotel manager Stuart Ullman, Joe Turkel as the friendly ghost bartender Lloyd, and Philip Stone as the brooding waiter Delbert Grady. Scatman Crothers is excellent as Dick Hallorann who shares his telepathic gift with Danny while noticing something is wrong as he tries to see what is going on. Danny Lloyd is brilliant as Danny as he displays a performance of a kid troubled by these premonitions while making strange voices whenever he acts as Tony as it’s a truly incredible performance for the young kid.

Shelley Duvall is amazing as Wendy as she starts out as this very kind and fun woman excited about staying in a hotel for months only to deal with the terror of her husband as Duvall displays an eerie intensity to her role in the way she deals with everything. Finally, there’s Jack Nicholson in one of his most iconic performance as Jack Torrance. Nicholson’s performance is riveting for the way he explores a man’s descent into madness as Nicholson brings a lot of dark humor to the role as well as a determination to man hell-bent on maintaining his job as caretaker where it’s a performance that has Nicholson go all out and more making it one of the great performances in film.

The Shining is a harrowing yet intriguing horror film from Stanley Kubrick that features outstanding performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. The film is definitely an interesting yet thrilling take on madness and isolation as it also explores horror at its most extreme. It’s also a film that strays from the conventions of typical horror films in order to have the audience be engaged by the visuals and the events that occur. In the end, The Shining is a magnificent film from Stanley Kubrick.

Stanley Kubrick Films: Fear & Desire - Killer's Kiss - The Killing - Paths of Glory - Spartacus - Lolita - Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - 2001: A Space Odyssey - A Clockwork Orange - Barry Lyndon - Full Metal Jacket - Eyes Wide Shut

Related: Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures - The Auteurs #18: Stanley Kubrick

© thevoid99 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Empire of Passion



Based on the novel by Itoko Nakamura, Empire of Passion is the story about a married woman and her younger lover conspiring to kill the woman’s husband where they deal with the horrifying consequences. Written for the screen and directed by Nagisa Oshima, the film explores the world of extramarital affairs at its most intensity where two lovers deal with their passion and the aftermath of murder. Starring Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Tatsuya Fuji, Takahiro Tamura, and Takuzo Kawatani. Empire of Passion is a chilling yet evocative film from Nagisa Oshima.

A former soldier named Toyoji (Tatsuya Fuji) who has arrived in a small town as he finds himself attracted to an older Japanese barmaid named Seki (Kazuko Yoshiyuki). The two eventually have an affair as Toyoji wants to get rid of Seki’s husband Gisaburo (Takahiro Tamura) where Seki buys numerous amounts of alcohol to get Gisaburo drunk where Toyoji later kills him. After dumping him in a well, nothing happens for three years until Gisaburo’s ghost starts to appear scaring Seki as their secret affair become troubling. Even worse is when an inspector named Hotta (Takuzo Kawatani) arrives to asks questions where Toyoji tries to figure out what he’s doing leading to he and Seki to give in to pressure about what really happened.

Extramarital affairs often make stories that are interesting when it involves an older married woman and a younger man. When it involves murder during the late 1890s in Japan, that’s when things get really interesting when this couple have this very passionate affair that they try to hide from the locals. Yet, three years would pass as the locals begin to ask many questions while rumors would also swirl about the appearance of a man’s ghost that starts to haunt his wife and later her lover while a police inspector also arrives to cause trouble.

Nagisa Oshima’s screenplay not only explores the world of extramarital affairs but also the guilt that starts to come for these two people once they kill the woman’s husband. Notably as the appearance of Gisaburo’s ghost and the arrival of a police investigator starts to arrive in the film’s second act where it definitely has Seki delve into paranoia along with other strange situations. Even as she tries to stay away from Toyoji in order to keep both of them safe but events would happen where the town begins to learn about their relationship. Toyoji even starts to have things around him come into question where he would do things that would raise the suspicion of the entire town as it leads to some serious revelations about what happened to Gisaburo.

Oshima’s direction is very stylish in terms of his presentation of late 19th Century small town Japan where it is about this community of people that know each other. When this affair starts to happen in secret, things become questionable to the locals as the film features brief voiceover narrations from an unseen local. The look of the small town is lush and gorgeous in its many seasons but in the aftermath of Gisaburo’s death, there is a sense of disturbance by the array of mist that appears in the town in the mornings and at night. It’s part of the atmosphere that Oshima wants to create where this affair and murder eventually starts to seep into this small world where everything is peaceful. Things eventually get more intense by the time Inspector Hotta arrives where there’s moments where Oshima places the camera around a trio of old ladies gossiping about what is happening.

The direction also has Oshima create some chilling moments of suspense such as Seki accepting a ride from the ghost of Gisaburo that would have some eerie implications into whether she’s dreaming or not. It’s Oshima maintaining that unsettling atmosphere where he would even create some exotic moments such as the scenes at the well where the camera is placed looking at the sky. There’s a moment at the well where it would play to this sense of horror and intrigue where Oshima would find ways to not delve into convention about what is there or what’s going to happen. The film’s ending is poignant for not just what Seki and Toyoji do but what they have to face once a lot of truths are unveiled. Overall, Oshima creates a very captivating yet hypnotic film about guilt and passion.

Cinematographer Yoshio Miyajima does excellent work with the film‘s very colorful photography from the exotic look of the daytime exterior scenes with the sun and at the forest during the fall to more eerie looks at night and at dawn along with some gorgeous shots of the scenes at the well. Editor Keiichi Uraoka does brilliant work with the editing to play up the suspense as well as slowing things down to build it up along with some rhythmic cuts for the more intense moments. Production designer Jusho Toda does superb work with the set pieces from the look of the houses and places the characters interact to the eerie look of the well where Seki and Toyoji dump the body.

The sound work of Tetsuo Yasuda and Alex Pront is terrific for the mood it creates in some of the film‘s chilling moments such as Seki‘s ride with Gisaburo as well other key scenes such as a dinner between Seki and Toyoji. The music of Toru Takemitsu is amazing for the mood it creates with its intricate and unsettling approach to string instruments along with the eerie sound textures it uses to maintain that air of suspense.

The film’s cast is wonderful for the small ensemble that includes notable small roles from Akiko Koyama as a landowner’s mother and Takuzo Kawatani as the very determined Inspector Hotta. Takahiro Tamura is excellent as the husband Gisaburo who is a kind man that gets killed as he would create this very eerie presence to haunt his wife. Kazuko Yoshiyuki is superb as the wife Seki who is reluctant to kill her husband as she becomes consumed guilt once his ghost arrives as she starts to lose it. Finally, there’s Tatsuya Fuji in a terrific performance as Toyoji who leads the plan to kill Gisaburo only to be consumed by all of the problems that is happening around him as he does whatever he can to save the love he has for Seki.

Empire of Passion is an eerie yet remarkable film from Nagisa Oshima. Armed with dazzling visuals, an ominous soundtrack, and stellar performances. It’s a film that explores the dangers of extramarital affairs and the guilt that eventually comes in. It’s also a film that has a unique take on the Japanese ghost story as it plays to the traditional schematics of horror. In the end, Empire of Passion is an extraordinary film from Nagisa Oshima.

Nagisa Oshima Films: (Tomorrow’s Sun) - (A Street of Love and Hope) - (Cruel Story of Youth) - (The Sun’s Burial) - (Night and Fog in Japan) - (The Catch) - (The Rebel) - (A Small Child’s First Adventure) - (It’s Me Here, Bellett) - (The Pleasures of the Flesh) - (Yunbogi’s Diary) - (Violence at High Noon) - (Tales of the Ninja/Band of Ninja) - (Sing a Song of Sex (A Treatsie on Japanese Bawdy Songs)) - (Double Suicide: Japanese Summer) - (Death by Hanging) - (Three Resurrected Drunkards) - (Diary of a Shinjuku Thief) - (Boy (1969 film)) - (Man Who Left His Will on Film) - (The Ceremony (1971 film)) - (Dear Summer Sister) - (In the Realm of the Senses) - (Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) - (Max, Mon Amour) - (Taboo (1999 film))

© thevoid99 2012

Haxan




Written, directed, and starring Benjamin Christensen, Haxan is a documentary film about the world of witchcraft and all of its superstitions through re-creations and all sorts of images. The film is based on Christensen’s studies of the Malleus Maleficarum that showcases this unique world of dark magic and mysticism. Also starring Clara Pontoppidan, Oscar Stribolt, Astrid Holm, and Maren Pedersen. Haxan is a disturbing yet visually-spellbinding film from Benjamain Christensen.

The film is essentially a study of witchcraft throughout the years dating back from the first age of civilization to the early 1920s with its large focus set entirely in the 15th Century. Told in seven chapters, Benjamin Christensen explores the evolution of witchcraft and Satanic rituals by beginning the first chapter with elaborate images of Hell along with still photos of book illustrations about the fear that has captivated civilization in those early years. The rest of the film is told in dramatic recreations about the paranoia of witchcraft in the 15th Century and how the Inquisition tried to deal with this rise through torture devices, forced confessions, and stake burnings. The final part revolves around the exploration of hysteria among young woman and how they could be connected with the behaviors of witches in the past.

In these dramatic re-creations, Christensen presents something where he reveals about the sense of fear and paranoia that occurs in these stories about witchcraft where Satan would make an appearance every now and then. It also shows these very disturbing images of what women would do in the presence of Satan where they would embrace him or fear him. Then comes the behavior of the Inquisition who do whatever they can to press these women into confessing about witches and those who are associated. It is revealed that more than 8 million people were killed in these terrible time.

Christensen’s direction is entrancing for the way he presents the visuals the use of red and blue tints along with these dazzling images in the film’s first part where it includes small diagrams and moving images that plays out to the world itself and where Heaven and Hell is. The rest of the film has these unique images though the camera rarely moves. Still, Christensen captures a lot of intensity in the drama along with some mesmerizing images of witches flying over a town in dissolved images or a woman being tempted by the devil as her gold is taken in stop-motion animation format.

Through inter-title cards giving lots of exposition about these events and moments along with dramatic moments, it does establish a world where things are out of control and women are the victims of these ludicrous accusations. The film’s final part that is set in the 1920s reveal a lot about the way women suffer from hysteria and its relations to the way women behaved during the witch hunts of the 15th Century. It has Christensen explaining, through inter-title cards, about these similarities as well as how much time has changed since. Overall, Christensen creates an eerie yet fascinating docu-drama on witchcraft.

Cinematographer Johan Ankerstjerne does excellent work with the color-tinted photography to create an atmosphere for the different settings of the film from the orange-red daytime scenes to the more bluish scenes at night. Editor Edla Hansen does wonderful work with the editing to create some stylish cuts to play out the drama as well as its suspenseful moments. Art director Richard Louw does superb work with the design of the art collage that is created in the first part along with set pieces to showcase the world of the 15th Century. The film’s music by Launy Grondahl, Emil Reesen, and Matti Bye is terrific for its piano-driven score that is mostly playful at times but also eerie to create an air of intrigue and suspense that occurs throughout the film.

The film’s cast is incredible for the ensemble that is created as it features noteworthy performances from Tora Teje as a modern hysteric, Oscar Stribolt as a fat monk, Clara Pontoppidan as a troubled nun, Astrid Holm as a housewife accused of witchcraft, Maren Pedersen as a old witch who is pushed to the edge by the Inquisition, and Benjamin Christensen as Satan.

Haxan is a mesmerizing yet unsettling docu-drama from Benjamin Christensen. It is a truly an intriguing film that explores the world of witchcraft as well as the sense of paranoia that people have that is quite relevant in the 21st Century. It’s also a film that has amazing visuals for the way it presents 15th Century life in the era of witch-burnings and such. In the end, Haxan is a remarkable film from Benjamin Christensen.

© thevoid99 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kwaidan




Directed by Masaki Kobayashi and written by Yoko Mizuki from an original story by Yakumo Koizumi, Kwaidan is a collection of four chilling stories based on the folk stories of Lafcadio Hearn. The stories revel in the world of ghosts and their encounters with humans in the course of different periods in Japan. Starring Rentaro Mikuni, Keiko Kishi, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe, Tatsuya Nakadai, and Takashi Shimura. Kwaidan is a mesmerizing yet exotic film from Masaki Kobayashi.

In the first story entitled The Black Hair, a samurai warrior (Rentaro Mikuni) leaves his wife (Michiyo Aratama) in order to gain some sort of social status after being left in poverty by a lord. After marrying a governor’s daughter (Misako Watanabe), the warrior finds himself longing for simpler times as well as his first wife. In The Woman of the Snow, a woodcutter and his young apprentice (Tatsuya Nakadai) deal with a harsh winter where they stay at a hut only to get a visit from a mysterious ghost (Keiko Kishi) who takes the life of the woodcutter as his apprentice watches in horror. After making a vow to the ghost, the apprentice becomes a family man after marrying a beautiful young woman as his peace is shattered by recollections of the mysterious ghost.

In Hoichi the Earless, a young blind monk (Katsuo Nakamura) hears the voice of a mysterious ghost (Tetsuro Tanaba) who takes him to an old tomb so that his masters can hear him sing about a great war between two clans. The monk’s frequent disappearances gets the attention of the head priest (Takashi Shimura) who learns what is happening as he tries to do something to stop the ghosts from retrieving the young monk. The final segment entitled In a Cup of Tea has the film’s narrator (Osamu Takizawa) writing where he tries to finish a story about an encounter between a samurai warrior (Kan’emon Nakamura) and a mysterious ghost (Noburo Nakaya) where paranoia starts to ensue.

The film is essentially a collection of four ghosts stories that reveals man’s encounter with ghosts and the impact that it causes. Through these very intricate tales, the film explores the world of the supernatural as well as the way man deals with these encounters. In The Black Hair, the film explores the world of selfishness and regret where this samurai warrior copes with the decision he’s made. In The Woman of the Snow, a young woodcutter apprentice meets a mysterious ghost of the winter where he makes a vow to not reveal what he saw as he would eventually undo the newfound peace and family life that he had just gained. In Hoichi the Earless, a blind musician is unaware of the visitors he’s singing for which brings the attention of his monastery who do whatever they can to get rid of the ghosts. The fourth and final story In a Cup of Tea is essentially a fragment of an unfinished story the film’s narrator tries to write about a samurai warrior fighting with a ghost.

Each story reveals in a lot of themes that is based on folk lore as they all reveal a lot about man’s fallacy about themselves where they each make strange encounters with not just ghosts but themselves. Notably for some of the protagonists in the story where they would make decisions that would change the course of their life. Some with regret while others would face the unknown like Hoichi who is unaware of the role he’s playing as it raises a lot of fear in his masters. It’s part of the script’s intentions to reveal a world where the supernatural is all around everyone yet they don’t know what these individuals would face.

Masaki Kobayashi’s direction is a real highlight of the film for unique visual presentation that he creates for each segment. Notably in the backdrops that he brings to the film’s scenes where it plays up a world that is expressionistic and surreal as if it’s a world that may not be real yet the situations could be. While segments like The Black Hair and In a Cup of Tea employ a more straightforward presentation. Kobayashi does bring in a lot of interesting images to those segments where it plays up that unique world of the supernatural. Though The Black Hair is more of a drama that explores the world of regret, it’s climax is where the film’s horror is revealed as it shows exactly what the samurai warrior has to cope with.

For segments like The Woman of the Snow and Hoichi the Earless, Kobayashi’s presentation is grand and elaborate in terms of the scenes he creates and the surroundings that the characters inhabit. Notably in the use of the surreal backdrops that adds a sense of fantasy to these segments. In the Hoichi the Earless segment, it’s for this amazing and sprawling recreation of the famous Battle of Dan-no-ura between Emperor Antoku and Minamoto no Yoritomo in the Genpai War. It’s a moment in the film that is unlike anything where Kobayashi uses lots of a strange framing devices and movements to capture this battle as if it was made in a theater with all of these production staging and such. It’s truly a grand moment that is followed by the more low-key In a Cup of Tea segment that ends the film but with a truly unsettling climax. Overall, Kobayashi creates a marvel of a film that emphasizes strong visuals and universal themes to tell a very dazzling horror story.

Cinematographer Yoshio Miyajima does fantastic work with the film‘s very colorful and stylish photography from the usage of blue and orange lights for The Woman of the Snow segment to the lush coloring schemes of the battle re-creation of the Hoichi the Earless segment. Editor Hisashi Sagara does brilliant work with the editing by employing lots of stylish cuts to play out the suspense as well as slow, methodical rhythms to play out those moments including some of its dramatic scenes. Art director Shigemasa Toda does spectacular work with the set pieces to recreate old Japan with its homes and such along with the expressionistic backdrops and set pieces that really plays to the film‘s majestic beauty.

The sound work of Hideo Nishizaki is incredible for the atmosphere it creates in many of the film‘s segments from the intimacy in the conversations to the chilling moments that involves the ghosts and the surroundings. The film’s music by Toru Takemitsu is amazing for the its very intricate yet unsettling arrangements with string instruments and percussions to create a brooding mood that plays to the horror for all of the segments in the film.

The film’s ensemble cast is excellent for the performances they provide in the different segments of the film. From The Black Hair segment, there’s terrific performances from Rentaro Mikuni as the samurai who deals with his choices, Michiyo Aratama as the kind and loving first wife, and Misako Watanabe as the more spoiled and cruel second wife. From The Woman of the Snow segment, there’s wonderful performances from Tatsuya Nakadai as the woodcutter’s apprentice, Yuko Mochizuki as the apprentice’s mother, and Keiko Kishi in a terrifying performance as the Woman of the Snow.

From the Hoichi the Earless, there’s superb performances from Tetsuro Tanaba as the ghost warrior, Katsuo Nakamura as the blind musician Hoichi, and Takashi Shimura in warm performance as the head priest. In the In a Cup of Tea segment, there’s excellent performances from Kan’emon Nakamura as the disturbed samurai warrior, Noboru Nakaya as the ghost samurai, and Osamu Takizawa in a remarkable performance as the film’s narrator.

Kwaidan is an outstanding film from Masaki Kobayashi. While it’s not a conventional horror film, it is still a visually-entrancing one in terms of its presentation and the stories it tells. Particularly as it features some fascinating stories about the supernatural and the powers it have over humanity. In the end, Kwaidan is a sensational film from Masaki Kobayashi.

Masaki Kobayashi Films: (Black River) - (The Human Condition) - (Harakiri) - (Samurai Rebellion) - (Hymn to a Tired Man) - (The Fossil) - (Tokyo Trial)

© thevoid99 2012

The Vanishing (1988 film)




Based on the novella The Golden Egg by Tim Krabbe, Spoorloos (The Vanishing) is the story about a man whose lover has been kidnapped as he goes on the search to find her as he meets a mysterious man. Directed by George Sluizer and screenplay by Sluizer and Tim Krabbe, the film is an exploration into the world of obsession of a man trying to find the woman he loves. Starring Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, and Gwen Eckhaus. Spoorloos is an entrancing and chilling suspense film from George Sluizer.

The film is essentially this story about this Dutch couple in Rex (Gene Bervoets) and his girlfriend Saskia (Johanna ter Steege) going on a trip to France where they stop at a gas station where Saskia is about to get some drinks as she also has the car keys. All of a sudden, she’s gone as Rex believes she had disappeared as it leads to a three-year obsessive search to find her where he meets a mysterious man named Raymond (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu). Throughout the course of the story, Rex wonders what happened to Saskia while there’s also this intriguing story about Raymond who is this mild-mannered family man with a dark side. Yet, it is all about this game where the abductor is controlling the situation as he wonders how far this young man will go to find his beloved. Even as they would eventually meet as it leads to all sorts of disturbing revelations.

The screenplay explores the idea of obsession in the mind of Rex who feels responsible for the loss of his girlfriend as he is intent on wanting to know what happened to her. While the screenplay does have a plot that is simple, it’s narrative approach is very unique as it moves back and forth into the storylines of Rex and Raymond. The Raymond character is among one of the most interesting individuals in the history of films for the way he plots out every detail of his abductions though not all of them are successful due to various circumstances. Still, he’s a man who takes his time while being very secretive to his family about what he does outside of his work as a college professor and as a family man. There’s a lot of ambiguity to this character as his eventual meeting with Rex in the third act reveals a lot about who he is as he would do whatever to show Rex what happened to Saskia.

George Sluizer’s direction is very hypnotic in terms of his framing and creating scenes that plays to the element of suspense such as an early scene of Saskia alone in the car inside a tunnel where Rex walks to get some gas. Yet, Sluizker keeps things low key for the most part until Saskia is never seen again where he always has the camera placed around things that are happening or in more intimate moments involving Raymond. Still, Sluizer maintains that air of mystery in the way Raymond conducts his life where there is a bit of dark humor that occurs. By the time the film reaches its third act where Rex and Raymond finally meet, there is this air of terror that is to occur where Raymond reveals what happened on that day when Saskia disappeared. Things get more intense as the film starts to wind down where Sluizer keeps things low key in order to build up the suspense where it leads to some big surprises. Through these eerie compositions and brooding setting, Sluizer maintains this unsettling atmosphere that plays up that the unexpected. Overall, Sluizer creates a very terrifying yet mesmerizing thriller about abduction and obsession.

Cinematographer Toni Kuhn does superb work with the film‘s entrancing cinematography for many of the film‘s dark, nighttime scenes whether it‘s the early scene in the tunnel or the drive at night with Rex and Raymond as it maintains a mood to play out the suspense. Editors George Sluizer and Lin Friedman do great work with the film‘s editing to play out its unique structure by shifting the narrative back and forth while using fade-outs as transitions along with some rhythmic cuts for its suspenseful moments. Art director Santiago Isidro Pin does terrific work with the few set pieces used in the films such as the homes that Raymond lives in to the office that Rex works at.

The sound work of Piotr van Dijk is wonderful for the atmosphere it creates in some of the film‘s most unsettling moments such as the scene with Rex and Raymond on the road that adds to the film‘s suspense. The music of Henry Vrienten is amazing for the varied mood it creates through very different styles of music from piano-driven pieces to more eerie, electro-ambient cuts to maintain that air of suspense that occurs in the film.

The film’s cast is excellent as it features some noteworthy small roles from Lucille Glenn and Tania Latarjet as Raymond’s teenage daughters, Bernadette Le Sache as Raymond’s wife Simone, and Gwen Eckhaus as Rex’s girlfriend Lieneke who tries to help Rex out about Saskia. Johanna ter Steege is great as Saskia as she has this amazing presence early in the film as a woman who is hoping to have a wonderful vacation unaware of what is going to happen to her. Gene Bervoets is brilliant as Rex who deals with the loss he faced as he starts to lose himself in searching for Saskia as it’s a really terrifying performance of a man losing grip on reality. Finally, there’s Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu in a phenomenal performance as Raymond Lemorne as this very quiet man who exudes a sense of charm when he’s with his family. Outside of that, Donnadieu carries this restrained approach to his character who is cool and collected in the way he sets up his trap as it’s really unforgettable performance.

Spoorloos is a remarkable thriller from George Sluizer that features an incredible performance from the late Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu. The film is definitely a thriller that doesn’t play by the rules in its approach to suspense as well as creating an atmosphere that is intoxicating to watch. In the end, Spoorloos is a visually-hypnotic thriller from George Sluizer.

© thevoid99 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cloud Atlas




Based on the novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas is the story about human beings being connected to one another in various places in time from the past to the future as they all deal with their role in humanity. Written for the screen and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, the film is an epic story that bends all sorts of genres. With an all-star cast playing multiple roles that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Doona Bae, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, James D’Arcy, David Gyasi, Zhou Xun, David Gyasi, and Keith David. Cloud Atlas is a captivating yet exhilarating film from Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis.

In the 1850s, a young notary named Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) travels to the Pacific Islands to discover a plantation run by Reverend Gilles Horrox (Hugh Grant) as it consists of slaves. Upon his return home to San Francisco, Ewing discovers a young slave named Autua (David Gyasi) who stows away on the ship as the ailing Ewing recalls his experience in a journal. In 1930s Belgium, a young musician named Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) writes many letters to his lover Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) where he works as an amanuensis for the aging composer Vyvyan Ayrs (Jim Broadbent) where they collaborate on a musical piece together. In the 1970s, a San Franciscan journalist named Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) meets the aging Sixsmith where she discovers a chilling mystery about an oil magnate Lloyd Hooks(Hugh Grant) trying to manipulate the energy crisis as a hitman named Bill Smoke (Hugo Weaving) is after her.

In 2012 London, book publisher Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) is in big trouble over mounting debts to gangsters as he turns to his older brother Denholme (Hugh Grant) for help. Instead, Denholme tricks Timothy to live in a retirement home where Timothy has to deal with the cruel nurse Noakes (Hugo Weaving) as he fights for freedom. In the futuristic South Korea, a genetically-created clone named Sonmi-451 learns about her dystopian world as she meets a young rebel named Hae-Joo Chang (Jim Sturgess) where they decide to create rebellion. In a more distant future, a tribesman named Zachry takes a technologically-advanced woman named Meronym (Halle Berry) to an old palace to find meaning in their world so they can save humanity from an evil tribe and other dark forces.

The film is essentially a multi-layered, inter-weaving collection of stories of people making decisions that would change their own fates as well as the fate of others through six different periods of time. Through the recollection of one individual’s story, one character would discover that person’s story that would inspire something of their own that would eventually inspire another and so on. In these moments where they would discover these stories or pieces of work by a certain person, it would allow a character from different stories to be motivated to do something as it would eventually give them a chance to do something that would help humanity.

The screenplay by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis is truly dazzling for the way the narrative moves from one story to another in this inter-weaving style where it adds up to the dramatic momentum of the film. Even as they would provide moments that would play up the suspense of another story and so on. It’s part of the schematics that Tykwer and the Wachowskis wanted to create while slowing things down so that characters can find ways to connect with one another to feel something as if there’s a chance to really do something great. Yet, each protagonist in these six different stories would make decisions that could impact something that would become a key moment of their lives and would set the stage for another.

The direction of Tykwer and the Wachowskis is vast in terms of the presentation they wanted to create for this massive film. With Tykwer directing the two segments in the 20th Century and the 2012 segment while the Wachowskis helm the 19th Century story and the ones set in the future. The filmmakers give each story a chance to set out on their own as they each provide broad visuals to establish the world these characters live in. Notably as these segments also have moments of intimacy to help flesh the characters out even more in their development. Since the film is really a genre-bender that features elements of sci-fi, adventure, drama, comedy, romance, and suspense. It is still about people and the adventures they go into and how they deal with these opposing forces.

For the 20th Century and 2012 segments, Tykwer pretty much keep things straightforward in terms of the presentation though he does shoot scenes with elements of style. Even as he find ways to put every actor who plays multiple roles a chance to pop up every now and then. Tykwer also utilizes bits of humor in the stories as well as some truly jaw-dropping moments such as a scene where Frobisher and Sixsmith stand and freeze while china plates drop all over them. In the 19th Century and futuristic segments, the Wachowskis go all out in terms of the ambition where they create massive sceneries for their segments. Notably the future where it is awash with visual effects to showcase a world that is unique but also unsettling.

Particularly as it establishes the sense of chaos and mistakes humans made where it plays into the most furthest futuristic segment forcing one character to do something to bring some semblance of hope. Overall, Tywker and the Wachowskis create a truly grand yet engaging film about human connection and how they impact one another in different periods of time.

Cinematographers Frank Griebe and John Toll do amazing work with the film‘s photography from the naturalistic look of 19th Century and beyond future segments to the more stylish array of lighting schemes in the 20th Century scenes and the dystopian Seoul segment. Editor Alexander Berner does excellent work with the editing to create unique rhythms for the film‘s suspenseful and action moments as well as creating montages for certain scenes as well as intricate transitions to move from one story to another. Production designers Hugh Bateup and Uli Hanisch, along with set decorator Rebecca Alleway and Peter Walpole and supervising art directors Stepan O. Gessler, Kai Koch, and Charlie Revai, do spectacular work with the set pieces from the ship in the 19th Century, the homes in the 20th and 21st Century segment, and the futuristic places in the future-Seoul segment.

Costume designers Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud do wonderful work with the costumes to play up the very different periods of time that occur in each segment including the more stylish clothes in the dystopian Seoul segment. Makeup and hair designers Heike Merker and Daniela Skala do great work with the hair and makeup to have every actor look a different way in the various segments and play different races and nationalities in the course of the film. Visual effects supervisors Dan Glass and Stephane Ceretti do terrific work with the film‘s visual effects for segments involving Frobisher, the dystopian Seoul segment, and the beyond future scenes. Sound designer Markus Stemler and sound editor Alexander Buck do superb work in the sound to capture the different atmosphere of each location and world the characters inhabit.

The film’s music by Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil, and Johnny Klimek is brilliant for its low-key, orchestral-driven score to play out the very different worlds that take place in the film along with some touching piano-driven themes in scenes involving Frobisher and Ayrs. The soundtrack also includes an array of music that plays up in two segments such as the Luisa Rey segment and the Timothy Cavendish segments.

The casting by Lora Kennedy and Lucinda Syson is incredible for the large ensemble that is created where the actors get to play multiple roles. Notable small performances include Robert Fyfe as the old seadog and Mr. Meeks, Brody Nicholas Lee as Luisa’s neighbor Javier and Zachry’s nephew, Raevan Lee Hanan as Zachry’s child Catkin, and Martin Wuttke as Cavendish’s friend Mr. Boerhavve and a healer in Zachry’s tribe. Other noteworthy small parts include terrific performances from Keith David as Horrox’s servant/a friend of Luisa’s dad/a rebel leader/a futuristic chief, Zhou Xun as Zachry’s wife/a relative of Sixsmith/Sonmi-451’s friend, David Gyasi as the stowaway slave Autua/Luisa’s father/an associate of Meronym, and James D’Arcy as Rufus Sixsmith and a man who interrogates Sonmi-451.

Jim Sturgess is superb as the young notary Adam Ewing as well as in smaller roles as a father of Sixsmith’s relative, Zachry’s brother-in-law, a highlander, and the rebellious Hae-Joo Chang. Ben Whishaw is superb as the melancholic Robert Frobisher as well as other small roles as a seaman, a record shop owner, and Denholme’s wife. Jim Broadbent is great as a sea captain, the very selfish Vyvyan Ayrs, a lab professor, a futuristic leader, a Korean musician, and as the troubled Timothy Cavendish. Susan Sarandon is wonderful as Rev. Horrox’s wife, a tribal witch, and Cavendish’s lost love. Hugh Grant is stellar as Reverend Horrox, a hotel tenant, the slimy oilman Lloyd Hooks, Timothy’s prankster brother, a perverse drug addict, and an evil tribe chief. Hugo Weaving is brilliant as Ewing’s father-in-law, a music conductor, the evil hitman Bill Smoke, a big nurse, a dystopian leader, and a demon who haunts Zachry.

Doona Bae is amazing as the clone Sonmi-451 who becomes part of a rebellion to stop a dystopian Seoul as she also plays other small roles such as Ewing’s wife and a Mexican woman who helps Luisa. Halle Berry is marvelous as the determined journalist Luisa Rey as well as notable small roles as a native woman, Ayrs’ wife, an Indian woman at a party, a Korean doctor, and a woman of the future in Meronym. Tom Hanks is remarkable as the tribe warrior Zachry who deals with demons and his tribe’s future while he also plays small roles as the devious Dr. Goose, a hotel manager, a thuggish writer, and a scientist who falls for Luisa.

Cloud Atlas is a spectacular film from Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis that explores the world of humanity and its many connections. While it’s not an easy film in terms of its ambition and big themes, it is still an engaging one for the way it explores these themes in such grand stories. It’s also a film that has something for everyone and isn’t afraid to take big risks while featuring an amazing collective of actors. In the end, Cloud Atlas is an extraordinary film from Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis.

The Wachowskis Films: (Bound) - (The Matrix) - (The Matrix Reloaded) - (The Matrix Revolution) - Speed Racer

Tom Tykwer Films: (Deadly Maria) - (Winter Sleepers) - Run Lola Run - (The Princess and the Warrior) - (Heaven (2002 film)) - True (2004 short) - (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) - (The International) - (Three (2010 film))

© thevoid99 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Leaves from Satan's Book




Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer and written by Dreyer and Edgar Hoyer, Blade af Satans bog (Leaves from Satan’s Book) is a loose take on Marie Corelli’s The Sorrows of Satan where Satan is cast out from Heaven as he’s sent to Earth to tempt man through four different periods in time. The film explores the world of temptation and resistance as well as faith from the perspective of Satan in this very ambitious and broad tale of humanity. Starring Helge Nissen as Satan. Blade af Satans bog is a captivating film from Carl Theodor Dreyer.

The film is essentially the story of Satan trying to do evil deeds by manipulating those to see if they can give in to temptation. Through these four different periods of time where he tests various individuals to see if they give in or not, he wonders if it will get him back to Heaven. In the course of the film, Satan serves as the instigator of these deeds to see how it would impact certain historical events by manipulating a few people to see how it would effect these key moments in history. Among these different periods are the final days of Jesus Christ, the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution where Marie Antoinette (Tenna Kraft) is to be beheaded, and the Finnish Civil War between the Communist Reds and the non-socialist Whites.

The film’s screenplay has a unique structure in which the story opens with inter-title cards to establish what Satan has to do to reduce his sentence as he remains banished for eternity. Through the words of God, if someone gives in to Satan’s temptation. A hundred years is added to the sentence. If someone resists, a thousand years is taken away from the sentence. Throughout the course of each different time period, Satan has to endure the evil deeds he has to do as he watches from afar to see people be punished or killed as those who are responsible are the ones who give in to his temptation. By disguising himself in various forms including the Grand Inquisitor, a political leader of the Revolutions, and a Reds leader. He has to see how far he can go into pushing people’s buttons.

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s direction is very mesmerizing for the way he presents the film with its unique approach to framing as well as creating scenes that revel in its imagery. Notably in the four different time periods as he recreates the Last Supper with wide shots and close-ups along with the scenes of the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution, and the Finnish Civil War. By going into these very different periods of time and in different landscapes, Dreyer gives each story the chance to establish itself through inter-title cards as well as in the scenes themselves which reveal a lot that is going on through Satan’s actions. Even as the story progresses to the point Satan himself has to come in and tell the person he had just manipulated about the implications of that person’s actions. Overall, Dreyer creates a truly hypnotic yet engrossing film about faith and temptation.

Cinematographer George Schneevoigt does superb work with the film‘s photography by using various color filters to play out many of the film‘s scenes to help create a mood and style for these very different sequences. Art directors Axel Bruun and Jens G. Lind do amazing work with the set pieces such as the look of the Last Supper, the torture room of the Inquisition, the prisons at the French Revolution, and the home of the couple in the Finnish Civil War scene. The music of Philip Carli, from its 2004 reissue, is brilliant for its piano-driven score that plays to the very different moods of the film along with a take of Les Marseilles in the French Revolution sequence.

The film’s cast is great for the ensemble that is created as it features superb performances from Halvard Hoff as Jesus and Jacob Texiere as Judas in the first segment. In the Spanish Inquisition segment, there’s terrific performances from Hallander Helleman as a don, Ebon Strandin as the don’s daughter, and Johannes Meyer as the tempted monk who joins the Inquisition. In the third segment at the French Revolution, there’s wonderful performances from Viggo Wiehe as the Count de Chambord, Emma Wiehe as the countess, Jeanne Tramcourt as their daughter, Emil Helsengreen as the People’s Commissar, Elith Pio as the count’s servant who is tempted to join the Revolution, and Tenna Kraft as Marie Antoinette.

For the fourth and final segment in the Finnish Civil War, there’s excellent performances from Clara Pontoppidan and Carlo Wieth as a couple working for the Whites, Karina Bell and Christian Nielsen as Whites soldiers, and Carl Hillebrandt as a former friend of the couple who joins the Reds. The film’s best performance goes to Helge Nissen as Satan where he takes on various disguises in his look as a man trying to test people in his quest to find some form of redemption despite the evil deeds he does as it’s a very haunting performance from Nissen.

Blade af Satans bog is an incredible film from Carl Theodor Dreyer that explores the world of faith and temptation. It’s a film that is truly relevant in its themes where it reveals a lot into the decisions that people would make that would impact historical events. It’s also a film that revels explores Satan as a person or whatever he is to unveil the kind of role he has to play in the world. In the end, Blade af Satans bog is a mesmerizing film from Carl Theodor Dreyer.

Carl Theodor Dreyer Films: (The President) - (The Parson’s Widow) - (Love One Another) - (Once Upon a Time) - (Michael (1924 film)) - (Thou Shalt Honor Thy Wife) - (Bride of Glomdal) - The Passion of Joan of Arc - Vampyr - Day of Wrath - (Two People) - (Ordet) - (Gertrud)

© thevoid99 2012

007 James Bond Marathon: Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007




Directed by Stevan Riley, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is the story of the James Bond franchise and how it was made by three men who would come up with a franchise that’s now lasted for 50 years. The documentary explores the roots of the James Bond story and how it would evolve in the many years through different actors playing Bond as well as all sorts of things that nearly derailed the franchise. The result is a truly engrossing and incredible documentary from Stevan Riley about the James Bond franchise.

The documentary explores the history of James Bond dating back to the 1940s when Ian Fleming was a naval officer working for the British government in World War II. During his time working for a newspaper and vacationing in Jamaica just as the Cold War was to start, he would write the first James Bond novel in Casino Royale that would launch the James Bond books series. Throughout the course of the film, it reveals how Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman teamed up to get the rights and create one of the great film franchises in the history of films.

With interviews by the families of Fleming, Broccoli, Saltzman, and associates that includes Christopher Lee who was a step cousin of Fleming. Also interviewed are five of the six actors who played James Bond while Sean Connery’s is only presented in archival audio and video interviews. In the course of the story, things are revealed into why Sean Connery left the franchise the first time around after You Only Live Twice and why George Lazenby only did one film. Also touched upon is the split between Broccoli and Saltzman after the release of The Man with the Golden Gun in which Saltzman sold his shares to United Artists though the two made peace when Broccoli invited Saltzman to the screening of For Your Eyes Only.

Another person that is talked about is Kevin McClory who claimed to have co-written Thunderball with Fleming and Jack Whittingham as it led to all sorts of legal troubles for many years that gave McClory the chance to make Never Say Never Again in 1983 against EON’s production of Octopussy released that same year. Broccoli’s daughter Barbara and his stepson Michael G. Wilson revealed a lot more into many of the legal issues that kept Bond out of the spotlight for six years in the early 1990s which contributed to Cubby Broccoli’s ailing health. It’s among one of the most compelling tales of the Bond franchise story as well as how they got the rights to Casino Royale in the hopes to reinvent Bond in a post 9/11 world.

Stevan Riley’s direction is brilliant for the way he tells the stories through many interviews from people who were in the franchise or were involved like production designer Ken Adam along with fans like former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Through the editing of Claire Ferguson, the film reveals a lot of rare photos and video footage of the films being made in production as well as old family movies from the Saltzman and Broccoli family of their time together during the 1960s. The actors who played Bond reveal small stories about the franchise where Pierce Brosnan revealed how he almost got the part in the mid-80s after Roger Moore’s departure but was derailed when NBC bought the rights to have Remington Steele on their network. It is among the many fun stories about the film’s franchise and it has more than enough material for Bond fans to enjoy.

Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is a phenomenal documentary from Stevan Riley that explores the history of James Bond. It is a film that Bond fans must see whether they know a lot about the franchise’s history or for those who are new to the series. It’s definitely something that serves as a great companion piece to the film’s franchise as well as reveal the story about the three men who created a franchise that is now 50 years old and is more beloved than ever. In the end, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 is a marvelous film from Stevan Riley.

James Bond Files: The EON Films: Dr. No - From Russia with Love - Goldfinger - Thunderball - You Only Live Twice - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Diamonds are Forever - Live and Let Die - The Man with the Golden Gun - The Spy Who Loved Me - Moonraker - For Your Eyes Only - Octopussy - A View to a Kill - The Living Daylights - Licence to Kill - GoldenEye - Tomorrow Never Dies - The World is Not Enough - Die Another Day - Casino Royale (2006 film) - Quantum of Solace - Skyfall

Non-EON Films: Casino Royale (Climax! TV Episode) - Casino Royale (1967 film) - Never Say Never Again

Bond Documentaries: Bond Girls are Forever - True Bond

© thevoid99 2012