Friday, November 30, 2012

The Films That I Saw: November 2012

Another month is coming to an end as the year itself is starting to wind down as well. November was a pretty good month for me despite having the flu less than a week after Thanksgiving which I’m recovering from at the moment. Yet, it had stopped me from watching some films for a bit as I needed a bit of a rest. Still, I a saw a good number of films including new movies that have come out this year which certainly helped things out. Some were great while there were a few that weren’t very good. Yet, I am getting excited for December as it’s kind of my favorite movie month.

In the month of November, I saw a total of 41 films. 28 first-timers and 13 re-watches. Down from last month in terms of re-watches but the same number as last month in term of first-timers. Some of which were short films and a few TV specials helmed by acclaimed filmmakers. A lot of which were devoted to works related to Quentin Tarantino as well as mini-marathon of the films by Samuel Fuller. Plus, there was the end of the James Bond marathon that finally culminated with the new Bond film in Skyfall. Here are the 10 best first-timers I saw this month:

1. Holy Motors

2. Rust and Bone

3. Pickpocket

4. Shock Corridor

5. Skyfall

6. The Naked Kiss

7. M

8. The Trial of Joan of Arc

9. Silver Linings Playbook

10. Simon of the Desert

Monthly Mini-Review:

Brian Eno 1971-1977: The Man Who Fell to Earth

I found this documentary on YouTube and I was always fascinated by the life and works of Brian Eno. I’m a fan of his work with Roxy Music, David Bowie, U2, David Byrne, the Talking Heads, and a few others (not fuckin’ Coldplay) as well as his solo work from his early avant-garde rock stuff to his ambient work. This documentary was certainly fascinating in terms of the kind of work Eno was doing at the time and how he would become such a pioneer in creating what would become ambient music. For me, it was something that I invested myself in watching and I just got sucked into it.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. Ghostbusters

2. The Descendants

3. True Romance

4. Scrooged

5. Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures

6. Forrest Gump

7. Nowhere Boy

8. Back to the Future Pt. III

9. Alive

10. Oscar

Well, that is it for November. In December, there will be a very busy time to watch lots of new films. Among them will be Life of Pi, Killing Them Softly, Les Miserables, and Django Unchained as well as a few others that will peak my interest. Also slated for December will be a few more related reviews of films by Stanley Kubrick that I will release to coincide with the final Auteurs essay of the year. Other films I will be seeking out are a few Roman Polanski films, two films from the Alien franchise, and whatever I come across to. I will also be announcing some plans for 2013 including my own Blind Spot list and the Most Anticipated Films list for 2013. Until then, finish whatever Thanksgiving leftovers you had left.

© thevoid99 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fear and Desire

Directed, shot, and edited by Stanley Kubrick and written by Howard Sackler, Fear and Desire is the story about a group of soldiers caught behind enemy lines as they try to evade the enemy. The film is Kubrick’s feature film debut as it explores the idea of war from the perspective of soldiers. Starring Frank Silvera, Paul Mazursky, and Kenneth Harp. Fear and Desire is a film that has a lot of potential but is hampered by a weak story.

Four soldiers have just crash-landed from their plane six miles behind enemy lines as they figure out how to evade the enemy. Leading the pack is Lt. Corby (Kenneth Harp) as he’s joined by Sgt. Mac (Frank Silvera), Pvt. Fletcher (Stephen Coit), and a young private named Sidney (Paul Mazursky). Realizing there’s a house nearby where the enemy general lives in, the men try to figure out what to do as Sgt. Mac wants to infiltrate and kill the general though Lt. Corby thinks they should hide from the enemy and get back to friendly land. On their way to safer ground, the soldiers encounter a young woman (Virginia Leith) as they capture her where Sidney has to watch while the rest go scouting. Something goes wrong forcing Lt. Corby to do something that could help them escape from the enemy.

The film is essentially the story about soldiers trying to evade the enemy behind enemy lines as they all figure out how to survive. It’s a film set in a fictional world where it is about survival. Howard Sackler’s screenplay keeps things simple but some of the characterization and situations really lets the story down as a whole. Particularly as Pvt. Sidney is a young man with mental issues as his character becomes very annoying. Then there’s the third act where the enemy is revealed where it adds a surrealistic point of view that is later followed by an overdrawn ending that is unsure how to end the film.

Stanley Kubrick’s direction does have a lot of interesting imagery in the way he frames his actors in close-ups and medium shots. Despite the lackluster screenplay he has to work with, Kubrick makes up for it with his approach to lighting in many of the scenes in the exterior along with some eerie moments in the nighttime interior and exterior setting as he serves as the film’s cinematographer as well as doing the editing and sound. While Kubrick is able to create some amazing images that he would later shape in his later work. He isn’t as successful when it comes to directing actors as some of the performances don’t translate well due to the script. Kubrick does manage to utilize a lot of stylistic approaches to editing including an attack scene and create an atmosphere with some of the sound effects. The overall work reveals a young filmmaker who is just trying to hone his craft in a film that is interesting but somewhat forgettable.

Art director Herbert Lebowitz does nice work with the few set pieces such as the houses that the soldiers encounter. The film’s music by Gerald Fried is pretty good for the sense of drama that occurs in its orchestration along with its suspenseful moments. The film’s cast is quite good for the most part as it features a very memorable performance from Virginia Leith as the silent girl captured by the soldiers. Paul Mazursky is OK as the young Pvt. Sidney though he over does it in a moment where he tries to entertain the girl. Stephen Coit is decent as the more professional Pvt. Fletcher while Frank Silvera is wonderful as the more grizzled Sgt. Mac. Kenneth Harp is really good as Lt. Corby who tries to deal with everything that is happening while ensuring that everyone makes it out alive.

Fear and Desire is a watchable but lackluster debut film from Stanley Kubrick. While the film does feature some interesting visual settings that would become part of Kubrick’s trademark as a filmmaker. It’s a film that only his fans would want to seek out to see how the young Kubrick would start out. In the end, Fear and Desire is an OK but underwhelming film from Stanley Kubrick.

Stanley Kubrick Films: 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 - The Shining - Full Metal Jacket - Eyes Wide Shut

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

© thevoid99 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Movie Alphabet

Mettel Ray of Mettel Ray Movie Blog has started a blog-a-thon to celebrate her blog. The object of the blog-a-thon is simple. From A to Z, create an alphabet about the things you love about cinema.

#-2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick's groundbreaking sci-fi masterpiece that sets a standard of what sci-fi films should be.

A-Anne Hathaway

Currently one of the best actresses working in Hollywood. Extremely talented, very beautiful, and also willing to go the extra mile to entertain and enthrall.

B-Black Swan

One of the most harrowing and chilling films about a woman on the verge of a mental breakdown in her quest for perfection.

C-Carey Mulligan

One of Britain’s great actresses that is working right now thanks to films like Drive, Shame, An Education, and Never Let Me Go.


The film that finally broke Nicolas Winding Refn into the international consciousness as well as the fact that it made Ryan Gosling a major force in acting.


The best of Lars von Trier’s Europa trilogy that explores a young man working at a train in post-World War II Germany.

F-Fish Tank

An entrancing yet provocative coming of age tale from Andrea Arnold that is harrowing but also fierce.

G-Gus Van Sant

Currently one of the best filmmakers working today whether it’s in mainstream films or experimental independent features.

H-Holy Motors

A daring tribute to cinema that subverts the idea of traditional narrative as well as a film that refuses to compromise its vision and ideas as it’s definitely one of 2012’s most outstanding films.

I-In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar-Wai’s dreamy yet heartbreaking film about two people who come together after learning their spouses having an affair as they turn to each other.

J-Jena Malone


K-Kill Bill

The ultimate revenge film.

L-Lynne Ramsay

A filmmaker that needs to make more films as the three features and short films she’s made are already an indication that she’s currently one of the best working today.

M-Marion Cotillard

A great actress who is amazing in both French and English as she can create performances that are simply unforgettable.

N-Never Let Me Go

One of the great weepies of the 2010s so far as it’s filled with evocative images and a captivating story about fates and how these poor souls had to accept it.

O-Open Your Eyes

Alejandro Amenabar’s entrancing sci-fi feature about love and death that features a radiant Penelope Cruz.

P-Pedro Almodovar

One of the great masters of cinema that is currently working as he always delivers with every new film he brings.

Q-Quentin Tarantino

A master that is among one of the best as we all hope Django Unchained is a winner.


Roman Polanski’s visually-hypnotic yet unsettling film about a woman on the verge of a breakdown that features a chilling Catherine Deneuve.

S-Sofia Coppola

My favorite filmmaker who will return with her fifth feature film The Bling Ring as I hope it will be good but I’ll maintain low expectations.

T-The Thin Red Line

Terrence Malick’s dreamy but harrowing anti-war film that is definitely one of the great films about World War II.

U-Under the Sand

Francois Ozon’s understated yet eerie film that stars Charlotte Rampling as a woman wondering about her husband’s disappearance.

V-Valhalla Rising

Nicolas Winding Refn’s dark yet entrancing film about the age of the Vikings that features a riveting yet silent performances from Mads Mikkelsen.

W-Wild at Heart

David Lynch’s Palme D’or award-winning film about a surreal road trip filled with crazed characters, deaths, and all sorts of things including Nicolas Cage in a cool snakeskin jacket.

X-Xander Berkley

One of the great character actors working today as it’s obvious that if he’s in a film, he’s always going to give a good performance no matter what role he’s playing.

Y-Y Tu Mama Tambien

Alfonso Cuaron’s evocative coming-of-age film about two young men who go on a road trip with a beautiful woman that explores the beauty of the Mexico.

Z-Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

D.A. Pennebaker’s very stylish yet rocking concert about David Bowie’s final performance as Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon.

© thevoid99 2012