Monday, September 30, 2013

Films That I Saw: September 2013




The fall season is finally beginning as it’s often the time where the really good stuff comes in. Especially as I finished the summer being a bit burned out and needed some time off. Fortunately, that time off allowed me to rest and not think about films for a while. Once I took my week off and then came back, I knew that it was going to be the start of a very serious film season as I’ve been reading a lot of what happened in Venice and Toronto. I must say that the results of what happened in Venice was disappointing as well as who they picked to win the Golden Lion while the films that played in Toronto were far more exciting as I have to thank Movie Mezzanine, Cinema Axis, Defiant Success, and Ryan @ The Matinee for making the Toronto Film Festival coverage a joy to read.

In the month of September, I saw a total of 31 films. 23 first-timers and 8 re-watches. Kind of surprising considering that I even took a week off from watching films in the first week of the month though the lack of re-watches isn’t exactly a surprise since there were a lot of films on TV that I had already seen this year as well as the first-timers I had seen earlier this year. Of course, the highlight of the month is my Blind Spot assignment in Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. Here are the 10 best first-timers I saw for September 2013:



1. Winter Light



2. Ugetsu



3. Mon Oncle



4. Sweetie



5. The World's End



6. Le Havre



7. Summer with Monika



8. Smashed



9. Osaka Elegy



10. Don Jon



Monthly Mini-Reviews:

The Campaign



I don’t mind political comedies if it’s done right but this one wasn’t very good. Especially from someone like Jay Roach who has done some very good political-based films. The problem is that it’s another typical Will Ferrell comedy where he acts all crazy and shit that we’ve seen him do so many times while Zach Galifianakis is just not funny as his opponent. In fact, I’ve never liked Zach Galifianakis. I think he’s overrated and unfunny. He’s essentially Nick Offerman without the talent or humor. The only thing that is funny is the sequence where everyone tells the truth and such.

Ted



This was definitely one of the most hilarious films I had ever seen. A guy with a talking teddy bear who curses, smokes, drinks, and do all sorts of crazy shit. I don’t watch a lot of stuff that Seth MacFarlane did but this one floored me. Notably the stuff involving Sam Jones as Flash Gordon which was a riot as well as all of the antics that Ted did. It was outrageous and quite bawdy but I had a fucking good time watching this.

Parental Guidance



I like Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, and Marisa Tomei but man, this was a terrible film. Once again, my home city of Atlanta looks like a bland-ass postcard of a city which is totally false. While the film had some interesting commentary on the idea of modernism vs. old school methods, it is handled very poorly where Billy Crystal is subjected to some very humiliating moments. Bette Midler manages to have some great moments including a scene where she tells off a Russian violin instructor yet it just ends up being another bad mess courtesy of the guy who helmed one of my most hated-films ever in You Again.

Top 8 Re-Watches:

1. Lost in Translation



2. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels



3. Les Miserables



4. Game Change



5. Contagion



6. Partysaurus Rex



7. Brave



8. Outside Providence



Well, that’s it for September as October will largely be focused on various films relating to horror, suspense, and violence to celebrate Halloween. The filmmakers I’m going to watch for that month will be from the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter, Brian de Palma, Carl Theodor Dryer, and most of all, David Cronenberg for a two-part Auteurs series on him that will be on Cinema Axis. New releases slated for October will be Gravity, Enough Said, Captain Phillips, and The Counselor along with some possible art-house releases like 12 Years a Slave and Blue is the Warmest Color. Also happening in October at the Void-Go-Round will be some material related to Nine Inch Nails as I will be seeing them on the 24th of that month at the Phillips Arena with Godspeed! You Black Emperor! Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off.

© thevoid99 2013

The Auteurs #25: Jane Campion




Considered to be one of the most influential women filmmakers around the world, Jane Campion is someone who makes films on her terms while giving voice to female characters that hadn’t been displayed in a lot of films. Matching poetic imagery with stark stories about women struggling with their identities, Campion’s work has definitely made her standout against many of her contemporaries as she is one of four women in the world of film that was nominated for the Best Director Oscar as of 2013 while being the first woman to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. While she dabbles in all sorts of genres including her most recent work in the TV miniseries Top of the Lake, Campion puts her own ideas into her work to stray away from the convention of those genres.

The rest of the piece can be read here at Cinema Axis.

© thevoid99 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Don Jon




Written, directed, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon is the story of a modern-day Don Juan who falls in love with a beautiful woman until she discovers about his addiction to pornography. The film explores a young man dealing with his addiction as well as view on women. Also starring Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, Rob Brown, and Julianne Moore. Don Jon is a witty yet fun film from Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The film is really a look into the life of a young man named Jon “Don Jon” Martello Jr. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is this very easy-going Italian-American living in New Jersey that lives a good life while being addicted to pornography. Upon meeting this beautiful woman Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), he thinks about having a real relationship with her while she gets him to try and improve himself by having him go to night classes where he meets an older woman named Esther (Julianne Moore). Barbara’s discovery about Jon’s addiction to porno has her repulsed where Esther also discovers about Jon’s addiction where she questions him about his views on women, sex, and love. Even where Jon wouldn’t just question about how he has sex with women but also what Barbara expect from him.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s script has this exploration about not just the way men view women from a sexual point of view but also what some women want in men. Notably as Barbara is this spoiled woman from New Jersey who loves bad romantic-comedies that she forces Jon to watch as she thinks these films represent the ideas of what love is. Even as Jon takes her to meet his family where it reinforces the idea of Jon finally settling down and having a family but he’s not sure if he wants that until his meetings with Esther has him realizing a lot about himself. The script doesn’t just succeed in fleshing out the many characters in the film but also play into the way women are presented to men as there’s a scene where Jon and his father (Tony Danza) watch a Carl Jr.’s commercial where a woman in a bikini is eating a fish sandwich as they’re entranced by the woman. It’s all told in a very funny manner as well as the way romantic-comedies are portrayed where it’s very obvious at how false they are where Gordon-Levitt pokes fun at the fallacy of the genre.

Gordon-Levitt’s direction is quite straightforward in terms of what he presents where he opens the film with this montage of women being used as sexual objects plus clips of porno to establish this idea of how men treat women. Even as he also maintains this idea of repetition in the way Jon lives his life where he likes to clean his apartment, drive his car, hang out with his boys, go to the gym to work out, go to church on Sundays, eat with his family, go to clubs to meet girls and later have sex with them, and end the day masturbating to porn. It all plays to the life that Jon has where he even gets Barbara to go to the gym with him but the cracks start to come in where she questions about why he talks to himself when he’s working out.

The first half is mostly a light-hearted comedy while the rom-coms that he and Barbara watch has the same kind of visual blandness that is expected in these films as well as the situations that goes on. The second half is a bit more dramatic in terms of Jon’s time with Esther yet it would be crucial to Jon’s growth as a man. Notably as Gordon-Levitt creates some unique compositions to play out the drama that would showcase Jon’s acceptance about what love is as well as what to expect from the people closest to him. Overall, Gordon-Levitt creates a very fascinating yet humorous film about a man’s addiction to pornography.

Cinematographer Thomas Kloss does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the nighttime locations of the places in New Jersey to the look of the clubs that Jon and his friends go to. Editor Lauren Zuckerman does amazing work with the editing in not just some of the inventive montages of Jon‘s daily routines but also in the way it plays to his own attempt to gain control for himself. Production designer Meghan C. Rogers, with set decorator Cindy Coburn and art director Elizabeth Cummings, does nice work with the set pieces from the look of Jon‘s apartment to the home where his family lives.

Costume designer Leah Katznelson does terrific work with the costumes from the clothes that Barbara wears to the stylish clothes that Jon would wear. Visual effects supervisor Karen E. Goulekas does some fine work with the film‘s minimal visual effects that involves one of the bad rom-coms that Barbara forces Jon to watch. Sound editor David Chrastka does superb work with the sound from the atmosphere of the clubs to the intimacy in the night classes that Jon and Esther go to. The film’s music by Nathan Johnson is wonderful for its array of folk-based and orchestral music to play up some of the humor while music supervisor John Houlihan brings a soundtrack that mostly consists of hip-hop and dance music including Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

The casting by Venus Kanani and Mary Vernieu is brilliant as it features some very funny cameo appearances from Anne Hathaway, Channing Tatum, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Meghan Good as the stars of the bad romantic comedies that Jon is forced to watch as well as Paul Ben-Victor as the voice of Jon’s local priest. Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke are terrific as Jon’s friends with the former as the more reserved Bobby and the latter as the dim-witted Danny. Brie Larson is wonderfully funny as Jon’s sister Monica who spends most of the film looking at her phone and texting where she only speaks in a key moment late in the film. Glenne Headly is amazing as Jon’s mother Angela who hopes for her son to meet a nice girl while Tony Danza is hilarious as Jon’s father who is kind of a sexist schmoe who likes to watch football games.

Julianne Moore is great as Esther as this older woman that Jon meets in night classes who questions him about his fascination with sex and pornography while she’s hiding some things of her own where Moore brings a very relaxed yet witty performance as a woman who would guide Jon to find something more. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic as Barbara as this very sexy yet vapid woman who spends half her time chewing gum and teasing Jon to get her way while proving herself to be just as shallow as he is. Finally, there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular character where he brings in this very suave yet smug Italian-American persona that is full of himself. Gordon-Levitt not only makes the character funny but also endearing as someone who appreciates the finer things in life but also someone with a problem as he is forced to come to terms with who he is where Gordon-Levitt has some great scenes with Johansson and Moore to present the depth of his character making it one of his best performances.

Don Jon is a marvelous film from Joseph Gordon-Levitt that features some excellent supporting performances from Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore. The film isn’t just a funny look into the world of porno addiction but also the way men and women view their idea of the opposite sex and what they want from that view. In the end, Don Jon is an extraordinarily entertaining film from Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

© thevoid99 2013

Anna Karenina (2012 film)




Based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina is the story of the titular socialite, who is the wife of a statesman, who begins an affair with an officer in late 19th Century Russia. Directed by Joe Wright and screenplay by Tom Stoppard, the film is a look into the life of a woman as she tries to find love only to be ruined by her affair as Keira Knightley plays the title role. Also starring Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Alicia Vikander, Matthew McFayden, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly MacDonald, Ruth Wilson, Shirley Henderson, Olivia Williams, and Emily Watson. Anna Karenina is a beautiful yet vapid film from Joe Wright.

Set in 1874 in Imperial Russia, the film is an exploration into the life of this aristocratic woman who falls for a cavalry officer where their affair becomes scandalous. Yet, the film is an exploration into many ideas of love as well as infidelity where the latter showcases a woman’s decision in being with this officer named Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Johnson) where they fall in love despite the fact that she’s married to a statesman in Count Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). Yet, Vronsky is notorious for wooing many women including Anna’s sister-in-law Kitty (Alicia Vikander) who is also pursued by Konstatin Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) who tries to deal with his ideas about true love and such. All of which is told in a very broad but messy story that doesn’t hold itself together.

Tom Stoppard’s screenplay has this narrative where there’s a lot of characters involved where it has this unique structure that would play Anna’s fall from grace. Yet, it has these other subplots involving her brother Stiva (Matthew McFayden) trying to help Levin while having his own extramarital affairs as well the stuff involving Levin. The first act explores Anna’s marriage to Count Karenin where it’s one where there’s not much communication yet there is love until Anna meets Count Vronsky. The second act is about Anna and Count Vronsky’s love affair and the scandal that it creates where Karenin becomes embarrassed. The third act is about Anna’s attempt to return to society where she is disapproved by those around her while her relationship with Vronsky starts to fall apart.

Notably as the script reveals a lot about Vronsky’s appetite for women which adds to Anna’s insecurities yet neither character become interesting as they have range of emotions that drags the story. Even as the script would shift into what Count Karenin is doing as he feels humiliated as well as the stuff about Levin who feels lost as he tries to comprehend all of the ideas of love. Notably as there’s people like Stiva’s wife Dolly (Kelly MacDonald) who isn’t sure about wanting Stiva back or Vronsky’s cousin Betsy (Ruth Wilson) whose appearances would raise questions about Vronsky’s devotion to Anna. All of which just adds to the messiness of the script as it gets to the point where there’s too many characters to follow and how important they are to the story.

Joe Wright’s direction is unique in the way he presents the story where he wants to go for something that is theatrical where most of the film is presented in a theater. A lot of which seems to play into a world that seems artificial and sort of removed from reality to portray Anna’s idea of the world where things aren’t cold and such. Even in moments of the film where some of the action takes place backstage or above the stage where people will freeze while she and Vronsky are moving. It all plays to that world where Anna and those around her seem to thrive in where there’s even a horse race that occurs on the stage where Anna is watching from the booth. It’s these moments where the idea of fantasy and reality would collide as many of the moments set in the Karenin home is a mixture of that.

There’s also moments where the fantasy is replaced by reality which plays into the Levin’s plight as he goes to the country to deal with some family matters as well as resigning to the fate that might happen to him. These are moments that are all interesting but it also adds to the confusing nature of the story where Wright wants to do both. It unfortunately creates this idea of style over substance where there’s all of this gorgeous imagery with some amazing tracking shots and moments where everything happens in one take. Yet, it doesn’t do enough to really engage the audience into the story despite its emphasis on the themes of adultery and love where its end result is a bit mixed. Overall, Wright crafts a very lavish but lifeless film about a woman’s affair that led to scandal and the loss of her identity.

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey does fantastic work with the film‘s cinematography from the gorgeous look of the exterior locations to some of the lighting in the theater stage and some of its interior settings. Editor Melanie Ann Oliver does excellent work with the editing from the use of montages and fast-cuts for the dancing scenes as well as some smooth transitions for the fantasy-reality scenes. Production designer Sarah Greenwood, with set decorator Katie Spencer and supervising art director Niall Moroney, does amazing work with the set pieces from the look of the Karenin home to the look of the stage where a lot of the action occurs.

Costume designer Jacqueline Durran does brilliant work with the costumes from the uniforms that Vronsky wears to the many dresses that many of the female characters wear including Anna. Hair/makeup designer Ivana Primorac does dazzling work with the hair/makeup to complement the different looks of the many female characters. Sound editors Craig Berkey and Becki Ponting do superb work with the sound to capture the intimacy of the theatrical settings as well as the broad sound of the scenes set at the train station. The film’s music by Dario Marianelli is spectacular for its heavy yet effective orchestral score to play out the romance and drama while also using some low-key moments and some themes for the different characters including a humorous one for Stiva.

The casting by Dixie Chassay and Jina Jay is terrific for the ensemble that was created as it features some notable small roles from Holliday Grainger as a baroness friend of Vronsky, Michelle Dockery as a friend of Anna, Shirley Henderson as a disapproving madam at a scene late in the film, Raphael Personnaz as Vronsky’s brother, Oskar McNamara as Anna and Count Karenin’s son Serhoza, Alexandra Roach as the Countess Nordstron that Vronsky tries to woo early in the film, and Emily Watson in a chilling performance as the Countess Ivanova who observes Anna’s behaviors as she would eventually tell Karenin about what is going on. Ruth Williams is wonderful as the mysterious Princess Betsy who tries to get her cousin Vronsky to steer him away from Anna while Olivia Williams is excellent as Vronsky’s mother Countess Vronskaya who is very disapproving about her son’s relationship with Anna.

Matthew McFayden is fantastic as Anna’s brother Stiva who tries to deal with the chaos in his own life while helping out Levin. Kelly MacDonald is superb as Stiva’s wife Dolly who deals with her husband’s infidelity while helping out her sister Kitty to find love. Alicia Vikander is remarkable as Kitty as a young woman who is supposed to marry Vronsky only to lose herself in a whirlwind of many prospects while being courted by the more kind Levin. Domhnall Gleeson is marvelous as Levin as a young man who is in love with Kitty only to lose her to her more revered prospects as he tries to deal with his idea of love as well as his family who are dealing with their own troubles. Jude Law is amazing as Count Karenin as a man who is devoted to his service for his country while trying to make time for his family only to learn the truth about what Anna is doing as he tries to comprehend everything as well as make some decisions about what to do for his son.

Aaron Johnson is quite bland as Count Vronsky where Johnson doesn’t do enough to make his character interesting as he spend some of his time being aloof or doe-eyed where it comes across as very uninspiring to watch. Keira Knightley is pretty terrible as the titular character as she spends some of her time either overacting in some of the dramatic moments or just underplaying where she often wears a veil and gaze. It’s a performance that doesn’t allow Knightley to really do more for the character as it has her just being sad and confused most of the time though she’s more effective in the happier moments as it’s not one of her best works.

Despite its amazing supporting cast and technical work, Anna Karenina is a very disappointing film from Joe Wright. Due to the uninspiring leading performances of Keira Knightley and Aaron Johnson as well as Joe Wright’s emphasis on style over substance and Tom Stoppard’s messy script. It’s a film that had all of the tools to be something quite grand and engaging only to end up being dull and flat. In the end, Anna Karenina is a very underwhelming film from Joe Wright.

Joe Wright Films: Pride & Prejudice (2005 film) - Atonement - The Soloist - Hanna

© thevoid99 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stereo




Written, directed, shot, and edited by David Cronenberg, Stereo is the story about a young man who takes part into a strange, telepathic experiment by a mysterious, unseen doctor. The film marks David Cronenberg’s first foray into feature films as it would showcase his unique interpretation of horror. Starring Ronald Mlodzik, Jack Messinger, Iain Ewing, Clara Mayer, and Paul Mulholland. Stereo is an intriguing yet hypnotic debut film from David Cronenberg.

The film is the simple story about the examination of a small group of telepathic people all living in an institute as part of an experiment by a mysterious yet elusive doctor. Among them is a young man who becomes a new member of the group as he communicates with various people either through sex, telepathic conversations, or oral conversations as the mysterious doctor keeps track of all that is happening. It’s a film that doesn’t have much of a plot where it’s largely told by this mysterious doctor and a woman in brief moments where they examine that is happening. Yet, David Cronenberg infuses the story with some unique narration while a lot that is happening in the film is told silently in order for the narrator to observe all of the behavior.

Cronenberg’s direction is quite unique as it’s shot in black-and-white where he serves as his own cinematographer and editor. By shooting on location at the Scarborough College in Toronto that acts as a character, Cronenberg goes for a very simple yet direct approach to the framing while using some slow camera pans to capture the location. Some of which becomes very entrancing to showcase a world that becomes discomforting as the subjects try their best to create their own rules. Cronenberg uses some slow-motion cuts to capture some of the action and emotion as well as some shaking hand-held cameras for a chase scene.

All of which plays into a world where people are trying to shake up the idea of what is right and what is wrong where Cronenberg get the actors to be very adventurous and bawdy Cronenberg also voices the mysterious doctor who makes these observations where he delves into the many activities that occur. There, it allows Cronenberg to showcase the performances of the actors playing the subject as the performances are all fun to watch. Overall, Cronenberg creates a very interesting though flawed film about a strange sociological experiment.

Stereo is a very good debut film from David Cronenberg. While its lack of plot might be frustrating for some, it does showcase some of the themes and images that Cronenberg would refine in the years to come. Notably as it showcases what was able to do in the late 1960s where he tries to push buttons. In the end, Stereo is a terrific film from David Cronenberg.

David Cronenberg Films: Crimes of the Future - Shivers - Rabid - Fast Company - The Brood - Scanners - Videodrome - The Dead Zone - The Fly (1986 film) - Dead Ringers - Naked Lunch - M Butterfly - Crash (1996 film) - eXistenZ - Spider - A History of Violence - Eastern Promises - A Dangerous Method - Cosmopolis - Maps to the Stars

The Auteurs #26: David Cronenberg: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Sea Inside


Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 2/3/10 w/ Additional Edits.



Directed by Alejandro Amenabar and written by Amenabar and Mateo Gil, Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside) is the true story about a Spanish mechanic named Ramon Sampedro who became paralyzed following a diving accident as he wishes to die. The film is an exploration of a man trying to fight the right to die in the way he wanted with the help of family and friends in a 28-year campaign. With Javier Bardem playing the role of Sampedro, the film also stars Belen Rueda, Lola Duenos, and Mabel Rivera. Mar Adentro is a beautiful yet harrowing film from Alejandro Amenabar.

It’s the late 1990s in Spain as a lawyer named Julia (Belen Rueda) is called upon by Gene` (Clara Segura) to meet Ramon Sampedro. Sampedro was a Spanish mechanic who one day, nearly died in the late 60s in a diving accident that left him paralyzed. Julia talks with Sampedro while getting to know his family including his sister-in-law/caregiver Manuela (Mabel River), his older brother Jose (Celso Bugallo), nephew Javier (Tamar Novas), and father Joaquin (Joan Dalmau). Gene` runs an organization to support euthanasia in Spain as she and her husband Marc (Francesc Garrido) is a lawyer that is also helping out. With Julia exploring Ramon’s demands to end his life but with dignity. He also reveals the things he wished he could still do without being in a paraplegic state that shows more reasons.

Hearing about the news is a woman named Rosa (Lola Duenos) who visits Ramon as she learns about his plight though isn’t sure about his reasons to die. Rosa makes visits and help things around while Julia writes a book about Ramon as during one of her visits, she collapses. It is revealed that she is dying of a disease where she was walking with a cane but now has to be on a wheelchair. With Julia now more understanding and why Ramon chose her, she takes part on his cause while a paraplegic priest in Padre Francisco (Jose Maria Pou) is making arguments against Ramon. With the Sampedro family divided over Ramon’s decision, Francisco makes a visit to the family home as the two with the help of one of Francisco’s associates (Alberto Amarilla) as their discussion comes to a standstill with Manuela angry at Padre Francisco.

With Julia’s illness worsening and Ramon having to go to a city to make his case. Everyone including Rosa helps Ramon to make his plea while he is dealing with other issues including Rosa’s own conflicted feelings about euthanasia. With Ramon’s story now published for the world to read, he makes a plan in case the court doesn’t go with his demands with the help of Rosa and his family as Ramon hopes to go out with the way he wants to leave.

Euthanasia is a subject that definitely will divide audiences on whether it should happen or not. Yet, the film isn’t entirely about euthanasia but rather a man wanting to die with dignity along with the people around him trying to deal with his wishes. Yet, affected by Ramon’s wishes to die are two women in the center of it in Julia and Rosa. Julia is a woman who is plagued by a disease that would affect her in which she would fully understand with Ramon’s wish to die. Rosa is the other side as a woman, though living through lots of hardship, is more of an optimist who is trying to understand why Ramon wants to die. Alejandro Amenabar and Mateo Gill both create a mesmerizing script with some bits of humor as the film is mostly dramatic in its tone along with a wonderful structure to tell the story.

Amenabar’s direction is definitely superb with its images of the Spanish beaches and countryside landscapes to give audiences an idea of Ramon’s own fantasy in a life where he isn’t a paraplegic. Notably some amazing scenery and sequences where the camera is flying over the beaches while the compositions of Ramon’s diving accident are shown with a sense of beauty and terror. More intimate scenes at Ramon’s home and the home of other characters are done with simple shots and camera work as Amenabar’s direction is definitely spellbinding. Even as he does his own editing to create some intense dramatic effects for the film’s highly-emotional scenes and some amazing fantasy sequences.

Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe does spectacular work with the film’s photography that is filled with lush, colorful look of the exterior scenes of the Spanish beaches and towns while at night, they’re shot with low lights. Many of the film’s interior scenes in day and night are shot with very little light to present something intimate and dark to complement the emotions of Ramon in what he’s feeling about as the cinematography is brilliant. Production designer/art director Benjamin Fernandez along with set decorator Emilio Ardura does excellent work on the film’s set designs in the home of Ramon and the farm along with the posh home of Julia and Rosa’s own simple apartment.

Costume designer Sonia Grande does some fine work with the film’s clothing which is mostly simple stuff including some pregnant-like clothing for Carla Segura’s character. Special make-up design by Jo Allen on Javier Bardem’s character in how he ages from a young man to an old man is truly magnificent in its look and feel. Sound work by editor Maria Steinberg and mixer Richard Steinberg is excellent for its atmosphere and tone for some of the film’s fantasy sequences. The music by Alejandro Amenabar himself is a mixture of huge, orchestral pieces along with Scottish-inspired music from bagpipes is wonderful. Even as he uses a soundtrack filled with pieces by Richard Wagner, Mozart, and Beethoven along with some opera pieces and traditional Spanish music.

The casting by Luis San Narciso is excellent for a slew of memorable performances including small roles from Alberto Jimenez as Julia’s husband, Federico Perez Rey as a driver, Alberto Amarilla as one of Padre Francisco’s assistants, and Francesc Garrido as Marc, a lawyer who helps plea for Ramon’s case. Jose Maria Pou is great as Padre Francisco, a paraplegic priest who tries to challenge Ramon’s wishes only to make himself look bad in front of Ramon’s family. Clara Segura is excellent as Gene`, an organizer who helps Ramon in his cause while Joan Dalmau is very good as Ramon’s father who reveals where the diving incident happened. Tamar Novas is also good as Ramon’s late teenage nephew who has a hard time doing duties for Ramon only to appreciate him later on. Celso Bugallo is brilliant as Jose, Ramon’s older brother who objects to Ramon’s wishes as he feels on how it would impact the family.

Mabel Rivera is wonderful as Manuela, Ramon’s sister-in-law and caregiver who tries to deal with all that is going on around her while being truly loyal to Ramon. Lola Duenos is superb as Rosa, a single mother who is awestruck by Ramon’s story as she becomes a devoted helper despite her conflict towards euthanasia. Belen Rueda is excellent as Julia, a lawyer who suddenly becomes ill as she starts to understand why Ramon would want to die as she also writes his story.

Finally, there’s Javier Bardem in one of his greatest performances of his career. Though he’s lying on a bed most of the time just using his head to move and carry a stick with his mouth. It’s definitely a lively performance from the famed Spanish actor who brings a lot of humor and drama to his character. Even as he is walking and moving his body in fantasy sequences. It’s definitely a marvel to watch him play a fascinating character as it truly one of Bardem’s finest roles.

Mar Adentro is an exhilarating yet mesmerizing film from Alejandro Amenabar featuring a superb performance from Javier Bardem. Audiences who love inspiring dramas without overly-sentimental messages or heavy-handed issues will enjoy this. Even as it definitely one of the best films to come from Spain for the past twenty years as it is also Amenabar’s best work as a director so far. In the end, Mar Adentro is a magnificent film from Alejandro Amenabar.

Alejandro Amenabar Films: Thesis - Open Your Eyes - The Others - Agora - Regression - The Auteurs #51: Alejandro Amenabar

© thevoid99 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Osaka Elegy




Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi and screenplay by Yoshikata Yoda from a story by Mizoguchi, Osaka Elegy is the story of a switchboard operator who finds herself in a troubling relationship with her boss while struggling to support her father. The film is an exploration into the life of a woman who feels compromised by her life as she seeks to find some form of identity. Starring Isuzu Yamada, Seiichi Takegawa, Chiyoko Okura, and Takashi Shimura. Osaka Elegy is a harrowing drama from Kenji Mizoguchi.

The film is the story about a woman who falls from grace as she works for a pharmaceutical company where she reluctantly becomes her boss’ mistress and later go into prostitution where she would disgrace her family including her debt-ridden father (Seiichi Takegawa). While it’s a plot that is quite simple, it takes its time to play into the fall of Ayako Murai (Isuzu Yamada) who is a switchboard operator trying to do her best as she needed money to help clear her father’s debt but it would come at a terrible price. Notably as she becomes compromised by her boss Mr. Asai (Yoko Umemura) who forces her to become his mistress. The script would showcase Ayako in this state of compromised as she later finds herself dealing with Asai’s wife (Benkei Shiganoya) and later become a prostitute when she realize she needs money. Even as she’s found a good prospect in a former co-worker in Nishimura (Kensaku Hara) but the truth about what she’s doing would add to her fall from grace.

Kenji Mizoguchi’s direction is very straightforward while he does infuse the film with some style such as long takes and some gazing tracking shots to play out the drama. Notably as it would play into the de-evolution of Ayako as this simple switchboard operator who feels slighted by her father and later her older brother Hiroshi (Shinpachiro Asaka) who needed money to pay for his tuition. Mizoguchi creates shots to showcase a world where women don’t feel up to measures with men. Especially as these men are selfish and at times, very foolish with an exception of sorts in Dr. Yoko (Kunio Tamura) who tries to help everyone. Still, Mizoguchi plays into the plight of Ayako where she goes from being an unhappy, compromised mistress into the world of prostitution as she becomes disgraced. Even as what happens to her isn’t entirely her fault where it plays into the cruelty men would do to a woman including the people in her own family. Overall, Mizoguchi creates a very haunting yet exhilarating film of a woman’s fall from grace.

Cinematographer Minoru Miki does excellent work with the black-and-white photography to capture the stark look of Osaka as well as the theaters and places that Ayako goes to in her journey. Editor Tatsuko Sakane does amazing work with the editing by maintaining a straightforward approach to the drama while using fade-outs to flesh out the structure. The sound work of Hisashi Kase and Yasumi Mizuguchi is terrific for capturing the atmosphere of the varied locations in the film including the intimate moments between its characters. The film’s music by Koichi Takagi is fantastic for its orchestral-based score to play up the melodrama that occurs in the film as well as to emphasize Ayako’s plight.

The film’s brilliant cast includes some small yet notable appearances from Takashi Shimura as a police investigator late in the film, Eitaro Shindo as an associate of Mr. Asai who tries to get Ayako to become his mistress, Kinuyo Tamura as the very kind yet comical Dr. Yoko, Benkei Shiganoya as Mr. Asai’s suspicious yet modern wife, and Shinpachiro Asaka as Ayako’s older brother Hiroshi. Kensaku Hara is terrific as Ayako’s co-worker Nishimura who tries to woo her only to get himself in trouble while Seiichii Takekawa is excellent as Ayako’s cruel yet debt-ridden father.

Chiyoko Okura is amazing as Ayako’s younger sister Sachiko who tries to get Ayako to return home and do right only to feel shamed by her. Yoko Umemura is great as the cruel and conniving Mr. Asai who manipulates Ayako into becoming his mistress as he ends up getting into trouble. Finally, there’s Isuzu Yamada in a radiant performance as Ayako as a young woman doing whatever she can to help her family but lose her self-respect as well as her identity in a very entrancing performance.

Osaka Elegy is a wonderful film from Kenji Mizoguchi that features an incredible leading performance from Isuzu Yamada. The film is definitely one of the most poignant yet harrowing tales of a woman being forced to make compromises on herself for others. In the end, Osaka Elegy is a marvelous film from Kenji Mizoguchi.

Kenji Mizoguchi Films: (Tokyo March) - (The Water Magician) - (Aizo Toge) - (The Downfall of Ozen) - (Sisters of the Gion) - (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums) - (The 47 Ronin) - (Utamaro and his Five Women) - (The Love of the Actress Sumako) - (Portrait of Madame Yuki) - (Miss Oyu) - (The Lady of Musashino) - The Life of Oharu - Ugetsu - (A Geisha) - Sansho the Bailiff - (The Woman in the Rumor) - (The Crucified Lovers) - (Princess Yang Kwei-Fei) - (Tales of Taira Clan) - (Street of Shame)

© thevoid99 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Smashed




Directed by James Ponsoldt and written by Ponsoldt and Susan Burke, Smashed is the story of a schoolteacher who decides to get sober as she deals with her alcoholism as well as the aspects of her troubled life including her husband who is also an alcoholic. The film is an exploration into a woman’s attempt to get sober as she also tries to deal with the world around her where her life had been driven by alcohol. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Megan Mullally, and Nick Offerman. Smashed is an extraordinary film from James Ponsoldt.

It’s a film that explores the world of a young woman whose drinking has finally gotten her to do some very dumb things where she would find herself waking up in places she doesn’t know or being hung-over in class where she actually vomited in front of her students. That moment along with other strange things forces her to confront the fact that she’s an alcoholic as she gets help from her vice-principal Dave (Nick Offerman) to go meetings as she also deals with the fact that her husband is also an alcoholic. During the course of the film, Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) tries to maintain her sobriety with help from Dave and a recovering alcoholic named Jenny (Octavia Spencer) as the latter becomes her sponsor. While Hannah’s husband Charlie (Aaron Paul) tries to be supportive, he continues to drink which causes problems into the relationship as Hannah’s need to be honest would finally cause more problems with her own life.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t have much of a plot as it’s more of a character study about this woman and her battle with alcoholism as she struggles to maintain her sobriety. Even as she admits to lying to her students by accident and later to her principal Mrs. Barnes (Megan Mullally) that she’s pregnant as she is later consumed with guilt over what she’s done. While Dave, who is also a recovering alcoholic whose been sober for nine years, is the first to notice Kate’s problems. He is also the one that offers her help while admitting to having his own issues trying to meet women which shows Kate that even maintaining sobriety is hard work. Notably as she’s forced to meet with her estranged mother (Mary Kay Place) as well as Charlie’s own drinking where she questions him about him really being supportive that would eventually cause some problems with the relationship.

James Ponsoldt’s direction is very engaging in the way he explores a woman’s struggles to becomes sober as Ponsoldt goes for a hand-held, cinema-verite style to make it feel as realistic as possible. Even as the drama gets intense that includes a scene of a drunk Kate walking to a nearby convenience store to buy alcohol at two in the morning where the clerk refuses to sell it to her because it’s against the law. Yet, a lot of the presentation is very simple in its framing as well as some scenes where Kate and Charlie ride bicycles through the city where they would be drunk early in the film. Even in the AA meetings where Ponsoldt keeps the direction very simple without the need to embellish and just keep it simple. Even as things would intensify in the course of the film where Kate struggles with her sobriety and the fact that she is an alcoholic where she realizes she needs to face up some responsibilities. Even as it would affect many parts of her life including her marriage. Overall, Ponsoldt creates a very poignant yet mesmerizing film about a woman’s struggle with alcoholism and her need to become sober.

Cinematographer Tobias Datum does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the nighttime exteriors of the locations in Los Angeles to the look of the bars and places the characters go to. Editor Suzanne Spengler does fantastic work with the editing to play up some of the chaos in the drama with some straight cuts as well as using some stylish cuts to help structure the story and create some abrupt moments. Production designer Linda Sena and art director Sarah M. Pott do nice work with the set pieces from the classroom that Kate teaches to the bars and meetings that she goes to.

Costume designer Diaz Jacobs does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual to play up the personality of the characters. Sound editor Ryan Collins does superb work with the sound to play out the atmosphere of the bars as well as the quietness of the AA meetings. The film’s music by Eric D. Johnson and Andy Cabic is wonderful as it features a largely indie-folk score to play out the drama while music supervisors Tiffany Anders and Lukas Barry bring in music that is similar to the score that includes pieces by Bill Callahan and Linda & Richard Thompson.

The casting by Kim Coleman and Avy Kaufman is brilliant for the ensemble that is created as it features some notable small performances from Kyle Gallner as Charlie’s brother Owen and Mary Kay Place as Kate’s estranged mother Rochelle. Megan Mullally is terrific as the school principal Mrs. Barnes who wonders what is going on with Kate as she think she’s pregnant until she learns the truth. Nick Offerman is excellent as Kate’s co-worker Dave who learns about her problems as he tries to help her out while revealing his own struggles in being sober. Octavia Spencer is amazing as Kate’s sponsor Jenny who helps her with being sober as well as tell her about the struggles that goes on. Aaron Paul is fantastic as Kate’s husband Charlie as a man who loves his wife as he hard time not drinking without her as he wants to be supportive but is afraid of how much she might change.

Finally, there’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a remarkable performance as Kate as a woman whose alcoholism has finally gotten out of control as she tries to be sober. Winstead’s performance is quite charming and engaging at times but also intense in the way she can act like a very crazed drunk who can be mean and confrontational. It’s definitely a performance that is unforgettable as well as a true break-out moment for Winstead.

Smashed is a phenomenal film from James Ponsoldt that features an incredible performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The film isn’t just a very realistic yet harrowing look into the world of alcoholism but also to showcase a woman’s struggle to be honest with herself and to be sober. Even as it showcases the lows that she goes through as well as deal with her husband’s own alcoholism. In the end, Smashed is a sensational film from James Ponsoldt.

James Ponsoldt Films: (Off the Black) - The Spectacular Now

© thevoid99 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ugetsu




Based on the book Ugetsu Monogatari by Ueda Akinari, Ugetsu is a ghost story that follows the follies of men who are interested in ambitious deeds as it would affect the fate of their wives. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi and screenplay by Matsutaro Kawaguchi and Yoshikata Yoda, the film is an exploration into the world of two simple men who crave for something better only to realize what they lose as it plays into the rise-and-fall scenario. Starring Mayasuki Mori, Machiko Kyo, and Kinuyo Tanaka. Ugetsu is a hypnotic yet harrowing film from Kenji Mizoguchi.

Set in the late 16th Century during a war at the Omi Province in Japan, a farmer and his friend both have ambitions to give their wives a better life as the former hopes to be rich through pottery while the latter wants to become a samurai warrior. Both men would succeed in their ambitions but at great cost as the farmer finds himself entranced by a mysterious beauty while his friend achieves greatness only to realize his foolishness when he discovers what happened to his wife. It’s a film that explores the folly of ambition during a place in time where war is happening and chaos is rampant in small villages where the instincts of many villagers is to survive and evade pirates, bandits, and rag-tag soldiers. Unfortunately, two men become blinded by ambition that they lose sight of what is important.

The film’s screenplay definitely plays to the rise-and-fall scenario where the farmer Genjuro (Masayuki Mori) is eager to give his wife Miyagi (Kinuyo Tanaka) and their son Genichi (Ikio Sawamura) a better life as he sells some things with the help of his friend Tobei (Eitaro Ozawa) where they make some good money. Genjuro’s talent in pottery has him wanting to do more as he thinks there is more money to be made in this time of war. Miyagi isn’t so sure as is Tobei’s wife Ohama (Mitsuko Mito) who reluctantly joins Tobei and Genjuro to go across the lake to a town to sell Genjuro’s pottery. That would play into the fortunes that would happen in the second act where Genjuro is entranced by the mysterious Lady Wakasa (Machiko Kyo) while Tobei’s desire to become a samurai has him taking the money he’s made into buying armor and a spear where he unknowingly kills a top general during the war. Ohama would find herself trying to find Tobei only for her fate to go bad as she becomes dishonored.

The film’s second half would unveil the fallacy of the decision these two men made where Genjuro becomes entranced by Lady Wasaka unaware of what is happening to him. Even as he starts to forget about Miyagi who is back home with their son trying to survive in their ruined village from rag-tag soldiers. While much of the second half would play into Genjuro’s time with Lady Wasaka, the story does reveal what is happening to Miyagi, Ohama, and Tobei. Most notably Tobei as he becomes a top samurai warrior where he finds out what happened to Ohama as he learns the true meaning of what it is to be a samurai warrior. Eventually, tragedy does occur as well as the realization about what is to really be rich as the script would also have this element of fantasy vs. reality in its third act as it relates to Genjuro’s journey.

Kenji Mizoguchi’s direction is very entrancing in the way he presents the story in not just his framing but also in the simplicity that he tells the story. Notably as he uses the frame to capture the beauty of the locations near Lake Biwa where Mizoguchi uses some slow tracking shots to capture the beauty of the location as well as wide shots of the towns and villages that the characters encounter. Stilll, Mizoguchi maintains a sense of drama that occurs such as the scenes of the villagers hiding in the woods where he maintains that air of suspense that is happening. Even in the scene where the two couples and Genichi are in a boat in the lake where it would play into something very ominous about what might be ahead where they do turn back only for Genjuro and Tobei to make another attempt to take that route with Ohama’s help.

Much of the film’s second half would feature some unique compositions to play out the fates of the many characters in the film. Notably as it would delve into melodrama as far as the fates of Ohama and Miyagi are concerned while Tobei’s story is a bit of a black-comedy in how he stumbles his way into greatness only to become a drama when he finds out what happened to Ohama. Then there’s Genjuro’s story where Mizoguchi maintains this air of mystique in the way he presents Genjuro’s life with Lady Wasaka where there’s a beauty to the images that plays out but it adds to something that is quite off. Notably as it would reveal into what is really going on as well as the tragedy that is to happen. Overall, Mizoguchi creates a very visceral yet poignant drama about the folly of ambition.

Cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa does amazing work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to capture the beauty of the locations while using some entrancing lighting schemes, with help from Kenichi Okamoto, to maintain that sense of brooding atmosphere at the home of Lady Wasaka. Editor Mitsuzo Miyata does excellent work with editing with the use of dissolves and transitional fade-outs to help structure the story while using some steady cuts to play out the film‘s drama. Art director Kisaku Ito does fantastic work with the set pieces from the look of the home of Lady Wasaka as well as the villages and towns the characters encounter.

The costumes by Shima Yoshimi is nice for the silk kimonos that Genjuro wants to get for Miyagi as well as the mysterious look of Lady Wasaka. Hair designer Ritsu Hanai and makeup artist Zenya Fukuyama do terrific work with the look of Lady Wasaka from her exotic makeup and hairstyle to represent the air of mystique about her. The sound work of Iwao Otani is superb for the intimacy that is created in the quieter moments along with the sounds of chaos in the scenes in the city and moments involving the soldiers. The film’s music by Fumio Hayasaka is brilliant for its ominous score with its mixture of heavy percussions and somber orchestral score blended with Japanese folk instruments to play up the melodrama and mystique in the film.

The film’s cast is remarkable as it features some notable small roles from Ryosuke Kagawa as the village chief, Ikio Sawamura as Genjuro and Miyagi’s young son Genichi, Sugisaku Aoyama as an old priest Genjuro meets late in the film, and Kikue Mori as Lady Wasaka’s aide who would play into Genjuro’s mind. Eitaro Ozawa is excellent as Tobei as a foolish man whose desire to become a samurai leads to a lot of trouble as he realizes the fallacies of his desires. Mitsuko Mito is wonderful as Tobei’s wife Ohama as a woman who tries to get Tobei to face reality only for his foolishness would get her into places that is horrific as she becomes dishonored.

Machiko Kyo is fantastic as Lady Wasaka as a woman of great beauty and mystique who definitely represents all the things that Genjuro could have but there is something about her that is off which adds a layer to Kyo’s performance. Kinuyo Tanaka is radiant as Miyagi as a woman who craves simpler things and tries to tell Genjuro that there’s no need for more as she later deals with his disappearance and face the dark reality of war. Finally, there’s Masayuki Mori in a marvelous performance as Genjuro as a man who wants to make a lot of money so his family wouldn’t be poor only to lose sight of what is really valuable when he meets Lady Wasaka as he becomes lost in a dark world.

Ugetsu is a phenomenal film from Kenji Mizoguchi that features top-notch performances from Masayuki Mori, Kinuyo Tanaka, and Machiko Kyo. The film is definitely an engrossing yet touching film about the folly of ambition as well as an exploration into how women become lost by the ambition of men. Especially as it takes a simple ghost fable into something more where it is presented in a troubling period in time when people are desperate to do good and escape poverty. In the end, Ugetsu is a spectacular film from Kenji Mizoguchi.

Kenji Mizoguchi Films: (Tokyo March) - (The Water Magician) - (Aizo Toge) - (The Downfall of Ozen) - Osaka Elegy - (Sisters of the Gion) - (The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums) - (The 47 Ronin) - (Utamaro and his Five Women) - (The Love of the Actress Sumako) - (Portrait of Madame Yuki) - (Miss Oyu) - (The Lady of Musashino) - The Life of Oharu - (A Geisha) - Sansho the Bailiff - (The Woman in the Rumor) - (The Crucified Lovers) - (Princess Yang Kwei-Fei) - (Tales of Taira Clan) - (Street of Shame)

© thevoid99 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

2013 Blind Spot Series: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul




Written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Angst essen seele auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) is the story of an Arab worker who meets a lonely widow in Germany as they fall in love much to the shock of family and friends. The film is a melodramatic look into two people falling in love despite the ethnic tension that was happening in early 1970s West Germany. Starring Brigitte Mira, El Hedi Ben Salem, Barbara Valentin, and Irm Hermann. Angst essen seele auf is a ravishing yet captivating film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

The film’s premise is very simple as it is this simple love story between a middle-aged German widow who meets a young Arab worker at a bar where they chat, dance, and fall in love. The relationship shocks not just friends of the woman including her fellow tenants in the apartment she lives but her three adult children are also in shock by this relationship. Notably as there’s tension towards Arabs over what happened at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich as many disapprove of the relationship which takes a toll on Emmi (Brigitte Mira) yet Ali (El Hedi Ben Salem) assures her that things will be OK. It’s a film that explores a relationship that just happens where many are surprised as well as disgusted by this union between a middle-aged German widow and a Moroccan in his 30s. Yet, it’s something that couldn’t be explained as Rainer Werner Fassbinder creates a story that is about this taboo relationship being told during a time where there is this ethnic tension emerging.

Fassbinder’s screenplay does have a very simple and traditional three-act structure in the way he develops the relationship between Emmi and Ali. The first act is about how they’ve met on one rainy night in Munich where they chat, dance, and he later accompanies her to her apartment where they fall in love. The news about the relationship shocks Emmi’s neighbors and co-workers as well as her daughter Krista (Irm Hermann) who is the first to hear about the news. The second act is about Emmi and Ali’s marriage and the reaction from family and friends where both of them endure prejudice. Ali is either ignored or treated with disdain while Emmi finds herself having to stand up for Ali to her friends and family who would ignore or sneer at her prompting her to act out. The third act would play into elements of the relationship where Emmi tries to get herself in the back of the good graces of her friends yet would alienate Ali in the process as it would start to affect the relationship.

It’s not just the structure of the script that is unique but also the way the characters are portrayed as Emmi is this woman who is old-fashioned but very lonely as she stumbles into this bar. She is intrigued by Ali’s kindness as she treats him in a very maternal manner and is eager to treat him with respect despite the prejudice she faces. Ali is a very sensitive yet quiet individual who speaks broken German yet he manages to deal with adversity in a very nonchalant way as he holds his head high and know it will pass. It would play into the complexity of their relationship until the third act as he’s being ordered to do things in the house and not treated kindly only for Emmi to realize how much she really needs him.

Fassbinder’s direction is definitely mesmerizing in the way he frames his actors into a shot and how he presents the melodrama. A lot of the melodrama is definitely inspired by Douglas Sirk as Fassbinder isn’t afraid to let the emotions play out that includes this very great scene where Emmi and Ali are all alone in a restaurant while waiters and other staff members are looking at them from a far. Emmi realizes how alone she feels as she starts insulting them as she’s still sitting at her table while Ali holds her hands where Fassbinder does a lot with so little to present these dramatic moments. Even as he would maintain some intimacy in these melodramatic moments that includes the scene where Emmi introduces Ali to her adult children where it’s about the framing and how the camera pans to capture the reaction of each of Ali’s children including her son-in-law Eugen (Rainer Werner Fassbinder).

The direction also has Fassbinder taking on some unique framing devices like the way he puts characters in the middle of a door frame or how they’re presented in a staircase. A lot of it is from afar where Fassbinder reveals a lot of what is happening though there isn’t much dialogue. Even as it would be prevalent in the third act as Ali seeks to find some companionship with the bartender Barbara (Barbara Valentin) who would make couscous for him when Emmi doesn’t want to. The framing devices of Fassbinder are quite entrancing as it would help amp up the melodrama where he doesn’t need to do any camera movements and such. Overall, Fassbinder creates a very sensitive yet visceral melodrama about a love affair between two people that is considered taboo by those watching from afar.

Cinematographer Jurgen Jurges does incredible work with the film‘s very colorful cinematography from the look of the exteriors in the city of Munich in the daytime to some of the interior scenes including the bar where Emmi meets Ali. Editor Thea Eymesz does amazing work with the editing as it is quite straightforward while emphasizing on slow yet methodical cuts to play out some of the drama that occurs. The sound work of Fritz Muller-Scherz is excellent for its sound as some of it is intimate in the way the drama plays out while it also captures some of the great moments in the film involving the music as it features some Arabian style as well as classical and old-school German pop music.

The film’s cast is brilliant for the ensemble that is created as it includes appearances from Gusti Kreissl and Elisabeth Bertram as co-workers of Emmi, Walter Sedlmayr and Doris Mattes as a couple of grocers Emmi always shopped at, Katharina Herberg as a woman at the bar who likes to flirt with Ali, Marquard Bohm as the landlord’s kind son, Karl Scheydt as Emmi’s eldest son Albert, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder as Emmi’s very prejudice and lazy son-in-law. Irm Hermann is terrific as Emmi’s daughter Krista who is aghast by the news of her mother’s new lover while Barbara Valentin is wonderful as the bartender Barbara who acts as a secret companion for Ali as she also serves drinks to Emmi.

El Hedi Ben Salem is fantastic as Ali as a man who is intrigued by Emmi as he becomes her confidant as he helps her out as well while dealing with some of the prejudice he faces. Finally, there’s Brigitte Mira in a radiant performance as Emmi as a middle-aged widow who finds comfort in Ali as she falls for him where she treats him maternally while being his supporting when people criticize the relationship. The two together have great chemistry in the way they act as a couple as well as the sense of distance they create in the film’s third act as they’re the heart and soul of the film.

Angst essen seele auf is a magnificent film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder that features sensational performances from El Hedi Ben Salem and Brigitte Mira. The film is definitely one of the most compelling love stories in film where two different people face prejudices in their relationship as well deal with other forces. The film also showcases Fassbinder’s very sensitive portrayal into the world of melodrama told during a crucial time for Germany. In the end, Angst essen seele auf is a remarkable film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder Films: (Love is Colder Than Death) - (Katzelmacher) - (Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?) - (Rio das Mortes) - (The American Soldier) - (Whity) - (Beware of a Holy Whore) - (The Merchant of Four Seasons) - The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant - World on a Wire - (Martha (1974 film)) - (Effi Briest) - (Fox and His Friends) - (Mother Kuster’s Trip to Heaven) - (Chinese Roulette) - (Germany in Autumn) - (Despair) - (In a Year of 13 Moons) - (The Marriage of Maria Braun) - (Third Generation) - (Berlin Alexanderplatz) - (Lili Marleen) - (Lola (1981 film)) - (Veronika Voss) - (Querelle)

© thevoid99 2013