Saturday, October 31, 2015
Well, I will have to say that 2015 isn’t a good year. I missed out on a lot of films. I found myself not having money some of the time and things weren’t going so great. Then on October 9, my dog Prissy passed away having been in my family for 16-17 years via natural causes. The past several months have been difficult as myself and my parents had to clean up some of the mess she did while dealing with the fact that she was becoming blind. The last night was pretty bad as we all heard her howling in pain as we tried to comfort her as she was lying on a comforter in the kitchen. Then in the morning, the inevitable happened as my parents put her in a box and sent her to an animal mortuary. It is a total bummer as my own cat Smokey is trying to adjust to it while the family agreed that we’re not getting another dog for a very long time. At least I know my dog is up in heaven with my sister Cynthia who died six years ago as they’re probably playing with my maternal grandmother who died four years ago.
In the month of October, I saw a total of 37 films in 26 first-timers and 11 re-watches. More than last month as I would say this one was the most fun I had in terms of the films I saw. The biggest highlight of the month has been my Blind Spot assignment in Suspiria. Here are the top 10 First-Timers that I saw in October 2015:
2. Dressed to Kill
3. Dial M for Murder
4. Steve Jobs
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
6. Escape from New York
7. To Catch a Thief
9. In the Mouth of Madness
10. Crimson Peak
HBO and its other channels have been showing a lot of the DC Comics animation films lately as I managed to watch this one. I thought it was pretty good as it revolved around Superman and Batman dealing with the new arrival in Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El who would later become Supergirl. It’s an engaging and adventurous animated film that has something fans of the heroes as well as fans of Wonder Woman will enjoy. Even as it features scenes of Kara trying to adjust to her new environment with the aid of Superman as Clark Kent.
Horrible Bosses 2
I thought the first film was alright but this one isn’t so good. It’s not funny at all. In fact, Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day are even dumber in this film than in the first one. The only people who really put in any effort to do anything are Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, and Chris Pine as Pine is actually the most interesting one of them all. Other than that, it was just boring to watch as it just rehashes everything that went on in the first film but it’s just lazy and idiotic.
Just Before I Go
Courtney Cox definitely shows her chops here as a filmmaker as she makes a film that is actually quite engaging. It’s revolves around a man who returns to his hometown to settle some scores before he decides to kill himself as Seann William Scott shows that he has a lot more to offer than being known as Stifler. Adding to his engaging performance is a brilliant supporting turn from Olivia Thirlby as the granddaughter of one of his former nemesis. It’s got some quirks and such while it also plays into some of things people deal with in life. While it is flawed, it is worth checking out not just for its story but also its cast including Scott and Thirlby.
Top 10 Re-Watches:
3. Blow Out
4. The Others
7. Raising Cain
10. Rugrats in Paris
Well, that is all for October. Next month will be a return to more diverse films as films by Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, Mira Nair, Powell & Pressburger, and the entire The Decline of Western Civilization trilogy by Penelope Spheeris. Also coming in November aside from theatrical releases like SPECTRE, The Good Dinosaur, and The Peanuts Movie will be a list of films that I hope will go to the Criterion Collection next year or soon. My upcoming Auteurs pieces on David Lynch is still in the works as I will do more work on his short films, music videos, and a couple more of his features while the Twin Peaks marathon I think is likely to continue through December in which I hope to finish by the end of the year. Until then, Happy Halloween.
© thevoid99 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Hooper and Kim Henkel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the story of a group of friends who are traveling to a homestead where they encounter a group of cannibals with chainsaws. The film is a look into a part of Texas that is culturally neglected where a group of young people make a wrong turn that would be one they never wished they took part in. Starring Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, Teri McMinn, and narration by John Larroquette. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a wild yet exhilarating film from Tobe Hooper.
The film is a simple story about a group of friends driving through Texas where they would encounter some strange people including a hitchhiker and an old man where they stop by a house where nearby is a home inhabited with crazed cannibals. While it is a film that has a very simple premise, it plays into a world where a lot of crazy things is happening as there is constant radio reports about death in the country where these five people are just trying to escape from all of that. Still, they also want to deal with some strange things that had happened as it relates to some grave robbing as the young woman Sally (Marilyn Burns) wants to know the vandalism in her grandfather’s grave.
The film’s screenplay by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel doesn’t rely on a lot of plot points nor any real kind of social commentary but rather keep it simple into what is happening. It starts off as this road trip of five people wanting to go to an old house to have a good time but the journey starts off strange where they pick up a crazed hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) which doesn’t go off very well. After stopping at a gas station that has no gas but barbeque, they arrive at the house where they hope to have fun but it’s a decayed place with some strange things. When two of them went searching for a watering hole, they come across this house where things go wrong and sets the tone for what is to come. Even as it relates to a mysterious figure wearing a mask and carrying a chainsaw by the name of Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen).
Hooper’s direction is quite mesmerizing considering not just some of the locations he uses around Texas but also for the intimacy it has in some of the scenes in the vans and places that the characters go to. Shot largely on hand-held cameras with some low-grade film stock, the film does manage to have a sense of beauty in its look while it’s not afraid to look grimy in some parts as it play to some of the scenes set in the van. While Hooper does use some wide and medium shots for some scenes outside of the house, it is his close-ups that are very interesting such as the film’s climax that involves Sally, Leatherface, and some of his companions. The sense of horror is quite graphic as well as containing some very dark-comical elements that play into this world of crazed individuals who are cut off from traditional society as the hitchhiker is someone who hates the way animals are killed for food as opposed the way things used to be. Overall, Hooper creates a very harrowing yet thrilling film about a group of young people who have an unfortunate encounter with crazed cannibals.
Cinematographer Daniel Pearl does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of natural lights for some of the exteriors including some low-key lights for scenes set at night including a terrifying chase scene. Editors Larry Carroll and Sallye Richardson do fantastic work with the editing to create some eerie moments in some of the horror that occurs as well as some straightforward cutting to build up the suspense and drama. Art director Robert A. Burns does nice work with the look of the mysterious house Leatherface lives in as it’s filled with bones and all sorts of macabre imagery that play into this stench of death.
The makeup work by W.E. Barnes and Dorothy J. Pearl is brilliant not just for the look of Leatherface‘s mask but also the look of the character itself as it‘s one of the most menacing and crazed characters ever created in horror. The sound work of Wayne Bell and Ted Nicolau is superb for the naturalistic tone of the sound in some scenes as well as the heightened sounds of the generators and chainsaws that play into the sense of terror. The film’s music by Tobe Hooper and Wayne Bell is amazing with its usage of music textures in terms of atmosphere with some unique instruments as well as some eerie string music for the sense of terror as the music would also include some country music in the background.
The film’s brilliant cast include some notable small roles from John Dugan as Leatherface’s grandfather, Jim Siedow as a proprietor who runs a gas station/barbeque house, and Gunnar Hansen in a fantastic performance as Leatherface where doesn’t say much but rather lets his hammer and chainsaw do the talking. Edwin Neal is terrific as the very crazed hitchhiker who freaks out the young people by cutting himself with a knife and comments on butchering as it’s a fun performance to watch. William Vail is superb as the fun-loving Kirk while Teri McMinn is wonderful as his girlfriend in the astrological-loving Pam as they both would be the first to encounter the house where Leatherface lives in. Allen Danziger is excellent as the nerdy Jerry while Paul A. Partain is amazing as Sally’s paraplegic brother Franklin who tries to cope with what is going on. Finally, there’s Marilyn Burns in a phenomenal performance as Sally as a young woman is traveling with her friends to her grandparents home as she deals with all of the chaos as she later becomes entrapped into the world of Leatherface and his family.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a remarkable film from Tobe Hooper. Not only is it a scary and grimy film that isn’t afraid to be dirty but it’s also a fun one that doesn’t just play with traditional horror schematics. It’s also a film that plays into what happens when a group of young people come across some cannibals including one who just loves carrying a chainsaw. In the end, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a sensational film from Tobe Hooper.
Tobe Hooper Films: (Eggshells) - (Eaten Alive) - (Salem’s Lot) - (The Funhouse) - (Poltergeist) - Lifeforce - (Invaders from Mars) - (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) - (Spontaneous Combustion) - (I’m Dangerous Tonight) - (Night Terrors) - Body Bags - (The Mangler) - (The Apartment Complex) - (Crocodile (2000 film)) - (Toolbox Murders) - (Mortuary) - (Djinn)
© thevoid99 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Written, scored, and directed by Alejandro Amenabar, The Others is the story of a woman who lives in a remote home with her two children as they deal a series of odd events as it relates to the people coming into their home. The film is an unconventional haunted house film which relates to a woman and her children, who are sensitive to sunlight, as they ponder what is happening around them as well as those who had died in their home. Starring Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Elaine Cassidy, Eric Sykes, Alakina Mann, and James Bentley. The Others is a spellbinding yet eerie film from Alejandro Amenabar.
Set in the aftermath of World War II at a remote country estate in Jersey in Britain, the film revolves a devout Catholic woman who lives with her two photosensitive children as they hired a new staff at the home where they all deal with some strange things that are happening in the house. It’s a haunted house film that plays into a woman not just dealing with these strange events but doing whatever it takes to protect her children from sunlight. Still, it is no match for these strange events that are happening as the children claim that there’s ghosts in the house. Alejandro Amenabar’s screenplay not only explores the attempt by Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) to shield her children from the light as well as questions about the outside world. She also hopes to instill Roman Catholic faith into them so they can be protected from evil but it’s not enough to deal with the ghosts.
While Grace’s new maid Mrs. Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan) knows something is up, she tries assure Grace that nothing serious is happening. Once the story progresses, it is clear that Mills along with the gardener Edmund Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and a young mute named Lydia (Elaine Cassidy) know something that Grace doesn’t know. Even as it alludes to why Grace’s husband Charles (Christopher Eccleston) hasn’t returned from the war. Amenabar’s script also play into the ideas of life after death where Grace’s children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) wonder about their father as well as the surroundings around them. While Anne is convinced that something is haunting them, Grace doesn’t believe it at first until a key moment as it play to who are the people inhabiting the house.
Amenabar’s direction doesn’t play to a lot of the conventions that is often expected in horror or in suspense-dramas. Yet, it does maintain an atmosphere of what is going on in the way Amenabar builds up the suspense while creating something that is dramatic with bits of humor. Amenabar’s direction would infuse some gorgeous imagery into his compositions from his usage close-ups and medium shots to play up the intimacy of the home as well as some unique tracking shots and camera angles to play into the home itself. The way Amenabar would move the camera for certain scenes such as the sounds of children crying and other things which helps play into Grace’s own suspicions and need to tend to her children. Though much of the film is set in Britain, some of the exteriors is shot in Northern Spain as it help plays into the world of the unknown in a sequence where Grace tries to walk to the church miles away.
The direction would also have some eerie moments that blur the lines between what is real and what is not where adding to that air of suspense is Amenabar’s score. While it is largely an orchestral score with string arrangements and a few piano pieces, it help plays into the drama while knowing how to build up the suspense and sense of terror. By the time the film reaches its third act, the terror does reach its apex as well as an astonishing reveal that does add a new tone to the film. Especially as it relate to not just the theme of death but also the concept of the afterlife and eternity. Overall, Amenabar creates a mesmerizing yet intoxicating film about a woman trying to protect her children from ghosts in her home.
Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography for its usage of natural lighting as well as low-key lighting for many of the interior scenes to help play up the lack of sunlight as well as scenes with sunlight as it is one of the film‘s major highlights. Editor Nacho Ruiz Capillas does excellent work with the editing as a lot of it is straightforward with some stylish cuts to play up the drama as well as the suspenseful moments. Production designer Benjamin Fernandez, with set decorators Emilio Ardura and Elli Griff, do amazing work with the look of the sets from the hallways as well as the rooms in the house to play up something that feels like a world that is old as well as out of step with the times.
Costume designer Sonia Grande does fantastic work with the costumes as many of the clothes the characters wear don’t showcase much color as it plays to the look of the film. Visual effects supervisor Felix Berges does nice work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects as it relates to some key moments in the film‘s third act. Sound designer Isabel Diaz Cassou does superb work with the sound to help create an atmosphere for what goes on at the house where it helps play into the suspense as well as some scenes that heighten up that sense of terror.
The casting by Shaheen Baig and Jina Jay is incredible as it features some notable small roles from Keith Allen, Michelle Fairley, Renee Asherson, and Alexander Vince as a group of people who could be the ghosts that are haunting the house. Elaine Cassidy is wonderful as the mute young maid Lydia who is always suspected of doing something while Grace wonders what made her mute in the first place. Eric Sykes is terrific as the gardener Edmund Tuttle as a man who always work outside while also helping Mills do some cover-up into what is really going on. Christopher Eccleston is excellent as Grace’s husband Charles who is missing from the family as he only appears briefly to serve as the one thing Grace is hoping for in her sheltered existence.
James Bentley and Alakina Mann are fantastic in their respective roles as Nicholas and Anne as the two children who deal with ghosts with Bentley as the younger of the two who is more scared over what is happening while Mann provides a showier role as someone who knows what is going on but is also just as scared. Fionnula Flanagan is amazing as Mrs. Bertha Mills as the new head maid of the house who knows a lot about the house as she also knows its secrets which she conceals from Grace. Finally, there’s Nicole Kidman in a remarkable performance as Grace Stewart as this very religious woman who is trying to protect her children at any cost as well as ponder the fate of her husband as it’s a performance of power but also terror where Kidman brings a lot of anguish into the performance which is one of her best.
The Others is a phenomenal film from Alejandro Amenabar that features a great performance from Nicole Kidman. Along with a brilliant ensemble cast as well as an engaging story, a fantastic score, and beautiful visuals. The film isn’t just a riveting haunted house film but also a fascinating study on the concepts of death and faith. In the end, The Others is a spectacular film from Alejandro Amenabar.
Alejandro Amenabar Films: Thesis - Open Your Eyes - The Sea Inside - Agora - Regression - The Auteurs #51: Alejandro Amenabar
© thevoid99 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Throughout his illustrious career in the world of film, television, art, and music, David Lynch is someone that is the true definition of an artist. While he is largely known for his work in feature films, the man has also carved a very solid career in the world of short and experimental films. His work in shorts have spanned for more than half a century as it is clear why he is so lauded by many as one of the finest filmmakers in the world.
Part 1 (1966-1995)
Six Men Getting Sick
The first short that Lynch did is a forty-second animated loop about six men getting sick as they throw up as it features images that are strange which would play into the many things Lynch would do in the coming years. While it’s a simple student film that cost about $200 back in 1966, the sense of imagination is very prominent as Lynch’s approach to editing and shooting style is just incredible for someone who was just starting out in the world of film.
Sailing with Bushnell Keeler
One of Lynch's early short films is essentially a homage to his mentor Bushnell Keeler as it play into a sailboat trip with Keeler and Keeler's brother Dave. While it doesn't feature many of the surreal nor offbeat aspects that Lynch is known for. It does play into something simple though Lynch claims it's really just a home film that is a tribute to his mentor.
Absurd Encounter with Fear
The first of two short films Lynch made in 1967 showcases Lynch playing around with an emerging sub-genre in the world of horror which involves the living dead. It revolves around a zombie walking down a hill as if he’s about to stalk a young woman as he pulls something out of the fly of his pants. What happens is probably one of the most odd short films ever created but it also shows Lynch’s very warped idea of humor.
Fictitious Anacin Commercial
The second of two short films Lynch made in 1967 would be in the form of a commercial for Anacin. Yet, it is played with a sense of kitsch where it starts out being very dark until this young makes the Anacin and feels great. It’s another example of Lynch playing around with the ideas of commercial as it is clear that the 60s were a very weird time.
The four-minute short film Lynch made in 1968 is a combination of live-action and animation as it relates to a young girl having a nightmare involving the alphabets. The girl, played by Lynch’s then-wife Peggy, would be haunted by learning the alphabets as it’s this strange mixture of fear and innocence as Lynch find ways to combine these two elements in both animated and live-action. It’s a short that would be very inventive as it would give Lynch a grant from the American Film Institute as it’s another of one of his finest shorts.
The 34-minute short film Lynch made in 1970 at a budget of $7,200 as it is a mixture of live-action and animation in this story about an abused boy who finds seeds and hopes to grow a grandmother to protect him. It’s a short that is just very imaginative as well as relying music and sound effects to help tell the story rather than dialogue. It’s a short that has elements of mime in the performance of the actors but also a lot more as it features images of a boy growing a tree on a bed along with repeated images of him wetting the bed and getting beaten up by his father. Relying on black-and-white and color photography plus animation that is sort of reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s work with Monty Python. It’s definitely a short that is quintessential Lynch.
The Amputee (versions 1 & 2)
Made in 1974 for the American Film Institute, the short was made during the production of Eraserhead where Lynch and cinematographer Frederick Elmes were both experimenting with black-and-white video stock. Written with Catherine Coulson (who would be known more as the Log Lady in Twin Peaks), the short revolves around an amputated woman (Coulson) writing a letter while a nurse (Lynch) is changing her bandages. The differences between the two shorts as the first one is timed at five minutes and the second is at four is that the former has a crispier look where it’s darker in its photography while the latter is a bit more polished with some blurs. Both are shot in one take in an entire static shot as it’s a very weird yet compelling short from Lynch.
The Cowboy and the Frenchman
The 26-minute short that stars Harry Dean Stanton, Jack Nance, and Frederic Golchan was made for the French TV series The French as Seen By… that would feature shorts by Werner Herzog, Andrejz Wajda, Luigi Comenichi, and Jean-Luc Godard. It’s a very humorous short film that is set in the American West where a nearly-deaf cowboy (Stanton) asks his fellow cowboys to see what is coming down as it is this Frenchman (Frederic Golchan). Thus, a strange mix of culture clash and confusion looms as this cowboy wonders what this Frenchman is about where he and his buddies look into the Frenchman’s luggage and sees things that are foreign to them. However, the two different men would find common ground in all sorts of things which goes to show that even the biggest differences can bring people together.
Industrial Symphony Vol. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted
On November 10, 1989 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City, Lynch did a stage presentation of an experimental play based on complex mosaic geometric shapes that he did during his days at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. Starring Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Michael J. Anderson, and vocalist Julee Cruise, the fifty-minute short that Lynch released a year later would have a lot of references to projects Lynch would do in 1990 such as Wild at Heart and the TV show Twin Peaks. With a stage set looking like a factory, it’s a strange avant-garde mix of musical performance with drama, exotic dancing, horror, and all sorts of things with music by Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti. It’s one of Lynch’s most oddest film pieces but certainly a fascinating one thanks in part to the music and stage setting.
Premonitions Following an Evil Deed
The fifty-two second short film made in 1995 as part of the anthology film Lumiere and Company is a celebration of the works of the Lumiere Brothers where forty filmmakers would create a short no longer than fifty-two seconds with no synchronized sound and no more than three takes where they would use the original Cinematograph camera invented by the Lumiere Brothers. The short revolves around the death of a young woman where the police tells her parents about their daughter as it features some surreal imagery that is definitely in tune with what Lynch does as a filmmaker.
(End of Part 1)
David Lynch Films: Eraserhead - The Elephant Man - Dune - Blue Velvet - Wild at Heart - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me - Lost Highway - The Straight Story - Mulholland Dr. - INLAND EMPIRE
The Short Films of David Lynch Pt. 2 - The Music Videos of David Lynch
The Auteurs #50: David Lynch: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 - Pt. 4
© thevoid99 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi and screenplay by Chiho Katsura from a story by Chigumi Obayashi, Hausu (House) is the story of a schoolgirl who goes to her ailing aunt’s country home with six schoolmates where they encounter strange and supernatural beings. The film is a surreal yet haunting take on the world of the haunted house as it mixes elements of the absurd and dark humor. Starring Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Oba, Ai Matubara, Mieko Sato, Eriko Tanaka, Masayo Miyako, and Yoko Minamida. Hausu is an absolutely absurd and extremely fucked-up film from Nobuhiko Obayashi.
The film revolves around a young student who brings her six schoolmates for a trip at the country home of her aunt just before summer vacation is to begin. Yet, something strange goes on at the house where a lot of scary and weird things happen as the girls try to figure out what the hell is going. It’s essentially a haunted house story where a group of young women go there to have fun but things become troubling. Even as the young girl named Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) was the one who suggested in going to her aunt’s house to cope with her father’s news that he just married someone who would become her step-mother. Needing to get away from this sudden news, Gorgeous and her friends visit her aunt (Yoko Minamida) whom she hadn’t seen in years as they’re invited. Once the story progresses, things do get weirder as it goes on as well as some background on why this house is haunted. Since it is a horror film, the film does involve itself in a traditional formula where characters do get killed off one-by-one yet it’s done in very inventive ways.
Nobuhiko Obayashi’s direction is definitely off-the-wall as it doesn’t start out nor does it feel like a horror film at first. Instead, he creates something where it is this world that is completely artificial from the backdrops of skylines, colorful backdrops, and all sorts of things that feels like a Hollywood movie set in Japan. There are also these moments that are very playful where Obayashi doesn’t set things out to create a horror film at first instance which includes homage to silent films, war movies, and all sorts of things which play into the story of Gorgeous’ aunt. Once Gorgeous and her friends arrive at the house, the sense of whimsy still occurs in the film but it would eventually take a darker turn as it moves into areas that are surreal and absurd.
With its usage of close-ups and medium shots as well as some stylish camera angles, Obayashi maintains an intimacy of what is going on yet would create these moments that are scary but has an air of dark humor to it. Notably in the way some of the characters are killed off as well as the involvement of this white cat which Gorgeous found earlier in the film but is unaware of what kind of power the cat has. There is also that sense of mystique in the house itself while the visual effects that Obayashi creates definitely look and feel fake. It doesn’t deter from what it wants to do where it knows it doesn’t look great while it has that odd approach to dark humor which makes it funnier in the way the characters get killed and such. Even in the way it ends where it has this odd idea of innocence that is mixed in with terror. Overall, Obayashi creates an absolutely mind-fuck of a film where a group of girls go to a house unaware that it’s haunted.
Cinematographer Yoshitaka Sakamoto does brilliant work with the film‘s very colorful cinematography with its approach to lighting styles for some of the interior settings in day and night as well as play up some of the artificial elements for some of its exterior scenes. Editor Nobuo Ogawa does amazing work with the editing as it is very stylish with its usage of jump-cuts, slow-motion, frame-speeds, split-screens, and other elements to play up its offbeat approach to humor and horror. Production designer Kazuo Satsuya does excellent work with the look of the haunted house in its many rooms as well as some of the backdrops that just add this warped sense of artificiality to the film.
Sound designer Shohei Hayashi does fantastic work with the sound in creating weird sound effects as well as play into the atmosphere of the house itself. The film’s music by Asei Kobayashi and Mickie Yoshino with performance by Godiego is superb for its mixture of piano-based pieces that includes the film‘s theme which is somber and eerie to very off-kilter pieces that ranges from rock, disco, and folk that Godiego would provide as it would be intense as well as dreamy to play into whatever the film‘s tone is.
The film’s incredible cast includes some notable small roles from Saho Sasazawa as Gorgeous’ father, Ryoko Ema as Gorgeous’ new stepmother, and Kiyohiko Ozaki as a school teacher that was supposed to accompany the girls to the house where he ends up in a series of comical misfortunes. Yoko Minamida is excellent as Gorgeous’ aunt as this old woman who used to be a piano teacher as she lives alone where she invites the girls into her home while being very weird around them. In the roles of the six of seven girls, there’s amazing performances from Masayo Miyako as the clean and helpful Sweet, Eriko Tanaka as the musically-gifted Melody, Mieko Sato as the food-loving Mac, Ai Matubara as the brainy Prof, Miki Jinbo as the athletic and martial-arts fanatic Kung Fu, and Kumiko Oba as the innocent Fantasy. Finally, there’s Kimiko Ikegami in a brilliant performance as Gorgeous as this young woman who is coping with the change in her family life as she goes to her aunt with her friends for a good time only for things to get very weird upon meeting her ailing aunt.
Hausu is a wild and magnificent film from Nobuhiko Obayashi. Armed with a great cast, gorgeous visuals, a compelling premise, and some very odd visual effects. The film is truly unlike anything as it’s not afraid of being ridiculous as well as just being weird for the sake of being weird. In the end, Hausu is a phenomenal film from Nobuhiko Obayashi.
Nobuhiko Obayashi Films: (Furimukeba Ai) - (Exchange Students) - (The Girl Who Lept Through Time) - (Lonely Heart) - (His Motorbike, Her Island) - (The Drifting Classroom) - (The Discarnates) - (Chizuko’s Younger Sister) - (Sada)
© thevoid99 2015
Monday, October 26, 2015
Based on the novel by David Dodge, To Catch a Thief is the story of a reformed cat burglar who is being accused by the authorities over a series of copycat burglaries on rich tourists in the French Riviera as he tries to find out who the copycat is. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and screenplay by John Michael Hayes, the film plays into a man who uses his old skill as a thief to try and find this thief who is trying to ruin the reformed life he’s already created just as he falls for a beautiful young woman. Starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams, Charles Vanel, and Brigitte Auber. To Catch a Thief is a gorgeous yet compelling film from Alfred Hitchcock.
The film plays into a former thief who had spent more than a decade trying to live a different and more honest life where a series of copycat burglaries on many rich tourists have occurred prompting him to find out who the real thief is before the authorities catch him. While it is a film with a simple premise, it plays into a man who is forced to use his old skills to find out who has been stealing jewels from these rich women vacationing in the French Riviera and why he’s being targeted by everyone including old friends he had from the French Resistance. Along the way, he is aided by an insurance agent who gives him names into people who might be next where he would fall for a young woman who is suspicious about his true identity.
John Michael Hayes’ screenplay takes it time to set the story up where it starts off with a cat burglary and then cut to a woman screaming about losing her jewels where it would escalate prompting the authorities to look after John Robie (Cary Grant) at his villa. Knowing what is going on and the fact that the police don’t trust him even if he is telling the truth forces him to seek the help of his old friends in the Resistance yet they reluctantly do so because they believe he might get them in trouble. With the aid of the insurance agent Hughson (John Williams), Robie pretends to be an American businessman so he can get close to a rich American tourist in Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis) and her daughter Frances as he believes they are next. Yet, he becomes close to Frances who is suspicious about him as she knows about these burglaries. Still, she is charmed by him where she would play a key role into helping him uncover the identity of the copycat.
Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is ravishing in terms of the setting that he creates as it is shot on location in the French Riviera but also has an air of style in the way he presents the element of suspense. Notably the scenes where these burglaries occur as it often features an image of a cat walking on the roof as it plays into what is happening where it prompts the film to come into place. While Hitchcock makes the French Riviera and its towns characters with a lot of gorgeous wide shots, it is really more of a backdrop to the world that Robie lives in where he has to find somewhere safe where he wouldn’t be captured by the authorities. Using lots of medium shots and close-ups, Hitchcock definitely plays up some of the film’s humor but also finds way to play up its suspense such as a few chase scenes in the mountains in the Riviera as well as some moments that play out in some of the villas. The romantic scenes between Robie and Frances are presented in a stylish yet playful manner while it would also have some subtle references into how far they go into their attraction. The film’s climax is among one of the most inventive where it’s lavish as well as gripping to see who is this copycat as it is a sequence that is just fun to watch. Overall, Hitchcock creates a thrilling and exhilarating film about a thief trying to capture a copycat to clear his own name.
Cinematographer Robert Burks does amazing work with the film‘s very colorful cinematography in capturing the lush colors of the French Riviera in its daytime exterior settings to its usage of lights for the scenes at night to play into the suspense and drama. Editor George Tomasini does brilliant work with the editing as it is stylish in its rhythmic cuts to play into some of the humor as well as slowing things down for its suspenseful moments. Art directors J. McMillan Johnson and Hal Pereira, with set decorators Sam Comer and Arthur Krams, do fantastic work with the look of the hotel rooms some of the characters stay as well as the villa that Robie lives in.
Costume designer Edith Head does excellent work with the design of the gowns that Frances wear as well as her mother to play into their posh lifestyles as well as the costumes for the film‘s climatic costume ball. Sound editors Howard Beals and Bill Wistrom do terrific work with the sound to play into many of the locations as well as the sparse moments in the burglary sequences. The film’s music by Lyn Murray is superb for its orchestral-based score with some lush string arrangements as it has some soaring themes for the romantic moments along with some intense pieces for its suspenseful moments.
The film’s remarkable cast include some notable small roles from Rene Blancard as the police commissioner, Georgette Anys as Robie’s housekeeper Germaine, Jean Martinelli as an old friend of Robie in a restaurant employee named Foussier, and Charles Vanel as the restaurant owner Bertrani who reluctantly helps Robie out to evade the police. Brigitte Auber is wonderful as Foussier’s daughter Danielle as a young woman who knows Robie as she suspects that he’s up to no good. John Williams is excellent as Hughson as an insurance agent who wants to help Robie find the stolen jewelry in the hopes that his insurance company can save face where he is one of the few that believes that Robie is telling the truth.
Jessie Royce Landis is fantastic as Mrs. Jessie Stevens as Frances’ mother who is this very fun woman that likes to drink Bourbon as she knows what is going on as she wonders what will happen as she also think that Robie is innocent. Grace Kelly is amazing as Frances Stevens as this woman who is wary of Robie’s presence as she is a woman of style but also a witty personality where she can also be the smartest person in the room. Finally, there’s Cary Grant in a brilliant performance as John Robie as a former cat burglar who is accused over recent thefts as he is forced to use his old skills to find the thief where it’s a performance that has Grant be charming but also display some humility as it is one of his finest performances.
To Catch a Thief is a spectacular film from Alfred Hitchcock that features incredible performances from Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Along with a brilliant supporting cast and a crafty premise, the film isn’t just one of Hitchcock’s quintessential films but also one of his most entertaining. Especially for its inspiring usage of the locations and his approach to subtlety in the romantic elements of the film. In the end, To Catch a Thief is a sensational film from Alfred Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock Films: (Number 13) - (The Pleasure Garden) - (The Blackguard) - (The Mountain Eagle) - (The Lodger) - (A Story of the London Fog) - (The Ring) - (Downhill) - (The Farmer’s Wife) - (Easy Virtue) - (Champagne) - (The Manxman) - (Blackmail) - (Juno and the Paycock) - (Murder!) - (The Skin Game) - (Mary) - (Lord Camber’s Ladies) - (Rich and Strange) - (Number Seventeen) - (Waltzes from Vienna) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 film)) - (39 Steps) - (Secret Agent) - (Sabotage) - (Young and Innocent) - The Lady Vanishes - (Jamaica Inn) - (Rebecca) - (Foreign Correspondent) - (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) - Suspicion - (Saboteur) - (Shadow of a Doubt) - Bon Voyage - (Lifeboat) - (Spellbound) - (Notorious) - (The Paradine Cage) - (Rope) - (Under Capricorn) - (Stage Fright) - Strangers on a Train - I Confess - Dial M for Murder - (Rear Window) - (The Trouble with Harry) - (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956 film)) - (The Wrong Man) - Vertigo - North by Northwest - Psycho - The Birds - Marnie - (Torn Curtain) - (Topaz) - (Frenzy) - (Family Plot)
© thevoid99 2015
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Matthew Robbins, Crimson Peak is the story of a young woman who marries an aristocrat as she moves into her husband’s mansion as it is filled with ghosts and other things. The film plays into a woman with an interest in the supernatural as she gets more than she bargains for in her new life. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Jim Beaver. Crimson Peak is an entrancing yet eerie film from Guillermo del Toro.
Set in the early 20th Century, the film revolves around a young author who meets a British aristocrat as she falls for him where they later marry where she would live into his decayed mansion with his sister as the home is filled with ghosts and other mysterious things. It’s a film that plays into a young woman who has been fascinated with ghosts since she was a child as she wants to write stories with ghosts. Upon meeting this aristocrat, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is intrigued by this man though appearance in clothing and other eccentricities raises the suspicions of her father (Jim Beaver) and family friend Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam). Once she marries Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and moves into their home, many mysterious occurs as well as the treatment she is receiving from his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain).
The film’s screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins doesn’t just play into Edith’s fascination with ghosts but also with those that don’t play by conventional behavior or play by certain rules. It’s among the reasons why she would be attracted to someone like Thomas as he wears clothes that are out of style while having ideas that seem to be very radical. While Edith’s father is aware of what Thomas wants, he is suspicious about him and his sister as he asks for some investigation into who the Sharpes are. Upon realizing what they’re up to, things don’t go as they’re planned once Edith marries Thomas where she does question the things that go on in the house as well as other odd things. Thomas and Lucille Sharpe are strange not just for the Gothic clothes they wear but also in the house they live which is decaying and in need of work.
While the two do share ideas of what they want to, Thomas is the kinder of the two where it seems like he is falling for Edith for her money but he becomes more fascinated with her as the story progresses. Lucille however, is a very troubling woman as someone who has a very dark demeanor as she doesn’t seem to like having Edith around where she always gives her tea and pretend to be very kind towards her. Yet, even she knows that Edith knows what they’re probably up to which adds a much darker edge to her character. Once more revelations towards the Sharpe are unveiled, the story definitely becomes more engaging in terms of the drama and the stakes that occur. Though it does deviate from many of the conventions that is expected in horror, del Toro and Robbins do make it more about the setting and the relationship of the characters rather than going for the big scares.
Guillermo del Toro’s direction definitely owes a lot to not just Gothic imagery and set pieces but also mythological elements that explores the idea of ghosts and what they want. While it doesn’t play towards many of the conventions of horror in terms of big scares, del Toro is more concerned with the story as it relates to Edith’s own fascination with ghosts and her need to find more in her somewhat sheltered existence as a writer. Shot largely in Toronto as both Buffalo, New York and as England, the film maintains this look that is quite unique from the sepia-drenched look of Buffalo where everything feels modern and progressing as opposed to the world of the Sharpes which represents the old world that is decaying and trying to catch up with the modern world. The usage of the wide and medium shots gives del Toro the chance to breathe life into these landscapes with some unique tracking shots for many of those exteriors.
For the scenes set in England, del Toro definitely plays up the Gothic tone of the film where he knows how to create suspense as it relates to the ghosts that Edith encounters. It’s mixture of terror and mystery definitely play into the home of the Sharpes where it is a home is surrounded by red mud that is covered in snow and a basement filled with more red mud. The direction would have del Toro create some unique images but also a sense of dread which doesn’t just relate to the Sharpes and their past but also what is happening to Edith. Once the mysteries relating to the Sharpes are unveiled, the film does take on a darker yet more dramatic tone where lots of conflicts would occur as it’s not just about love but also death. Overall, del Toro crafts a mesmerizing yet thrilling film about a young woman’s marriage to an aristocrat and her encounter with dark spirits in the new home she moves into.
Cinematographer Dan Laustsen does phenomenal work with the film‘s ravishing cinematography from its usage of candles to maintain an atmosphere in some of the interior scenes as well as the usage of sepia-drenched colors for many of the scenes set in Buffalo along with the usage of blue at the Sharpes‘ mansion. Editor Bernat Vilaplana does brilliant work with the editing with its stylish usage of transition wipes as well as jump-cuts and other stylish cuts to play into its suspense and drama. Production designer Thomas E. Sanders, with art director Brandt Gordon and set decorators Jeffrey A. Melvin and Shane Vieau, does amazing work with the set design from the home of Edith lived in Buffalo to the many rooms and exterior setting at the Sharpes‘ family home. Costume designer Kate Hawley does excellent work with the clothes from the clothes that the men wear to the gowns that the women wear including the very colorful yet eerie dresses that Lucille wears.
Special effects makeup artists Jason Detheridge, Nacho Diaz, and Neil Morrill do fantastic work with the look of the makeup of some of the gore that occurs in a few characters including the hairstyles that Edith and Lucille sport. Visual effects supervisor Dennis Berardi do excellent work with the visual effects from the design of the ghosts as it has this very eerie yet evocative look to them that is scary but also entrancing. Sound editor Dennis Leonard and sound designer Randy Thom do superb work with the sound in creating some unique sound effects for the ghosts as well as creating some mixing for some of the atmospheric textures for its suspenseful moments. The film’s music by Fernando Velazquez does remarkable work with the music as it is this lush orchestral music that plays into the drama and suspense which features a mixture of string arrangements and piano pieces while music supervisors Peter Afterman and Margaret Yen provide some classical music that Lucille would often play.
The casting by Robin D. Cook does wonderful work with the casting as it features some notable small roles from Leslie Hope as Dr. McMichael’s mother, Emily Coutts as Dr. McMichael’s sister, Burn Gorman as an inspector named Holly that Edith’s father hired to find out about the Sharpes, Sofia Wells as the young Edith, and as ghosts, Doug Jones and Javier Botet who both provide their physical selves for movements of the ghosts. Jim Beaver is excellent as Edith’s father Carter Cushing as a self-made man who is suspicious about the Sharpes’ as he is more concerned for Edith’s safety and happiness as it’s a very engaging performance from the veteran actor. Charlie Hunnam is fantastic as Dr. Alan McMichael as a childhood friend of Edith who knows a lot about bodies and such where he is also suspicious of the Sharpes’ where his investigation about them would have him come to England.
Jessica Chastain is incredible as Lucille Sharpe as this woman who is reluctant about having Edith in her family as it becomes clear that she doesn’t really like her as it’s a performance that is very dark and also quite scary at times where Chastain goes all out towards the film’s third act as it is definitely one of Chastain’s finest performances. Tom Hiddleston is brilliant as Thomas Sharpe as a baronet who falls for Edith as he brings her to England while hoping some of her financial connections could help him with his mining machine as it’s an ambiguous performance which has Hiddleston showing some conflict in his devotion towards Lucille and love for Edith. Finally, there’s Mia Wasikowska in an amazing performance as Edith Cushing as an aspiring writer who falls for the mysterious Thomas Sharpe where she moves into his home and encounter ghosts which only furthers her fascination with them while dealing with the darker aspects of her home as it’s one of Wasikowska’s finest performances.
Crimson Peak is a phenomenal film from Guillermo del Toro. Featuring a great cast, dazzling visuals, a sumptuous score, and an entrancing story. The film is a very unusual yet enthralling one from del Toro that doesn’t play into the conventions of horror while bending all sorts of genres to create something that is very different. In the end, Crimson Peak is a sensational film from Guillermo del Toro.
Guillermo del Toro Films: Cronos - Mimic/Mimic (Director's Cut) - The Devil's Backbone - Blade II - Hellboy - Pan's Labyrinth - Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Pacific Rim - The Auteurs #10: Guillermo del Toro
© thevoid99 2015
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Based on the biography by Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs is the story about the man who co-founded Apple Computers as the film explores three different periods of his life. Directed by Danny Boyle and screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, the film is an unconventional story of Jobs’ life set in three different presentations of his three creations with behind-the-scenes moments where he deals with his own personal life as he’s played by Michael Fassbender. Also starring Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Sarah Snook, and Jeff Daniels. Steve Jobs is an astonishing film from Danny Boyle.
Told in the span of 14 years from 1984 to 1998, the plays into the life of Apple Computers co-founder Steve Jobs as he is to launch three landmark products to the world in three different stage presentations. The film plays into Jobs on a day where he is to present a different product in a different year as he contends with colleagues, last-minute changes, glitches, and his own personal life as it relates to his illegitimate daughter Lisa Brennan. It’s a film told in three different periods in Jobs’ life and career as screenwriter Aaron Sorkin creates a unique structure that plays into Jobs’ life with some flashbacks of events that preceded the launches such as Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) creating the Apple II computer and Jobs hiring John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) to be the CEO of Apple Computers.
The first act revolves around the launching of the Apple MacIntosh where Jobs and his right-hand woman Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) fret over the computer in saying something to a packed house at an auditorium. The second act revolves around the NeXT personal computer four years after Jobs was fired from Apple in which he not only tries to deal with launching a computer that isn’t working on all cylinders but also his issues with Wozniak and Sculley. The third act is about the launch of the iMac just two years after Jobs has returned to Apple where he not only deals with other issues relating to his own ego but also his own personal demons. While Sorkin definitely shows not just how complicated Jobs is as a person where he was in denial over being the father of young girl but also in someone who likes to take all of the credit. It adds to the often contentious relationship with not just those who are close to him but also those who helped him in his ascent.
While Wozniak, Sculley, and Andy Hertzfield (Michael Stuhlbarg) each had their own issues with Jobs, they respected him though it is clear that they often feel slighted by him as Hertzfield is often pressured to meet deadlines and fix whatever technical issues a certain product has. Wozniak is just a guy that everyone likes as he was the brainchild of the Apple II computer which was Apple’s most successful product at that time as he just wants credit. Sculley meanwhile is the man that wanted to help Jobs and be cautious as there’s a key moment in the second act where the two talked about Jobs’ firing from Apple in 1985 where Sculley is called the scapegoat by everyone. Then there’s Joanna Hoffman as she is the film’s conscious as someone who knows Jobs left and right as well as the people in his life including Jobs’ former girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston) and their daughter Lisa. Adding to Sorkin’s approach to the narrative is his dialogue as it features lot of monologue and stylish dialogue which definitely says a lot to the characters in the film and their personalities.
Danny Boyle’s direction is very stylish not just in the intimacy he creates in these three different presentations in the life of Jobs but also in how they’re presented. The first act which revolves around the Apple MacIntosh presentation as it is shown in a grainy film stock to play into the look of the early 1980s as Boyle would use a lot of close-ups and handheld cameras to maintain that intimacy. Even in some of the wide shots of the many stage settings of each presentation has something to say where it is all set in different venues that play into the evolution of Jobs as a man and artist. Each segment would feature a montage of the events that occurred in between the different acts where the presentations in the second and third act would provide a much more polished film stock that doesn’t just play more in Jobs’ evolution but also him trying to prove himself even more.
Boyle’s direction would also use some unique tracking shots to play into many of the events that goes on behind-the-scenes Jobs and his crew are trying to get a presentation ready. Some of it is frenetic which plays into the demands that Jobs wants where the camera is often following him, Hoffman, and whoever but it also slows down for scenes set in the dressing rooms. Notably as it play into some of the private moments that occur between Jobs, Hoffman, Brennan, and Lisa while Boyle would also create some flashback scenes which play into Jobs on the rise and the fall he would suffer once he is fired from Apple. By the time the film reaches its third act with the upcoming launch of the iMac, the look is much brighter but the tension is still there as it plays into some of the dramatic elements of the film as well as how far Jobs has become where he is finally about to achieve some success. Overall, Boyle creates a compelling yet stylish film about one of the greatest figures in the world of computers.
Cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler does amazing work with the film‘s cinematography as it each act and presentation has a different and distinctive look from the colorful yet grainy look of the first act, the more polished yet colorful look of the second act, and a much brighter and evocative look for the film‘s third act. Editor Elliot Graham does excellent work with the editing as it features some jump-cuts and other stylistic cuts including inserted montages as it help plays into Jobs‘ development as a character and the products he would create. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, with set decorator Gene Serdena and supervising art director Luke Freeborn, does brilliant work with the set design for each of the presentation of the auditoriums where Jobs would present his new creations as it helps establish a mood for each sequence as well as the locations of these auditoriums.
Costume designer Suttriat Anne Larlab does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual though it does evolve over time as it includes some of the hippie-style clothes Chrisann wears. Makeup designer Ivana Primorac does fantastic work with the look of Jobs as well as Hoffman throughout the years as well as the other supporting characters. Visual effects supervisor Adam Gascoyne does terrific work with some of the visual effects as it‘s mostly minimal for some of the big presentations. Sound designer Glenn Freemantle does superb with the sound to play into frenzy of the crowd awaiting for the product unveilings as well as some key scenes in the conversations and backstage areas. The film’s music by Daniel Pemberton is wonderful for its orchestral-based score as it features an array of different themes for each act and presentation where some of it is operatic and some of it is low-key while the music soundtrack largely features music from Bob Dylan, the Macabees, and the Libertines.
The casting by Francine Maisler is incredible as it features a few notable small roles from John Ortiz as the journalist Joel Pforzheimer, Adam Shapiro as the software engineer Avie Tevanian for the film’s third act, and Sarah Snook as one of Jobs’ key collaborators in Andrea “Andy” Cunningham. In the dual of roles as the younger versions Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Makenzie Moss and Ripley Sobo both bring excellent performances in their respective roles as the five and nine-year old versions of Lisa where they provide the innocence of a young girl who wants to get to know her father. As the 19-year old Lisa, Perla Haney-Jardine is fantastic as the young woman who reluctantly wants to talk to her father as she deals with his attempts for a reconciliation. Michael Stuhlbarg is superb as the programmer/engineer Andy Hertzfield who was part of the Apple II team as he tries to help Jobs with some last minute things for the MacIntosh presentation as well as comment on some of the things in Jobs’ own life including Lisa.
Katherine Waterston is brilliant as Chrisann Brennan as Jobs’ former girlfriend who reluctantly shows up to the first two presentations asking for money as well as acknowledging that he’s Lisa’s father. Jeff Daniels is amazing as John Sculley as Apple’s CEO for the first two acts who deals with Jobs’ lavish presentation as well as being the scapegoat of getting Jobs out of Apple where he tries to get Jobs to admit his own wrongdoings that forced him out of Apple. Seth Rogen is remarkable as Steve Wozniak as the co-founder of Apple and the brainchild behind the Apple II as he tries to be Jobs’ friend but also want him to acknowledge the Apple II team for what they’ve done for the products Jobs would create for Apple in the coming years.
Kate Winslet is phenomenal as Joanna Hoffman as Jobs’ right-hand woman who is the film’s conscience as she tries to get everything ready while being the one person who tries to get Jobs to establish a relationship with Lisa as well as do what is right for him. Finally, there’s Michael Fassbender in a magnificent performance as the titular character as this man who sees himself as an artist in the world of personal computers as he tries to give the world the best product possible while dealing with his ego as well as his personal life as Fassbender isn’t afraid to make Jobs un-likeable as well as display some humanity into the character as it’s one of Fassbender’s finest performances to date.
Steve Jobs is a tremendous film from Danny Boyle that features an outstanding performance from Michael Fassbender in the titular role. Along with a great supporting cast as well as some beautiful imagery and Aaron Sorkin’s inventive screenplay. The film is a provocative yet ravishing portrait of one of the great figures of the 20th and 21st Century who changed the world with technology as well as someone who was also very complicated professionally and personally. In the end, Steve Jobs is a spectacular film from Danny Boyle.
Danny Boyle Films: (Shallow Grave) - Trainspotting - A Life Less Ordinary - The Beach - 28 Days Later - Millions - Sunshine - Slumdog Millionaire - 127 Hours - Trance - (T2)
© thevoid99 2015