Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Young Girls of Rochefort




Written and directed by Jacques Demy, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) is the story of two sisters who hope to go to the big city when a fair arrives in their port town as they hope to find men and a chance to succeed. The film is a musical set in a small port town in France where it plays into two sisters trying to make it and escape their dreary world. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakaris, Grover Dale, and Gene Kelly. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a splendid and enchanting film from Jacques Demy.

Set in the actual port town of Rochefort during the course of an entire weekend, the film is about a fair that is happening in the town where twin sisters hope to find their ideal men during the fair while hoping to go to Paris to pursue their own dreams. It’s a film that is about trying to find love but also deal with lost love and other complications with everyone getting ready for this fair that was to showcase a lot of things to the locals in Rochefort. Jacques Demy’s screenplay follows a lot of characters and their own pursuit for love with the twin sisters Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange (Francoise Dorleac) as the leads in the story as they’re two women who can sing and dance as they both want to go to Paris. Upon meeting the carnies Etienne (George Chakaris) and Bill (Grover Dale), they find a chance to get out of Rochefort even though their ideal figures of who their soul mates are just happen to be in the city. At the same time, there’s other characters who cope with love such as Delphine and Solange’s mother Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux) over a fiancée she left behind while a music shop owner in Simon Dame (Michel Piccoli) has just arrived to the town lamenting over someone he had lost as he befriends Solange.

Simon’s friendship with Solange would prompt him to call upon an old friend who could help her with her dreams of writing music in an American named Andrew Miller (Gene Kelly) as the two would meet but are unaware of who they really are. Another storyline involves a sailor named Maxence (Jacques Perrin) who is also a poet and painter as he is looking for his own ideal form of love through a painting he made as the woman in the painting looks a lot like Delphine though he’s never met her. There’s a lot that goes on yet Demy always find a way for these multiple stories with multiple characters to not overwhelm the narrative as he would write the lyrics and dialogue that would reveal a lot for all of these other storylines to make sense.

Demy’s direction is just intoxicating to watch in every sense of the word as it is shot on location in Rochefort where it is made to look like a real small town that has a lot more to offer. Shot on a 2:35:1 aspect ratio, Demy uses the widescreen format to his advantage not just in the wide shot where he captures so much coverage in the town but also in the scope of the dancing. Aided by choreographer Norman Meen, the dancing in the film definitely has a sense of movement that Demy would follow not just in wide and medium shots but also know when to cut and get it from another angle or for a close-up. Demy would use some tracking shots to follow some of the dancing while setting up moments from one part of a street to another to follow one character’s narrative into another where it all connects. Demy would also create simple moments for the non-musical scenes as it is more about the characters and what they would do where it would either set up a musical moment or something that would become a plot-point for a character. Even as its climax is at the fair where it is about these twin sisters finally reaching their dream to go to Paris and make something of themselves but also leave behind the idea that they might’ve never found their ideal figures of love. Overall, Demy creates a wondrous and majestic film about twin sisters trying to find love in their small port hometown.

Cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet does amazing work with the film’s colorful and gorgeous cinematography as much of the film is shot in the daytime where it captures the fullness and beauty of the colors as well as the locations with very few scenes shot at night that includes a dinner at Yvonne’s café. Editor Jean Hamon does excellent work with the editing as it does have elements of style but knows how to play with the rhythm of the music and in the dancing as it’s one of the film’s highlights. Production designer Bernard Evein and set decorator Louis Seuret do brilliant work with the set design from the look of Yvonne’s café as well as some of the staging in the fair and the music shop owned by Simon.

Costume designers Jacqueline Moreau and Marie-Claude Fouquet do fantastic work with the costumes as it adds to the film’s gorgeous visuals with its vibrant colors and how it play into the personality of the characters in the film. The sound work of Jacques Maumont is superb as it is very straightforward while capturing the atmosphere of the fair and some of the other local events. The film’s music by Michel Legrand is incredible as it is a highlight of the film with its playful score and the songs written with Demy as it says so much about the characters and helping to drive the story.

The film’s phenomenal cast include some notable small roles from Genevieve Thenier as Yvonne’s café waitress Josette, Pamela Hart and Leslie North as a couple of performers that dump Etienne and Bill for sailors, Patrick Jeantet as Yvonne’s youngest son Booboo, Rene Bazart as Yvonne’s father, Henri Cremieux as an old friend of Yvonne’s father who visits the café, and Jacques Riberolles as Delphine’s art gallery boyfriend Guillaume who is quite full of himself as the two break-up early in the film. Michel Piccoli is superb as Simon as a music shop owner who is an old friend of Andy as well as a mentor of sorts for Solange with her music as he also laments over love that he’s lost many years ago. Danielle Darrieux is fantastic as Yvonne as a café owner who also laments over a lover she left behind while coping with the fact that her daughters are leaving home to pursue their dreams as she’s the only person in the film that actually sings while everyone lip-syncs other people’s voices. Jacques Perrin is excellent as the sailor Maxence as a man who is trying to finish his service in the military while pursuing his own dreams as an artist where he hopes to find the woman he painted but never met.

George Chakaris and Grover Dale are brilliant in their respective roles as Etienne and Bill as two smooth-talking but kind carnies who try to woo Delphine and Solange while helping out Yvonne and other locals in the world of love. Gene Kelly is marvelous as Andrew Miller as an American friend of Simon who visits the small town as he gets a glimpse and falls for Solange while discovering a piece she wrote that she dropped upon their first meeting. Finally, there’s the duo of Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac in remarkable performances in their respective roles as Delphine and Solange. Deneuve and Dorleac, who are sisters in real-life, both provide a great sense of comic timing and charm as well as displaying their own vulnerabilities as women trying to find their ideal mates and their pursuit to follow their dreams in the big city despite leaving the one place they call home.

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a spectacular film from Jacques Demy. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, top-notch choreography, and sumptuous music. It’s a film that doesn’t just bear many elements into what makes the musical a joy to watch but it’s also backed by a universal and engaging story about finding love in a small portside town in France. In the end, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a tremendous film from Jacques Demy.

Jacques Demy Films: (Lola (1961 film)) - Bay of Angels - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - (Model Shop) - Donkey Skin - (The Pied Piper (1972 film)) - (A Slightly Pregnant Man) - (Lady Oscar) - (La Naissance du Jour) – (Un chambre en ville) - (Parking (1985 film)) - (Three Places for the 26th) - (Turning Table)

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Young Victoria




Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and written by Julian Fellowes, The Young Victoria is the story about the early life and reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th Century as she copes with her new role as Queen of Great Britain and her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The film is a dramatized take on Queen Victoria’s early life as well as what she had to do in trying to maintain her duty as queen but also finding some self-being as a person as the role of Victoria is played by Emily Blunt. Also starring Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Mark Strong, Thomas Krestchmann, Julian Glover, Jesper Christensen, Jim Broadbent, and Miranda Richardson. The Young Victoria is an enchanting and engaging film from Jean-Marc Vallee.

The film is about the early life of Princess Victoria of Kent, who would later become Queen of Great Britain on June 20, 1837 at the age of 18, as she deals with the role she is to play where many around try to put their own interests towards her with some wanting her to fail. It’s a film that explores a woman being aware of the role she is to play as she also tries to assert her own ideas while there are many that are plotting against her with some wanting her to give up her claim to the throne. At the heart of the story is her relationship to her first-cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Rupert Friend) who is sent by his uncle as a way to seduce her for political reasons but he falls for her and would end up being her greatest ally. Julian Fellowes’ screenplay does take some dramatic liberties such as an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria in 1840 as well as some of the details of her coronation and the age of Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) who was 40 years older than the queen.

Yet, it does remain faithful to the events that was happening while creating a story that is engaging about Queen Victoria’s understanding of her role but also being aware of what is going on around her. Early in the film, she is being forced by her mother in the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) to sign away her powers while she is ill as she would refuse to. Especially as she has a strong devotion towards her uncle in King William IV (Jim Broadbent) who isn’t fond of her mother but wants to ensure that Victoria would have her place to rule Britain despite the opposition of so many. The character of Prince Albert is definitely a unique one as he is someone that knows the pressure of what Victoria is to endure where he would have ideas that would help her and Britain. Yet, she would take the advice of Lord Melbourne as her private secretary where things don’t go as she wants them to as she ponders every decision she makes as well as the people she wants around her.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s direction is very straightforward for not just capturing that period in time during King William IV’s final year but also into the glimpse of Queen Victoria’s life before she becomes queen. Though the first sequence that is presented is her coronation which would be shown again, it play into the many doubts that is looming once she becomes queen as Vallee’s direction would feature some wide and medium shots of the coronation in different perspectives. Much of the film is shot on various locations around Britain with some of it on actual palaces as well as some re-creation of the exteriors of Buckingham Palace as Vallee doesn’t go for anything stylistic but rather something simple and to the point. Even in the close-ups as it play into the anguish that Victoria endures where she would often vent her feelings through corresponding letters with Albert as it would strengthen their relationship. Vallee would also create moments that play into their growing relationship once they’re together with Albert knowing his place but also slowly do things to make sure that Victoria would be confident in her own decisions as queen. Overall, Vallee creates a riveting yet intoxicating film about the early life and reign of Queen Victoria.

Cinematographer Hagen Bogdanski does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the natural look of the daytime interior/exterior scenes to the usage of lights for some of the scenes set at night. Editors Jill Bilcock and Mat Garner do brilliant work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and some stylized cuts to play into the rhythm of the film. Production designer Patrice Vermette, with set decorator Maggie Gray and supervising art director Paul Inglis, does amazing work with the look of the interiors of the palaces and dining halls as well as the design of the carriages in those times. Costume designer Sandy Powell does fantastic work with the costumes from the look of the gowns as well as the clothes that the men wore in those times.

Hair/makeup designer Jenny Shircore does terrific work with the design of the hairstyles and extensions they wore during the day as well as the look of the men. Sound designer Martin Pinsonnault does superb work with the sound as it play into the sparse elements of what goes on in the palace as well as the raucous sounds for some of the parties. The film’s music by Ilan Eshkeri is sublime for its low-key orchestral score that play into the drama while music supervisor Maureen Crowe creates a music soundtrack that largely consists of the music of the times including some classical pieces that Victoria and Albert have a fondness for.

The casting by Susie Figgis is incredible as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Josef Altin as the man that tried to assassinate Queen Victoria, Genevieve O’Reilly as Lady Flora Hastings, Julian Glover as the Duke of Wellington, Michiel Huisman as Prince Albert’s brother Ernest, Michael Maloney as Sir Robert Peel who briefly replaces Lord Melbourne as prime minister, Rachel Stirling as the Duchess of Sutherland who is the queen’s lady-in-waiting during her early reign, and Jeanette Hain as the queen’s caretaker in Baroness Louise Lezhen. Other noteworthy small roles include Jesper Christensen as Baron Stockmar as an advisor to Prince Albert in how to woo Victoria while Thomas Krestchmann is superb as King Leopold I of Belgium who is hoping that Prince Albert succeeds in the hopes of a political alliance with Britain and Belgium. Harriet Walter is wonderful as Queen Adelaide as Victoria’s aunt who is one of the few people that Victoria can trust and turn to as she also feels that Albert has a very important role in helping Victoria. Jim Broadbent is fantastic as King William I as Victoria’s uncle who is aware of what is going on as he doesn’t like Victoria’s mother very much while worrying about Victoria once she becomes queen. Mark Strong is excellent as Sir John Conroy as a comptroller to Victoria’s mother who wants to maintain control and influence into Victoria as a man that wants power even though Victoria hates him.

Paul Bettany is brilliant as Lord Melbourne as the prime minister who becomes the queen’s advisor as someone with good intentions only to create some trouble in the queen’s early years as he would later find himself dealing with Albert for the queen’s attention in power. Miranda Richardson is amazing as the Duchess of Kent as the queen’s mother who would try to get her daughter to listen to Sir Conroy only to become estranged from her daughter until Albert would be the one to end the estrangement. Rupert Friend is marvelous as Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as the man who would be Queen Victoria’s husband and greatest ally where Friend is quite restrained in his performance as someone who is just loyal and devoted to a woman he feels has a lot to offer to the world. Finally, there’s Emily Blunt in a radiant performance as the young Queen Victoria as a woman trying to deal with the role that is set upon her as well as wanting not to fail and do right for her country as it’s one of Blunt’s finest performances in displaying the anguish and determination of one of the greatest figures in history.

The Young Victoria is a remarkable film from Jean-Marc Vallee that features an incredible leading performance from Emily Blunt. Along with a great supporting cast, beautiful locations, rapturous images, and some fine technical work. It’s a film that chronicles the life of a woman in her early years as she would later become a definitive figure for Great Britain. In the end, The Young Victoria is a phenomenal film from Jean-Marc Vallee.

Jean-Marc Vallee Films: (Black List) - (Los Locos) - (Loser Love) - (C.R.A.Z.Y.) - (Café de Flore) - Dallas Buyers Club - Wild (2014 film) - Demolition (2015 film) - (Big Little Lies)

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One)




Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) is a documentary film about the recording of the titular song by the Rolling Stones that is inter-cut with segments relating to the political and social events of the late 1960s. The film marks the beginning of a period of experimental features for Godard in his movement away from traditional narrative while he chronicles one of the most popular bands at that time during a crucial period in their career. The result is a fascinating though uneven film from Jean-Luc Godard.

The film follows a series of recording sessions in June of 1968 by the Rolling Stones for a song that is to reflect into the chaos of that year entitled Sympathy for the Devil. During the course of the film as the Stones would try and create this song, the film would be inter-cut with dramatic segments featuring actors reading or giving their views on many social and political ideologies of the time. Yet, both narratives would often feature a brief jump-cut of someone spray painting political slogans all over London during the course of the film. It’s a film that has two very different things happening yet both segments would also feature commentaries by a narrator (the voice of Sean Lynch) reading stories on Marxism where it would often drown out some of the things that is happening or be drowned out by comments from those talking politics or the Stones playing music as well as sounds of jets flying in the air courtesy of sound mixers Derek Ball and Arthur Bradburn.

Both the segments involving the Stones and the political content are shot in long takes by Jean-Luc Godard with the aid of cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond as it follows not just what is going on but also in the environment. Whereas the Stones are seen recording at Olympic Studios in London, the political segments largely take place in different areas. There’s two different segments involving black militants talking about their own ideas while executing white women in one segment as it takes place in a junkyard near a river. A segment with actress Anne Wiazemsky as a character talking to people in the forest about what she thinks the state of the world and the different ideas of politics. There’s one segment taking place inside a bookstore where a Fascist reads a book on Fascism with two customers beaten and bloodied by other Fascist customers as the store is surrounded by comics, pulp novels, and nudie magazines.

The scenes involving the Stones recording Sympathy for the Devil shows the band hard at work trying to develop the song that would become one of their defining songs as vocalist Mick Jagger tries to find the right vocal tone for the song while guitarist Keith Richards would play bass on the song trying to find its groove. Drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman would provide their own contributions to the song as would session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins and producer Jimmy Miller. The scenes also showcase guitarist Brian Jones becoming less involved as there’s a major scene during the recording where the band plus Hopkins and percussionist Rocky Dijon are all playing in the circle while Jones is playing acoustic guitar in a booth behind Jagger. It is a moment that shows his diminishing role in the band as he would die more than a year after the recording of the song.

While the film does contain some rich cinematography by Richmond as well as some straightforward editing by Ken Rowes including the jump-cuts to showcase the young woman spray-painting slogans on walls around London. The film is definitely uneven largely due to the fact that Godard wants to create something that is a response to the events of 1968 as it’s really 2 different films. Yet, the film’s original intentions had Godard wanting to make something that is more political but clashes with one of the film’s producers in Iain Quarrier, who plays the role of a Fascist book seller, would complicate things as the resulting film that is shown is quite uneven. It’s uneven to audiences that thought they would see a film about the Stones in their prime only to see something else while Godard-enthusiasts would wonder why the Stones in a film that definitely has a lot of commentaries on the politics of the times.

Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) is a stellar film from Jean-Luc Godard. Though it’s a very uneven film due to its different subject matter. It is still an interesting film that chronicles a tumultuous time period inspired by the events of 1968 as well as a look into the Rolling Stones creating one of their defining songs. In the end, Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) is a terrific film from Jean-Luc Godard.

Related: Gimme Shelter - Crossfire Hurricane

Jean-Luc Godard Films: All the Boys are Called Patrick - Charlotte et son Jules - A Bout de Souffle - (The Little Soldier) - A Woman is a Woman - Vivre sa Vie - Les Carabiniers - Contempt - Bande a Part - (A Married Woman) - Alphaville - Pierrot Le Fou - Masculin Feminin - Made in U.S.A. - (Two or Three Things I Know About Her) - (La Chinoise) - (Weekend) - (Joy of Learning) - (Tout va Bien) - (Letter to Jane) - (One A.M.) - (Number Two) - (Here and Elsewhere) - (Every Man for Himself) - (Passion) - (First Name: Carmen) - (Hail Mary) - (Soft and Hard) - (Detective) - (King Lear (1987 film)) - (Keep Your Right Up) - (Novelle Vague) - (Allemagne 90 neuf zero) - (JLG/JLG - Self-Portrait in December) - (For Ever Mozart) - (Historie(s) de Cinema) - (In Praise of Love) - (Notre musique) - (Film Socialisme) - (Adieu au Language)

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Eagles of Death Metal: Non Amis (Our Friends)




Directed by Colin Hanks, Eagles of Death Metal: Non Amis (Our Friends) is a documentary film about the American rock band who were part of one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in the 21st Century where the band cope with the people who were killed at the Bataclan club in Paris on November 13, 2015. The film follows the band and their cult popularity in Europe including France as well as the aftermath of the terror attacks in November of 2015 that shook up France as well as the band. The result is a compelling and eerie film from Colin Hanks.

On November 13, 2015, one of the most horrific terrorist attacks emerged on a normal day in Paris, France as one of the buildings was attacked was the Bataclan club where the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal were playing as 89 people were killed. The incident would shape the band, which is co-founded by vocalist/guitarist Jesse Hughes, as they would survive the attack but would leave them mentally and emotionally scarred. It was a night that no should’ve experienced as the film isn’t just about the attack but also about the band returning to Paris in early 2016 to finish their show to the audience that was there in that unfortunate night.

Director Colin Hanks doesn’t just follow the band, which is also co-founded by Joshua Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, who cope with the incident but also showcase how it was formed as it’s a band that largely features Hughes and Homme along with guitarist Dave Catching and a revolving door of members including drummers who fill in for Homme when he’s involved with Queens. Though the band has only attained moderate commercial success, they are a popular live band as they were promoting their 2015 album Zipper Down that year where they were in Europe. Homme wasn’t on tour as he was at home expecting the birth of his third child with wife in punk rock vocalist Brody Dalle.

The attack at the Bataclan club is shown as Hanks interview some of the survivors at the show and their own recollections into what happened. It’s some of the most sobering and poignant moments of the film as it even the band also describe what they saw. Hanks wisely doesn’t show what happened during the attacks as he prefers to let the survivors tell their own story but also reveal that they were part of something much larger as the attack in Paris on that horrible day affected the city in such a way. Hughes and Homme get emotional into what happened with Homme trying to call Hughes from his home in Los Angeles as he would do whatever he can to get Hughes, the band, and other personnel home. Also interviewed in the film is Bono and the Edge from the band U2 who would give Eagles of Death Metal a chance to play a song in Paris just weeks after the attack.

With the aid of cinematographer Boyd Hobbs, Hanks would keep things very straightforward for much of the visual approach of the film as well as doing the interviews. Editor Darrin Roberts and sound editor Richard B. Larimore would gather not just archival footage of shows that the band played but also some of the events of the attack with the latter providing some audio into what was happening. Much of the music in the film largely consists of music from both Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal along with some ambient score music by longtime Queens associate Alain Johannes. The music is an important aspect of the film as it show what Eagles of Death Metal is all about which is good ol’ fashioned rock n’ roll music.

Eagles of Death Metal: Non Amis (Our Friends) is a marvelous film from Colin Hanks. It’s a film that explores not just one of the most horrific events in recent history but also the rock band who was at the center of it when all they wanted to do was play rock n’ roll. In the end, Eagles of Death Metal: Non Amis (Our Friends) is a remarkable film from Colin Hanks.

Related: All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

2017 Blind Spot Series: World on a Wire




Based on the novel Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, Welt am Draht (World on a Wire) is the story of an engineer who makes a chilling discovery in the corporation he works for involving conspiracies following the death of a colleague. Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and screenplay by Fassbinder and Fritz Muller-Scherz, the film is a two-part sci-fi miniseries that blends with all sorts of genres from film noir, melodrama, and suspense as it play into a man pondering his own existence in a world where everyone is trying to find answers through machines. Starring Klaus Lowitsch, Barbara Valentin, Mascha Rabben, Karl Heinz Vosgerau, Wolfgang Schenck, Gunter Lamprecht, and Ulli Lommel. Welt am Draht is an evocative yet whimsical film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Set in modern-day Cologne, West Germany, the film revolves around a murder mystery where an engineer is trying to find out what happened as sudden disappearances have occurred while becoming a target from his superiors. It’s a film that explores a man who is trying to deal with these mysterious events around him while trying out this new simulation experiment that the company he works for is making. Yet, he would question the world he’s in as it raises a lot of questions into the people that disappeared as well as who to trust. The film’s screenplay by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Fritz Muller-Scherz definitely explore the idea of reality but also fantasy in what humans want to experience. Yet, it is about the mystery of what this man in Fred Stiller (Klaus Lowitsch) is trying to discover as the film is split into two parts as it was originally made as a two-part miniseries. The first part is about the mysterious death of Professor Henry Vollmer (Adrian Hoven) and the sudden disappearance of Stiller’s friend Gunther Lause (Ivan Desny) at a party Stiller was at.

The script would have Stiller try and solve everything while being promoted as the technical director for the company he works for as he suspects one of the bosses in Herbert Siskins (Karl Heinz Vosgerau). Stiller has few he could trust as he also encounter’s Vollmer’s daughter Eva (Mascha Rabben) who wants to know what happens to her father. The second part isn’t just about the world that Stiller is in but there’s also a strange twist which definitely blurs what is happening around him. Especially where he becomes a suspect of Vollmer’s murder and comes to term with the fact that he knows too much and his superiors want him dead. Then there’s the stuff about technology and how it can manipulate one’s perception of reality which is prominent in the film as the simulation machine that Stiller is trying to observe has him realize of its power and how it can distort things.

Fassbinder’s direction is definitely stylish for not just the world he creates inside the emerging world of supercomputers but also for setting it in modern times rather than the future. Shot on 16mm film and on location in Cologne, West Germany, Fassbinder would largely set the film in some of the business sections but also use locations such as shopping malls where some of the characters meet. Though it’s shot in the 1:33:1 full-frame aspect ratio which was common with television in those times, Fassbinder is able to use that format to his advantage in some of the wide and medium shots. Using some dolly-tracking shots for some of the camera movements, Fassbinder showcases a world that does feel modern but also a bit futuristic in some respects. Yet, he takes his time in unveiling bits and pieces where the film does start off slow in order to establish the characters, environment, and the situation that Stiller is in.

Fassbinder would also create hints in the first part of the film to showcase things that could play into this world that Stiller is in as it blur the line in reality and fiction. Once the big reveal in the first half is presented, it does change the tone of the film into something that is far more intriguing but also filled with a lot of twists and turns. There isn’t a lot of big moments of action in the film as it’s more about ideas and motivations as Fassbinder wants the audience to follow the events as well as antagonists planning their next move. By the time the film reaches its climax where Stiller would uncover some truth, it is once again about the world that he’s in and how it may not be the reality that he or anyone wants. Especially when there are things around him that doesn’t make any sense where he comes into question about who he is. Overall, Fassbinder creates a hypnotic yet rapturous film about a man questioning himself and his own environment while solving a murder mystery.

Cinematographers Michael Ballhaus and Ulrich Prinz do brilliant work with the film’s grainy yet colorful cinematography as it play into the dazzling lights inside some of the interiors as well as some of the exterior scenes at night. Editors Marie Anne Gerhardt and Ursula Elles do amazing work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts and other stylish cuts help play to the film’s methodical pacing as well as in creating some of its eerie moments of suspense. Production designers Kurt Raab, Horst Giese, and Walter Koch do incredible work with the set design from the supercomputer room and the simulation room plus the homes of some of the characters to play into their personalities. Costume designer Gabrielle Pillon does fantastic work with the design of the dresses that the women wear as well as some of the clothes of the men to play into their own personalities

The makeup work by Rosemarie Schonartz is terrific for the way some of the women look in the film as well as other oddball characters that Stiller would meet like a waiter a nightclub. The sound work of Hans Pampuch and Ernst Thomas is superb for not just the sparseness in some of the quieter moments but how some of the screeching sounds of electronics come into play to try and stop Stiller from discovering something as it add so much to the environment he’s in. The film’s music by Gottfried Hungsberg and Archives is excellent for its mixture of orchestral and electronic music that play into the suspense and drama while the music soundtrack features an array of classical music pieces as well as contemporary cuts from Elvis Presley and Fleetwood Mac.

The film’s phenomenal cast include some notable small roles from Eddie Constantine as a man who gives Stiller a ride late in the film, El Hedi ben Salem as a corporate hood in Castro, Rudolph Lenz as the corporate chief Hartmann, Kurt Raab as Siskins’ new corporate observer Mark Holm, Ingrid Caven as a reporter’s secretary, Joachim Hansen as the executive Hans Edelkern, Adrian Hoven as Professor Vollmer, and Ivan Desny as Stiller’s friend Gunther Lause who tells him about Vollmer’s death before he mysteriously disappears. Ulli Lommel is terrific as the reporter Rupp who is one of the few that believes that Stiller is telling the truth while Wolfgang Schenck is superb as the inspector Franz Hahn who also makes a discovery that proves that Stiller is innocent until he behaves quite strangely. Margit Carstensen is wonderful as Maya Schmidt-Genter as a lover of Stiller who only appears occasionally as someone that is a source of comfort until she too acts strangely towards him.

Barbara Valentin is fantastic as Stiller’s secretary Gloria Fromm as a beautiful and voluptuous woman who is quite ambiguous in her motives yet later realizes what is really going on. Gunter Lamprecht is excellent as Fritz Walfang as a scientist who has help create the simulation machine as he becomes aware of what is really going on as he becomes one of the few who believes Stiller. Karl-Heinz Vosgerau is brilliant as Herbert Siskins as a corporate executive who tries to cover up a murder while plotting many things in the hope he would silence Stiller. Mascha Rabben is amazing as Eva Vollmer as the daughter of Professor Vollmer who is trying to figure out what happened to her father while befriending Stiller who she believes can help him while also being mysterious herself. Finally, there’s Klaus Lowitsch in an incredible performance as Fred Stiller as an engineer who finds himself trying to solve a murder where he questions his own self and existence as it’s a very engaging performance that has him be the every-man but also with some anguish and humor.

Welt am Draht is a tremendous film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Featuring a great cast, imaginative set designs, a provocative and enthralling premise, and a hypnotic soundtrack. It’s a film that definitely plays against the conventional aspects of sci-fi while also delving into massive themes of self-being and the world that people live in whether it’s reality or fantasy. In the end, Welt am Draht is a spectacular 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 - Ali: Fear Eats the Soul - (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 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Ancient Times (3600 BC-500 AD)




For the third week of March of 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We venture into the period of Ancient times from 3600 BC to 500 AD. A period in which was the formation of civilization, the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and the time of the Romans. There are many films based on that period and so here are three picks:

1. Noah



Darren Aronofsky’s 2014 film is definitely ambitious yet it manages to capture what life was like in biblical times where humanity was kind of in disarray. It is a flawed film yet it does have some sprawling visuals and a phenomenal cast that play into the early years of the formation of Earth. It is also a look into those early years of humanity and how chaotic it was forcing a man to do what is right for his family and for the animals who would bring life to a new world.

2. Julius Caesar



William Shakespeare definitely has a fondness for the period of the Romans as it’s no surprise that his story about the assassination of Julius Caesar is one of his most popular dramas. In this film version by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, it’s more about the men who were involved in not just Julius Caesar’s assassination but also the ones who want to avenge it. The casting itself is just tremendous with Marlon Brando as Marc Antony, James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius, Greer Garson as Calpurnia, Edmund O’Brien as Casca, and Deborah Kerr as Portia. It’s really a film that captures that moment in history into some of the unruly aspects of civilization.

3. Monty Python’s Life of Brian



If there is anyone that would find humor in the period in which Jesus Christ would be a figure of importance. It would the comedy troupe Monty Python as the film was originally supposed to make fun of Jesus but it turned out he was too cool to be made fun of. Instead, the film is about a guy who was born a few homes away from where Jesus was born who is mistaken to be the Messiah. It’s truly one of the funniest films ever made as well as probably some of the best commentary about some of the fallacies of religion and faith.

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thursday Movie Pick: Remakes, Reboots, & Sequels of Films You'd Want to See




For the second week of March of 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering through the Shelves. We venture into the often polarizing idea of sequels, reboots, and remakes but of films that never had one. There are so many that can have one of those but either it’s often a letdown or it’s something else entirely. This is about films that I want to see as I’m going to list a couple of films that could’ve had sequels that are either in development hell or just scrapped.

1. Hellboy II: The Golden Army



For anyone that has followed the world of film and what has been going on is probably aware that any chances for a third Hellboy film is not going to happen. It’s sad because the second film wasn’t just a sequel that was better than its predecessor but it’s also a film that manages to be so much more than just a typical summer blockbuster. It’s very funny, it’s got loads of dazzling effects that mixes practical and CGI, it’s full of excitement, and it has characters you care about. Guillermo del Toro definitely needs to make another one I’m sure there’s fans that want to know what Hellboy, Liz, Abe, and the rest of the gang are doing saving humanity from evil. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy Hellboy and Abe listening to Barry Manilow while drinking beer?

2. El Topo



El Topo is a film that definitely helped created the wave of the midnight movies as it’s a very strange western that doesn’t play by the rules. Yet, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s cult classic still has the ability to shock not just in its approach to violence but also in going completely left field in what Jodorowsky wanted to do. For years, Jodorowsky has been wanting to make a sequel called Sons of El Topo as a comic of that story has been released. Yet, it’s very unlikely that a sequel to El Topo would be made but I’m sure if there’s someone willing to spend a lot of money just to see that. It will be awesome.

3. Leon: The Professional



Luc Besson’s 1994 film is definitely one of the finest action films ever made. Not only is it a film that introduced audiences to Natalie Portman but also career-defining performances from Jean Reno and Gary Oldman. There has been rumors about a sequel devoting entirely to Portman’s character of Mathilda. That would be a film that I’m sure many would see where Mathilda has become an assassin and kills people for a living while dealing with aspects of her past. Portman has stated that she would do it only if Luc Besson would direct the film.

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: On the Run




For the first week of March of 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering through the Shelves. The focus is on the subject of films about people going on the run. Well, that is easy as there’s a lot of films about that subject as one of the most famous films about being on the run is Terrence Malick’s 1973 film Badlands as it’s a film that would spawn many imitators. Here are three of those imitators both good and bad:

1. Wisdom



Emilio Estevez as a filmmaker is a mixed bag as he is definitely someone that isn’t sure what he wants to be as a filmmaker where he can do good things in dramas such as The War at Home, Rated X, and The Way but also can display some really awful things such as imitate Robert Altman in a film like Bobby. His first feature film as a director definitely bear a lot of elements of Badlands as it’s about a couple on the run while robbing banks as Estevez stars in the film with his then-real life girlfriend Demi Moore. It’s just a very poor film that wanted to be so many things with an ending that is just a fucking slap in the face.

2. True Romance



If anyone understands what Malick was doing with his first film, it’s Quentin Tarantino as he would create two scripts inspired by that film. The first one is definitely one of his finest scripts as well as probably the best film Tony Scott ever did in his filmmaking career. It is about a couple who go on the run after a man kills a drug dealer and steals his money where he and his new bride go to California in the hopes of selling the drugs to someone rich where so much goes wrong. Featuring a cool soundtrack and an ensemble cast that is out of this world. It is definitely a film that needs more love outside of fans of Tarantino and Scott.

3. Natural Born Killers



Though Tarantino only got a story credit for this film, it does bear a few elements that he is known for yet it remains largely something that Oliver Stone would do while also being inspired by Badlands. While it’s more of a commentary on mass media and their fascination with serial killers. It is still about a film about a couple on the run where they go on a killing spree all across America where they’re unaware of being exploited by the media. It’s a film that isn’t for everyone as it’s ultra-violent and definitely over-the-top but it’s probably the last great film Oliver Stone has ever made. The ensemble cast and a killer soundtrack curated by Trent Reznor as well as some phenomenal technical work makes it one of the defining films of the 1990s.

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Bigger Splash




Based on the novel by Jean-Emmanuel Conil under the Alain Page pseudonym and the 1969 film La Piscine (The Swimming Pool) by Jacques Deray and co-written with Jean-Claude Carriere, A Bigger Splash is the story of a rock singer and her filmmaker boyfriend who get an unexpected visit from a former lover and his newly-discovered daughter. Directed by Luca Guadagnino and screenplay by David Kajaganich, the film is an exploration of temptation and desires during a vacation holiday at the Italian island of Pantelleria. Starring Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson, Lily McMenamy, and Aurore Clement. A Bigger Splash is an evocative yet eerie film from Luca Guadagnino.

Following the aftermath of a concert tour and throat surgery, the film follows a rock singer who takes on a holiday to rest her voice where she’s joined by her documentary filmmaker boyfriend where their little holiday is disrupted by the arrival of her former lover and his daughter, whom he had just discovered,. During this time of relaxation at Pantelleria, temptations and other vices come into play as a woman finds herself not just being pursued but also being pulled into places she didn’t want to go into. David Kajaganich’s screenplay isn’t about a time of vacation being disrupted but also people being forced to look back as well. For the singer Marianne Lane (Tilda Swinton), she is exhausted as she rarely talks in order to rest her voice as all she wants to do is relax and spend her time with Paul De Smedt (Matthias Schoenaerts) who is a documentary filmmaker she met years ago during a profile for her producer/then-lover Harry Hawkes (Ralph Fiennes).

When Hawkes called one day during the vacation announcing he’s coming, he arrives with Penelope Lanier (Dakota Johnson) who is revealed to be his illegitimate daughter that is on board just to know more about him and what he does. The atmosphere of the holiday becomes more troubling as Hawkes’ very lively persona and his penchant for decadence doesn’t sit with De Smedt who is a recovering alcoholic/drug addict. Even Marianne becomes a bit overwhelmed by Hawkes yet still has some feelings for him as the vacation becomes tumultuous. Adding to this already troubled pot is Penelope as she is this quiet observer that doesn’t say a lot but manages to do things that would just escalate as she eyes De Smedt. The script would also have flashbacks that relate to Hawkes’ relationship with Lane but also how it fell apart which play into Lane’s own resistance towards him as she is very loyal to De Smedt.

Luca Guadagnino’s direction is definitely intoxicating and grand not just for the location but also for how it can turn intense due to the things that are happening. Shot on location at Pantelleria with some of it shot in New York and a concert scene shot at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Guadagnino creates a film that has this idyllic tone early in the film once it is about De Smedt and Lane having their holiday whether it’s sunbathing in the mud or having sex in their swimming pool. There is something simple in the way Guadagnino shoots everything in terms of the compositions whether it’s the wide and medium shots or in the close-ups. When Harry and Penelope arrive, the film becomes looser but also unpredictable where Harry kind of drives everything whether it’s taking Marianne, Paul, and Penelope to this restaurant that is kind of remote to dancing in front of guests at Marianne’s home to the Rolling Stones. The flashback scenes are straightforward to play into not just Marianne’s relationship with Harry and how decadent it was but also how she met Paul. Even in how it would create elements of resentment and such into all of those involved with the exception of Penelope.

The film’s second half is definitely eerie where it doesn’t just play into Penelope getting into everyone’s skin as she would try and seduce Paul during a scene near some rocky beaches. It also play into the dramatic tension that is emerging where it would come to ahead in the third act as it’s not just about some revelations relating to Penelope but also into all of the chaos that has emerged upon Hawkes’ arrival to Pantelleria. Especially where Marianne’s world is thrown into absolute chaos which threatens everything including her career and personal life. Overall, Guadagnino creates a provocative yet rapturous film about a rock singer’s vacation shattered by the visit of a former lover and his daughter.

Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of natural lighting for many of the exterior settings as well as the scenes set at night where it favors something more real rather than something that is more artificial. Editor Walter Fasano does excellent work with the editing as it is very straightforward with some jump-cuts and other stylish cuts. Production designer Maria Djurkovic, with set decorator Tatiana Macdonald and supervising art director Zsuzsa Kismarty-Lechner, does fantastic work with the interior settings of the house as well as the look of the remote restaurant the characters go into.

Costume designer Giulia Piersanti does nice work with the clothes from what the women wear such as the more casual stylish look of Marianne to the more youthful look of Penelope. Sound editor Emanuela di Giunta and production sound mixer Yves-Marie Omnes do superb work with the sound as it play into the natural atmosphere of the locations as well as the way music is sound in and out of a room. Music supervisor Robin Urdang creates an incredible soundtrack that features an array of different music including songs by the Rolling Stones, Harry Nilsson, a few originals sung by Swinton, and St Vincent doing a cover of the Rolling Stones’ Emotional Rescue as well as some music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and the German group Popol Vuh.

The casting by Avy Kaufman and Stella Savino is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Elena Bucci as the housemaid Clara, Corrado Guzzanti as a local police investigator, Lily McMenamy as a young woman who joins the gang for sightseeing in Sylvie, and Aurore Clement as a friend of Harry in Mirielle who also goes sightseeing with Sylvie as her companion. Dakota Johnson is fantastic as Penelope Lanier as a young woman who is revealed to be Harry’s daughter as she observes everything that is happening around her while trying to seduce Paul as it’s a very quiet yet eerie performance filled with ambiguity. Matthias Schoenaerts is amazing as Paul De Smedt as a documentary filmmaker and Marianne’s boyfriend who knows Harry as he struggles with Harry’s presence as well as dealing with Penelope as he tries to maintain his sobriety and Marianne’s well-being.

Tilda Swinton is sensational as Marianne as she is seen in flashbacks as a wild and revered rock singer who has a lot of talent and such while the scenes in Pantelleria has her be restrained and trying not to say much yet sounds hoarse whenever she’s talking as she has a hard time dealing with everything around her. Finally, there’s Ralph Fiennes in an outstanding performance as Harry Hawkes as it is a performance that is just full of energy and a sense of danger where Fiennes definitely loosens up in a lot of ways while making a moment where he dances to the Rolling Stones into something that has to be seen.

A Bigger Splash is a spectacular film from Luca Guadagnino as it features an incredible cast in Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Dakota Johnson. Along with some beautiful technical work including its gorgeous location and a fun soundtrack, the film is definitely an intriguing drama that doesn’t play things safely while exploring ideas of temptation and living in the moment. In the end, A Bigger Splash is a tremendous film from Luca Guadagnino.

Luca Guadagnino Films: (The Protagonists) - (Tilda Swinton: The Love Factory) - (Mundo civilzado) - (Cuoco contadino) - (Melissa P.) - (The Love Factory No. 3 Pippo Delbono - Bisogna morire) - (I Am Love) - (Bertolucci on Bertolucci) - (Call Me By Your Name) - (Suspiria (2018 film))

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Blog News 3/9/17: R.I.P. Black Laptop 2010-2017



Well, I got some good news and bad news.

The bad news is that probably due to some lame software update that I was unaware of. My laptop crashed on 2/26/17 on the night of the Oscars. It took me some time to find a suitable place in the hopes that it would repaired. Well, I took the laptop to Office Max in the hopes it would get fixed but the severity of the damage did force me to fear the worst as I tried to get a data transfer into a new laptop that I was able to purchase for nearly $360 which was much less than the one I spent on 7 years ago. The other big bad news that the data transfer was unsuccessful meaning I pretty much lost 7 years of my body of work that I was fortunate at least to have released in this blog and in my music blog.

Yet, I have to start over which will be tough but I now have something new to work with in this new laptop which is the only good news that I can say. In the meantime, I will make a full return in the next few days to a week with a full review of A Bigger Splash and my next Blind Spot piece.