Friday, February 15, 2019

Claire's Knee

Written and directed by Eric Rohmer, Le Genou de Claire (Claire’s Knee) is the story of a diplomat who meets a young girl whose stepsister has him falling for her a month before his upcoming wedding. The fifth film in Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales, the film is an exploration of temptation and longing where a man pines for a young woman while observing her relationship with a young man who treats her terribly. Starring Jean-Claude Brialy, Aurora Cornu, Beatrice Romand, and Laurence de Monaghan. Le Genou de Claire is a ravishing film from Eric Rohmer.

Set in Lake Annecy for the month of July, the film revolves around an engaged diplomat who meets an old friend where he later befriends a young girl whose stepsister has caught his eye. It’s a film that plays into a man going on a vacation as he’s about to get married where he is trying to observe those around him as well as raise questions about his upcoming nuptials. Eric Rohmer’s screenplay has a unique structure where the first half of the film is about Jerome Montcharvin (Jean-Claude Brialy) spending his time at Lake Annecy where he meets his old friend in the novelist Aurora (Aurora Cornu) who is surprised by the news of his engagement.

Jerome would meet a young girl named Laura (Beatrice Romand) who lives near Aurora who is also a friend of mother as Laura is learning about love where she would have a crush on Jerome. When Laura’s older step-sister Claire (Laurence de Monaghan) arrives for the film’s second half, Jerome is intrigued by her. Most notably her knees as it would be an obsession while he would turn to Aurora about his fascination towards Claire as well as his disapproval in her relationship with a young man in Gilles (Gerard Falconetti) whom he feels doesn’t treat her well.

Rohmer’s direction is definitely simplistic in its presentation where it is shot largely in Lake Annecy where it is this world between France and the Swiss Alps near Lake Geneva. While there are wide shots of the location including its mountains and nearby town, much of Rohmer’s direction is relied on intimacy and exchanges between the characters. Notably in the first half where it’s about Jerome and Laura where the latter would learn about the ideas of love as she would ask Jerome why he’s getting married. The usage of close-ups and medium shots add to the conversations where Rohmer emphasizes on the latter and some precise compositions for the characters to interact as well as observe some of the action that is happening. Most notably in the film’s second half when Claire is properly introduced where she is seen reading and in her bikini where Jerome asks her where is Aurora and Laura. The relationship between Jerome and Claire doesn’t begin right away until Jerome helps Claire and Gilles get some fruit where he takes notice of her knees.

There is a conflict that Jerome would endure as he would converse with Aurora about pursuing Claire but also deal with the moral implications that include telling her about Gilles. Even as he also thinks about Laura who is already having her own first idea of love with a boy her age as the film’s climax that revolves around Jerome and Claire is an indication of what Jerome knows and what he’s thinking about. It is followed by an aftermath that is shown from Aurora’s perspective of what happened where one character does learn something but another still has lots to learn about love. Overall, Rohmer crafts a riveting yet compelling film about an engaged diplomat’s attraction towards a young woman.

Cinematographers Nestor Almendros, Jean-Claude Riviere, and Philippe Rousselot do amazing work with the film’s cinematography with Almendros leading the charge with its naturalistic photography of many of the film’s locations as well as a few of the scenes set at night. Editors Cecile Decugis and Martine Kalfon do excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few jump-cuts for some of the dramatic moments of the film. The sound work of Jean-Pierre Ruh and Michel Laurent do terrific work with the sound as it is largely straightforward with the way it captures many of the sounds on location.

The film’s superb cast include a few notable small roles from Fabrice Luchini as a young man named Vincent that Laura would spend time with during the film’s second half, Michele Montel as Laura’s mother, and Gerard Falconetti as Claire’s selfish boyfriend Gilles. Laurence de Monaghan is fantastic as Claire as a young woman who is in a relationship with a young man who doesn’t treat her well as she is fascinated by Jerome but doesn’t initially find him interesting. Beatrice Romand is excellent as Laura as a teenage girl who would have a crush on Jerome as she is learning about the ideas of love while having many questions about adulthood as it’s a reserved yet mature performance from Romand.

Aurora Cornu is brilliant as Aurora as a novelist friend of Jerome who is the film’s conscience of sorts as a woman whom Jerome turns to as she also observant of everything else around her. Finally, there’s Jean-Claude Brialy in an amazing performance as Jerome Montcharvin as a diplomat set to be married where he deals with the presence of Claire but also Laura’s crush as he turns to Aurora for advice but also reveal a lot about what goes into being in love as he observes Claire’s relationship with Gilles from afar and with disdain towards Gilles in her treatment of Claire.

Le Genou de Claire is a tremendous film from Eric Rohmer. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous locations, beautiful cinematography, and a touching theme of love and longing from afar as well as young love. The film is definitely one of Rohmer’s finest as well as a film that explore the morality of young love. In the end, Le Genou de Claire is a spectacular film from Eric Rohmer.

Eric Rohmer Films: (The Sign of Leo) – The Bakery Girl of Monceau - Suzanne's Career - (Paris vu par-Place de l‘Etoile) – La collectionneuse - My Night at Maud's - (Love in the Afternoon (1972 film)) - (L’enfance d’une ville) - (The Marquis of O) - (Perceval le Gallois) - (Catherine de Heilbronn) - (The Aviator’s Wife) - (Le Beau Mariage) - (Pauline at the Beach) - (Full Moon of Paris) - (The Green Ray) - (Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle) - (Boyfriends and Girlfriends) - (Les Jeux de societe) - (A Tale of Springtime) - (A Tale of Winter) - (L’Arbre, le maire et la mediatheque) - (Le trio en mi bemol) - (Les Rendez-vous de Paris) - (Summer’s Tale) - (Autumn Tale) - (The Lady and the Duke) - (Triple Agent) - (Romance of Astrea and Celadon)

© thevoid99 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Romantic Comedies

For the seventh week of 2019 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. It’s Valentine’s Day as it’s all about romantic comedies. The films that guys take their girlfriends to see to see that love can conquer all and also provide some laughs. It’s a genre that isn’t for everyone as it went through a decline in recent years but it has been a genre that would deliver. However, they tend to delve into elements of too much fantasy and not enough reality where it give people false illusions of what love can be. That is why there’s been so many romantic-comedies over the years that have absolutely fucking sucked ass. Here are my three picks of some of the worst romantic comedies… ever:

1. He’s Just Not That Into You

If anyone chooses to make a film based on some shitty self-help book, stay the fuck away from it. It is a horrible film filled with a lot of pretty people acting like morons where the few that seem to realize how ridiculous the film is are Ben Affleck and Kris Kristofferson are just there for the paycheck and were phoning it in. Never was there a film where, with the exception of Affleck, Kristofferson, and Jennifer Aniston, not only did I dislike everyone but I basically could care less about their problems in trying to find love. Even as it portray women as idiots or sluts with men as shit-for-brain know-it-alls or desperately horny.

2. Valentine’s Day

Another stupid film that features Bradley Cooper though in a more tolerable role as a guy Julia Roberts meets as she’s a military officer given a brief time to return home. It’s a film that wants to play into how great this holiday is though it really shows people being pathetic and stupid. We have Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift as a high school couple who decide to abstain from sex (and we all know how that will turn out for anyone that dates Swift) while Patrick Dempsey is a married guy who falls for Jennifer Garner. We also have recurring Garry Marshall regular Hector Elizondo learning that Shirley MacLaine cheated on him while Anne Hathaway reveals to her boyfriend Topher Grace that she’s a phone sex operator. Ashton Kutcher proposes to Jessica Alba who later have second thoughts and blah, blah, blah.

3. How Do You Know

From James L. Brooks comes what is probably not just one of the worst rom-coms ever but also one of the worst films ever made. More importantly, how the fuck did this piece of film cost $120 million to make plus $30 million for its marketing? The salaries that its stars Reese Witherspoon ($15 million), Jack Nicholson ($12 million), Owen Wilson ($10 million), and Paul Rudd ($3 million) were given plus the $10 million salary Brooks is given is insane. Not to mention that it’s got a horrendous story involving a love triangle between a softball player, her douchebag professional baseball player boyfriend, and a troubled executive who is indicted by the federal government over finances that his father committed. It’s a film that goes all over the place and with the exception of Rudd’s character as well as a notable small role from Kathryn Hahn, there aren’t a lot of likeable characters nor people and situations to really be invested in.

Before I bid adieu. Here is a mix of anti-Valentine’s Day songs that I present to all of these people who latch on to these pathetic romantic-comedies. So until then, happy Valentine’s Day dick-wads.

© thevoid99 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

Written and directed by Chris Smith, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is a film about the infamous Fyre Festival of 2017 that was promoted as a major music festival held in a tropical island founded by media mogul Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule only for a group of people to be conned by landing in an island of tents and cheese sandwiches. The film is a documentary about the events that lead to the formation of the festival and what happened when a bunch of young people arrived and landed in Hell. The result is a gripping yet haunting film from Chris Smith.

On April 27, 2017, thousands of people arrived at the island of Great Exuma at the Bahamas for a lavish music festival that was to feature all sorts of acts such as Blink-182, Major Lazer, Pusha T, Tyga, Disclosure, Migos, and many others with appearances from supermodels such as Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, and many others as it was supposed to be an experience that would allow young upper-middle class kids to enjoy a lavish lifestyle. What happened instead was they arrived to a land of unfinished tents, soaked mattresses, no musical acts have arrived, no electricity, no Wi-Fi, no supermodels, and worst of all, a sad-looking cheese sandwich in a Styrofoam container with a salad and dressing inside.

Organized by rapper Ja Rule and Fyre Media Inc. CEO Billy McFarland, it was supposed to be a music festival that would compete with other music festivals but it ended up being a nightmare as more than 4,000 people were stuck in the Bahamas trying to get out. On the one hand on paper, it looks like a black comedy where a bunch of young rich kids getting stuck in an island landing in Hell as they wasted lots of money on a music festival that never got off the grounded and ended up recreating Lord of the Flies. However, the reality was that not only did these people got scammed but so did those who were working in the Bahamas and those who were working for McFarland as they were sold by his bullshit.

Writer/director Chris Smith examines what had happened and the events that lead to its formation and downfall as well as how McFarland became successful in the first place through this invitation-only charge card that allowed users exclusive rights to get into certain places and through an affordable price. Through this card, McFarland would create a phone app known as Fyre that would allow rich kids to book celebrities for their parties and such which is how McFarland met Ja Rule and the two became business partners where they decided to create this music festival. They went to the Bahamas and were able to get some models to appear for an advertisement through social media and sold people the idea of this music festival in the Bahamas to feature all of these musical acts and celebrities in an island that was once owned by the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

The film features interviews with several individuals who were involved in making the festival including product designer Shiyuan Deng, creative director Mdavid Low, event producer Andy King, a former employee from the Bahamas named J.R., logistics/pilot Keith van der Linde, musical festival consultant Marc Weinstein, Exuma Point Restaurant owner Mary Ann Rolle, VICE news journalist Gabrielle Bluestone, and a few people who paid and attended the festival. Much of the interviews are straightforward as Smith and cinematographers Jake Burghart, Cory Fraiman-Lott, and Henry Zaballos would not only interview various individuals at their homes and offices but also in locations where the festival was held including the island of Norman’s Cay which was a private island that was owned by Carlos Lehder Rivas who co-founded the Medellin cartel with Pablo Escobar.

When McFarland mentioned that the island was owned by Escobar in the advertisement for the festival, the island’s owners refused to have the festival be held forcing McFarland and Ja Rule to move the festival to Great Exuma at a location that was unfinished. That would be the slew of many problems the festival would face as well as its dates from April 28-30 and May 5-7 would coincide with Antigua Sailing Week where many private homes and hotels were unavailable since many who would attend this annual event would book their reservations months to a year in advance. The fact that McFarland wanted to have festival attendees stay in these lavish tents with beds and comfortable chairs to live in was something van der Linde felt wouldn’t work as he and his wife stayed in a tent and said it’s an unsuitable idea for anyone to do in the Bahamas.

Then there’s McFarland where Smith and his editors in Jon Karmen and Daniel Koehler would gather footage of meetings he and Ja Rule would have with other people as Andy King talked about how he felt about McFarland until the moment of the festival and its aftermath. Notably when McFarland would be charged with fraud and other criminal charges where he would still live lavishly and try to create another idea in late 2017/early 2018 which showed how delusional he is as well as the arrogance he displays thinking he wasn’t going to jail. It wasn’t just these people who had unfortunately attended the festival and lost a lot of money that were lied to but also local Bahamians including Mary Anne Rolle and J.R. who lost money and the laborers who spent hours and hours building tents and such were never paid.

Others who suffered through this ordeal were people who worked for McFarland including a few who were asked to do this when they admittedly had no idea what they were doing but would be angry over the fact that McFarland left them in debt as well. It wasn’t just through the festival that he created that put him in trouble but also his other business ventures where those claims he was worth $90 million turned out to be false as he tried to sell tickets for events such as Coachella, the Met Gala, and other big events just before he would be sent to prison where he is currently serving six years.

Sound designer Tom Paul and sound editor Nathan Hasz would do superb work in creating sound collages and effects that play into the joy of the festival but also the horror of what it would become. Music supervisors Ricki Askin, Jon Karmen, and Jackie Palazzolo would provide a soundtrack that is mainly ambient music from Aphex Twin as well as Nine Inch Nails and score music from NIN members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that help play into the dark reality of what had happened.

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is a marvelous film from Chris Smith. It’s a documentary that showcases the idea of a fantasy that was sold by a con artist and a has-been rapper to a bunch of people who ended up on an island eating a lousy cheese sandwich. It’s a film that at times can be comical but also sobering into the reality of what happens when someone goes way over his head into creating something he had no experience with and to make matters worse when he refuses to take responsibility for his actions. In the end, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is a remarkable film from Chris Smith.

© thevoid99 2019

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Young Mr. Lincoln

Directed by John Ford and written by Lamar Trotti, Young Mr. Lincoln is the story about the early life of Abraham Lincoln where he is a lawyer dealing with a murder case as it would define his character and what he would do later on. The film is a look into the life of the man who would later become one of the American Presidents as he is played by Henry Fonda in the first of many collaborations with Ford. Also starring Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver, Arleen Whelan, Eddie Collins, Pauline Moore, and Richard Cromwell. Young Mr. Lincoln is a riveting and intoxicating film from John Ford.

Set mainly in 1837 Springfield, Illinois, the film revolves around Abraham Lincoln who has just started a law firm with John Stuart (Edwin Maxwell) where a murder occurred during an Independence Day celebration where a deputy had been killed following a fight with two young men. It’s a film that plays into a man who is destined for great things as he takes his first steps into greatness yet remains humbled in his pursuit of doing what is right. Lamar Trotti’s screenplay begins in 1832 in New Salem, Illinois where Lincoln is trying to decide what he wants to do where he is encouraged by this then-flame Ann Rutledge (Pauline Moore) to embark in studying law just before she would pass. Much of Trotti’s script play into Lincoln’s time in Springfield as he’s trying to settle small matters as well as be someone the town can count on.

Even as these two brothers in Matt and Adam Clay (Richard Cromwell and Eddie Quillan, respectively) had gotten into a fight with deputy Scrub White (Fred Kohler Jr.) who is killed where their mother Abigail (Alice Brady) witnessed what happened but isn’t sure. With the Clay brothers in trouble and to be hanged, it is Lincoln who is willing to defend them for Abigail Clay while wanting to get an understanding of what had happened as he is able to get the brothers a fair trial to defend them. The script also showcase Lincoln having encounters with the woman who would become his wife in Mary Todd (Marjorie Weaver) who is often accompanied by a future political rival of Lincoln in Stephen Douglas (Milburn Stone).

John Ford’s direction is largely simple in its compositions and setting where it is a more intimate film with a few wide shots of some of the locations that was mainly shot in soundstages in Hollywood. Ford would use close-ups and medium shots to maintain an intimacy into the way Lincoln interacts with other characters including what he does in Springfield such as judging pies and taking part in activities relating to the Independence Day celebration. Yet, it would be overshadowed by the fight between White and the Clay brothers as the former had been harassing one of their sisters earlier that day as it’s a scene that Ford would shoot on a wide shot to get perspective of what is happening and what Abigail sees as there is a confusion into what had happened. There are scenes that play into Lincoln’s personal life as well as his encounters with Todd as Ford would maintain this simplicity yet it is the film’s climatic trial scenes that showcase the air of drama and tension that looms. Especially where Lincoln who is handling his first case is aware of what he’s up against yet he uses common sense and reasoning to get what he’s needed where Ford just captures the tension but also this air of determination to do what is right that would define Lincoln as a man. Overall, Ford crafts a rich and engaging film about the early life of Abraham Lincoln.

Cinematographers Bert Glennon and Arthur Miller doe brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography with its rich look for some of the interiors in the day as well as the interior scenes at night including the jail cells the Clay brothers were staying at. Editor Walter Thompson does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward in terms of its rhythmic cuts for dramatic effect as well as a few humorous moments in the film. Art director Richard Day and Mark-Lee Kirk, with set decorator Thomas Little, do fantastic work with the look of the courthouse, Lincoln’s law office, and other buildings to create 1830s Springfield. Costume designer Royer does amazing work with the costumes from the suit and big tall top hat that Lincoln wears to some of the lavish dresses that Mary Todd wears.

Makeup artist Clay Campbell does nice work with the look of Lincoln from his chin and moles as well some of beards and sideburns men had at the time. The sound work of Eugene Grossman and Roger Henan is terrific for its approach to sound in how gunfire would sound from afar as well as some of the quieter moments in the trial. The film’s music by Alfred Newman is wonderful for its somber yet elegant orchestral score that is largely driven by string arrangements while musical director Louis Silvers provides a soundtrack that mainly features a lot of the traditional music of the times.

The film’s superb cast feature some notable small roles from Spencer Charters as the trial judge Herbert A. Bell, Fred Kohler Jr. as Deputy Scrub White who would harass one of the Clay sisters that would eventually lead to a fight with the Clay brothers and his death, Donald Meek as Prosecutor John Felder trying to prove that the Clay brothers murdered White with intent, Richard Cromwell and Eddie Quinlan in their respective roles as Matt and Adam Clay, Arleen Whelan as their sister Alice, Eddie Collins as a local in Efe Turner, and Milburn Stone as Lincoln’s future political rival Stephen A. Douglas who is also a rival vying for the affections of Mary Todd. Ward Bond is terrific in a small role as Deputy White’s friend John Palmer Cass as a man who claims to saw what happened while raising questions about what he really saw.

Pauline Moore and Marjorie Weaver are fantastic in their respective as Ann Rutledge and Mary Todd with the former being a guide to Lincoln in his career and the latter being someone interested in the man as someone who is driven and determined. Alice Brady is excellent as Abigail Clay as the mother of the Clay brothers who saw what happened but is in conflict to reveal the truth as she doesn’t want to put one or both of her sons in jail. Finally, there’s Henry Fonda in a phenomenal performance as Abraham Lincoln as a man who would become a lawyer as he tries to make sense over a murder case as well as meet the people he’s defending where Fonda displays this air of sensitivity and humbleness as a man that just wants to do what is right and be helpful to everyone.

Young Mr. Lincoln is a spectacular from John Ford that features a great performance from Henry Fonda. Along with its ensemble cast, gorgeous photography, and its story of a young Lincoln trying to be a man that people can count on. It’s a film that showcases a man who would be great as he would take his first steps but also keep his feet on the ground to know that he’s just trying to be a good man. In the end, Young Mr. Lincoln is a sensational film from John Ford.

© thevoid99 2019

Sunday, February 10, 2019

My Night at Maud's

Written and directed by Eric Rohmer, Ma nuit chez Maud (My Night at Maud’s) is the story of a devoted-Catholic engineer who spends the night with a divorced woman as his ideas become challenged. The third film (fourth film in order of its release) as part of Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales follows a man coping with his ideals as he meets a woman with a vivacious personality who challenges his beliefs. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Francoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault, and Antoine Vitez. Ma nuit chez Maud is an evocative and engrossing film from Eric Rohmer.

Set during the Christmas holidays at the French town of Clemont-Ferrand, the film follows a devoted-Catholic engineer who is invited by an old friend to a show where they spend the night with a divorced woman that would have implications for this engineer whose beliefs and ideals are questioned. It’s a film that play into a man staying one night at the apartment of this woman where he later copes with its aftermath just as he is smitten with another woman he encounters in the town that he would see in church on Sundays. Eric Rohmer’s screenplay has this unique three-act structure where the first act follows the life of its protagonist in Jean-Louis (Jean-Louis Trintignant) as he attends the Sunday service while working as an engineer in this town he’s just arrived in. Upon meeting his old friend in Vidal (Antoine Vitez) who is a university lecturer at the town’s college, Vidal would invite Jean-Louis to attend a concert which would begin the second act that largely takes place at the apartment home of a former lover of Vidal in Maud (Francoise Fabian).

In meeting Maud, discussions about the theories of Blaise Pascal where it leads to an argument between Jean-Louis, Vidal, and Maud about these ideas where Vidal leaves to risk driving in the snow with Jean-Louis staying in as he gets to know Maud as a woman who endured heartbreak while revealing her ex-husband had cheated on her some years ago as it’s been a year since she got divorced. The film’s third act isn’t just about Jean-Louis trying to engage into a relationship with Maud but also have the courage to talk with this young blond woman in Francoise (Marie-Christine Barrault) whom he first sees at the Sunday service.

Rohmer’s direction is very intimate in its presentation and setting where it is shot on location in Clemont-Ferrand during the Christmas holidays. While there are some wide shots on top of the mountains to get a look into the town as well as characters walking the mountains, much of the film has Rohmer use medium shots and a few close-ups as it mainly play into the interaction between characters. Notably the scene at Maud’s apartment where much of the film’s second act takes place as there’s not a lot of camera movements in the film in favor of straightforward compositions where Rohmer show Jean-Louis, Maud, and Vidal discussing the theories of Pascal as well as the difference between Atheism and Catholicism as Maud and Vidal practice the former. It also play into this air of sexual and romantic tension between Jean-Louis and Maud once Vidal leaves the apartment with Jean-Louis not wanting to give in to temptation yet Maud is sympathetic to his morals as she is also still reeling from her divorce. Still, there is this air of attraction of their opposite views where Jean-Louis would sleep on her bed with her though nothing sexual happens.

Rohmer does display that restraint while also showcasing this town that Jean-Louis is new to as there’s some beautiful driving scenes into some of the streets and narrow roads where it’s entrancing as well as the lighting display in some parts of the city. Still, Rohmer uses the city as a character with its winter setting that include the film’s third act where Jean-Louis gets to know Francoise and learn they have a lot in common but she isn’t exactly what she seems to Jean-Louis. Overall, Rohmer crafts an intoxicating yet compelling film about an engineer whose Catholic ideals are challenged upon meeting an Atheist woman who is willing to show him a different world.

Cinematographers Nestor Almendros, Emmanuel Machuel, Jean-Claude Gasche, and Philippe Rousselot do amazing work with the film’s black-and-white photography with Almendros doing much of the work in its approach to low-key lighting for the interiors as well as the usage of grey for the scenes in the street and snowy exteriors in the day. Editors Cecile Decugis and Christine Lecouvette do excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward in its presentation with a few jump-cuts for a few low-key dramatic moments. Set decorator Nicole Rachline does fantastic work with the look of Maud’s apartment with its stylish decoration which is a direct contrast to the more quaint homes of Jean-Louis and Francoise. The sound work of Jean-Pierre Ruh, Jacques Maumont, and Alain Sempe do superb work with the sound to play up its natural setting in its exterior locations as well as how music sounds at a concert hall.

The film’s wonderful cast include a few notable small roles from Marie Becker as Maud’s daughter Marie, Anne Dubot as a date of Vidal in its third act, Guy Leger as the Catholic priest who performs the Sunday sermons, and Leonid Kogan as himself who performs at the concert that Jean-Louis and Vidal attend. Antoine Vitez is fantastic as Vidal as an old friend of Jean-Louis who is fascinated by the ideas of Marxism as he would introduce Jean-Louis to Maud while wanting to challenge Jean-Louis ideals on faith. Marie Christine-Barrault is excellent as Francoise as a biology student that Jean-Louis is smitten with as he would see her at Sunday service where he would later talk to her in the third act thinking she is this ideal women when she’s really far more complex but also shares many of Jean-Louis’ ideals on faith.

Francoise Fabian is brilliant as Maud as a divorced single mother who spends much of her time at home dealing with her divorce and her heartbreak while befriending Jean-Louis despite their different views on the world. Finally, there’s Jean-Louis Trintignant in an amazing performance as Jean-Louis as a devoted Catholic engineer who meets Maud one night as he is challenged by her ideals while trying to comprehend his emotions and morals about embarking on a relationship with Maud and his feelings for Francoise.

Ma nuit chez Maud is an incredible film from Eric Rohmer. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous photography, an intimate setting, and themes of faith. It’s a film that explores a man whose meeting with a woman with different beliefs raises questions into his own self and temptations while dealing with the fact that he’s smitten by another woman who shares his ideals. In the end, Ma nuit chez Maud is a sensational film from Eric Rohmer.

Eric Rohmer Films: (The Sign of Leo) – The Bakery Girl of Monceau - Suzanne's Career - (Paris vu par-Place de l‘Etoile) – La Collectionneuse - Claire’s Knee - (Love in the Afternoon) - (L’enfance d’une ville) - (The Marquis of O) - (Perceval le Gallois) - (Catherine de Heilbronn) - (The Aviator’s Wife) - (Le Beau Mariage) - (Pauline at the Beach) - (Full Moon of Paris) - (The Green Ray) - (Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle) - (Boyfriends and Girlfriends) - (Les Jeux de societe) - (A Tale of Springtime) - (A Tale of Winter) - (L’Arbre, le maire et la mediatheque) - (Le trio en mi bemol) - (Les Rendez-vous de Paris) - (Summer’s Tale) - (Autumn Tale) - (The Lady and the Duke) - (Triple Agent) - (Romance of Astrea and Celadon)

© thevoid99 2019

Friday, February 08, 2019

La collectionneuse

Directed by Eric Rohmer and written by Rohmer, Patrick Bauchau, Haydee Politoff, and Daniel Pommereulle, La collectionneuse (The Collector) is the story of an art-dealer and a painter whose holiday in the French countryside is disrupted by a Bohemian woman who is notorious for being a collector of men. The fourth film (third in its release) in a thematic series of films relating to morality known as Six Moral Tales, the film is the study of three people trying to enjoy themselves with one of them creating chaos during this time of relaxation. Starring Patrick Bauchau, Haydee Politoff, and Daniel Pommereulle. La collectionneuse is a ravishing and somber film from Eric Rohmer.

Set in the countryside near the South of France, an art-dealer and his painter friend both choose to spend the summer on a holiday at the home of a friend who is out of town only to learn that a young Bohemian woman is also staying there. It’s a film with a simple premise that is told in a loose style as it’s mainly told from the perspective of the art-dealer Adrien (Patrick Bauchau) who laments over a break-up with his fiancée as he uses the vacation to escape from heartbreak but also focus on work.

The film’s screenplay by Rohmer and his three lead actors in Bauchau, Haydee Politoff, and Daniel Pommereulle as they would write their own dialogue play into this idea of escape as Haydee (Haydee Politoff) is a young woman who knows the owner as she had slept with him where she is known for bedding many men as if she’s a collector. While Adrien is interested in Haydee though he prefers to observe her, it is the painter Daniel (Daniel Pommereulle) that would sleep with her although their relationship wouldn’t last as Haydee becomes intrigued by Adrien who starts to raise questions about having a relationship with her.

Rohmer’s direction is low-key in its simplicity while creating some gorgeous compositions to play into the characters and the environment they’re in. Shot on location near St. Tropez in the South of France, Rohmer’s direction does use wide shots to get a scope of the locations including the town near the countryside home as it plays into a world that is vibrant and stylish that is a sharp contrast to something that is quieter and naturalistic at the house and its nearby beach. Yet, Rohmer aims for simple compositions though there aren’t a lot of close-ups where it’s more about a simple medium or medium-wide shot to play into the characters being in a frame or in a room. It adds to this sexual tension though there aren’t any sex scenes or any nudity that occur but rather through sound and the aftermath of sex.

Rohmer would also maintain this air of dramatic tension and intrigue throughout the film since it is largely told from Adrien’s perspective. Even as Rohmer would have the camera linger around him as it play into his surroundings as well as observing Haydee’s time with other men including Daniel. Adrien does get tempted to be with Haydee as they would kiss from time to time yet it never goes all the way once the film reaches its third act where an antiques collector named Sam (Seymour Hertzberg) would take an interest in Haydee. It would be a moment of moral confusion for Adrien as it relates to Haydee as he copes with his fondness for her but also come into question if he’s just another collection to her conquests or something more. Overall, Rohmer crafts an intoxicating and fascinating film about two men spending the holiday at the south of France with a mysterious young woman.

Cinematographer Nestor Almendros does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of naturalistic lighting for many of its daytime interior/exterior scenes as well as the usage of available light for the scenes set at night. Editor Jacquie Raynal does nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward to play into the drama and some of the tension that occur between its main characters. The film’s music by Blossom Toes and Giorgio Gomelsky is fantastic as it’s largely low-key as it plays in the background of a radio or to play into some of the drama involving Adrien and Haydee.

The film’s terrific cast include a few notable small roles from Dennis Berry as a young conquest of Haydee in Charlie, Mijanou Bardot as Adrien’s fiancée Carole, Annik Morice as a friend of Carole in the film’s prologue, Alain Jouffoy as a writer Daniel meets with early in the film in its prologue, and Seymour Hertzberg as the antiques collector Sam who becomes fascinated by Haydee. Daniel Pommereulle is excellent as the artist Daniel as a man who is hoping to have some fun where he would engage in an affair with Haydee only to lose interest and treat her terribly. Haydee Politoff is brilliant as Haydee as a young Bohemian woman who travels from place to place as well as engage in sexual affairs with men as she becomes fascinated by both Daniel and Adrien with the latter being a challenge but also gain some life experience for her. Finally, there’s Patrick Bauchau in an amazing performance as Adrien as an arts dealer dealing with heartbreak as well as Haydee’s presence where he’s intrigued by her but copes with the moral implications of being one of her conquests as well as the desire to be something more.

La collectionneuse is a remarkable film from Eric Rohmer. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous photography by Nestor Almendros, amazing locations, and themes of temptation and conquests. It’s a film that explores two men and a young woman living at a countryside home where there’s a lot to be expected with one of the men raising questions about this young woman’s lifestyle choice. In the end, La collectionneuse is a marvelous film from Eric Rohmer.

Eric Rohmer Films: (The Sign of Leo) – The Bakery Girl of Monceau - Suzanne's Career - (Paris vu par-Place de l‘Etoile) - My Night at Maud’s - Claire’s Knee - (Love in the Afternoon) - (L’enfance d’une ville) - (The Marquis of O) - (Perceval le Gallois) - (Catherine de Heilbronn) - (The Aviator’s Wife) - (Le Beau Mariage) - (Pauline at the Beach) - (Full Moon of Paris) - (The Green Ray) - (Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle) - (Boyfriends and Girlfriends) - (Les Jeux de societe) - (A Tale of Springtime) - (A Tale of Winter) - (L’Arbre, le maire et la mediatheque) - (Le trio en mi bemol) - (Les Rendez-vous de Paris) - (Summer’s Tale) - (Autumn Tale) - (The Lady and the Duke) - (Triple Agent) - (Romance of Astrea and Celadon)

© thevoid99 2019

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks: Revenge

For the sixth week of 2019 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We delve into the simple subject of revenge. A loved one is killed or humiliated and nothing is being done forcing someone to fight back. It’s a popular subject in film as my picks are more based on its themes told through film series. Here are my three picks:

1. Revenge of the Nerds series (Revenge of the Nerds - Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in ParadiseRevenge of the Nerds III: The Next GenerationRevenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love)

From the 1980s is the story of a bunch of nerds who go to college hoping to do good and get girls only to get bullied, ridiculed, and humiliated by a bunch of asshole jocks. That didn’t stop this band of misfits that include a perverted stoner, a fashionable gay man, a 12-year old genius, and a bunch of nerds from trying to find a house and live their own lives. They still fought back with their brains by finding ways to humiliate the Alpha Betas. The original film remains the best while its 1987 sequel is still an enjoyable romp that shows the Nerds going to Ft. Lauderdale for a college conference. The subsequent made-for-TV sequels weren’t that great as it tended to latch on some un-needed moments of sentimentality.

2. Kill Bill

From Quentin Tarantino is his two-part film series about a bride who goes after the assassins who killed her wedding party and beat the shit out of her while she was late in her pregnancy and the man who is the father of her baby shot her in the head. After surviving all of that and being in a coma for four years, the Bride just got herself up and went after the four who tried to kill her and then go find Bill and kill him for good. It’s a wild and sprawling two-part film series that definitely stands as a high point for Tarantino as well as giving Uma Thurman and David Carradine career-defining performances.

3. Chan-wook Park’s Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance - Oldboy - Sympathy for Lady Vengeance)

Chan-wook Park’s trilogy of revenge is definitely a landmark moment for South Korean cinema as it play into this theme in its fallacies and impact. 2002’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is about its fallacy where a deaf-mute young man and his radical girlfriend kidnap the former’s boss’s daughter for money only for the kidnapping to go wrong and it leads to the boss seeking revenge. 2003’s Oldboy is about a man who is kidnapped and tortured where he’s been captive for 15 years until he is released as he goes after those that took his life away. 2005’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is about a woman going after the man that put her in prison for a crime she didn’t commit as it would play into its themes but also the fallacy of personal justice as it relates to the crime she didn’t commit as well as the people who were affected by this crime.

© thevoid99 2019

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Favourite

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, The Favourite is the story of two cousins who compete against one another to become the favorite and counsel for Queen Anne during the early 18th Century. The film is a study of two women trying to be the closest confidant to Queen Anne who is suffering from depression as she is also coping with events in her palace unaware of what is happening in England. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss, James Smith, and Nicholas Hoult. The Favourite is a rapturous and outrageous film from Yorgos Lanthimos.

Set in the early 18th Century during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701 to 1714, the film follows the life of Queen Anne of England (Olivia Colman) who is dealing with depression and various issues in and out of her palace as she is suddenly pulled in an emotional tug of war in who can be her closest confidant between two cousins. It’s a film that plays into a woman who is leading a country but is incapable of running things where her adviser and lover Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) would be the queen’s spokeswoman. Along the way, she would take in her impoverished cousin Abigail (Emma Stone) who is given a job to work at the palace and later be Sarah’s assistant only to gain favor from the queen. The film’s screenplay by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara does take some dramatic liberties with some of the personal events in Queen Anne’s life in favor of some of the legendary rumors about her. Yet, they do maintain this air of disconnect of the queen as it relates to what is happening in her country.

Notably as there’s a conflict within Parliament as Tory party member Robert Harley (Nicholas Hoult) is against the queen’s idea of doubling property taxes to further fund the war as it was suggested by Sarah and Sidney Godolphin (James Smith). Harley would use Abigail to try and influence the queen as she would become attracted towards a young baron in Samuel Masham (Joe Alwyn) only for Abigail to do small things to win the queen over leading to problems with Sarah. The script doesn’t just play into this tension of favoritism between these two women but it also this dialogue that is biting and also crass in its delivery. Especially in the usage of profanity in how they refer to certain characters in the film as it would intensify during the course of the film as the rivalry between Sarah and Abigail over the queen’s affections become more dangerous.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ direction definitely has an element of style in not just its compositions but the overall presentation of the film. Shot mainly on location at the Hatfield House in Hertfordshire in Britain, the film does play into this period of turmoil with the queen trying to distract herself with food, 17 bunny rabbits, and all sorts of things but it’s not enough as she’s constantly crying over pain in her body and other things. While there are some wide shots in the film, Lanthimos would use fish-eye lenses to get coverage of some of the locations including Parliament, the kitchen, and other things as a way to not rely on tracking shots or hand-held cameras with the exception of a few moments with the usage of dolly to follow a character. Still, Lanthimos maintains an intimacy into his direction in the way he would show these three women interacting with one another as well as put them in a shot at a certain position for some unique compositions and framing.

Lanthimos’ usage of close-ups play into some of the reaction of the characters including Sarah and Abigail in their game of one-upmanship that intensifies as the story progresses. With Sarah being a master and a woman of control, Abigail would slowly learn how to scheme as it would play into her development of someone who was an innocent and impoverished woman with a knowledge of herbs and other small things into someone who gets loss through the usage of power. Lanthimos uses this idea of power-play as two women trying to win over the queen’s favor where Abigail is a woman that is constantly thinking of the bigger picture for England as she has to deal with someone like Harley who has his own ideas that Abigail believes would hurt the country and make Queen Anne look bad in front of the world.

Lanthimos would up the ante during the film’s third act where it is about the reversal of fortunes for Sarah and Abigail with the two both enduring a change in favoritism. Yet, it would also reveal some harsh realities for both women as it relates to the queen. Lanthimos’ direction would become less stylish and more eerie in its compositions with Queen Anne being roped in the middle and becoming disconnected with what is happening with her country. It also play into the idea of human nature and what some will do to maintain a certain position in the palace but also think about the fact that Queen Anne is a woman that has to make the final decisions for her country and these decisions would have an impact on the country. Overall, Lanthimos crafts an intoxicating yet darkly comical film about two women of the court trying to become the favorite for Queen Anne.

Cinematographer Robbie Ryan does incredible work with the film’s cinematography in its usage of candlelight and natural lighting for many of the film’s nighttime interior scenes as well as providing some naturalistic colors for some of the film’s daytime interior/exterior scenes. Editor Yorgos Mavropsaridis does amazing work with the film’s editing with its stylish usage of dissolves and superimposed images as well as some jump-cuts and rhythmic cuts to play into the drama and humor. Production designer Fiona Crombie, with set decorator Alice Felton and supervising art director Lynne Huitson, does excellent work with the look of the many interiors of the house including the queen’s bedroom, the main hall, and the room where Parliament meets. Costume designer Sandy Powell does brilliant work with the costumes in the design of the dresses that the women wear including some of the lavish ones Queen Anne wears as well as some of the clothes that the men wear.

Hair/makeup designer Nadia Stacey does fantastic work with the look of the wigs the men wore including the makeup that is sported by both men and women in parties as well as the look of the queen. Special effects supervisor Bob Thorne and visual effects supervisor Ed Bruce do terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it relates to scenes of Abigail and Sarah shooting birds in the sky. Sound designer Johnnie Burn does superb work with the sound in maintaining an atmosphere in the locations and the way sounds are heard from another room and other elements that help play into the drama while Burn also provide some low-key ambient-like music pieces that pop up occasionally.

Music supervisors Sarah Giles and Nick Payne do nice work with the film’s soundtrack as it mainly feature an array of classical and experimental music pieces from the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach, W.F. Bach, George Frideric Handel, Henry Purcell, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Antonio Vivaldi, Olivier Messiaen, Luc Ferrari, Anna Meredith, and a contemporary piece by Elton John in the film’s final credits.

The casting by Dixie Chassay is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Jenny Rainsford as a tavern owner in Mae, James Smith as the 1st Earl of Godolphin in Sidney Godolphin who is often on Sarah’s side of things relating to politics, and Mark Gatiss as Sarah’s husband in the 1st Duke of Marlborough in John Churchill who leads a regiment as he’s trying to help England win the war. Joe Alwyn is superb as 1st Baron Masham in Samuel Masham as a young baron who falls for Abigail though he’s hired by Harley to woo her as he is essentially a cuckold that is used by everyone. Nicholas Hoult is fantastic as the 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer in Robert Harley as a political figure and landowner who is opposed to the ideas that Sarah is trying to have to fund the war as he is someone that wants the war to end as he’s slimy and full of devilish charm.

Emma Stone is incredible as Abigail as a young woman who was once a lady and is forced to work as a servant where her knowledge of herbal medicine would help the ailing queen as she later becomes Sarah’s assistant and become a close confidant of the queen where she displays a dark demeanor who becomes enamored with the decadence of palace life. Rachel Weisz is phenomenal as the Duchess of Marlborough in Sarah Churchill who is the queen’s closest advisor and lover as she tries to handle the many things that queen needs to decide on as she is very protective of her while she becomes threatened by Abigail whom she’s forced to compete with as well as deal with the severity of Abigail’s own plotting. Finally, there’s Olivia Colman in a tremendous performance as Anne, Queen of Great Britain as a woman filled with self-doubt, grief, and insecurities that are key to her depression as someone that is needed and to be loved while trying to run a country unaware of what is really going on despite Sarah’s counseling where she turns to Abigail for comfort as she would unknowingly play into the chaos in her own palace as it’s a career-defining performance for Colman.

The Favourite is a spectacular film from Yorgos Lanthimos that features great performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. Along with its ensemble cast, its whimsical script, gorgeous look, intricate sound work, and its offbeat approach to music. It’s a period drama that doesn’t play by the rules while being a study of favoritism, grief, and power told in a strange love triangle between three women. In the end, The Favourite is a magnificent film from Yorgos Lanthimos.

Yorgos Lanthimos Films: (My Best Friend (2001 film)) – (Kinetta) – Dogtooth - (The Alps (2011 film)) – The Lobster - (The Killing of a Sacred Deer)

© thevoid99 2019