Monday, August 31, 2020

Films That I Saw: August 2020



Dear 2020,

Fuck you.

I’m sure that is what everyone had to say about this fucking shithole of a year. I mean wow. As if things couldn’t get bad enough, alas things get worse. Police become more unruly as they shoot and kill innocent African-Americans while a 17-year old white kid decides to kill a few protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin and is on Tucker Carlson who thought the kid did the right thing. All of which during coverage of national conventions for the Republican Party where everyone kisses Dookie Tank’s shit-stained ass. People ranging from those rich neighbors holding guns wanting to kill protestors to a once-revered college football legend in Georgia all say things about their president ignoring the fact that more than 185,000 people have died in this pandemic, unemployment has gone up, and everything else has gone to shit while people are dying to attend dumbass parties rented by Tik-Tok celebrities or at a motorcycle rally in Sturgis where they decide to go see fucking Smash Mouth.

The lack of real activity here has gotten to me as I’ve kind of lost the motivation to do anything as I’m spending much of my time taking care of my nephew with my mother as my sister has gone back to work while her husband just got a new job. I don’t have much time to watch anything and I’m often tired as I’m now feeling pain in my neck, my knees, and my back. I think some of it is mental as I’m wondering if this is a sign of me going back to the stages of depression which is something I hope not to endure again. Even as I learned that a few longtime family friends and relatives (not the leeches from my father’s side of the family nor do I care if they have COVID or not) had come into contact with COVID though I’m glad they’re doing OK.


In the month of August 2020, I saw a total of 27 films in 14 first-timers and 13 re-watches with 3 first-timers directed by women as part of my 52 Films by Women pledge. A solid month where the highlight of the month is my Blind Spot in Grave of the Fireflies. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for August 2020:

1. Da Five Bloods


2. Leave No Trace


3. Insignificance


4. Underworld U.S.A.



5. Loop


6. Out


7. Wind


8. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw


9. The Go-Go’s


10. Pay Day


Monthly Mini-Reviews

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw


This was actually really good and better than I thought it would be as I think a lot of it has to do with the involvement of David Leitch who is definitely becoming a top-tier mainstream filmmaker that doesn’t just do action sequences well but also knows when to break from the action in favor of telling a story. Starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham reprising their titular roles, it is a film about these two guys who are forced to team up to save the latter’s sister who is carrying a deadly virus that a man wants. Vanessa Kirby as Shaw’s sister and Idris Elba as the main antagonist in the terrorist Brixton Lore are solid as are the appearances of Helen Mirren as Shaw’s mother, Eiza Gonzalez as a former lover of Shaw, Eddie Marsan as a scientist, Cliff Curtis as Hobbs’ estranged older brother, and WWE star Joe “Roman Reigns” Anoa’i as a brother of Hobbs. It’s a fun film that not only delivers on the action, suspense, and humor but also does give us characters we care about as I’ll be on board for the sequel as I’m waiting for Meryl Streep to join the franchise.

Wind


One of three short films from Pixar’s SparkShorts series that I watched on Disney+ is a short about a boy and his grandmother stuck inside a strange cave where everything around them is floating as they’re trying to gather scraps to create a rocket. It is a touching short film that explores the relationship between a boy and his grandmother as they struggle to get out of this mysterious cave with their ideas and face setbacks along the way.

Loop


The second of three shorts from SparkShorts is definitely the best of the three that I’ve seen so far as well as one of the best films of the year so far. It revolves around a talkative boy who is part of a canoeing project as his partner is an autistic girl whom he’s having a hard time communicating with. Yet, he does find a way as it relates to their surroundings as it is actually a touching and engaging short that does a lot to show how people can communicate and see things in a different way.

Out


The third and final SparkShorts that I saw on Disney+ revolves around a young man who has moved into his new home with his partner but learns that his parents are coming as he hasn’t told them he’s gay. Then he becomes a dog for some strange reason as it adds to the adventure as it is a short film that manages to do a lot more about coming out as well as the idea of masculinity as it is told in a stylish manner.

The Castle


I had this recorded on my DVR (the cable box right now is not working for the time being) as I wanted to see this obscure 1997 TV movie by Michael Haneke that is based on this unfinished novel by Franz Kakfa. It is about this mapmaker who arrives in this strange village inside a castle as he is trying to get the permit to do his work but has to deal with all of this bureaucratic system to do his job as it’s a film where nothing really happens. It just goes on and on as I was disappointed and frustrated by the whole thing as I would say this is my least favorite film by Haneke so far.

The Go-Go’s


Premiering on ShowTime is a documentary film about the popular all-women’s rock band that emerged from the Los Angeles punk rock scene of the late 70s and eventually evolved into something more melodic and pop-driven as they would become one of the most successful bands of the early 1980s. Yet, they were also a band that was notorious for their own excesses and such as drummer Gina Schock talked about guitarist Charlotte Caffey’s drug use where it was so bad. Ozzy Osbourne of all people kicked her out of his dressing room in 1985 during the Rock in Rio music festival. All five key members plus various original members, the group’s former manager, Stewart Copeland of the Police, members of the Specials and Madness, and others talk about the band’s impact as well as questions into why they’re still not in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame which is a fucking sham.

Top 10 Re-watches

1. Rocco and His Brothers


2. A Fish Called Wanda


3. Little Women


4. Flags of Our Fathers


5. Stripes


6. Boomerang


7. The Princess and the Frog


8. Beverly Hills Ninja


9. My Week with Marilyn


10. Dream #7


Well, that is it for August as I’m not sure what I’m going to do at the moment other than the films I still have in my DVR as well as a few films that I have on DVD and in my laptop including the films of Kelly Reichardt. There are the films of A24 that I can watch on demand while I’m extremely doubtful that I will go back to the movie theaters to see any new films such as Tenet as I prefer to stay home and be safe. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off and given these darkest of times. I’ll let the King of Pop and Spike Lee have the final word into what is being said all along.




© thevoid99 2020

Thursday, August 27, 2020

2020 Blind Spot Series: Grave of the Fireflies



Based on the semi-autobiographical short story by Akiyuki Nosaka, Grave of the Fireflies is the story of two siblings trying to survive and fend for themselves during the final days of World War II in Japan that includes the chilling encounter of the firebombing of Kobe. Written for the screen and directed by Isao Takahata, the film is a coming-of-age story set amidst the final days of Japan’s time in World War II as they deal with the war and the lack of humanity they endure. Grave of the Fireflies is a ravishing yet heart-wrenching film from Isao Takahata.

Set during the final days of World War II in the small Japanese town of Kobe during its firebombing, the film revolves around a young boy and his little sister trying to survive the war as their father is away on war and their mother horribly injured from the firebombing leading them to fend for themselves. It’s a film with a simple story though Isao Takahata’s screenplay has an offbeat narrative largely due to the fact that it doesn’t have a conventional beginning nor its ending as it’s told largely by the character of Seita (voice of Tsutomu Tatsumi) about what he and his little sister Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi) would endure during the firebombing of Kobe and its aftermath. Yet, much of its narrative is straightforward as it play into the Seita and Setsuko dealing with air raids and the firebombing as they would live briefly with their aunt (Akemi Yamaguchi) who isn’t fond of having them around and becomes resentful towards them due to their lack of contributions at her home.

Takahata’s direction is full of wondrous imagery as well as images of war that are disturbing such as the images of American planes dropping firebombs as the attention to detail is immense. With the aid of animation director/character designer Yoshifumi Kondo, Takahata does open the film with bleak images set in the aftermath of the war where it is as if the world is starting to rebuild but not everyone is thriving. The presentation of 1945 Kobe as this small town with farmland nearby and all sorts of things as Takahata shows something that is idyllic yet it feels off by this idea of nationalism during a time when Japan was losing the war. Much of Takahata’s compositions are full of gorgeous imagery of that city yet when the aftermath of the destruction of war is one of the most startling images shown on film with some unique lighting by cinematographer Nobuo Koyama and the art direction Nizo Yamamoto. Notably in the scenes involving fireflies as they are this source of innocence and wonder for both Seita and Setsuko during the most trying of times.

Takahata’s direction also has these compositions and images that do play into this air of innocence during its second act where both Seita and Setsuko leave their aunt’s home to live in this cave where it seemed like things would be great. Yet, there is that reality of war that still looms but also this disconnect into what Seita has yet to know about what is going on. Even where he learns about what happened in the third act as it would definitely impact the struggle that Seita would endure as well as food shortage and illness for himself and Setsuko. It would play into this air of hopelessness and despair given the circumstances of what happened to Japan at the end of World War II but also the growing sense of inhumanity that Seita encounters. Its ending is surreal as it play into more into the aftermath of war and the peace that would emerge with Seita and Setsuko watching from afar at this new world. Overall, Takahata creates a majestic yet visceral film about two young Japanese kids dealing with the chaos of war and trying to find a decent life in the darkest of times.

Editor Takeshi Seyama does brilliant work with the editing as it is largely straightforward in playing up to some of the war scenes as well as some of the drama and light-hearted moments. Sound designer Yasuo Uragami does excellent work with the sound in the way bombs sound as well as the sounds of planes and other sound effects such as the natural sounds of nature are presented as it is a major highlight of the film. The film’s music by Michio Mamiya is amazing for its orchestral music core that does feature some upbeat themes in some of the lighter moments but also somber ones with its usage of woodwinds and lush strings as it is a highlight of the film.

The film’s fantastic voice cast feature some notable small contributions from Tadashi Nakamura in various voice roles in the film, Akemi Yamaguchi as Seita and Setsuko’s resentful aunt, and Yoshiko Shinohara as Seita and Setsuko’s mother. Finally, there’s the incredible voice performances of Tsutomu Tatsumi and Ayano Shiraishi in their respective roles as Seita and Setsuko as two young kids dealing the chaos of war and their need to find some good in the world and to have a decent life despite the cruelty of their aunt and the lack of humanity they endure as the voice roles contain some anguish but also an air of innocence.

Grave of the Fireflies is an audacious film from Isao Takahata. Featuring a great voice cast, eerie yet gorgeous images, a sumptuous music score, rich animation, and an unflinching look of life during wartime. The film is an immense yet wondrous film from Studio Ghibli in its simple story of two children trying to live and survive during the final days of World War II. In the end, Grave of the Fireflies is an outstanding film from Isao Takahata.

Isao Takahata Films: (The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun) – (Panda! Go, Panda!) – (Heidi, Girl of the Alps) – (3000 Leagues in Search of Mother) – (Jarinko Chie) – (Anne of Green Gables (1979 animated TV film) – (Gauche the Cellist) – (The Story of Yanagawa’s Canals) – (Only Yesterday) – (Pom Poko) – (My Neighbors the Yamadas) – (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)

© thevoid99 2020

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Leave No Trace



Based on the novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock, Leave No Trace is the story of a PTSD war veteran who lives in the woods with his teenage daughter as they hide from society until they’re found as they struggle to adjust with the modern world. Directed by Debra Granik and screenplay by Granik and Anne Rosellini, the film is an exploration of a father trying to protect his daughter from the horrors of modern-day society as well as trying to find a place they can call home. Starring Ben Foster, Thomasin McKenzie, Jeff Kober, and Dale Dickey. Leave No Trace is a rapturous and somber film from Debra Granik.

The film is the simple story of a PTSD war veteran who lives in seclusion in the woods with his daughter as they are eventually found and taken into the modern world as the man struggles with his new surroundings though his daughter is intrigued by it. It’s a film with a simple premise as screenwriters Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini as there isn’t a lot of heavy dialogue in favor of its main protagonists in Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) just living their life in the woods as the first act is about their life in the woods and how Will makes money to get supplies as it involves him and Tom going into the city where Will gets meds and sell them to the other troubled veterans. When Tom is accidentally discovered by a hiker, everything changes as the second act has the two evaluated and given a home where Will begrudgingly works for a Christmas tree farmer. It is there where Will and Tom’s relationship changes as the latter slowly befriends people and finds a community but Will’s own troubles forces them to flee as uncertainty becomes the norm. Even as Will and Tom struggle to find a new home despite the latter’s need for stability.

Granik’s direction is entrancing for not just the visuals she creates but also in the atmosphere she maintains in this battle of nature vs. the modern world as a backdrop between the relationship between father and daughter. Shot largely on location in Oregon with Portland being the city, the film does use a lot of wide shots not just to establish the locations but also in creating some unique compositions as it relates to the disconnect between Will and Tom and their own encounter with society. Even as it play into the growing separation between father and daughter as it relates to their encounter with the world. Granik also brings some intimacy into the medium shots and close-ups as the latter help play into the sense of fear and uncertainty that Will and Tom would face. Even as they also try to adjust to living at home where Will becomes uneasy with his new surroundings that includes a shot of a helicopter flying above him carrying trees.

Granik also maintains that atmosphere during the second act where Will and Tom return to their old home only to realize it’s gone while other people who were living nearby also lose their homes. Granik maintains that realism into the struggle to find a home within the woods away from modern society and cities but there is also this uncertainty into what they will find. The film’s third act has Granik showcase an alternative where Will and Tom don’t have to be in society but also a place that is stable and with a community of its own. It is a community that does feel like it isn’t totally disconnected from the modern world but offers a haven for someone like Will who continues to struggle with PTSD. Yet, Granik focuses on this father/daughter relationship that is trying to stay together but there are things that Will is unable to handle while Tom is eager to be part of something as its ending is about a father and daughter making a decision about the future and salvation for both of them. Overall, Granik crafts a heart-wrenching yet riveting film about a father-and-daughter trying to live their life away from the trappings of modern society.

Cinematographer Michael McDonough does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its approach to natural lighting for many of the daytime exterior scenes with a few filters for some of the scenes set in the rain along with low-key lighting for some of the interior scenes. Editor Jane Rizzo does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few jump-cuts for dramatic purposes as well as rhythmic cuts to play into the reaction of the characters. Production designer Chad Keith, with set decorator Vanessa Knoll and art director Jonathan Guggenheim, does amazing work with the look of the home that Will and Tom lived in at the woods as well as the house they would briefly stay in as it play into the contrast of the two worlds they encounter.

Costume designer Erin Aldridge Orr does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward with casual clothes including knitted clothing and hats that both Will and Tom wear. Sound editor Damian Volpe does superb work with the sound to maintain that air of natural atmosphere of the locations in the woods as well as the chaotic sounds of the city. The film’s music by Dickon Hinchliffe is incredible for its rich mixture of folk and ambient music as it play into the air of uncertainty and drama that Will and Tom endure in their journey while music supervisor Susan Jacobs provide a soundtrack that features elements of folk and indie that feature contributions from Michael Hurley and Marisa Anderson who both appear in the film as musicians in the film’s third act and Kendra Smith with a song that appears in the film’s final credits.

The casting by Kerry Barden, Simon Max Hill, and Paul Schnee is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Isiah Stone as a teenage farm boy that Tom befriends, Derek John Drescher as a homeless veteran Will does business with, Michael Prosser as Will’s social worker, Dana Millican as Tom’s social worker, David M. Pittman as a former Army medic in the film’s third act that helps Will, Jeff Kober as a tree farm owner, and Dale Dickey in a terrific small role as a trailer park owner in the film’s third act who helps Will and Tom find a new home as well as a stable lifestyle. Finally, there’s the duo of Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Will and Tom. Foster brings that ragged tone to his character that is full of anguish and regret as a man that is trying to live away from society as he is unable to handle with a lot of the things that hurts him. McKenzie’s performance is the most revelatory as this young woman who had little encounter with the outside world and society yet finds some of its value as it relates to community and a sense of belonging. Even as she manages to be natural in her reaction to things while she has a great rapport with Foster as it adds to the understated tone of her performance.

Leave No Trace is a magnificent film from Debra Granik that features tremendous performances from Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie. Along with its ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, minimalist story, a somber music score, and a study of a father/daughter relationship against the ideas of the modern world. It’s a film that explore two people living away from the trappings of society as they later cope with the modern world and what it would offer with one struggling to be part of and another wanting to be part of it. In the end, Leave No Trace is an outstanding film from Debra Granik.

Debra Granik Films: Down to the Bone - Winter's Bone - (Stray Dog (2014 film))

© thevoid99 2020

Friday, August 21, 2020

Against the Crowd Blog-a-thon 2020




It’s August which means that it’s time once again the annual Against the Crowd Blog-a-thon hosted by Wendell of Dell on Movies. Having participated in this event for the past five years, it’s a chance to go against everyone and be on your own as it’s something I like to do as my contributions in these past years have been really fun as anyone who hasn’t participated should cite my contributions from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Here are the rules with a few updates for this year’s edition:


• Pick one movie “everyone” loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have score of 75% or more on rottentomatoes.com (or at least 7.5 on imdb.com). Tell us why you hate it.

• Pick one movie that “everyone” hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of 35% or less on rottentomatoes.com (or 4.0 or less on imdb.com). Tell us why you love it.

• Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.

• Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own (just include all the pertinent details), or just mention this blogathon if using an audio or visual medium.

• Let us know what two movies you intend on writing, vlogging, posting, or podcasting about in one of the following ways: Comment on this or any ACB 2020 post on this site, tweet me @w_ott3, or e-mail me at dellott@yahoo.com.

• Publish your post on any day from Friday, August 21 through Sunday, August 23, 2020, and include a link to this announcement. If you’re a podcaster or YouTuber that is interested in participating just talk about your chosen movies during your closest podcast and/or video to those dates and mention that you are taking part in this blogathon.

• If posting on social media, use the hashtag #AgainstTheCrowd2020



I don’t understand the adulation that James L. Brooks have other than his work as a producer as he does deserve some praise for his work on television as shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Simpsons, Taxi, and other shows while launching the careers of filmmakers such as Wes Anderson and Cameron Crowe. Other than that, why do people think he’s a big deal in the world of film? He’s only made one film that I liked that is Broadcast News which was a different film in comparison to everything else he did. Other than that, a lot of them have a lot of overwrought sentimentality that is just sappy and manipulative. He’s only made six films in his career so far yet half of them have not been well-received as the last film he did in How Do You Know was trashed by the critics and was a massive box office flop. Spending $120 million for a lame rom-com plus $30 million in marketing is just irresponsible.

Having already trashed As Good As It Gets back in 2016, it’s time to trash the film that made him famous and won a bunch of Oscars including Best Picture. It’s a drama about a relationship between mother and daughter that spans for 30 years as it is full of drama and all sorts of shit with Shirley MacLaine being possessive prompting her daughter in Debra Winger to rebel and wanting a life of her own despite the fact that the man she married is a total pussy and cheats on her as she would cheat on him. MacLaine would go into a relationship with Jack Nicholson that is all over the place where it wants to be funny but the humor feels forced while it gets extremely sappy towards the end. This is the film that beat The Big Chill and The Right Stuff for Best Picture and Brooks beat the likes of Ingmar Bergman and Mike Nichols for Best Director? Oscars definitely fucked up that year.



In his lifetime, Chris Farley has only been in two films that were well-received as a lot of the films he did weren’t exactly favorites with the critics though there were a few that did like his approach to physical comedy. Yet, the characters he played are these na├»ve, well-meaning, underachieving slackers who are actually kind people despite the fact they also have a temper. Farley knew his limits but he was good at what he did and knew how to bring the laughs. In this 1997 film directed by Dennis Dugan who also had a career of poorly-received films despite such films like Problem Child, Brain Donors, Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, and Saving Silverman that are actually really good films. This film about a white orphan boy who is raised by ninjas as he is eager to be this legendary Great White Ninja yet also aspires to be revered like his adopted older brother. When an American woman comes to the monastery asking for help, Farley travels to Beverly Hills to help her and hilarity ensues.

The film also features Chris Rock as a bellboy who is amazed by Farley’s ninja skills as he is eager to become a ninja as the scenes with Farley and Rock are a joy to watch while Robin Shou does a great supporting performance as Farley’s adopted older brother who is surprisingly quite pretty when he’s dressed up like a woman. The laughs never stop as it often finds a way to be funny with Farley also showing he has range as he is someone that knows that he’s not as skilled as other great ninjas but has a lot of heart. It’s a film that needs to be re-evaluated yet it does get praise from one of cinema’s great actors in Christian Bale.

© thevoid99 2020

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Thursday Movie Pick: Female Buddy Movies




In the 34th week of 2020 for Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into female buddy movies where it’s about the ladies and them being sisters to one another. Even if they had to involve themselves in misadventure and chaos. Here are my three picks:

1. Daisies



The 1960s saw a new wave of films from Czechoslovakia that was known as the Czech New Wave as this film is one of its pillars. A story about two young women just causing all sorts of crazy-ass shit as a way to rebel against society is just absolutely insane from start to finish. Yet, Vera Chytilova just lets the absurdity go all out and there is never a dull moment in the film at all. Even when things slow down, it never stops the fun as it’s a film that a lot of people need to see.

2. Modern Girls



An underrated film from the 1980s by Jerry Kramer, the film revolves around a night where three young women go clubbing as one of them wants to find a rock star while another stands up a date with a nice guy. It is a film of its time yet the performances of Cynthia Gibb, Virginia Madsen, and Daphne Zuniga as well as Clayton Rohner in a dual role as the rock star and the nice guy do keep it engaging. Even as it features an amazing music soundtrack from acts like Icehouse, Toni Basil, the Jesus & Mary Chain, and Depeche Mode.

3. Dick



Andrew Fleming’s 1999 film about two teenage girls who play a role in the Watergate scandal is probably one of the strangest films in the 20th Century that explore the world of political scandals. Though the identity of Deep Throat has been unveiled, the idea that two dim-witted teenage girls in Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams being Deep Throat is hilarious. Yet, Dunst and Williams really maintain that air of exuberance and joy while the film features Dan Hedaya in probably the most definitive performance of Richard Nixon while the ensemble that features Will Ferrell and Bruce McCullough respectively as Woodward and Bernstein, Jim Breuer as a guilt-ridden John Dean, Harry Shearer as G. Gordon Liddy, Dave Foley as Bob Hadleman, and a young Ryan Reynolds. It's just a joy from start to finish as it does create a valid explanation about the missing 18 ½ minutes of tape that Nixon erased.

© thevoid99 2020

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Pay Day (1922 film)



Written, scored, edited, directed, and co-starring Charles Chaplin, Pay Day is the story of a laborer who tries to use his wages to get a drink as he deals with his wife taking some of the wages he makes. The 28-minute silent comedy has Chaplin play the role of the Tramp as he tries to cope with his job and life at home. Also starring Edna Purviance, Mack Swain, Syd Chaplin, and Phyllis Allen. Pay Day is a wondrous and entertaining film from Charles Chaplin.

The film follows the day in the life of a laborer in the Tramp as he is late for work as he does what he can to get his daily wages in the hopes of not having to give any to his cruel wife (Phyllis Allen). It’s a film with a simple premise as the Tramp would do his job while he fawns over the foreman’s daughter (Edna Purviance) who eats lunch with her father Mack Swain). Still, Chaplin does play into the Tramp’s attempt to find some joy in his dreary life as it’s the wages that allows him the chance to be happy for a brief moment despite the fact that his wife would take much of it. Yet, the Tramp would get the chance to drink with his co-workers but would have trouble trying to get home.

Chaplin’s direction not only has him creating some unique gags and compositions that help play into the humor. Much of the compositions are straightforward with a lot of usage of medium shots to get coverage of the location as well as a gag one of which involves an elevator where the Tramp tries to a bit of lunch. Another gag has Chaplin looking over his wages and hiding them unaware that his wife is behind him as it play into the dynamic of his relationship with his wife. Chaplin would get some camera movement for a sequence of the Tramp trying to catch a street car as it showcased some of the obstacles his character would go through. Also serving as editor and music composer, Chaplin keeps the cutting straightforward while the score (that he created in the 1970s) has this playful tone that help add to the humor with its usage of woodwinds and strings. Overall, Chaplin creates an engaging and joyful film about a tramp trying to make an honest day’s work despite the drawbacks in his life.

Cinematographer Roland Totheroh does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography in capturing the richness of the exterior scenes at night as well as in the chase with its usage of available light. Art director Charles D. Hall does excellent work with the look of the construction site as well as the home the Tramp and his wife live in. The film’s marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Sydney Chaplin in a trio of roles as a mustached workman, a friend of the Tramp, and a lunch cart owner, Henry Bergman as a fat workman, Al Ernest Garcia in a dual role as a tall workman and a police officer, Edna Purviance as the foreman’s daughter whom the Tramp is smitten with, Mack Swain as the pushy foreman, and Phyllis Allen as the Tramp’s cruel wife. Finally, there’s Chaplin in an incredible performance as the Tramp as a laborer trying to make an honest day’s work yet arrives late and often creates chaos without meaning to as he also wants to find some joy endures trouble in his journey to return home.

Pay Day is a remarkable film from Charles Chaplin. Featuring some great visual gags, funny performances from its cast, and a simple yet effective story about the day in the life of a laborer. It’s a film that has Chaplin play into his approach to physical humor and gags while showcasing the struggles of a laborer through his famed Tramp character. In the end, Pay Day is an incredible film from Charles Chaplin.

Charles Chaplin Films: (Twenty Minutes of Love) - (Caught in the Rain) - (A Busy Day) - (Her Friend the Bandit) - (Mabel’s Married Life) - (Laughing Gas) - (The Face On the Bar Room Floor) - (Recreation) - (The Masquerader) - (His New Profession) – The Rounders (1914 film) - (The Property Man) - (The New Janitor) - (Those Love Pangs) - (Dough & Dynamite) - (Gentlemen of Nerve) - (His Musical Career) - (His Trysting Place) - (Getting Acquainted) - (His Prehistoric Past) - (His New Job) - (A Night Out) - (The Champion) - (In the Park) - (A Jitney Elopement) - (The Tramp) - (By the Sea (1915 film)) - (His Regeneration) - (Work (1915 film) - (A Woman) - (The Bank) - (Shanghaied) - (A Night in the Snow) - (Burlesque on Carmen) - (Police (1916 film)) - (Triple Trouble) - (The Floorwalker) - (The Fireman) - (The Vagabond) - (One A.M. (1916 film)) - (The Count) - (The Pawnshop) - (Behind the Screen) - (The Rink) - (Easy Street) - (The Cure (1917 film)) - (The Immigrant (1917 film)) - (The Adventurer) – A Dog's Life - (The Bond) – Shoulder Arms - Sunnyside - A Day's Pleasure - (The Professor) – The Kid (1921 film) - The Idle Class - The Pilgrim (1923 film) - A Woman of Paris - The Gold Rush - The Circus (1928 film) - City Lights - Modern Times - The Great Dictator - Monsieur Verdoux - Limelight - A King in New York - (A Countess from Hong Kong)

© thevoid99 2020

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Rounders (1914 film)




Written, edited, directed, and co-starring Charles Chaplin, The Rounders is the story of two drunks who get into trouble with their wives as they decide to cause trouble. The sixteen-minute film is a silent comedy that has Chaplin and co-star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle be two men who decide to stay away from their wives because of their drunken behavior. Also starring Phyllis Allen and Minta Durfee. The Rounders is a whimsical and enjoyable film from Charles Chaplin.

The film is the simple story of two men who are both drunk as they bring nothing but disappointment to the wives as they decide to hang out and get drunk. That is the plot as a whole as it just plays into two men who just want to drink and that’s it while they’ve managed to upset their wives who learn that their husbands have stolen their money just so they can have a drink. Charles Chaplin’s direction is largely straightforward as it’s just a simple static shot where there are no camera movements as everything is presented in a medium shot that allows Chaplin to get coverage of a room or location as well as a physical comedic set-up.

With the aid of cinematographer Frank D. Williams shooting the film’s black-and-white film stock, Chaplin maintains this air of controlled chaos in the film as it play into the physical humor and the outcome of these two drunks. Despite the appearance of a man in black face, Chaplin does maintain a sense of exuberance in his humor where he allows Phyllis Allen and Minta Durfee in their respective roles as Chaplin and Arbuckle’s wives to be funny as the film does belong to both Charles Chaplin and Roscoe Arbuckle maintain that sense of physicality in their approach to comedy with Chaplin often being the one being dragged and Arbuckle as the heavy.

The Rounders is an excellent film from Charles Chaplin. Featuring some amazing hijinks and comedy from Chaplin and Roscoe Arbuckle, it’s a silent comedy that has the actors play to their strengths as well as telling a simple story about two guys just wanting to get drunk. In the end, The Rounders is a fantastic film from Charles Chaplin.

Charles Chaplin Films: (Twenty Minutes of Love) - (Caught in the Rain) - (A Busy Day) - (Her Friend the Bandit) - (Mabel’s Married Life) - (Laughing Gas) - (The Face On the Bar Room Floor) - (Recreation) - (The Masquerader) - (His New Profession) - (The Property Man) - (The New Janitor) - (Those Love Pangs) - (Dough & Dynamite) - (Gentlemen of Nerve) - (His Musical Career) - (His Trysting Place) - (Getting Acquainted) - (His Prehistoric Past) - (His New Job) - (A Night Out) - (The Champion) - (In the Park) - (A Jitney Elopement) - (The Tramp) - (By the Sea (1915 film)) - (His Regeneration) - (Work (1915 film) - (A Woman) - (The Bank) - (Shanghaied) - (A Night in the Snow) - (Burlesque on Carmen) - (Police (1916 film)) - (Triple Trouble) - (The Floorwalker) - (The Fireman) - (The Vagabond) - (One A.M. (1916 film)) - (The Count) - (The Pawnshop) - (Behind the Screen) - (The Rink) - (Easy Street) - (The Cure (1917 film)) - (The Immigrant (1917 film)) - (The Adventurer) – A Dog's Life - (The Bond) – Shoulder Arms - Sunnyside - A Day's Pleasure - (The Professor) – The Kids (1921 film) - The Idle Class - Pay DayThe Pilgrim (1923 film) - A Woman of Paris - The Gold Rush - The Circus (1928 film) - City Lights - Modern Times - The Great Dictator - Monsieur Verdoux - Limelight - A King in New York - (A Countess from Hong Kong)

© thevoid99 2020

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Insignificance



Directed by Nicolas Roeg and written by Terry Johnson that is based on the play by the latter, Insignificance is the story of a meeting between four famous figures in a hotel room in New York City in the year 1954 as they all deal with fame and such. The film is an exploration of four famous people who deal with their own celebrity as none of them are named by who they are as they all talk about their own world inside a hotel room. Starring Gary Busey, Michael Emil, Theresa Russell, Will Sampson, Patrick Kilpatrick, and Tony Curtis. Insignificance is a rapturous and enthralling film from Nicolas Roeg.

Set during a day at a hotel in New York City in 1954, the film revolves around four iconic figures who all meet at a hotel room as they all discuss themselves and their contributions to the world. It’s a film with a simple premise as it revolve around these four people as they would all meet at the hotel room of one of the film’s protagonists in the Professor (Michael Emil). Terry Johnson’s screenplay play into this period that spans nearly 24 hours as it has the Professor going over notes as he would meet with the Senator (Tony Curtis) while the Actress (Theresa Russell) is making a movie while her husband in the Ballplayer (Gary Busey) watches with disdain. Later on as the Senator goes into his room at the hotel after a discussion with the Professor doesn’t go well as he planned. The Actress would meet the Professor as it would lead to discussions of existence as the Ballplayer and the Senator would later join in as the script has these four characters plus an elevator attendant known as the Indian (Will Sampson) be part of this sociological experience on existence.

Nicolas Roeg’s direction is definitely stylish in the fact that much of the action takes place inside a hotel and a hotel room as much of the film is shot inside a studio soundstage in Wembley. While there are some exterior shots of New York City, the film is more about four people often engaging in conversations in a hotel room with recurring flashbacks appearing every now and then as it play to these people and who they are. There are some wide shots in the film including in a few of the locations as it relates to some of the flashbacks that the Professor is thinking about that also include these dark images as it relates to his own guilt. Much of Roeg’s direction is intimate in its usage of medium shots and close-ups to get the characters to talk with one another as there’s also a lot of close-ups relating to the Actress and her beauty that also feature flashbacks of how she became this icon through extreme close-ups of her ass and breasts.

There are also a lot of symbolism in the imagery whether it’s the Actress in how she’s seen by the world or images of clocks and watches as it relates to time where the Professor carries a stopwatch with the time 8:15 as if it means something. Roeg also maintains this air of tension once the Ballplayer appears at the Professor’s room while there are also these chilling images of the Actress dealing with her insecurities. Even as she is trying to prove that she’s not this dim-witted beauty as she does know things yet her husband doesn’t get it as he’s kind of a raging buffoon who does mean well. It also play into this air of foreshadowing and the growing sense of fear in all four of these characters whether it’s from their past or what is to come. Most notably its ending as it relates to time and the guilt that looms from the Professor into what he’s created as well as what the Senator wanted from him and the Ballplayer pleading to have another chance with the Actress. Overall, Roeg creates a provocative yet captivating film about four popular figures in the 1950s meeting in a hotel to deal with their fame and the world around them.

Cinematographer Peter Hannan does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its stylish usage of lighting and shadows for the scenes in the hotel room along with the way a bar is lit and the streets at night as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Tony Lawson does excellent work with the editing as it help play into the drama and emotional suspense as well as the stylish usage of jump cuts for some of the flashback scenes. Production designer David Brockhurst, with art directors Arthur Max and Celia Barnett, does amazing work with the look of the hotel room and other interiors as well as the bar and a few of the exteriors in the film. Costume designer Shauna Harwood does fantastic work with the costume from the suits that the Senator and the Ballplayer wear as well as the sweatshirt that the Professor wears and the white dress that the Actress wears.

Hair stylist Jan Archibald and makeup designer Christine Beveridge do terrific work with the look of the Professor with his hair and the Actress with her platinum blonde hair. The special effects work of Alan Whibley is wonderful for the film’s end sequence as it play into the horrors and fears of the characters involved in the film. The sound work of Paul LeMare is superb for the way things sound in and out of the hotel room as well as the sounds of things happening in the hallway and in some of the exterior settings outside of the hotel. The film’s music by Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer is incredible for its mixture of jazz, lush orchestral music, hip-hop, and electronics to play into the sense of chaos and drama that occurs throughout the film that also features a soundtrack of music ranging from jazz, blues, and country that are performed by Roy Orbison, the trio of Will Jennings, Glenn Gregory, and Claudia Brucken on a song, and Theresa Russell.

The casting by Lucy Boulting and Margery Simkin is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Patrick Kilpatrick as the Actress’ driver, Raynor Scheine as an autograph hunter, and Will Sampson in a fantastic performance as the elevator attendant known as the Indian who is often in the elevator meeting the protagonists and have brief conversations with them while observing everything they’re thinking about. Gary Busey is excellent as the Ballplayer as a man driven with envy for his wife while trying to understand what she wants as he’s also a man with some knowledge despite the fact that he is a bit of buffoon that means well yet knows a lot about baseball. Tony Curtis is brilliant as the Senator as a man trying to uphold some idea of law and order as well as get some documents from the Professor and have him testify or else the Professor gets in trouble as Curtis brings a charm and a devious approach to the character.

Michael Emil is amazing as the Professor as a man trying to come up with answers about existence and the shape of the universe while dealing with his pasts and the horrors of what he had created as it would haunt him as he’s also looking at his stopwatch. Finally, there’s Theresa Russell in a phenomenal performance as the Actress as this woman who exudes immense beauty but is also insecure yet curious about the ideas of existence and the universe as Russell has this charm and exuberance in her character as well as selling the chaos that is her emotions as it is a career-defining performance from Russell.

Insignificance is a tremendous film from Nicolas Roeg. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, studies of fame and existence through these famous cultural figures of the 1950s, incredible art direction, and a sumptuous music score. The film is definitely a unique look into the world from the viewpoint of four famous figures along with the events that haunt them. In the end, Insignificance is a spectacular film from Nicolas Roeg.

Nicolas Roeg Films: Performance - Walkabout - (Glastonbury Fayre) – Don't Look Now - The Man Who Fell to Earth - (Bad Timing) – (Eureka) – (Castaway) – (Aria-Un ballo in maschera) – (Track 29) – (The Witches (1990 film)) – (Heart of Darkness (1993 film)) – (Two Deaths) – (Full Body Massage) – (Samson and Delilah) – (Puffball)

© thevoid99 2020

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Thursday Movie Picks: School




In the 33rd week of 2020 for Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of school as usually in August, kids would return to school but given the circumstances we’re in here in Shitsville. It’s best they stay at home and learn online though that seems impossible yet some parts of the country such as Dumbfuck Georgia chooses to let schools re-open as kids are likely to get sick or die from COVID. School sucked. Here are my three picks:

1. Zero de Conduite



Jean Vigo’s third film released in 1933 is this exploration of rebellion in a school where a group of kids decide to be unruly at a boarding school in France. It plays into this ceremony that is to occur where a group of kids including a new student decide to fuck things up and be as rowdy as they want to be. It’s a film that is influential with a short running time of 44-minutes as it does showcase the sides of two camps with the authority figures not really being evil but rather oppressive with the kids just tired of being in detention and all sorts of shit.

2. if...



A film that was influenced by Vigo’s film is the 1969 Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival that year by Lindsay Anderson that also explores rebellion at a boarding school. This time, the setting is in Britain as it play into a group of students who endure abuse and humiliating punishments at the hands of their cruel teachers, upperclassmen, and authority figures while the arrival of the student Mick Travis only increases the tension. It also play into a world that is completely disconnected with what is going on in the outside as the film features a breakthrough performance from Malcolm McDowell as Travis who is the leader of these rebels as it is a film that play into the ideas of reality and surrealism that includes its ending.

3. All I Wanna Do



A gem that not many people (unless you were alive during the late 90s/early 2000s) have seen that is written and directed by Sarah Kernochan is a film set in a 1960s all-girl’s boarding school that stars Lynn Redgrave, Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffman, Heather Matazarro, Rachel Leigh Cook, Merritt Weaver, Monica Keena, and Vincent Kartheiser is about a school that is in danger going coed against the wishes of its student and headmistress. It’s a film that is a different take of rebellion except it’s about a bunch of girls who deal with the idea of their school becoming coed as some are excited about it at first but then realize that a lot of the boys at the other school are a bunch of dicks. It’s got some humor but it’s also a film that definitely at least allow women to have their say about using their institution as a place of sanctuary and to help them get into whatever college they want to.




© thevoid99 2020