Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Judgement (1999 short film)

 

Written and directed by Chan-wook Park, Simpan (Judgement) is the story of a funeral as it relates to the death of a young woman that a couple claims is their long-lost daughter where its funeral director makes a discovery of his own. The film is the study of loss amidst a series of events in South Korea that played into real-life events involving natural disasters. Starring Gi Ju-bong, Koh In-bae, Kwon Nam-hee, Park Ji-il, Choi Hak-rak, and Myeong Ji-yeon. Simpan is a compelling and provocative short film by Chan-wook Park.

The film revolves around a shopping mall collapse in which a young woman had died with a couple claiming that the young woman is their daughter until the day of the funeral where its director makes a discovery that confuses everyone. It is a short film that doesn’t just play into these real-life disasters that was happening in South Korea as this body that was crushed by this collapse in a shopping mall is the basis for all of this drama that involves a couple, the funeral director, a public servant, a news reporter, and later a young woman who would arrive with claims of her own. There is also this revelation that whoever makes the legitimate claim will receive half-a-million dollars that would add to this sense of ambiguity that is prevalent throughout the film.

Chan-wook Park’s direction is largely intimate as it is set largely in two rooms with one being a cooler for the bodies and beer with another room is where the autopsy happens. Park would intersperse real-life news footage of events ranging from collapsed bridges, tornadoes, and collapsed buildings where the funeral director (Gi Ju-bong) watches it on TV as he is getting ready for the funeral as he meets this couple (Koh In-bae and Kwon Nam-hee) as they’re being filmed by a reporter (Choi Hak-rak) with a public servant (Park Ji-il) being a witness. Much of Park’s direction emphasizes on close-ups and medium shots to play into the intimacy as there are a few comical moments of the couple, servant, and director all drinking beer and talking as they try to make sense of what is going on. Even as the presence of a mysterious young woman (Myeong Ji-yeon) arrives with some claims of her own as Park’s direction definitely becomes tighter and more disturbing as the film’s final moments is given a completely different visual presentation following a natural disaster as if something bigger has happened. Overall, Park crafts a chilling and gripping film about people dealing with the loss and the identity of the deceased.

Cinematographer Park Hyun-Cheol does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography ranging from grainy video footage along with some unique lighting for many of the interior scenes. Editor Kim Sang-bum does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward with the exception of a few rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense. Production designer Oh Sang-man does amazing work with the look of the two rooms in the film such as the body cooler and the main autopsy room in some of its grimy detail. The makeup work of Heo Jeong-im does nice work with the look of a character but also the design of the body. The film’s music by Choi Hyuck is wonderful for its classical-piano based score that does feature some piano sonatas as it play into some of the dramatic elements of the film.

The film’s superb ensemble cast that includes Myeong Ji-yeon as this mysterious young woman with some claims of her own that would throw everything into chaos as well as Choi Hak-rak as a news reporter who tries to butt in towards private moments as he would also create some turmoil during what is a moment of grief. Park Ji-il’s performance as the public servant is fantastic as someone who is just trying to follow protocol while also trying to make sense of all of this chaos that is around him. The performances of Koh In-bae and Kwon Nam-hee are excellent with the former being this quiet man who is just dealing with loss and later confusion while the latter is wracked with grief as she also tells stories where a few things start to not add up. Finally, there’s Gi Ju-bong in a brilliant performance as the funeral director whose discovery of the body has him claiming that the body is his own long-lost daughter as he copes with the chaos of this discovery as well as what this couple is dealing with.

Simpan is a marvelous film from Chan-wook Park. Not only is it an effective, compelling, and terrifying short film that explores people dealing with grief but also identity and regret. Even as the short would feature elements that would become trademarks of what Park would do in the years to come. In the end, Simpan is a remarkable film from Chan-wook Park.

Chan-wook Park Films: (The Moon is… the Sun’s Dream) – (Trio (1997 film)) – JSA: Joint Security Area - Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance - (If You Were Me-Never Ending Peace and Love) – Oldboy - Three Extremes...-Cut - Lady Vengeance I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK - Thirst (2009 film) - (Night Fishing) – (60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero) – (Day Trip) – Stoker - The Handmaiden - (The Little Drummer Girl (2018 TV series) - (Decision to Leave)

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, December 04, 2022

The Tenant (1976 film)

 

Based on the novel by Roland Topor, The Tenant is the story of a man who rents an apartment in France unaware that its previous tenant had attempted suicide though he believes that something is strange is happening involving its neighbors and landlord. Directed and starring Roman Polanski and screenplay by Polanski and Gerard Bach, the film is the third film in a thematic trilogy set in apartments where it plays into a man dealing with his surroundings as well as people trying to get him to kill himself. Also starring Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Rufus, and Shelley Winters. The Tenant is a riveting and provocative film from Roman Polanski.

The film is the story of a man who rents an apartment as its previous tenant had attempted suicide where the man believes that it wasn’t a suicide as he deals with his elderly neighbors and landlord who make complaints about him while he is baffled by these little complaints. It’s a film that explores a man who just rented this apartment unaware about what happened to its previous tenant as he believed something isn’t right as he grows into paranoia. The film’s screenplay by Roman Polanski and Gerard Brach is largely straightforward in its narrative yet it largely follows the life of its protagonist Treklovsky (Roman Polanski) who arrived in the apartment looking for a place to live as he sees that this apartment has a room opened though the apartment’s landlord Zy (Melvyn Douglas) is reluctant to take him but does under certain conditions. Still, Treklovsky often finds way to agitate other tenants including Zy though he doesn’t mean to while also refusing to sign the petition against a tenant because of the noises her child makes.

The script also has Treklovsky befriend Stella (Isabelle Adjani) who is a close friend of the previous tenant who had died as the two begin a relationship even though she never visits the apartment her friend was in. Treklovsky would learn that the tenant had indeed died from her injuries yet he would also notice little things in his apartment such as a tooth but also the fact that he switched cigarette brands from Gauloises to Marlboro. It adds to these little things that would play into Treklovsky’s psyche as he also believes he’s becoming his previous tenant due to the fact that he’s putting on finger polish and dressing up like a woman.

Polanski’s direction is definitely stylish for the way he uses the crane tracking shot as the opening shot has him going inside the center of the apartment building in Paris to showcase the rooms and other tenants as the building itself is a character in the film. Shot on location in Paris, Polanski does play into a city that is vibrant but also going through changes where the apartment building itself is filled with an eccentric group of people with much of the tenants being elderly including Zy and the concierge (Shelley Winters) running the place as they don’t want any trouble or chaos. Yet, Polanski maintains an intimacy through medium shots and close-ups to play into the dramatic tension as well as the paranoia that Treklovsky would go through. There are wide shots for some scenes in Paris including a scene at a park where Treklovsky is watching kids sailing their toy boats on a fountain where he would act strangely towards a child. Polanski also play into certain visual motifs where mirrors are all over his apartment as it would add to this sense of paranoia that Treklovsky would endure.

Polanski would also play into this world where the city is vibrant where Treklovsky would meet some of Stella’s friends though there is this air of isolation within him as the life outside of the apartment building where his co-workers and the people in his age group or younger are thriving. Still, Polanski would also play into this blur of reality in its third act as it relates to Egyptian imagery that Treklovsky would find in the apartment’s main bathroom as well as a postcard from a man who was in love with the previous tenant. The third act plays into Treklovsky’s paranoia as it relates what he watches as it relates to a couple of tenants whom many have been complaining about where Treklovsky becomes the target. The film’s ending is ambiguous into what Treklovsky experiences as it adds to this idea of reality and fiction as well as his own brief encounter with the previous tenant. Overall, Polanski crafts a mesmerizing and offbeat film about a man who finds himself troubled in a new apartment he bought as well as learning about its previous tenant.

Cinematographer Sven Nykvist does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on low-key lights for many of the nighttime interior/exterior scenes in the apartment as well as its emphasis on cold grey winters for the daytime exterior scenes as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Francoise Bonnot does brilliant work with the editing as it play into the suspense with some unique jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts that help add to the sense of terror. Production designer Pierre Guffroy, with art directors Claude Moesching and Albert Rajau, does amazing work with the look of the apartment building in its interiors including Treklovsky’s apartment as well as the apartment home of Stella. Costume designer Jacques Schmidt does fantastic work with the costumes from the suits that Treklovsky wears along with some of the fashionable clothing that Stella wears.

Hair stylist Didier Lavergne and makeup artist Ludovic Paris do terrific work with the look of Stella with her hairstyle but also Treklovsky when he goes in drag and wear women’s clothing. Optical effects work by Jean Fouchet does nice work with some of the shots including a key shot late in the film as it play into the terror that Treklovsky would endure. Sound editor Michele Boehm does superb work with the sound as the way noise sounds from another room and such add to the dramatic suspense. The film’s music by Philippe Sarde is wonderful for its orchestral score that feature themes that play into its suspense with its orchestral flourishes as well as somber pieces that play into the drama.

The casting by Catherine Vernoux is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Albert Delby as a neighbor in the apartment, Eva Ionesco as the disabled daughter of a neighbor that Treklovsky helps out, Jacques Monod as a café owner who often gives Treklovsky hot chocolate instead of coffee and Marlboros instead of Gauloises, the trio of Josiane Balasko, Romain Bouteille, and Patrice Alexsandre as co-workers of Treklovsky, Bernard Fresson as a friend/co-worker of Treklovsky in Scope who gives him advice about dealing with the neighbors, and Rufus in a superb small role as a man who was in love with the previous tenant who laments over not expressing his love to her. Lila Kedrova is fantastic as Madame Gaderian as a woman who has a disabled daughter that is getting complaints as she despises her neighbors for being mean to her while she has her own idea of revenge.

Shelley Winters is excellent as the concierge who is a no-nonsense woman that helps run the apartment building though she doesn’t take a liking towards Treklovsky believing he’s causing a lot of trouble. Jo Van Fleet is brilliant in her brief yet effective role as a tenant in Madame Dioz who has created a petition to get rid of Madame Gaderian which Treklovsky refuses to do as she warns him about the trouble she and the others would bring to him. Melvyn Douglas is incredible as Monsieur Zy as the landlord who reluctantly takes Treklovsky in as a tenant while lecturing him about what to do as he brings a lot of ambiguity into his character. Isabelle Adjani is amazing as Stella as a friend of the previous tenant as she befriends Treklovsky that later becomes a romantic relationship as she is this young woman that is just trying to make sense of what happened. Finally, there’s Roman Polanski in a phenomenal performance as Treklovsky as this young man who rents this apartment as he deals with all of the chaos around him where he becomes paranoid and confused where Polanski brings that sense of humility in his physical performance but also some humor when he starts to camp it up in drag.

The Tenant is a sensational film from Roman Polanski that features great performances from Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Rufus, Lila Kedrova, and Shelley Winters. Along with Sven Nykvist’s cinematography, its eerie visuals, chilling music soundtrack, and its exploration of isolation and paranoia in a claustrophobic setting. It is a film that explores a man dealing with his new surroundings while trying to figure out what happened to the previous tenant as he wonders is it really happening to him or is it in his head. In the end, The Tenant is a phenomenal film from Roman Polanski.

Roman Polanski Films: Knife in the Water - Repulsion - Cul-de-Sac - The Fearless Vampire Killers - Rosemary's Baby - Macbeth (1971 film) - (What?) – Chinatown - Tess (1979 film) - (Pirates) – Frantic - Bitter Moon - Death and the Maiden - The Ninth Gate - The Pianist - Oliver Twist (2005 film) - The Ghost Writer - Carnage (2011 film) - (Venus in Fur) – (Based on a True Story) – (An Officer and a Spy) – (The Palace)

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, December 01, 2022

2023 Blind Spot Series Announcement

 

Another year is coming to an end as this year's Blind Spot Series is set to close with Pedro Costa's Letters from Fonthainas trilogy as it was better than the previous year due to the fact that I was able to watch films that were available on streaming services or on DVD/Blu-Ray. The next year will be no different but once again, I decide to mix things up as all of these films are set in the second half of the 20th Century. This time, no more film series or trilogies for the time being with the exception of one film being a TV miniseries. Rather than have all of the films be from the Criterion Collection as it was difficult to obtain some of these films on DVD/Blu-Ray. I decided that the 2023 edition will have films as half of them are available on Criterion as so far I have 4 of those films for next year's series. Then there's other Blu-Ray labels and such but also films available on various streaming services as I am set to leave the world of cable television for good and more into the unknown of the streaming world. Once again, I wanted to mix things up in not just genres but also in diversity as two of the Blind Spots are films directed by women. Here are the films for the 2023 Blind Spot Series in chronological order:

The Quiet Man by John Ford

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Howard Hawks

One-Eyed Jacks by Marlon Brando

La Chinoise by Jean-Luc Godard

The Seduction of Mimi by Lina Wertmuller

Buck and the Preacher by Sidney Poitier

Eight Hours Don't Make a Day by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

India Song by Marguerite Duras

Polyester by John Waters

Tetsuo: The Iron Man by Shinya Tsukamoto

Kiki's Delivery Service by Hayao Miyazaki

La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz

© thevoid99 2022

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Films That I Saw: November 2022

 

It’s the holiday season approach as it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but there is a valid reason to not be happy considering that there’s been a lot of shootings all over America as some didn’t even get the chance to have Thanksgiving while a 12-year old kid was killed at Atlantic Station in Atlanta in a shooting that left many people wounded. A fucking 12 year old is dead and for what? What is the point of all of these shootings? A lot of this could be avoided with laws for gun control but unfortunately here in America. We live in a democracy in which stupid people vote for stupid people that allow this kind of shit to happen which is exactly why democracy is bullshit. Here’s someone that will agree with me:



Aside from all of the chaos that has been going on here in Georgia and other parts of the country where it is clear that no one can get their shit together when it comes to common sense. The world is also going through chaos as China is dealing with protests over COVID while there’s protests in Iran and other parts of the world as it is clear how chaotic the 21st Century is so far. Yet, I’ve been focused more on just being home and getting my niece and nephew ready for the Christmas holidays as they’re just excited as I’ve been able to get them a few presents. I’ve been also keeping track on what’s going on in the World Cup despite my own issues with FIFA and the fact that it’s set in a small country in the Middle East that is a pure example of the corruption within FIFA. Even with the stories over slave labor that has been going on for years and their ban towards LGBTQ things and on alcohol.

Still, there is that part of me that wants to watch because of the game as I love watching futbol as it’s something I grew up on because of my dad as I feel like I have to watch some aspects of the game just for him. So far, it’s been exciting with some upsets so far but also some realizations into why this year’s World Cup hasn’t gotten a lot of excitement despite the ratings for the U.S.-England game a few days ago. Notably for the fact that it’s set in a country in the Middle East where it’s host lost three games in the group stage as it raises questions into why Qatar was even the host in the first place? Thankfully, there will be the World Cup coming to the U.S. in 2026 with Atlanta being one of cities to host a few games as it is something that my mother and I are hoping to go to.
In the month of November 2022, I saw a total of 24 films in 14 first-timers and 10 re-watches as it is down from last month largely due to the fact that I’m out with my mother for Christmas shopping and such as well as having to get a new furnace. One of the major highlights of the month has been my Blind Spot film in The Merchant of Four Seasons. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for November 2022:

1. Bones and All
2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
3. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
4. A Married Woman
5. Code Unknown
6. Cul-de-Sac
7. 24 Hours in the Life of a Clown
8. Director by Night
9. Zen-Grogu and Dust Bunnies
10. Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I Saw

Assembled: The Making of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
The next entry in the MCU documentary series about not just the series but also in how it relates to the comics as well as internet culture. Yet, it is more about wanting to create a show that is different from other shows in the MCU as it borrowed elements from other shows but also explore the single life of women in their thirties. Featuring interviews with much of the show’s cast and crew members, it does play into this mixture of law-based shows with elements of comedy which was something the show’s star Tatiana Malsany wanted to do as it gave the show’s writers and directors more freedom to be out there and comical.

Starfuckers
A short that premiered on MUBI by Antonio Marziale has him play a former lover of a filmmaker who has hired a male escort to be this date for the filmmaker who is unaware of its intentions. It is a short filled with some dark humor and entrancing visuals with a climax that is total fucking camp. It is among the reasons why MUBI is a great service as it does a lot to showcase short films and often bring in gems that are worth seeking out as it also does a lot to bring voices for everyone including the LGBTQ community.

Zen-Grogu and Dust Bunnies
A short film made to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Disney+ comes in the form of a collaboration between Lucasfilms and Studio Ghibli with the latter bringing in Katsuya Kondo to direct this incredible animated short. It revolves around Grogu encountering dust bunnies as it is told in this rich hand-drawn animated style that Studio Ghibli is known for as it is something that subscribers of Disney+ would definitely enjoy.

Director by Night
Though it’s not really part of the Assembled documentary series, the documentary is still part of it in spirit in not just the behind-the-scenes work into the making of Werewolf by Night but it also showcases Michael Giacchino’s passion for filmmaking since he was a teenager as there’s clips of his many short films that he did as well as what he would do for this project for Marvel. Directed by his brother Anthony, the documentary doesn’t show Giacchino’s enthusiasm for this project but also a look into his life with his parents as well as reuniting with old friends to showcase some of the locations they used for the shorts they created. It is definitely one of the best entry in the documentary series for not just being something of its own but also go into great depth into what Giacchino does for the TV special.

Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium
An exclusive on Disney+ is a live concert presented during the Thanksgiving holidays at Dodger Stadium where Sir Elton John played what might be his final concert in the U.S. and what better way to end it than in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. With guest appearances from Dua Lipa, Kiki Dee, and Brandi Carlisle, the concert was incredible as I watched it my mother as it was an incredible show as Elton and his band played the hits but also some deep cuts. It was a great show and if this is really the end for Elton in the U.S. and will do a finale in 2023/2024. At least he’s going out in style.

Andor (episodes 9-12)
If this show doesn’t get any kind of recognition for accolades in not just the technical front but for the acting, writing, and directing. Then these awards don’t mean shit. The last four episodes of this season so far has fucking delivered and then-some that includes a phenomenal guest appearance from Andy Serkis as the tenth episode where Andor, Serkis’ character Kino, and others go on a prison break as it is one of the most intense moments ever captured on television. Its follow-ups are just as gripping in its drama and suspense with a finale that didn’t just deliver visually but also leaves the audience wanting for more as I am eager for what they will do in the second season.

Acapulco (season 2, episodes 3-7)
It’s been a while but I’m glad this show is finally getting an audience here in the U.S. while I’m happy to learn that it’s doing really well in countries in Latin America as it’s a show that more people need to see. It’s something my mother and I are enjoying as the last four episodes into the second season far have been delightful. I really enjoy the arc that the young Maximo is going through as he’s going through his own moral conundrum while there’s been some serious things that are happening as his sister Sara leaves home after their mother discovered she’s a lesbian and couldn’t accept it. Don Pablo chooses to leave Las Colinas to attend his grandson’s Baptism while there is also a lot that is happening. I love the performances from the cast while I also enjoyed the development of the characters including Chad as Chord Overstreet definitely reveals a lot of depth to him as someone who does mean well despite the fact that he’s an idiot yet he really does care about Julia and Las Colinas. As much as Ted Lasso has been this massive hit for Apple TV+, this show deserves to be in that pantheon.

Tales from the Territories (2-8)
While it’s not as compelling nor, thankfully, as dark as Dark Side of the Ring, this series has a unique format of getting four or five people sitting in a table just talking about the old days as there’s been some hilarious stories. There are also some disgusting bits that it’s best to not be heard from again and other things as it is an incredible show for wrestling fans. So far, they’ve covered the AWA, Championship Wrestling from Florida, World Class Championship Wrestling from Texas, the wrestling scene in Portland, Stampede Wrestling in Canada, the Polynesian wrestling scene, and the feud between Jerry Lawler and Andy Kaufman in Memphis. There’s two more episodes to go with the next one on Jim Crockett Promotions in the Carolinas and the last one being about Mid-South. This show is just a joy to watch as it showcases what it was like before American pro wrestling with national through WWE.

Wrestling Match of the Month: Toni Storm vs. Jamie Hayter for the AEW Women’s Championship at AEW Full Gear



With one more month in the year to go, there are several who can be called the best wrestler of 2022: Sheamus, Will Ospreay, Jon Moxley, Sami Zayn, and MJF. Yet, Jamie Hayter deserves to be in that conversation not just for her in-ring work but also her personality and how she’s managed to connect with the people through her work as she was able to get the chance to face longtime friend Toni Storm for the AEW World Women’s Championship at the Full Gear pay-per-view event. Though it was meant for the interim title, this past Wednesday made the announcement that due to Thunder Rosa’s injury and still being unable to compete until sometime next year. Toni Storm has been retroactively been named the undisputed champion as the match she and Hayter had was intense. It got a lot of crowd reaction as these two women really went at it despite the interference of Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. and Rebel in Hayter’s favor. Hayter would win the match and the championship as it was a big surprise but a surprise that paid off as Hayter is definitely a shining light in a division that is still dealing with issues in relation to booking and creative issues.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. Police Story 2
2. Steamboat Willie
3. Riley’s First Date?
4. BURN-E
5. Jack-Jack Attack
6. Ye Olden Days
7. Thru the Mirror
8. Private Obsession
9. The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes
10. The Tigger Movie
Well, that is all for November 2022. The final month of the year will begin with an announcement for the 2023 Blind Spot Series as I’m set to watch my final Blind Spot choice for the year in Pedro Costa’s Letters from Fonthainas trilogy as well as whatever 2022 releases I can watch theatrically or at home. There’s also whatever films I have in my DVR that I will watch as my mother and I made the decision to just nuke the whole thing and be done with cable. Before I depart, I want to express my condolences to the friends and family of those who had passed away such as Irene Cara, Kevin Conroy, Clarence Gilyard, Albert Pyun, Charles Koppelman, Wilko Johnson, Jason David Frank, Nicki Aycox, Gallagher, Keith Levene, Leslie Phillips, and earlier today, Christine McVie. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2022

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

 

Based on the Marvel Comics series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a TV special in which the Guardians of the Galaxy take a break from saving the galaxy where Christmas is emerging where the gang decide to celebrate in the hopes of cheering up Peter Quill/Star-Lord. Written and directed for television by James Gunn, the special is a stop-gap of sorts in anticipation for the third film of the series as it is a tribute to Christmas specials but also a bunch of alien discover the concept and meaning of Christmas in all sorts of hilarity. Starring Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, with the voices of Maria Bakalova, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel, and special guest appearance from Kevin Bacon as himself. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a gut-busting, wild, and absolutely joyful TV special from James Gunn.

The special revolves around the Guardians of the Galaxy taking a breaking as they settled on the planet of Knowhere where it is Christmas time on Earth where the Guardians decide to celebrate Christmas to cheer up Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) going to Earth to get Quill the ultimate Christmas present. That is pretty much the premise as it play into a bunch of aliens learning about Christmas based on a story Kraglin Obfonteri (Sean Gunn) tells to the other Guardians about Quill as a teenage boy celebrating Christmas and angering Yondu Udonta (voice of Michael Rooker) who despises Christmas. James Gunn’s teleplay’s main narrative involve Drax and Mantis traveling to Earth to find Kevin Bacon in the hopes he could cheer them up while Mantis also has a secret of her own as it relates to Quill where she hopes this present would help cheer up Quill who still misses Gamora who remains missing following the final battle against Thanos. Yet, things eventually go insane and such while Drax and Mantis learn about Earth culture along the way and get drunk.

Gunn’s direction is stylish as it opens with an animated sequence about the young Quill and Kraglin celebrating Christmas and how it raised the ire of Yondu as it plays into Quill’s melancholia over the holiday as well as missing Gamora. Shot mainly at the Trilith Studios in Duluth, GA with additional locations in Los Angeles, California for the scenes on Earth. Gunn keeps a lot of the compositions straightforward as he makes Knowhere this place that has been rebuilt and a haven for all alien beings as well as a home for the Guardians where there’s a scene of Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) talking with Cosmo the Dog (Fred with the voice of Maria Bakalova) putting something up in a medium-wide shot as the opening credits sequence have aliens playing a song where it is a comical moment on their view on Christmas and Quill’s reaction to it. There are some unique wide shots such as Drax and Mantis chasing Kevin Bacon in their attempt to take him to Knowhere while there are also some funny close-ups that Gunn creates to play into reactions. Even the moment where Mantis and Drax learn who Kevin Bacon really is as their reaction is just hilarious. Still, Gunn maintains that sense of heart while the animated sequences has an element of 70s/80s-inspired hand-drawn animation as it play into this sense of homage to Christmas specials of the past. Overall, Gunn crafts an exhilarating and heartfelt film about aliens trying to cheer up their half-human friend by giving him the ultimate Christmas present.

Cinematographer Henry Braham does brilliant work with the cinematography from the sunny look of the daytime exteriors in Los Angeles along with stylish holiday lighting for some of the scenes at night including scenes at Kevin Bacon’s home. Editors Greg D’Auria and Gregg Featherman do excellent work with the editing as it has some stylish moments including a montage in which Mantis has Drax take pictures at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre along with some rhythmic cuts to play into the humor. Production designer Beth Mickle, with set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg and supervising art director David Scott, does amazing work with the exteriors of decorations outside Kevin Bacon’s home as well as the decorations for the main area of Knowhere. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does fantastic work with some of the Christmas-inspired clothes including the ugly sweaters.

The makeup work of Alexei Dmitriew and Sabrina Wilson do nice work with the look of the characters including a few ravagers and aliens that live in Knowhere. Visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti does terrific work with the visual effects in the design of the Guardians’ spaceship’s cloaking device as well as other visual bits to play into the world of outer space. Sound designer Nia Hansen, along with sound editors Coya Elliott and Steve Slanec, does superb work with the sound in some of the sound effects for some of the things at Knowhere as well as other sparse moments for scenes in Los Angeles. The TV special’s music by John Murphy is wonderful with its low-key score filled with holiday orchestral elements while music supervisors Dave Jordan and Trygge Toven create a fun mix of music that largely features holiday-based songs from Hanoi Rocks, the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, Smashing Pumpkins, Little Jackie, Low, the Waitresses, the Wombats, Fountains of Wayne, and a couple of original songs performed by the Old ‘97s including one with Kevin Bacon.

The casting by Sarah Halley Finn is incredible as it features an un-credited voice appearance from Bacon’s real-life wife/actress Kyra Sedgwick, Mark Hamill as a drunk ravager, Flula Borg as a bartender in Los Angeles, Luke Klein as the voice of the young Quill, the Old ‘97s as the alien band on Knowhere, and Michael Rooker in a superb voice performance as Yondu Udonta for the animated sequences. The duo of the dog named Fred and the voice of Maria Bakalova as Cosmo the Dog is fantastic for the humor it brings but also the powers that Cosmo has to set up her future role for the Guardians. Sean Gunn is terrific as Kraglin Obfonteri who tells the Guardians the story of Quill and Yondu’s Christmas as he also does what he can to organize Christmas in Knowhere. Karen Gillan is excellent as Nebula as the most cynical of the group as she is reluctant to celebrate Christmas while she would end up bringing a big surprise for Rocket. Vin Diesel is brilliant in his voice performance as Groot as the tree-like alien who has bulked up as he also has created something special for the Guardians. Bradley Cooper is amazing in his voice role as Rocket Raccoon who also tries to do something special for Quill while getting something really special from Nebula in the end.

Chris Pratt is incredible as Peter Quill/Star-Lord as the half-human/half-Celestial space warrior as he copes with missing Gamora and dealing with Christmas as he also deals with the chaos that is around him as it allows him to play the foil. Kevin Bacon is great as himself as the famed actor who finds himself being abducted by aliens unaware of their intentions as he brings a lot of humor to his performance but also a lot of joy in what he does for Quill and the Guardians. Dave Bautista is phenomenal as Drax the Destroyer as the hulking alien who says a lot of dumb things but is also strong as he brings a lot of humor also revealing his loathing for Go-Bots. Finally, there’s Pom Klementieff in a sensational performance as Mantis as the empath-alien who wants to do something special for Quill as Klementieff doesn’t just bring a lot of heart and joy but also allows the character to have depth while also proving she can kick ass and be a team player.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a spectacular TV special from James Gunn. Featuring a great cast, wondrous visuals, a hilarious appearance from Kevin Bacon, and a killer music soundtrack. It is a special that isn’t just something that brings out the Christmas spirit in all of the right ways but it is also a special full of heart and laughter with its offbeat approach that is all in good fun. In the end, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a tremendous TV special from James Gunn.

James Gunn Films: (Slither) – (Super (2010 film)) - (Movie 43-Beezel) – The Suicide Squad (2021 film)

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Spider-Man: Far from Home

Multiverse Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Eternals - Spider-Man: No Way Home - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - Thor: Love and Thunder - Werewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Phase Five: (Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania) - (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) – (The Marvels) - (Blade (2023 film)) – (Captain America: New World Order) – (Thunderbolts)

Phase Six: (Deadpool 3) – (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Bones and All

 

Based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis, Bones and All is the story of two young lovers who embark on a road trip while dealing with the fact that they’re both cannibals. Directed by Luca Guadagnino and screenplay by David Kajganich, the film is a road film that follows two young people who deal with their cannibalistic urges while meeting other cannibals during their trip through the U.S. Starring Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Michael Stuhlbarg, Andre Holland, Chloe Sevigny, David Gordon Green, Jake Horowitz, Jessica Harper, and Mark Rylance. Bones and All is an intoxicating and harrowing film from Luca Guadagnino.

Set in the 1980s, the film revolves around a young woman who has cannibalistic urges as she travels from Maryland to Minnesota to find out about her mother where she meets a young man who is also revealed to be a cannibal as they go on the road to be away from their urges. It is a film that play into these two young people who both have this hunger to eat people but ponder if they’re the only ones while meeting others along the way as they realize they’re not alone but also live very complicated lives. David Kajganich’s screenplay largely follows Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell) who lives with her father Frank (Andre Holland) as he would lock her in her room until she sneaked out to attend a sleepover with some school friends where something bad happened as she and Frank flee their home in Virginia and relocate to Maryland where Frank has abandoned her though he left her some money, her birth certificate, and a tape recording explaining why he left and aspects about who she is. Upon seeing her birth certificate and the identity of her mother, she decides to travel to Minnesota to find her.

The first act is about Maren’s life and the constant need to relocate as she decides to go to Minnesota despite the little money she has as she would make a stop at Columbus, Ohio where she meets an old man named Sully (Mark Rylance) who is revealed to be a cannibal with some eccentric views as well as what he does to those he eats. It is a key moment in the first act that play into Maren identifying other cannibals through her smell as it is how she meets Lee (Timothee Chalamet) as they both go on the road after Lee kills a man for verbally abusing a woman at a market. The second act is about the two going on the road where they meet a couple of cannibals in Jake (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Brad (David Gordon Green) as the latter was not born a cannibal but chose to become one while the former has a unique view on cannibalism as well as what he likes to do that makes both Maren and Lee uncomfortable. Even as it play into the former searching for her mother and weather she’s alive or not as it leads to all sorts of questions for herself but also for Lee who would briefly return home as the third act is about them dealing with their hunger as well as the people they kill.

Luca Guadagnino’s direction is mesmerizing for not just capturing Middle America in its most rural and open spaces but also in blending many genres in a film that is romantic but also scary in its approach to horror. Shot on various locations in Ohio, Nebraska, Kentucky, and Michigan, Guadagnino creates a film that does feel like a road movie since it starts off at a small town in Virginia where Maren is playing piano at a school where she meets with a classmate in Sherry (Kendle Coffey) who asks her to be at her sleepover. Guadagnino’s usage of the wide shots add a lot of depth of field into the locations including the scenes in Nebraska during the third act as it play into this crossroads that both Lee and Maren are dealing with. Still, Guadagnino does maintain some intimacy in the way he has characters interact with one another with some unique close-ups including a major moment in the film’s second act where Maren meets an old woman in Barbara Kerns (Jessica Harper) who would provide Maren some answers but with great reluctance.

Guadagnino’s presentation to the idea of cannibalism is terrifying such as the moment in the sleepover as it is shocking but the image of Maren and Sully eating an old woman who just died as blood is all over both of them is really terrifying though it’s the aftermath that makes it more discomforting. Notably when Lee and Maren meet Jake and Brad at a park near a watering hole as they all drink beer is when things are scary. It is a moment in the second that sets the tone for the struggles that Lee and Maren have as well as going into extremes as a cannibal where Lee would do something involving a carnival worker named Lance (Jake Horowitz) where it would raise questions into who they are and what are they doing. The film’s third isn’t just about Maren’s encounter with someone at a mental hospital who doesn’t just provide answers about who Maren is but also why her father never told her about her mother. It also leads to a second encounter with Sully that is way more discomforting as it play into the dangers of cannibalism that has Maren wanting to lead a normal life with Lee in the hopes that they won’t hurt anyone ever again. Overall, Guadagnino crafts a haunting yet evocative about cannibal lovers going on the road through America while trying to get of their hunger for human flesh.

Cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan does incredible work with the film’s cinematography as it play into the naturalistic exteriors as well as the scenes at night with its emphasis on low-key lighting as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Marco Costa does excellent work with the editing as it has a few jump-cuts and some stylish cuts to play into the drama and suspense. Production designer Elliott Hostetter, along with art director Victoria Resendez plus set decorators Merissa Lombardo and Rebecca Steele, does brilliant work with the look of the house Sully stayed in as well as some of the places Lee and Maren go to including the home of a man Lee killed that is filled with a lot of records. Costume designer Giulia Piersanti does fantastic work with the costumes as it plays into a more casual look including the torn-up jeans that Lee wears along with some of the weirder clothes that Sully wears.

Makeup designer Mark Garbarino and hair designer Massimo Gattabrusi do terrific work with the look of the characters from the colorful look of Lee as well as the look of Sully with his long hair and collection of hair that he has. Visual effects supervisors Virginia Cefaly, Alessio Bertotti, and Filippo Robino do nice work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects that include one major scene involving a character. The sound work of Michele Gualdrini, Geoff Maxwell, and Jim Morgan is superb for its sound in capturing the atmosphere of the locations as well as the sound of bones crunching to add to the element of horror. The film’s music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is phenomenal with its mixture of folk-based instrumentation with guitars by George Doering as it also has elements of ambient and classical bits as the score is among the highlights of the film while music supervisor Robin Urdang assembles a soundtrack that features an original song by Reznor and Ross with Mariqueen Maandig Reznor as well as contributions from Duran Duran, Joy Division, New Order, George Strait, Kiss, and other music ranging from country and pop from the 1980s.

The casting by Francine Maisler is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Kendle Coffey as a schoolmate of Maren in Sherry, Sean Bridgers as a man harassing a mother and her kids at a grocery store, Burgess Byrd as a nurse at a mental hospital, Max Solis as a mechanic late in the film in Nebraska, Anna Cobb as Lee’s younger sister Kayla who doesn’t know about Lee’s condition as she is a reason for why Lee is protective of her, Jake Horowitz as a carnival worker that Lee meets as a target where things go wrong, and Jessica Harper in a terrific one-scene performance as an old woman who gives Maren some answers about her mother. Chloe Sevigny is fantastic in her one-scene role as a woman Maren meets at a mental hospital who had eaten her own hands as she would provide Maren some answers through a letter. Andre Holland is excellent as Maren’s father Frank as a man who often worries about his daughter’s condition and the danger she brings where he would leave only to leave her a recorded tape message that allows her to figure things out for herself.

David Gordon Green is superb in his small role as Brad as a friend of Jake who had discovered the world of cannibalism and has embraced the lifestyle while Michael Stuhlbarg is amazing as Jake who is a born cannibal that has some very intriguing views as well as what he does with those he eats as it is a chilling performance. Mark Rylance is incredible as Sully as this old man who has a strong sense of smell as he teaches Maren about how to track other cannibals while is also someone who is extremely creepy in his methods and how he tracks other cannibals. Timothee Chalamet is phenomenal as Lee as a young cannibal who is often on the road as he accompanies Maren in her journey while he kills those who feel are terrible though he would eventually question his own methods while also reveal more about himself. Finally, there’s Taylor Russell in a tremendous performance as Maren Yearly as an 18-year old woman who is just trying to understand more about herself as she goes on the road while dealing with her hunger and such as Russell showcases a lot of angst, confusion, and depth into her performance as it is a true breakout performance for the young actress.

Bones and All is a magnificent film from Luca Guadagnino that features great performances from Taylor Russell, Timothee Chalamet, and Mark Rylance. Along with its supporting ensemble cast, blend of genres, gorgeous locations, ravishing visuals, and an intoxicating music score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. It is a film that isn’t afraid to play into the idea of cannibalism but it is also this riveting love story set in 1980s America where two people deal with themselves and their need to not bring havoc around people. In the end, Bones and All is an outstanding film from Luca Guadagnino.

Related: (null 14)

Luca Guadagnino Films: (The Protagonists) - (Tilda Swinton: The Love Factory) - (Mundo civilzado) - (Cuoco contadino) - (Melissa P.) - (The Love Factory No. 3 Pippo Delbono - Bisogna morire) – I Am Love - (Bertolucci on Bertolucci) – A Bigger Splash - Call Me By Your Name - Suspiria (2018 film) - The Staggering Girl - (Fiori, Fiori, Fiori) – (Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams) – (We Are Who We Are (2020 TV series)) – (Challengers (2023 film))

© thevoid99 2022

Friday, November 25, 2022

2022 Blind Spot Series: The Merchant of Four Seasons

 

Written, directed, and scored by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Handler der vier Jahreszeiten (The Merchant of Four Seasons) is the story of a fruit vendor who struggles to make ends meet as he had lost his prestige as he deals with his social and emotional decline. The film is a comedy-drama that plays into a man who was once a war veteran and a policeman who deals with his new role in life. Starring Hans Hirschmuller, Irm Hermann, Andrea Schober, Gusti Kreissl, Kurt Raab, Heide Simon, Ingrid Caven, and Hanna Schygulla. Handler der vier Jahreszeiten is a riveting and somber film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Set in early 1950s Munich, the film follows a former policeman who had returned from the French Foreign Legion years ago as he struggles with his new life working as a fruit vendor as he laments over his marriage, the disdain he gets from his family, his longing for his former lover, and the state of his own life. It is a film that is a character study of sorts that plays into a man who is likeable and was doing well as a policeman until an incident began this downward spiral as well as being rejected by the love of his life where he would marry someone else and have a child only to treat them horribly. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s screenplay follows the plight of its protagonist Hans Epp (Hans Hirschmuller) who is first seen arriving from his service for the French Foreign Legion to see his mother (Gusti Kreissl) who isn’t happy that he’s home as she laments over a friend of his who had died and thought he was a better person as it sets the tone for the many hardships, criticism, and chaos that would loom for Hans.

Notably as it shifts to a few years later where Hans is peddling fruit on a cart with his wife Irmgard (Irm Hermann) who is taller and skinnier than him as they struggle to make ends meet as they have a daughter in Renate (Andrea Schober). Still, Hans is struggling to reconnect with his former flame (Ingrid Caven) who is already married and with a life of her own while he still ponders about his own life and how underwhelming it is. Even as he returns drunk as he laments about his past and comes home beating up Irmgard who goes to his mother and sisters where Hans would have a heart attack. Irmgard would reluctantly go back to Hans and help him run his fruit merchant business by getting someone else to do the job since Hans is unable to due to his health. Yet, things become complicated with Hans lamenting once again about his own existence and what he means to the people around him.

Fassbinder’s direction is largely straightforward in terms of its setting and location as it is shot in Munich while it also emphasizes a lot of characteristics similar to the American melodramas of Douglas Sirk. Notably in a scene where Hans goes to his mother’s house to apologize to Irmgard and Renate over what happened as his mother, sisters, his brother-in-law Kurt (Kurt Raab) watch where everyone but his older sister Anna (Hanna Schygulla) watch with disgust as it is the moment where Hans would have his heart attack. Much of Fassbinder’s compositions emphasize on medium shots and close-ups to play into the drama and dark humor while using the camera to play into a man dealing with isolation and resentment. There are also flashbacks that often appear in the film as it play into Hans’ life such as his time with his lover whom he is head over heels for as he has to leave her for military service while it also showcases the incident that got him fired from the police force. The latter of which is among some of the humorous moments of the film.

Also serving as the film’s music composer with arrangements from Peer Raben, Fassbinder aims for a low-key approach to the music as it is largely based on German folk music with Rocco Granata’s song Buona Notte being a key piece of music that is used as it plays into Hans’ nostalgia for a better love life and his feelings for his old lover. The film’s third act play into not just a reunion with an old friend from the Foreign Legion in Harry (Klaus Lowitsch) who would work with Hans and Irmgard as he would bring good fortune for them but Hans suddenly is filled with uncertainty over his own time as a merchant and how much he struggled. Even as it leads to this journey of him trying to find some meaning in his life as a dinner where he’s with his family as it is a discomforting moment because he’s the center of attention and he’s not comfortable with it at all where Renate thought about what her aunt Anna said in a scene during the film’s second act. Overall, Fassbinder crafts a rapturous yet chilling film about a man dealing with his own existence, life choices, and other things that has kept him down into despair.

Cinematographer Dietrich Lohmann does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward for many of the daytime exterior scenes as well as using available and additional lighting for some of the interior scenes at night. Editor Thea Eymesz does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward while having rhythmic cuts to play into some of the flashbacks as well as some intense moments in the drama. Art director/costume designer Kurt Raab, along with co-costume designer Uta Wilhelm, does fantastic work with the look of the apartment that Hans live with his family as well as the family apartment where Hans’ mother lives in along with the clothes where many of Hans’ family including his mother wear posh-like clothing as opposed to Hans who wears more working-class clothing.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast feature notable small roles from Rainer Werner Fassbinder as an old friend of Hans whom he eats with at a restaurant where Harry works at, Elga Sorbas as the woman who would get Hans fired from the police force, Michael Fengler as a playboy trying to woo Irmgard when she’s walking home, the trio of Daniel Schmid, Harry Baer, and Marian Seldowsky as a trio of applicants being interviewed by Hans, Mark Bohm as the policeman who catches Hans in a compromising act that would get Hans fired, El Hedi ben Salem as an Arab soldier in a war flashback involving Hans and Harry, Peter Chatel as a doctor who tells Irmgard about the severity of Hans’ heart attack, and Walter Sedlmayr as a fruit cart seller who sells his cart to Irmgard. Karl Scheydt is terrific as a man named Anzell whom Hans hires to sell fruit for them as he was also someone Irmgard was with during Hans’ hospitalization.

Klaus Lowitsch is superb as Harry as an old war buddy of Hans who helps out him out while also being attentive towards Renate. Heide Simon and Kurt Raab are fantastic in their respective role as Hans’ younger sister Heide and her husband Kurt as they’re both critical of him with the latter being arrogant towards since he feels like a bigger success than Hans. Andrea Schober is excellent as Renate as Hans and Irmgard’s daughter who is a young girl just trying to understand what is going on as she also thinks about what her aunt said to her about her father’s issues as it would haunt her late in the film. Ingrid Caven is brilliant as Hans’ former lover as a woman who was the love of his life until he goes to the Foreign Legion only to marry someone else as she also pines for him despite that he’s married as well. Gusti Kreissl is amazing as Hans’ mother who always treats him with disdain and disappointment until he became successful yet is often cold towards him.

Hanna Schygulla is incredible as Hans’ older sister Anna who is the only person in his family who really cared about him despite being cynical around him yet is the one person who understands his issues while also telling Renate about his own plight. Irm Hermann is remarkable as Han’s wife Irmgard who deals with her husband’s cruelty and wild mood swings as she seeks to find happiness for herself only to deal with uncertainty in her desires and doing what is right for Hans. Finally, there’s Hans Hirschmuller in a sensational performance as Hans Epp as a man who tried to do everything right only to be met with disdain, neglect, and disappointment where Hirschmuller brings in the right kind of physicality to his performance but also someone who can be cruel towards those who care about him as it is an immensely riveting performance from Hirschmuller.

Handler der vier Jahreszeiten is a phenomenal film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder that features a great leading performance from Hans Hirschmuller. Along with its ensemble supporting cast, simplistic yet effective visuals, and its study of depression, disappointment, and self-destruction. It is a film that explore a man lamenting over what he doesn’t have and what he’s lost as well as the sense of mistreatment he has endured from those around him. In the end, Handler der vier Jahreszeiten is a sensational film from Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder Films: Love is Colder than Death - (Katzelmacher) - (Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?) - (Rio das Mortes) - (The American Soldier) - (Whity) - (Beware of a Holy Whore) - The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant - (Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day) - (Jailbait) - World on a Wire - Ali: Fear Eats the Soul - (Martha (1974 film)) - (Effi Briest) - (Fox and His Friends) - (Mother Kuster’s Trip to Heaven) – (I Only Want You to Love Me) – Satan's Brew - (Chinese Roulette) - (Germany in Autumn) - (Despair) - (In a Year of 13 Moons) – The Marriage of Maria Braun - (Third Generation) - (Berlin Alexanderplatz) - (Lili Marleen) – Lola (1981 film) - Veronika Voss - Querelle

© thevoid99 2022