Tuesday, May 24, 2022

2022 Cannes Marathon: Oslo, August 31st

 

(Played at the Un Certain Regard Section at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival)
Based on the novel Will O’ the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle and the 1963 film Le feu follet (The Fire Within) by Louis Malle, Oslo, August 31st is the story of a day in the life of a recovering drug addict who leaves a treatment center for a job interview only to meet with old friends along the way. Directed by Joachim Trier and screenplay by Trier and Eskil Vogt, the film is the second part of a thematic trilogy of films set in Oslo where a man deals with his own personal issues as he is hoping to get back into the world. Starring Anders Danielsen Lie, Hans Olav Brenner, Ingrid Olava, Oystein Roger, Tone B. Mostraum, Kjaersti Odden Skjeldal, Petter Width Kristiansen, Renate Reinsve, and Andreas Braaten. Oslo, August 31st is a rapturous and evocative film from Joachim Trier.

Told in the span of 24 hours, the film follows a recovering drug addict who is given a pass to leave the treatment center for a day to attend a job interview in Oslo as he deals with meeting old friends and such while pondering his own existence. It is a film that explores a man as he is hoping to get back to the world although there is a part of him that feels like he isn’t ready to return. The film’s screenplay by Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt is largely straightforward as it opens with its protagonist in Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie) who is first in another patient’s room as he walks to the forest in a suicide attempt that fails as he attends group therapy and is given a one-day pass to go to Oslo for this job interview for a magazine. During the course of the day, he catches up with an old friend in Thomas (Hans Olav Brenner) and his wife Rebekka (Ingrid Olava) who have a family while is trying to contact his sister Nina and his ex-girlfriend Iselin as he is unable to reach the latter. In the former, he ends up having lunch with her girlfriend Tove (Tone B. Mostraum) as she gives him news about his family home.

Throughout the course of the story, Anders often wanders around Oslo as it is a city that is evolving as the second act is more about Anders dealing with not just changes among those he knew but also the city itself as it would lead to a party where he is goaded into telling an old story to amuse a party guest. Yet, he would eventually hang out with another friend while coping about the fact if his life meant anything to anyone and does he still matter to anyone else including family and friends despite the lives they have.

Trier’s direction is definitely mesmerizing as he does make Oslo a major character in the film as it opens with a montage of footage of life in the city told by other people through different aspect ratios. It sets the stage for the world that Anders is about to enter as the city is filled with sections that are in construction but also places that are landmarks where it is a place that is thriving as Trier also showcases the city when it’s not busy or moments where it is busy and vibrant. The usage of wide and medium shots where Trier doesn’t just capture certain streets and locations that Anders is in but also in a few places such as Thomas and Rebekka’s home, a house where a party is held, or a public swimming pool. Trier also uses close-ups to play into Anders’ own state of mind where the camera would gaze into some of the conversations he is having but also knows when to create a nice wide shot in order to play into Anders’ attempt to be part of the world.

Trier also play into this sense of uncertainty that Anders endures when he meets up with Mirjam (Kjaersti Odden Skjeldal) at her party where also attending is another old friend in Petter (Petter Width Kristiansen) who is with a couple of younger women in Renate (Renate Reinsve) and Johanne (Johanne Kjellevik Ledang) as they would take Anders to a rave and other places including a scene of the four riding bicycles through Oslo. It is among these moments in the film that is memorable as it also play into Anders feeling unsure of where he wants to go as he is struggling to get clean but he’s also tempted to do drugs again as the film’s finale is about a man dealing with himself and his role in the world. Overall, Trier crafts a riveting and engrossing film about a day in the life of a recovering drug addict as he returns to the world for a job interview.

Cinematographer Jakob Ihre does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward for many of the daytime interior/exterior scenes with some low-key lights for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night. Editor Olivier Bugge Coutte does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward in allowing shots to linger for more than a minute while also employing a few stylish cuts including the film’s opening montage. Production designer Jorgen Stangebye Larsen and art director Solfrid Kjetsa do fantastic work with the look of the home that Thomas and Rebekka live in as well as Mirjam’s home and the family house that Anders used to live in.

Costume designer Ellen Daehli Ystehede does nice work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward in the casual look of Anders with a stylish dress that Mirjam wears at her party. Sound designer Gisle Tveito does superb work with the sound as it adds to the dramatic atmosphere of the film with the way music is presented on location or how sounds are presented on a certain location. The film’s music by Ola Flottum and Torgny Amdam is wonderful as it is largely low-key with its usage of ambient and soothing string arrangements while much of the soundtrack features pieces from Sebastian Tellier, a-ha, Desire, Glass Candy, Daft Punk, Kung Fu Girls, and Youth Brigade.

The casting by Christian Rubeck and Emil Trier is incredible as it feature some notable small roles from Oystein Roger as the magazine editor David who interviews Anders, Renate Reinsve and Johanne Kjellevik Ledang as a couple of young ladies hanging out with Petter, Petter Width Kristiansen as an old friend of Anders in Petter, Emil Lund as the drug dealer Calle, Malin Crepin as a patient that Anders is sleeping with early in the film, Askel Thanke as Anders’ therapist, Andreas Braaten as a man who goads Anders into telling a story, Ingrid Olava as Thomas’ wife Rebekka, and Anders Borchgrevink as a man who slept with Anders’ girlfriend that Anders confronts at a bar.

Kjaersti Odden Skjeldal is fantastic as an old friend of Anders in Mirjam who hosts a party as she discusses about her own disappointments with life while Tone B. Maustraum is brilliant as the girlfriend of Anders’ sister in Tove who understands Anders’ frustration and knows he’s trying to clean up as she is also aware of why Anders’ sister is reluctant to meet him. Hans Olav Brenner is excellent as Thomas as an old friend of Anders who know has a family while also admitting his own frustrations with family life. Finally, there’s Anders Danielsen Lie in a phenomenal performance as Anders as a former drug addict who is given a one-day leave from rehab to attend a job interview as he deals with his own feelings on the world and whether he deserves a second chance in society as well as temptation into using drugs again as it is a haunting and entrancing performance from Lie.

Oslo, August 31st is a tremendous film from Joachim Trier that features a great leading performance from Anders Danielsen Lie. Along with its ensemble cast, study of alienation and uncertainty in the world, gorgeous visuals, and a somber music soundtrack. The film is truly an intoxicating character study as well as a look of a recovering drug addict trying to find meaning in his life and deal with the idea if he deserves a second chance. In the end, Oslo, August 31st is a spectacular film from Joachim Trier.

Related: The Fire Within

Joachim Trier Films: (Reprise (2006 film)) – (Louder Than Bombs) – (Thelma (2017 film)) – (The Other Munch) - (The Worst Person in the World)

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, May 22, 2022

2022 Cannes Marathon: The Square

 

(2017 Winner of the Palme d’Or and the Vulcan Technical Prize to Josefin Asberg)
Written, co-edited, and directed by Ruben Ostlund, The Square is the story of a curator who goes through a professional and personal crisis while trying to stage an upcoming exhibit that is to create controversy. The film is the study of a man who is about to stage an exhibit as he deals with many crises in his life as well as the possible end of his own art career. Starring Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West, and Terry Notary. The Square is a witty and engaging film from Ruben Ostlund.

The film explores a museum curator who is set to stage an upcoming exhibit for an artist that is set to create some controversy while he deals with many aspects of his life that begins when his wallet, phone, and cufflinks were stolen. It is a film that is really a character study of a man that is dealing with a life that is in chaos as he runs an art museum in Stockholm that is about to display this exhibit for an Argentine artist that is to say a lot about humanity. The moment he becomes a victim of theft is where things start to fall apart for him as he would get himself into lots of trouble both professionally and personally. Ruben Ostlund’s screenplay is largely straightforward as it largely follows the life of Christian (Claes Bang) who is trying to stage an exhibition where it all revolves around a square and its meaning with society. Yet, the theft of his phone, wallet, and cufflinks would put Christian into a tailspin just as he is about to present this exhibit. A couple of his assistants would help find his possessions but Christian’s letters in asking for his return would get him into more trouble.

The first act is about Christian trying to hold the exhibit as well as figure out how to present it as well as getting his personal possessions back. The second act is about the return of those possessions but also his tryst with an American journalist in Anne (Elisabeth Moss) as well as the trouble he endures from a young Arab kid (Elijandro Edouard) with a discussion about art from an expert in Julian (Dominic West) being interrupted by a man with Tourette’s. Then a couple of promotional figures come in with an idea to promote the exhibition as what they come up with ends up becoming very controversial with Christian being the target of what was presented. The third act is about the fallout but also Christian dealing with what he did to this young kid as well as a dinner with a performance artist in Oleg (Terry Notary) that went too far.

Ostlund’s direction definitely has a lot of gorgeous imagery and compositions as it is shot on location in and around Stockholm as well as Gothenburg and parts of Berlin with the museum being a major character in the film. Yet, Ostlund makes something definitely play into a crucial period in time for not just Sweden but Europe itself as it relates to the migration crisis of the time as the city is filled with not just a lot of homeless people around Christian’s world but also some of Arab descent. It is Ostlund making a social commentary about the art world and its disconnect with the real world though the exhibit Christian is to present is about this need for equality even though he doesn’t do anything about what is around him though he would buy a sandwich for a woman and later give a homeless person some money. It is Ostlund trying to say something about the world while the scenes set in the museum are presented in some strange form of satire in some of the exhibits shown but also in what Christian is set to present from this unseen Argentine artist.

There are a lot of wide and medium shots that Ostlund create that include some gazing images although there are moments where the film does drag as it has a running time of over two-and-a-half hours. Notably as it wants to be funny at times but also be serious as there is an element of unevenness in what Ostlund wanted to do though the eventual promotional clip for this exhibit is a moment of dark comedy. The film’s third act involves this moment of intense discomfort as it is meant to be a satirical comedy of these parties but also how someone takes it too far. Even as Christian becomes troubled by the fact that he is surrounded in a world that is confusing and detached from reality where he also has to answer for things he did although he is confronted by people who have their own agendas rather than hear the truth. Overall, Ostlund crafts a captivating film about a museum curator dealing with personal and professional challenges just as he’s about to present a controversial art exhibit.

Cinematographer Fredrik Wenzel does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key lighting for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night with some vibrant lighting for a major dinner scene as well as some straightforward shots for some of the daytime exterior scenes. Editors Ruben Ostlund and Jacob Secher Schuslinger do excellent work with the editing as they allow shots to linger for a few minutes as well as create a stylish montage for Christian and Anne’s sex scene. Production designer Josefin Asberg does incredible work with not just many of the interiors and exhibits inside the museum but the square outside of the museum along with some of the objects at the homes of a few characters. Costume designer Sofie Krunegard does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward with the exception of tuxedos and designer dresses at the dinner in the third act as well as the cheerleading costumes that Christian’s daughters wear.

Makeup designer Erica Spetzig and special effects makeup artist Morten Jacobsen do terrific work with the look of a few characters with Oleg being notable in a few bits. Special effects supervisor Johan Harnesk, plus visual effects supervisors Samir Arabzadeh, Jonah Edstrom, and Tomas Naslund, does nice work with the visual effects as it is largely bits of set dressing as well as the look of a few promotional bits and in some of the art exhibits. Sound editor Andreas Franck does superb work with the sound as it is straightforward but also in how music sounds as well as how sparse elements in a room are presented. Music supervisor Rasmus Thord creates a wonderful music soundtrack that largely consists of acapella pieces from Bobby McFerrin as well as music from Justice, Sultan + Shepard, Holl & Rush, Gasolin, and classical pieces from Johann Sebastian Bach that is performed by Yo-Yo Ma with McFerrin as it play into the film’s offbeat tone.

The casting by Pauline Hansson is remarkable as it feature some notable small roles from Lise Stephenson Engstrom and Lilianne Mardon as two of Christian’s daughters, Daniel Hallberg and Martin Sooder as a couple of advertising agents who would create a controversial YouTube video, Annica Liljeblad as a museum personnel who interviews Julian, Marina Schiptjenko and Nicki Dar as a couple of board members of the museum, Elijandro Edouard as a young Arab kid who gets a letter from Christian accusing him of being a thief, Christopher Laesso as an assistant named Michael who helps Christian find his possessions, and Dominic West as an art expert named Julian who finds himself becoming a target during a dinner at the museum.

Terry Notary is brilliant as the performance artist Oleg who acts like an ape during a dinner as he takes things too far. Elisabeth Moss is amazing as Anne as an American journalist who interviews Christian for a piece only to embark on an affair with him that becomes a bit weird as Moss brings some humor to her performance. Finally, there’s Claes Bang in an incredible performance as Christian as a museum curator who finds himself dealing with professional and personal crises as there is humor in his performance but a lot of it is straightforward as he also displays a sense of arrogance in his character who endures humility as well as the fact that he doesn’t have much control in his life.

The Square is a marvelous film from Ruben Ostlund. Featuring a great cast, amazing set designs, and a witty study of a man’s life in chaos. It is a film that is an engaging satire despite some flaws in its narrative and lack of major action that occur in the film. In the end, The Square is a remarkable film from Ruben Ostlund.

Ruben Ostlund Films: (The Guitar Mongoloid) – (Involuntary) – (Play (2011 film)) – Force Majeure - (Triangle of Sadness)

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Maze

 

For the 19th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the simple subject of maze as it’s a device that is featured in films whether it is to escape something or is part of some obstacle. Here are my three picks:

1. Labyrinth
From Jim Henson and screenwriter Terry Jones of Monty Python is a film that is about a young teenage girl who loves fantasy but couldn’t handle reality as she isn’t fond of having to take care of her baby brother where she makes a wish that she would regret. The film does have this character in Sarah, played with such charisma by Jennifer Connelly, going through a maze and other obstacles to get her brother back from this mysterious figure in Jareth the Goblin King played with such gusto by David Bowie. It is a film that is a lot of fun to watch with some awesome music from Bowie.

2. Cube
Vincenzo Natali’s 1997 cult film about a group of people inside a series of cube-shaped rooms as they have to escape this labyrinth of rooms. It is a film that is filled with a lot of suspense and a strong ensemble cast as it involves this small group of people trying to survive as they have no idea why they’re in this cube and how to escape the whole thing. It is a film that for anyone who was around in the 1990s that saw this would be aware of how inventive it was back then and why its cult has continue to grow as it would be followed by a sequel, a prequel, and a recent Japanese remake released last year.

3. Inception
From Christopher Nolan is one of the finest films of the 21st Century so far as it is about a man who is hired a businessman to enter the mind of a rival businessman to break apart his ailing father’s business so that they wouldn’t become another superpower. With a team involved, Leonardo DiCaprio leads this team to enter Cillian Murphy’s mind as they have to endure all sorts of obstacles as they also have to deal with the ghost of Marion Cotillard and imagine the weapons they create. It is a film that still holds up and anyone who loves that movie are still waiting for the sequel…. Inception 2: Electric Boogaloo.

© thevoid99 2022

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

2022 Cannes Marathon: Good Time

 

(Winner of the Cannes Soundtrack Award to Daniel Lopatin at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival)
Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and written and edited by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, Good Time is the story of a robber whose mentally-disabled brother is arrested forcing him to find a way to get him out of jail. The film is a crime drama in which a young robber deals with a botched robbery as he does whatever he can to free his younger brother. Starring Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Lennice Webster, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Good Time is a gripping yet exhilarating film from Josh and Benny Safdie.

The film revolves around a robbery that gets botched where a mentally-disabled man is arrested and captured forcing his older brother to find ways to get him out of jail as he spends much of time getting money and such to get him out while being on the run himself. It is a film with a simple premise as it explore a criminal trying to do what he can to get his brother out of jail knowing that his brother is unable to deal with prison due to the fact that he’s mentally-disabled. The film’s screenplay Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein is largely straightforward as it follows Constantin “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson) accompanying his younger yet mentally-disabled brother Nick (Buddy Safdie) for a bank robbery as the two wear masks and carry guns as they seemed to have succeed unaware that a dye pack is in the bag as it exploded leaving Connie and Nick on the run where the latter is arrested and later gets into a fight during his jail stay.

The rest of the film has Connie trying to get money to get his brother out as he asks his girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) for $10,000 to get him out of jail but things get complicated as a bail bondsman revealed that Nick has been sent to a hospital following a beating. Connie decides to take matter into his own hands and things start to get more troubling as it puts him into a series of misadventures that included a Sprite bottle filled with LSD and other things along the way with a number of individuals involved.

The direction of Josh and Benny Safdie is riveting in terms of its sense of realism as well as the fact that it is shot on location in New York City with the borough of Queens being the prominent location. While there are some wide shots including aerial shots of these locations, much of the direction from the Safdies is grounded as the first shot is presented with close-ups where Nick is in a session with a psychiatrist (Peter Verby). There is this element of cinema verite that the Safdies go for in the action in their usage of close-ups and medium shots such as the bank robbery scene where it is all about notes and wit as there is no violence that happens. There are also scenes set at the infamous New York prison Riker’s Island that does give the film a sense of realism as if it was shot at Riker’s Island where Nick gets into a fight and beaten up badly. The direction also this energy in the way Connie would do to get his brother out as the hospital scene in the second act in which he sneaks in to try and get Nick out is filled with suspense but there is also an encounter with a guy he meets in Ray (Buddy Duress) who would have this dizzying montage about his own day as it is filled with a lot of misadventure.

Since the film uses its locations as characters in the film such as a scene at night at the Adventureland amusement park in Long Island. The Safdies also create this air of tension in which Connie had to use his own street smarts to get out of a situation but also realize that he can’t trust certain people. Even as this small Sprite bottle filled with LSD that is worth money becomes something he needs to get his brother out but there are also these revelations in the third act of what Connie had done as he’s also a fugitive with TV news reporting about what he and Nick did. Still, the Safdies do explore this air of danger into the world of crime and what this man had to do to help his brother knowing that they screwed up as he felt responsible for what had happened. Overall, the Safdies craft an intense and high-octane film about a criminal trying to get his mentally-disabled brother out of jail.

Cinematographer Sean Price Williams does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of natural light for some exterior scenes in the day as well as available and bits of light for the exterior scenes at night as well as the usage of neon lights for the nighttime interior scenes. Editors Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein do amazing work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump-cuts as well as the montage sequence involving Ray as well as other cuts to help establish what is happening without going too long or too short. Production designer Sam Lisenco, with set decorator Audrey Turner and art director Patrick Duncan, does fantastic work with the look of some of the places that Connie goes to whether it’s a home from an old lady or a place where he stole some keys from someone. Costume designers Miyako Bellizzi and Mordechai Rubinstein do terrific work with the costumes from the coats that Connie and Nick wear as well as some of the casual street clothes they wear as it adds that sense of grittiness into their look.

Special makeup effects designer Toby Sells and hair/makeup artist Anouck Sullivan do excellent work with the look of a character while Sullivan does a lot of the look for Connie including his dyed blonde hair in the film’s second half. Visual effects supervisor Adam Teninbaum does nice work with a few of the film’s visual effects as it relates mainly to Ray’s montage sequence as well as bits of set dressing in some locations. Sound designer Ryan M. Price does superb work with the film’s sound in the way overlapping conversations sound in a prison as well as the way police sirens sound from afar as it helps add to the film’s suspense. The film’s music by Daniel Lopatin, in his Oneohtrix Point Never pseudonym, is incredible for its brooding and gripping electronic music score that often helps play up the sense of drama and suspense along with a few ambient bits while Lopatin also creates a closing song with Iggy Pop as well as cultivating the film’s soundtrack that includes pieces from Frankie Ruiz, Mosley & Johnson, and Nike Boi.

The casting by Jennifer Venditti is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Eric Paykert as a bails bondsman, Rose Gregorio as Corey’s mother who doesn’t like Connie, Saida Mansoor as Connie and Nick’s grandmother who believes Connie is a bad influence on Nick, Peter Verby as Nick’s psychiatrist, Ron “Necro” Braunstein as Ray’s friend Caliph, Barkhad Abdi as an Adventureland security guard in Dash, Buddy Duress as a recently-paroled man in Ray whom Connie would find himself involved in trying to get some money and a Sprite bottle full of LSD, Taliah Lennice Webster as a 16-year old girl named Crystal who helps Connie out following an incident in the hospital as she also helps him in trying to get a few things, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in an excellent small role as Connie’s older girlfriend Corey who tries to help him bail out Nick only to realize the financial trouble she’s in.

Benny Safdie is brilliant as Nick Nikas as a mentally-disabled young man who is slow but not an imbecile as he is someone that is confused at times while also has a hard time socializing which makes him an easy target for the police as he would put himself in trouble with other prisoners. Finally, there’s Robert Pattinson in a magnificent performance as Constantin “Connie” Nikas as Nick’s older brother who is also a street-smart criminal that knows what to do but feels guilty for his action where Pattinson definitely plays someone who is a flawed person that is unlikeable at times but is also someone that at least cares about his brother and is willing to do anything to get his brother out of jail and find ways to get what he wants.

Good Time is a phenomenal film from Josh and Benny Safdie that features a great leading performance from Robert Pattinson. Along with its supporting cast, stylish visuals, gripping story, and a hypnotic music score by Daniel Lopatin. It is a crime film that explore a young man who is trying to save his brother following a botched bank robbery as he endures a series of misadventures to get money to get his brother out. In the end, Good Time is a sensational film from Josh and Benny Safdie.

Safdie Brothers Films: (The Pleasure of Being Robbed) – (Daddy Longlegs) – (Lenny Cooke) – Heaven Knows What - (Uncut Gems)

© thevoid99 2022

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

2022 Cannes Marathon: Climax

 

(Winner of the Art Cinema Award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival)
Written, directed, and co-edited by Gaspar Noe, Climax is the story of a dance troupe who hold a party following days of rehearsal as the party becomes chaotic due to a bowl of sangria laced with LSD. The film is a whimsical horror film set inside an abandoned building in 1996 where this dance troupe deal with the images of what they see as well as their reaction towards what they had taken. Starring Sophia Boutella, Kiddy Smile, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Claude Gajan Maull, Giselle Palmer, Taylor Kastle, and Thea Carla Schott. Climax is a rapturous yet terrifying film from Gaspar Noe.

Based on a real-life event in the 1990s where a dance troupe had an after-party where they all unknowingly drank sangria spiked with LSD, the film is about an event where this dance troupe are in a building having a party following a successful rehearsal where things do go wrong following their reaction over what they had drank. That is pretty much what the film is about as Gaspar Noe doesn’t aim for a traditional structure as the film opens with someone crawling out of the building into the snow bleeding and screaming as it then cuts to a bunch of dancers talking and showing who they are from an old VHS tape. Then the first half begins with the dancers doing their routine and finishing it leading to this party where everyone dances and talks to each other while they’re drinking sangria unaware that it’s laced with LSD. The second half is about its effects and all of the chaos that happens throughout as there’s not much plot that goes on where Noe just leave everything happening as it is which gives the story a sense of looseness.

Noe’s direction is definitely stylish as it is shot largely on location in an abandoned school in Paris in the span of 15 days where he utilizes a lot of long takes and intricate tracking shots. The film’s opening dance number is shot in the span of 12 minutes with five minutes of it in a single static wide-medium shot as it showcases the attention to detail in the dancing. With the help of choreographer Nina McNeely, Noe would know when to move the camera to capture the dancing whether it would be in a wide shot or in a medium shot as well as one moment where a dancer gets to have their moment as it is shot from above with the camera only spinning around to capture the dancing. It is among these moments in the first half of the film that also include these little moments and small conversations between some of the dancers that add to the sense of chaos into the film as it does feel energetic and lively.

During a scene where everyone is dancing in the middle of the film, credits appear for the cast and creators of the film as if one part of the film is over as it leads to the second half where things get darker. Notably as the camera movement gets more jarring and stylized where it follows everyone as they all get under the influence of what they have drunk with a few who haven’t drank the sangria becoming the suspects. Yet, Noe would keep things unbroken for a long time with some invisible cutting that he and co-editor Denis Bedlow would do to keep things on-going as it adds to this air of disarray. Even as there’s elements of violence where Noe and Bedlow would create some edits that are intense while continuing to be an unbroken shot while there are also elements that are shocking. The film’s finale is a somber one as it play into all of those involved but also some revelations about those who survived or those who had a bad trip. Overall, Noe crafts a gripping and unsettling film about a party that goes to hell because of spiked sangria.

Cinematographer Benoit Debie does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on colorful lighting as well as using low-key and available lighting in which much of the film is shot inside the building where he maintains a mood for scenes whether they’re dramatic or horrifying. Production designer Jean Rabasse, with set decorator Jessy Kupperman and art director Philippe Prat, does amazing work with the look of the dance hall in the building as well as the hallway and some of the rooms the characters go to dance or to act out in their drugged state. Costume designer Frederic Cambier does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely casual with some style to represent many of the individuals involved in the film.

The visual effects work of Alexis Baillia, Rodolphe Chabrier, and Mac Guff Line do excellent work with the visual effects as it is largely set-dressing to create the invisible cuts for some of the long tracking shots. Sound editor Ken Yasumoto does superb work with the sound in the way music is heard from the speakers from afar or up close as well as how the dialogues are mixed as it is a highlight of the film. Music supervisors Steve Bouyer and Pascal Mayer create an incredible music soundtrack that features a wide mix of music from M/A/R/R/S, Gary Numan, Chris Carter, Marc Cerrone, Patrick Hernandez, Lil’ Louis, Dopplereffekt, Kiddy Smile with Crookers, Thomas Bangalter, Neon, Suburban Knights, Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, Soft Cell, Wild Planet, Cosey Fanni Tutti and CoH, and an instrumental version of the Rolling Stones’ Angie.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast largely feature mostly non-actors and real-life dancers with the exception of a few professional actors. Among the people in the film include Sarah Belala as the dancer Jennifer who often does cocaine and refuses to share it, Alexandre Moreau as crunk-dancer known as Cyborg, Vince Galliot Cumant as a young boy named Tito who is the son of a dancer in Emmanuelle, Claude Gajan Maull as the dancer Emmanuelle who is also the troupe manager that is accused of spiking the sangria, Adrien Sissoko as a teetotaler in Omar who gets accused of spiking the sangria, Lea Vlamos as Eva who deals with the chaos of the violence as it relates to someone who didn’t drink the sangria, Mounia Nassangar as the volatile Dom who would act violently towards someone due to the spiked sangria, Thea Carla Schott as the German dancer Psyche who would act erratic due to the spiked sangria, Giselle Palmer and Taylor Kastle in their respective roles as the siblings Gazelle and Taylor, Sharleen Temple as Ivana who sports an afro of sorts as she is troubled by the spiked sangria, and Kiddy Smile as the dee-jay Daddy who would also drink the sangria unaware of its effects.

Romain Guillermic is excellent as David as a boyfriend of Gazelle who is eager to have sex with anyone while also becomes a suspect. Souheila Yacoub is brilliant as Lou as a dancer who didn’t drink the sangria as she is in the early stages of her pregnancy which also makes her a suspect. Finally, there’s Sofia Boutella in an incredible performance as Selva as one of the lead dancers who also drinks the sangria as she deals with a lot of things while also expressing herself physically as it is definitely a top-tier performance from Boutella.

Climax is a spectacular film from Gaspar Noe. Featuring a great ensemble cast, a killer music soundtrack, dazzling visuals, and its unconventional take of a simple premise and turning it on its head. It is a film that might be Noe’s most accessible film in terms of playing with a genre yet it also this air of danger and provocation that Noe is known. In the end, Climax is a tremendous film from Gaspar Noe.

Gaspar Noe Films: Carne - I Stand Alone - Irreversible - Enter the Void - Love (2015 film) - (Lux Aeterna) – (Vortex (2021 film)) – The Auteurs #48: Gaspar Noe

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022

2022 Blind Spot Series: Westfront 1918

 

Based on the novel Vier von der Infanterie (Four Infantrymen on the Western Front) by Ernst Johanssen, Westfront 1918 is the story of four infantrymen in France trying to survive during the final months of World War I as well as the aftermath of what they’ve experienced. Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and screenplay by Ladislaus Vajda, the film is among one of the first war films to contain sound as well as one of the first anti-war films as it explore the lives of four German men and how they dealt with the aftermath of war. Starring Fritz Kampers, Gustav Diessl, Hans-Joachim Moebis, and Claus Clausen. Westfront 1918 is an evocative yet harrowing film from Georg Wilhelm Pabst.

Set during the final months of World War I in France, the film revolves around a group of German infantrymen as they deal with their surroundings as their attempts to maintain their trenches begin to fail upon realization that they’re being shot at by their own artillery. It is a film with a simple premise as it follows mainly two soldiers as they deal with their situation as well as the fact that their attempts to dig new trenches are troubling considering that their superiors are the ones making mistakes. Ladislaus Vajda’s screenplay is largely straightforward as it opens with a group of German soldiers just having some coffee and food while a soldier known as the Student (Hans-Joachim Moebis) is spending time with a French peasant girl in Yvette (Jackie Monnier). Yet, they’re called back to the front as they continue to dig trenches but also deal with explosives as a burly soldier known as the Bavarian (Fritz Kampers), a veteran named Karl (Gustav Diessl), and a young lieutenant (Claus Clausen) deal with the chaos as they learn they’re being shot at by their own artillery who are unaware of what they’re firing at.

It is among these events that revolve in the first act while its second act has Karl on leave where he returns home to find that his home life isn’t going well due to what his wife (Hanna Hoessrich) has been doing though his mother (Else Helle) is happy to see him. It would play into the idea of being at home but without its sense of comfort knowing that the war still isn’t over as he would return to the front. The third act doesn’t just play into the artillery rectifying their mistake but also the fact that they made another mistake in allowing the French to advance more causing more problems as it does play into the ideas of war and its many fallacies. Even as the discussion about heroism where the Bavarian says that they would already be heroes if the war was already finished.

G.W. Pabst’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of the compositions he creates and how he presents the film as he does a lot to capture a lot in the 1:19:1 aspect ratio. Shot on location in Germany, Pabst does play into this idea of ordinary men who are just trying to be of service to their country but also want to enjoy themselves as it opens with a group of men playing music, drinking coffee, and having food while the Student is dancing with Yvette. It does give the film this sense of life away from war as Pabst shoots everything in wide and medium shots with the ratio that was used in those times while knowing when to move the camera though much of it remain still. Once the film moves into the trenches, there is this sense of urgency in which these men have to survive such as a scene where the Bavarian and Karl are both under the tunnels as they’re trying to hold on to the boards. Even as they become aware that they’re being shot by their own artillery prompting the Student to volunteer to run and reach the officers for their mistake.

There are bits of humor in the film in a scene where the Student is eating food and hiding it from others so that he wouldn’t gain the envy of other soldiers along with a scene of soldiers watching a comedy performance performed by cabaret act. Yet, Pabst would keep things straight into the second act when Karl returns home only to find things at his home that is upsetting and troubling as if he doesn’t belong at home despite the gifts he brought for both his wife and mother. There is also the fact that he is suffering from PTSD as being at home for a few days isn’t helping where Pabst definitely uses close-ups to play into the sense of terror and discomfort. The scenes in the third act where there is this battle is intense as well as horrifying as Pabst definitely has this sense of dread as well as this air of uncertainty and chaos that these soldiers have to endure. Its ending is an anti-war message as it play into the fact that no one really wins in war with those who live but don’t really survive what they had encounter. Overall, Pabst crafts a riveting yet haunting film about four Germany infantrymen trying to survive in the trenches in the final months of World War I.

Cinematographers Fritz Arno Wagner and Charles Metain do amazing work with the film’s black-and-white photography with its usage of lighting for some of nighttime exteriors at the trenches to the usage of available light for some of the scenes in the tunnel as well as some daytime exterior scenes that are largely straightforward. Editor Jean Oser does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few dissolves and fade to picture cut for the transitions. Art director Erno Metzner does brilliant work with the look of the house where Yvette lives as well as the apartment that Karl and his family lived but also the design of the trenches and tunnel in their decayed presentation. Sound recordist Karl Brodmerkel and sound editor W.L. Bagier Jr. do superb work with the sound in the way artillery shells fly as well as sounds of gunfire and bombs. The film’s music by Alexander Laszlo does wonderful work with the film’s orchestral score that do play into the suspense and drama with its somber string arrangements as a lot of it is low-key in its presentation.

The film’s terrific ensemble cast include some notable small roles from Vladimir Sokoloff as a purser who is trying to bring messages from the officers to low-level superiors, Carl Ballhaus as a young butcher that Karl’s wife has been spending time with, Else Helle as Karl’s mother who is happy to see him yet doesn’t say anything about what his daughter-in-law is doing, Hanna Hoessrich as Karl’s wife who has been doing things that he doesn’t approve as it would raise questions about their marriage, and Jackie Monnier as the French peasant girl Yvette whom the Student has fallen for and hopes to bring her home to Germany. Claus Clausen is fantastic as a young lieutenant who deals with trying to get his troops to advance but also fix their trenches where he deals with the lack of support from his superiors.

Hans-Joachim Moebis is excellent as the Student as a young soldier who was also a student during the war as he is in love with a French peasant girl while also volunteers to be a runner to get information to his superiors as he deals with the chaos of war. Fritz Kampers is brilliant as the Bavarian as a veteran infantryman who has been in the war longer than anyone as he is also someone who brings a lot of joy to everyone whenever they’re not fighting while is also loyal to his fellow soldiers and does what he can to help them not get killed. Finally, there’s Gustav Diessl as Karl as a soldier who is also a veteran as he is given leave to return home for a small period only to find out that things in his home are troubling as he finds himself not fitting in where he feels more at home in the battlefield with his comrades.

Westfront 1918 is a phenomenal film from Georg Wilhelm Pabst. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, somber music score, and its exploration of war and the effects on soldiers. It is a war film that does explore life in the trenches as well as men dealing with things that do provide this anti-war message as it play into the many fallacies of war. In the end, Westfront 1918 is a sensational film from Georg Wilhlem Pabst.

G.W. Pabst Films: (The Treasure (1923 film)) – (Countess Donelli) – (Joyless Street) – (One Does Not Play with Love) – (The Love of Jeanne Ney) – (The Devious Path) – Pandora's Box - Diary of a Lost Girl - (The White Hell of Pitz Palu) – (Scandalous Eva) – (The Threepenny Opera) – (Kameradschaft) – (L’Atlantide) – (Adventures of Don Quixote) – (High and Low (1933 film)) – (A Modern Hero) – (Street of Shadows) – (The Shanghai Drama) – (Girls in Distress) – (The Comedians) – (Paracelsus) – (Der Fall Molander) – (The Trial (1948 film)) – (Mysterious Shadows) – (Call Over the Air) – (Voice of Silence) – (Cose da pazzi) – (The Confession of Ina Kahr) – (The Last Ten Days) – (Jackboot Mutiny) – (Ballerina (1956 film)) – (Through the Forests and Through the Trees)

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Actors Who Are Family Members in Real-Life Playing Similar Family Roles in Film

 

For the 18th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of actors who are real-life family members playing the same family roles in films. There are those who are part of acting dynasties who work together to play certain roles with one another as it either adds a natural sense of chemistry or no chemistry at all. Here are my three picks:

1. John and Joan Cusack-Say Anything…
In Cameron Crowe’s feature-film directorial debut about a high school valedictorian embarking on a relationship with a slacker schoolmate who doesn’t have any ambition. The film feature both John and Joan Cusack playing siblings like they do in real-life with the latter playing the slacker’s single-mom sister as she is concerned about him being in a relationship with this young woman whose father doesn’t approve of it. The chemistry between the Cusacks do feel real as it do play into the way siblings act but also how a young man goes to his older sister when he says “I gave her my heart and she gives me a pen”.

2. Jake & Maggie Gyllenhaal-Donnie Darko
Richard Kelly’s 2001 cult film didn’t just feature a break-out performance from Jake as the titular role but also featured his real-life sister Maggie, who was a year away from her own break-out moment in Secretary, as Donnie’s older sister Elizabeth. The two have an infamous exchange early in the film where the two say some profane things to each other in front of the family with Daveigh Chase as the youngest sister Rose who then asks “what’s a fuck-ass?”

3. Meryl Streep & Mamie Gummer-Ricki and the Flash
In Jonathan Demme’s final feature film before his death in 2017 has Meryl Streep play a middle-aged woman still chasing her dreams of rock stardom with her band the Flash until she gets a call from her ex-husband that their daughter attempted suicide following news that her own husband has been cheating on her and is divorcing her. Playing Ricki’s daughter is Streep’s own daughter Mamie where the mother-daughter dynamic is engaging as well as being full of heart and humor. Even with someone like Streep, who was known for being this revered and serious actress, manages to loosen up as well as allow Mamie to shine making the film a joy to watch.

© thevoid99 2022