Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Films That I Saw: September 2015

The fall season has arrived as it looks like things are getting better after a bleak summer as I’m starting to get back on track financially as well as creatively though there’s still some bumps on the road. Nevertheless, I’m sort of back in full-writing mode as I’m getting ready for the next Auteurs piece as well as my remaining Blind Spots and other things to finish the year. Plus, I’ve been spending some time watching coverage of Pope Francis’ arrival in the U.S. and the time he spent as I’m Catholic and it’s really a big deal for my mother as his visit was really a positive one. Here is someone who really understands the more important things in life in a world where everyone has their own agenda as he thinks about others rather than himself.

In the month of September, I saw a total of 38 films in 25 first-timers and 9 re-watches. Definitely up from last month due to the fact that I saw a lot of first-timers which were mostly short films by Jacques Tati but not a lot of re-watches. The highlight of the month was definitely my Blind Spot assignment in Man with a Movie Camera. Here are the top 10 First-Timers that I saw for September 2015:

1. The Ascent

2. Stromboli

3. Bay of Angels

4. Journey to Italy

5. Donkey Skin

6. Reds

7. Mistress America

8. Europe '51

9. Mr. Turner

10. The Equalizer

Monthly Mini-Reviews

Dumb and Dumber To

I love Dumb and Dumber but let’s be honest, the Farrelly Brothers haven’t made a watchable film since Me, Myself, and Irene as I have a tendency to see how bad certain films are. This film is an indication that the Farrelly Brothers should just retire and go away for good. This wasn’t funny at all as the jokes feel forced and the fact that Lloyd and Harry are actually far more un-likeable in this film than the first one where they were loveable idiots. Here, it’s just a rehash of what they did but it’s meaner as well as not really caring about them in their new adventure.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

I’m not a fan of the series nor anything Shawn Levy does though this film was actually decent. Notably because of the stakes of trying to get this tablet to be fixed in London as well as the funny appearance of Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot as well as a hilarious cameo from Hugh Jackman. Yet, it’s also sort of sad considering that the film is one of Robin Williams’ final performances as well as a final performance from Mickey Rooney where the comedy isn’t overly silly while the stakes are actually more engaging.

Top 9 Re-Watches:

1. Lost in Translation

2. Jackie Brown

3. Traffic

4. Cars

5. Shrek the Third

6. Vertical Limit

7. Son of the Pink Panther

8. Staying Alive

9. Wild Wild West

Well, that is all for September. In October, the Auteurs piece on Jacques Tati will be released as well as a special tribute to the entire Auteurs series where I will announce the fiftieth Auteurs subject. Along with theatrical releases such as Sicario, The Walk, and Steve Jobs, the months of October will be devoted largely towards horror films from such masters as Brian de Palma, John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock, Tobe Hooper, and several others along with thrillers, noir, and other dark films. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Twin Peaks: Episode 11-Laura's Secret Diary

Directed by Todd Holland and written by Robert Engels, Mark Frost, Harley Peyton, and Jerry Stahl, the fourth episode of the second season of Twin Peaks entitled Laura’s Secret Diary relates to the mysterious diary of Laura Palmer that Harold Smith had been holding for some time as he reveals its contents to Donna Hayward. After meeting Maddy Ferguson to talk about the diary, Donna decides to call a truce with Maddy in order to work together while things in the town of Twin Peaks are starting to get strange. Notably as Leland Palmer has been arrested for Jacques Renault’s murder which he’s confessed to as he is later met by a judge (Royal Dano) to discuss what will happen to Palmer. Meanwhile, Andy talks to Dr. Hayward to see if he’s the father of Lucy’s baby while Dick Tremaine makes an offer to Lucy in one of the episode’s funniest subplots.

Yet, it’s an episode that balances the strange mix of humor, drama, and suspense where Josie Packard finally returns from Seattle as she meets with Pete Martell and Sheriff Truman as no one knows about whether Catherine is dead or alive. Still, Packard’s return would raise a lot of eyebrows as it relates to not just the land where the saw mill used to be and something more. Benjamin Horne would learn about Audrey’s whereabouts from Jean Renault as he turns to Special Agent Cooper for help in retrieving Audrey as he deals with the upcoming arrival of a famous hotel/food critic which also has Norma and Hank Jennings ready to get the diner to be in top shape. Yet, no one knows the identity of who this critic is while a mysterious Japanese businessman makes an arrival at the hotel.

The sense of mystery becomes prominent as Agent Cooper is calling on the town’s secret society to help him retrieve Audrey while there’s a lot going on as it relates to Leland Palmer as Ray Wise’s performance is definitely his best so far. The darker elements of the series do come to ahead when the power of Jean Renault is finally shown when he does something in front of an intoxicated Audrey as it reveals that as evil as he is. He’s also a man that can be reasonable and knows what to do in the world of business as Michael Parks bring a lot of charm to the performance. One aspect of the series that is revealed is the appearance of an Asian man who is revealed to be a relative of Packard as she orders him to take care of some loose ends.

Laura’s Secret Diary is a brilliant episode of Twin Peaks from Todd Holland as it maintains that sense of intrigue as well as introducing a lot more characters and motivations of some of the regulars. Especially as some action is taking place in relation to some of the stories and subplots as it is written with wit and mystery by its writers. In the end, Laura’s Secret Diary is an amazing episode in the second season of Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks: Season 1: Pilot - Episode 1 - Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4 - Episode 5 - Episode 6 - Episode 7

Season 2: Episode 8 - Episode 9 - Episode 10 - Episode 12 - Episode 13 - Episode 14 - Episode 15 - (Episode 16) - (Episode 17) - (Episode 18) - (Episode 19) - (Episode 20) - (Episode 21) - (Episode 22) - (Episode 23) - (Episode 24) - (Episode 25) - (Episode 26) - (Episode 27) - (Episode 28) - (Episode 29)

Season 3: (Coming Soon)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me - (The Missing Pieces)

© thevoid99 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

Journey to Italy

Based on the novel Duo by Colette, Journey to Italy is the story of a couple traveling to Italy on a holiday as they cope with their disintegrating marriage. Directed by Roberto Rossellini and screenplay by Rossellini and Vitaliano Brancati, the film is an exploration of couple’s attempt to save their marriage on a vacation through countryside in Naples as they deal with themselves. Starring Ingrid Bergman, George Sanders, Maria Mauban, Anna Proclemer, and Leslie Daniels. Journey to Italy is an evocative film from Roberto Rossellini.

Set largely in Naples, the film explores a married couple traveling to the Italian city and its nearby surroundings hoping to save their marriage as they both cope with the loss of a friend and a villa they plan to sell. During the course of their Italian vacation, Alex (George Sanders) and Katherine Joyce (Ingrid Bergman) find themselves out of step with each other and in the activities they want to do. While it’s a story that doesn’t have much of a plot, it is about the slow disintegration of a marriage as it is told in the matter of days where Alex is fed up with Katherine’s obsession for museums and historical landmarks as it relates to a friend of theirs. Katherine feels that Alex has been spending too much time either working or socializing with their friends as the film’s script plays into the tension as much of the second act plays into the two spending time with other people. It then leads to this very dramatic third act where the two go to Pompeii where all of these emotions between the two finally come to ahead.

Roberto Rossellini’s direction is quite intoxicating for not just the usage of the different locations in Italy such as the island of Capri, Pompeii, and Naples but also in how it plays into a couple’s attempt to save their marriage in this beautiful country. Rossellini’s usage of wide and medium shots help play into the majestic look of the locations as well as the growing dissolution between Alex and Katherine. There aren’t a lot of close-ups except in certain locations of where Katherine goes including some of the ruins of Pompeii and the volcanic landscape nearby. Yet, there are moments where it adds to the sense of despair as well as scenes where Alex encounters temptation as he ponders whether or not he should make things worse. The film’s climax in Pompeii doesn’t just play into what Alex and Katherine discover but also questions about whether or not they should try to work it out or call it quits. Overall, Rossellini creates a compelling yet touching study about marriage and its complexities through a couple on vacation in Italy.

Cinematographer Enzo Serafin does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to play into some of the nighttime interior/exterior scenes set at night as well as some of the interiors of the museum and landmarks that Katherine goes to. Editor Iolanda Benvenuti does fantastic work with the editing as much of it is straightforward with some rhythmic cuts in the early scenes set on the road as well as in the film‘s climax at a ceremony in Naples. Production designer Piero Filippone does amazing work with the look of the villa and the rooms in the villa that Alex and Katherine live at. The sound work of Eraldo Giordani is superb for some of the moments that occur from usage of live music heard in the streets to some of the raucous moments in the city of Naples. The film’s music by Renzo Rossellini is brilliant for its orchestral-based score mixed in with traditional Italian folk music to play into the world of Italy as well as the lush string arrangements to play into the dramatic elements of the film.

The film’s terrific cast include some notable small roles from Leslie Daniels and Natalia Ray in their respective roles as friends Tony and Natalie Burton, Paul Muller as the villa house sitter Paul Dupont, Anna Proclemer as a young prostitute Alex picks up, and Maria Mauban as a friend of Alex and Katherine in Marie who tries to flirt with Alex. George Sanders is marvelous as Alex Joyce as a workaholic businessman who tries to move on from the death of a friend as he later goes on his own as he tries to ponder his own feelings about himself and his wife. Finally, there’s Ingrid Bergman in a remarkable performance as Katherine Joyce as a woman trying to cope with loss as well as a marriage that is disintegrating as she goes to various Italian landmarks in order to try and comprehend everything is happening to her and her marriage as it’s a very radiant performance from Bergman.

Journey to Italy is a spectacular film from Roberto Rossellini that features great performances from Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders. It’s a film that isn’t just a captivating drama that explores a couple coming apart but also a film that plays into people taking on two different journeys to find themselves in Italy. In the end, Journey to Italy is a phenomenal film from Roberto Rossellini.

Roberto Rossellini Films: (La Vispa Teresa) - (Desiderio) - (Paisan) - (L’Amore-Il Miracolo) - Rome, Open City - (Germany Year Zero) - Stromboli - The Flowers of St. Francis - Europe '51 - (Medico Condotto) - (The Seven Deadly Sins-Envie, L’Envy) - (Machine to Kill Bad People) - (We, the Women-Ingrid Bergman) - Fear (1954 film) - (Giovanna d’Arco al rogo) - (General della Rovere) - (Escape by Night) - (Viva l’Italia!) - (Vanina Vanini) - (Benito Mussolini) - (Ro.Go.Pa.G.-Illbatezza) - (The Carabineers) - (Rice University) - (Anno uno)

© thevoid99 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Europe '51

Directed by Roberto Rossellini and screenplay by Sandro de Feo, Mario Pannunzio, Ivo Perilli, and Brunello Rondi from a story by Rossellini, Europe ‘51 is the story of a wealthy woman who is certified insane after the death of young son as she tries to find redemption. The film is an exploration into grief as well as a woman coming to terms with her loss and the need to help others. Starring Ingrid Bergman, Alexander Knox, Sandro Franchina, Ettore Giannini, and Giulietta Masina. Europe ‘51 is an extraordinary and touching film from Roberto Rossellini.

The film is an exploration of a wealthy woman whose life crashes following the suicide attempt of her young son who would unfortunately die from that attempt as her grief forces her to try and help those who are suffering. It’s a story that plays into a woman who sees the world in a different light as she becomes concerned with those who are ill and those that need help as her husband is convinced that she’s having an affair or is becoming insane. The film’s script does play into a traditional structure in which the first act is about Irene (Ingrid Bergman) coping with her son’s suicide attempt and the reality about her sense of neglect towards him. The second act is about her encounter with the poor with the aid of her socialist cousin Andre (Ettore Giannini) as she would also meet a poor mother of six in Passerotto (Giulietta Masina). It then leads to this third act of not just self-realization but also about the world that Irene was once a part of.

Roberto Rossellini’s direction is quite mesmerizing in the way he captures a woman’s plight over her son’s death and the grief that would drive her to do something. Much of the film’s first act has this sense of artificiality and comfort in the atmosphere it’s in as it is shot in these more posh areas of room as the compositions has an air of style. Even in scenes such as Irene finding about her son’s fall from the stairs and the close-ups that Rossellini puts to play into the drama. By the film’s second and third act, the air of realism becomes prominent where Rossellini would shoot in these urban areas of Rome where he uses a lot of wide and medium shots to capture the look of the locations as well as Irene’s own broadening view of things.

Though her actions would cause confusion among a group of people including her husband George (Alexander Knox), it does play into Irene’s own sense of growth and her chance to find redemption no matter how much she hates herself for her son’s death. Yet, the people she does touch including a family whose son turns to crime or a prostitute shunned by many as it shows what she tries to do to help them. Overall, Rossellini creates an evocative and harrowing film about a woman who tries to help others in the wake of her grief.

Cinematographer Aldo Tonti does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from some of the exteriors of the urban locations in Rome to some of the more artificial look in some of the interiors in Irene‘s posh apartment home. Editor Iolanda Benvenuti does brilliant work with the editing as much of it is straightforward in terms of the drama while there‘s a notable sequence where Irene goes to a factory as it‘s usage of rhythms help play to her reaction. Production designer Virgilio Marchi and set decorator Ferdinando Ruffo do nice work with the look of the posh apartment that Irene and George live in to the riverside shack that Passerotto lives in. Sound recorder Piero Cavazzuti does terrific work with the sound to capture some of the things that goes on in the urban areas of Rome including the factory. The film’s music by Renzo Rossellini is fantastic for its mixture of somber orchestral music with lush strings to more bombastic arrangements to play into some of the film’s melodrama.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Sandro Franchina as George and Irene’s son Michel, Tina Perna as the maid Cesira, Teresa Pellati as the prostitute Ines, Alfred Browne as a priest, and Antonio Pietrangeli as a hospital psychiatrist. Alexander Knox is excellent as Irene’s husband George who ponders his wife’s frequent absences at home as he wonders if she has gone crazy. Ettore Giannini is fantastic as Irene’s cousin Andre whose socialist views would introduce her to the world of the poor and disenfranchised.

Giuletta Masina is amazing as Passerotto as this single mother of six children whom Irene befriends as Masina’s performance is full of charm despite the fact that she and many of the actors’ voices are dubbed in American English for the international version of the film. Finally, there’s Ingrid Bergman in a remarkable performance as Irene as this woman whose grief forces her to see things in a different light as she tries to make a difference to help those of need as it’s a performance full of humility and power from Bergman.

Europe ‘51 is a phenomenal film from Roberto Rossellini that features an incredible performance from Ingrid Bergman. The film isn’t just one of Rossellini’s more compelling dramas but also a unique study of faith and generosity amidst the world of death. Especially in the way post-war Italy still tried to ignore common people at a time when they were in need as a woman with that power tried to do something. In the end, Europe ‘51 is a sensational film from Roberto Rossellini.

Roberto Rossellini Films: (La Vispa Teresa) - (Desiderio) - (Paisan) - (L’Amore-Il Miracolo) - Rome, Open City - (Germany Year Zero) - Stromboli - The Flowers of St. Francis - (Medico Condotto) - (The Seven Deadly Sins-Envie, L’Envy) - (Machine to Kill Bad People) - (We, the Women-Ingrid Bergman) - Journey to Italy - Fear (1954 film) - (Giovanna d’Arco al rogo) - (General della Rovere) - (Escape by Night) - (Viva l’Italia!) - (Vanina Vanini) - (Benito Mussolini) - (Ro.Go.Pa.G.-Illbatezza) - (The Carabineers) - (Rice University) - (Anno uno)

© thevoid99 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Directed by Roberto Rossellini and screenplay by Sergio Amidei, Gian Paolo Callegari, Art Cohn, and Renzo Cesana from a story by Rossellini, Stromboli is the story of a Lithuanian refugee whose marriage to an Italian fisherman forces her to question the decisions she’s made in her life following the end of World War II. The film is a mixture of traditional melodrama but with an air of neorealism which plays into a woman coping with her identity and the new environment she is following her stay at a war prison camp. Starring Ingrid Bergman, Mario Vitale, Renzo Cesana, and Mario Sponza. Stromboli is a chilling yet mesmerizing film from Roberto Rossellini.

The film revolves around a refugee who meets and marries an Italian POW as they live in his home island of Stromboli in Italy where she endures a world that is completely foreign to her with people that see her as an outsider. It’s a film that explores a woman living in this island with her husband who hasn’t had the worldly experience that she had while her surroundings in this island with an active volcano. At the same time, the residents are people who are wary of outsiders as they don’t see her as modest nor humble as Karin (Ingrid Bergman) tries to adjust to her situation and marriage. Yet, life with Antonio (Mario Vitale) becomes troubling as Antonio isn’t mature nor willing to broaden things in his life as he wants to stay the way things are. The film’s script plays into not just Karin’s own plight but also her attempts to fit in with the aid of a priest and a lighthouse keeper.

Roberto Rossellini’s direction is very complex for not just the sense of realism that he creates but also infuse it with an air of melodrama. Many of the scenes involving Antonio’s fishing and life in the island of Stromboli are presented with that documentary approach to display these things as something that is real. It adds to the sense of despair that Karin would endure in her surroundings as it feels too real for her. Most notably the danger that lurks in the island as it adds a lot of weight to the drama. While much of the landscape of Stromboli was shot on the exact location where it villages and residents are characters in the film. It does play into something that is sort of cut off from the rest of the world which Karin is confused by as her attempts to connect with others become impossible where she would even get the help of another village outsider which adds to her alienation. Especially for the climax where Rossellini’s usage of the locations and the close-ups he capture in Karin’s face says it all. Overall, Rossellini creates an evocative yet haunting film about a woman dealing with a new and harsh environment.

Cinematographer Otello Martelli does excellent work with the black-and-white cinematography as it has this air of realism in its look as well in some of the exteriors and interior scenes at night while using some artificial light for a few dramatic moments. Editor Iolanda Benvenuti does brilliant work with the editing as it is very straightforward with some stylish cuts to play into the drama and some of action that occurs in the daily environment of the fishermen. The sound work of Terry Kellum and Eraldo Giordani is terrific for the natural sound that occurs including the locations of the sea and the sound of the volcano in the island. The film’s music by Renzo Rossellini is fantastic for its soaring orchestral score that plays into the dramatic elements of the film while music director Constantin Bakaleinikoff provides a soundtrack filled with traditional Italian sea chants and other traditional folk songs in that world.

Much of the film’s cast features largely non-professional actors as many of them are actual residents of Stromboli which plays to the realistic tone of the film while there’s a couple of notable small performances from Mario Sponzo as the kind lighthouse man who offers to help Karin out and Renzo Cesana as the village priest who tries to reason with Karin while understanding that Antonio is just a simple young man. Mario Vitale is superb as Antonio as a young soldier who takes Karin to his home island unaware of what her needs are as he’s essentially a simpleton that really has no broad view of the world outside of Stromboli or Italy. Finally, there’s Ingrid Bergman in a remarkable performance as Karin as this Lithuanian refugee who is freed from camp by marrying Antonio hoping for a better life as she contends with her surroundings and marriage as it’s a very gripping and towering performance from Bergman.

Stromboli is an incredible film from Roberto Rossellini that features an exhilarating performance from Ingrid Bergman. The film isn’t just one of Rossellini’s more compelling films that blends his neorealist ideas with melodrama but also stands as one of his most accessible films. In the end, Stromboli is a phenomenal film from Roberto Rossellini.

Roberto Rossellini Films: (La Vispa Teresa) - (Desiderio) - (Paisan) - (L’Amore-Il Miracolo) - Rome, Open City - (Germany Year Zero) - The Flowers of St. Francis - (Medico Condotto) - (The Seven Deadly Sins-Envie, L’Envy) - Machine to Kill Bad People) - Europe ‘51 - (We, the Women-Ingrid Bergman) - Journey to Italy - Fear (1954 film) - (Giovanna d’Arco al rogo) - (General della Rovere) - (Escape by Night) - (Viva l’Italia!) - (Vanina Vanini) - (Benito Mussolini) - (Ro.Go.Pa.G.-Illbatezza) - (The Carabineers) - (Rice University) - (Anno uno)

© thevoid99 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Blind Spot Series: Man with a Movie Camera

Written and directed by Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera is an avant-garde film that explores the life the Soviet Union in its early years told in an unconventional fashion. The film is more about cinematic techniques to help tell the story of day-to-day life between those working in the urban environments in the Soviet Union. The result is truly one of the most imaginative and exhilarating films ever created.

The film is a simple story of a cameraman trying to capture everything he sees in the Soviet Union whether it’s the birth of a child, athletic events, people on the beach, workers in a factory, and everything else. All of which is seen by an audience at a movie theater where it plays into the idea of what cinema could be and what it has to say about everyday life. Since there isn’t any plot nor any real central characters other than the cameraman who is played by the film’s cinematographer Mikhail Kaufman. Instead, it’s all about the image and what it says where it plays into a cameraman trying to see what he can do and how to present it as if it was a movie.

Dziga Vertov’s direction is very imaginative from the way he opens the film to what he would present for his audience. With the aid of cinematographer Mikhail Kaufman and editor Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov goes for something where narrative doesn’t exist and just makes up as he goes along with it. Through Kaufman’s dazzling black-and-white photography and Svilova’s stylish editing, the film is about style where Vertov goes for all kinds of compositions from slanted camera angles, having the camera be upside down, creating multiple exposure and dissolve shots, and moments that are out of this world. It plays into the idea that the camera is the character and the camera is capturing everything that is happening in the film.

Some of it is presented in a simple format while other things are presented with something that is very dizzying to the way the world is to reflect on the Soviet Union coming into its own following the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and its civil war. Even as it shows the Soviet Union in peaceful moments where children enjoy watching a magic show or people going to the beach for a good time. Adding to the film’s charm is the music as the film has been released with different kinds of music through several reissues since its 1929 release. The most well known version is from a 2002 reissue that features a score by Jason Swinscoe and is performed by the electronic-jazz group The Cinematic Orchestra where its mixture of jazz and electronic music helps play into the energy of the film.

Man with a Movie Camera is an incredible film from Dziga Vertov. It’s a film that displays some of the best examples of what experimental cinema is and how accessible it can be. Especially as it’s not afraid to be daring and weird but also has a sense of charm in what it says about everyday life in the former Soviet Union. In the end, Man with a Movie Camera is a magnificent film from Dziga Vertov.

Dziga Vertov Films: (A Sixth Part of the World) - (Three Songs About Lenin) - (Lullaby (1937 film))

© thevoid99 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Twin Peaks: Episode 10-The Man Behind Glass

Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter and written by Robert Engels, the third episode of the second season of Twin Peaks entitled The Man Behind Glass plays to not just Agent Cooper trying to find the whereabouts of Audrey Horne but also a clue that relates to a letter found underneath Ronette Pulaski’s fingernail. With the ongoing investigation continuing where Cooper and Sheriff Truman find some answers during a hypnosis session with Dr. Jacoby about who killed Jacques Renault. Emotions start to run very high in the small town of Twin Peaks as it relates to the various characters in the story.

With James Hurley and Maddy Ferguson getting closer, Donna Hayward starts to feel left out as her investigation on the Meals on Wheels program lead her to the reclusive Harold Smith (Lenny von Dohlen) who knew Laura Palmer through the program. Donna gets to know Harold as she starts to become frustrated with James’ feelings towards Maddy as it eventually starts to fall apart. Other notable small stories involve Nadine Hurley waking up from her coma thinking she is in high school much to Ed’s surprise while Lucy has a lunch-date with the very smug and pretentious Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan) where she reveals to him that he might be the father of her baby.

The episode would also play into the underworld of the town as it relate to One-Eyed Jack’s where Audrey remains captured as Jean Renault (Michael Parks) arrives with a plan to extort her father. At the same time, Renault wants revenge for his brothers as he is targeting Cooper while a mysterious Asian man is also watching over Cooper. The character of Phillip Michael Gerard would make an appearance over a shoe that Leo Johnson is wearing during an investigation over the mill arson as a glimpse into the mysterious picture of BOB would trigger something. Yet, it would become another break in the investigation about Laura’s death while Donna would make a discovery of her own at the end of the episode.

It’s not just the script that allows characters to be fleshed out more but also in the way everyone is starting to get emotional. Notably another confrontation between Truman and Agent Rosenfeld where the latter reveals what kind of man he is as it would baffle the former. Lesli Linka Glatter would maintain that sense of balance of offbeat and suspense to play into not just a town that is starting to become undone slowly. It’s also showcasing that things are changing where not everything will be great as alliances start to shatter and there are those that will try to create new alliances for darker reasons.

The Man Behind Glass is a superb episode of Twin Peaks by Lesli Linka Glatter and writer Robert Engels. With its cast once again on the top of its game and the story becoming more compelling, it is clear that more questions are being raised rather than answers being revealed. In the end, The Man Behind Glass is a fantastic episode of Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks: Season 1: Pilot - Episode 1 - Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4 - Episode 5 - Episode 6 - Episode 7

Season 2: Episode 8 - Episode 9 - Episode 11 - Episode 12 - Episode 13 - Episode 14 - Episode 15 - (Episode 16) - (Episode 17) - (Episode 18) - (Episode 19) - (Episode 20) - (Episode 21) - (Episode 22) - (Episode 23) - (Episode 24) - (Episode 25) - (Episode 26) - (Episode 27) - (Episode 28) - (Episode 29)

Season 3: (Coming Soon)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me - (The Missing Pieces)

© thevoid99 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reds (1981 film)

Based on the novel Ten Days That Shook the World by John Reed, Reds is the story of John Reed’s account of the Russian Revolution as he begins an affair with socialite Louise Bryant who joins him in taking part of the revolution. Directed by Warren Beatty and screenplay by Beatty and Trevor Griffiths, the film is an exploration into the world of the Russian Revolution as it is told by those who survived the Revolution as well as dramatic accounts of Reed’s coverage as he is played by Beatty with Diane Keaton as Bryant. Also starring Edward Herrmann, Maureen Stapleton, Jerzy Kosinski, Paul Sorvino, Nicolas Coster, Gene Hackman, and Jack Nicholson as Eugene O’Neill. Reds is an enthralling yet evocative film from Warren Beatty.

Set in the span of five years with interviews from those who lived during a tumultuous period in world history, the film is the story about the life of the journalist John Reed who tries to make a difference where he and his then-wife Louise Bryant would witness the Russian Revolution in 1917 where he would later try to create a similar revolution in the U.S. It’s a film that is sort of a rise-and-fall story where John Reed wants to do something in the world of socialism as he and several intellects want to do something for the workers while living a carefree lifestyle with Bryant who would later join him and become part of his world. Yet, it’s also a love story between these two from the moment they meet in his hometown of Portland, Oregon in 1915 where she aspires to be a journalist to his death in 1920 in Russia. All of which plays into two people wanting to make a difference for a better world where they eventually realize that it’s not as easy as they think it is.

The film’s screenplay by Warren Beatty and Trevor Griffiths, with additional contributions by Elaine May and Robert Towne, explores how Bryant and Reed met where it was merely by accident as Bryant heard of Reed through his work as a journalist as she is a socialite married to a dentist that has become bored of her world. After a series of gatherings, Bryant goes to New York City where she is introduced to Reed’s circle of friends and intellects that include the playwright Eugene O’Neill, Max Eastman (Edward Herrmann), and the renowned anarchist Emma Goldman (Maureen Stapleton). Bryant would be overwhelmed by these people but eventually would come into her own despite some issues with Reed as she feels like she doesn’t fit in. While their relationship had complications often due to Reed’s willingness to do something for the socialist movement in America with Bryant often being on her own where she would have an affair with O’Neill.

The first act would be about Bryant and Reed’s affair and their marriage where they try to have a normal life but things get troubled because of Reed’s frequent absences to cover things like the 1916 election and taking part in activist meetings. The second act would be about their time in Russia where Reed would write his seminal book as Bryant would find a role in giving lectures as the two believe they’ve done something where Reed goes from being a successful writer to trying to succeed in the world of politics where he tries to do something for an American communist party. Even as he would find himself sparing with other members about motives where he goes to Russia in the hope to get some endorsement. Instead, the third act represents Reed’s fall where he is stuck in Russia as he goes to the country illegally while unaware of the tension that is going on between Russia and Finland over ideals as well as the former’s own view of what communism should be prompting Bryant to make her journey to enter Russia illegally that would add a lot of the drama that occurs in the third act.

Beatty’s direction is quite vast as he would create something that is very offbeat in terms of its narrative structure as well as how he would dramatize these events and the real people involved. While his presentation with the interviews of the people such as the novelist Henry Miller, Roger Nash Baldwin, and many other people who were witnesses to these events that Reed and Bryant are simple. Even as they help set up certain stories about the two along with some gossip about what Reed and Bryant were doing as many of Beatty’s images sort of create images that look like paintings but also compositions that are rich and intoxicating. Most notably the scenes in New York and parts of Great Britain as the east coast to play into a time of innocence but also the desire for change as there’s some Americans who oppose going into World War I as they believe it’s all about profit.

For the scenes set in Russia, much of it is shot in Finland as well as a few locations in Spain and Sweden where it plays into a world that is quite big. Notably as Beatty takes great usage of the wide shots for a few scenes of conflict along with large images of rallies and marches that went on in Russia. There is something that feels grand in these scenes but once the film returns to Russia amidst a fallout over American communists disagreeing about what to do. The film does change where it is not just about the fallacies of revolutions but also why communism in America would never work as it would force Reed to see that as well as deal about what is more important as it relates to Bryant. Even as Bryant would go into her own journey to travel to Russia which would be just as adventurous as Reed’s which shows how much they love each other and why that love is more important than some revolution. Overall, Beatty creates an absolutely sensational and entrancing film about John Reed’s life and his love for Louise Bryant.

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro does incredible work with the film‘s photography as it plays into a sense of naturalistic lighting schemes for some of the interiors and some of the daytime scenes along with its lush usage of lights for some scenes and some stylish filter shots to play into some of the exteriors set at night as it is one of the film‘s major highlights. Editors Dede Allen and Craig McKay do excellent work with the editing with its back-and-forth cutting style with the interviews and the dramatization as well as some rhythmic cuts for the action and dramatic moments in the film. Production designer Richard Sylbert, with set decorator Michael Sierton and art director Simon Holland, does amazing work with the design of some of the places in Russia from the palaces in its pre-revolution settings to the look of the apartments in its post-revolution as well as the homes in America where Reed and Bryant lived in.

Costume designer Shirley Ann Russell does fantastic work with the costumes to display what American socialites wore in the late 1910s as well as the more ragged look of the Russians during the post-revolution days. Sound editor Richard P. Cirincione does superb work with the sound to capture some of the sound work that goes on at the meetings as well as quieter moments though the highlight of the sound editing is in the way the recollections of the people interviewed are used in some of the scenes in the film. The film’s music by Stephen Sondheim and Dave Grusin is brilliant with Sondheim providing some old-school rag-time and jazz music to play into the period of the times while Grusin would bring in some orchestral pieces to play into the drama and action.

The casting by Noel Davis and Patsy Pollock is wonderful as it features notable small appearances from M. Emmet Walsh as a liberal party speaker, Roger Sloman as Vladimir Lenin, Oleg Kerensky as Alexander Kerensky, Stuart Richman as Leon Trotsky, George Plimpton as newspaper editor Horace Whigham, Nicholas Coster as Louise’s first husband Paul Trullinger, Harry Ditson as the political artist Maurice Becker, Max Wright as the literary critic Floyd Dell, William Daniels as a socialist party leader in Julius Gerber, and Gene Hackman in a small yet terrific performance as newspaper editor Peter Van Wherry. Paul Sorvino is excellent as an Italian founder of the American Communist party in Louis C. Fraina who wants to do something for the party but has a hard time trying to get things in order due to the demands of others including Reed.

Jerzy Kosinski is superb as Bolshevik leader Grigory Zinoviev who is trying to instill his idea of socialism as he would have conflicts with Reed over how loyal he is towards the revolution. Edward Herrmann is fantastic as Max Eastman as a friend of Reed who also is part of a socialist movement until things go a little too far as he decides to walk away from the movement. Maureen Stapleton is amazing as Emma Goldman as the renowned and outspoken anarchist who is against America’s participation in World War I as she wants socialism to come to America where she is later exiled to Russia where she becomes disillusioned with their ideas of socialism. Jack Nicholson is brilliant as Eugene O’Neill as the playwright who begins an affair with Bryant as he is a man of passion and care while he copes with wanting to be something for Bryant that Reed couldn’t be as he would later help her in the third act.

Diane Keaton is phenomenal as Louise Bryant as a socialite who aspires to write as she befriends Reed and later becomes his wife where she gets caught up in his world where Keaton brings a lot of weight and charisma to her performance. Finally, there’s Warren Beatty in a remarkable performance as John Reed as a journalist who is eager to do something in the hopes he can do good for the workers of America as he would cover the Russian Revolution and later deal with illness and disillusionment over the way the Russians would run things in its aftermath. Beatty and Keaton have some great chemistry in their scenes together in the way they argue as well as in tender moments as they both provide moments that are truly among the highlights of the film.

Reds is a tremendously sprawling and rich film from Warren Beatty that features great performances from Beatty, Diane Keaton, Maureen Stapleton, Edward Herrmann, Paul Sorvino, and Jack Nicholson. Along with Vittorio Storaro’s gorgeous cinematography as well as some amazing technical work and interviews from those who lived during that period. It’s a film that isn’t just an interesting historical film that explores America’s brief flirtation with socialism and the Russian Revolution but also an insight into a man’s attempt for change nearly cost him everything including the woman he loves. In the end, Reds is an outstanding film from Warren Beatty.

Warren Beatty Films: (Heaven Can Wait) - (Dick Tracy) - (Bulworth) - (Untitled Howard Hughes Project)

© thevoid99 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Short Films of Jacques Tati

While he is considered one of the greatest comedy filmmakers in the 20th Century, Jacques Tati only made six feature films from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. Yet, his work in feature-films that he directed are considered some of the finest comedies ever created as Tati would be involved in seven short films from the mid-1930s to the late 1970s. All of which would play into his unique approach to pantomime and physical comedy as well as his love of the simple life.

On demande une brute (Brute Wanted)

Directed by Charles Barrois and written by Tati and Rene Clement, the 23-minute short film revolves around an out-of-work actor who finds himself in a professional wrestling match. Also starring Enrico Sprocani as the clown Rhum, the film is a comical tale where Tati plays the lead role as a man who is forced by his wife to answer an ad unaware of what he really needs to do. It’s a short that plays into Tati’s minimalist approach to slapstick comedy where Tati doesn’t say much as it’s more about the surroundings he is in including the climatic wrestling match where Sprocani’s character would play a key role in the results.

Gai dimanche (Fun Sunday)

Co-directed with Jacques Berr, the short that stars Tati and Sprocani based on their own script is a story where two guys get themselves involved in a moneymaking scheme. The 21-minute short plays into these two men who decide to be tour guides for money by getting a cheap car and con a group of people where everything goes wrong. Add some bad directions, mishaps, and a runaway chicken, the film is a whimsical comedy that is very simple. While Sprocani would play the leader of the two, it is Tati that is the star due to his approach to physical comedy and being very quiet and restrained which would be a prototype into some of the characters he would create in the years to come.

Soigne ton gauche (Keep Your Left Up)

Directed by Rene Clement and written and starring Tati, the 13-minute short plays into a man’s desire to be a boxer as he gets a chance to become one unaware of what it entails. It’s a simple short that plays into a man who is unaware of what he is getting himself into as he deals with another boxer while a postman would try to help the unfortunate soul in the rules of boxing. Armed with a wonderful soundtrack, some fantastic editing, and stylish direction from Clement. It is definitely the best of the shorts that Tati would do in the 1930s.

L’ecole des facteurs (School for Postmen)

In his very first solo film as a director, Jacques Tati would star and write this 16-minute short that served as a template for his first feature-length film in Jour de Fete as the story revolved around a clumsy cyclist who works as a postman. It’s a film where Tati would create recurring gags which involves his character and bicycle as the postman tries to deliver mail in his route where a lot of hilarity ensues. Most notably as the postman tries to deliver his mail before the mail plane arrives to pick up mail as it features one of the most hilarious climaxes ever.

Cours du soir (Evening Classes)

Made during the production of Playtime, the 27-minute short film that is directed by Tati’s assistant Nicolas Ribowski and written and starring Tati revolves around an acting teacher teaching his students the art of mime. It’s a film where Tati not only display his talents in pantomime where he plays a teacher that could or could not be Monsieur Hulot, despite the fact that he is wearing the clothes and mimic everything that is Hulot, who showcases elements of how to be clumsy. There is also a tribute of sorts to Tati’s early work including the short film L’ecole des facteurs as it’s shot beautifully in color and black-and-white by Jean Badal with a playful score by Leo Petit.

Degustation maison (House Specialty)

Written and directed by Sophie Tatischeff, the film is a simple short film set inside a pastry cafĂ© where a group of people converge to socialize and eat pastry. Set in the small town where Jour de Fete was made, the short doesn’t have much of a plot nor does it feature Tati himself but it does have it sense of spirit in terms of the love of simple small town life that Tati yearns for in the age of modernism.

Forzia bastia (Festive Island)

Tati’s final film is 27-minute short he made in 1978 is a documentary short about UEFA Cup match between the PSV Eindhoven club from the Netherlands against the SC Bastia club from France at Furiani stadium. Though Tati would shelve it, the film was finally finished in 2000 by Tati’s daughter Sophie Tatischeff just 18 years after his passing. The short chronicles the island of Corsica where many of its locals are celebrating and exhilarated over a championship final between the two clubs as many are rooting for Bastia. It’s a documentary short that explores the joy of futbol fans and how much it can bring an entire community just to support their team as it is one of Tati’s finest shorts and a fitting finale for the filmmaker.

These short films of Jacques Tati not only display the man at his funniest but also as a filmmaker who really takes great care into the stories he creates. Even if it allows other filmmakers to help Tati present his vision as well as create something that is their own. It’s a collection of shorts fans of Tati must have as it showcases a man who didn’t just make people laugh but also touch them in ways that are indescribable.

Jacques Tati Films: Jour de Fete - Monsieur Hulot's Holiday - Mon Oncle - Playtime - Trafic - Trafic - The Auteurs #49: Jacques Tati

© thevoid99 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The World of Jacques Demy

Written and directed by Agnes Varda, L’univers de Jacques Demy (The World of Jacques Demy) is a documentary in which Varda pays tribute to her late husband through the films he made as well as his life. Featuring interviews with those that worked with him, the film is a look into one French cinema’s finest filmmakers. The result is a lively and touching portrait of one of the great filmmakers that ever lived.

Among the filmmakers who emerged during the era of the French New Wave, Jacques Demy was someone who didn’t fit in with that movement due to his love for American musicals and fantasy as he would cultivate a career that is considered one of the finest in cinema. Created in the span of two years, Agnes Varda creates not just a solemn tribute to her husband but would also interview some of his collaborators, fans of his work, and the actors that worked with him. Even as Varda goes into detail about his own life with the aid of their children, her sister-in-law, and old friends as well as the places he grew up in as the town would also pay tribute to the filmmaker.

Through various film clips and rare behind-the-scenes footage which would feature those anyone wouldn’t expect in a Demy film set like Jim Morrison at the set of Donkey Skin who would give Delphine Seyrig’s son his autograph. The actors such as Michel Piccoli, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Dominique Sanda, Anouk Aimee, Jacques Perrin, Nino Castelnuovo talk about their experiences working with Demy and his films. Much of it show that they all have pleasant experiences with him where Deneuve recalled doing The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as the first time she felt she was working with a real filmmaker. Many of his films are covered including the ones that weren’t successful like Lady Oscar and Parking where clips of interviews by Demy talk about the way things are in the industry where not all of his films are successful.

The film also showcases Demy’s brief flirtation in Hollywood when he was making Model Shop as a sequel to Lola with Anouk Aimee where the original male lead was supposed to be an up-and-coming actor named Harrison Ford who is also interviewed where he talks about how much Demy and one of the film’s producer wanted him to be in the film. Instead, studios chose Gary Lockwood of 2001: A Space Odyssey for the role which Demy wasn’t happy with though the resulting film was something Demy thought was good but not great. With the aid of cinematographers Stephane Krausz, Peter Pilafian, and Georges Strouve, along with editor Marie-Josee Audiard and the sound work of Thierry Ferreux and Jean-Luc Rault-Cheynet, Varda chose a different approach to narrative where she goes for a more non-linear look into Demy’s life and work.

Adding to the film’s whimsical tone are the music pieces by Michel Colombier and Michel Legrand who are both featured in the film as they talk about Demy’s approach to music. Much of the music that appears in the film is from Demy’s films as it adds to his love for music and what it means to him. Even as some fans of his films including some ordinary people know some of the songs by heart as the actors in those films would sing bits of these songs. It adds to the power of Demy’s influence and the impact he made in the world of films.

L’univers de Jacques Demy is a phenomenal film from Agnes Varda. It’s not just one of Varda’s finest documentaries but also a touching and exhilarating tribute to her late husband in Jacques Demy. Notably as it’s a film that displays some unique surprises about Demy and his work and how much he means to audiences all over the world. In the end, L’univers de Jacques Demy is a sensational film from Agnes Varda.

Agnes Varda Films: Diary of a Pregnant Woman - Du cote de la cote - La Pointe Courte - Cleo from 5 to 7 - Le Bonheur - (Les Creatures) – (Far from Vietnam) – (Lions Love) – (Daguerreotypes) – One Sings, the Other Doesn’t – (Murals Murals) – (Documenteur) - Vagabond - (Jane B. by Agnes V.) – ((Le Petit Amour) – (Jacquot de Nantes) – (The Young Girls Turn 25) – (One Hundred and One Nights) – The Gleaners & I - (The Gleaners & I: Two Years Later) – (Cinevardaphoto) – (Some Windows of Noirmoutier) - (The Beaches of Agnes) – (Faces Places) – (Varda by Agnes)

© thevoid99 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Donkey Skin

Based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault, Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin) is the story of a princess who goes into hiding after being asked by her father to marry him. Written for the screen and directed by Jacques Demy, the film is a whimsical musical-fantasy that plays into a princess who goes from riches-to-rags in order to do something for herself. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Jacques Perrin, Micheline Presle, Fernand Ledoux, Henri Cremieux, Sacha Pitoeff, and Delphine Seyrig. Peau d’Ane is a charming and delightful film from Jacques Demy.

The film is a simple fairy tale where a king deals with the death of his wife where he makes a vow to marry a woman as beautiful as her in which he picks his own daughter much to her own horror as she goes into hiding wearing donkey skin as a robe and pretends to be a scullery maid. It’s a film that plays into the many elements that are expected in fairy tales but it is also very strange considering that hints ideas of incest. There, the princess (Catherine Deneuve) would try to find ways to not go through with this ordeal as she gets the help of her fairy godmother (Delphine Seyrig) where the results would be humiliating but also a moment that would prompt the princess to find herself. The film’s screenplay does follow a traditional structure that is expected in fairy tales but with some of the dialogue that is sung as well as hints of anachronisms that add to the film’s offbeat humor. Yet, it is largely a fantasy as there aren’t any rules in that genre as it is all about the princess trying to find her true love and happiness.

Jacques Demy’s direction is very intoxicating not just in its approach to imagery but also in how he presents the film as an offbeat fairy tale. From the lavish costumes and set designs to the way servants, animals, and other things look, the film is definitely pure fantasy as Demy creates something that is off-the-wall such as a donkey who defecates gold and jewels for his king. Much of Demy’s direction include a lot of medium and wide shots to play into the look of the kingdom and its many locations in the forests while having this strange mix of elegance and dreariness in the world that the princess would embark. Notably as there are scenes of pure fantasy as it relates to the character of Prince Charming (Jacques Perrin) who would encounter the princess unaware of her true identity. It would then play into elements of comedy and mayhem as well as things that can’t explain that is more in tune with the world of fantasy. Overall, Demy creates a sensational and exhilarating film about a princess who refuses to marry her father.

Cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet does brilliant work with the film‘s very rich and colorful photography with its vibrant usage of the Technicolor film stock as plays into the beauty of the locations and settings as well as some unique lighting to play into the element of fantasy that occurs in the film. Editor Anne-Marie Crotet does excellent work with the editing with its stylish usage of slow-motion and reverse edits as well as rhythmic cuts to play into the musical elements in the film. Production designer Jim Leon and art director Jacques Dugied do amazing work with the set design from the look of the castles and its rooms to the shabby hut that the princess would live in her disguise along with the colors of the different kingdoms.

Costume designers Augusto Pace and Gitt Magrini do fantastic work with the costumes from the design of the dresses as well as the clothes the men wear as it plays into the period of time where men wore tights and the women wore lavish gowns. The sound work of Andre Hervee is terrific for some of the sound effects in some of the magical moments as well as some of the moments that goes on in some of the celebrations and other quieter scenes. The film’s music by Michel Legrand is incredible for not just its playful orchestral score but also in the songs that are created for the film as it play into emotions of a few of its characters as well as the sense of hope that they long for as the music is a major highlight of the film.

The film’s marvelous cast includes notable small roles from Pierre Repp as the Red Queen’s messenger Thibauld, Sacha Pitoeff as prime minister for the blue kingdom, Louise Chevalier as the old woman who would give the princess the work she needs to do at the farm, Henri Cremieux as the red kingdom’s physician, Fernand Ledoux and Micheline Presle in their respective roles as the Red King and Queen, and Jean Servais as the voice of the film narrator’s who only appears for the film’s opening and closing sections. Jacques Perrin is excellent as Prince Charming as a young prince who encounters the Princess unaware of her true identity nor her disguise as he falls for her and tries to find out who she is.

Delphine Seyrig is fantastic as the Fairy Godmother who tries to help the Princess while doing things that would baffle the Princess as Seyrig brings a lot of charm to her role including some amazing entrances. Jean Marais is superb as the King as a man who is grief-stricken by the loss of his wife where he is convinced that the only way to save his kingdom is to marry his daughter unaware of how disgusting it is. Finally, there’s Catherine Deneuve in a phenomenal performance in the dual role as the Queen and as her daughter in the Princess where her role in the former is very brief while the latter has Deneuve do a lot more in terms of singing and dealing with her situation as she would provide some charm and humility to her performance as it’s one of Deneuve’s finest roles.

Peau d’Ane is a remarkable film from Jacques Demy. Armed with a great cast, sumptuous visuals, and delightful music, the film isn’t just a fascinating take on a French fairytale but also a film that manages to infuse a lot of quirks and ideas that subvert many of its expectations. In the end, Peau d’Ane is an exquisitely rich film from Jacques Demy.

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

© thevoid99 2015