Monday, February 29, 2016

Films That I Saw: February 2016

It’s been more than a month since David Bowie’s passing and not only am I still not over it but I would often find myself losing it at times. Whether it’s through a song or the recent tribute at the BRIT Awards by Bowie’s band and Lorde who did a damn good version of Life on Mars? As I’m now currently finishing up the 29 Days of Bowie series with one more piece on his final album * which is probably going to be the hardest as it’s obvious that I’ll spend writing it in tears. I just didn’t expect it to hit me this hard as there’s days where I’m just a wreck but there’s moments where I’m just beyond angry and on the edge at times. The 29 Days of Bowie project definitely kept me from not just watching films but also kept me from writing about them as well as other projects as I needed time to come to terms with this loss.

The series has been helpful in not just discovering more about his music but also in uncovering gems as there’s certain songs of his that have stuck out. There’s still some compilations and live albums that I haven’t covered yet I plan to later on as I’ve also decided to revive my music blog for good but it will not be like what it used to be. I’ve decided to do a monthly review on new albums that I’ve been hearing and what to check out but I’m also thinking about doing a profile on a classic album rather than write an essay which has become too time-consuming and often ending up being unfinished. I’m also thinking of using the site to make lists on what albums by certain artists or bands to check out and what to avoid as I’m hopefully going to do one on Bowie for a similar project called 14 More Days of Bowie or something like that. 

In the month of February, I saw a total of 25 films in 15 first-timers and 10 re-watches as I’m not entirely surprised considering that I just didn’t see a lot of films this month. Yet, one of the highlights of the month has been my Blind Spot pick in Le Voyage dans le Lune which is a must-see. Here are the Top 10 First-Timers for February 2016:

1. Cabaret

2. Schindler's List

3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

4. Black Moon

5. Hearts and Minds

6. Hail, Caesar!

7. Furious 7

8. Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown to Off the Wall

9. Cinderella

10. Ryan's Daughter

Monthly Mini-Reviews


I said I was never going to watch this and well, I did. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be as there were some funny moments thanks in part to Peter Dinklage who could pretty much do no wrong. I also loved the idea of Michelle Monaghan killing a fucking Smurf of all things as I actually laughed at that as well as the cameo from Hall & Oates. Other than that, it was just mediocre while I was more annoyed by a lot of the 80s anachronisms and some of the crude jokes made towards women in the film which was expected from someone like Adam Sandler.

San Andreas

This was actually alright as I’m not really into disaster movies but this was actually engaging. Thanks in part to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who provides some depth into his role but also some dramatic weight over the stakes in the film. I also enjoyed the performances of Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, and Paul Giamatti as they manage to rise above the material no matter how clich├ęd it is. Even in the fact that it’s a film that involves the death of a lot of people including a pop icon in Kylie Minogue who decides to do a big budget remake of her moment in Holy Motors.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. Zodiac

2. Inside Out

3. To the Wonder

4. Kingsman: The Secret Service

5. Kung Fu Panda

6. The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened?

7. Super Troopers

8. Wimbledon

9. Hoot

10. Memoirs of an Invisible Man

That is all for February. March will be a return of sorts of regular film-watching as well as works on the delayed-Auteurs piece on Steve McQueen that will be followed by Terry Zwigoff as the latter will feature reviews of Bad Santa and Crumb. Along with some reviews of films from last year or recently, there are films that will be covered based on this list that I hope to watch. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the story of a criminal who pretends to be mentally ill in order to avoid jail time where he finds himself in a mental hospital where he deals with a world that is far crueler. Directed by Milos Forman and screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman, the film is an exploration of a small-time thief who hopes to take it easy only to deal with authorities who treat people in the most inhumane way. Starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, William Redfield, and Brad Dourif. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a tremendous yet engrossing film from Milos Forman.

Wanting to avoid jail time by staying in a mental hospital in the hopes that he can relax and have fun, a small-time criminal finds himself dealing with a very strict nurse who treats many patients in very inhumane ways where he rebels against her rules and the system in the hospital. Set in the fall of 1963, the film plays into a man that thinks he will be out of the hospital in 90 days and go back to doing all of the shenanigans he’s done though his crime was statutory rape where he had no clue the girl he slept with was 15. During his stay at this hospital in Oregon, Randall Patrick “Mac” McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) doesn’t just see a world where a group of sick men are being goaded and forced to unload into their own issues but also see that there’s a possibility that they might not get better. By being this rebellious figure who wants to watch baseball and go fishing, McMurphy would be this figure that would antagonize the orderlies and this head nurse in Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore this environment that is this mental hospital in Oregon but also the people who are there as many of them have trouble with the real world. Among these men that McMurphy meets include a young man with a bad stutter named Billy (Brad Dourif), a profane and confrontational man in Taber (Christopher Lloyd), a delusionist in Martini, an epileptic in Seflet (William Duell), a man prone to childish tempers in Cheswick (Sydney Lassick), a paranoid intellectual in Harding (William Redfield), and a quiet yet tall Native American that McMurphy calls Chief (Will Sampson). Many of them are revealed to be men with real problems but need the time to feel better as McMurphy helps them have a chance to live normal lives while being antagonistic towards Ratched and the other doctors who believe that McMurphy is dangerous but not entirely crazy until Ratched makes a decision that would change things for the film’s second half.

Especially when McMurphy knows more about the patients in his ward and what is happening to him where it raises a lot of questions into the state of inhumanity that he would endure. Especially as the other patients are also being tested against their will where McMurphy would have some revelations about his own and the people around him. It would cause a series of events for him to revolt and try to escape but also endure the growing state of what Ratched and the doctors at the hospital are doing where it is obvious that the men in the ward really need help and McMurphy is the one person that really seems to care and offer them a glimpse of a world without problems no matter how fucked up it is. Yet, it’s a world that is better and can be organized instead of being pressed on and treated like an animal in this abusive and controlling mental hospital under the control of this heartless bitch.

Milos Forman’s direction is quite intimate for the fact that it was shot largely in Salem, Oregon as well as nearby areas including the Oregon State Hospital where much of the film is shot. While there are some wide shots that occur outside of the hospital including a sequence where McMurphy and the gang go on a fishing trip with one of McMurphy’s girlfriends in a day of fun. Much of the film has Forman use close-ups and medium shots to play into the world of the hospital where it is very controlled as Forman’s compositions would have this sense of repression that looms throughout the film. Once the McMurphy character comes in, it’s as if the hospital is starting to come alive little by little as it also has an air of imagination where McMurphy looks into a TV that isn’t on where he comments about a baseball game.

The direction also has Forman find ways to balance humor and drama where the latter becomes very prevalent in the film’s second half as it relates to what McMurphy is dealing with and the outcome of what he has to endure. The usage of extreme close-ups do come into play it does feel very unsettling in terms of what McMurphy has to be put through as well as the other patients. Some of which are here because they actually need help but are being treated inhumanely. Even as the film’s climax that relates to McMurphy’s attempt to escape and throwing a party for himself and the patients would showcase a group of men needing an escape from their own problems and a chance that there is hope for them in the real world. Yet, it is followed by the harshness of reality in the form of Nurse Ratched who is pretty much a monster that needs to be taken down in the hopes that those who suffer from mental illness can be saved and treated humanely. Overall, Forman creates a riveting yet exhilarating film about a small-time criminal trying to buck the system at a mental hospital.

Cinematographers Haskell Wexler and Bill Butler do amazing work with the film‘s cinematography from the look of the many interiors inside the hospital for the scenes set in day and night as well as some of the exteriors in the locations near Salem, Oregon. Editors Richard Chew, Sheldon Kahn, and Linda Klingman do brilliant work with the editing with its usage of rhythmic cuts to play into the drama and some of the film‘s humor while creating moments that are engaging in some of the livelier moments of the film. Production designer Paul Sylbert and art director Edwin O’Donovan do fantastic work with some of the minimal set pieces created such as the ward room and its bathroom that featured a prop that would be key to the story.

Costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers does nice work with the costumes design as it‘s mostly casual for all of the patients as well as the look of Nurse Ratched‘s uniform. The sound work of Mark Berger is superb for the atmosphere that is created in the ward with its usage of calm music to soothe the patients to the raucous sounds that would occur upon McMurphy‘s arrival and presence. The film’s music by Jack Nitzsche is wonderful for its low-key, folk-based score that plays into some of the elements of drama and humor as well as what is going on outside of the hospital.

The casting by Jane Feinberg and Mike Fenton is incredible as it features notable small roles from Nathan George as the attendant Washington, Marya Small as a girlfriend of McMurphy in Candy, Louisa Moritz as Candy’s friend Rose, Kay Lee as a night supervisor at the hospital, and Scatman Crothers in a hilarious performance as the night orderly Turkle who finds himself in big trouble. Other noteworthy small performances as some of the patients in the film include Josip Elic as the somewhat-catatonic Bancini, Michael Berryman as the deformed Ellis, Delos V. Smith as the hippie-like patient Scanlon, Willam Duell as the epileptic Seflet, and Vincent Schaivelli as the annoyed Frederickson. Dean Brooks superb as the hospital administrator Dr. Spivey as a man that is trying to understand what is going on while believing that McMurphy isn’t a totally bad influence despite Ratched’s opinion.

Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd are excellent in their respective roles as the delusional Martini and the aggressive Taber who both enjoy McMurphy’s presence while William Redfield is brilliant as the educator Harding who copes with the idea that his wife might be cheating on him. Sydney Lassick does amazing work as the child-like Cheswick as a man who has been repressed by his surroundings where he is fit to have tempers where McMurphy is the one person that can help him. Brad Dourif is phenomenal as Billy Bibbit as a young man with a bad stutter who is reluctant to enter the real world while being given the chance to live through McMurphy. Will Sampson is remarkable as the Chief as a tall and silent Native American who is an observer as well as this mysterious being that McMurphy befriends as well as someone who seems to revel in McMurphy’s presence.

Louise Fletcher is great as Nurse Ratched as this head nurse of a ward that is trying to maintain control and oppress everything as there is this coldness to her along with the fact that she is really just a straight-up bitch. Finally, there’s Jack Nicholson in a tour-de-force performance as Mac McMurphy as a small-time criminal who goes to the hospital to avoid jail time only to find himself in bigger trouble by antagonizing Nurse Ratched as it’s a performance that is manic but also one filled with depth as Nicholson creates a character that we all can root for.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an outstanding film from Milos Forman that features great performances from Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. Along with a phenomenal supporting cast as well as a compelling screenplay, the film isn’t just a unique study into madness and oppression. It’s a film that also showcases a world of men being treated inhumanely by an unjust world that was supposed to help them only to make them less human. In the end, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a spectacular film from Milos Forman.

Milos Forman Films: (Black Peter) - (Loves of a Blonde) - (The Fireman’s Ball) - (Taking Off) - (Visions of Eight) - (Hair) - (Ragtime) - (Amadeus) - (Valmont) - (The People vs. Larry Flynt) - (Man on the Moon) - (Goya’s Ghost)

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Memoirs of an Invisible Man

Based on the novel by H.F. Saint, Memoirs of an Invisible Man is the story of a stock analyst who suddenly turns invisible due to an experiment gone wrong as he tries to evade a CIA operative with the help of a woman he had fallen in love with. Directed by John Carpenter and screenplay by Robert Collector, Dana Olsen, and William Goldman, the film is a mixture of comedy, sci-fi, and drama as it relates to a man’s plight in being invisible as Chevy Chase plays the role of the invisible man named Nick Holloway. Also starring Daryl Hannah, Michael McKean, Paul Perri, Pat Skipper, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Sam Neill. Memoirs of an Invisible Man is an intriguing but lackluster film from John Carpenter.

The film revolves around this shallow and bored stock analyst whose life goes upside when he becomes invisible during a botched experiment where he is pursued by a psychotic CIA operative. While it is a simple story, it’s a film that is largely told from the perspective of its protagonist Nick Halloway (Chevy Chase) who doesn’t just cope with what happened to him but also how much it changed him just as he is thinking about moving away from this world where he just thought about himself. While it’s a film and story that is interesting, it does unfortunately suffer from not just in what it wanted to be but also in how conventional it is. The film’s script which was originally written by William Goldman and largely re-written by Robert Collector and Dana Olsen wanted to be a lot of things. A suspense-comedy with some existential drama as well as a romantic-adventure film but it’s never consistent despite some interesting characters in Halloway, the love interest Alice Monroe (Daryl Hannah) and, the antagonist in CIA operative David Jenkins (Sam Neill).

John Carpenter’s direction is quite interesting not just for the visual effects as well as some visual homage to the 1933 James Whale film The Invisible Man. It also plays into the many things that are happening to Halloway where there are interesting bits of character study in the film. Shot largely on location in San Francisco and parts of Northern California, the film does play into something that has Carpenter pay tribute of sorts to other suspense-based films from the city while also wanting to create something that had an air of drama and light comedy. Despite some unique compositions he creates, he is unable to overcome many of the faults in the script as some of the scenes involving Jenkins feel like they come from another film. Even as Carpenter tries to blend so many elements as some of its humor where it feels forced despite its efforts to be very natural where the results never really mesh as a whole. Overall, Carpenter makes an interesting but very underwhelming and messy film about a man becoming invisible.

Cinematographer William A. Fraker does nice work with the film‘s cinematography for many of the scenes set at night in terms of its lighting as well as some naturalistic look for some scenes at the beach in the daytime. Editor Marion Rothman does excellent work with the editing as it‘s mostly straightforward for much of the dramatic and suspenseful moments in the film. Production designer Lawrence G. Paull, with set decorator Rick Simpson and art director Bruce Cone, do terrific work with the look of Halloway‘s apartment as well as the summer home of a friend where he would hide for a while. Costume designer Joe I. Tompkins does fine work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual including the clothes Halloway would wear over himself when he‘s invisible.

Visual effects supervisor Bruce Nicholson does have some brilliant moments in the way things look in the way the Halloway would be seen to everyone when he‘s invisible though some of it is quite scratchy considering that it was new and probably needed a few things to make it more polished. Sound editors Gordon Ecker and John Leveque do superb work with the sound in the way some of the locations are presented as well as the sound of the tranquilizer guns that Jenkins’ men uses. The film’s music by Shirley Walker is wonderful for its orchestral-based score that features some string-based themes for some of its dramatic and suspenseful moments.

The casting by Sharon Howard-Field does amazing work with the film’s cast as it includes notable appearances from Rosalind Chao as Halloway’s secretary, Patricia Heaton as George’s girlfriend Ellen, Gregory Paul Martin as a friend of George in Richard who tries to flirt with Alice to the annoyance of Halloway, Barry Kivel as a drunk businessman Halloway uses to get a cab, and the trio of Pat Skipper, Paul Perri, and Richard Epcar as Jenkin’s henchmen who try to help him capture Halloway. Jim Norton is terrific as Dr. Bernard Wachs as a scientist who might know what happened to Halloway and how to help him only to be captured by Jenkins. Stephen Tobolowsky is superb as Jenkins’ superior Warren Singleton who sees Jenkins as a loose cannon as he tries to clean up the mess while being someone that could help Halloway. Michael McKean is fantastic as Halloway’s friend George who would introduce him to Alice as he has no clue what is happening while admitting that Halloway has a lot of faults.

Sam Neill is brilliant as David Jenkins as this CIA operative who is quite obsessive in capturing Halloway while being this man that is so cunning and engaging where he offers Halloway a chance to be part of something historic and do things where it’s one of Neill’s finest and more underrated performances. Daryl Hannah is excellent as Alice as a love interest that manages to rise above the weak material she is given as someone that finds Halloway interesting while is someone that needs something different as she provides key reasons to make Halloway and settle for a new life. Finally, there’s Chevy Chase in a marvelous performance as Nick Halloway as a vain stock analyst whose life changes by this botched experiment he wasn’t supposed to be a part of while coming to terms with his condition as it’s Chase being very dramatic where he is funny though some aspects of the humor feels forced due to the faults of the script.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a very messy and half-realized film from John Carpenter. Despite some solid performances from Chevy Chase, Daryl Hannah, and Sam Neill as well as some unique but imperfect visual effects. It’s a film that falls very short in what it wanted to be as well as try to be a lot for a wide audience. In the end, Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a lackluster film from John Carpenter.

John Carpenter Films: Dark Star - Assault on Precinct 13 - Halloween - Someone’s Watching Me! - Elvis - The Fog - Escape from New York - The Thing - Christine - Starman - Big Trouble in Little China - Prince of Darkness - They Live - Body Bags - In the Mouth of Madness - Village of the Damned - Escape from L.A. - Vampires - Ghosts of Mars - The Ward

The Auteurs #60: John Carpenter Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ryan's Daughter

Based on the Gustave Fluabert novel Madame Bovary, Ryan’s Daughter is the story of a young Irish woman who has an extramarital affair with a British officer that causes trouble in her home where lots of morality is questioned. Directed by David Lean and screenplay by Robert Bolt, the film is a loose take on the Flaubert novel as it is set during World War I amidst a sense of cultural and political tension between the British and the Irish. Starring Sarah Miles, Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Christopher Jones, and Leo McKern. Ryan’s Daughter is a ravishing but flawed film from David Lean.

Set in an isolated village near the Atlantic coast in Ireland during World War I in the backdrop of escalating tension between the British and Irish. The film revolves around a young woman who marries a widowed schoolteacher as she suddenly falls for a wounded British officer as it causes problems once the affair is known by the locals. It’s a film that is quite simple but it’s told in a broad scale as Robert Bolt’s script has this very unique structure as it plays into the life of Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles) as the first act is about her marrying the middle-aged schoolteacher Charles Shaughnessy (Robert Mitchum) while the second act introduces the character of the British officer Major Randolph Doryan (Christopher Jones). The third act doesn’t just relate to the unveiling of the affair but also a key incident that relates to this tension between the British and Irish.

The script doesn’t just explore the tension between Britain and Ireland where the Irish are upset at the presence of the British in their land. It also plays into Rosy who is fond of Shaughnessy who is just a lonely widower that is devoted to teaching children where she falls for him and things seem fine. Yet, Rosy feels like marrying Shaughnessy isn’t enough until her meeting with Major Doryan at her father’s pub is where things get really interesting story wise but there’s some big flaws as it relates to the Major Doryan character. While it is revealed that Major Doryan is there to watch over the base, he is someone that comes off as underwritten as it is obvious that he is an officer with a bad leg and some post-traumatic stress disorder but he’s never fully fleshed out other than just some object of desire for Rosy whereas Shaughnessy is a far more interesting character who really has a lot more to offer in terms of character and in development.

Another issue with the script is the character of the village idiot Michael (John Mills) as he is someone that is just there that would be a witness or would do something in a form of pantomime as it’s an odd character. One of which raises questions into why is there character there and what is his importance to the story? He’s someone that never really connects with anything that happens where it’s just one of these things that are very distracting while the portrayal of the villagers who would act very savagely in the third act also become problematic. Though there is a valid reason into their anger, it shows them more as monsters who ignore the idea of reason as the one character in the film that is sort of the film’s conscience is Father Hugh Collins (Trevor Howard).

David Lean’s direction is mesmerizing for not just the look of the locations near the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland but also in creating a world that is large though it is set in this very small town that is remote from the rest of the world. The usage of wide and medium shots don’t make the locations an integral part of the story but it also plays into a world that is changing around this town that really has very little clue on what is happening outside of the world. From the scenes of the beach, cliffs, and mountains outside of the town, it’s a world that is peaceful while the town itself looks dreary and detached from the world as it reflects on a world that Rosy and Shaughnessy live in where they’re part of a community but are also very different. While it is clear that Father Collins is sort of this moral leader that the town has to abide to, he is also the one person for Rosy and Shaughnessy can confide to as it adds to the drama.

The direction also play into elements of fantasy and reality as it relates to what is going on in the film’s second half where Shaughnessy begins to suspect that something isn’t right in his marriage. The usage of close-ups and medium shots add to some of the emotional drama while there are also these moments that showcases the dramatic tension within Rosy who feel like she is torn in her devotion towards her husband and the passion she has for Major Doryan. Lean’s approach to humor for the scenes involving Michael don’t work as it is one of the key faults of the film. Some of the elements in the third act as it relates to the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) and British forces do go overboard once the villagers become savages over Rosy’s affair with Doryan also gets over-the-top where they would also target Shaughnessy. Overall, Lean creates a beautiful and engaging but messy film about an Irish woman’s affair with a British soldier during World War I.

Cinematographer Freddie Young does incredible work with the film‘s photography in terms of its gorgeous scenery of the locations as well as creating moods in some of the interiors and scenes set at night or in the rain as Young‘s work is a major highlight. Editor Norman Savage does excellent work with the editing in creating a few montages for some of Major Doryan‘s flashbacks as well as some rhythmic cuts for some of the dramatic moments in the film. Production designer Stephen B. Grimes, with set decorator Josie MacAvin and art director Roy Walker, does amazing work with the look of the small town as well as Shaughnessy schoolhouse and the pub where Rosy‘s father works and runs.

Costume designer Jocelyn Rickards does nice work with the costumes from some of the stylish dresses that Rosy wears to the suits of Shaughnessy and the uniforms of the British officers. Sound editors Ernie Grimsdale and Winston Ryder do superb work with the sound from the way the wind and storms sound on location as well as the raucous parties that goes on in the village. The film’s music by Maurice Jarre is brilliant for its orchestral-based score that has some unique touches in its string arrangements where it’s playful at times while having some military-inspired marches and some dramatic pieces though there’s moments that do feel odd in terms of where the music is used in the narrative.

The film’s cast include some notable small performances from Barry Jackson as a British corporal, Evin Crowley as the local lush Moureen Cassidy, Gerald Smith as the camp caretaker Captain Smith, Brian O’Higgins as the British sympathizer Constable O’Connor, Arthur O’Sullivan and Marie Kean as the McCardles who are very supportive of the IRB cause, and Barry Foster as the IRB leader Tim O’Leary who wants the British out of Ireland as he tries to start a guerilla war against them. Leo McKern is superb as Rosy’s father Tom Ryan as a pub owner who is also an informant for the British as he would often give them bad information until one key moment that would showcase some shame and cowardice for what he really is.

John Mills as the mentally-challenged village idiot Michael is really one of the most baffling performances in the film has he serves very little purpose to the story while being this unnecessary distraction as it’s just odd in a bad way. Christopher Jones’ performance as Major Doryan is just terrible as it’s just bland while Jones never does much to flesh out the character while he is too restrained his role as he rarely speaks (under the dubbed voice of Julian Holloway) where he is just very unsympathetic and never does enough to display the troubles of his PTSD.

Trevor Howard is brilliant as Father Hugh Collins as the film’s conscience of sorts as a man of great moral who understands Rosy’s struggle to be faithful while being aware of what is going on as he realizes, despite his sympathies for IRB, that Rosy and Shaughnessy are being victimized over nothing. Sarah Miles is amazing as Rosy Ryan as a young woman who falls and marries the middle-aged Shaughnessy while having an affair with Major Doryan as this young woman who is conflicted in her feelings and coming to terms with the envy she had received from locals. Finally, there’s Robert Mitchum in a remarkable performance as Charles Shaughnessy as a kind and widowed schoolteacher who marries Rosy as he’s a man of old values but is willing to make changes where later copes with what is happening as it is a restrained but touching performance from Mitchum in one of his underrated performances in his career.

Ryan’s Daughter is a stellar but underwhelming romantic-epic film from David Lean. While it has some beautiful images from Freddie Young’s cinematography in its Super Panavision 70 format as well as great performances from Robert Mitchum, Sarah Miles, and Trevor Howard. It’s a film that doesn’t do enough to create a compelling story while having some strange choices in some of the characters and motivations. In the end, Ryan’s Daughter is a rapturous but extremely flawed film from David Lean.

David Lean Films: In Which We Serve - This Happy Breed - Blithe Spirit - Brief Encounter - Great Expectations (1946 film) - Oliver Twist (1948 film) - The Passionate Friends - Madeleine (1950 film) - The Sound Barrier - Hobson’s Choice - (Summertime (1955 film)) - The Bride on the River Kwai - Lawrence of Arabia - Doctor Zhivago - (Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor) - A Passage to India - (The Auteurs #75: David Lean)

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Furious 7

Directed by James Wan and screenplay by Chris Morgan from characters created by Gary Scott Thompson, Furious 7 is the story of Dominic Torretto, Brian O’Conner, and the rest of their family being hunted down by an assassin wanting vengeance while the team tries to recover a computer chip with the aid of the chip‘s designer. The film is a revenge film of sorts where it’s the good guys that are being hunted where they have to go after the hunter before he kills them all. Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, Elsa Pataky, Djimon Hounsou, Kurt Russell, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, Tony Jaa, Lucas Black, and Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw. Furious 7 is a wild and exhilarating film from James Han.

Picking up where the last film leaves off, it revolves around a group of drivers who consider themselves family where the events in the last mission have them being hunted by a former assassin in Deckard Shaw whose brother Owen (Luke Evans) was crippled and left in a coma by Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his team. For Torretto, the recent death of one of his friends and the attempt on the life of him and his family forces him to find Shaw and stop him as he is aided by a covert ops agent named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) to stop Shaw and retrieve a computer software chip that has surveillance on everyone known as God’s Eye. With Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson), and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) on the team while Mia Torretto (Jordana Brewster) is at a safe house in the Dominican Republic and DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) recuperating from an attack from Shaw that nearly killed him. Torretto is forced to deal with someone that is dangerous.

While the script is very simple, there is a lot that is happening as it relates to the characters as Letty struggles to regain bits of her lost memories while O’Conner is also coping with being a father as he is unaware that Mia is pregnant again. It adds a lot to what is at stake where it’s not just Torretto needing to make sure that his family stays together following the loss of key members as well as those like O’Conner who has another life that is far more important. Adding to these elements of what is stake where the team has to retrieve the designer of this software named Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) who has been captured by friends of Shaw that wants God’s Eye so they can use it for themselves. The chip is a MacGuffin but it does play into a lot of what needs to be done where it is a good plot device while screenwriter Chris Morgan also provides some laughs and dramatic moments that do give the film some depth but also not take itself so seriously.

James Wan’s direction is definitely stylish as he doesn’t really do anything new in terms of what is expected in compositions and action sequences. Yet, he does manage to do a lot more in the latter where it borders the line of ridiculous and insanity but all in a very fun way. Shot in various locations such as Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, and some shots in Atlanta and mountains in Colorado, the film has a global feel that is massive where Wan does take advantage of the locations while maintaining something that plays into a world where everything is in danger. The usage of wide and medium shots are prevalent throughout while Wan also maintains an intimacy for the non-action scenes where he knows where to give the audience a break on the action and establish what is going on and what needs to be done. The action sequences are intense as it adds to a lot of what is at stake while it also play into moments that are just unbelievable. Yet, it is so fun where has this energy that is just potent where it’s not just about car chases and violence but also the thrill of it. While the film’s ending is poignant as it relates to a key character in the franchise, it at least gives that character a fitting send-off. Overall, Wan creates a fun and exciting film about a bunch of street racers fighting against some crazed assassin.

Cinematographers Stephen F. Windon and Marc Spicer do excellent work with the cinematography in not just giving the many different locations a distinct look in its lighting but also employ elements of heightened lighting for scenes in Abu Dhabi as well as the scenes at night for Los Angeles. Editors Christian Wagner, Dylan Highsmith, Kirk Morri, and Leigh Folsom Boyd do amazing work in the editing where it does rely on fast-cutting techniques but it doesn’t go overboard while managing to establish what is going on while knowing when to slow things down. Production designer Bill Brzeski, with set decorator Danielle Berman and supervising art director Desma Murphy, does fantastic work with the look of the house that Dominic has lived most of his life as well as the workshop that Mr. Nobody plans everything while the rooms inside the Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers has this air of richness. Costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays does nice work with the costumes as it’s mostly casual with the exception of the scenes in Abu Dhabi where everyone looked sharp including the ladies.

Special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick and visual effects supervisors Mark Curtis, Martin Hill, Kelvin McIlwain, Karen Murphy, and Mike Wassel do brilliant work with some of the special effects in the action sequences as well as some unique visual effects for the O’Conner character thanks in part from the work of stand-ins in Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody. Sound designers Peter Brown, Stephen P. Robinson, and Ann Scibelli, along with sound editor Joe Dzuban, do superb work with the sound in creating the power of the engines as well as the sounds of gunfire and planes. The film’s music by Brian Tyler is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral music, electronic, and hip-hop as it plays into the frenetic world of street racing as well as the parties the characters go to as it is bombastic but also has its somber moments.

The casting by Anne McCarthy and Kellie Roy is terrific as it features some notable small roles from Ali Fazal as a friend of Ramsey in Abu Dhabi, John Brotherton as Mr. Nobody’s aide, Luke Evans as the comatose Owen Shaw, Noel Gugliemi as the street-race organizer Hector, Lucas Black as Fast & Furious 3 protagonist Sean Boswell who gives Torreto some belongings of the character Han, Tony Jaa as a henchman friend of Shaw, Miller and Charlie Kimsey as Brian and Mia’s son Jack, and Eden Estrella as Hobbs’ young daughter who provides some funny moments. Other notable small roles include Elsa Pataky in a wonderful role as associate and Hobbs’ new partner Elena Neves who watches over the injured Hobbs while Ronda Rousey is superb as security head for a billionaire in Abu Dhabi who fets into a brawl with Letty. Nathalie Emmanuel is excellent as Ramsey as a computer software designer who is rescued by Torretto and his team as she helps them retrieve the program she designed. Djimon Hounsou is fantastic as Shaw’s friend in mercenary Mose Jakande as a man that wants the God’s Eye software.

Kurt Russell is great as Mr. Nobody as a government agent who fills in for the injured Hobbs as helps Torretto and the gang to try and capture Shaw while Dwayne Johnson is brilliant as Luke Hobbs as a DSS agent who is confronted by Shaw and is nearly killed only to get angry when he returns for its climax. Jordana Brewster is amazing as Mia Torretto as Dom’s sister and Brian’s partner who stays home from the action as she has news for Brian that would force him to make a big decision. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Tyrese Gibson are hilarious in their respective roles as Tej and Roman as the two comic reliefs with Tej as the tech guy and Roman as the man with the big mouth. Michelle Rodriguez is phenomenal as Letty as Dom’s lover who is trying to recover her memory from the past while helping out the team where she gets herself into a brawl with a mean security head.

Jason Statham is incredible as Deckard Shaw as this former assassin who is a total loose cannon that is extremely pissed off and is not afraid in whoever he meets as he is a true antagonist and possibly the one person that can match everyone toe-to-toe. In one of his final performance, Paul Walker is marvelous as Brian O’Conner as a former cop/agent who is trying to adjust to family life while doing what he can to help Dom while coming to terms that his life of adventure might be coming to an end as it’s a fitting send-off to the actor with the aid of his brothers Caleb and Cody as stand-ins. Finally, there’s Vin Diesel in a remarkable role as Dominic Torretto as a street racer trying to protect his family from Shaw as he deals with the loss of a few friends and trying to get Letty back on her feet.

Furious 7 is a sensational film from James Wan. Armed with a great cast, thrilling action sequences, and an engaging story. The film isn’t just another high watermark for the franchise but it’s also a film that gives the late Paul Walker a fitting send-off for himself and the Brian O’Conner character. In the end, Furious 7 is a phenomenal film from James Wan.

Fast & Furious Films: (The Fast & the Furious) - (2 Fast 2 Furious) - (The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift) - (Fast & Furious) - (Fast Five) - Fast & Furious 6 - (Fast & Furious 8)

© thevoid99 2016

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Auteurs #51: Alejandro Amenabar

Among one of the finest figures in Spanish cinema, Alejandro Amenabar is a filmmaker who arrived during a new wave of Spanish filmmakers to emerge in the 1990s. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Amenabar is a filmmaker who delves into stories of struggle and darkness whether it’s those dealing with death or those dealing with the ideas of death itself. Even as they’re presented with a sense of style and intrigue that lesser filmmakers wouldn’t dare to do. With a long-awaited return in 2015 with the genre that had made him a major name in cinema, Amenabar is still considered one of Spain’s great filmmakers.

Born in Santiago, Chile on March 31, 1972 to Hugo Ricardo Amenabar and Josefina Cantos, Alejandro Fernando Amenabar Cantos was the youngest of two sons that included his brother Ricardo born three years earlier as the young Amenabar spent a year living in Santiago before he and the family moved to Madrid, Spain where his mother was born. After a few years, the family moved to the nearby Paracuellos de Jarama near Madrid where the young Amenabar became interested in books and art at an early age. While the family never had a television, Amenabar would often go to the cinema where he would discover films as he would become a student at Madrid’s Complutense University. Though he didn’t finish school, he would meet several individuals who would become key fixtures in his career such as writer Mateo Gil, news journalist Carlos Montero, and a young actor in Eduardo Noriega.

More can be read here at Cinema Axis.

© thevoid99 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Based on the 1966 musical by Joe Masteroff with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb that was based on the novel The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood and its play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten. Cabaret is the story of pre-Nazi Berlin, Germany where a young writer finds himself entranced by the world as he meets and falls for an American cabaret singer. Directed by Bob Fosse and screenplay by Jay Allen, the film is a musical that plays into the lives of an outsider and various others in a world that was to change as they try to hold on to a world of decadence. Starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Helmut Greim, Fritz Wepper, Marisa Berenson, and Joel Grey. Cabaret is a spectacular and exhilarating film from Bob Fosse.

Set in 1931 Berlin, the film revolves around a British writer and an American cabaret singer who meet and fall in love during a period in Germany that would mark a major change for the country in the emergence of Nazism. Yet, it’s a film that play into two different people and personalities who meet together as one is this reserved academic that lives in a world of reality while the other is this exuberant woman with big dreams to make it as an actress while being this revered cabaret singer. All of it is told that plays into a world that is quite decadent and sort of escapist where this young man ventures into the world as an outsider where he’s taken aback but also amazed by it. The film’s screenplay by Jay Allen isn’t just about this relationship between Brian Roberts (Michael York) and Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) but also the people around them and what is going on at the Kit Kat Club where Sally performs that features commentary from its Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey).

The film also has a subplot as it relates to a friend of Bowles in Fritz Wendel (Fritz Wepper) who is a well-known gigolo that goes to Roberts to improve his English as he falls for another of Roberts’ pupil in a rich Jewish woman in Natalia Landauer (Marisa Berenson). It’s a subplot that doesn’t just play into Roberts being this observer of watching another man fall in love but also deal with the realities of what is happening as it relates to the emergence of Nazism. The script does have a traditional structure where much of its first act and the first half of the story revolves around the growing relationship between Roberts and Bowles despite their difference with the former also admitting to having feelings for men. By the time the character of baron Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Greim) comes into the picture, the second act would begin as it plays into this threesome that also involves Roberts and Bowles but also a dark reality that would emerge.

Even in the third act where it plays into this disconnect of sorts of what is happening in Germany and the world that Bowles wants. Even as the events in the Kit Kat Club showcases that disconnect while offering commentary on what is happening outside of the club. The performances that involve the Master of Ceremonies with or without Bowles not only help bring in ideas of what is going on in the narrative but also into a world that is ever-changing where it is this world of escape but also filled with some contradictions. Notably as it relates to what Bowles had to face in her life as it showcases how flawed she is as a person. While Roberts might seem as somewhat stuffy and a bit cynical, he is someone that is willing to be open but also realizes that what is happening in Germany is wrong. For Bowles, she doesn’t think about the bigger picture rather than what she wants to be as it raises that sense of disconnect into reality.

Bob Fosse’s direction is very unique not just for his recreation of 1930s Berlin but also in the fact that nearly half of the film is set inside this club. The scenes set in the club has this air of danger in what could be revealed either literally or metaphorically. Even as many of the musical numbers that are written by John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb has this playful yet decadent feel. Fosse’s presentation of these musical numbers are very intimate but also something that is very lively and unpredictable. With Fosse also serving as the choreographer, the dance numbers and performances have this air of sexuality that is enthralling but also add to what is going on in the story such as Bowles’ meeting with von Heune for a song with the Master of Ceremonies in Money, Money. The songs aren’t just crucial to the narrative but it also expresses everything that Bowles is dealing with as well as what is happening in the story.

Shot on location in Germany with much of it in rural places along with some location shooting in Munich and parts of West Berlin, Fosse would take advantage of the beauty of the locations as well as create something that was once peaceful despite the dark undercurrent of Nazism. The usage of wide and medium shots would play into these moments along with some of the musical numbers. Fosse’s close-ups are also key in some of the musical sequences either for comical or very emotional moments while it is also evident in a key moment where Bowles, Roberts, and von Heune notice the attraction towards each other. It also plays into these moments between Bowles and Roberts in their relationship despite the growing darkness that is emerging as it relates to people they know. Even as it indicates a reality that Bowles would have to face no matter how much she tries to ignore it. Overall, Fosse creates a dazzling and ravishing film about a cabaret singer and an academic falling in love during 1931 Berlin.

Cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography with its array of lighting for some of the cabaret numbers as well as the usage of soft lights for some of the daytime interiors while using some low-key lighting for some of the exterior lightings set at night. Editor David Bretherton does amazing work with the editing as it features some unique jump-cuts as well as montages that play into some of the dramatic moments as well as some unique back-and-forth cutting to play into the musical numbers and what is going on outside of the club. Production designer Rolf Zehetbauer and art director Hans Jurgen Kiebach do fantastic work with the look of the Kit Kat Club and its stage as well as the apartment that Bowles and Roberts share that play into their different personalities.

Costume designer Charlotte Flemming does excellent work with the costumes from the clothes that Bowles wears on and off the stage as well as the clothes the men wore in those times as well as those Nazi uniforms. Sound editor James M. Falkinburg does superb work with the sound in the way some of the dancing sounds as well as some of the moments that occur in the streets and small towns. The film’s music by John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, with additional work by Ralph Burns, is incredible not just for the songs that are made but also in the music score that plays into that world of jazz to showcase a world that is changing slowly but also the sense that something dangerous is coming.

The casting by Renate Neuchl is wonderful as it features some notable small roles from Elisabeth Neumann-Viertel as Bowles and Roberts’ landlord Fraulein Schneider and Oliver Colligan as a Nazi youth with Mark Lambert as its singing voice. Marisa Berenson is terrific as Natalia Landauer as a rich socialite who is dealing with Fritz’s feelings for her but also the fact that she’s Jewish and a target for the Nazis. Fritz Wepper is superb as Fritz Wendel as a gigolo who falls for Natalia as he tries to please her while carrying a secret of his own which he believes will destroy him. Helmut Greim is fantastic as the baron Maximilian von Heune as a rich gigolo who woos both Roberts and Bowles as well as be someone that has a lot of power in what to do where it is clear he is just someone that uses people.

Joel Grey is phenomenal as the Master of Ceremonies as he is this vivacious performer that is so full of charm and humor as it is just this performance that really steals the show while looking really good in stockings and garters. Michael York is remarkable as Brian Roberts as a British academic/writer who comes to Berlin to write while falling for Bowles where he deals with his own sexuality as well as what is happening around him where he tries to make a difference. Finally, there’s Liza Minnelli in a spectacular performance as Sally Bowles as this woman who is so full of life and charisma as she is this cabaret performer that is just so engaging while Minnelli also provides some vulnerability and wit to the character offstage that is quite selfish but also troubled as she is someone that doesn’t know if there is a life outside of entertaining and making people smile amidst a world that is changing.

Cabaret is an outstanding film from Bob Fosse that features great performances from Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey. It’s a musical that manages to be very entertaining as well as have an air of danger that makes it so compelling. Especially as it features a strong story, amazing technical work, and exhilarating music that makes the film a total joy. In the end, Cabaret is a sensational film from Bob Fosse.

Bob Fosse Films: Sweet Charity - Liza with a Z - Lenny - All That Jazz - Star 80 - The Auteurs #56: Bob Fosse

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

2016 Blind Spot Series: A Trip to the Moon

Based on the novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon by Jules Verne as well as other sources, Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) is the story of a group of astronomers who make a daring trip to the Moon and discover what is there. Written for the screen, directed, edited, production designed, and starring Georges Melies, the film is a silent film that is considered one of the very first foray into sci-fi as it is a simple adventure story of a journey to the moon. Also starring Bleuette Bernon, Francois Lallement, and Henri Delannoy. Le Voyage dans la Lune is a spellbinding and majestic film from Georges Melies.

The film is a simple story that follows a group of astronomers who makes a plan and see what is out there in outer space by going on a trip to the moon. It’s a film that is filled with a lot of imagination and ideas from the mind of Georges Melies who wouldn’t just create these scenes that are unique but also play into what stories could be told. Even as something that is daring as a world like the moon where it’s a world that was yet to be explored. Under the direction of Melies, many of the compositions are quite simple as it relates to not just a group of men inside a room but also in the people that are celebrating the launch of this rocket. Melies’ approach to framing is very evident as he captures a wide scope to what he is showing as well as images that are off the world.

With the aid of cinematographers Theophile Michault and Lucien Tainguy, the film has this very evocative look thanks in part to the fact that many of the images were hand-painted on the film. The set design with help from art director Claudel doesn‘t just flesh out exactly what is on display in the sets that is created but also in what Melies would believe the world of the moon would look like. Even in the idea that there could be creatures or aliens as they were wonderfully designed with the aid of costume designer Jeanne d’Alcy. While Melies, along with Francois Lallement and Henri Delannoy, provide some lively performances into the multiple roles they play. They also help in creating ideas of what these men could say with Bleuette Bernon playing the role of the woman on the moon as well as other roles. The film is also unique for its editing as it has many of these fast-cuts that serve as the prototype for jump-cuts as well as some dissolves that would to the film’s magical tone.

From the film’s 2011 restoration is a score by the French electronic duo known as Air. A mixture of electronic with jazz and rock, the score doesn’t play into some of the elements of sci-fi but it’s also one that is very whimsical as well as displaying a lot of tone depending on a scene and such.

Le Voyage dans la Lune is a spectacular film from Georges Melies. While it’s only a thirteen-minute film depending on the frame-speed that is shown. It is truly one of the finest touchstones in cinema as well as a look into one of the finest works from one of cinema’s great pioneers. In the end, Le Voyage dans la Lune is an incredible film from Georges Melies.

© thevoid99 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Schindler's List

Based on the novel by Thomas Keneally, Schindler’s List is the real-life story of a Czech-born German businessman who tries to save thousands of Jews by making them work in his factory during the era of the Holocaust in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and screenplay by Steve Zaillian, the film is a look into the life of a man who tries to do good during one of the most horrific periods in the history of the world as the role of Oskar Schindler is played by Liam Neeson. Also starring Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagall, Embeth Davidtz, and Ralph Fiennes. Schindler’s List is a visceral yet evocative film from Steven Spielberg.

Told in the entire span of World War II in Europe from the Invasion of Poland to the aftermath of Germany’s surrender. The film plays into the life of Oskar Schindler during that period in World War II where he decided to have Jews working for him at his factory so they can stay alive while he deals with Nazi officials and such during the days of Polish ghettos and concentration camps. It’s a story that is quite simple yet it is also filled with a lot of graphic detail into what went on in Krakow, Poland and all of these places that the Germans had occupied during World War II. Even as Schindler has to deal with the sadistic Anom Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) who would become a concentration camp leader that has a sense of sick pleasure in killing Jews no matter who they are.

Steve Zaillian’s screenplay does have this very traditional yet broad three-act structure that plays into Schindler’s desire to save the lives of Jews by having him work in his factory and such. Yet, it also display Schindler as a man with some very big flaws such as the fact that he is a member of the Nazi party that would wear a Nazi pin in his suit. He would often socialize with Nazi officers and have drinks with them and was a notorious womanizer despite the fact that he is also married. It is among the many complexities of a man who would do something that is good but he is no saint despite his courageous act of kindness. The first act would play into Schindler’s social life and meeting this Jewish accountant in Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) who has contacts with black markets and such in the Jewish community where he would run Schindler’s enamelware factory in secrecy with Schindler being the one to over see everything.

While Stern is often suspicious of Schindler’s activities in and out of the factory, he is grateful for what Schindler is doing for the Jewish community who had been driven away from their homes and be forced to live in ghettos. The film’s second act plays into Goeth’s arrival and the creation of Plasnow concentration camp as it is a world that is very scary. Especially with Goeth watching over everything as the first taste of that sense of terror is where kills a young woman watching over the building a camp because she made a simple mistake. It adds to this sense of terror where Schindler tries to befriend him in order to keep people safe but it’s not enough where a scene where children are being driven away from their families is a big moment while there’s a few that would hide and manage to stay in the camp. The film’s third act doesn’t just play into the growing realities of what Schindler is facing but also in what he hopes to do as well as see what real power could do.

Steven Spielberg’s direction is very intense not just for some of the graphic violence that occurs in the film from time to time but also in the atmosphere that he creates. While it opens with shot in color of a simple Jewish ceremony where candles are lit, it plays to a world before war but that candle goes out. The film is then presented in black-and-white as it plays into this very chilling period of war and terror. Shot on location in Krakow, Poland and areas nearby, the film does play into a world that becomes undone by prejudice and occupation where Spielberg’s usage of hand-held cameras and tracking shots capture these moments where Jews are driven out of their homes and be cramped into these apartments where overcrowding becomes an issue. Spielberg’s usage of close-ups and medium shots do play into that intimacy but also in moments where there is very little space in comparison to the places where the Germans and Schindler lived in.

The usage of wide shots are also evident to capture the look of the locations as well as these eerie scenes such as the liquidation of Krakow where Schindler and his mistress are watching up on a hill into this moment where many Jews are being killed with some hiding from the Germans. There are also some very eerie scenes of dark comedy in the way Goeth handles situations such as how he kills Jews or a moment where he tries to kill a former rabbi. There are also these moments that play into Schindler’s own sense of disconnect from the realities of what is happening as it features a scene where he’s in a party having fun while Goeth beats a young Jewish maid as that moment is actually far more gruesome than the scenes of people being killed. It is among these moments that showcase not just a stench of death but also some of the eerie symbolism that Schindler is forced to confront that includes this strange image of the little girl in a red coat.

It’s not just these elements of symbolism that Spielberg would put in that are very evident as it relates to Schindler’s disconnect with what he really needed to do but also in how it would relate to the film’s ending. It showcases not just the development in Schindler but also the severity of what he had to do at not just great cost of his own but also in what more could be done. The film features an epilogue as it relates to the people who were saved because of Schindler as they’re presented in color as it reveals not just the fact that some of these people are still alive. It’s a moment where Spielberg breaks the fourth wall and allow these survivors to have their moment into how much Schindler meant to them no matter how flawed he is as a man. Overall, Spielberg creates a tremendously riveting and harrowing film about a man trying to save thousands of Jews in German-occupied Poland.

Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski does incredible work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of lights for some of the scenes set at night as it has elements of film noir and German Expressionism in its black-and-white photography as well as the element of neo-realist images in its usage of tracking shots as it is one of the major highlights of the film. Editor Michael Kahn does amazing work with the editing as he uses some jump-cuts during a scene where Schindler interviews different prospective secretaries as well as some very chilling rhythm cuts that play into the violence and drama in the film. Production designer Allan Starski does excellent work with the look of the some of the interiors in the homes of Schindler and Goeth as well as the look of the concentration camps and some of the even more chilling interiors in Auschwitz. Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard does nice work with the costumes from the dresses that many of the rich women wear as well as the Nazi uniforms of the officers to the ragged look of the Jews.

Hair supervisor Judith A. Cory and makeup supervisor Christina Smith do fantastic work with the look of the characters from the hairstyle of the women in the posh world to the ragged look of the Jews in the numerous stages they would endure. Visual effects supervisor Steve Price does terrific work with two major moments of symbolism in the film from the color of red in the girl in the red coat and the Jewish candlelight scenes. Sound editors Charles L. Campbell and Louis L. Edemann do superb work with the sound in creating layers of sound in some of the chilling moments in the film as it relates to eerie scenes in some of the camps as well as what goes on in the ghettos along with some somber yet eerie moments late in the film. The film’s music by John Williams is great as it is very low key in its orchestration where it plays in these very eerie and somber moments that is supported by Itzhak Perlman’s violin playing as the music also features some of music that was playing in those times including the traditional Jewish prayer hymns.

The casting by Toya Cypin, Lucky Englander, Fritz Fleischhacker, Liat Meiron, Magdalena Szwarcbart, and Juliet Taylor is phenomenal as it features some noteworthy small roles from Oliwia Dabrowska as the little girl in the red coat, Hans-Michael Rehberg as Auschwitz camp leader Rudolf Hoss, and Andrzej Seweryn as SS Officer Julian Scherner that Schindler befriends to get him to ease restrictions for Jews. Other notable roles from Anna Mucha, Rami Heuberger, Piotr Polk, Norbert Weisser, Miri Fabian, Michael Schneider, Adi Nitzan, Jacek Wojcicki, Beata Paluch, Pawel Delag, Mark Ivanir, and Ezra Daga as the many Jewish refugees who would be spared and saved by Schindler as they would endure some of the most humiliating moments that no one should deal with. Jonathan Sagall is superb as Poldek Pfefferberg as a young Polish-Jew who would be an officer for the SS as he would deal with the many complications of his role as well as protecting friends and family.

Embeth Davidtz is excellent as Helen Hirsch as a Jewish maid hired by Goeth to do things for him as well as be a sick object of desire that she is repulsed by. Caroline Goodall is terrific as Schindler’s wife Emilie as a woman who would see him often though she is aware of his womanizing and such while being the one person he can always turn to for guidance. Ben Kingsley is amazing as Itzhak Stern as a Jewish accountant who serves as the film’s conscience as a good man that would run many of Schindler’s operations as well as be the one person that can connect Schindler to the people. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant as Amon Goeth as this sadistic and insane concentration camp leader who seems to have sick pleasure in killing Jews as well as being someone that is very scary as it is one of the most haunting performances in the film as well as a great breakthrough for Fiennes. Finally, there’s Liam Neeson in a riveting performance as Oskar Schindler as this man who is very flawed in his activities as he tries to make money during the war and hire the Jews to manufacture pots and pans for him where he also deals with the severity of what is happening forcing him to do something in a world where a lot of wrongs are happening.

Schindler’s List is a magnificent film from Steven Spielberg. Armed with a great ensemble cast led by Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Kingsley as well as some top-notch technical work and a sumptuous score by John Williams. The film isn’t just one of Spielberg’s best films but also one of the most sobering and harrowing films about the Holocaust and what Jews from Poland had to endure during Germany’s occupation during World War II. In the end, Schindler’s List is an outstanding film from Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg Films: (Duel (1971 film)) - (The Sugarland Express) - (Jaws) - (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) - (1941) - (Raiders of the Lost Ark) - (E.T. the Extraterrestrial) - (Twilight Zone: the Movie-Kick the Can) - (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) - (The Color Purple) - (Empire of the Sun) - (Always) - (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) - (Hook) - (Jurassic Park) - (The Lost World: Jurassic Park) - (Amistad) - Saving Private Ryan - (A.I. Artificial Intelligence) - (Minority Report) - Catch Me If You Can - (The Terminal) - (War of the Worlds (2005 film)) - (Munich) - (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) - (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn) - (War Horse) - (Lincoln) - (Bridge of Spies) - (The BFG)

© thevoid99 2016