Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Films That I Saw: April 2016

I fucking hate 2016. There, I said it. It’s bad enough that David Bowie died and the fact that I’m still not over it. Now Prince is gone and this is too much for me. While I’m glad to wrote a tribute to his Royal Badness, it’s starting to hit me though I’m glad to see his videos again on YouTube though I don’t know for how long. It hasn’t been a good year for my parents either as the husband of one of my mother’s cousins suddenly collapsed and died instantly. This is just fucked up and now rumors that this person will die or that person. I can’t take it anymore. Unless it’s Donald Trump, the Kartrashians, or Justin Bieber as I ain’t going to miss any of those fuckheads.

Then there’s WWE as well… it’s over. WrestleMania 32 was the final straw as I didn’t just delete my wrestling blog but I deleted links to various wrestling websites. It had been a toxic relationship for the last few years and WrestleMania 32 for myself and some very devoted hardcore wrestling fans was like a big “fuck you, we got your time and money” to those fans. I’m surprised that a riot didn’t happen. Reading about it through Twitter had me like “what” and “huh?” as I think the moment that I found myself realizing how unhealthy it has become is when Shaquille O’Neal made an appearance at the Andre the Giant Battle Royal where I nearly had a stroke. Seriously, I found myself twitching as it just was really an awful night that featured the Rock now becoming a cocksucker and telling the fans that they broke the all-time attendance record but also lied to them about the number which was really about 97,000 and not the 101,000 suckers that WWE will claim that was there.

While I made the decision to watch Ring of Honor on TV and not know what is happening though the episodes are taped. I can live with that as it’s just part of me just really wanting to disconnect myself from WWE. Once CM Punk makes his UFC debut, maybe I’ll watch MMA fighting. As for me and WWE, it’s over. Now we go to the world of films. In the month of April, I saw a total of 38 films in 26 first-timers and 12 re-watches as the highlight of the month was definitely my Blind Spot assignment in The Killer. Here are the top 10 First-Timers:

1. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

2. The Driver

3. Midnight Special

4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

5. Les silence de la mer

6. Woodstock

7. Antonio Gaudi

8. Les enfants terribles

9. Ant-Man

10. Ginger & Rosa

Monthly Mini-Review


Whatever is on HBO to pass the time or something, I’ll give it a look as I decided to see this just to see how bad it is. Well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought but it has no idea what it wants to be. Ryan Reynolds isn’t terrible in the film but he’s not given really a lot to do while Matthew Goode is just too good to play the villain as he’s given much to do. It’s a chase film, it’s a sci-fi film, it’s a mystery, a suspense film, and a fantasy film. Those are among the things that really hurt the film in a lot of ways while it also gets some points knocked off for allowing Ben Kingsley to do so little with the small amount of time he’s in.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. Never Let Me Go

2. Purple Rain

3. Black Narcissus

4. Being There

5. Marie Antoinette

6. Dressed to Kill

7. The Karate Kid

8. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

9. D.C. Cab

10. Junior

Well, that is all for April 2016. Next month will be the annual Cannes Film Festival Marathon that will commence from May 11 to May 22 as well as reviews of other films including hopefully, Captain America: Civil War. In my music blog, I plan to start the new series of lists called Ranked as it will profile the work of a band and artists in their body of work and their ranking of them as the first will be Prince as myself and many others at the NIN-forum Echoing the Sounds are doing a project similar in what we did for David Bowie in February as it will be called 31 Days of Prince but I won‘t be writing reviews this time around and instead just listen to his work and rank them. The Auteurs pieces on Spike Jonze and Ramin Bahrani will come next on this blog instead of Cinema Axis which I’m no longer a part of. Why? Long-story short, I fucked up. I said something really stupid and offensive at another site. Courtney saw what I said and confronted me about it. I told the truth and I apologized to him and we both agreed to part ways as I thank him for allowing me to write for the site and editing my work.

On one final note. I just want to express my condolences to the family of Chip Lary of Tips from Chips who recently passed away. He was someone I liked though he and I had different views and opinions on film but I always respected him. We will miss you Chip and we thank you for your contributions in your love of cinema.

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Based on the graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is the story of a 15-year old girl who becomes sexually active when she begins an affair with her mother’s new boyfriend. Written for the screen and directed by Marielle Heller, the film is a coming of age tale set in mid-1970s San Francisco where a young woman tries to deal with her thirst for sex as she would tell her story in a diary filled with audio tapes and art. Starring Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard, Kristen Wiig, Austin Lyon, Madeleine Waters, Margarita Levieva, and Christopher Meloni. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a riveting and witty film from Marielle Heller.

Set in 1976 San Francisco, the film revolves around a 15-year old girl whose fascination with sex has her losing her virginity and having an affair with mother’s new boyfriend as she embarks into a journey of self-discovery through sex. It’s a coming-of-age film that says a lot about what a teenage girl would go through in her discovery of sex as she would express her feelings and views through drawings, audio tape diaries, and comics. Marielle Heller’s screenplay is quite loose in the way it tells the journey that Minnie Goetz (Bel Powley) would go through as she is someone that is very gifted in her drawing but also na├»ve in thinking that losing her virginity and having sex makes her a woman. By having losing her virginity and having an affair with her mother’s boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard), Minnie thinks she is in love as she tries to hide the affair from her mother Charlotte (Kristen Wiig). Eventually, things get complicated where Minnie would have her own revelations about herself and Monroe as she tries to understand everything through her art.

Heller’s direction is very imaginative for not just the way she would fuse animation into live-action settings but also in re-creating 1976 San Francisco without doing a lot given that it’s made on a small budget as it is shot on location in the city itself. Heller’s usage of wide and medium shots doesn’t just play into the look of the city but also in how Minnie sees the world such as a shot of her on a bench looking at the city itself. There are some close-ups in the film as it relates to Minnie’s own reaction to herself or how Monroe tries to end the relationship when he realizes he couldn’t. The mixture of live-action and animation where much of the drawings are made by Sara Gunnarsdottir play into Minnie’s own imagination and view of the world where it has a sense of fantasy but also elements of surrealism. Even as the drawings Minnie would make would say a lot about herself and her growing awareness on sex as the animation would also express that growth in her as it relates to what she needs and why sex shouldn’t be complicated. Overall, Heller creates a sensational and captivating film about a young girl’s sexual awakening.

Cinematographer Brandon Trost does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of stylish and low-key lights for many of the interior scenes including the ones at night along with the beautiful scenery for the exterior scenes in the day. Editors Marie-Helene Dozo and Koen Timmerman do amazing work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts in some bits along with montages and other elements that help play into the humor and drama. Production designer Jonah Markowitz, with set decorator Susan Alegria and art director Emily K. Rolph, does fantastic work with the look of the home that Minnie, her mother, and sister live in as well as the look of Minnie‘s bedroom with her drawings as well as a poster of punk legend Iggy Pop. Costume designer Carmen Grande does nice work with the costumes as it play into the period of the mid-1970s with its bellbottoms, skirts, and the clothes that Monroe would wear including jogging shorts.

The hair/makeup work of Anouck Sullivan and Jennifer Tremont is terrific for the look of some of the characters in the hairstyle along with the makeup Minnie and her friend Kimmie would wear at a midnight screening for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sound designer Kent Sparling does superb work with the way some of the parties sound as well as in the sound effects that are created through Minnie‘s drawings. The film’s music by Nate Heller is wonderful as it is this mixture of rock and ambient music that play into the period of the times as the music soundtrack, that is assembled by music supervisor Howard Paar, features an array of music from the Stooges, Heart, Mott the Hoople, Nico, Television, T. Rex, Dwight Twilley Band, Banditas, the Rose Garden, Amy Raasch and David Poe, Labi Siffre, Barbara & the Browns, and Frankie Miller.

The casting by Nina Henninger is incredible as it features some notable small roles from Miranda Bailey and John Parsons as friends of Monroe and Charlotte, Susanne Schulman as the voice of the famed comic artist Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Quinn Nagle as a schoolmate of Minnie in Chuck, Austin Lyon as a popular junior named Ricky Wasserman whom Minnie would have sex with, and Abigail Wait as Minnie’s younger sister Gretel who becomes disapproving towards her sister’s crazy antics. Madeleine Waters is terrific as Minnie’s friend Kimmie who is just as sexually-outgoing while trying to understand the ideas of sex itself along with her own beauty. Margarita Levieva is superb as the lesbian Tabatha as this older woman of sorts Minnie would meet later in the film as she would take Minnie to a world that is very dark.

Christopher Meloni is excellent as Minnie’s stepfather Pascal who only appears in a few scenes as he is concerned about Minnie as well as Charlotte’s own well-being where he is totally aware of Charlotte’s major flaw as a person. Kristen Wiig is amazing as Charlotte as Minnie’s bohemian mother that is trying to live her life and be responsible as she has trouble trying to balance both where she eventually becomes suspicious towards Monroe. Alexander Skarsgard is fantastic as Monroe as Charlotte’s new boyfriend who finds Minnie attractive where he is reluctant in having sex with her as he tries to stop the relationship until things get a little crazy later on as it’s a performance full of charm and wit. Finally, there’s Bel Powley in a phenomenal performance as Minnie Goetz as this 15-year old girl whose interest in sex has her losing her virginity while recording her experiences through an audio diary and art where it’s a performance full of energy and wit that serves as a major breakthrough for Powley.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a sensational film from Marielle Heller that features an incredible performance from Bel Powley. Featuring a great supporting cast, a killer soundtrack, and a very inventive take on a girl’s exploration of sexuality. It’s a film that manages to do so much more for the coming-of-age angle as well a story about sex from the perspective of a young girl. In the end, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a tremendous film from Marielle Heller.

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Based on the novel by Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the story of a high school senior who befriends a girl suffering from leukemia as he calls on the help of a friend to make her life a little better. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and written by Jesse Andrews, the film is an exploration into death as well as a young man trying to find meaning in his young life with the aid of this dying young woman. Starring Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, and Connie Britton. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a heartwarming and witty film from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

The film revolves around a jaded high school senior who is forced by his mother to spend time with a leukemia-stricken classmate of his where the two become friends and bring another friend into the circle. It’s a film with a simple story but it is largely told from this young man named Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) who is trying to write his college essay as he talks about the time he spent with this young girl named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who tries to cope with her ailment. Even as he would eventually try to make a film for her with the help of his friend Earl (RJ Cyler) who would also befriend Rachel. Jesse Andrews’ script is told in a reflective narrative as Gaines tries to write his college acceptance essay which is largely about his time with Rachel and being her friend.

Even as it explores Gaines’ own unwillingness to socialize with other students as he has trouble fitting in while he and Earl share a love of watching classic art-house/auteur-based cinema where their parodies of those films is something Rachel would enjoy. Earl is sort of the film’s conscience in the film though his commentary on things including lots of things about women’s breasts make him an odd but an endearing one since he really does care. Gaines is someone who is just unsure of himself as someone who is full of self-loathing in his belief that he couldn’t do anything right where Rachel would mark a change of direction for him. Yet, he keeps wondering if he’s going to make things worse just as Rachel’s own health is failing which prompts to question his own self and his own reasons into what he wants to do with his life.

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s direction is very simple not just in terms of the compositions but also in the way he creates a story that is simple and makes it more rich and extraordinary that it already is. Shot largely in an anamorphic format, Gomez-Rejon’s approach to shooting to shooting the school as well as various locations in and near Pittsburgh would give the film a lot to say visually. Even in the way he would put his actors into a frame where one would be in the foreground and the other in the background or would just go for a simple medium shot during a scene where Gaines, Rachel, and Earl are eating popsicles. The film parodies that Gaines and Earl would make not only have something that is amateurish but also with a sense of charm where the two put their own spin on classic films including the ones by Stanley Kubrick, Francois Truffaut, and Werner Herzog. Especially the one Gaines would make as it was created with the help of stop-motion animators Edward Bursch and Nathan O. Marsh as it would serve as the film’s climax for what Gaines would do for Rachel. Overall, Gomez-Rejon crafts a touching yet lively film about a high school senior trying to help a dying young girl.

Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung does brilliant work with the cinematography from not just the look of the classrooms and lunch room but also in the way much of the daytime interior/exteriors are lit as well as some unique lighting for some scenes set at night. Editor David Trachtenberg does excellent work with the editing as it has a lot of style with its jump-cuts and other stylish cut to play into the humor and some of the drama. Production designer Gerald Sullivan, with set decorator Diana Stoughton and art director Sarah M. Pott, does fantastic work with the look of the rooms that Gaines and Rachel had to express their personalities as well as the DVD store Gaines and Earl often go to where they show a lot of art films. Costume designer Jennifer Eve does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual with bits of style to express the personality of the many characters in the film.

Visual effects supervisor Zared Shai does terrific work with some of the film‘s minimal visual effects that include a few things in the home movies Gaines and Earl make. Sound designer Jacob Ribicoff does superb work with the sound in the way the lunchroom sounds as well as the way the movies are being heard on TV or on a laptop. The film’s music by Brian Eno and Nico Muhly is amazing as it features some soft, ambient pieces from the latter while the former would contribute music from some of albums ranging from experimental rock to ambient pieces while music supervisor Randall Poster would create a soundtrack that doesn’t just feature Eno’s music but also score pieces from composers like Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, David Shire, Wendy Carlos, and Jean Constantin and music from other films by Harry Nilsson, Explosions in the Sky, Ra Ra Riot, Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach, Cat Stevens, Lou Reed, and Roy Orbison.

The casting by Angela Demo is great as it features some notable small roles from Bobb’e J. Thompson as Earl’s older brother Derrick who doesn’t really like Gaines, Matt Bennett as the Goth kid Scott Mayhew, Masam Holden as the wannabe rapper Ill Phil, Edward DeBruce III as the young Earl, Gavin Dietz as the young Gaines, and Katherine C. Hughes in a wonderful performance as Gaines’ crush in Madison who would give Gaines the idea to make a film for Rachel despite his own reluctance to. Jon Bernthal is terrific as Gaines’ history teacher who would let him and Earl eat lunch at his office while watching classic film as he would give Gaines some very wise advice but death and what can be learned afterwards. Molly Shannon is fantastic as Rachel’s mother Denise who is a very sweet woman that is going through a lot as she also display a vulnerability as she copes with what she might lose.

Connie Britton and Nick Offerman are excellent as Gaines’ parents with the former as the one who would make Greg see Rachel and telling him to think about his future while the latter is an eccentric who likes to watch classic films while feeding his son and Earl some strange food. RJ Cyler is amazing in his film debut as Earl as this kid who says a lot of weird things yet is sort of the film’s conscience as this kid from the streets that is very kind and patient to Rachel while getting Gaines to deal with his own faults. Olivia Cooke is brilliant as Rachel as a teenager stricken with leukemia as she tries to deal with the seriousness of her illness while finding comfort in the presence of Gaines and Earl as she would also confront the former about his own worth as a person. Finally, there’s Thomas Mann in a marvelous performance as Greg Gaines as this jaded high school senior who is forced by his mother to hang out with Rachel where he tries to cope with her illness and ways to make her feel better where he is forced to deal with his own self-loathing and feelings about the ways of the world.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is an incredible film from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. Featuring a great cast, a compelling premise, and a sensational film soundtrack, the film is a witty yet engaging story that explores life and death from the views of teenagers as well as the ideas of the world itself. In the end, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a phenomenal film from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

© thevoid99 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Karate Kid, Part II

Directed and co-edited by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, The Karate Kid Part II is the sequel to the 1984 film as Mr. Miyagi returns home to Okinawa to see his ailing father while being accompanied by his student Daniel LaRusso where they deal with an old enemy and his brutish nephew. The film is a continuation of a father-son bond of sorts between Miyagi and LaRusso as they’re once again respectively played by Noriyuki “Pat” Morita and Ralph Macchio. Also starring Nobu McCarthy, Tamlyn Tomita, Danny Komekona, Yuji Okumoto, and Martin Kove as John Kreese. The Karate Kid Part II is a heartfelt and thrilling film from John G. Avildsen.

Set six months after the events in the first film, Kensuke Miyagi receives news from his home island of Okinawa in Japan that his father is dying as he decides to return home. With his student/friend Daniel LaRusso wanting to accompany him as an act of gratitude, the two deal with Miyagi’s own past actions as they’re confronted by an old friend of Miyagi who has a legitimate grudge towards him over a woman Miyagi wanted to marry. Adding that troubling turmoil is the man’s nephew who targets LaRusso where LaRusso realizes the concepts of honor is very different in Japan than in America where he tries to maintain the idea of what is right. Robert Mark Kamen’s screenplay doesn’t just explore the concept of honor but also cowardice as the latter is something Miyagi is accused of from his former friend Sato (Danny Komekona) who was also a student of Miyagi’s father.

Miyagi tries to settle matters with Sato without violence but things don’t work out so well easily where Miyagi’s home village and its villagers are also being targeted for Miyagi’s refusal to fight. Adding to the complications is Sato’s nephew Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) who is quite corrupt and has a very distorted view of honor. While LaRusso does admit that he finds Chozen intimidating, he doesn’t back down knowing that Chozen is driven by profit and intimidation where LaRusso finds a way to get the upper hand and fight another day. The script doesn’t just explore the dire situations both Miyagi and LaRusso are in but also their own relationship as LaRusso helps his mentor cope with loss while getting to know Okinawa. It’s a world LaRusso would embrace despite his encounters with Chozen as it is among the highlights though the elements of romance that involve LaRusso falling for a young woman named Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) isn’t entirely successful as it feels like an attempt to give LaRusso something else to do.

John G. Avildsen’s direction is quite straightforward for the way he portrays these two different worlds of Southern California and Okinawa as the latter was actually shot on Oahu, Hawaii with a cast of Okinawan-born actors or those of Okinawan descent to give the film an authentic feel. While the film opens with a sequence that picks up where the last film left off as it involves an antagonist from that film in John Kreese. It does open the film with a bang as it gives audience that confrontation between Miyagi and Kreese but in a way that is unexpected. The film then shifts to six months after that moment where the main narrative takes place as Avildsen’s compositions for the scenes in Southern California are straightforward while many of the scenes set in Okinawa are quite rich and entrancing. There are also these moments that are very intimate in some of the romantic elements between LaRusso and Yukie but it feels very underdeveloped. The moments where LaRusso is confronted by Chozen are very engaging with the usage of low camera angles where the latter is often dominant but LaRusso does find a way to fight back as it does lead to this very intense climax where the two fight as it is about honor and what is right. Overall, Avildsen creates an exciting though flawed film about a man and his student dealing with sins as well as loss and the idea of honor.

Cinematographer James Crabe does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography in the way Okinawa looks in day and night in its exteriors along with the usage of shadows for some of the scenes set at night including the rainstorm sequence. Editors John G. Avildsen, David Garfield, and Jane Kurson does nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for some of the film‘s action and fight scenes. Production designer William J. Cassidy, set decorator Lee Poll and art director William F. Matthews, does amazing work with the look of homes set in Okinawa as well as some of the places in its towns.

Costume designer Mary Malin does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual along with the look of the Japanese robes that many of the local Okinawans wear. Sound editor Tom C. McCarthy does superb work with the sound in capturing the intensity of the storm in the rainstorm sequence along with some raucous moments in a dance club scene as well as sparse moments in the fights. The film’s music by Bill Conti is excellent for its mixture of orchestral-based music with some traditional Japanese-based string instruments and woodwinds to play into some of the romantic and traditional Japanese elements while music supervisor Brooks Arthur creates a soundtrack filled with pop and rock pieces from New Edition, the Moody Blues, Dennis DeYoung of Styx, Carly Simon, Paul Rodgers, Southside Johnny, and the film’s love theme The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera.

The casting by Caro Jones is great as it features some appearances and small roles from Clarence Gilyard as an army soldier at an Okinawan bar, Ron Thomas and Rob Garrison respectively reprising their roles as former Cobra Kai students Bobby and Tommy, William Zabka as the top Cobra Kai student Johnny who is being choked to death by Kreese, Charlie Tanimoto as Miyagi’s ailing father, Joey Miyashima and Marc Hayashi as Chozen’s goons, and Martin Kove in a superb performance as John Kreese who gets himself into a disastrous confrontation against Miyagi. Danny Kamekona is excellent as Miyagi’s old friend Sato who has a grudge towards Miyagi and wants to fight him really bad where also controls the village that Miyagi lived in. Nobu McCarthy is fantastic as Miyagi’s old flame Yukie who was the source of Sato’s falling out with Miyagi as she had been taking care of Miyagi’s father while catching up with Miyagi on old times.

Yuji Okumoto is excellent as Sato’s nephew Chozen as a man who does his uncle’s bidding but also is very corrupt in the way he cheats villagers where he would antagonize Daniel over his distorted view of honor. Tamlyn Tomita is wonderful Yukie’s niece Kumiko who introduces Daniel to the world of Okinawan culture as she would later fall for him though the way some of the romance is handled is very clunky and cheesy. Noriyuki “Pat” Morita is amazing as Miyagi as a man who returns to his home island to see his dying father as he copes with accusations of cowardice by his old friend Sato as well as trying to protect his village from Sato and his nephew. Finally, there’s Ralph Macchio in a brilliant performance as Daniel LaRusso who accompanies Miyagi to Okinawa as an outsider as he deals with Chozen’s antagonistic attitude where he knows he’s being out-skilled and out-matched but wouldn’t back down.

The Karate Kid, Part II is a stellar yet flawed film from John G. Avildsen. While it does feature an amazing cast, compelling themes on the idea of honor, and some fine music. It’s a film that starts off great yet has some bumps along with the way in its narrative but ends on a satisfying note. In the end, The Karate Kid, Part II is a wonderful film from John G. Avildsen.

John G. Avildsen Films: (Turn on to Love) - (Guess What We Learned in School Today?) - (Joe) - (Cry Uncle!) - (Okay Bill) - (Save the Tiger) - (The Stoolie) - (Fore Play) - (W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings) - Rocky - (Slow Dancing in the Big City) - (The Formula) - (Neighbors) - (Traveling Hopefully) - (A Night in Heaven) - The Karate Kid - (Happy New Year) - (For Keeps) - (Lean on Me) - The Karate Kid Part III - (Rocky V) - (The Power of One) - (8 Seconds) - (Inferno)

© thevoid99 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Cannes Film Festival Marathon Announcement

From May 11 to May 22, the 69th Cannes Film Festival will commence as this year's festival is expected to be huge. With Woody Allen's Cafe Society opening the festival and new films from such noted auteurs as Andrea Arnold, Nicolas Winding Refn, Chan-wook Park, Xavier Dolan, Pedro Almodovar, Jim Jarmusch, Sean Penn, Asghar Farhadi, Olivier Assayas, Jeff Nichols, Cristian Mungiu, Ken Loach, Paul Verhoeven, Bruno Dumont, and the Dardenne Brothers will release films that will be in competition from the Palme d'Or along other new films from Steven Spielberg, Jodie Foster, Shane Black, another film from Jim Jarmusch, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Pablo Larrain, and Paul Schrader. Heading this year's jury for the Palme d'Or is George Miller as he will be joined by Kirsten Dunst, Mads Mikkelsen, Arnaud Desplachin, Donald Sutherland, Valeria Golino, Vanessa Paradis, Laszlo Nemes, and Katayoon Shahabi as part of the jury.

My original intentions for this year's marathon was to see less films as I often tend to overwhelm myself with seeing so many films as I originally wanted it to be 11 films and 2 other films that I wanted to re-watch. Unfortunately, I couldn't find films that I had seen before and maybe hadn't seen for a long time as I've made the decision to not include any re-watches to open and close the marathon. Instead, I've chosen 12 films plus a Blind Spot to be included for this year's marathon for my fictionalized version of the Palme d'Or. As for the Blind Spot film, it will be a surprise as that film will not be competing for the fictionalized Palme d'Or. Instead, here are the 12 films that I will watch for the duration of the festival that will be competing for my fictionalized version of the Palme d'Or:

Friendly Persuasion (1957 Palme d'Or winner)

Leviathan (2014 Best Screenplay winner)

Lost River (Played at the Un Certain Regarde Section 2014)

Jimmy's Hall (2014 Palme d'Or Nominee)

The Salt of the Earth (Played at the Un Certain Regarde Section 2014)

The Dance of Reality (Played at the Director's Fortnight 2013)

Salaam Bombay! (1988 Camera d'Or & Audience Prize Winner)

Love and Anarchy (1973 Best Actor Winner)

Young Torless (1966 FIPRESCI Prize Winner)

The Hunt (2012 Best Actor/Prize of the Ecumenical Jury/Vulcan Award Winner)

Poetry (2010 Best Screenplay Winner)

& Woman in the Dunes (1964 Special Jury Prize Winner)

Well, that is all for what is to expect at the 2016 Cannes Marathon as it will end with post-script about the festival as well as the films that are seen for this marathon. Until then, this is thevoid99 saying au revoir.

© thevoid99 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

From the Life of the Marionettes

Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, Aus dem Leben der Marionetten (From the Life of the Marionettes) is the story of married couple who are breaking up as they both go into different journeys where things go wrong. The film is an exploration into relationships as well as the aftermath of a relationship as it relate to two people who had fallen out of love with each other. Starring Robert Atzorn, Heinz Bennent, Martin Benrath, and Christine Buchegger. Aus dem Leben der Marionetten is an eerie yet ravishing film from Ingmar Bergman.

The film plays into a married couple’s disintegration where the husband has committed murder after killing a prostitute as investigators talk to those who knew him and the events that led to his breakdown and the action that he cause. It’s a film that is an exploration into not just disintegrating relationships but also the events that drove a man into madness. Ingmar Bergman’s screenplay has a very unique narrative where it begins with the murder and then it is told largely in flashbacks for much of the first half and then a few events in its aftermath for its second half where those wonder what caused the man to kill this prostitute. Especially where much of the narrative is about the disintegrating marriage of Peter Egermann (Robert Atzorn) and his fashion designer wife Katarina (Christine Buchegger). A relationship that had become toxic emotionally and mentally where the two are also having affairs with other people including Peter’s psychiatrist/friend Mogens Jensen (Martin Benrath) who is sleeping with Katarina.

Bergman’s direction is very entrancing for the way he would open and close the film as they’re both shot in color to play into a world that is very complicated as well as the severity of Peter’s emotional and mental state of mind. The rest of the film would be shot in black-and-white where Bergman would maintain a sense of intimacy into the look of a marriage as well as a man unraveling in the days before he would kill this prostitute. Shot on location in Munich with much of it shot on soundstages, Bergman aims for something that plays into not just paranoia but also fear in the way he would shoot Peter whether he is spying on a conversation or deal with dreams he’s having including ones where he wants to kill his wife.

Bergman’s compositions and the way he would frame his actors for a shot are eerie including a scene where Peter looks into the camera reading an un-mailed letter to Jensen. The scene of the night where Peter would murder the prostitute is just as eerie which serves as the climax while it would be followed by this somber aftermath in the epilogue as it showcases how far a man can descend into madness. Overall, Bergman creates a haunting yet compelling film about a man’s descent following the disintegration of his marriage.

Cinematographer Sven Nykvist does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography from the eerie shots in color for the film‘s prologue and epilogue to the usage of black-and-white film stock for the rest of the film as it has this very eerie look into many of the interior scenes that is shot in the film. Editor Petra von Oelffen does brilliant work with the editing as it does play into some style with its usage of freeze-frames, frame-speeds, and jump-cuts to play into something that blurs the line of reality and fiction. Production designer Rolf Zehetbauer and art director Herbert Strabel do fantastic work with the look of the apartment home that Peter and Katarina live in as well as the peep show where Peter would kill the prostitute.

Costume designers Charlotte Flemming and Heinz A. Schulze does nice work with the clothes that Katarina would design in her fashion work including the stylish clothes that Peter‘s mother would wear. The sound work of Peter Beil is terrific for the low-key and naturalistic approach to the conversation scenes as well as the scenes at the peep show and social gatherings. The film’s music by Rolf A. Wilhelm is excellent as it is very low key where it is largely diegetic from the rock music that Peter listens on his headphones to the disco music that is heard at the peep show.

The film’s wonderful cast include some notable small roles from Karl-Heinz Pelser as a police interrogator, Lola Muthel as Peter’s mother who is a famous actress, Walter Schmidinger as Katarina’s partner Tim who would make some startling revelations in his interrogation about Peter, Heinz Bennent as a neighbor of Peter and Katarina who would try to stop him from killing himself, and Rita Russek as the prostitute Peter would kill as she shares the same name as his wife. Martin Benrath is superb as Peter’s friend and psychiatrist Mogens Jensen as a man that is trying to help Peter but also carry a sense of guilt as he is also Katarina’s lover.

Christine Buchegger is amazing as Katarina as Peter’s wife who is still has feelings for her husband despite their disintegrating love for each other as she tries to cope with how bad things are becoming as well as Peter’s own actions. Finally, there’s Robert Atzorn in a brilliant performance as Peter Egermann as a troubled architect filled with fear and paranoia over the failure of his marriage where at times he can be careless towards Katarina while becoming unhinged by dreams and fantasies of killing his wife as he starts to fall apart.

Aus dem Leben der Marionetten is a phenomenal film from Ingmar Bergman. Featuring a great cast as well as very dark themes on marriage, fear, paranoia, and the human psyche. The film is a psychological drama that explores the soul of a man whose life is falling apart as he would commit an action that add to his fall from grace. In the end, Aus dem Leben der Marionetten is a sensational film from Ingmar Bergman.

Ingmar Bergman Films: (Crisis) - (It Rains on Our Love) - (A Ship to India) - (Music of Darkness) - (Port of Call) - (Prison) - (Thirst (1949 film)) - (To Joy) - (This Can’t Happen Here) - (Summer Interlude) - Secrets of Women - Summer with Monika - Sawdust and Tinsel - A Lesson in Love - Dreams - Smiles of a Summer Night - The Seventh Seal - (Mr. Sleeman is Coming) - Wild Strawberries - (The Venetian) - (Brink of Life) - (Rabies) - The Magician - The Virgin Spring - The Devil's Eye - Through a Glass Darkly - Winter Sleep - The Silence - All These Women - Persona - (Simulantia-Daniel) - Hour of the Wolf - (Shame (1968 film)) - (The Rite) - The Passion of Anna - (The Touch) - Cries & Whispers - Scenes from a Marriage - (The Magic Flute) - (Face to Face) - (The Serpent’s Egg) - Autumn Sonata - Fanny & Alexander - (After the Rehearsal) - (Karin’s Face) - (The Blessed Ones) - (In the Presence of a Clown) - (The Image Makers) - Saraband

© thevoid99 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

I Origins

Written, edited, and directed by Mike Cahill, I Origins is the story of a graduate student whose study towards the evolution of the human eye has him meeting a young woman who would lead him into a path of discovery as it relates to his research with the aid of his lab partner. The film is a sci-fi drama that explores not just evolution but also humanity in the eyes of a man trying to understand questions he is daring to ask. Starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, and Archie Panjabi. I Origins is a rapturous and fascinating film from Mike Cahill.

The film revolves around a graduate student whose research into the evolution of the human eye would increase after a meeting with a mysterious young woman at a party where he would meet her again and later fall for her. It’s a film that isn’t just about obsession but also a man trying to see if there is any scientific explanation into the evolution of the human eye where he also want to disprove the ideas of faith and spirituality but not in a mean way. In the course of the journey that Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) would take, he wouldn’t just fall in love with this young woman named Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) but also be challenged by her in the ideas of spirituality. Yet, when his lab partner Karen (Brit Marling) makes a discovery that would prove his theory. Things would change as his time with Sofi would later haunt him for much of the film’s second half as he would go into a bigger journey.

Mike Cahill’s script has a unique structure as it play into Dr. Gray’s journey as the first half is about his time as a graduate student and his brief time with Sofi while the second half takes place seven years later where Dr. Gray has married Karen and would have a child. Yet, the program and ideas based on their research of the eye would lead to new questions as it related to not just images of what their baby would see but also into many bigger questions as it relates to matching eye patterns. It would lead to events in the third act where it isn’t just about Dr. Gray dealing with aspects of his past but also raise a lot of questions about if there is some kind of rational explanation as well as maybe there are things that can’t simply be answered.

Cahill’s direction is fascinating for not just the way he explores a man’s journey into his work as a scientist but also in the human aspects where he tries to make sense of the things he encounters. Shot on largely on location in New York City as well as India and bits of Boise, Idaho as it does have this sense of a large world as it relates to Dr. Gray’s research. While there are some wide shots in the film, Cahill maintains an intimacy as it relates to the drama where he uses some medium shots but also a lot of close-ups including extreme close-ups on the eyes. Cahill’s usage of hand-held shots and close-ups says a lot about what Dr. Gray is searching for as well as some very odd moments as it relates to the research and Karen would encounter. Also serving as the film’s editor, Cahill would create something that is straightforward with some montages as it play into Dr. Gray’s own thoughts and memories along with his own personal journey into his research which would take him to India in the film’s third act. Overall, Cahill creates a compelling yet mesmerizing film about a man’s research into the evolution of the human eye.

Cinematographer Markus Forderer does excellent work with the cinematography as it has some lovely lighting and interior shading for scenes set in the day and night in some scenes along with some of the low-key lighting for some of the daytime exterior scenes. Production designer Tania Bijlani, with set decorator Grace Yun and art director Alan Lampert, does fantastic work with the look of the lab as well as the apartment that Sofi lived in as well as the home that Dr. Gray and Karen would live in. Costume designer Megan Gray does nice work with the costumes from the more casual yet nerdy look of Dr. Gray to the more stylish look of Sofi.

The visual effects work of Michael Glen and Vico Sharabani is terrific for some of the minimal moments in the film including a crucial scene that would play an impact into Dr. Gray‘s life. Sound designer Steve Boeddeker does amazing work with the sound to play into some of Dr. Gray‘s research as well as the moments in some of the gatherings he would go to. The film’s music by Will Bates and Phil Mossman is superb for its electronic-based score that includes some ambient textures and bass-driven pieces while they would also provide additional music under the Fall on Your Sword banner with music supervisor Joe Rudge adding music to the soundtrack from some classical to a couple of pieces by Radiohead.

The casting by James Calleri, Paul Davis, and Dilip Shankar is wonderful as it includes some appearances and small roles from William Mapother as a preacher Dr. Gray meets in India, Cara Seymour as a doctor/researcher Dr. Gray and Karen meet in the second half as it relates to their child, Venida Evans as a diary farmer Dr. Gray meets in Boise, and Kashish as a young girl Dr. Gray meets in India. Archie Panjabi is fantastic as Priya Varma as a community center head in India who helps Dr. Gray find a girl that has this unique eye pattern while being someone who asks him rational questions on spirituality. Steven Yeun is superb as Dr. Gray’s research partner Kenny who would provide many connections as well as create a database for Dr. Gray in his research.

Astrid Berges-Frisbey is amazing as Sofi as this beautiful young woman Dr. Gray falls for where she provides something that is exotic but also challenges him into questions of spirituality. Brit Marling is brilliant as Karen as Dr. Gray’s lab assistant who would help him in finding the research and eventually become his wife where she would get him to take the next big step into his research that would lead him to India. Finally, there’s Michael Pitt in an excellent performance as Dr. Ian Gray as a graduate student/scientist who is trying to see if there is something to the evolution of the human eye as he copes with falling in love and later more questions about everything as well as there is a chance to disprove the ideas of faith.

I Origins is a marvelous film from Mike Cahill. Featuring a great cast as well as captivating take on the ideas of evolution and spirituality, it’s a film that showcases one man’s fascination with man’s evolution despite his apprehension towards the ideas of faith and spirituality. In the end, I Origins is a remarkable film from Mike Cahill.

Another Earth

© thevoid99 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Torment (1944 film)

Directed by Alf Sjoberg and written by Ingmar Bergman, Hets (Torment) is the story of a boarding school student who falls for a local girl while he is being tormented by his sadistic Latin teacher. The film is an exploration of the world of torment in the world of boarding school as the film would also mark the very first film to be written by Bergman in a collaboration with one of the then-premier filmmakers in Sweden. Starring Stig Jarrel, Alf Kjellin, Mai Zetterling, Olof Winnerstand, Gosta Cederlund, Stig Olin, and Gunnar Bjornstrand. Hets is an eerie yet mesmerizing film from Alf Sjoberg.

The film revolves around a boarding school senior who is about to graduate yet still has to pass certain exams including Latin but he is tormented by the mental abuse of this teacher where he would later befriend a local checkout girl at a tobacco store who also dealing with a form of torment of her own. It’s a film that doesn’t just explore the concepts of verbal and mental torment but also two people who are both affected by it in such a way as they’re struggling to live their lives. Ingmar Bergman’s screenplay doesn’t just go into great detail into what Jan-Erik (Alf Kjellin) and Bertha (Mai Zetterling) are dealing with but also in the former as his Latin teacher that is called by students as Caligula (Stig Jarrel) is a man that is really vicious in his methods. Even as students have a hard time trying to learn Latin meet his expectations as even a few of the teachers are becoming aware of Caligula’s actions.

Jan-Erik’s escape in his time with Bertha would bring comfort but Bertha remains troubled as Jan-Erik wonders who is Bertha’s tormentor. Yet, the reveal of the tormentor isn’t a total surprise yet it adds a lot more to the subject matter as well as the tormentor himself who is a sadistic son-of-a-bitch that is a keen manipulator with some very serious issues. Especially in the third act as it relates to his own actions and what he would do to Jan-Erik that would eventually make things much worse for all involved.

Alf Sjoberg’s direction is very straightforward yet it does have some very entrancing compositions from the way he opens the film as well as maintain this tense and discomforting atmosphere in the classroom. While there are some wide shots, much of the film is presented in a more intimate manner with its close-ups and medium shots to play into the tension that looms throughout the film as it relates to Jan-Erik and Bertha. Even in the classrooms as Sjoberg would have his camera place into Caligula trying to get Jan-Erik to say things the right way with students sitting in silence as some are just scared while others want to fight back. The dramatic elements would be intense including a key scene in the third act where Jan-Erik and Caligula are met with the school’s headmaster (Olof Winnerstrand) as it plays into the idea of truth and gain. Yet, it is followed by an ending which is directed by Bergman, who was the film’s assistant director, as it relates to everything that had happened but also in what Jan-Erik would have to do with his life. Overall, Sjoberg and Bergman would create a fascinating yet dark film about the concept of torment.

Cinematographer Martin Bodin does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography for the way some of the nighttime interior/exterior scenes are lit with its shadows along with more naturalistic shots for the daytime exterior scenes. Editor Oscar Rosander does nice work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few stylish moments that play into the intensity of the drama. Production designer Arne Akermark does fantastic work with not just the look of the classrooms but also the homes of Jan-Erik and Bertha to play into their different backgrounds.

Costume designer Mimmi Tornqvist-Zedell does terrific work with the costumes from the clothes that Jan-Erik wears to go to school to the dresses and robes of Bertha. The sound work of Gaston Cornelius is superb for the atmosphere of the classrooms where it could raucous or at times uncomfortably quiet along with some moments heard outside of the classroom. The film’s music by Hilding Rosenberg is wonderful for its orchestral-based score that played into the drama with its string arrangements.

The film’s cast feature some notable small roles from Gunnar Bjornstrand as a teacher, Hugo Bjorne as a doctor who would treat Jan-Erik in the film’s second half, Olav Riego and Marta Arbin as Jan-Erik’s parents who become concerned over his behavior, Jan Molander as a nerdy yet tortured student in Petterson, Gosta Cederlund as an elderly yet kind teacher in Pippi who is concerned about Caligula’s behavior towards the students, and Stig Olin as Jan-Erik’s friend Sandman who is very suspicious about Caligula as he really despises the man. Olof Winnerstrand is superb as the school’s headmaster as this unlikely sympathetic figure who tries to understand what is happening where he only appears late in the film but manages to exude so much into his brief appearance.

Mai Zetterling is fantastic as Bertha as a young woman who works as tobacco store clerk who is tormented constantly by a man on her way home where she befriends Jan-Erik as she becomes his lover in the hopes that she can escape from her tormentor. Alf Kjellin is excellent as Jan-Erik as a young student who deals with the constant mental abuse he receives from his Latin teacher as he struggles to pass his exams and graduate where he finds solace in this equally-tormented young woman. Finally, there’s Stig Jarrel in an amazing performance as the Latin teacher called Caligula as this man who is very mean towards Jan-Erik as well as be someone who might really be ill in some ways as it’s a very terrifying performance to watch.

Hets is a remarkable film from Alf Sjoberg that features a great cast as well as an incredible script by Ingmar Bergman. The film isn’t just a fascinating look into the concept of torment but also in what it can do to people who are extremely vulnerable. In the end, Hets is a marvelous film from Alf Sjoberg.

Alf Sjoberg Films: (Den starkaste) - (They Staked Their Lives) - (Den blomstertid) - (Hem fran Babylon) - (The Heavenly Play) - (Kungajakt) - (Resan bort) - (Iris and the Lieutenant) - (Only a Mother) - (Barabbas (1953 film)) - (Only a Mother) - Miss Julie - (Karin Mansdotter) - (Wild Birds) - (Last Pair Out) - (The Judge (1960 film)) - (On (1966 film)) - (The Father (1969 film))

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple Rain

***In Memory of Prince (1958-2016)***

Directed and co-edited by Albert Magnoli and written by Magnoli and William Blinn, Purple Rain is the story of a talented but trouble musician who tries to maintain his spot at a Minneapolis music club where he spars with a rival singer while they both try to get the attention of new singer. The film isn’t just a look into the Minneapolis music scene of the early 1980s but also a story of a musician trying to get his break as he deals with his own family and demons. Starring Prince, Morris Day, Apollonia Kotero, Olga Karlatos, and Clarence Williams III. Purple Rain is a majestic and exhilarating film from Albert Magnoli.

Set in the music scene in Minneapolis, the film revolves around a singer known as the Kid (Prince) who is extremely talented with the aid of his band the Revolution but often has a tendency to fall short of what he could do at the First Avenue Club. Especially as he has to contend with the club headliner Morris Day and the Time who often bring in the crowd and make money as Day is also close with the club’s owner by bringing in a girl group to the club that would be led by the newly-arrived singer Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero). It’s a film where a young man doesn’t just contend with his demons as it relates to his parents who had the chance to be successful in music but their own demons destroyed that chance. He also has to deal with his own issues as an artist who wants to do things his way as opposed to what Morris Day is doing as well as expectations of the club.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just play into Morris’ own ambitions with the help of his longtime assistant/Time bandmate Jerome Benton into being the king of the Minneapolis music scene. It also shows that struggle into the world of art where Morris is very successful in what he does which is commercial while the Kid is someone that is very gifted and can do great things with his music. Yet, he tends to be his own worst enemy as his own band is starting to fall apart since Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman have ideas for songs but the Kid rejects them. The Kid’s fascination towards Apollonia isn’t just about love but also showing her that there are ways of making it but her encounters with Morris and his idea into how she would be a star causes trouble as well as a bigger conflict between Morris and the Kid.

Albert Magnoli’s direction is definitely stylish where it does play into a lot of the visual tropes that was prevalent during the age of MTV. Yet, Magnoli doesn’t rely too much on that sense of style as it relates to the performances that are captured on stage by the Revolution, the Time, and Dez Dickerson & the Modernaires. Much of it is presented in a wide and medium shot to not just capture the band but also the reaction from the audience as well as the atmosphere of the clubs where it is actually shot in the First Avenue club in Minneapolis with some exterior bits shot in Los Angeles. For the non-musical moments, Magnoli does bring in bits of comedy as much of the direction in those scenes as well as the dramatic are straightforward. Even in the way Magnoli has the camera set up for some of the intense dramatic moments as it relates to the Kid and his parents along with these eerie moments where the Kid has to stop his parents from fighting including a moment where the Kid has to confront his father (Clarence Williams III). The film’s climax is one of the most exciting as it relates to the music where it is about the Kid and what he needed to do. Overall, Magnoli creates a rapturous and dazzling film about a musician trying to get his break and deal with his own demons and other competitors.

Cinematographer Donald E. Thorin does excellent work with the look of the film with the usage of low lights in some of the interior scenes at the Kid‘s home along with some of the exteriors set in Minneapolis at night while some of the interior lights in the day during the first rehearsal scene for the girl group Morris is trying to create. Editors Albert Magnoli and Ken Robinson do amazing work with the editing in not just creating bits of fast-cutting style for the film‘s opening sequence but also maintain something that is straightforward in some of the performances as well as in the dramatic moments. Production designer Ward Preston and set decorator Anne D. McCulley do nice work with the look of the Kid‘s home which he lives with his parents as well as the places that Morris lives in along with a few decorative pieces at the actual First Avenue club.

Costume designer Marie France does fantastic work with the costumes from the stylish clothes of the Revolution, the suits that the Time wear, and the lingerie of Apollonia 6 would wear. Sound designer Richard C. Franklin does superb work with the sound in capturing the atmosphere of the club and their reaction to the music along with some of the intimate moments set at Prince‘s home. The film’s music by Prince, John L. Nelson, and Michel Colombier is incredible as the score which is a mixture of funk, electronic, and soul play into aspects into some of the original songs that Prince writes while the soundtrack album that features so many classics such as its title track, Let‘s Go Crazy, The Beautiful Ones, Darling Nikki, and many others are among the best songs ever while cuts from Apollonia 6, Dez Dickerson and the Modernaires, and of course, Morris Day & the Time are just phenomenal.

The casting by David Graham is terrific as it feature appearances from such Prince cohorts as Jill Jones as the club waitress, Billy Sparks as the club’s owner/manager, and Alan Leeds as a stagehand. Other notable roles as versions of themselves include former Prince guitarist Dez Dickerson, members of the Time, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman of the Revolution as the two women who feel frustrated over not having their input be included, and as other members of the Revolution in keyboardist Dr. Matt Fink, bassist Brown Mark, and drummer Bobby Z. Jerome Benton is hilarious as Morris’ assistant/bandmate Jerome as a man who says some funny things and helps Morris anyway he can while giving the Kid his own advice about things. Olga Karlatos and Clarence Williams III are excellent in their roles as the Kid’s troubled parents who are both abusive to each other in their own way as they represent the drawbacks the Kid might have as it relates to his own potential.

Apollonia Koteros is wonderful as Apollonia as an aspiring singer who falls for the Kid yet also catches the eye of Morris where she eventually takes up the latter’s idea to become a star only to realize what he is really all about. Morris Day is great as a variation of himself as this arrogant yet slick-lookin’ motherfucker who always wear expensive suits and always bring in the money as well as know as what it takes to make money and be successful. Finally, there’s Prince in a phenomenal performance as the Kid as this talented but troubled musician who has all the tools to be great but is filled with personal demons as it relates to his parents as well as his own selfishness as it relates to his music where he’s not able to really do more to make himself as great as he really is.

Purple Rain is a sensational film from Albert Magnoli that features an incredible performance from Prince. It’s a film that is really fun from start to finish as well as feature incredible music from Prince & the Revolution and the always cool Morris Day and the Time along with moments that are funny and intense. In the end, Purple Rain is a phenomenal film from Albert Magnoli.

Related: Prince Tribute

Prince Films: (Under the Cherry Moon) - (Sign “O” the Times) - (Graffiti Bridge)

© thevoid99 2016