Thursday, August 31, 2017

Films That I Saw: August 2017

This has been a crazy summer as so much happened in August as it relates to what is happening here in the U.S. as well as the world that it’s hard not to see what is going on. Here in America, it’s just fucked-up over what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia and right now with the hurricane rampaging over Texas with Houston being flooded. As much as people want to escape from what is happening, it’s just impossible as the moron who is supposed to lead our country is more concerned about pardoning a racist sheriff, building a fucking wall, attacking the media over claims that they’re biased, insulting politicians and people in his administration, and all sorts of shit. The chaos that is happening also in Venezuela, the terrorist attack in Barcelona, and the idea that North Korea might shoot down a missile on all of us is fucking scary.

It has made it harder to watch films as you have to turn on CNN or MSNBC to see what is going on. Even YouTube, Twitter, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Echoing the Sounds forum has been my source for news as I try to find some form of truth in journalism and not some fake news bullshit. Especially at the Echoing the Sounds forum as a lot of us NIN fans don’t like the Grand Wizard of the United States of America as we all try to have civil discussions but unfortunately, there are those that just want to antagonize us. We’ve banned them not because we don’t share their views but it’s for the fact that they’re saying things that are very dangerous and don’t respect anyone. It is things like this that makes me wonder what we’ve done ourselves to humanity to become so divisive yet there are reminders that even in the worst of times. There are moments of good and hope such as the fact despite what is happening in Houston and parts of Texas, there are people doing whatever they can to help each other. 

In the month of August, I saw a total of 36 films in 23 first-timers and 13 re-watches. Slightly up from last month as I felt I saw a lot in a month that was quite crazy. The highlight of the month was definitely my Blind Spot assignment in The Lady Eve. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for August 2017:

1. Until the End of the World

2. Elle

3. The King of Comedy

4. Tokyo Twilight

5. Hell or High Water

6. Gloria

7. Son of Rambow

8. Julieta

9. Identification of a Woman

10. The Red Turtle

Monthly Mini-Reviews:

George Best: All By Himself

One of two episodes of the 30 for 30 series that I watched this month as the first is about the rise and tragic fall of one of the finest players for England that never played a World Cup. In the 1960s, there was no star as big as Northern Ireland's George Best but his consumption of alcohol would be his downfall as he struggled throughout the 1970s to stay clean where he would play in three teams for the short-lived North American Soccer League in the late 70s and early 80s only to suffer through alcoholism. It’s a great film for those who love soccer as well a cautionary tale of what happens when success can become overwhelming.

Brothers in Exile

The second 30 for 30 doc that I watched revolved around the half-brothers Livan and Orlando Hernandez as two men from Cuba who were considered the best in the game for the country but were oppressed by what was happening to Cuba in the 1990s. Both brothers would fled separately from the country in different periods of time as they would struggle with being in the major leagues early on but eventually find success as well as personal happiness in having their family eventually come to live with them in the U.S.

The Bronze

Starring and co-written by Melissa Rauch is a funny comedy about a bronze-medalist gymnast trying to latch on to the last minutes of her 15 minutes of fame by reluctantly becoming a coach for a local gymnast. It’s a very raunchy film that has Rauch be naughty and profane while she’s joined by a great ensemble in Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, Cicely Tyson, and Haley Lu Richardson as it play into what it takes to be a gymnastic star.

2036: Nexus Dawn

A prequel to the upcoming Blade Runner 2049 is the first of a trilogy of short films devoted to the film as the first part is directed by Luke Scott. Starring Benedict Wong and Jared Leto with the latter given a proper introduction. It’s a short that is quite chilling where Wong’s character is someone that is trying to stop replicants from emerging yet it is Leto’s character who brings along a replicant and with very scary results.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

2. Trading Places

3. Nocturnal Animals

4. You Only Live Twice

5. Ghost

6. Ant-Man

7. Never Say Never Again

8. Spy Kids

9. Rush Hour 2

10. Hereafter

Well, that is all for August. I have no clue what I’m going to do for September other than the films in my never-ending DVR list. I’m not sure if I’ll be doing some theatrical releases but I do hope to see something like mother! by Darren Aronofsky and films that are in my local library including a Blind Spot. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off.

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday Movie Picks (TV Edition): High School

For the fifth and final week of August 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We go into the world of television revolving around shows set in high schools. Shows that would give children the idea of what high school was like and the struggles they would get into. Unfortunately for those of us who lived through high school, some of those shows presented a very false reality. Here are my three picks:

1. Saved by the Bell

Originally began as a show starring Hayley Mills for the Disney Channel set in middle school, it would become this popular show that was big in the early 1990s on NBC’s Saturday morning program. It is about six kids spending their time in a high school in California as you had the cool troublemaker, the straight-A student addicted to speed, a cheerleader, a fashionista, a jock who might be gay, and a geek named Screech. It had moments that are funny though its depiction of real-life issues about drugs, alcohol, and all sorts of things just make the show very heavy-handed.

2. Beverly Hills 90210

This is a big guilty pleasure for me as I had a thing for Jennie Garth who is still a fine-looking woman. The first few seasons revolved around kids at a high school in Beverly Hills with two of them in siblings from Minnesota who befriends some rich kids as they become part of this circle of friends that also includes a geeky kid and a Jewish nerd who doesn’t live around Beverly Hills. It was a good show that I personally thought improved when Shannen Doherty was replaced by Tiffani-Amber Thiessen who was far more interesting. Then it went off the rails for some odd reason after college and just became shit.

3. Freaks & Geeks

Now this is a show that came out the year after I had finished high school and never saw it until years later as I wondered why the fuck did this show never existed when I was in high school and why did it get canceled after one season? Though it’s set in the late 70s and early 80s, it is this show that is more about misfits who don’t fit in with certain cliques as well as struggle with growing pains. Even though it’s presented in a comedy, there’s elements in the show that really played into truths about the struggle to fit in, to try and be cool, and to do right in school. Probably why it only lasted a season is because NBC found it to be too real and couldn’t deal with it which is a shame though the fact that it’s being discovered years later as this overlooked gem makes the show even more special.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Gloria (2013 film)

Directed by Sebastian Lelio and written by Lelio and Gonzalo Maza, Gloria is the story of a 58-year old divorcee who is trying to start a new life after marriage as she meets and falls for a man slightly older than her. It’s a film that explores a woman trying to start her life over as well as take part in a relationship with a man who wants to be with her but has attachments towards his own family. Starring Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez, Diego Fontecilla, Fabiola Zamora, Alejandro Goic, and Coca Guazzini. Gloria is an evocative and compelling film from Sebastian Lelio.

The film follows the titular character (Paulina Garcia) who has been divorced for years and is nearing toward her 60s as she is trying to socialize while working and visit her two adult children. It’s a film that explores a woman trying to take the next step of her life where she would meet a man who is older than her as they would embark on a relationship but is often troubled by his needy family whom he’s divorced from. The film’s screenplay by Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza would follow Gloria as she is just trying to find someone to be with in her life as her two adult children are already having families of their own as her visits are welcoming despite the little time they have for her. When she meets Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez) at a club that is often attended by people in her age group as they would get to know each other and begin a relationship. It’s a moment that would give Gloria something she needs in her life as she has to contend with a noisy neighbor who lives above her apartment as well as the fact that she’s getting older and is dealing with glaucoma.

In her time with Rodolfo, she wonders why he hasn’t said anything about her to his two daughters and his ex-wife as it causes confusion where she would invite him to a birthday party for her son Pedro (Diego Fontecilla) which is also attended by her daughter Ana (Fabiola Zamora), her ex-husband Daniel (Alejandro Goic), and his new wife Luz (Coca Guazzini). It’s a moment during the second act where Gloria realizes Rodolfo’s own big flaw as he isn’t just his devotion to his family but also in not telling Gloria about it. He tries to make up for it in the film’s third act for an outing with just the two of them but it becomes clear that Gloria’s need for companionship is much harder to get as it relates to Rodolfo and his family who aren’t able to take care of themselves.

Lelio’s direction is definitely straightforward in a lot of ways to explore the life of this woman trying to start the next stage of her life. Shot on various locations around Santiago, Chile as well as the Vina del Mar for the film’s third act, Lelio would definitely create something intimate to follow Gloria throughout the course of her journey as the film begins with her at a discotheque which is filled with middle-aged attendees dancing to disco, salsa, or anything they can dance to. It’s a place where Gloria could feel young though she feels old at the same time considering the people who are there as Lelio would use medium shots and close-ups for these scenes as well as scenes of Gloria at her home or with Rodolfo. While there are a few wide shots in the film that include a shot of a student protest in the background as Gloria is walking on the streets of Santiago in the foreground. It all play into Gloria feeling sort of detached from what Chile is becoming as she would talk with friends who don’t fit in with the values of today’s youth though they’re aware of what they can contribute.

Still, Lelio would follow Gloria in her need for companionship as there are moments of intense sexuality between her and Rodolfo as it play into their desperation to be together without any distractions. Especially in the third act at Vina del Mar where Gloria and Rodolfo are having their time with each other but it’s the latter that has become a problem forcing Gloria to see if there is a future for herself and Rodolfo. It forces her to see the reality of her life which she is aware of but also the flaws in Rodolfo in being there for a family that is always attached to him. Overall, Lelio creates a mesmerizing yet intriguing film about a 58-year old woman’s desire to find companionship to cope with her lonely life.

Cinematographer Benjamin Echazarreta does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography for the way the discotheque is presented with its lights as well as some of the interiors of the hotel/casino at Vina del Mar and for some of the scenes shot at night. Editors Sebastian Lelio and Soledad Salfate do excellent work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts to play into some of the dramatic moments as well as straight cuts to play into some of the conversations between Gloria and Rodolfo. Production designer Marcela Urivi and art director Marcela Uribi do fantastic work with the look of the apartment home that Gloria lives in as well as some of the places she goes including the discotheque.

Costume designer Eduardo Castro does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual with a few designer-like clothes that Gloria would wear for a night out on the town. Sound editor David Mantecon does superb work with the sound as it play into some of the places the characters go to including the sound of the apartment noises from Gloria’s neighbor. Music supervisor Juan Ignacio Correa does wonderful work with the film’s soundtrack as a lot of the music in the film is played on locations as it is a mixture of disco, pop, classical, salsa, and world music as it include music from Donna Summers, Umberto Tozzi, Adan Jodorowsky, Gustav Mahler, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The casting by Moira Miller is terrific as it feature some notable small roles from Luz Jimenez as Gloria’s part-time housemaid Victoria, Eyal Meyer as Ana’s Swedish boyfriend Theo, Coca Guazzini as Daniel’s new wife Luz, Alejandro Goic as Gloria’s ex-husband Daniel, Fabiola Zamora as Gloria’s yoga-instructor daughter Ana, and Diego Fontecilla as Gloria’s son Pedro. Sergio Hernandez is amazing as Rodolfo as a former naval officer who is coping with the divorce of his wife and his desire for freedom from his adult daughters as he falls for Gloria but he is troubled by the fact that his ex-wife and daughters need him constantly. Finally, there’s Paulina Garcia in an incredible performance as the titular character as a 58-year old woman who is trying to find companionship as she’s approaching the age where she can be called a senior citizen as it’s a very graceful and restrained performance as well as filled with some sensuality as someone who still has something to offer as it is truly a great performance.

Gloria is a phenomenal film from Sebastian Lelio that features Paulina Garcia in a tremendous performance in the titular role. Along with a great supporting cast, a captivating story on aging, loneliness, and companionship plus a fun music soundtrack. It’s a film that explore what a woman will do to remain as vital in her old age proving that age is nothing but a number. In the end, Gloria is a sensational film from Sebastian Lelio.

Sebastian Lelio Films: (The Sacred Family) - (Christmas (2009 film)) - (The Year of the Tiger) - A Fantastic Woman - (Disobedience (2017 film)) - (Gloria Bell)

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017


Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Tetro is the story of a reunion between brothers in Argentina as they deal with their dysfunctional family as well as the expectations to become geniuses. Told in a film-noir style, the film is an exploration of family dealing with the past and brothers trying to get away from the shadow of their composer father. Starring Vincent Gallo, Alden Ehrenreich, Maribel Verdu, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Rodrigo de la Serna, and Carmen Maura. Tetro is a ravishing and provocative film from Francis Ford Coppola.

The film follows a reunion between two brothers in Buenos Aires where they deal with the direction their lives had been in as well as being estranged from their renowned composer father who had made it hard for one of the brothers to succeed as a writer. It’s a film that explores the expectations of a family and the rivalries that was put upon for generations of families to succeed and outdo the previous generation as these two brothers not only deal with the past but also their own relationship. Francis Ford Coppola’s screenplay follow the lives of these two brothers as the 18-year old Bennie Tetrocini (Alden Ehrenreich) arrives to Buenos Aires having learned his older brother in Angelo (Vincent Gallo) has been living there for years under a new name in Tetro where he lives with a former nurse in Miranda (Maribel Verdu) he met when he was hospitalized.

The script showcase the tension between the brothers who hadn’t seen each other in years as Tetro was poised to become this great writer but went insane as he prefers to do lighting for a local theatre. Bennie has heard about a book that Tetro had been trying to write but it is believed to be gone until Bennie found it as it was written in code as it would prompt him to try and fix it while giving Tetro credit. Tetro doesn’t know what Bennie has discovered during the film’s first half as he has a hard time dealing with Bennie’s presence as well as news about their father Carlo Tetrocini (Klaus Maria Brandauer) who is rumored to be ill but Tetro wants to hear nothing about his father. The film’s second half revolves around what Bennie is creating as well as what he does to Tetro’s work which is based on Tetro’s own life as a child which includes the death of his mother and how he lost his girlfriend to his father who would eventually become Bennie’s mother.

Coppola’s direction is definitely stylish for not just setting the film almost entirely in Buenos Aires and shoot much of it in black-and-white in a film-noir visual style. It’s also for the fact that he gives the film a tone that does look like a film from the past though it’s set in modern-day Argentina. While Coppola would use some wide shots for some of the locations, many of his compositions rely on style in the way he would put his actors into a frame or to focus on a certain object on a table as it play into this world that is quite surreal but also entrancing. Much of the film is shot in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio yet Coppola would shoot some flashbacks relating to Tetro’s early life in a different aspect ratio as well as being presented in a colorful yet straightforward photography style. It would play into a world that felt normal but also unsettling as Tetro would reflect on these moments with sadness and anger. The usage of color photography would play into surreal yet theatrical sequences as it would reimagine a few things in Tetro’s life as well as Bennie’s own interpretations of these events during the third act. The sequences are obviously inspired by the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffmann as they’re both referenced in a scene.

The direction also has Coppola use some unique camera angles for some scenes as well as create something that is playful in the way Bennie reacts toward some of his surroundings. Especially as Coppola would create something where it is obvious where it’s going but it’s more about the aftermath as well as everything Tetro and Bennie had been through. Coppola’s wide and medium shots would capture so much as well as some of the plays that are presented including an offbeat take on Faust to show a world that Tetro is reluctant to be involved in while Bennie knows he can contribute to that world. Notably as he would have a chance for him and Tetro to get out of the large shadow cast by their father in the hope that the next generation of Tetrocini would make something of their own and not give in to expectations. Overall, Coppola creates a rapturous film about two brothers reuniting to deal with the massive expectations of their artistic family.

Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. does incredible work with the film’s cinematography from the noir-like black-and-white photography style for much of the film with its rich approach to light and shadows to the more colorful look of the flashback scenes. Editor Walter Murch does excellent work with the editing as it is stylized with its approach to jump-cuts and other cutting styles to play into the offbeat yet entrancing tone of the film. Production designer Sebastian Orgambide, with set decorator Paulina Lopez Meyer and art director Federico Garcia Cambero, does brilliant work with the look of Tetro’s apartment that he shares with Miranda as well as the stage sets for the plays that Tetro is lighting.

Costume designer Cecilia Monti does fantastic work with the costumes from the clothes worn for the play as well as some of the clothes the characters would wear at social gatherings. Visual effects supervisors Ryan Bozajian and Viktor Muller do superb work with the visual effects as it relates to a few scenes for some of the exteriors as well as the fantasy-play scenes. Sound editor Juan Ferro does amazing work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the some of the locations as well as the sound effects in the play and other aspects in the fantasy scenes. The film’s music by Osvaldo Golijov is phenomenal for its mixture of Argentine tango and folk music with some orchestral elements as it play into the world of Argentina while the music soundtrack would also include some classical and opera music that play into Tetro’s past.

The casting by Walter Rippel is great as it feature some notable small roles from TV talk show host Susana Gimenez as herself, Francesca De Sapio as Tetro and Bennie’s sister Amalia, Ximena Maria Iacono as Bennie’s mother Naomi from a flashback, Lucas Di Conza as the young Tetro, Adriana Mastrangelo as Tetro’s mother, Erica Rivas as Jose’s girlfriend Ana, and Mike Amigorena as the theater director Abelrado as someone Tetro somewhat despises for actually being successful in creating mediocre plays. Rodrigo de la Serna is superb as the theater owner Jose who is a friend of Tetro as he tries to ensure that Tetro doesn’t cause any trouble while Leticia Bredice is wonderful as the actress Josefina as someone who if full of life and charm as she is also Jose’s lover. Sofia Gala is terrific as Josefina’s niece Maria Luisa who would take part in Bennie’s play as she would also become his lover later in the film. Carmen Maura is excellent as the famed art critic known as Alone as this enigmatic woman whose opinion matters as she was a mentor to Tetro as she is someone that looks and feels important as it’s just a fun performance from Maura.

Klaus Maria Brandauer is fantastic in a dual role as Bennie and Tetro’s father Carlo Tetrocini and their uncle Alfie as Brandauer provides this sense of importance and bravado as Carlo as a man who is this great composer while Brandauer provides a more low-key performance as Carlo’s twin brother Alfie. Maribel Verdu is amazing as Miranda as a former nurse who is Tetro’s girlfriend as Verdu provides a maternal warmth towards Bennie as well as being someone who is aware of the secrets Tetro is hiding but knows when she needs to step in. Alden Ehrenreich is brilliant as Bennie as an 18-year old cruise waiter who arrives to Buenos Aires to meet his estranged brother as he would try to learn about why his brother disappeared while learning more about his family and the book that his brother never finished. Finally, there’s Vincent Gallo in an incredible performance as the titular character as this once-promising writer who succumbed to madness as he is trying to stray from that life while carrying some dark family secrets where Gallo displays this sense of anguish in him while not being afraid to be unlikeable.

Tetro is a spectacular film from Francis Ford Coppola that feature great performances from Vincent Gallo, Alden Ehrenreich, and Maribel Verdu. Along with its gorgeous cinematography, top-notch art direction, sumptuous music score, and a compelling story on family legacies and the shadows cast by previous generations. It’s a film that showcases two men trying to re-forge their bond as brothers and deal with the troubled legacy of their family. In the end, Tetro is a sensational film from Francis Ford Coppola.

Francis Ford Coppola Films: (Tonight for Sure) – (The Bellboy and the Playgirls) – Dementia 13 - (You’re a Big Boy Now) – (Finian’s Rainbow) – (The Rain People) – The Godfather - The Conversation - The Godfather Pt. II - Apocalypse Now/Apocalypse Now Redux - One from the Heart - The OutsidersRumble Fish - The Cotton Club – (Peggy Sue Got Married) – (Garden of Stone) – (Tucker: The Man & His Dreams) – New York Stories-Life Without Zoe - The Godfather Pt. III - Bram Stoker's Dracula - (Jack) – (The Rainmaker) – (Youth Without Youth) – (Twixt)

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Red Turtle

Directed and designed by Michael Dudok de Wit and written by de Wit and Pascale Ferran, La Tortue Rouge (The Red Turtle) is the story of a man who gets shipwrecked onto a desert island and finds a companion in a gigantic red turtle. The film is an animated feature with no dialogue as it play into the emphasis on storytelling through images and music. La Tortue Rouge is a gorgeous and evocative film from Michael Dudok de Wit.

The film is a simple story of a man who is washed ashore on a deserted island as he tries to leave only to end up being stranded where he encounters a gigantic red turtle who would change his life. It’s a film with a simple story as it plays into a man dealing with being stuck on an island as he tries to leave the island while trying to get to know his surroundings. Especially as the island is filled with an oasis, bamboo trees, tiny crabs, and all sorts of things as his encounter with this red turtle would mark a major change for this man. The film’s screenplay by Michael Dudok de Wit and Pascale Ferran from de Wit’s story contains no dialogue other than a few screams as it is more about this man on an island trying to survive as he would eventually something more in the course of the film.

The direction of de Wit is definitely beautiful in the way he presents the look of the sea, the island, and the creature. Also serving as the film’s production designer and animation director, de Wit would go into every detail of how everything would look including some of the stranger moments in the film. While there are voice actors who would do some of the screams for the characters in the film, there is never a word of dialogue heard other than “hey”. The direction would have de Wit use a lot of wide and medium shots for much of the imagery he would create throughout the film as a lot of it is hand-drawn animation which does have something that is quite rich in the detailing of how everything look including the bamboo forest and the design of the sea turtles. A sequence involving a tsunami is very intense in how de Wit would build up this event very slowly and have it unfold to play into life on a deserted island. Still, de Wit would show how a man would overcome that and maintain a life in this island. Overall, de Wit creates an enchanting and rapturous film about a man stranded on a deserted island with a red sea turtle.

Editor Celine Kelepikis does excellent work with the editing in emphasizing on some straightforward cuts to play into some of the drama and dream-like moments. Visual effects supervisor Mouloud Oussid does nice work with visual effects as it play into a few sequences to make it dream-like. Sound editor Sebastian Marquilly does brilliant work with the sound as it play into the sound of the oceans and parts of the island as well as the natural sounds of the creatures on the sea and the island. The film’s music by Laurent Perez de Mar is amazing as it is this somber score filled with orchestral textures in the strings and woodwinds to play into the drama.

La Tortue Rouge is a phenomenal film from Michael Dudok de Wit. It is a very simple yet entrancing animated film that manages to provide so much with very little in a film that is beautiful but also has a very engaging story. In the end, La Tortue Rouge is a sensational film from Michael Dudok de Wit.

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Son of Rambow

Written and directed by Garth Jennings, Son of Rambow is the story of two British schoolboys who spend their summer trying to make their own version of the Rambo movies seeing after First Blood. It’s a coming-of-age film that mixes fantasy and reality as it explore two boys trying to create something during the era of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Starring Bill Milner, Will Poulter, Jules Sitruk, Jessica Stevenson, Neil Dudgeon, Anna Wing, and Ed Westwick. Son of Rambow is an imaginative and enchanting film from Garth Jennings.

The film follows a schoolboy from a religious family who meets a troubled boy at school where the two become friends where the latter takes him to his house as the former would see a bootlegged copy of First Blood for the very first time prompting the two to make their own Rambo movie. It’s a film that explore two boys who make a film for an upcoming contest during the course of the summer while they spend time in school where they both deal with their different backgrounds. Especially as the school is being host for a group of French exchange students where one of them would take part in the film project. Garth Jennings’ screenplay show the differing lives of the two boys in Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) and Lee Carter (Will Poulter) as the former is from a religious family that is very strict as Will is unable to watch television, listen to pop music, or do anything that could cause trouble among his brethren.

Lee is a boy from a mid-upper class family that runs a retirement home as he is constantly bullied and neglected by his older brother Lawrence (Ed Westwick) who prefers to spend time with his friends while his mother is away in Spain. The script would play into the two boys trying to make the film as they would bond during the course of everything as Will would deal with the fact that he’s got obligations by his brethren where he lives mainly with his mother, grandmother, and younger sister who are often visited by one of its key members in Brother Joshua (Neil Dudgeon). Though the film that Will and Lee create is just for them, Will’s sketchbook gets the attention of other students including a French exchange student in Didier (Jules Sitruk) who wants to participate as he and other students become involved much to Lee’s dismay as he was the film’s original director. Even as he feels neglected by Will who feels like he’s part of something much livelier in comparison to his strict upbringing with Lee still feeling like an outsider.

Jennings’ direction is definitely stylish in terms of not just the compositions he creates but also for its setting in the 1980s at a time when video equipment was becoming available to the public as well as an influx of music and film being available. Shot on location in Berkhamsted in Britain, the film does play into this idea of a small town nearby farmland but adjusting to modernist things such as cinemas. It’s a world that Will isn’t part of as Jennings establishes the world that Will is in with this amazing opening shot of him reciting scriptures from the bible in front of a cinema with all of these people from the brethren behind him in this gorgeous medium-wide shot. While much of Jennings’ compositions are simple, he would infuse it with some elements of imagination as it is largely told through the eyes of children who would see things that adults can’t. There are elements of animation in some parts of the film courtesy of Jennings as well as these scenes which is shot on video to play into something that does feel like a home movie but also has an element of joy into what these boys are creating.

Jennings’ direction also create something that is a bit of fantasy as the subplot relating to Didier shows someone who dresses very differently from everyone as many of the British kids who follow thinks he is the coolest person in school. Especially as there’s girls who line-up just to kiss him as it is quite comical as he feels more alive when he becomes part of the movie Will and Lee is creating with the latter feeling annoyed. Jennings would create something that has an air of whimsy which does play into this new world that Will is in as it is freeing and filled with spontaneity as opposed to something that is oppressive in his home life. The compositions at Will’s home life are more controlled with little bits of color to play the struggle that is looming as in scenes at Lee’s house which is posh but unruly due to the lack of adult supervision. All of which play into these two boys using someone like Rambo as an inspiration to escape the dreariness of their home lives for something much better. Overall, Jennings creates an evocative yet wondrous film about two British schoolboys making their own film inspired by Rambo.

Cinematographer Jess Hall does excellent work with the film’s colorful cinematography in creating different lighting moods for the different homes of Will and Lee as well as the grainy look of the video footage with some crude lighting that add to the charm of the home movies. Editor Dominic Leung does brilliant work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts and other stylish cuts play into the humor and the energy that is prevalent throughout the film. Production designer Joel Collins, with set decorator Sara Neighbour and art director Robyn Paiba, does amazing work with the look of the sets from the design of the scarecrow to the look of the houses and places the characters go to. Costume designer Harriet Cawley does fantastic work with the look of the costumes the boys wear for their film as well as the clothes of Didier that is very stylish to play into the look of what was cool during the 1980s.

Makeup designer Nathalie Tissier does nice work with the look of some of the kids in the kind of makeup that was fashionable in the 1980s. Visual effects supervisor Jon Hollis does terrific work with some of the visual effects in the way some of Will’s drawings come to life as well as some sequences that play into his fantasies. Sound editor Joseph Stracey does superb work with the sound in creating some unique sound effects for the movie Will and Lee are creating as well as how music is presented on location. The film’s music by Jody Talbot is wonderful for its playful score with its usage of percussions and electronic music to play into the sense of adventure inspired by 80s action films while music supervisors Mick Clark and Sue Crawshaw create a fun soundtrack filled with music from the 80s from acts and artists like Gary Numan, the Cure, Nu Shooz, Duran Duran, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Blondie, Fun Boy Three, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, the Real Roxanne, and the Human League.

The casting by Susie Figgis is great as it feature some notable small roles and cameo appearances from filmmaker Edgar Wright as a metal shop teacher, the Scottish band Travis as other teachers at the teacher’s lounge, Asa Butterfield as a young boy who is part of the brethren, Tallulah Evans as Will’s younger sister Jess, Zofia Brooks as a teenage student named Tina who falls for Didier, Charlie Thrift as a student named Duncan Miller who would accompany Didier into his new surroundings as well as be his best friend, Adam Godley as the leader of the brethren, and Anna Wing as Will’s silent grandmother who doesn’t say much but knows what Brother Joshua is up to. Neil Dudgeon is superb as Brother Joshua as member of the brethren who has been helping out Will’s mother as well as try to be a father figure to Will yet does it in a forceful way. Jules Sitruk is fantastic as the French exchange student Didier as a kid wearing fashionable clothes and hair who becomes very popular at the school while wants to be in Will and Lee’s film to fulfill his desires as an actor.

Ed Westwick is excellent as Lee’s older brother Lawrence as a college kid who deals with having to take care of his younger brother as he prefers to hang out with friends and look cool while dealing with his mother’s absence. Jessica Stevenson is brilliant as Will’s mother Mary as a woman trying to make sure her son be good as she wonders why he hasn’t shown up for service as she becomes afraid of the path he’s taken. Bill Milner is incredible as Will Proudfoot as an 11-year old boy who discovers the movie First Blood as it opens a pathway to his imagination as Milner provides an energy and liveliness that is infectious to watch. Finally, there’s Will Poulter in a phenomenal performance as Lee Carter as a 13-year old troublemaker whose love of films has him wanting to make a movie to escape from his troubled life as Poulter provides that sense of angst but also anguish into the fact that he’s lonely and never had anyone to share his love for Rambo.

Son of Rambow is a spectacular film from Garth Jennings. Featuring a great cast, dazzling visuals, a cool soundtrack, and an engaging story, it’s a film that captures the sense of joy and imagination of two boys wanting to make their own version of their own hero in Rambo. In the end, Son of Rambow is a phenomenal film from Garth Jennings.

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Way of the Dragon

Written, directed, and starring Bruce Lee, Way of the Dragon is the story of a martial artist who travels to Rome to help out a young woman and her uncle in dealing with the mob who are trying to buy their restaurant. The film is a mixture of action and comedy as it features Lee being the hero who is out there to take names and kick some ass. Also starring Nora Maio, Hwang In-shik, Robert Wall, and Chuck Norris. Way of the Dragon is a thrilling and exciting film from Bruce Lee.

The film revolves around a man who travels from Hong Kong to Rome to help a woman who knows his uncle as she is trying to save a restaurant from a local mob syndicate. It’s a film with a simple story yet it plays into a man, who is an outsider, trying to protect others from China who just wants to run a Chinese restaurant in Rome but this mob wants the restaurant for their own reasons. Bruce Lee’s screenplay follows the character of Tang Lung (Bruce Lee) who arrives in Rome to help out at this restaurant as he would also meet this mob syndicate that is trying to buy and intimidate those working at the place. While some of the people working at the restaurant, who also do karate, aren’t convinced he can help them deal with the mob. They do realize how strong he is and what he can do as they’re willing to learn kung-fu instead of karate as a way to stand up against this syndicate. Even as Tang befriends Chen Ching-hua (Nora Miao) who would show him Rome while learning about the surroundings he’s in where the mob syndicate he’s dealing with are quite ruthless. Especially where they hire a man who is believed to be Tang’s equal.

Lee’s direction is quite stylish as it was shot on location in Rome, Italy where it does play into this sense of culture shock that Tang would endure early in the film. While Lee would use some wide shots to establish some of the locations, he would use mainly medium shots to play into some of the action as well as interaction with characters. Lee would make sure that there is a story to be told as he would also put in bits of comedy as it relates to Tang’s own awkwardness towards his surroundings as well as some of the action in the way the thugs are handled. The action is quite intense as it has elements of style with some suspense as its climax that is partially shot in the Roman Coliseum where Tang goes up against a man hired by the mob in Colt (Chuck Norris) is definitely the highlight of the film. Especially as Lee’s direction has him carefully create precise compositions and movement to showcase the fight in a calm yet gripping manner. Overall, Lee creates an exhilarating and intense film about a man fighting the mob to protect some people running a Chinese restaurant in Rome.

Cinematographer Tadashi Nishimoto does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is quite grainy due to its film stock yet does have some unique visuals in some of the scenes at night as well as the climatic fight scene between Tang and Colt. Editor Peter Cheung does nice work with the editing as it is mostly straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for some of the fight and action scenes. Art director Hsin Chien does terrific work with the look of the restaurant as well as some of the interior design of the Coliseum in some parts and the home of the mob syndicate. Sound recordist Shao Lung Chou does superb work with the sound as it play into some of the natural elements of the location with some sound effects for the action. The film’s music by Joseph Koo is wonderful for its playful score that feature some woodwinds, strings, and other instruments that add to the humor and action.

The film’s brilliant cast feature some notable small roles from Malisa Longo as an Italian beauty trying to woo Tang, the quartet of Robert Chan, Tommy Chen, Unicorn Chan, and Tony Liu as restaurant workers who also do karate as they help Tang in fighting off the thugs, John T. Benn as the mafia boss, Chin Ti as a waiter of the restaurant in Quen who knows Tang back in Hong Kong, and Paul Wei as the mob boss’ slimy consigliere Ho. Hwang In-Shik and Robert Wall are terrific as two hired martial arts expert sent by the mob to try and stop Tang while Wang Chung-hsin is superb as Chen’s uncle Wang who is trying to run the restaurant and not cause trouble. Nora Miao is wonderful as Chen Ching-hua as a restaurant owner who turns to Tang for help as she also tries to understand why he is so disciplined and quiet unless he fights.

Chuck Norris is incredible as Colt as this American martial artist who is hired by the mob to deal with Tang as he would prove to be Tang’s greatest challenge as Norris doesn’t say much but manages to make a hell of an impression. Finally, there’s Bruce Lee in a marvelous performance as Tang Lung as a loner who arrives to help out and deal with mob syndicate as Lee provides some elements of comedy in his restrained performance while balancing that with his intense approach to kung fu as it’s one of Lee’s iconic performances.

Way of the Dragon is a remarkable film from Bruce Lee that features a great performance from Lee and a phenomenal appearance from Chuck Norris. Along with its simple yet engaging story and high-octane action, the film is definitely a fun martial-arts film that does what it needs to do. In the end, Way of the Dragon is an incredible film from Bruce Lee.

Related: The Big Boss - Fist of Fury - Enter the Dragon - Game of Death

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Stage

For the fourth week of August 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We go into films revolving in or around the stage whether it’s about a play being set on the stage or the stories of what is happening in and around the stage. Here are my three picks:

1. The Last Metro

From the late, great Francois Truffaut comes one of his last great achievements in cinema set during Nazi-occupied France in World War II. While it is about a woman hiding her Jewish husband in a theater, it does revolve mainly around Catherine Deneuve’s character to try and keep the theater by staging a play where Denueve’s character falls for one of the new actors in company played by Gerard Depardieu. It’s a film filled with elements of humor and drama as it is one of Truffaut’s great films which is also complimented by the gorgeous cinematography of the late, great Nestor Almendros.

2. A Prairie Home Companion

Robert Altman’s final film is definitely a quintessential Altman film in terms of its broad ensemble cast, overlapping dialogue, and sense of looseness that happens throughout the film. It is all set in Garrison Keiller’s real-life radio show as it revolves around a final broadcast and stage performance as the theater is about to become a parking lot. Yet, there is a lot of craziness that ensue thanks in part to an incredible ensemble cast as well as moments that are touching as well as being very funny. After all, it is a film about death and since it was Altman’s final film. At least he and the people at Keiller’s show would go out in style.

3. Me and Orson Welles

One of the most overlooked films of the last decade comes in what is truly a gem from Richard Linklater as it revolves around Orson Welles in his days as a playwright. Set in the late 1930s, the film is about a young man who meets Welles as he would work and eventually take a small part in Welles’ production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The film takes place in the span of a week as it features Zac Efron as 17-year old high school student who is fascinated by Welles who is played with such charisma by Christian McKay. It is a tremendous film that explore what goes on in the theater as why rehearsals are important as it requires so much attention as Linklater definitely captures the spirit of Welles as an artist.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

2017 Blind Spot Series: The Lady Eve

Based on the story Two Bad Hats by Monckton Hoffe, The Lady Eve is the story of a con artist who boards an ocean liner to con a rich heir only to fall for him. Written for the screen and directed by Preston Sturges, the film is a screwball comedy that is set in an ocean liner where a woman is torn in her feelings for this heir as well as doing the job. Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, Martha O’Driscoll, Melville Cooper, William Demarest, Janet Beecher, and Eric Blore. The Lady Eve is a whimsical and delightful film from Preston Sturges.

The film follows a woman who is part of a trio of con artists with her father and a friend of her father’s as they target the heir of a popular ale brewery who is socially-awkward due to his fascination for snakes rather than women. It’s a film with a simple story as it explore a woman pretending to fall in love with this man only for things to not go her way as she becomes conflicted in her feelings to do her job as well as falling for him. Preston Sturges’ screenplay explores not just who Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) is as this man that just arrived from South America to an ocean liner in carrying a rare snake. He’s also this man who is quite na├»ve and shy around women until a woman accidentally trips him in Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) who woos him as she is really targeting him for his money. Jean pretends to be a rich woman with her father (Charles Coburn) pretending to be a colonel yet Pike is accompanied by his minder/valet Muggsy (William Demarest) who is suspicious towards Jean and her father.

Sturges’ script would be filled with some stylish dialogue that is very playful as well as carry the story as much of the first is about Pike’s attraction to Harrington as well as the growing conflict in Harrington as she is on the ship. The film’s first half mainly takes place on the ocean liner from South America to New York City as the second half takes place in parts of the city as well as the countryside where Pike lives with his rich father Horace (Eugene Pallette). It is where the film takes a bit of a change in tone where it would become funnier once Harrington would take part in another con game as it becomes something extremely comical with Pike being the cuckold all of a sudden.

Sturges’ direction definitely has some elements of style though much of the compositions he creates in the film are quite straightforward. Shot mainly in soundstages, Sturges would play into some of the light-hearted moments that goes on throughout the film as he would use some wide shots for scenes involving big crowds or for a party scene during its third act. Yet, he would emphasize mainly on medium shots with some close-ups to play into the moments between Pike and Harrington as they get to know each other or be involved in something comical. Sturges would also allow these scenes to play out in a few minutes for some shots so that it can focus on the actors reciting dialogue and not show too much or cut immediately during a conversation. For the film’s third act revolving around a party, Sturges would create gags that are very inventive as he knows where to show the joke and moments that do bring in big laughs. Especially as it relates to Pike dealing with the situation he’s in as it relates to Harrington as well as the con he is being roped into with Harrington becoming more torn over her love for Pike. Overall, Sturges creates a witty yet heartfelt film about a beautiful con artist falling for her mark in a socially-awkward ale brewery heir.

Cinematographer Victor Milner does excellent work with the film’s black-and-white photography in the usage of lights for many of the interior scenes including the party scene in the third act. Editor Stuart Gilmore does brilliant work with the editing as it is very straightforward in playing up to the humor and some of the dramatic moments it would use some rhythmic cuts for some of the funnier moments of the film. Art directors Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegte do fantastic work with the look of the sets such as the dining room in the ocean liner to the interiors at the Pike family mansion.

The costumes of Edith Head does amazing work with the look of the suits that Pike wears as well as the dresses and gowns of Harrington. The sound work of Harry Lindgren and Don Johnson do terrific work with the sound as it is quite straightforward with the exception of a few created sounds for the ship and cars. The musical direction of Sigmund Krumgold is wonderful as it features an array of music from different composers as the music ranges from some light-hearted orchestral pieces to bits of jazz and the pop music of the times.

The casting by Robert Mayo is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Luis Alberni as Pike’s chef, Robert Grieg as Pike’s butler, Martha O’Driscoll as Pike’s maid, Janet Beecher as Pike’s mother, Melville Cooper as Mr. Harrington’s associate Gerald, and Eric Blore as a fellow con artist who claims to be a royal in Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith. William Demarest is superb as Pike’s minder/valet Muggsy as a man whose job is to watch out for Pike as he is suspicious about Harrington and her father as he provides some very funny moments. Eugene Pallette is terrific as Pike’s father Horace as a man that is trying to make sure his son finds the right woman while providing some big laughs such as a scene about the whereabouts of his breakfast.

Charles Coburn is fantastic as Mr. Harrington as a man pretending to be a colonel in an attempt to swindle Pike from his money as he wonders what his daughter is doing being aware of her own internal conflict. Finally, there’s the duo of Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Charles Pikes and Jean Harrington. Fonda provides this very low-key approach to his performance as someone that is quite shy and awkward where it his reactions that are funny while he proves to be adept in performing physical stunts. Stanwyck’s performance exudes charm as she says some of the funniest lines as well as be quite seductive and cool where she is a joy to watch. Fonda and Stanwyck together display have some great chemistry and comic timing as they are the highlights of the film.

The Lady Eve is a spectacular film from Preston Sturges that features incredible performances from Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. Along with its witty script, dazzling comic sequences, and top-notch visuals, it’s a film that is a fun romantic comedy that play with the conventions while providing moments that are funny. In the end, The Lady Eve is a rapturous film from Preston Sturges.

Preston Sturges Films: (The Great McGinty) – (Christmas in July) – Sullivan's Travels - (The Palm Beach Story) – (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek) – (Hail the Conquering Hero) – (The Great Moment) – (The Sin of Harold Diddlebock) – (Unfaithfully Yours) – (The Beautiful Blond of Bashful Head) – (Vendetta (1950 film)) – (The French, They Are a Funny Race)

© thevoid99 2017