Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Films That I Saw: October 2017

Well, 2017 has definitely become a year that can be described as fucking insane. A shooting occurred in Las Vegas at a country music festival of all places where a bunch of people got killed. In Spain, there is this growing sense of division among the people at the Catalonia region that want to declare their independence. This month, we deal with the passing of Tom Petty and Fats Domino which has been pretty devastating while soldiers were killed in Niger as it’s been made worse that the GWOTUS has decided to insult the family of one of those soldiers who have passed. Yeah, this has been pretty fucking crazy as there’s also reports about sexual harassment and abuse in the film industry courtesy of Harvey Weinstein. I wasn’t surprised that Weinstein would do something like this but the number of women that he did it to is shocking and I really hope he gets a fucking ass-whooping for his actions.

In the month of October, I saw a total of 37 films in 25 first-timers and 12 re-watches. Same as last month but definitely one of the most fun I had in watching films due to immense quality of first-timers that I saw as it was all devoted to the genre of horror and suspense. One of the highlights this month was definitely my Blind Spot assignment in Rear Window which does make it difficult to create a list of these first-timers. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for October 2017:

1. Raw

2. Blade Runner 2049

3. The VVitch

4. Onibaba

5. The Babadook

6. Enemy

7. Jigoku

8. The Innocents

9. Lifeboat

10. Don't Breathe

Monthly Mini-Reviews

An Eye for Beauty

I definitely know the name of Denys Arcand as I’ve only seen one of his films in Stardom and do know about The Barbarian Invasions. This film however despite its visuals and a phenomenal performance from Melanie Thierry as a wife succumbing to depression. It’s a film that doesn’t really have much to offer as it’s about this architect from Montreal who falls for another woman in Toronto where he has an affair and tries to hide it from his wife only to deal with her depression. I found the protagonist to be uninteresting as I was more into some of the supporting cast that include Edith Scob and Marie-Josee Croze.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Though it does have a few funny moments, this is a film that is just mediocre. While it does feature some decent performances from Gal Gadot, Isla Fisher, and Jon Hamm, the script never really does anything to make it more interesting. It’s about this couple who learn their new neighbors are spies as it involves some kind of drug deal of sorts where it never really does more with its premise. Instead, it kind of rely on cheap gags and a climax that is quite bloated.

From Within

This was a lame horror film despite the fact that it features the likes of Adam Goldberg, Thomas Dekker, and Jared Harris. It revolves around a series of mysterious suicides relating to a small Christian community where everyone is very serious and the few outsiders who aren’t into Christianity are seen as Satanists. The film follows this young woman who starts to question her faith as it becomes increasingly troubled as she turns to an outsider and tries to figure out all of these suicides. It’s just dumb and filled with some over-the-top acting and a lot of caricatures that never really get fleshed out.

Top 10 Re-Watches:


2. Aliens

3. Die Hard

4. American Psycho

5. The Devil's Backbone

6. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

7. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

8. Beverly Hills Cop II

9. Toy Story of Terror!

10. Sign ‘o’ the Times

Well, that is it for October. Next month, I hope to see a few more theatrical releases in Thor: Ragnarok and Coco while my next Blind Spot assignment is definitely going to be John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley in which I will make a formal announcement about the Blind Spot Series for next year after I see the film. Along with some films on the never-ending DVR list, I hope to review some recent releases that are available at my local library. Until then, this is thevoid99 wishing everyone a Happy Halloween.

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

George Michael: Freedom

Directed by George Michael and David Austin, George Michael: Freedom is a documentary film about the life and career of the British singer who achieved fame as part of the pop duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley and later becoming a successful solo artist. Made largely in 2016 just before Michael’s shocking death on Christmas Day on that year with manager/friend David Austin completing the film. The film has Michael tell his own story through his own words with archival interviews and rare footage as well as testimonies from friends and musicians like Sir Elton John, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett, Liam Gallagher of Oasis, Nile Rodgers, and Mark Ronson as well as friends such as James Corden, Ricky Gervais, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, and Christy Turlington. The result is an engaging and evocative film from George Michael and David Austin.

With many films about artists who have passed, it’s often told from the perspective of those who knew that person or outsiders who had observed that person’s body of work. With George Michael just before his own untimely passing, he was fortunate to tell his own story through his own words as well as cultivating all of the footage of interviews and stuff he did in his lifetime as well as getting others to share their perspectives of the highs and lows he went through. The film mainly focuses on certain periods of his life such as his time in Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley where they didn’t take themselves very seriously in their approach to stardom. When the group split-up in 1986, it was a mutual decision as Michael knew that he had been yearning for solo stardom. When his solo debut album Faith was released in 1987, it was bigger than it expected to be as Michael admittedly felt overwhelmed by its massive success.

The film is broken into chapters as one devotes itself to his second album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, the third chapter is about meeting Anselmo Felepa in 1991 who would be the love his life, the fourth is about Michael’s fight with Sony, and the fifth is the release of his third album Older and the aftermath of his life and career. Much of Michael’s struggle with the success of Faith had to do with his struggle over the persona he created as he just wanted to be a normal person people would see in the neighborhood and spend time with his dog. In making Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 in which several artists like Liam Gallagher, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Elton John, and comedian James Corden all reveal their favorite bits on the album. Music executives from Sony in Britain talked about why Michael chose not to promote it as it had to do with him wanting to take a step back and just take some time off for himself. The people at Sony from the British and European division made the effort to promote the album for Michael which did extremely well but in America is where things soured.

The artists and British executives all felt that Michael was treated unfairly by the American division in Sony who stated that he was an artist for a certain demographic and had to cater to that demographic as well as do tours, music videos, and all sorts of things. Michael refused as the video for Freedom ’90 that was directed by David Fincher and featured supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, and Linda Evangelista lip-syncing the song was made with Michael’s involvement but it wasn’t enough for the American division at Sony. The film would unveil footage and testimonies from the British executives who felt that Michael’s suit against Sony was bad for all sides as they felt they let Michael down. Even though Michael would lose his lawsuit against Sony in 1994, many felt that Michael’s stand did help provide artists the chance to say something towards the record companies they were working for.

Many of the interviews were shot by cinematographer Graham Smith and recorded by sound recordist Julian Wilson under David Austin’s direction as they all give their testimonies as well as look at a vinyl record of Michael’s second album to listen to. Blige, Wonder, and Rodgers also discuss Michael’s love for soul music as they felt the criticism he received in the late 80s when Faith was big and winning awards in the R&B/Soul category was unfair when he was actually faithful to the genre. Michael, via audio, understands the criticism as it only added to the anxieties he was dealing during the tour for Faith. Editors Jerry Chater, Gene Limbrick, and Gwyn Moxham would cultivate the many footage and interviews in the film along with some rare home movie footage including Michael’s time with Felepa as well as some rare behind-the-scenes footage of a few music videos that were being made.

At the heart of the film is the music as it showcased how wide-ranging Michael was with the music whether it’s through pop, hip-hop, rock, soul, folk, jazz, and bossa-nova. It showed that gift he had for making great music as well as being someone who was able to create his own voice and legacy. At the same time, he never took himself seriously as he wasn’t afraid to make fun of himself as well as be generous to others. Overall, Michael created a film that showed who he was and not afraid to show his flaws with the help of his friend David Austin creating what was to be Michael’s final artistic piece.

George Michael: Freedom is a marvelous film from George Michael and David Austin. Featuring some entertaining rare footage and tidbits from friends, it’s a film that showcases one of the greatest singers that ever lived and why he made an impact in the world of popular music. In the end, George Michael: Freedom is a remarkable film from David Austin and the late, great George Michael.

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, October 29, 2017

American Psycho

Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho is the story of a yuppie whose vanity and need to conform has him embarking on a killing spree as he struggles with himself and his desires to succeed during the late 1980s. Directed by Mary Harron and screenplay by Harron and Guinevere Turner, the film is a study of a man trying to a rich yet unrealistic lifestyle as he would also kill in secret as a way to deal with troubled identity as the lead character of Patrick Bateman is played by Christian Bale. Also starring Chloe Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto, Samantha Mathis, Josh Lucas, Cara Seymour, Matt Ross, Justin Theroux, Guinevere Turner, and Willem Dafoe. American Psycho is an exhilarating yet insane film from Mary Harron.

The film follows an investment banker in Patrick Bateman who lives a life of luxury where he has a routine to maintain his lifestyle that includes having friends who are just as shallow as he is while is secretly harboring a need to kill people. It’s the study of a man who is becoming undone by things that are either threatening him or encountering something he absolutely despises. The film’s screenplay by Mary Harron and Guinevere Turner is told from Bateman’s perspective as he’s also the film’s narrator as this man that is quite vain and has this routine in what he needs to do to keep himself in shape and not age. At the same time, he has this desire to succeed but he always feel like there is someone to upstage him in this position of power and he has to act out. Bateman is quite a despicable character in the way he would treat women and colleagues as well as those who are beneath him. There is also this air of arrogance and narcissism in him in the way he talks about certain pieces of music he owns or the clothes he wears.

The script also has this air of dark humor such as the scene where he invites Paul Allen (Jared Leto) into his apartment where he asks Allen if he likes Huey Lewis & the News. The monologues that Bateman gives about his love for Lewis, Genesis, Phil Collins, and Whitney Houston are among some of the finest monologues as they’re told with a sense of style. All of it play into Bateman’s persona which is also filled with anguish during the second act when he invites his secretary Jean (Chloe Sevigny) to dinner as they have drinks at his apartment where he wants to kill her but he’s also listening to her talk. It’s a moment where things would shift not just in tone but also in Bateman’s development as it blur the lines between reality and fiction.

Harron’s direction definitely bears element of style yet it plays more into this world of materialism, conformity, and decadence that was so prevalent during the 1980s. Though it is based in New York City, much of the film was shot in Toronto with some exterior shots of New York City to play into this very intense world of money and power. While there are some wide shots that Harron would create to establish some of the locations, much of it shot with close-ups and medium shots to get a look into the world that Bateman has surrounded himself in. Notably in the restaurants as they play to the silliest of trends where one menu is presented in braille, another menu at a different restaurant where the menu is made of wood, and all of these other places to play into a New York City that is filled with a lack of realism. It adds to this air of ambiguity that looms throughout the film as it relates to the things Bateman wants to do where reality and fiction blur. One scene early in the film is at a nightclub where he tried to get a drink and then says something very profane about killing the bartender to the mirror and then do nothing.

Harron’s direction also has this element of dark humor such as a scene of Bateman displaying this monologue about Huey Lewis & the News while wearing a raincoat and carrying an axe to kill someone. Other comical moments involve a three-way with a couple of prostitutes where Bateman is videotaping the act while looking at himself showing that vanity into his own power. The moments of violence are gruesome as it includes an encounter with a homeless man and his dog as well as these off-screen moments that play into Bateman’s thirst for blood. The film’s ending is also ambiguous as it play into that blur of fantasy and reality as well as Bateman forcing to face himself in this world that demands so much of him. Overall, Harron crafts a witty yet intoxicating film about a yuppie’s desire to conform to materialistic society as well as killing his way to succeed.

Cinematographer Andrezj Sekula does excellent work with the film’s cinematography to play into the sheen and slick look of some of the daytime interiors with some unique lighting and moods for some of the scenes set at night. Editor Andrew Marcus does brilliant work with the editing as it has elements of style in its usage of rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and humor. Production designer Gideon Ponte, with set decorator Jeanne Develle and art director Andrew M. Stearn, does amazing work with the look of the apartments as well as the look of the restaurants. Costume designer Isis Mussenden does fantastic work with the costumes from the designer suits that the men wear to some of the fashionable dresses of the women.

Key hairstylists Lucy M. Orton and John Quaglia do terrific work with the hairstyles of the women that was so common in the 80s to the very slick look of the men. Sound designer Benjamin Cheah and sound editor Jane Tattersall do superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the clubs and some of the intimate sounds in some of the apartments. The film’s music by John Cale is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral bombast to play into the suspense as well as a mixture of somber piano pieces and some ambient cuts while music supervisors Barry Cole and Christopher Covert create an incredible soundtrack that feature a lot of the music from those times from acts like Huey Lewis & the News, Genesis, Phil Collins, New Order, Chris de Burgh, Simply Red, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Robert Palmer, Book of Love, Katrina and the Waves, Information Society, and M/A/R/R/S as well as additional music from Daniel Ash, David Bowie, the Cure, Eric B. & Rakim, and the Tom Club.

The casting by Kerry Barden, Billy Hopkins, and Suzanne Smith is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Reg E. Cathey as a homeless man, Anthony Lemke as a colleague that Allen mistakes him as Bateman, Krista Sutton as a prostitute named Sabrina, Guinevere Turner as a friend of Bateman in Elizabeth who would engage into a threesome with another hooker and Bateman, Bill Sage as a colleague of Bateman in David Van Patten, Josh Lucas as another colleague in the smarmy Craig McDermott, Justin Theroux as Bateman’s colleague Timothy Bryce who is having an affair with Bateman’s fiancée Evelyn, and Matt Ross as a colleague in Luis Carruthers who is dating Courtney as he also has a secret of his own. Samantha Mathis is fantastic as Bateman’s mistress Courtney Rawlinson whom he’s having an affair with as she is someone that has been doing too many drugs.

Reese Witherspoon is superb as Bateman’s fiancée Evelyn as a socialite who is eager to get married while having her time engaging an affair with Bryce. Cara Seymour is excellent as Christie as a prostitute who would meet with Bateman on two different occasions as she copes with what she had gotten herself into as well as her discovery in the second encounter. Jared Leto is brilliant as Paul Allen as top colleague of Bateman who is the envy of everyone in terms of the look of his card and being able to get things while confusing Bateman for someone else. Willem Dafoe is amazing as Detective Donald Kimball as a man who is investigating the disappearance of someone as he suspects Bateman through a couple of interrogations as well as be curious about what Bateman does.

Chloe Sevigny is remarkable as Jean as Bateman’s secretary who endures some of Bateman’s criticism over fashion choice as she is later invited to dinner with him where she provides a moment that is quite human as well as kind of understand the pressure Bateman is in to conform. Finally, there’s Christian Bale in a magnificent performance as Patrick Bateman as this man in his late 20s that is determined to be the embodiment of success as he also copes with his desire to kill as well to display everything he’s about as it’s a charismatic yet eerie performance from Bale that is definitely iconic as well as funny.

American Psycho is a phenomenal film from Mary Harron that features as spectacular performance from Christian Bale. Along with its ensemble cast, a killer soundtrack, dazzling visuals, witty satire, and complex themes of vanity, conformity, and identity. It’s a film that offers so much in the entertainment aspects but also serves as an intriguing character study of a man coming to grips with reality and his desires to succeed by any means necessary. In the end, American Psycho is a tremendous film from Mary Harron.

Related: (Less Than Zero) – (The Rules of Attraction)

Mary Harron Films: (I Shot Andy Warhol) – (The Notorious Bettie Page) – (The Moth Diaries) – (The Anna Nicole Story) – (Alias Grace)

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Last House on the Left

Written, edited and directed by Wes Craven, The Last House on the Left is the story of two teenage girls who come home from a concert where they get lost in the woods and are tortured by a gang of thugs who would later meet with one of the girls’ parents. Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, the film is an exploration of two girls taking a wrong turn and the reaction of one of the girls’ parents when they find out what happened. Starring Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David A. Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, and Marc Sheffler. The Last House on the Left is a gritty yet intense film from Wes Craven.

The film follows a young woman celebrating her 17th birthday with a friend as they’re about to go to a concert where they encounter some fugitives in the city and later be taken to the woods in an act of torture. It’s a film that is about what happens when two young ladies meet some very bad people who would beat and torture them only to later meet one of the girl’s parents where they find themselves in some serious trouble. Wes Craven’s screenplay starts off innocently as it follows Mari Collingwood (Sandra Peabody) who had turn 17 as she and friend Phyllis Stone (Lucy Grantham) go to New York City for a concert as they want to score some weed after the show. They meet a young man named Junior (Marc Sheffler) who says he can get them some weed as he’s really part of a gang of fugitives. By driving back to Mari’s home, they go nearby to the woods and create a whole lot of trouble and torment with Junior being the most reluctant to be involved.

Craven’s direction is engaging for its simple approach as much of it is due to its low-budget look and feel. Shot on location in New York City with bits of it on Long Island and many of the rural locations in Westport, Connecticut, the film does play into something that starts off very calmly as it is set in this small town where everyone knows each other. While Craven would use a few wide shots, much of his compositions emphasize more on close-ups and medium shots to play into the terror as well as some of the film’s offbeat humor as it relates to a sheriff (Marshall Anker) and a deputy (Martin Kove) trying to get a ride as they learn about the fugitives. Still, Craven is focused on the terror that is happening during the course of the film as much of the shocking content in violence comes during its second act.

Also serving as editor, Craven would put in bits of style in jump-cuts to play into the suspense which would increase during the third act when the fugitives arrive at Mari’s home where Junior would learn whose house he’s in and who the people at her home are. What would happen becomes intense as well as scary showing what happens when the bad guys would come into the wrong house. Overall, Craven creates a thrilling and intoxicating film about a group of fugitives who enter the home of one of the victims they torment and put themselves into trouble.

Cinematographer Victor Hurwitz does excellent work with the film’s grainy and grimy cinematography which plays to its low-budget look in all of its glory while displaying that grittiness for the scenes at night as it is one of the film’s highlights. Costume designer Susan E. Cunningham does nice work with the costumes as it stylish for what many of the characters wore during the early 70s. The sound work of Jim Hubbard is superb for the natural approach to sound in the way some of the objects sound as well as the way gunshots and such are presented. The film’s music by David Alexander Hess is fantastic for its mixture of rock, folk, and country to play into the different tones of the film as the soundtrack also play into those genres.

The film’s wonderful cast include some notable small roles from Ada Washington as a chicken truck driver, Steve Miner as a taunting hippie, Ray Edwards as a postman, Marshall Anker as the town’s sheriff, and Martin Kove as the somewhat-dim deputy. Cynthia Carr and Gaylor St. James are terrific in their respective roles as Mari’s parents in Estelle and Dr. John Collingwood who become concerned when their daughter doesn’t come home until they realize the visitors they invited into their home. Marc Sheffler is superb as Junior as a junkie who would lure Mari and Phyllis later to his own regret as he doesn’t approve of what the gang is doing as he later feels guilty. Jeramie Rain is fantastic as Sadie as the lone woman of the gang who likes to terrorize the ladies as she also has lesbian tendencies toward them.

Lucy Grantham is excellent as Phyllis as Mari’s best friend who takes her to the city for a concert as she is forced to strip and humiliate herself in front of the fugitives who torment her. Sandra Peabody is brilliant as Mari Collingwood as a 17-year old woman hoping to have a fun birthday only to have the worst time of her life upon encountering the dangerous fugitives as she tries to survive the torment she endures. Fred Lincoln is amazing as Fred “Weasel” Podowski as one of the two fugitives who has escaped from prison as someone who is sleazy as well as having no qualms in killing someone. Finally, there’s David A. Hess (who is also the film’s music composer) in a remarkable role as Krug Stillo as Sadie’s boyfriend who is also a fugitive that has a love for killing people as he would also be the most brutish of all of the fugitives.

The Last House on the Left is an extraordinary film from Wes Craven. Featuring a superb cast, a grimy look, offbeat tones, and an eerie story of torment and invasion, it’s a film that is definitely quite intense in terms of the violence as well as what people would do to make someone’s life a living hell. In the end, The Last House on the Left is a marvelous film from Wes Craven.

Related: The Virgin Spring

Wes Craven Films: (The Hills Have Eyes) – (Stranger in Our House) – (Deadly Blessing) – (Swamp Thing) – (Invitation to Hell) – (Nightmare on Elm Street) – (Chiller) – (The Hills Have Eyes Part II) – (Deadly Friend) – (The Serpent and the Rainbow) – (Shocker) – (Night Visions) – (The People Under the Stairs) – (Wes Craven’s New Nightmare) – (Vampire in Brooklyn) – (Scream) – (Scream 2) – (Music of the Heart) – (Scream 3) – (Cursed) – (Red Eye) – (My Soul to Take) – (Scream 4)

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Directed by Eli Craig and screenplay by Craig and Morgan Jurgenson from a story by Craig, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is about a couple of hillbillies who get a case of mistaken identity by a bunch of college kids who believe they’re a couple of killers. The film is a spoof of sorts that play into horror films set in the South with a twist as two men who are just simple nice guys find themselves dealing with idiotic and mean college kids. Starring Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Chelan Simmons, and Jesse Moss. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a witty yet exhilarating film from Eli Craig.

The film follow two hillbillies who go to West Virginia for a vacation at a cabin where they come across a group of college kids who are convinced that these two hillbillies are a couple of crazed killers when it isn’t true at all. It’s a film about misunderstanding and what people think of when they see a certain kind of people and expect the worst. The film’s screenplay by Eli Craig and Morgan Jurgenson follows these two men in Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) who are just wanting to go to a cabin for a vacation and fix the cabin up as they would encounter these college kids where Dale is drawn towards the psychology student Allison (Katrina Bowden) but has a hard time talking to her. When Allison fell off a rock during a skinny-dipping attempt, she is saved by Tucker and Dale but her friends think they saw her being eaten prompting her douchebag boyfriend Chad (Jesse Moss) to try and save her thinking the hillbillies are trying to recreate the infamous Memorial Day Massacre. Immediately, things go very wrong for Chad’s friends where paranoia and misunderstand would lead to very deadly situations.

Craig’s direction definitely has element of styles as it play into many of the visual tropes expected in slasher films set in the woods yet putting a humorous twist on it. Though it’s set in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, the film is actually shot near Calgary, Alberta in Canada. Craig does use the location as a fitting setting where it’s nature that sort of plays into the suspense rather than the characters while Craig’s approach to compositions in the medium shots and close-ups are straightforward. There’s a few wide shots in the film yet Craig chooses to emphasize on the characters reacting to a certain situation or their reaction to the increasing body count that would happen throughout the film. Much of the violence in the film is stylized but is approached with humor showcasing the stupidity of what happens when someone judges a person for who they are or the way they look. Overall, Craig creates a hilarious and exhilarating film about a group of dumb-ass kids making an assumption over a couple of nice hillbillies whom they believe are creepy serial killers.

Cinematographer David Geddes does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of natural lighting for some of the scenes in the woods in the daytime along with some low-key yet stylish lighting for the scenes at night. Editor Bridget Dunford does nice work with the editing as it has bits of style in its approach to rhythms to play into the humor and suspense. Production designer John Blackie, with set decorator Sean Blackie, Amber Humphries, and Thomas Walker, does fantastic work with the look of the cabin that Tucker and Dale would try to fix as well as the truck stop early in the film. Costume designer Mary Hyde-Kerr does terrific work with the costumes from the overalls Tucker and Dale wear to the more stylish and casual look of the college kids.

Special effects makeup work by Sharon Toohey and prosthetics designer David Trainor do brilliant work with the look of some of the gore as well as the look of a character during its third act. Visual effects supervisor Lee Wilson does wonderful work with the visual effects as it relates mainly to the bits of gore and horror that is used for humor. Sound designer James Fonnyadt does superb work with the sound in creating an atmosphere for some of the suspense as well as in some of the violence. The film’s music by Michael Shields and Andrew Kaiser is amazing for its mixture of rock, country, and folk to play into the atmosphere of the American South with its soundtrack devoting to music of that area.

The casting by Sean Milliken is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Phillip Granger as a sheriff, the quartet of Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, and Joseph Allan Sutherland as four of the students, Christie Laing and Brandon Jay McLaren as a couple who are part of college camping trip, and Chelan Simmons as Chloe as the typical dumb blonde with high heels as she provides a lot of humor to her role. Jesse Moss is excellent as Chad as the college frat boy with a hatred for hillbillies as his motive is unveiled as someone who thinks Tucker and Dale are killers as he emphasizes the persona of ignorance.

Katrina Bowden is fantastic as Allison as a psychology student who is the voice of reason of sorts as someone who gets falls in a skinny-dipping attempt only to be saved by Tucker and Dale where she realizes that they’re not what Chad and her friends claim to be. Finally, there’s the duo of Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine in amazing performances in their respective roles as Tucker and Dale. Tudyk and Labine provide a sense of charm into their performances with Tudyk making Dale the more confident and reserved guy who is trying to help the more insecure and socially-awkward Dale as they’re just a joy to watch.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a remarkable film from Eli Craig. Featuring a great cast, a witty premise, and a great mixture of horror and comedy, it’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously while displaying some of the worst aspects of humanity when it comes to judging people. In the end, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is an incredible film from Eli Craig.

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks ((Halloween TV Edition): Horror

For the fourth and final week of October 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. It’s the final part of the Halloween edition as we venture into the world of television into horror-based TV shows. Shows that would often bring in scares or all kinds of weird shit. Here are my three picks:

1. Tales from the Crypt

From HBO is a horror show that has a very dark sense of humor but always feature some damn good episodes. Whether it’s from the likes of great filmmakers like William Friedkin, Tobe Hooper, Richard Donner, and Robert Zemeckis or actors like Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger directing episodes. The show always had something that is offbeat whether it’s Joe Pesci trying to win over twin girls by pretending to be a twin or an old guy trying to be young to win over Kelly Preston but lose her in an ironic way. It’s a fun horror show that needs to come back as well as the Cryptkeeper who is always a joy to watch.

2. The Outer Limits

From Showtime is a mid-1990s revival of the famed show from the 1960s for a new generation with some nudity and violence. Yet, it is still an interesting show that was quite out there as it went on for seven years as it often had an abundance of talent with actors such as Beau Bridges, Thora Birch, Natasha Henstridge, Alyssa Milano, Marlee Matlin, and many others appearing in weird episodes. It’s a fun show that unfortunately went on for too long and just became another show.

3. True Blood

From HBO is another popular horror show that had an amazing five seasons but once creator Alan Ball left the show after five seasons. It became a very different show and one that no longer became interesting. It’s about a telepathic waitress who falls in love with a vampire who had saved her as she learns about this world where humans and vampires sort of co-exist in an uneasy truce. It’s a show that is a lot of fun mainly due to the supporting cast that include Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northam. Yet, that supporting cast that included the recently-departed Nelsan Ellis weren’t able to make the show interesting again during the sixth and extremely-unwatchable seventh season.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Enemy (2013 film)

Based on the novel The Double by Jose Saramago, Enemy is the story of a man who learns that he has a double who looks a lot like him as his life begins to unravel. Directed by Denis Villeneuve and screenplay by Javier Gullon, the film is a study of identity and a man coping with the idea of having a double. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini. Enemy is a provocative yet eerie film from Denis Villeneuve.

The film follows a college history professor whose dull and unfulfilling life is changed when he rents a movie which features an appearance by someone who looks exactly likes him where he tries to find out who he is and what connection they have. It’s a film that never reveals what it is about other than a man trying to find about his double prompting the double to find out more about this man. Javier Gullon’s screenplay is filled with a lot of ambiguities and ideas about identity relating to this man who learns about the idea of having someone who looks exactly like him. There are also these elements of strange symbolism as it relates to spiders as it play into the different personalities of the history professor Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his double in a former local actor in Anthony Claire (Jake Gyllenhaal). Adam is a quieter and more reserved individual while Anthony is more lively and outgoing as it add to this element of duality between these two when they would eventually meet. Anthony’s pregnant wife Helen (Sarah Gadon) would find out about Adam as she would meet him though he has no idea who she is which only prompts Anthony to confront this man who has been trying to find him.

Denis Villeneuve’s direction is definitely entrancing from this strange opening sequence of Adam/Anthony going into this mysterious erotic show where it is filled with symbolism and then shifts into something normal as it relates to the monotony that is Adam’s life. It’s a life that has a routine where he goes to work at a college in Toronto, goes back to his apartment, have a visit from his girlfriend Mary (Melanie Laurent), have sex with her, and then go to sleep. It’s a simple though dull routine until a colleague of Adam suggested him a movie to watch as it would change everything as Villeneuve maintains an intimacy through his compositions in the usage of close-ups and medium shots to play into the drama. The film is shot on location in Toronto as this city that very modern but also chaotic as it play into this troubling sense of duality and clashing personalities of Adam and Anthony where there is one moment in the film where a gigantic spider is walking over the city.

The direction also has Villeneuve create elements of surrealism as it relates to the references of spiders as it play into these different personalities of Adam and Anthony. There is a scene during the second act where the former turns to his mother (Isabella Rossellini) as she has no answers and could be hiding something but Villeneuve chooses to remain ambiguous throughout the film. The film’s third act is about control in what Anthony wants to do to Adam where it exhibits all of his darker traits while Adam is just trying to move on from this uneventful meeting. The sense of duality, identity, and ambiguity would loom for much of the film’s third act as well as displaying this air of surrealism which would only create more question than answers. Overall, Villeneuve creates a strange yet evocative film about a man who learns he has a double who looks exactly like him.

Cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of sepia-like colors to create that sense of griminess in some of the exteriors as well as the usage of low-key lights for many of the interiors set at night. Editor Matthew Hannam does excellent work with the editing as it play into the drama as well as the suspense with its rhythmic cuts and a few jump-cuts along the way. Production designer Patrice Vermette, with set decorator Jim Lambie and art director Sean Breaugh, does fantastic work with the look of the apartments that Adam and Anthony live in as well as Adam’s classroom and the video store he goes to find more of the movies Anthony did. Costume designer Renee April does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual from more buttoned-down look of Adam to the looser look of Anthony.

Prosthetic designer Adrien Morot does terrific work with one of the film’s key effects which is Helen’s pregnant belly. Visual effects supervisor Vincent Poitras does superb work with the film’s minimal visual effects which is essentially bit of set dressing as well as the look of the giant spider. Sound designer Oriol Tarrago does amazing work with the sound in creating these eerie and low-key textures as it add to the suspense including in some of the film’s quieter moments. The film’s music by Daniel Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans do incredible work with the music as it’s this very ominous and discordant music as it help create this unsettling atmosphere for the film while music supervisor Velma Barkwell provides an offbeat soundtrack that features cuts by Bob Kuban and the In-Men, Jonathan Richman, and the Walker Brothers.

The casting by Deirdre Bowen is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Daryl Dinn as a video store clerk, Joshua Peace as a colleague of Adam, Tim Post as Anthony’s concierge, the trio of Misha Highstead, Megan Mane, and Alexis Ulga as the mysterious women at the erotic underground club, Kedar Brown as a security guard, and Isabella Rossellini in a fantastic performance as Adam’s mother who is shocked by the news about Anthony whom she never knew as she doesn’t want to know more about it while being very ambiguous. Melanie Laurent is excellent as Mary as Adam’s girlfriend who is taken aback by sudden changes in Adam’s behavior after seeing a film Anthony was in as she has no clue what is going on until late in the film. 

Sarah Gadon is brilliant as Helen as Anthony’s pregnant wife who would be the first to know about Adam through a phone call as she becomes troubled by the fact that Anthony has a double as she becomes concerned about Anthony’s behavior. Finally, there’s Jake Gyllenhaal in a phenomenal dual performance as Adam and Anthony where he displays an aloofness and restraint in the former as someone who is nice and sensible while he is more lively but also arrogant and aggressive where Gyllenhaal gives this very chilling performance in playing the complexity of two men discovering themselves.

Enemy is a sensational film from Denis Villeneuve that features an incredible leading performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Along with its supporting cast, eerie sound design, haunting score, harrowing visuals, and an ambiguously offbeat story. It’s a film that doesn’t provide any kind of answer but rather a lot of intrigue where it dares the audience to ask a lot of questions as well as provide their own interpretation about identity and chaos. In the end, Enemy is a spectacular film from Denis Villeneuve.

Denis Villeneuve Films: August 32nd on EarthMaelstromPolytechniqueIncendies - Prisoners (2013 film) - Sicario - Arrival (2016 film) - Blade Runner 2049 - Dune-Part One (2021 film) - Dune-Part Two - (Dune: Messiah) - The Auteurs #68: Denis Villeneuve

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The VVitch

Written and directed by Robert Eggers, The VVitch (A New-England Folktale) is the story of a family whose newborn son has suddenly disappeared as they deal with their surroundings as well as each other. The film is set during the early 17th Century in Colonial America where a family deal with their own fears in the middle of the woods. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson, and Kate Dickie. The VVitch is an evocative yet eerie film from Robert Eggers.

Set in the 17th Century in New England, the film follows a Puritan family, who had been banished from a plantation over disagreements about faith, who move into a remote land near the woods where a series of strange events happen following the disappearance of the family’s newborn son. It’s a film that play into a family that is devoted to their faith and trying to create a farm in the land they live in as things begin to unravel by these mysterious events. Robert Eggers’ screenplay doesn’t just follow the life of this family but also the slow unraveling where they would accuse of each other of supposed witchcraft with the young woman Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) being the major suspect despite the fact that her father William (Ralph Ineson) and younger brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) believe she isn’t a witch. Even though Thomasin was with the baby Samuel (Axtun Henry Dub and Athan Conrad Dube) the moment he disappeared.

She still gets blamed for what happened from her mother Katherine (Kate Dickie) while she becomes more uneasy when her twin siblings Mercy and Jonas (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson, respectively) singing songs about a mysterious being called Black Phillip. During the course of the story, stranger things intensify as does the tension between the family members with Thomasin being the suspect as she had teased Mercy earlier claiming she’s a witch which wasn’t true. These incidents would force William to do something as Thomasin would see that something is off as she notices Mercy and Jonah acting suspiciously around this black goat.

Eggers’ direction is very entrancing for the way it creates a film that is about atmosphere and location. Shot on location in Kiosk, Ontario in Canada, the film maintains this look that is very grey and dreary with one shot of blue sky is only seen in the film. While Eggers would use some wide shots to get a scope of the locations and creating some unique compositions of the actors in their surroundings including scenes at the wood. Much of Eggers’ direction has him using some close-ups and medium shots as it play into the tension within the family as well as the suspense and drama that would loom throughout. Notably during the film’s second act where Thomasin and Caleb go into the woods where the latter makes a very eerie discovery that would impact everything. 

There aren’t any big moments of violence but there is still an intensity that is fierce in the drama as it relates to the family being at odds with one another. Especially as it relates to witchcraft and Thomasin being the major suspect where it is also clear she is becoming a woman and there were plans of sending her away to help another family. This revelation only increases the tension between Thomasin and her mother where things eventually unravel prompting Thomasin to wonder if there is some evil spirit lurking around in the woods. Overall, Eggers creates a rapturous yet unsettling film about a family dealing with evil spirits lurking in the woods.

Cinematographer Jarin Blaschke does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on natural lighting as many of the nighttime interiors were shot with lit candles as well as other elements to create something atmospheric and eerie. Editor Louise Ford does excellent work with the editing as it does have bits of style in its approach to rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and drama. Production designer Craig Lathrop, with set decorator Mary Kirkland plus art directors Derek Connell and Andrea Kristof, does fantastic work with the look of the farm and the interior of the home that the family live in as well as the design of a mysterious home in the woods.

Costume designer Linda Muir does amazing work with the costumes as it play into the period of the times with its bonnets for the women and some of the clothes that the men wore in those times. Visual effects supervisor Geoff D.E. Scott does nice work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it is mainly bits of set dressing as well as a scene during the film’s third act. Sound designer Adam Stein and sound editor Mark Gingras do superb work with the film’s sound in creating that eerie atmosphere for some of the scenes in the woods that would play into the horror as it’s one of the film’s highlights. The film’s music by Mark Korven is incredible for its disconcerting and gripping music score with its usage of orchestral strings, choir arrangements, and other instruments that help play into the suspense and drama.

The casting by John Buchan, Kharmel Cochrane, and Jason Knight is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Sarah Stephens as a mysterious young woman in the woods, Bathsheba Garnett as a mysterious old woman in the woods, Axtun Henry Dube and Athan Conrad Dube as the baby Samuel, and Julian Richings as the plantation governor who would cast William and the family out of the plantation over an argument he has with William. Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson are fantastic in their respective roles as the twin siblings Mercy and Jonas as two young kids who have been singing weird songs and spend time with a black mountain goat that has made Thomasin very uneasy. Harvey Scrimshaw is excellent as Caleb as a young boy who knows something is going on in the woods as he tries to find out while knowing that it’s probably the cause of all of the tension within the family.

Kate Dickie is brilliant as Katherine as the mother of the children who seems to have a dislike towards her own daughter as she becomes stricken with grief as it’s an intense and chilling performance from Dickie. Ralph Ineson is amazing as William as family patriarch who put his family into an uncertain situation as he tries to maintain his sense of faith while wondering if he had made the right decision. Finally, there’s Anya Taylor-Joy in a phenomenal performance as Thomasin as a young woman who is dealing with not just losing her baby brother but also the chaos that would emerge as it’s a very intense and eerie performance of a young woman finding herself becoming a suspect for all of the bad things that is happening as she struggles with everything happening around her.

The VVitch is a tremendous film from Robert Eggers. Featuring a great cast, a riveting story, gorgeous visuals, eerie sound design, and an unsettling score. The film is definitely a horror film that doesn’t play by the rules while showcasing what happens when the ideas of faith and family is being tested by something unknown and possibly evil. In the end, The VVitch is a spectacular film from Robert Eggers.

Robert Eggers Films: The Lighthouse - The Northman

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

Raw (2016 film)

Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, Grave (Raw) is the story of a vegetarian who starts veterinary school where she endures abuse in a week-long hazing ritual that has her eating meat with results becoming very deadly. The film is an unconventional horror film that follows a young woman who would eat meat for the very first time as she would completely lose herself in the process. Starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, and Laurent Lucas. Grave is an eerie yet intense film from Julia Ducournau.

The film revolves around a young woman who attends a veterinary school as a freshman where she would have to participate in a week-long hazing ritual where she and other freshmen are tormented by seniors as one of them include eating a bit of raw meat. Yet, the ritual of eating raw meat for this young freshman who is a strict vegetarian that has never tasted any kind of meat leads to trouble as she also endures with trying to fit in as well as succeed in the school. Julia Ducournau’s screenplay follows the week in the life of this young woman in Justine (Garance Marillier) who is eager to follow the footsteps of her parents (Laurent Lucas and Joana Preiss) in being a veterinarian as her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is also at the school as a senior. Justine would room with a gay freshman in Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella) who would also endure the same hazing abuse during rush week.

Yet, Adrien is able to fit in with other students despite not being academically-gifted as Justine but does provide Justine a need for companionship. Still, Justine copes with the effects of eating a raw rabbit kidney as she has rashes and a need to eat meat which is unusual for her as well as this thirst for human flesh. During the course of the story, Justine struggles to maintain her sanity as she turns to Alexia who would unveil a secret of her own which is just as disturbing.

Ducournau’s direction is mainly straightforward in terms of its approach to compositions as it opens with this eerie scene of a car crashing because of someone standing in front of the car and it crashes. Shot on various locations in Belgium, the film does play into this world of schools where hazing is commonplace as it is mainly set in a school where there’s animals and classrooms. There’s also parties where Ducournau’s direction has her using some hand-held tracking shots to capture the energy of the parties as well as the slow-burn into Justine’s behavior. Much of these scenes are presented with medium shots and close-ups to play into the drama and suspense while Ducournau would use wide shots for a few scenes to establish the locations. Even in moments during the second act where Justine learns more about these strange moments involving crashed cars. There are moments that are disturbing as it relates to Justine’s appetite for human flesh that include a sex scene where she has trouble maintaining control. Especially as she starts to cope with her behavior as well as the abuse in the hazing as it gets more intense. Overall, Ducournau crafts a very chilling yet riveting film about a strict vegetarian who gets hungry for human flesh after a forced hazing in eating raw meat.

Cinematographer Ruben Impens does excellent work with the film’s cinematography in creating some unique lighting and moods for some of the parties and interior scenes set at night as well as going for something low-key and natural for the daytime exterior scenes. Editor Jean-Christophe Bouzy does brilliant work with the editing as much of it is straightforward in terms of playing up some of the suspense as well as some rhythmic cuts for some of the scenes involving horror including some slow-motion cuts. Production designer Laurie Colson does fantastic work with the look of the dorm rooms as well as the classrooms and places for the parties. Costume designer Elise Ancion does nice work with the costumes as many of the clothes in the film are largely casual with some of the students wearing lab coats.

Special makeup effects artists Olivier Afonso and Amelie Grossier do amazing work with the look of some of grisly moments in the film as it relates to the bits of gore in the way Justine’s rashes would look as well as her first taste of flesh. Visual effects supervisor Philippe Frere does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it’s mainly bits of set dressing as well as a few scenes involving animals. Sound editor Severine Favriau does superb work with the sound in capturing the atmosphere of the parties as well as quieter moments in the classrooms. The film’s music by Jim Williams is incredible for its mixture of eerie electronic music with some orchestral flourishes that also include some ghostly keyboard music while music supervisors Guillaume Baurez and Martin Caraux would provide a soundtrack that features some indie music, hip-hop, and pop as it is infectious and help provide a tone for the scene.

The casting by Judith Chalier and Christophe Hermans is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Marion Vernoux as a nurse, Bouli Lanners as a truck driver who meet Justine and Adrien at a truck stop, and Jean-Louis Sbille as a professor who seems to dislike Justine as he becomes very critical of her work. Laurent Lucas and Joana Preiss are superb as Justine and Alexia’s parents who are alumni at the school who are troubled by what is happening to Justine. Rabah Nait Oufella is fantastic as Adrien as Justine’s gay roommate who is disturbed and confused by Justine’s behavior as well as being uneasy around Alexia. Ella Rumpf is excellent as Justine’s older sister Alexia as a senior student who is trying to get Justine to survive but also exhibit the worst aspects of bullying. Finally, there’s Garance Marillier in an amazing performance as Justine as a young freshman who attends the veterinary school as she struggles to fit in until a forced bit of a dead rabbit’s kidney would have her become obsessed with human flesh as it would have her exhibit some odd behavior as it’s a very complex and dangerous performance from the newcomer.

Grave is a phenomenal film from Julia Ducournau that features a great performance from Garance Marillier. Along with its ensemble cast, intriguing premise on hazing and fitting in, a fun soundtrack, and some very intense moments. It’s a film that doesn’t play by the rules of body horror but it does show what happen when a vegetarian is forced to eat raw meat and it comes with a price. In the end, Grave is a spectacular film from Julia Ducournau.

Julia Ducournau Films: (Mange) - Titane

© thevoid99 2017