Monday, April 30, 2018

Films That I Saw: April 2018

Well, this has been a pretty crazy month as there was a slew of major deaths this month from R. Lee Emrey, Barbara Bush, Verne Troyer, Mitzi Shore, Milos Forman, and Bruno Sammartino. It’s like a repeat of two years ago in a strange way while there’s so many things that is happening that is just fucked up. Even as the White House has become a mess with so much happening and everything going to absolute shit. It’s getting harder to try and escape from the realities of the world as there was that horrific attack in Toronto by an asshole who listens to a sick misogynist. It just goes to show how fucked up things are as well as a reason to continue to fight for what is left in the world that makes it good. Even as there is comfort to know that Bill Cosby is going to prison as I hope he enjoys those puddin’ pops he’s been forcing us to eat for all of those years. Serves that motherfucker right.

In the month of April 2017, I saw a total of 34 films in 21 first-timers and 13 re-watches. 10 of these first-timers were directed by women including a trio of short films by Lucrecia Martel that I saw for my Auteurs piece on her as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. The highlight of the month has definitely been my Blind Spot for the month in L'Argent. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for April 2017:

1. A Taste of Honey

2. Tampopo

3. Isle of Dogs

4. Avengers: Infinity War

5. Band Aid

6. Maudie

7. Andre the Giant

8. L'Auberge Espagnole

9. Arthur Miller: Writer

10. New Wave: Dare to Be Different

Monthly Mini-Review

What Happened to Pink Floyd? The Strange Case of Waters and Gilmour

This was the only thing on YouTube that I saw in April as it was a 2011 BBC-funded documentary about Pink Floyd’s post-Wish You Were Here period that lead to the band’s growing dissolution and split in the early 1980s as well as the war over the Pink Floyd name between bassist/vocalist Roger Waters and guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour who were the driving forces of the band. While it doesn’t offer anything new that fans knew about the reason for the band’s split, it does offer some insight into the recording sessions for The Final Cut as A Momentary Lapse of Reason in why both of those albums have garnered mixed reviews among Floyd fans. It’s a film for fans of the group who know a lot has happened since this doc’s release though everyone agrees that Floyd will never reunite despite surviving member are on good terms with each other and have no intentions to reunite.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. Fantastic Mr. Fox

2. The Beguiled

3. Animal House

4. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

5. Inherent Vice

6. Lord of the Rings trilogy

7. Private Benjamin

8. Revenge of the Nerds

9. Dinner for Schmucks

10. Confessions of a Shopaholic

Well, that is all for April. Coming in May will be the Cannes Film Festival marathon that will begin on May 8 to the 19 while I’m not sure what theatrical releases I’m going to watch as I want to see Deadpool 2 and Tully. Other than a Blind Spot and the Auteurs piece on Lucrecia Martel that is nearly half-finished at the moment. There’s a couple of Brian de Palma films that I’m re-watching as I’ll write reviews on and some films in my never-ending DVR list. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…. And continue to laugh at this motherfucker….

© thevoid99 2018

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

Based on the comic series by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and the comic storylines The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin and the Infinity series by Jonathan Hickman, Avengers: Infinity War is the story of the fractured superhero group who reunite to stop an alien who is trying to collect six stones in the hopes of destroying the universe as the Avengers seek help from the Guardians of the Galaxy. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley, the film is the first of a two-part film series in which the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy team up with other heroes to stop this being known as Thanos in collecting the stones and save the world.

With an all-star cast that include Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Pom Klementieff, Don Cheadle, Winston Duke, Letitia Wright, Benedict Wong, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Karen Gillan, Peter Dinklage, Carrie Coon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio del Toro, plus the voice work of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, and Josh Brolin as Thanos. Avengers: Infinity War is a sprawling yet visceral film from Joe and Anthony Russo.

Set a few years after events that broke up the Avengers, the sudden arrival of alien ships featuring members of the Black Order who serve the alien despot Thanos have arrived to Earth to find two of the six infinity stones left on Earth forcing members of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy to stop it from happening. It’s a film with a simple premise with stakes that are huge as the six infinity stones are all based on the elements that arrived after the Big Bang where Thanos is seeking to get all six and put into a gauntlet where he can destroy half the universe with the snap of his finger. The film’s screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley is a multi-narrative script which picks up following events in which Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is stopped by Thanos and the Black Order as he later meets up with the Guardians of the Galaxy who agree to help Thor.

Back on Earth in New York City, Tony Stark/Iron Man meets up with Dr. Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) where they received a warning from Bruce Banner/the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) as they’re confronted by two members of the Black Order who want Strange since he carries the time stone as Iron Man is later aided by Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Banner would call Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) about what he saw as Rogers, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) deal with the other half of the Black Order who are trying to get the mind stone from Vision (Paul Bettany) who had been in hiding in Glasgow, Scotland with Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) as they all turn to James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) for help despite Rhodes being ordered to arrest Rogers and associates for going against the Sokovia accords. They, along with Banner, would go to Wakanda to get help from King T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) who is aware that Thanos and the Black Order is after Vision. For all of the strands of narrative to occur as it all play into the same thing of these heroes trying to get the remaining infinity stones from Thanos.

There are also so much more that is happening as it relates to Thanos who is this alien figure that is in the belief that he wants to restore balance to the universe and he is convinced that by killing trillions of beings. He can save everything and he needs the six stones to do it as it’s something his adopted daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) knows as she is the only person that knows where the mysterious soul stone is as there is this unique relationship with the two in an established flashback as he would save her as a child while he and the Black Order wipe out of her home planet. It would play into a sense of conflict for members of the Guardians of the Galaxy including Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt) who had fallen for Gamora as he wants to protect her from Thanos. It’s not just this arc over Thanos/Gamora that invests into a lot of emotional moments as the storyline for Vision/Maximoff is just as important as they’ve become a couple that are deeply in love and Maximoff is desperate to protect Vision. It would later lead to all of the Avengers including Bucky Barnes/the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), T’Challa’s allies, and the Guardians to fight for the universe.

Joe and Anthony Russo’s direction is definitely grand in terms of not just what is at stake but also for the fact that it’s set both on Earth and various parts of the universe. Shot largely in Pinewood Studios near Atlanta, Georgia with additional locations shot in New York City and Atlanta. The film does play into a universe that is big where it opens with Thor being attacked by Thanos and the Black Order where it is a very menacing sequence as it play into what kind of figure Thanos is and how ruthless he is. The Russos’ direction would include a lot of unique compositions in the wide and medium shots to get a scale of how big this war is between the Avengers and Thanos as well as the fact that there’s several factions in the Avengers and Guardians that are trying to get whatever infinity stones that Thanos hasn’t acquired yet. While it is a dark film with some nihilistic elements that is intense in terms of how it impacts the story. There are elements of humor in the film.

Among them involves Thor’s interaction with Quill as the latter doesn’t seem fond of Thor because the former is cooler and gets along easily with Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) while another funny exchange involves the banter between Stark and Dr. Strange as two men with big egos who think they’re better than everyone. Still, the Russos do know when to take the break from the action as it relates to the Avengers trying to understand the infinity stones and what is at stake as well as Thor, Rocket, and Groot traveling to a mysterious planet to create a weapon that can kill Thanos with the help of a giant elf in Eitri (Peter Dinklage). By the time Stark, Dr. Strange, and Parker would meet other members of the Guardians including Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Gamora’s adopted sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) at Thanos’ home planet Titan. The film’s climax which takes place both at Wakanda and at Titan is intense where most of the Avengers take on Thanos’ army and members of the Black Order while Stark, Parker, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians take on Thanos as it is followed by something that is a real punch to the gut.

It plays into the possibilities of what happens if Thanos succeeds in his mission and the costs as it’s not just Thanos who would do something to achieve that. The Avengers and the Guardians would also pay a major price in their attempts to stop him where everyone knows what is at stake but some completely lose sight of that in favor of personal gain with some willing to make sacrifices. Its ending is really unlike many superhero/blockbuster films as it revolves into something much bigger than everyone. Even in the film’s lone post-credit sequence plays up into this sense of a universe that is now shaken to its core as it all goes back to Thanos’ nihilistic idea of the universe in general. Overall, the Russo Brothers craft a visceral and rapturous film about a collection of heroes trying to stop a madman from destroying an entire universe.

Cinematographer Trent Opaloch does excellent work with the film’s cinematography in the way the planet Titan looks in its pink-like shading as well as the scenes in space along with the exteriors in New York City and other locations. Editors Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidtt do terrific work with the editing as it is conventional in terms of its approach to the action with its fast-cutting while allowing scenes to simmer as it does establish what is going on without going into frenetic speed cuts. Production designer Charles Wood, with set decorator Leslie Pope and supervising art director Ray Chan, does brilliant work with the look of the spaceships that Thanos has for the Black Order as well as the look of the different planets the characters go to as well as the Avengers home base and Wakanda. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does nice work with the costumes as it include the look of Spider-Man’s Iron-Spider suit as well as the clothes of the Black Order.

Special makeup effects artists Laura Dandridge, Andre Freitas, Bruce Spaulding Fuller, Tim J. Hays, Christopher Allen Nelson, and LuAndra Whitehurst do fantastic work with the look of the characters including the members of the Black Order and some of the smaller characters that Thor and Thanos would meet. Special effects supervisors Daniel Sudick and Patrick Edward White, along with visual effects supervisors Jeff Capogreco, Dan DeLeeuw, Varun Hadkar, Kelly Port, and Doug Spilatro, do incredible work with the visual effects as it play into the action including some chilling scenes involving Thanos and what he can do with his gauntlet as well as some of the powers that relate to Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and the other heroes. Sound designers David Farmer, Nia Hansen, and Shannon Mills, along with co-sound editor Daniel Laurie, do superb work with the sound as it play into some of the sound effects in the film as well as how some of the weapons sound and the noises the spaceships make. The film’s music by Alan Silvestri is phenomenal as it feature some soaring orchestral themes for the heroes as well as some somber pieces and some bombastic themes for Thanos while music supervisor Dave Jordan provides a fun soundtrack that includes Black Panther’s theme and the Spinners’ Rubberband Man to introduce the Guardians.

The casting by Sarah Finn is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Jacob Batalon as Peter’s friend Ned, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Benicio del Toro as the Collector, Gwyneth Paltrow as Tony’s fiancĂ© Pepper Potts, Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s adopted brother Loki, Letitia Wright as T’Challa’s sister Princess Shuri, William Hurt as defense secretary Thaddeus Ross who wants Steve Rogers and other associates arrested, Peter Dinklage as the legendary weapons creator Eitri who helps Thor create a weapon to stop Thanos, Winston Duke as the Jabari tribe leader M’Baku, Danai Gurira as the Dora Milaje leader Okoye, Kerry Condon as the voice of Stark’s A.I. tech, Ariana Greenblatt as the young Gamora, and Benedict Wong as the mystic arts master Wong who helps Doctor Strange and Stark deal with members of the Black Order. In the roles of Thanos’ disciples in the Black Order, the performances of Terry Notary as the big monster Cull Obsidian, Michael James Shaw as the vicious Corvus Glaive, Tom Vaughn-Lawlor as the telekinetic Ebony Maw, and Carrie Coon as the powerful Proxima Midnight are superb as villains who are loyal to Thanos.

The performances of Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, and Sebastian Stan are superb in their respective roles as Sam Wilson/Falcon, James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, and Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier as members of the Avengers who take part in fighting Thanos’ forces with Rhodes being the one to defy the world’s council orders while Barnes feeling more at peace in his time in Wakanda. The performances of Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper/Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel/Terry Notary, and Karen Gillan are fantastic in their respective roles as Guardians of the Galaxy members Drax the Destroyer, Mantis, Rocket, Groot, and Nebula as the space warriors who are willing to fight Thanos with Bautista and Klementieff as the comic reliefs while Gillan provides a weighted role as Gamora’s adopted sister who has a legit grudge towards Thanos. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are excellent in their respective roles as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch and Vision as they provide some of the emotional moments in the film with Maximoff trying to protect Vision as she copes with the idea of losing him altogether.

Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana are brilliant in their respective roles as Peter Quill/Starlord and Gamora as members of the Guardians of the Galaxy who have fallen for each other as Pratt provides some humor in his banter towards Thor and Stark while Saldana brings a lot of weight to her role as Gamora who hates Thanos but knows she couldn’t lie to him. Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland are amazing in their respective roles as T’Challa/Black Panther and Peter Parker/Spider-Man with Boseman as the reserved king of Wakanda who leads the battle against Thanos in his country while Holland is funny as Parker who says a lot of pop culture things that annoys Stark and Doctor Strange. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. are remarkable in their respective roles as Steve Rogers/Captain America and Tony Stark/Iron Man as the two leaders of the Avengers who both battle Thanos in separate narrative threads as they endure the reality of their situation with Evans as a hardened Rogers who knows what needs to be done and Downey as a determined Stark who has issues with Thanos over the chaos he had brought to him many years before.

The performances of Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Hemsworth, and Mark Ruffalo in their respective roles as Doctor Steven Strange, Thor, and Bruce Banner/the Hulk are incredible with Cumberbatch being the mystic arts master who is trying to figure out every scenario as he’s protecting the time stone while Hemsworth brings a weighted performance as Thor who copes with failure and anger and Ruffalo provides a comical performance of sorts as Banner who endures anxiety over the Hulk’s brief fight with Thanos. Finally, there’s Josh Brolin in tremendous performance as Thanos as the alien despot who is hell-bent on destroying the universe as it’s a chilling performance that has Brolin using motion-capture to provide the terror of Thanos where it’s calm but eerie in the way he explains his motives as he creates a villain for the ages.

Avengers: Infinity War is a spectacular film from Joe and Anthony Russo. Featuring an incredible ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, high-octane set pieces, thrilling action sequences, a mesmerizing score, and a haunting story of destruction and nihilism. It’s a superhero blockbuster film that goes all out and more in terms of not just be entertaining but also going into places many films wouldn’t dare in delving into dark themes as well as the concept of loss in the grandest of ways. In the end, Avengers: Infinity War is a phenomenal film from Joe and Anthony Russo.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Ant-Man & the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Captain Marvel - Spider-Man: Far from Home

Multiverse Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsEternalsSpider-Man: No Way HomeDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessThor: Love and ThunderWerewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Phase Five: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3The Marvels – (Deadpool 3) - (Captain America: Brave New World)

Phase 6: (Thunderbolts) – (Blade (2024 film)) - (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)

Related: MCU is Cinema: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3Pt. 4 – (Part 5) – (Part 6) – (Part 7) - The MCU: 10 Reasons Why It Rules the World

© thevoid99 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018


Written and directed by Juzo Itami, Tampopo (Dandelion) is the story of a group of men who help a widowed noodle shop owner in creating the perfect recipe for ramen noodles. The film is an exploration of food and the joys it bring to people where a woman tries to revive her noodle shop in the hope that it can make the world a better place no matter how small it can be. Starring Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto, Koji Yakusho, Ken Watanabe, and Riya Yasuoka. Tampopo is an extraordinarily rich film from Juzo Itami.

The film revolves a group of men who encounter a widowed noodle shop owner as she’s struggling with her business as they decide to help her in reinventing her shop as well as create the perfect recipe for ramen noodles. It’s a film with a simple premise that would also include various subplots relating to people’s love for food and the joy it can bring to someone. Juzo Itami’s screenplay opens with a trucker named Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and his sidekick Gun (Ken Watanabe) driving towards Tokyo as the latter is reading a book about ramen as they’re both suddenly hungry as they stop at a noodle shop for food. There, they meet its titular owner (Nobuko Miyamoto) who is dealing with the loss of her husband as well as an adolescent son who is first seen beaten up by schoolmates until Goro saved the boy. After getting to know Tampopo, Goro would offer to help her out in creating the best ramen noodle recipe as well as get her shop to become the best.

Throughout the course of the main narrative, Tampopo would venture into nearby noodle shops to see how some of the chefs create their own ramen noodles as she gets the support of an old master (Yoshi Kato) in helping her getting the broth right while a chauffeur named Shohei (Kinzo Sakura) would also help after Tampopo saved his boss from choking on his food. Another person who would help Tampopo is a patron in Pisuken (Riya Yasuoka) who had eaten at her place and sees that she wants to improve everything with her restaurant. This in turn would bring a sense of confidence in Tampopo who would continually refine her craft in creating the perfect ramen noodle as there are various subplots as it relate to the joy of food. One of which involves a man in a white suit (Koji Yasuoka) who finds joy with his girlfriend (Fukumi Kuroda) in eating food erotically as other subplots involve a man’s visit to the dentist, a lowly executive with a vast knowledge for French cuisine, and a woman teaching other women how to eat spaghetti without making any noise.

Itami’s direction is simple in terms of its visuals and for the fact that it satirizes elements of American cinema where it would play into a few genres in some scenes while it opens in an offbeat way in which the man in the white suit and his girlfriend talk to the screen about not eating noisy food during the movie as they’re about to watch a movie. It’s among the offbeat moments in the film that include the man in the white suit and his girlfriend having sex while eating food in a comical manner. Shot largely in Tokyo and areas nearby the city, it is largely set in this rural area where there are these noodle shops where Itami would use a few wide shots to establish the locations as well as play with some of the visuals such as the film’s opening sequence with a wide shot of the entire movie theater. Much of Itami’s direction revolve around intimate compositions such as medium shots and close-ups to get a look of the ramen bowl and the attention to detail in what’s in a ramen noodle soup. The way a broth is made and perfected is shown as Itami would follow Tampopo as she would learn to perfect that broth as there are also a few comical moments including this one scene where Tampopo’s son watches a homeless man break into a kitchen to make an omelet.

Itami’s direction also provide a sense of the kind of joy that food brings such as the story of the man who goes to the dentist, a market owner dealing with a customer with an obsession for touching food, an ailing woman making dinner for her family, and a scam involving a professor and a con man. It all revolves around food as Itami show what it can do as the scene where a rich socialite tries to educate other women how to eat spaghetti is funny for the fact that there’s a man slurping on the spaghetti. Much of Itami’s approach to shots don’t revolve around style while he knows how to create these lively moments such as the climax as it relates to Tampopo’s ramen noodle soup and the impact it would bring into the men that helped her. Overall, Itami crafts a majestic and exhilarating film about a group of men helping a widow in creating the perfect ramen noodle shop.

Cinematographer Masaki Tamura does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it play into the natural lighting for the scenes in the day including the shots inside Tampopo’s shop as well as the scenes at night and how the ramen noodle soups are lit in its natural lighting. Editor Akira Suzuki does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with some stylish cuts to play into the film’s humor including a fight scene involving Goro and Pisuken. Art director Takeo Kimura and set decorator Toshiharu Ochi do amazing work with the look of Tampopo’s restaurant in how drab and ordinary it looks in comparison to the other restaurants as well as the growing change it would have during the film’s evolution.

Costume designer Emiko Kogo does nice work with the costumes from the casual look of the people in Tampopo’s restaurant including the cowboy hat that Goro wears to some of the clothes of the characters in the film’s various subplots. The sound work of Kyoji Kono is superb for its natural sound in the way the slurping of noodles sound as well as some of the film’s comical sound effects and scenes that play into the atmosphere of the areas outside of Tokyo. The film’s music by Kunihiko Murai is incredible for its mixture of jazz and electronic music as it play into the film’s humor as well as some of the quieter moments as it is a highlight of the film.

The casting by Shigeru Sakurada and Kosaburo Sasaoka is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Toshiya Fujita as a man who visits the dentist, Ryutaro Otomo as a ramen master who unknowingly tells Tampopo his approach to making broth, Yoriko Doguchi as a pearl diver that the man in the white suit meets, Masahiko Tsugawa as a supermarket manager, Mariko Okada as a socialite trying to teach women how to eat spaghetti properly, Setsuko Shinoi as a mistress for an old man, Hidej Otaki as a rich old man whose life is saved by Tampopo as he would loan her his chauffeur to help her create the perfect ramen noodle soup, Fukumi Kuroda as the man in the white suit’s girlfriend, and Koji Yakusho in a superb role as the man in the white suit. Yoshi Kato is terrific as the old man who is a master in making noodles as he spends time with the homeless who favor the joy of food rather than what is trendy as he aids Tampopo in teaching her how to made noodles taste good.

Kinzo Sakura is fantastic as the rich old man’s chauffeur Shohei who is good at making noodles as he offers to help Tampopo out as they also go noodle tasting to find the right texture and depth to the noodles. Riya Yasuoka is brilliant as Pisuken as a drunkard who was a customer of Tampopo that decided to help out as he learned what she’s doing as a way to make amends with her. Ken Watanabe is amazing as Gun as Goro’s sidekick who help Tampopo out as he is interested in the idea of the perfect ramen noodle due to a book he reads. Tsutomu Yamazaki is incredible as Goro as a truck driver who arrives at Tampopo’s noodle shop where he sees a woman that is in need to do better as he helps her while dealing with his own feelings for her. Finally, there’s Nobuko Miyamoto in a phenomenal performance as the titular character who is dealing with loss as well as uncertainty as she would be determined to create the perfect ramen noodle recipe as well as revive her noodle shop as it’s a charming and delightful performance from Miyamoto.

Tampopo is a tremendous film from Juzo Itami. Featuring a great cast, beautiful images, a soothing music score, delightful humor, and food that looks so good to eat. It’s a film that plays into the joy of food and what it can do to everyone who makes it as well as eat it all just to ensure the idea of what food can do for someone. In the end, Tampopo is a spectacular film from Juzo Itami.

Juzo Itami Films: (The Funeral (1984 film)) – (A Taxing Woman) – (A Taxing Woman’s Return) – (Tales of a Golden Geisha) – (Minbo) – (Daibyonin) – (Supermarket Woman)

© thevoid99 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

2018 Cannes Film Festival Marathon Announcement

From May 8-19, the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival will commence as this year's line-up is huge although there has been some controversy as it relates to Netflix not wanting to have their films be shown in theaters in France. I'm siding with the people at Cannes in the belief that films are meant to be seen in the big screen and considering that filmmakers like Alfonso Cuaron, Paul Greengrass, and Jeremy Slaunier are working with Netflix and won't have the chance for their films to be seen by the public in a big screen really fucking sucks. The fact that audiences might not get a chance to see the long-awaited film The Other Side of the Wind by Orson Welles that is finally to be shown in its completion is bullshit because Netflix is about exclusivity and the only way you can see it if you're a subscriber. I'm not really that fond of watching films on a laptop unless it's a film that isn't widely available but the idea of watching Orson Welles on a fucking smartphone is fucking bullshit. Because Netflix refuses to play along and throw a hissy-fit of not having their films play in competition for the Palme d'Or, none of the films being produced and distributed by Netflix will be shown at Cannes.

Despite this setback, there are still some films that will be shown by prominent filmmakers that will play in competition for the Palme d'Or such as Spike Lee, Asghar Farhadi, Jean-Luc Godard, Lee Chang-Dong, Pawel Pawlikowski, Matteo Garrone, Hirokazu Koreeda, Jafar Panahi, David Robert Mitchell, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and many others. Out of competition will include the long-awaited return of Lars von Trier after being temporarily banned from Cannes due to controversial comments he made in 2011 as he will return with The House that Jack Built while Terry Gilliam will close the festival with his long-awaited film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Along with the premiere for Solo: A Star Wars Story from Ron Howard as well as new films from Wim Wenders, Debra Granik, and Gaspar Noe playing out of competition and in different sections. This year's festival is exciting as the jury of the Palme d'Or is headed by Cate Blanchett as she is joined by Kristen Stewart, Ava Duvernay, Chang Chen, Lea Seydoux, Denis Villeneuve, Andrey Zvyagintsev, Khadja Nin, and Robert Guediguian.

For the marathon, there will be no-rewatches this year nor will I watch films from laptop this year as I wanted to scale things down a bit as I've eventually chose 12 films this year to watch for the marathon. Four of the films I've selected this year are Palme d'Or winners while the rest are films that have played or have won awards from the festival as they will compete for the fictionalized version of the Palme d'Or in this marathon. Here are the 12 films that I will see for the duration of the marathon:

After the Storm (Played in the Un Certain Regarde Section 2016)

Breathe (Played in the International Critics Week Section 2014)

Captain Fantastic (2016 Best Director Un Certan Regarde Winner)

The Go-Between (1971 Palme d'Or Winner)

I, Daniel Blake (2016 Palme d'Or Winner & Palm DogManitarian Award)

The Lobster (2015 Jury Prize Winner, Palm Dog Award, & Queer Palm Special Mention)

Paterson (2016 Palm Dog Winner)

Personal Shopper (2016 Best Director co-winner)

The Salesman (2016 Best Actor & Best Screenplay Winner)

A Special Day (Played in Competition for the Palme d'Or 1977)

The Tree of the Wooden Clogs (1978 Palme d'Or Winner & Ecumenical Jury Prize)

Union Pacific (1939 Palme d'Or Winner awarded retrospectively at 2002)

Well, that is it for what to expect in this year's marathon as I will admit that there's not much diversity this year as I just went with what is available and how much I'm likely to do. Until then, this is thevoid99 saying au revoir.

© thevoid99 2018

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

2018 Blind Spot Series: L'Argent

Based on the novella The Forged Coupon by Leo Tolstoy, L’Argent (Money) is the story of a counterfeit bill that would shape the lives of the various individuals it would encounter. Written for the screen and directed by Robert Bresson, the film is an exploration of money and the ills that it can bring into humanity all through a forged bill made as a prank that goes horribly wrong. Starring Christian Patey, Vincent Risterucci, Caroline Lang, Sylvie Van den Elsen, Didier Baussy, Beatrice Tabourin, and Marc Ernest Fourneau. L’Argent is a rapturous yet harrowing film from Robert Bresson.

What happens when a simple prank over a forged bill would lead to trouble and affect the life of a truck driver and a photo shop’s assistant? That is pretty much the plot of the film as it play into a few individuals whose lives are drastically changed all because a couple of kids created a forged bill in the hopes for one of them to pay someone back and not think about the consequences. Robert Bresson’s screenplay begins with a young student named Norbert (Marc Ernest Fourneau) asking his parents for an advance of his allowance as he owes money to another student. His parents politely refuse as he turns to a classmate who had created a counterfeit 500 franc that they used to buy a picture frame at a photo shop and things suddenly go wrong. Notably when a truck driver named Yvon (Christian Patey) has unknowingly been given the forged bill where he would try to pay a waiter at a cafĂ© as the waiter accuses him of being the counterfeiter.

It would lead to a chain of events for Yvon whose life would go into ruin while a photo shop’s assistant in Lucien (Vincent Risterucci) would lie on court to protect his boss as he is later consumed with guilt as he goes into a world of crime. It all plays into the effects of this forged franc that would do where these two young men go into different directions as it all plays into the need for money either as a way to live for or to be used as some form of idealism. At the same time, there’s an element of dehumanization that occurs with the effect of this forged franc where both Yvon and Lucien deal with a sense of uncertainty as well as not know what they’re doing.

Bresson’s direction is largely minimalistic in terms of the compositions he creates as there’s not much camera movement throughout the film in favor of creating precise compositions that play into this disconnect between man and self. Shot partially in Paris, the film doesn’t dwell into famous locations in order to focus on a few locations in the city as well as how this forged bill would create chaos in a small location where the photo shop is. There’s a few wide shots in Bresson’s direction yet he would largely favor medium shots to get a look of the characters and their environment as well as the fact that he would position a camera at a door or a window where there’s so much that is happening through a glass window or a glass door. The compositions that Bresson creates would play into not just these elements of suspense but also in the drama as Bresson would have an actor in a frame to play up the sense of dehumanization. Most notably the sequence where Yvon is in prison as he would be put in solitary confinement as he refuses to read letters from his wife Elise (Caroline Lang) as it would add to this anguish and loss for Yvon who would descend into the darkest aspects of humanity.

Yet, Bresson would also show elements of faith where a prisoner would pray for Yvon in one scene as well as a scene late in the film where Yvon stays at the home of an old woman (Sylvie Van den Elsen) who believes that people can be saved no matter what devious action or sin they committed. It would play into this sense of conflict of Yvon as it relates to his humanity but also the allure of something as toxic as money. Even the film’s ending is Bresson at his most realistic as it shows not just the consequences of one’s action but also for the horrific motivation that is money whether it’s real or a forgery. Overall, Bresson crafts a mesmerizing yet unsettling film about the impact of a forged franc that would drastically change the lives of a few individuals.

Cinematographers Pasqualino De Santis and Emmanuel Machuel do brilliant work with the film’s colorful cinematography with the usage of natural lighting for some of the daytime interior/exterior scenes including the usage of low-key lights for the scenes at night. Editor Jean-Francois Naudon does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward to play into the drama and bit of suspense without anything stylized other than a few rhythmic cuts. Production designer Pierre Guffroy does fantastic work with the look of the photo shop as well as the prison that Yvon would go to and some of the places he would encounter.

Costume designer Monique Dury does nice work with the costumes as it is largely casual with the exception of Norbert, Norbert’s parents, and the people who run the photo shop as they sort of wear posh-like clothing. Sound mixer Jacques Maumont does incredible work with the film’s sound in capturing the natural locations of what goes on in and out of a room as well as what happens in the streets where it is one of the film’s major highlights.

The film’s wonderful cast include some notable small roles from Andre and Claude Cler as Norbert’s parents, Michel Briguet as the old woman’s father, Didier Baussy as the photo shop manager, Bruno Lapeyre as Norbert’s friend Martial who created the forged franc, Beatrice Tabourin as the photo shop clerk, and Caroline Lang as Yvon’s wife Elise who copes with not just his incarceration but also something much bigger that adds to Yvon’s descent. Marc Ernest Fourneau is terrific as Norbert as the young student who would set the chain of events to occur unaware of what he’s done as it’s all about trying to pay back some money he owes and creating a prank that went horribly wrong.

Sylvie Van den Elsen is superb as the old lady whom Yvon meets late in the film as a woman who would take Yvon into her home as she sees how troubled he is but reminds him that he can redeem himself. Vincent Risterucci is excellent as Lucien as a photo shop assistant who would lie for his boss in order to get himself and his boss out of trouble only to go into a world of crime as a way to cope with his guilt. Finally, there’s Christian Patey in a brilliant performance as Yvon Targe as a truck driver whose encounter with a forged franc would cause a chain of events in his life to shatter from being accused of creating a forged franc to other crimes as he would descend into darkness as it is a chilling performance from Patey.

The 2017 Region 1/Region A DVD/Blu-Ray from the Criterion Collection presents the film in a newly restored 4K digital transfer with Dolby Digital Mono (uncompressed in its Blu-Ray release) in French with English subtitles in the film’s original 1:66:1 aspect ratio. The special features include the film’s original theatrical trailer and two major featurettes. The first is a 31-minute press conference from the 1983 Cannes Film Festival in which Bresson and actors from the film talk answer questions to critics and journalists. The video shows Bresson being cagey in some of his answers where he would say things that he knows that can’t be explained as he also admits that he’s not a genius. He would also criticize certain things about cinema as he’s aware that his films aren’t commercial and he has no intentions in making them commercial. He also talks about his own views on humanity and many of the themes in the film as it is a compelling press conference that shows Bresson in his element with a couple of the actors getting a few words in as it’s really more about Bresson who really doesn’t care what the audience thinks of the film as it wasn’t well-received by the audience who booed the film in its premiere.

The 51-minute video essay L’Argent, A to Z by film scholar James Quandt who narrates the essay. The video essay talks about the film the letters A to Z in 26 parts to explain the film’s meaning, its influence, and Bresson himself. Quandt talks about the many motifs that Bresson would put into the film but also the evolution of his trademarks as it would culminate with so much in his final film as would his view of the world which has him become more pessimistic in relation to some of the things that was happening in France at the time. Bresson’s influences are mentioned as it ranged from philosophers, artists, and literary figures with Dostoyevsky being the most notable yet it is Leo Tolstoy’s novella that would inspire him to create what would be his final film. It’s a fascinating video essay that explores the many attributes about the film and why it remains compelling more than 30 years since its release.

The DVD/Blu-ray booklet include an essay by film critic Adrian Martin entitled The Weight of the World about the film and Bresson’s methods into the art of filmmaking. Martin talks about many of the film’s themes and how it relates to a lot of Bresson’s body of work in film. It also dwell into some of the spiritual aspects of the film in its exploration of redemption and temptation as it relates to the character of Yvon. Martin says that this film, of all of Bresson’s films, is his darkest and most vicious in terms of the fates of the protagonists as well as the situations that happen and its setting. It all play into the way Bresson sees things as he is aware of how cruel the world can be but also sees that there can be a sense of hope no matter how dark the world is.

The interview entitled I’m Not Looking for a Description but for a Vision of Things in which Robert Bresson discusses the film with Michel Clement in 1983 that was later published in full for the magazine Positif in 1996. Bresson talks about some of his filmmaking methods and theories as well as his approach to storytelling as it relates to the film. Notably his approach to sound and sound design as a way to create an atmosphere for the world that the characters are in. He also discusses his literary influences and the ideas he would get for the film as well as a brief discussion about a film project that never came to fruition that was to revolve around the genesis of Earth. It’s a riveting interview that explores many of Bresson’s views on films and storytelling as well as reasons why never uses actors in order to get a sense of realism that he wanted.

L’Argent is a magnificent film from Robert Bresson. Featuring a great cast, eerie visuals, a low-key yet simple presentation, and evocative takes on themes of inhumanity and greed. It’s a film that explores what a simple forged bill can do in creating chaos and drastically change the lives of a few individuals to the point that they lose aspects of themselves as well as raise questions about redemption. In the end, L’Argent is an outstanding film from Robert Bresson.

Robert Bresson Films: (Les affairs publique) – (Les Anges du peche) – Les Dames du Bois de BoulogneDiary of a Country Priest - A Man Escaped - Pickpocket - The Trial of Joan of Arc - Au Hasard Balthazar - Mouchette - (A Gentle Woman) – (Four Nights of a Dreamer) – (Lancelot du Lac) – (The Devil Probably)

© thevoid99 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

L'Auberge Espagnole

Written and directed by Cedric Klapisch, L’Auberge Espagnole (The Spanish Apartment) is the story of a group of students from various parts of Europe who share an apartment in Barcelona where they deal with romantic entanglements and other things. The first in a trilogy of films revolving around characters in Europe, the film is an exploration of different people living in Barcelona where a young man deals with his surroundings and fascination towards a fellow student. Starring Romain Duris, Judith Godreche, Audrey Tautou, Barnaby Metschurat, Cecile de France, Kelly Reilly, and Kevin Bishop. L’Auberge Espagnole is a witty and riveting film from Cedric Klapisch.

The film revolves around a French graduate student who is asked to study in Barcelona for a year as he would live with six other European grad students in an apartment where he deals with a long-distance relationship, feelings for another woman, and other things during the course of a year. It all plays into this man trying to find himself as he’s studying to work in economics as he takes part in the ERAMUS programme to get the job he wanted but that would require him to live and study in Barcelona for the year. Cedric Klapisch’s screenplay is largely told from the perspective of its protagonist Xavier (Romain Duris) who narrates the film as if he’s telling about his experience where he deals with not just homesickness but also culture shock and uncertainty in Barcelona. Even as he would leave behind a girlfriend in Martine (Audrey Tautou) and his mother where he would meet a French couple in Jean-Charles Perrin (Wladimir Yordanoff) and Anne-Sophie (Judith Godreche) whom he would stay with for a bit until finding a place to live.

Upon discovering an ad for apartment, he would pass an interview by his flatmates who are all different students from different parts of Europe. Among them is Wendy (Kelly Reilly) from Britain, Soledad (Cristina Bondo) from Spain, Tobias (Barnaby Metschurat) from Germany, Alessandro (Federico D’Anna) from Italy, and Lars (Christian Pagh) from Denmark as they’re all different and share the apartment where they later add Xavier’s Belgian classmate Isabelle (Cecile de France) to the apartment when their rent is raised. Despite their cultural differences, Xavier and his flatmates prove to be a unique family in some ways as they help each other find love and deal with other things as it would include Wendy’s immature younger brother William (Kevin Bishop) as well as Xavier’s own infatuation towards Anne-Sophie where he turns to Isabelle for advice as she’s a lesbian. Yet, Xavier’s affection toward Anne-Sophie would be complicated by his own long-distance relationship with Martine that would fall apart as it would lead to all sorts of questions for him.

Klapisch’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of the different film formats that is used as well as the elements of montages that help play into Xavier’s whirlwind year where it would have its ups and downs. Shot on location in Barcelona with some of the film shot in Paris, the film does play into the idea of culture shock from Xavier’s perspective as Barcelona isn’t presented as some tourist paradise with its beaches and architectures. Instead, Klapisch emphasizes on some of the smaller parts of the city as well as the cultural differences it has with other Spaniards which upsets Isabelle who learns that she and a few other students are speaking a different dialect than the people in Barcelona. At the same time, Klapisch would show what Xavier had to do to be part of Barcelona as he would meet a bar waiter named Juan (Javier Coromina) who would teach him how to speak Spanish properly and not to take things so seriously. While Klapisch would use some wide shots of some of the locations including scenes at Park Guell and some shots at the Sagrada Familia.

Much of his direction is intimate in its usage of close-ups and medium shots to play into the interaction between the characters and some of the claustrophobic elements of the apartment where Xavier shares a room with Isabelle. It does play into how close the flatmates are as they also socialize together despite some chaotic moments that would involve William who says stupid things including doing something that offends Tobias. There are elements of humor as it relates to a visit from Wendy’s boyfriend Alistair (Iddo Goldberg) as well as a sequence that is surreal which play into Xavier’s own anxieties about his romantic entanglements. By the time the year ends, Xavier’s experience in Barcelona would change him as Klapisch would showcase this growing sense of confusion but also an uncertainty of the direction of Xavier’s life and what he wanted to do with it as it all play into everything he’s narrating about. Overall, Klapisch crafts an evocative yet rapturous film about a French grad’s student time in Barcelona where he encounters romance and life with six other people from different parts of Europe.

Cinematographer Dominique Colin does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it’s very colorful to display the beauty of some of the locations including the beaches as well as the scenes in the apartment including a blackout with the usage of candles for light. Editor Francine Sandberg does brilliant work with the editing with its stylish usage of montages, super-imposed dissolves, and other stylish cuts to play into the energy of the city as well as some of the comedic moments in the film. Production designer Francois Emmanuelli does fantastic work with the look of the apartment in how small it is with some elements of space as well as how badly organized the refrigerator is.

Costume designers Anne Schotte and Teresa Goicoechea do terrific work with the costumes as it is largely casual to play into the personality of the characters in the film. The sound work of Stephane Brunclair and Cyril Moisson is superb for its natural sound in the way music is played in the background as well as the scenes in and around the streets of Barcelona. The film’s music soundtrack largely consists a mixture of different kinds of music that include contributions from Radiohead, Daft Punk, Frederic Chopin, Sonia & Selena, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Ali Farka Toure, Africando All Stars, and Mala Rodriguez.

The casting by Pep Armengol, Lucy Boulting, and Emmanuelle Gaborit is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Jacno as Xavier’s father in a brief scene, Martine Demaret as Xavier’s mother, Paulina Galvez as a flamenco teacher that Isabelle has feelings for, Pere Abello as the landlord, Pere Sagrista as Xavier and Isabelle’s economics professor, Javier Coromina as the bar waiter Juan who teaches Xavier how to act like a Barcelona regular, Irene Motala as a bartender, Iddo Goldberg as Wendy’s boyfriend Alistair, Olivier Raynal as an American musician named Bruce that Wendy falls for, and Jacques Royer as Erasmus who appears to Xavier in his dreams. Christian Pagh is terrific as the Danish student Lars who tries to ensure that everyone is calm and such while Federico D’Anna is superb as the Italian student Alessandro who always wears a football jersey and is sometimes messy to the annoyance of Wendy. Barnaby Metschurat is awesome as the German student Tobias who is trying to study but also have some fun as he really doesn't like William over a joke that is very offensive to Germans.

Cristina Bondo is wonderful as Soledad as the apartment’s sole Spanish grad student who sympathizes with Isabelle’s confusion of the dialects as she is annoyed by William’s perception of Spanish people. Wladimir Yordanoff is excellent as Jean-Charles Perrin as a doctor working at Barcelona for a year as he would let Xavier stay with him and keep his wife company unaware of Xavier’s feelings for his wife. Kevin Bishop is hilarious as Wendy’s immature brother William who likes to say bad jokes and things that offend people yet would prove his worth in a moment late in the film just to help his sister. Audrey Tautou is brilliant as Martine as Xavier’s girlfriend who isn’t happy about him living in France as her brief visit to Barcelona only makes things worse as she copes with the long-distance relationship and her own direction in life. Kelly Reilly is amazing as Wendy as the British student who is known for being a neat-freak of sorts while trying to loosen up as she becomes interested in an American musician.

Judith Godreche is incredible as Anne-Sophie as Jean-Charles’ newlywed wife who deals with her husband’s work and her fear of being alone as she enjoys Xavier’s company where she starts to have feelings for Xavier. Cecile de France is phenomenal as Isabelle as a Belgian student who would share a room with Xavier as she is an open lesbian who knows how to charm women as she would help Xavier while dealing with her own romantic entanglements. Finally, there’s Romain Duris in a remarkable performance as Xavier as a French economic grad student who goes to Barcelona unaware of what will happen there as he deals with a lot as Duris display a lot of humor as well as humility into a young man that is experiencing so much.

L’Auberge Espagnole is a spectacular film from Cedric Klapisch. Featuring a great ensemble cast, a compelling story of love and growth into adulthood, gorgeous locations, and a fun soundtrack. It’s a film that play into the lives of different people living in an apartment in Barcelona and how it would shape the life of a young man in his journey into manhood. In the end, L’Auberge Espagnole is a sensational film from Cedric Klapisch.

Cedric Klapisch Films: (Riens du tout) – (Le Peril jeune) – (When the Cat’s Away) – (Family Resemblances) – (Peut-etre) – (Not For, or Against (Quite the Contrary) – (Russian Dolls) – (Paris (2008 film)) – (My Piece of the Pie) – (Chinese Puzzle) – (La Vin et le vent)

© thevoid99 2018