Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Year-End Reflections of 2019

Fuck 2019. If anyone is going to come to me, my mother, or my sister about the year and how good it was, we’re likely to kill you where you stand. It fucking sucked. Despite the fact that I gained a nephew in Mateo whom I’ve grown fond of, the passing of my dad at the end of June killed the year for me, my mother, my sister, and everyone who knew my dad. The first half was tough considering that he was going through esophagus cancer as we thought he was doing fine but because of complications involving the recovery of the surgery. Things went to shit as my dad became miserable in his final days about not having to eat the food he loves or drink a beer every once in a while. That’s not life and what’s the point of life if you can’t enjoy the little things? In some ways, my sister, my mother, and I are glad he’s gone because he didn’t have to suffer in not having to enjoy those things. Still, it is tough not having him around as it’s something I know have to deal with until my mother passes. Even as I’m dealing with an awful flu as I’ve been vomiting for the past few days, I just hope things can’t get any worse.

Due to the events of the year as it was filled with so much bullshit and people acting like idiots to the point that I stopped going to certain websites and places on the net that I used to go to because I have no more patience for that bullshit. My dad’s passing forced me to look at some of the good things in life and as a result, I decided to step away from the shit that made me miserable and also clean out my closet of all of that bullshit. With Mateo being a joy in my life now, it has given me some kind of distraction as I also felt the need to not watch films for a while as my overall output has dwindled. In the year of 2019, I saw a total of 342 films in 161 first-timers and 181 re-watches with 17 of the first-timers being films directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge with 15 films that I saw in the theaters which was similar to the number of films I saw in the theaters last year. Not bad considering the circumstances as I’ll maybe go for 350 films for the next year. The highlight of the year have been my Blind Spots as here are the final ranking of the films of the 2019 Blind Spot Series:

1. Shoah

2. My Neighbor Totoro

3. The Gleaners and I

4. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

5. In the Realm of the Senses

6. To Sleep with Anger

7. This is Not a Film

8. Weekend

9. All About Eve

10. Gilda

11. Marketa Lazarova

12. Gone with the Wind

One of the joys of film-watching is getting the chance films from different genres and different places that have been made with some new discoveries along the way. Here are my top 35 pre-2010 first-timers that I saw for 2019:

1. Mamma Roma

2. The Passion of Anna

3. Medium Cool

4. Branded to Kill

5. Kuroneko

6. Bullitt

7. Two or Three Things I Know About Her

8. Magnet of Doom

9. An Autumn Afternoon

10. Death of a Cyclist

11. Alexander Nevsky

12. The 39 Steps

13. The Face of Another

14. Young Mr. Lincoln

15. My Night at Maud's

16. Midnight Express

17. King of New York

18. Mostly Martha

19. The World

20. Eating Raoul

21. The Green Ray

22. Mysterious Object at Noon

23. The End of Summer

24. Secrets of Women

25. Ghost in the Shell

26. Unknown Pleasures

27. The Man Who Knew Too Much

28. Oliver Twist

29. Querelle

30. Claire's Knee

31. Madeleine

32. Love in the Afternoon

33. Pitfall

34. La collectionneuse

35. River of Grass

That is all for 2019 as other joys involve the Atlanta Braves winning another division championship to spite the critics who say they weren’t going to win another one. The Atlanta United despite changes in management still won me over as they’ve been solid while All Elite Wrestling, NWA, and New Japan Pro Wrestling have become great alternatives to the dumpster fire that is WWE. It’s been a strange decade that began with me going through a severe depression and now ending on a down note as I’m suffering from the flu and missing my dad. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off and wishing those who are good people a Happy New Year and a Happy New Decade and as for everyone else I don’t care about…. Here’s what you get…

© thevoid99 2019

Films That I Saw: December 2019

2019 is almost over and thank God it’s going to be over. While there is joy over the fact that Cum-bucket-Cunt-fuck-douchebag-white trash motherfucker has been impeached by the House of Representatives. It’s a joy that isn’t going to last as it’s just the first step of something that might not even come considering how divided the U.S. government is and the fact that the Senate is unlikely to get IMPOTUS out of the White House as it is known in how corrupt the government is. Just as long as they get paid up front, they’ll do whatever their dictator will say. It’s going to take some miracle to get shit-brain out of the White House and in prison. Of course next year is an election year but honestly, do you think one person’s vote will really matter knowing that it can be bought? Don’t tell me to vote, voting is for suckers.

In the month of December 2019, I saw a total of 24 films in 10 first-timers and 14 re-watches as two of those first-timers were films directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. A bit of a downer considering the fact that I’m suffering from the flu and one of my mother’s relatives is over for the holidays as I have to drive them around to places. The highlight of the month has definitely been my Blind Spot assignment in Shoah. Here are the top 5 first-timers that I saw for December 2019:

1. Marriage Story

2. Knives Out

3. Little Women

4. Manila in the Claws of Light

5. The Tribes of Palos Verdes

Monthly Mini-Reviews

Sanjay’s Super Team

One of the few things on Disney+ that I saw as my mother got a new iPad for her birthday as we watched a few things on the app with my nephew who loves Winnie the Pooh as I always wanted to see this short. Man, it was better than I thought it would be as it’s about a kid who loves watching superheroes but has a hard time understanding his father’s traditions. Yet, it is a story full of imagination but also how two different worlds can come together as it is a touching story that manages to be more than just entertaining but also enlightening as Mateo enjoyed it as well.

Men in Black: International

I’m probably in the minority with this film as I actually kind of enjoyed it as I wasn’t fond of the previous two films. Mainly as I really liked the chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as they were fun to watch as the former is a veteran who is lost while the latter is a recruit-on-probation having seen aliens when she was a kid. It is all over the place but it is also kind of fun with Kumail Nanjani as an alien who helps them while there is also some intrigue and such from the appearances of Rebecca Ferguson and Liam Neeson. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself seriously as I wouldn’t mind watching it again.


This was actually pretty funny as it is a fun take on the body-swapping concept though it’s more about a CEO tech who is mean and rude to everyone until she angers a child who puts a curse on her and the tech becomes a child. Though it’s a premise that’s been done before, it is the performance of Marsai Martin that makes it a joy to watch along with some strong supporting work from Issa Rae as the tech’s assistant. It’s a film that never takes itself seriously as well as find ways to be funny and heartfelt.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

3. Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

4. About Schmidt

5. 8 Mile

6. The Fugitive

7. The Falcon and the Snowman

8. Crossfire Hurricane

9. The Sound of Music

10. Summer Rental

That is all for December as I will post a year-end post later in the day. Coming in January, I hope to catch up on some 2019 films as A Hidden Life is the film I’m most eager to see while I have some films in my never-ending DVR list like John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, Longshot, and Shazam! as part of that list. I will also finish up on the MCU is Cinema project as I’m about to get started on the fourth part while it’s likely I’ll go back to work on my Auteurs piece on Kelly Reichardt after I finish the MCU series. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2019

Monday, December 30, 2019

Little Women (2019 film)

Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is the story about the lives of four sisters who embark on different lives as one of them aspires to be a writer as well as trying to find herself during and after the American Civil War. Written for the screen and directed by Greta Gerwig, the film is a coming-of-age drama that explore four young women trying to find themselves as well as their roles in lives as well as rely on each other. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, and Meryl Streep. Little Women is a ravishing and vivacious film from Greta Gerwig.

The film revolves around four sisters living in Concord, Massachusetts during the American Civil War as their father is away as they all have different ambitions and dreams that they want to do while eventually finding their own identities in the years after the war. It’s a film that play into a world where women are expected to have certain roles for the world yet one of them wants to write while another wants to be an artist while another sister wants to belong and be part of society and another sister just wants to simply play piano. Greta Gerwig’s screenplay doesn’t aim for a traditional narrative but rather a somewhat non-linear narrative that is more deconstructive in order to explore the four March sisters in Margaret “Meg” (Emma Watson), Josephine “Jo” (Saoirse Ronan), Elizabeth “Beth” (Eliza Scanlen), and the youngest Amy (Florence Pugh).

The narrative opens with Jo trying to sell her stories and hoping to get published yet she chooses to remain anonymous as a writer and have her work be re-edited for money that she uses to help her family back in Concord while she’s in New York teaching at a boarding house. Much of the narrative have the sisters often looking back at certain moments of their lives during the final years of the American Civil War where their father (Bob Odenkirk) is serving for the Union as they live with their mother Marmee (Laura Dern) and family maid Hannah (Jayne Houdyshell) whom they consider family than a servant. Gerwig’s script does focus largely on Jo yet she does give a lot of considerable attention to the bratty but artistic Amy, the proper Meg, and the shy Beth. While Amy and Meg are given arcs that play into their development, Beth’s role is more at the center as she represents the best of the sisters while being a source of comfort to the elderly neighbor Mr. Laurence (Chris Cooper) through her piano playing while his grandson Theodore “Laurie” (Timothee Chamalet) becomes a friend of the sisters.

Gerwig’s direction is definitely rapturous in not just its presentation but also in some of the choices she makes in the way she presents the characters and their arcs. Shot largely on location in Boston as well as Concord, Massachusetts and parts of Harvard including the Arnold Arboretum as Paris, Gerwig recreates the world of mid-19th Century Massachusetts as there’s some wide shots of the locations while Gerwig would also use medium shots to get a look into Concord in the mid-19th Century and how it would change when Jo was living in the town to her return years later to help the ailing Beth. The usage of dolly tracking shots for a scene where Jo dances with Laurie outside of a party that Meg is attending as there is this air of energy and looseness that makes it so compelling as it play into Jo’s friendship with Laurie. Gerwig also creates matching compositions in the way to create shifting transitions where it would focus on a character from a certain moment in time to then where that person is years later as they reflect on the past.

Gerwig’s direction also has this atmosphere to the period while emphasizing on different seasons to help play into the mood of a scene as well as the journey that a character takes. Amy would be in Paris trying to learn how to paint like the greats while dealing with Laurie’s presence who is trying to woo her while Meg is in Concord trying to be a good wife but also wanting to fit in with the other women in Concord. The scenes of Jo with Beth play into their relationship but also how important Beth was to the family as someone who really did a lot more behind the scenes as well as encourage Jo to not stop writing. Gerwig would also find a way to wrap things up as it relate to Jo eventually finding herself as well as what she wants as a writer and as a woman along with her sisters finding their own identities with the people they care about around them. Overall, Gerwig crafts an evocative and intoxicating film about four sisters trying to find themselves in mid-19th Century America.

Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of natural blue lighting for some of the scenes in the winter as well as to create a mood along with some naturalistic photography in some of the daytime interiors and usage of candles at night. Editor Nick Houy does brilliant work with the editing with its stylish usage of jump-cuts, montages, and slow-motion as it help play into the drama and some of the humor. Production designer Jess Gonchor, with set decorator Claire Kaufman and supervising art director Chris Farmer, does excellent work with the look of the March home as well as the Laurence estate as well as the home of Aunt March (Meryl Streep) as there’s a lot of great detail that play into the homes and how it reflect those characters. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran is amazing for its costumes in the design of the dresses that the women wear as it so much detail that play into the personalities of the characters with the clothes that the men wear throughout the film.

Visual effects supervisor Blake Goedde does terrific work with the visual effects as it is largely set dressing to help create the look of some of the places the characters go to in its exterior. Sound editors Skip Lievsay and Paul Urmsom do superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the parties as well as the scenes on the beach and the pub scenes in New York. The film’s music by Alexandre Desplat is phenomenal for its rich and lush orchestral score that help play into the drama and some of its livelier moments as it is a highlight of the film as the music soundtrack also feature some classical pieces and traditional music pieces of the time.

The casting by Kathy Driscoll and Francine Maisler is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Maryanne Plunkett as the boarding house landlord Mrs. Kirke, Abby Quinn as a young society woman in Annie Moffat, Dash Barber as Amy’s beau Fred Vaughn, Sasha Frovola as the ailing German immigrant Mrs. Hummel, Jayne Houdyshell as the March’s longtime maid Hannah whom the girls treat as family, Bob Odenkirk as Father March, and Tracy Letts as the newspaper publisher Mr. Dashwood who is baffled by Jo’s stories as he reluctantly publishes them. James Norton is terrific as Laurie’s tutor John Brooke who would become Meg’s husband as he is concerned with her desire to fit in despite their lack of finances while Louis Garrel is superb as Friedrich Bhaer as a European literature professor who befriends Jo in New York while gives her some serious criticism about her work.

Chris Cooper is fantastic as Mr. Laurence as Laurie’s grandfather who laments over the loss of his daughter many years ago as he sees Beth as someone close to his daughter due to her love for the piano. Timothee Chalamet is excellent as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence as the grandson of Mr. Laurence who befriends Jo and the March sisters as he helps them be part of their plays as well as observe everything else while later falling for Amy in Paris. Meryl Streep is brilliant as Aunt March as Father March’s older sister who is rich while always offering the March girls advice about life and such as she often brings a lot of humor to her role. Laura Dern is amazing as Marmee as the March family matriarch who is always trying to bring some guidance and warmth to her daughters as well as someone who is also willing to help no matter how little her family have.

Eliza Scanlen is incredible as Elizabeth “Beth” March as the third older sister of the family who is shy as she prefers to play the piano to entertain others while is also the most observant as she would fall ill twice through scarlet fever where she would give Jo the motivation to keep on writing. Emma Watson is remarkable as Margaret “Meg” March as the eldest of the four sisters who wants to fit in and wear the finest clothes as she also acts in Jo’s plays but wants to have a family as she later deals with the desires to conform as well as be a good wife and mother to her children. Florence Pugh is phenomenal as Amy March as the youngest of the four sisters who is wild and bratty but also manages to be caring as she later goes to France to learn to be an artist as she copes with her work as well as her love life as she becomes unsure about Laurie. Finally, there’s Saoirse Ronan in a sensational performance as Josephine “Jo” March as the second oldest of the four sisters that wants to write and create stories while trying to stand out on her own as Ronan radiates with charisma as well as restraint to convey her own setbacks as it is a career-defining performance for Ronan.

Little Women is a tremendous film from Greta Gerwig that features top-notch performances from Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper, Timothee Chalamet, and Meryl Streep. Along with its ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, Alexandre Desplat’s rapturous score, amazing set and costume design, and an inventive and compelling script. The film is definitely an adaptation that manages to be not just a fascinating character study and coming-of-age drama but also so much more in its take on identity, womanhood, and the dreams of these four sisters. In the end, Little Women is a magnificent film from Greta Gerwig.

Related: (Little Women (1917 film)) – (Little Women (1918 film)) – (Little Women (1933 film)) – (Little Women (1949 film)) – (Little Women (1994 film)) – (Little Women (2018 film))

Greta Gerwig Films: (Nights and Weekends) – Lady Bird - Barbie

© thevoid99 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019

Blog News: Blog Plans for 2020

2019 sucked. It fucking sucked. Anyone who says "it's 2019" or "it's 2020" is going to get fucking punched in fucking throat. I am in no mood for people saying "you can't say this or say that because it's offensive". I have a sore throat and coughing up a storm. I'm not feeling jolly as I'm still dealing with the fact that my dad isn't here anymore. His passing was really terrifying and I'm still not over it. Everything that I had plan to do went away as I found myself not really wanting to do anything for a time. Plus, having to take care for my nephew while his parents go and work. There's not much time to really do anything. I'm not sure if that will change for 2020 as it's likely I won't reach that elusive goal of watching 500 films in a year.

Now that I have access to Netflix, AppleTV, and Disney+ as well as digital cable and my local library as well as having acquired a lot of DVDs during the holidays. There is still a lot that I hope to do for the new year. Along with films in my never-ending DVR list, I also have the films that I plan to see for the 2020 Blind Spot Series. There are also some things that I want to do for next year:

Take part in the 52 Films by Women pledge in the hopes to reach 52 films directed by women that I've never seen.

Do more films from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Diversify more with mainstream films and art films.

Catch up on films by previous Auteurs subjects such as Woody Allen, Jason Reitman, Francois Ozon, and others.

Have the Cannes Film Festival Marathon from May 12-23.

Those are among the things I hope to do as well as finish the MCU is Cinema project as I've only 3/7 done so far. That's the only major project that I'm doing as I have no interest in taking part in other projects as one I was hoping to do in tribute to my dad has been scrapped as I just prefer to finish the MCU project into the New Year. Then there's the Auteurs series as I had to suspend it for the rest of the year. I have no plans to add anything new as instead I'm just going to go back to work on the subjects that I had hoped to do in 2019:

January-March-Kelly Reichardt

April-June-J.C. Chandor

July-September-Michael Mann

October-December-David Lean

That's all I'm likely to do for 2020 as I have no plans to do anything for The Void-Go-Round unless NIN is planning to do another tour or there's a band/singer that I will see. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off...

© thevoid99 2019

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Thursday Movie Picks (TV Edition): Rivalries

For the 52nd and final week of 2019 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of rivalries on television as it is a unique subject that always make things interesting. Even in the world of sports as my three picks are all based on HBO sports documentaries that were all narrated by Live Schreiber:

1. Battle for Tobacco Road: Duke vs. Carolina

For anyone who follow college basketball probably know about the legendary rivalry between Duke and North Carolina as they’re both separated by eight miles of road with the former being a school of mid-upper class kids and the latter being a school for kids from Carolina. Featuring interviews with students of both schools as well as coaches including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, the late North Carolina coach Dean Smith, current North Carolina head coach Roy Williams, former and current players from both schools including a guy who played for North Carolina named Mike. It’s a fascinating doc that showcases the intensity of the rivalry and how far both schools and its students are willing to go to piss each other.

2. Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals

For anyone that was born or grew up during the 1980s definitely know about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as they were the guys who basically were part of a legendary rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Laker that defined basketball in the 1980s and saving the NBA from irrelevance. Featuring interviews with both men as well as journalists, teammates, coaches, and celebrities like Arsenio Hall, the rivalry of the two men were discussed but also an unlikely friendship between these two men who were different in a lot of ways but also had a lot in common in terms of value and sportsmanship despite the intensity of the rivalry.

3. McEnroe/Borg: Fire & Ice

In the world of tennis, the rivalry between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg was intense and made something like tennis exciting to watch. Featuring interviews between the two men who have become lifelong friends, it is a documentary that showcases what was at stake in the rivalry that occurred in the late 70s/early 1980s and how it made both of them famous as well as infamous. Notably as McEnroe was this young American with a chip on his shoulder and Borg as this gifted Swede who had attracted the ladies. Both men discuss their ups and downs as well as how it helped them both in their later years as both of their tennis careers would wind down and even find brief joy as a team before they retired.

© thevoid99 2019