Monday, November 30, 2020

Films That I Saw: November 2020


We’re one more month away from what has been an extremely horrible year as nearly 13 million have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 268,000 people have died so far. A few weeks ago, my mother had a dinner party planned for herself and longtime family friends as they all hadn’t seen each other in a long time. I was wary about this dinner party and then just days before it was to happen. One of my mother’s friends got COVID and everything got cancelled but she’s doing fine now though I think not having the party was a good thing. It is a reminder of how hard reality can hit yet not everyone is still in the belief that bad things are coming. Even as the U.S. election is over with Joe Biden now set to become our next president but followers of Dookie Tank refuse to accept the results. I remember one weekend this month where me and my mother were going to the Barnes & Noble at Buckhead and on our way as we were about to drive past the governor’s mansion. Those dumbass MAGA supporters were there in protest and such as I wanted to give them the finger and tell them to go home, shut the fuck up, and fuck off.

Alas, that is our reality as on our way home having bought a few Xmas presents for ourselves and my nephew (who is getting really excited). There were a bunch of people at a new salon not wearing masks and having a good time as if nothing is happening just a block away from where my mother and I were living. The sheer sense of insanity and people just being stupid is something I’m dealing with just as I’m days away from turning 40. It’s a reality that I’m beginning to accept knowing that I hadn’t accomplished much of my life but I don’t really have a problem with that at all. Being an uncle to a boy and a young girl that is to come next year is actually fulfilling. Yes, I may not watch as many films as I want to or do ambitious things but it’s better than dealing with stupid people. Plus, I feel like I learned a lot more right now than I did in my teens and 20s. I will say that in my teens, I was taking a lot of things seriously as I was unsure about what to do.

In my 20s, I still had no idea what I wanted to do and thought I was going to know a lot about the world and fulfill these dreams that were unrealistic. By the time I entered my 30s, I realized I learned nothing at all and my 20s were disappointing. Having been through a lot in my 30s and dealing with a lot of things including death, depression, and disappointment. I’m about to come out of my 30s realizing that I shouldn’t take life so seriously but also hold on to those that you care about. Yes, my mom and my sister can be a pain in the ass at times but it’s better than dealing with them than ignorant assholes. Plus, age is nothing but a number though I think I’m mentally in my young 20s in my own emotional immaturity.
In the month of November, I saw a total of 22 films in 9 first-timers and 13 re-watches with one first-timer directed by a woman as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. It’s an improvement of sorts from the last month though I will admit that this pandemic has stifled me immensely though I did get to see some good movies. The highlight of the month has definitely been my Blind Spot choice in Betty Blue. Here are my top 5 first-timers that I saw for November 2020:

1. Meshes of the Afternoon
2. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
3. Out of the Past
4. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special
5. Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment
Monthly Mini-Reviews

Tangled: Before Ever After
One of two films that I saw on Disney+ with my nephew who loves Tangled as that is now one of several of his favorite films is this mini-sequel of sorts that serves as a precursor to the short-lived TV series. It’s a short that play into Rapunzel adjusting to life as a princess with Eugene as she also deals with people from her father’s past who have a grudge towards him. It’s an entertaining short that does feature a few songs while it also does tell the story of Rapunzel and Eugene going on new adventures.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Induction Ceremony

While I admit to having many issues with the institution and people who run the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the fact that they continuously snub so many deserving acts that should be in there now. This year’s class was incredible as it featured managers Irving Azoff and Jon Landau whose work behind the scenes are important. The inductions for T. Rex, Whitney Houston, and the Notorious B.I.G. were handled with class with their family members accepting the award in their honor while members of the Doobie Brothers were able to have their say in the long overdue honor that they should’ve been given years ago. Then there’s two of my favorite acts whose induction I’m really happy for. First is Depeche Mode as they were inducted by Charlize Theron with comments from Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top praising their work as I’m happy that they got in out of spite for the fact the people who run the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame had never given them a good review or any due as this was a big fuck you to Jann Wenner and his piece of shit magazine that should’ve died more than 30 years ago.

Finally, there’s Nine Inch Nails who were inducted by Iggy Pop with comments from Miley Cyrus, filmmaker David Fincher, producer Mark Ronson, Saul Williams, and Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine about their legacy and contribution to popular music. Trent Reznor is the lone inductee who got to speak on behalf of his outfit as other members of the outfit who are inducted include Atticus Ross, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, Ilan Rubin, Danny Lohner, and Chris Vrenna as they all were interviewed with Reznor as part of a discussion about the band’s legacy. Reznor also thanked the other members who weren’t inducted that include Charlie Clouser, Richard Patrick of Filter, Jeordie White, Aaron North, Josh Freese, Jerome Dillon, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, the late Jeff Ward, and the late James Wooley. This induction was special though it is a shame none of the living inductees were able to perform due to the pandemic as it would’ve made the whole event far more special.

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special
An exclusive on Disney+ is probably the best thing the franchise has put out since The Last Jedi and it also makes fun of its own legacy. Featuring Kelly Marie Tran voicing her role as Rose Tico, the short plays into Rey trying to teach Finn while Poe tries to create the ultimate Life Day Party. Yet, Rey finds a crystal that would allow her to go back in time and hilarity ensues as it features a moody Darth Vader, Kylo Ren acting like a fanboy, and all sorts of funny things while it also take shots at some of the flaws of the film series that include Obi-Wan moaning about tax disputes. It is a joy to watch and something all Star Wars fans should see.

Suede-Live at Perivale

This 1999 documentary short film set during the release of the band’s fourth album Head Music is more of a promotional film for the new album as it explores the band making the new album as well as performing songs from that record. It’s something that fans would want to seek out as it play into the Britpop band not only continuing their dominance as one of the big four bands of the genre with Blur, Oasis, and Pulp but also proof that they were also trying something new and keep themselves fresh. Even though things behind the scenes at the time involving singer Brett Anderson’s drug use and keyboardist Neil Codling’s health issues were coming into play as the band would reveal many years later.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. 24 Hour Party People
2. Elf
3. Bloodsport
4. Monsters University
5. Happy Gilmore
6. The First Wives Club
7. We Bought a Zoo
8. The Five-Year Engagement
9. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
10. Nacho Libre
That is all for November 2020. Next up, I will make a formal announcement about the 2021 Blind Spot Series as I have some of the films that I want to see purchased or available at the moment as well as trying to catch up on 2020 releases from my never-ending DVR list as well as films such as Mank and maybe upcoming films like Soul and Wonder Woman 1984. I will also watch my final Blind Spot entry in Abbas Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy to finish the year.
Before I sign off, given the fact that so many people have died this year including most recently Alex Trebek of Jeopardy. There is one person close to my heart that meant a lot to my father as this was someone I watched growing up over the years and that is Diego Armando Maradona. People will say that Pele is the greatest footballer but I highly disagree despite his accomplishments. For me and for my dad, it was Maradona. The man was a god in the way he dribbled the ball with his feet, his speed, his approach to misdirection, his play-making, and the way he just scored goals. He was also human in how he dealt with setbacks but also didn’t take shit from anyone including FIFA as he refused to be their cabana boy like Pele. Maradona was a complicated figure but that is probably why he is so beloved because he wasn’t afraid to be human. For the people in Argentina and the people in Napoli, Italy, I’m sure this loss is immense. I also learned that he was Kobe Bryant’s favorite footballer which says a lot about two iconic figures in sport who mean a lot to everyone. Wherever they are, I hope Kobe and Maradona just have a laugh while Maradona is chatting with my dad about those goals. Gracias Diego, we will miss you.

© thevoid99 2020

Sunday, November 29, 2020

2020 Blind Spot Series: Betty Blue


Note: The Following is also a contributing piece to the 2020 Edition of Girl Week hosted by Wendell of Dell on Movies.

Based on the novel 37 2 le matin by Philippe Dijan, Betty Blue is the story of an aspiring novelist who meets a young woman in a beach town in France as they engage into a tumultuous and chaotic affair. Written for the screen and directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, the film is an exploration of a love affair that goes into great extremes as it relates to this easygoing man and this troubled and erratic young woman. Starring Jean-Hughes Anglade, Beatrice Dalle, Gerard Darmon, Consuelo de Haviland, Clementine Celarie, and Jacques Mathou. Betty Blue is a ravishing yet intense film from Jean-Jacques Beineix.

The film is about a tumultuous love affair between a thirty-something man and a 19-year old woman as they meet in a beach town in France as they would endure a relationship filled with many ups and downs as well as one of immense turmoil. It’s a film that explores this relationship of great extremes of a man who is just trying to find himself and wonders if he can make it as a novelist where he meets this young woman who is wild and energetic but also has these intense mood swings when things go wrong. The film’s screenplay by Jean-Jacques Beineix explores this relationship as it is largely told from the perspective of Zorg (Jean-Hughes Anglade) who meets Betty (Beatrice Dalle) at the beach and immediately begin this love affair that is intense with passion and terror with Zorg narrating his own experiences with Betty. Their time at the beach town of Gruissan would be brief as they would travel to Paris and later the French countryside town of Marvejols where they try to find a stable life and opportunities with Zorg hoping to be published by the manuscript Betty had created for him. They would also meet an assortment of people who would drive their relationship to new highs and new lows.

Beineix’s direction has elements of style in the compositions he creates yet there is also something entrancing in his overall presentation as it is shot on these different locations in Gruissan, Paris, and Marvejols as they all represent the wild mood swings of Betty and the journey that she and Zorg would take. Beineix’s wide shots and usage of tracking shots add to the beauty of some of the scenery that includes shots in the beaches of Gruissan to a chase scene at night in the streets of Marvejols as it has something that is gripping and unpredictable. There are also these intimate moments in the film with its usage of close-ups and medium shots as it play into the romance with lots of coverage on full-frontal nudity from both Zorg and Betty as the first scene of the film is the two of them having intense sex where it blurs the line of whether the actors are really doing it or faking it real good.

Beineix also maintains this air of danger as it relates to Betty’s unstable behavior whether it’s her throwing things at the bungalow she and Zorg are staying in or just going after a publisher all because he hated Zorg’s book. The film, in its original 185-minute running time, play into this rollercoaster of a relationship as those who observe Betty and Zorg as it includes people in Paris and Marvejols with the latter trying to do what he can to make Betty happy. The film’s third act is about that search for stability and it would happen for a brief moment until something horrific occurs as it play into chaos as well as the role Betty has for Zorg. Yet, Zorg is intent on trying to save her no matter how impulsive, destructive, and delusional she is in this strange yet whirlwind act of love. Overall, Beineix crafts a riveting and exhilarating film about a love affair between a wannabe writer and his young yet wild girlfriend.

Cinematographer Jean-Francois Robin does incredible work with the film’s cinematography as it is a major highlight of the film with its usage of vibrant colors, stylish shading, low-key lighting, and its approach to naturalism for some of the exterior scenes in the day. Editors Monique Prim and Yves Deschamps, with additional work from Marie-Aimee Debril for its original 185-minute cut, does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward in its approach to drama with some jump-cuts to play into the chaotic elements of the film as well as a few slow-motion shots. Production designer Carlos Conti and set decorator Jacques Leguillon do brilliant work with the look of the bungalow that Zorg and Betty were living in as well as re-painting as well as the other homes they would live into play into the progress of their romance. Costume designer Elisabeth Tavernier does fantastic work with the costumes as it help enhance the film’s look whether it’s a red dress that Betty wears or some of the casual yet colorful clothes that Zorg wears.

Hair/makeup designer Judith Gayo does terrific work with the look of Betty in her wild hairstyle as well as a look that she would sport late in the film. The sound work of Pierre Befve and Dominique Hennequin do superb work with the film’s sound as it help play into the atmosphere in how music is sound on location as well as some of the quieter moments in the film. The film’s music by Gabriel Yared is phenomenal as its mixture of soothing saxophone pieces with elements of strings, circus-like music, and other textures is a major highlight of the film as it help play into the drama and chaos.

The casting by Dominique Besnehard is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Dominique Pinon as a drug dealer Zorg meets in a bathroom, Philippe Laudenbach as a posh publisher that Betty beats up, Claude Confortes as the fat and sleazy bungalows proprietor, Jean-Pierre Bisson as a police commissioner Zorg confers with about his own manuscript that was also rejected by pretentious publishers, and Vincent Lindon as a young police officer in Marvejols who isn’t fond of Zorg at first until he realizes that he means well. Jacques Mathou and Clementine Celarie are superb in their respective roles as the husband-and-wife team of Bob and Annie with the former being a friendly markets owner trying to help them out while the latter is a sex-starved woman trying to seduce Zorg every way she can. Consuelo de Haviland is excellent as Betty’s friend Lisa who owns a hotel in Paris where she allows Betty and Zorg to stay for a bit while trying to help Betty any way she can. Gerard Darmon is brilliant as Eddy as Lisa’s boyfriend who owns a pizzeria as he helps Zorg out with publishers while later taking Zorg and Betty to Marvejols for his own reasons as he gives them a new home.

Finally, there’s the duo of Jean-Hughes Anglade and Beatrice Dalle in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Zorg and Betty. Anglade’s performance has him be this man that is easy-going but also frustrated at times where he escapes through having a good time and drinking yet is also troubled by Betty’s mood swings as it is low-key at times but also has moments of humor. Dalle’s performance as the titular character is a debut performance that is unforgettable in terms of not just this air of charisma and energy but also in displaying this pain and anguish this young woman is dealing with. Even as she would do some violent actions to others as well as herself where there is something dangerous in what Dalle does yet it adds so much to everything she’s doing as she and Anglade also have this chemistry that is just riveting to watch.

Betty Blue is a tremendous film from Jean-Jacques Beineix that features great performances from Jean-Hughes Anglade and Beatrice Dalle. Along with its ravishing visuals, Gabriel Yared’s intoxicating score, themes of love at its most extreme, supporting cast, and its gorgeous locations. The film is definitely a love story that doesn’t play by the rules nor does it shy away from its display of sex and violence as well as its exploration of mental illness and searching for meaning through love. In the end, Betty Blue is an outstanding film from Jean-Jacques Beineix.

Jean-Jacques Beineix Films: (Diva (1981 film)) – (Moon in the Gutter) – (Roselyn et les lions) – (Les Enfants de Roumanie) – (IP5: L’ile aux pachydermes) – (Otaku: fils de l’empire du virtuel) – (Place Cichy sans complexe) – (Assigne a residence) – (Mortel transfert)

© thevoid99 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Thursday Movie Picks: Films About Villains


In the 47th week of 2020 for Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of movies about villains. Villains are often more interesting than the heroes themselves where they definitely showcase a whole lot more nuances that no one expects. Here are my three picks:

1. Downfall
Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film about the final days in the life of Adolf Hitler told from the perspective of his former secretary is an unexpected bio-pic of sorts as it showcases one of the most evil men of the 20th Century dealing with failure and the end. Starring Bruno Ganz as Hitler, it is a film that is now more famous for a scene of Hitler just losing it as it’s become this wave of Internet memes that became a life of its own.

2. Revenge of the Sith
The third and the final of the Star Wars prequel film series by George Lucas is definitely the best film of that trilogy despite its flaws. Yet, it is an exploration of a young man’s descent as he becomes frustrated by the Jedi council as well as the expectation that he’s to become a father with Chancellor Palpatine trying to play into his ego. It is a film that play into the final days of the Clone Wars but also an unexpected betrayal in which Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader.

3. Avengers: Infinity War
Part of the extremely-popular and groundbreaking cinematic universe known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the 2018 film maybe be about the Avengers and various good guys going against this villain in Thanos yet the film is more about him. It is the film where audiences get to know this titan properly as he is someone who has this belief that if he gathered all six infinity stones and wipe out half of civilization all across the galaxy. He would save everything and everyone as Josh Brolin’s performance as this figure is truly one of the great performances of a villain as he just proves to be this formidable force against the Avengers in ways that they didn’t expect.

© thevoid99 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Meshes of the Afternoon


Directed and starring Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid and written and edited by Deren, Meshes of the Afternoon is a 19-minute experimental film about a woman who dreams of certain things that blur her idea of reality. The film is a take on the idea of surrealism as it play into the idea of reality and fantasy. The result is a riveting and evocative film from Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid.

The film revolves around the dreams of a woman as it play into the idea of surrealism and the trappings of domesticity. It’s a film that plays into things that a woman is dreaming about as she sees Death lurking around her home carrying a flower while she tries to catch him as she would see a doppelganger of herself and another. Sometimes carrying a key or a knife as it play into what this woman might be imagining as it really plays more into a woman’s state of mind as well as the world she’s in. There isn’t much of a script as Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid just aim for the visuals to tell the story rather than base everything on a traditional narrative. With Hammid being the film’s cinematographer as it is shot in grainy black-and-white film stock, Deren and Hammid play into element of repetition as well as this idea of surrealism. The direction also include these gazing shots that is often shown from a second story window along with these interior shots that play into this woman looking around whether she is dreaming or is she in a dream-within-a-dream.

The direction also has these elements through Deren’s editing as it adds to the surrealism that include a scene of three versions of the woman each taking an object and what is the outcome. Adding to the suspense in a score that was added in its 1959 release is music by Teiji Ito who uses an array of sounds and discordant textures that play into the film’s eerie tone. Even as Ito’s score just enhances the sense of the unknown where the film also maintains this air of surrealism that includes Deren’s performance as the woman and Hammid as both the man and the mysterious black-cloaked, mirror-faced representation of Death. Overall, Deren and Hammid craft a strange yet exhilarating film about a woman’s dreams and its eerie mediation of identity.

Meshes of the Afternoon is a tremendous film from Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid. It’s a wondrous 19-minute experimental short film that explore not just identity and dreams but also a woman trying to find meaning in what she’s seeing. In the end, Meshes of the Afternoon is a spectacular film from Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid.

Maya Deren Films: (The Witch’s Cradle) – (At Land) – (A Study in Choreography for Camera) – (Ritual in Transfigured Time) – (The Private Life of a Cat) – (Meditation on Violence) – (Medusa (1949 film)) – (Ensemble for Somnambulists) – (The Very Eye of Night) – (Season of Stranger) – (Divine Horsemen) – (The Living Gods of Haiti)

© thevoid99 2020

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan


Based on the character created by Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is the sequel to the 2006 film about the Kazakhstan journalist who returns to America in hopes to bring new relations with the country for Kazakhstan by offering his daughter to the American vice president during the U.S. Presidential elections and the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed by Jason Woliner and screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, and Dan Swimer from a story by Cohen, Swimer, Anthony Hines, and Nina Pedrad, the film has the trouble-making Kazakhstan journalist go to America where he’s joined by his 15-year old daughter as they explore the country during a tumultuous time as Cohen reprises the role of Borat Sagdiyev with Maria Bakalova as his daughter Tutar. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is a wild and exhilarating film from Jason Woliner.

Fourteen years after Borat Sagdiyev went to America where he brought a lot of exposure to Kazakhstan only to be sent to the gulag with the country’s reputation in tatters due to his exploits. The film has the journalist return to America in the hopes to restore relations with Kazakhstan by offering a monkey as a gift to its leaders. Yet, upon arriving to the U.S., Borat learned that his daughter Tutar had smuggled herself and killed the monkey where Borat realizes that he can offer her as a gift to the country. It’s a film that has this journalist who doesn’t know much about anything other than what he learned from his own country as he takes his daughter on this adventure through America during a tumultuous time in its presidential election as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way during this road trip through America, Borat learns about Tutar as well as dealing with everything he’s been taught about the ways of the world including a book about how to deal with girls/women in regards to Tutar.

During the course of the entire film as the two try to understand American culture with Borat having to take on many disguises as he’s already recognized from his reports years ago. The film’s screenplay doesn’t have much of a plot yet it does show some advancement in the character development of both Borat and Tutar with the former becoming more concerned for her as a father yet he has to deliver her to the American Vice President Mike Pence or anyone else in the current administration so he can avoid more trouble in Kazakhstan. For the latter, she would discover a world that is far removed from what she knows other than just living in a squalor and dreaming of living in a golden cage like the American first lady. Yet, she would also learn about how women in America live both conservative and liberal as it would lead to a brief split between her and her father.

Jason Woliner’s direction definitely plays up the mockumentary-style that was told in the previous film yet considering that it was shot largely on location in the U.S. during what was (and currently as of November 2020) a tumultuous period at the time during its presidential election and worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. While a lot of the compositions are straightforward with Woliner and cinematographer Luke Geissbuhler shooting everything with Geissbuhler as much of the photography is straightforward with some available light used for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night. Yet, there is something free-wielding into the fact that both Borat and Tutar go into events such as a debutante ball or other events where they shock people who have no idea who they really are. The sense of the unknown and shock factor add to the humor while there are also scenes that prove to be touching such as Borat going into a synagogue as a way to cope with loss where he meets Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans.

Scenes that include Tutar meeting and learning ideas from professional babysitter Jeanise Jones also have humor but also some heart. The moments where Borat meet QAnon believers Jerry Holleman and Jim Russell who take Borat in during quarantine reveal a kindness as Borat doesn’t make fun of them but show them as actual human beings. Still, there are some hilarious moments such as Borat in a costume as the American president trying to crash a conservative convention featuring Mike Pence while him in another disguise as Country Steve at a MAGA rally prove to be funny. Yet, the film’s climax that involves former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as his appearance in the film is the most shocking as he is unaware of who both Borat and Tutar are. Especially since the latter is a 15-year old girl yet Giuliani seems to have no problem with that as his actions in the film prove that he’s not just immoral but also a disgusting human being as it definitely breaks aspects of the fourth wall despite the fact that Giuliani is unaware that he’s in a movie. Overall, Woliner crafts a witty yet satirical film about a journalist and his daughter traveling to America to restore talks with their country of Kazakhstan.

Editors Craig Alpert, Michael Giambra, and James Thomas do excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward but also in a few montages and slow-motion shots. Production designer David Saenz de Maturana, with set decorators Jill McGraw and Bryan Walior plus art directors Vraciu Eduard Daniel, John Lavin, and Silvia Nancu, does amazing work with the look of some of the set design for some of the scenes set in Kazakhstan as well as the look of the truck and horse carriage that Borat drives through America. Costume designer Erinn Knight does fantastic work with some of the clothes that Borat and Tutar would wear during their journey as it play into some funny moments but also moments of character development.

Special makeup effects artists Barney Burman, Laura Dandridge, and Ragnar Jorunndottir, plus hair designer Peter Swords King, do incredible work with the look of some of the disguises that Borat would wear to not be recognized that are funny as well as the look of Tutar early in the film before her makeover. Sound editors Andrew DeCristofaro and Darren “Sunny” Warkentin do superb work with the sound in capturing some of the available sound on location as well as some sound montages that play into the issues that Borat has to face in case he failed his mission. The film’s music by Erran Baron Cohen does brilliant work with the film’s music with its humorous approach to Eastern European folk music with some brass arrangements and such while music supervisor Richard Henderson provides a fun soundtrack that features an array of pop, hip-hop, rock, and country with some Eastern European folk spin on a few of those songs as it also includes a country original that Borat sings as Country Steve in Wuhan Flu Song which is quite catchy.

The casting by Nancy Bishop and Kris Redding is wonderful for not just the actors they got to appear in the film but also the real-life people who were unaware that they were being filmed as real-life people such as the professional babysitter Jeanise Jones, Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans (whom the film is dedicated to), QAnon followers Jerry Holleman and Jim Russell as they come off as genuine and nice people who do show some humanity. Especially Holleman and Russell who are two decent men that have their hearts in the right place despite their politics and the misinformation they’re being fed. Others such as Instagram influencer Mary Chanel, salesman Bryan Patrick Snyder, and debutante coach Dr. Jean Sheffield are also worth noting as kind people while the film also feature cameo appearances from Tom Hanks as himself (one of the few who knew what was going on), American vice president Mike Pence, and Rudy Giuliani as themselves with Giuliani being the most infamous person on the film due to his immoral actions.

Dani Popescu is excellent as Kazakhstan’s leader Premier Nursultan Nazarbayev as a political official who would send Borat to America in the hope that Borat would redeem himself and the country though he has an ulterior motive to send Borat to the U.S. Finally, there’s the duo of Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as the father-daughter duo of Borat and Tutar Sagdiyev. Bakalova’s performance is the true discovery as she provides not just this are of energy and innocence but also the willingness to take things really far as well as provide a lot of the film’s heartfelt moments. Cohen’s performance is lively in a man that is not just known for creating mischief but also deal with what is at stake for himself where he also learns about some harsh truths including his own misogynist attitude as it relates to Tutar. Cohen and Bakalova together aren’t just a joy to watch in how funny they are but also play into these tender moments of a father and daughter learning more about each other but also realize that they bring the best in each other as they’re the real highlight of the film.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is a spectacular film from Jason Woliner that features tremendous performances from Sacha Baron Cohen and Maria Bakalova. While it may not be as outrageous as its predecessor, it is a film that manages to be so much more of not just exploring American culture from a foreigner’s perspective but also a journey of a father and daughter bonding together. Even as it still manages to be funny and shocking that includes an unforgettable moment involving Rudy Giuliani who is indeed an irredeemable and inapprehensible person who should be in prison and rot in prison. In the end, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is a sensational film from Jason Woliner.

Related: (Ali G Indahouse) - (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) – (Bruno (2009 film)) – (The Dictator (2012 film)) – (Grimsby)

© thevoid99 2020

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Thursday Movie Picks: Favorite Cinematography


In the 46th week of 2020 for Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of favorite cinematography based on a suggestion by Brittani of Rambling Thoughts. It’s a theme that is often a favorite discussion among film buffs as it often state what film has the best photography. Here are my three picks of my favorite cinematography from the 2010s:

1. Harris Savides-Somewhere
A film that polarized critics and audiences upon its release only to become a favorite among film buffs and with some critics, Sofia Coppola’s fourth feature film about a Hollywood movie star and his growing sense of ennui just as he is to be with his daughter for a week. Featuring career-defining work from Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, it is the cinematography of the late Harris Savides that adds a beauty to Coppola’s film as it has a realism and something low-key that is often lacking in a lot of Hollywood films.

2. Benoit Debie-Spring Breakers
Harmony Korine’s most accessible film to date about four young women going to the south of Florida to attend spring break and get into some trouble where they meet a gangster who takes a liking to them. It’s a film that offers a lot more than its premise suggests while it also has some gorgeous visuals thanks in part to Benoit Debie whose work with Gaspar Noe definitely gave Korine ideas of how to use neon colors and colorful lighting as it does feature photography at its most pure.

3. James Laxton-Moonlight
The film that won the Oscar for Best Picture, despite its big mess-up at that ceremony in early 2017, is probably one of the most touching films of the 2010s so far. Its exploration about the life of a young man at three different stages in his life as he tries to find himself and his own sexuality is presented with a beauty that isn’t often seen in films LGBT films. Even as it is told with sensitivity by Barry Jenkins and the camerawork of James Laxton who adds these low-key colors and lighting for many of the scenes at night as well as some naturalism for the scenes in the day. It is already one of the great films of the 2010s and it would be a sin to not see this film.

© thevoid99 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Out of the Past


Based on the novel Build My Gallows High by Daniel Mainwaring, Out of the Past is the story of a gas station owner whose attempt to start a trouble-free life is visited by a mysterious stranger from his past as he is forced to return to the world of crime. Directed by Jacques Tourneur and screenplay by Mainwaring with additional contributions from Frank Fenton and James M. Cain, the film is a noir-story that plays into a man trying to escape from his dark past only for the past to catch up to him as it relates to a woman he fell in love with. Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, and Rhonda Fleming. Out of the Past is an evocative and chilling film from Jacques Tourneur.

The film revolves around a man who owns a gas station at a small town in California where he receives an unexpected visit as he meets a crime boss who wants him to do a job as it relates to events in his past that involves his boss’ girlfriend who is stirring up trouble. It’s a film that explores a man trying to leave his past behind but he’s tempted by this woman he had fallen for just as he had created a new life for himself. The film’s screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, with re-writes and contributions from Frank Fenton and James M. Cain, has this structure where much of its first act is told in a flashback by its protagonist Jeff Markham (Robert Mitchum) who changed his surname to Bailey as he’s driving to Lake Tahoe from Bridgeport, California where he tells his girlfriend Ann Miller (Virginia Huston) about what he used to do as a private investigator.

Markham’s story where he is asked by gambling kingpin Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) to find his girlfriend Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) who had shot Sterling and stole $40,000 as he just wants her and the money back. Upon finding her in Acapulco, Markham falls for her but is then tailed by his partner Jack Fisher (Steve Brodie) who catches them as it leads to trouble. Markham’s narration in the first act is stylized as it plays into the language of film noir as well as what he would say when unwittingly reunites with Sterling and Moffat for another assignment that would lead to bigger trouble. Adding to this conflict are his feelings for both Moffat and Miller with the former wanting to re-establish their old relationship while the former offers something more stable.

Jacques Tourneur’s direction does bear elements of style in the compositions yet much of his direction does have moments that are straightforward in its presentation. Shot largely on location in California with some second unit shots in New York City and Mexico, Tourneur explores the life of a man who had started a new life in this small town near Lake Tahoe as it’s simple and quiet where Tourneur uses some wide shots of the locations of Bridgeport and its surroundings as well as some of the film’s other locations. Yet, much of Tourneur’s direction emphasizes on close-ups and medium shots as it relates to characters dealing with one another as it play into some of the dramatic tension and suspense. There is also this air of style in the way Tourneur presents Markham as someone who is this figure that always finds himself in some sort of trouble with whoever he encounters. Especially when it comes to meeting Moffat as she is this radiant figure but there is also something about her that is off as he’s entranced by her yet isn’t always honest. Tourneur’s approach to the tension and suspense adds to some of the misdirection that Markham would encounter in the way he shoots him in a hallway but would find something that is odd.

Tourneur would maintain this air of suspense and tension into its third act as it relates to Markham being a target while becoming unsure who to trust as even those in Bridgeport learn about his true identity. The sense of danger and knowing that he’s being watched add to the suspense as well as the decisions that Markham has to make as it relates to Sterling and Moffat. The former in particular as he becomes aware that Markham is on to something and realizes that Moffat isn’t exactly what she seems but Tourneur knows that is more intrigue that is to occur as it relates to the conflict that Markham is in as it relates to the choices he’s made in his life. Overall, Tourneur crafts a mesmerizing and eerie film about a man who deals with his dark past and the woman who nearly destroyed his life.

Cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography with its usage of low-key lighting, shadows, and shades to help set a mood for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night as well as some straightforward shots for the scenes in the day. Editor Samuel E. Beetley does excellent work with the editing with its usage of rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and drama while keeping much of the action straightforward. Art directors Albert S. D’Agostino and Jack Okey, with set decorators Darrell Silva and John McCarthy Jr., do amazing work with the look of Sterling’s home in Lake Tahoe as well as his home in New York City as well as the cantina where Markham meets Moffat. Gown designer Edward Stevenson does fantastic work with the dresses that Moffat wears as well as a dress that another character who is associated with Moffat wears.

The special effects work of Russell A. Cully is terrific for some of visual backdrops in a few scenes that help play into the sense of location including the scenes of Markham following those in a taxi cab. The sound work of Clem Portman and Francis M. Sarver is superb for the atmosphere that is created as well as some of the sparse sounds that occur in some of the film’s locations in the forests as it help play into the suspense. The film’s music by Roy Webb is incredible for its soaring orchestral score that help play into the drama as well as the suspense as it is a major highlight of the film.

The film’s wonderful cast feature some notable small roles from Eunice Leonard as a woman Markham meets at a cantina who leads him to Moffat, Ken Niles as a lawyer Markham meets in the film’s second act in Leonard Eels, Dickie Moore as Markham’s deaf-mute gas station assistant known as the Kid, Richard Webb as a local sheriff at Bridgeport in Jim who is also a longtime friend of Ann, Paul Valentine as Sterling’s hired muscle in Joe Stefanos, Steve Brodie as Markham’s PI partner Jack Fisher, and Rhonda Fleming as Eels’ secretary Meta Carson who finds herself becoming a pawn in one of Moffat’s schemes. Virginia Huston is excellent as Ann Miller as Markham’s new girlfriend in Bridgeport who learns about his past as she keeps it a secret while knowing the anguish he is dealing but also realizing that she might discover things that she doesn’t want to know.

Kirk Douglas is incredible as Whit Sterling as a crime boss who asks Markham to do a job for him only for things to go bad as he then realizes that Moffat isn’t what she seems as Douglas brings that air of charisma to a character that could’ve been a typical villain but there’s so much more as he is also someone that is willing to listen but also realizes that he’s at fault for being too trusting. Jane Greer is brilliant as Kate Moffat as a woman who was Sterling’s girlfriend until she stole money from him as she is this beautiful woman who is this object of desire but there’s also something off about her as it has the elements of a femme fatale character while she is also good at playing innocent while also being devious. Finally, there’s Robert Mitchum in a phenomenal performance as Jeff Markham/Bailey as a private investigator who reinvents himself as a gas station owner that copes with his past and the traps he gotten himself into as it is this stylized yet engrossing performance from Mitchum that allows him to display humility but also be someone who is struggling with what he wants but also what he has now as it is one of his iconic performances.

Out of the Past is a tremendous film from Jacques Tourneur that features great performances from Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas. Along with its supporting cast, gorgeous visuals, themes of temptation and betrayal, and its chilling music score. It’s a film that explore a man dealing with his past and the woman who tries to tempt him to do her bidding. In the end, Out of the Past is a spectacular film from Jacques Tourneur.

Related: Cat People (1942 film) - (Against All Odds)

© thevoid99 2020

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment


Directed by Robert Drew, Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment is a documentary film about the Alabama school integration events of 1963 told in the span of two days as it involves President John F. Kennedy and attorney general Robert F. Kennedy on one side against Alabama’s then governor George Wallace. The film showcases a pivotal event in American history during a moment of crisis at the University of Alabama as it relates to Wallace’s refusal to integrate schools and what was going on in the White House. The result is a compelling look into a moment in American history shown from both sides by Robert Drew.

On June 11, 1963, two African-American students in Vivian Malone and James Hood both were given admission to enroll at the University of Alabama by a federal court judge yet Governor George Wallace refuses to comply with federal law leading a two-day showdown between the state and President John F. Kennedy and his brother in attorney general Robert F. Kennedy. Being the final state to integrate, Alabama is set to deal with this change but Wallace refuses believing that blacks and white should segregate for their own good. The film explore these two days where Malone and Hood are getting ready to enroll yet they have to deal with all of these issues as they’re aided by deputy attorney general Nicholas Katzenbach who goes to Tuscaloosa where the university is at.

Robert Drew, along with cinematographer Gregory Shuker as well as several camera operators including D.A. Pennebaker covers both what is happening at the home and office of Robert F. Kennedy, the Oval office, and what is happening in Alabama as he gets perspective from all sides. Notably as Drew showcases how Robert F. Kennedy and Wallace both start their day with the former surrounded by his kids at home while the latter is watching his young daughter play piano and chat with a few workers and play ball with a kid. Shooting on a cinema verite style that allows complete access to what is happening as well as this fly-on-the-wall perspective, Drew and his crew use hand-held cameras to showcase what is going on that climaxes with a showdown between Wallace and General Henry Graham as the latter represents the federal government and the national guard.

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment is an incredible film from Robert Drew. Not only does it capture a moment in American history during the Civil Rights movement but also showcases what goes on when political forces try to figure out what to do to avoid violence as well as do something peaceful. Especially during a moment in time where change is hard to accomplish but also face with acceptance for a better future. In the end, Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment is a remarkable film from Robert Drew.

Related: Primary

© thevoid99 2020