Friday, December 31, 2021

The Year-End Reflections of 2021

 

This year was a bit better but not by much as the pandemic did slow down a bit in the middle of the year but now a new threat has emerged that is going to make this whole thing continue. Last month, my mother got COVID but managed to get through and recently got her booster shot as I will get mine next month while my 9-month old niece also got it but managed to kick its ass as well. It has been a strange year and certainly one that I’m sure a lot of us would rather not really remember considering that a lot of people died either from COVID or through horrible acts of violence. Even here in Atlanta where despite the fact that the Braves won their 2nd World Series as it is a big deal for me and the family. There are also some dumb shit that happened as well starting with what happened in January at the Capitol in Washington D.C. as that event was shameful and fuck everyone who got involved in that shit and fuck those who encouraged this type of behavior.

I now have zero tolerance for anti-vaxxers and other stupid people at this point as I hope they get fucked. Especially Eric Clapton as that overrated, racist, wife-stealing, boozy, idiotic, greedy piece of shit can get fucked as well. This was also a year that a lot of people died as COVID raged on as the new threat of the Omicron variant is also there. There were also people that unfortunately died this past November at the Astroworld festival in Houston where 10 people from the age of 9 to 27 are no longer here as Travis Scott just continued to perform and not be aware nor care about what had happened. Honestly, fuck him and fucking ugly-ass cunt girlfriend whom I’m not surprised is a Kartrashian as I hope they all get fucked.

This was a sad year given the fact that it’s not just regular people that probably all have something about them that made them special but also those who used their fame to showcase their gifts or found ways to make the world a better place or to help make us feel good. To the following: John Madden, Charlie Watts, Mick Rock, Jim Steinman, Tawny Kitaen, Tanya Roberts, Cicely Tyson, Julie Strain, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Joan Didion, Jean-Marc Vallee, Norm McDonald, Del Wilkes aka the Patriot, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Jody Hamilton aka the Assassin #1, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, Dominic DeNucci, Shannon Spurill aka Daffney, Blackjack Lanza, Jimmy Rave, Corporal Kirchner, Jerome Young aka New Jack, “Hacksaw” Butch Reed, Joseph Hudson aka Jocephus/?, Jim Crockett Jr., Patricia Hitchcock, Melvin Van Peebles, Gunnel Lindblom, Michael Constantine, Michael Apted, Willie Garson, Gavin MacLeod, Isela Vega, Larry McMurtry, Giuseppe Rotunno, Lina Wertmuller, Marion Ramsey, Jessica Walter, Jackie Mason, George Segal, Ned Beatty, Michael K. Williams, Emi Wada, James Hampton, Richard Rush, Sonny Chiba, Clarence Williams III, Nathalie Delon, Gregory Sierra, Helen McCrory, Anthony Powell, Roger Michell, Ed Asner, Frank McRae, Dean Stockwell, Norman Lloyd, Robert Downey Sr., Jean-Paul Belmondo, Art LaFleur, Tommy Kirk, Monte Hellman, Jean-Claude Carriere, Bertrand Tavernier, Yaphet Kotto, Michael Nesmith of the Monkees, David Gulpilil, Jane Powell, Charles Grodin, Hal Holbrook, Cloris Leachman, Olympia Dukakis, Arlene Dahl, Lynn Stalmaster, Leslie Bricusse, Stephen Sondheim, Larry King, Richard Donner, and Betty White. Thank you for bringing us joy and we will miss you all.

In the year 2021, I saw a total of 278 films with 128 first-timers and 150 re-watches with 38 first-timers being films directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. Definitely down from last year mainly due to other things in life but the content was actually incredible as some of it was devoted to TV programs which I actually enjoyed. One of the highlights of the year has been my Blind Spot Series as here is the final ranking of those films:

1. The Great Escape
2. Pixote
3. Beau Travail
4. War & Peace
5. The Hitch-Hiker
6. Daughters of the Dust
7. Perfect Blue
8. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun - Veronika Voss - Lola)
9. Taipei Story
10. Pink Flamingos
11. A Streetcar Named Desire
12. Werckmeister Harmonies
Here are the top 20 pre-2015 first-timers that I saw for 2021:

1. Nightmare Alley

2. Obsession

3. Il Bidone

4. Girlhood

5. Lisztomania

6. Jason and the Argonauts

7. THX-1138

8. Night Moves

9. A Most Violent Year

10. Death and the Maiden

11. Krisha

12. Death in Venice

13. Locke

14. Outrage

15. The Rover

16. Mahler

17. All My Compatriots

18. Obvious Child

19. Homework

20. Black Panthers
The year did manage to bring some good things despite all of the bad shit that has happened thanks in joining the world of streaming services as I know can watch films/TV shows legally and no longer rely on torrents. A lot of it is due to the fact that my sister and her husband have two kids allow me to watch some animated films with those kids and also show them some cool stuff. My mother really loves having these streaming services but also watch YouTube on a big TV so she can watch traveling videos as that has brought me some joy. Even as I just purchased a one-year subscription to MUBI as it’s going to make the next year hopefully much better. I’m also happy that the Atlanta Braves got another World Series as I’m able to celebrate it with my niece and nephew which makes the victory really sweet while I’m also happy that the Atlanta United and Atlanta Hawks have done well this year. Can’t say the same for the Falcons, they stink!
Then there’s All Elite Wrestling as it has been this saving grace for professional wrestling as they had provided some incredible matches as well as talent that have a lot to offer. All Out 2021 is definitely one of best wrestling shows ever in terms of the quality of matches while the company did the unthinkable in bringing CM Punk back to professional wrestling after 7 long years as the man himself is already having a good time. Given that Meekmahan-land has released more than 80 superstars from their roster with most of them due to the stupid excuse of “budget cuts kid”, some were able to come to AEW and be treated with respect. Malakai Black, Adam Cole, Ruby Soho, Kyle O’Reilly, Tony Nese, Anthony Greene, Mercedes Martinez, and Andrade El Idolo have at least been given the chance to show what they’ve got while the company has also managed to do something Meekmahan-land hasn’t been doing for a while. Creating new stars.

Tay Conti, Leyla Hirsch, Dante Martin, Alan “5” Angels, John Silver, Preston “10” Vance, Ricky Starks, Bear Country, Cezar Bononi, Jade Cargill, Red Velvet, JD Drake, Ryan Nemeth, Anna Jay, and Hook are key examples of the future while talent such as Sammy Guevara, MJF, Jungle Boy, and Darby Allin are young guys who definitely have what it takes to be the pillars of the company while Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. is definitely one of the best women’s wrestlers working today. If there is a wrestler of the year from AEW, I’m going to make it a tie in both Bryan Danielson and Thunder Rosa. The former came into AEW following his appearance on All Out this past Labor Day weekend as he had just left Meekmahan-land where he did put on some amazing matches there but came into AEW with some of the best. Matches with Miro, Kenny Omega, Hangman Adam Page, and Minoru Suzuki definitely showcase why he is a god in wrestling.

Then there’s Thunder Rosa who came to AEW late last year as she was there on loan from the NWA as she not only helped raise the game for the women’s division. She gave 2021 one of the year’s best matches in the unsanctioned Lights Out match against Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. in what is definitely an undisputed classic match. It’s not just AEW that has delivered as companies like NWA, Impact, and MLW have managed to bounce back from the pandemic and give some of the released talent from Meekmahan-land not just a new home but a new place to start over. There’s also Game Changer Wrestler which is a hardcore wrestling division that has gained a buzz with Matt Cardona (formerly known as Zack Ryder) becoming a made man by being the most hated motherfucker in the hardcore division by beating Nick Gage in a bloodbath of a fight with some help from Ricky Shane Page.

While New Japan Pro Wrestling has been struggling with a lot of injuries and other issues including that awful World Heavyweight Championship belt they created, their recent business relationships with Impact and AEW has managed to help them while NJPW Strong has been a haven for the young Japanese talent who are on excursion as well as some of the independent wrestlers with former Meekmahan-land star Fred Rosser (formerly known as Darren Young) becoming a major player there. Sadly, one notable company is likely to come to an end in Ring of Honor where despite refusing to release wrestlers last year because of the pandemic. The past few years for the company has been rough ever since the departure of key people to AEW while Bully Ray’s booking including have Matt Taven as the ROH World Champion hurt the company. With rumors about this new rebrand and reboot emerging, it is likely that ROH is done though former champion Jay Lethal has managed to find a new home in AEW as I hope that several of the talent who have left can find new work in other companies.

If I have a top 5 matches of the year. Here’s my top 5 best wrestling matches of 2021:

1. The Young Bucks vs. the Lucha Bros.-All Out 2021 for the AEW World Tag Team Championship Steel Cage Match

2. Thunder Rosa vs. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D.-AEW Dynamite, Unsanctioned Lights Out Match (March 2021)

3. Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson-AEW Dynamite Grand Slam (September 2021)

4. Minoru Suzuki vs. Bryan Danielson-AEW Buy-In on YouTube (October 2021)

5. Tay Conti & Anna Jay vs. the Bunny & Penelope Ford-AEW Dynamite, Street Fight (December 2021)

In the world of music, there hasn’t been much that interested me except for Sparks as they were the only discovery that I’ve enjoyed as I don’t listen to a lot of new music though there has been a few good songs from Olivia Rodrigo and Halsey but that’s it. Well, that is all for 2021. This was a crazy year and having to end it on a down note with the death of Betty White just weeks away from her 100th birthday. All I can say is this to 2021 and that is… FUCK YOU!

© thevoid99 2021

Films That I Saw: December 2021

 

The year is almost over and it’s been a pretty crazy year but now it’s coming to an end. Even as there’s the presence of the Omicron-variant that is coming with more stupid people just causing problems as I hope they get fucked.
In the month of December 2021, I saw a total of 19 films in 14 first-timers and 5 re-watches with two of those first-timers being films directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. One of the highlights of the month has been my final Blind Spot film for the year in War & Peace. Here are the top 5 first-timers that I saw for December 2021:

1. The Beatles: Get Back
2. Last Night in Soho
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home
4. A Most Violent Year
5. Obvious Child
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’ve Been Watching

Listening to Kenny G
From HBO as part of their Music Box documentary film series that has so covered subjects such as Woodstock ’99, Alanis Morrissette, the late DMX, and Robert Stigwood so far. This film is about one of the polarizing figures in popular music as I am not a fan of Kenny G’s music as I think it’s grating to the point that I’d rather have something drilled into my head that would end the pain. Yet, I give him a pass because there’s worse music than what he does while the man himself doesn’t come across as some smug, entitled, clever guy but rather a really nice dude who just loves to play the saxophone, practice, and never takes himself seriously. I actually respect that as the film chronicles his career and how he broke through to the world of the mainstream with this new sub-genre of jazz known as soft jazz (which still sucks). The film also does tackle the criticism that he receives which Kenny G manages to take rather well though the best critique is from famed jazz guitarist Pat Metheny whose rant on Kenny G on a publication is fucking classic. It relates to Kenny G’s performance of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World which G added his saxophone to the song and it is terrible and Metheny’s rant is entertaining. It is a worthwhile film though he still sucks but at least he’s not that no-talent ass-clown Michael Bolton, Justin Beiber, all sorts of bad shit that’s out there, and Limp Bizkit. Take it away Mr. Richard Thompson.



Ted Lasso: The Missing Christmas Mustache



This was a nice little short as it is presented in Claymation Rankin/Bass animation style where Ted Lasso’s mustache goes missing and the people of AFC Richmond try to find it as well as find an alternative before he chats with his son Henry on Facetime. It is a fun short film as it has a lot of the quirky elements of the show while it is also this little stop-gap thing as fans wait for the third season.

Acapulco (season 1 finale)
The season finale of this show from Apple TV+ is a heartfelt episode as it is about a New Year’s Eve party where Maximo tries to win over Julia after the events of the Xmas party as well as to try to get this promotion. Yet, the older Maximo reveals to his sister and nephew that he never had the chance for the promotion as well as lose his chance to win over Julia because of Chad who makes a bold gesture. It is an excellent finale to a show that deserves a second season and hopefully gets one. It is a show that myself and my mom have fallen in love with and we hope to show to her friends.

Hawkeye (episodes 3-6)
The last four episodes of the season so far definitely puts the series as one of the best entries of the MCU as it is a more grounded show in comparison to the other shows from the MCU. Notably as it is about this murder mystery but also a man trying to clear up his own mistakes only to be confronted by something even more dangerous. Yet, the show doesn’t just feature great performances from Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld in their respective roles as Clint Barton and Kate Bishop but a major discovery in Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez/Echo is definitely a character to watch as someone who is deaf and with a prosthetic right leg yet is a fucking badass and way more interesting than a lot of the people on the show as I’m glad there’s a spin-off coming for her. The show doesn’t just reveal a lot of small Easter eggs that relate to a few character including Clint’s wife Laura who gets one of her own in the end. There are also a lot of other things that helps the show be so engaging.
The second half of the series features appearances from Florence Pugh reprising her role as Yelena Belova as she just completely stole the entire show from everyone. Notably as her scenes with Steinfeld including their dinner scene is where Pugh really shows how charismatic she is and her own confrontation with Barton is definitely intense but also extremely emotional. For anyone who was still recovering from the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, this just added more emotional baggage as what Barton did to stop Belova from killing him. It is a phenomenal show that Marvel has created as it’s definitely given the studio a really bright future.

Disney’s Fastpass: A Complicated History



For anyone that wants to Disneyland and Walt Disney World right now or are planning to go to one of these places this year. Well, this is a documentary from the Defunctland channel that they need to watch and it’s best to probably go somewhere else. Thank goodness I went to Disney World in the 80s/90s when there wasn’t this kind of shit. The film explore the creation of the fastpass that would allow people to get a ticket and when to get on the ride to avoid the lines. It was a good idea at first but greed and confusing technology only made things worse as the ideas of waiting 7-8 hours to go on a 3-4 minute ride just isn’t worth it. I must give praise to the people who did the research as I hope my niece and nephew don’t have to endure this shit.

The Book of Boba Fett (episode 1)
The first new episode that is a spin-off of The Mandalorian revolves around the titular character taking over Jabba the Hutt’s old job but this time with his own rules. Having Temuera Morrison in the role that he had played in The Mandalorian doesn’t just feel right but he is the only person to play that character. Along with Ming-Na Wen reprising her role as Fennec Shand who is Boba’s right-hand woman, the first episode follows two narratives about what happened to Boba after Return of the Jedi and how he survived that whole ordeal but also becoming a new target in Tattooine because of his new role. It’s off to a damn good start as I’m eager for what the series will bring.

Top 5 Re-Watches:

1. A Hard Day's Night
2. Heat
3. Mickey’s Christmas Carol
4. Popeye
5. The Campaign
That is all for December 2021. Next month, I’m going to start everything from scratch as I’m going to catch up on some 2021 releases including a few films in the theaters and maybe what is available on rental while I going to starting make new watchlists involving the streaming services that I’m currently subscribed to. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2021

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks (TV Edition): Holiday Specials

 

For the 52nd and final week of 2021 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go to the world of television in the theme of holiday as there are things that people love to watch during the Christmas holidays whether it’s a TV special or something related to Christmas. Here are my three picks as they’re all animated sketches from Mad TV devoted to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Rankin/Bass films that are parodied:

1. Raging Rudolph



A parody of the films of Martin Scorsese, it is a fucked-up take on Rudolph’s origin story as he doesn’t get accepted to be in Santa’s gang like Hermey who is also considered a misfit. The two decide to get even as well as do some things that only Scorsese would love. Most of all, the sketch had a message which is… KEEP YOUR FUCKING MOUTHS SHUT!!!!

2. The Reinfather



A parody of The Godfather has Don Rudolph become the man as he is trying to run his business and help those who are loyal to him. Don Rudolph sports a Marlon Brando accent and does what he can to take care of business by making an offer that no one can refuse. It is an inventive parody that is a great homage to the film while creating some unique imagery in its approach to violence.

3. A Pack of Gifts Now



The final parody of the trilogy as it spoofs Apocalypse Now has Rudolph go nuts as he becomes an assassin where he is assigned to kill Santa Claus. The visual images that it parodies are astonishing as is the music it makes fun of as it is just inspired. With Hermey as the Dennis Hopper character and Santa talking like Brando, it is truly a hilarious parody.

© thevoid99 2021

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2021 Blind Spot Series: War & Peace

 

Based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy, Voyna I mir (War & Peace) is the story of three aristocratic families whose lives are affected by the French invasion of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars as the fates of three people deal with the changes around them. Directed by Sergei Bondarchuk and screenplay Bondarchuk and Vasily Solovyov, the film is a four-part epic that explores a tumultuous period in Russia’s history as it play into the lives of various individuals. Starring Sergei Bondarchuk, Ludmila Savelyeva, and Vyacheslav Tikhonov. Voyna I mir is a ravishing and exquisite four-part film series from Sergei Bondarchuk.

The four-part film series explore the fates of three people during the Napoleonic Wars from 1805 to 1812 as they encounter many things including the Battles of Schongrabern, Austerlitz, Borodino, and the invasion of Moscow. It is a film that play into these fates as well as the decisions these people have made as three parts are focused on the principle protagonists in Andrei Bolkonsky (Vyacheslav Tikhonov), Natasha Rostova (Ludmila Savelyeva), and Pierre Bezukhov (Sergei Bondarchuk) with one part devoted to the year of 1812 in the Battle of Borodino. The film’s screenplay by Sergei Bondarchuk and Vasily Solovyov, the film does break the story into four parts with the first one devoted to Bolkonsky who is a prince that brings his friend in Bezukhov to high society, despite the fact that Bezukhov is the illegitimate son of a nobleman, who gets accepted by not just Bolkonsky’s family but also the Rostova whose young daughter Natasha is this abundance of energy that fascinates Bezukhov. Yet, Bolkonsky is eager to serve in the army despite having to leave his pregnant wife Lise (Anastasia Vertinskaya).

The first part would also have Bezukhov moving up the social circle and marry Helene Kuragina (Irina Skobtseva) who would later humiliate him through her series of affairs with Fyodor Dolokhov (Oleg Yefremov) leading to a duel that would only make things worse for Bezukhov. For Bolkonsky, his search for glory in military service only gives him a harsh reality upon is encounters at the Battle of Schongrabern and the Battle of Austerlitz where would return home defeated and disappointed where he and Bezukhov both lament into their own paths in life leading to the second part that focuses on Natasha. The second film on Natasha is about her own rise into the social order where she attends her first debutante ball where Bezukhov notices her and has her dance with Bolkonsky who is eager to marry her. Yet, he is often away fulfilling his duties as prince where Natasha would take part in a wolf hunt with her uncle and then meet Helena’s philandering brother Anatole (Vasiliy Lanovoy) whom she would have an affair with that would cause problems forcing Bezukhov to intervene.

The third film on the year of 1812 focuses mainly on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the Battle of Borodino where Bolkonsky serves as an officer for the aging Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov (Boris Zakhava) leaving Natasha behind as she is filled with shame and regret over what happened. Bezukhov would observe the battlefield as he would find himself taking part while Bolkonsky laments over his fate as he becomes unsure to the point that he doesn’t even send his regiment to fight that added a lot of problems to Russia’s defeat on that battle. The fourth film that is largely about Bezukhov begins with the invasion of Moscow where Kutuzov who had been disconnected from the reality of what is happening at the battle makes the reluctant decision for the people of Moscow to flee before Napoleon and his army come in. Bezukhov would stay behind while the wounded Bolonsky is carried away to safety where he would reunite with Natasha who asks for his forgiveness. Bezukhov would become a POW where he meets a soldier (Nikita Mikhalkov) whose views on life would give Bezukhov some hope leading to Napoleon’s departure from Moscow after peace talks fell apart.

Bondarchuk’s direction on the whole film series is definitely grand in the overall presentation where he captures a lot of attention to detail in the way Russia was during the early 19th Century during the Napoleonic Wars as it spans 7 years from 1805-1812. Shot on various locations in Russia including Moscow, Bondarchuk takes a lot of meticulous effort into the staging of some of the big scenes including the balls that feature a lot of characters dancing as well as the massive scale of the battle scenes. The usage of wide and medium shots don’t just play into the scale of some of the rooms but also for the battle scenes where Bondarchuk manages to get a lot of coverage into what he’s showing. Notably in the first film about Bolkonsky where the attention to detail into the strategy of what Bolkonsky is trying to figure out as does his superiors who believe that they should try to beat the French but these two princes force them to do things another way leading to a major defeat.

In the second film about Natasha, the direction is lavish with its usage of tracking shots in how characters walk towards the hallways and get a look while the wide shots capture so much attention to detail in how grand the ballrooms are. Bondarchuk also maintains an intimacy in some of the direction in his usage of close-ups and hand-held cameras in the way Natasha walks into a room or the way she reacts to things as there’s also these elaborate dolly-tracking shots in the ballroom including an aerial shot where the camera is attached to a wire as it would do the same for the Battle of Borodino in the third film. The attention to detail on Bondarchuk’s direction in the third film such as a scene where an officer talks to Kutuzov about what is happening while Kutuzov is eating chicken not really paying attention to what is happening while another officer is feeding him lies as the background show wounded soldiers carrying each other. In the fourth and final that focuses mainly on Bezukhov with Bolkonsky and Natasha each having their own moments with the former encountering some surrealistic moments as it relates to his own fate.

The invasion of Moscow where the people of Moscow just scurry and flee the city as there is a lot of chaos but when Napoleon and his army. There are also these amazing sequences including a brief shot of Natasha’s younger brother going into battle thinking he would fulfill his family’s honor as it has this dream-like quality until it returns to color. Bondarchuk knows when to ground the story as it relates to Bezukhov’s own encounters with war and chaos as it does lead to the film series’ ending that play into Russia’s own emergence from what Napoleon had done to them and creating a new Russia. Overall, Bondarchuk crafts an audacious yet rapturous film about the fates of three people during the Napoleonic Wars in early 19th Century Russia.

Cinematographer Anatoly Peterisky, with additional work from Yu-Lan Chen and Aleksandr Shelenkov, does incredible work with the film’s lush and colorful cinematography as its emphasis on natural colors in its 70mm film stock with the approach to lighting for some of the film’s interior/exterior scenes at night as well as the ballroom as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Tatiana Likhacheva does brilliant work with the editing in creating some stylish cuts including some jump-cuts for some of intense action shots as well as some slow-motion bits as it is another highlight of the film. Production designers Mikhail Bogdanov, Alexander Dikhtyar, Said Menyalshchikov, and Gennady Myasnikov, with set decorators Georgy Koshelyov and V. Uvarov, do amazing work with the look of the ballrooms and palace halls as well as the homes of some of the characters as well as a few buildings and some of the design of the battle ruins. Costume designers Vladimir Burmeister, Nadezhda Buzina, Mikhail Chikovany, and V. Vavra do phenomenal work with the costumes in the attention to detail in the design of the gowns that the women wear including the more casual look along with a lot of the clothes that Natasha and other women wear as it played into the style of the times.

The makeup work of Mikhail Chikirov is terrific for the look of the characters in how Natasha looked early on in the first film to becoming a woman of regret and understanding in the fourth film as well as how other characters look including some of the hairstyle of the times. Special effect pyrotechnics by Vladimir Likhachev is fantastic for its special effects in the battle scenes in adding that air of danger into the explosions as well as the way gunfire and cannonballs land on something. The sound work of Igor Urbantsev and Yuri Mikhailov is superb for the way it captures a lot of attention to detail in the sound as it has moments that are loud while also providing some low-key yet sparse moments as it is another highlight of the film. The film’s music by Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov is tremendous in its array of orchestral themes ranging from bombastic and sweeping in the string and woodwind arrangements as well as some somber moments to play into the drama as the arrangements and Ovchinnikov doing his own conducting add to the grandeur of the film as it is another major highlight.

The film’s marvelous ensemble cast feature some notable small roles from Vladislav Strzhelchik as Napoleon Bonaparte, Nikolay Trofimov as a soldier Bolkonsky befriends in the first film, Jean-Claude Ballard as a French officer named Ramballe whom Bezukhov befriends in the fourth film, Mikhail Khrabrov as a soldier Bezukhov meets late in the fourth film who gives him some ideas about life, Aleksandr Borisov as Natasha’s uncle in the second film who plays some folk music that she dances to, Anastasiya Vertinskaya as Bolkonsky’s first wife in Lise in the first film, Sergei Yermilov as Natasha’s younger brother Petya, Galina Kravchenko as Helene and Anatole’s sister Marya who actually likes Bezukhov, Oleg Tabakov as Natasha’s older brother who joins the war early in the film only to be unprepared for its reality in the first film, Viktor Stanitsyn and Kira Golovko as Natasha’s mother who adore their children as well as treat Bezukhov like family, and Nikolai Tolkachyov as Bezukhov’s ailing father in the first film who is dismissive of his son unaware of his rise into the social circle.

Oleg Yefremov and Vasily Lanovoy are terrific in their respective roles as Fyodor Dolkhov and Anatole Kuragin as two men who would destroy relationships with the former being Helene’s lover whom Bezukhov would duel with and the latter being Helene’s brother who would charm Natasha into a destructive affair. Irina Skobtseva and Irina Gubanova are fantastic in their respective roles as Bezukhov’s philandering wife Helene Kuragina and Natasha’s cousin Sonya as the former is a woman who marries Bezukhov only to humiliate him through her affairs and later bring trouble to Natasha while the latter is a conscience of sorts for Natasha who is trying to get her to realize that Kuragin is a horrible person. Antonina Shuranova is superb as Bolkonsky’s sister who is a bit wary of Natasha upon her marriage to her brother but realizes that she got manipulated by the likes of Kuragin and his sister. Anatoli Ktorov is excellent as Bolkonsky’s father as a royal figure who is concerned about his son’s decision to go to war while dealing with the chaos of it while also being a father figure to Bezukhov.

Boris Zakhava is fantastic as Mikhail Kutuzov as the field marshal for the Russian empire who runs the military as a man who is half-blind and over-the-hill as someone who leads Russia into war against Napoleon where he makes some blunders while is blind to what is really happening making the reluctant move to retreat in the fourth film. Vyacheslav Tikhonov is incredible as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky as a royal who is eager to rise in the ranks of importance only to be troubled by his encounters at war and later deal with loss and betrayal that would force him to deal with uncertainty as an officer during the Battle of Borodino that lead to some serious revelations for himself.

Ludmila Savelyeva is phenomenal as Natasha Rostova as a young woman who would become Bolkonsky’s wife as she is a woman eager to be part of this social circle as she is this embodiment of innocence in the first and second film until she meets Kuragin who would manipulate her as she later becomes a woman filled with regret and uncertainty as she deals with the chaos surrounding the invasion of Moscow. Finally, there’s Sergei Bondarchuk in a sensational performance as Pierre Bezukhov as the illegitimate son of a nobleman who is eager to be accepted while is someone who is intelligent and has a lot of qualities but is also someone who realizes about the realities of the world as he endures humiliation by his own wife and others while lamenting over his importance in the world.

Voyna I mir is an outstanding film series by Sergei Bondarchuk. Featuring a tremendous ensemble cast, evocative visuals, grand set pieces in both its ballroom and battle scenes, a sweeping music score, and incredible sound work. The four films as a whole is a monumental achievement of what epics could be as well as exploring characters during a crucial period in Russia’s history and the events that would define them. In the end, Voyna I mir is a magnificent film series by Sergei Bondarchuk.

Sergei Bondarchuk Films: (Fate of a Man) – (Waterloo (1970 film)) – (They Fought for Their Country) – (The Steppe) – (Red Bells) – (Red Bells II) – (Boris Gudonov) – (Quiet Flows the Don)

© thevoid99 2021

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Blog News: Blog Plans for 2022

 

2021 is coming to an end but the pandemic might not be ending due to the fact that there's a new threat emerging with a new COVID variant. Even though this year got people back in the movie theaters, the idea it might get shut down again is looming. There's also the fact that I'm an uncle to two kids which prevents me from watching as many films as I can as I have to devote my attention to them while their parents are at work. The fact that I have access to some streaming services does allow me the chance to watch some films that aren't available in theaters or in other cable channels will make things easier but there's also some shows as that is another medium that I'm interested in as Disney+, Netflix, and Apple TV+ have things I'd like to watch.

Given that a new year is coming as I now have a Blu-Ray/DVD player and access to streaming services with hopefully more to come. This also marks the end of relying on torrents and other places due to legal issues that is being resolved as I don't want to get into anymore trouble. Fortunately, there's several DVD/Blu-Rays that are available that I can have access to as many of them are from Criterion as the films I chose for the 2022 Blind Spot Series are available on Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray and the Criterion Channel as I hope to get access to that and MUBI.

Due to the films I own on DVD/Blu-Ray from Criterion that also features many extras based on this list, there are also films in my never-ending DVR list as it's something I'm starting to get tired of as there's very little room on the films I want to watch while some of them are available on streaming services. I still want to take part on the 52 Films by Women pledge as I really hope to reach the 52 goal for 2022.

This year's Cannes Film Festival marathon was a mess given that it was done in July and I had a hard time trying to schedule everything as that is something I hope to never do again. With the 2022 Cannes Film Festival returning to May from May 17-28, I am planning to do an all Palme d'Or edition for that festival but it will not feature as many films like I have done with the past mainly because I don't have the time to watch 10-13 films in the span of 10 days. I was hoping to do a project devoted entirely to the best films of the 2010s but I'm pushing it to either 2023-2024 at this point as I doubt I can have the time and energy to do something like this.
Instead, I really want to finish on the Auteurs pieces I had planned in 2019 in Kelly Reichardt, J.C. Chandor, Michael Mann, and David Lean as I had been struggling to get back on board and I really want to work on these filmmakers and the films they've done. Even as I'm close to finishing up the film work on Chandor with Mann and Lean following close by. Once I finish those 4 filmmakers, I will take another hiatus on those projects to hopefully work on other unfinished projects and then figure out who to do next as there's several that I want to do including Twin Peaks now that I have the DVDs for the entire series as well as The Missing Pieces.

I think that will be it for what might happen in 2022 as I doubt I will do anything for The Void-Go-Round even though I am aware that NIN is going to Atlanta but as part of a music festival which I have no interest in as I prefer to watch NIN in an arena or an amphitheater given what happened a few months ago in Houston. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off...

© thevoid99 2021

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Holiday Party

 

For the 51st week of 2021 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We have a party in the form of holiday parties where it’s all about celebrating the holiday season and wishing everyone a happy Christmas or Chanukah. Here are my three picks:

1. The Apartment
One of the greatest films ever made and certainly a film that still stands the test of time is about this office worker who lives in an apartment where he lets executives use it to spend time with their mistresses as he falls for an elevator operator. The film has a Christmas party scene that is crucial to the story is where it is a moment where Jack Lemmon’s character C.C. Baxter is dealing with the revelation that Shirley MacLaine’s character Fran is the mistress for his boss in Jeff Sheldrake, played by Fred MacMurray. The party is where Fran learns from Sheldrake’s secretary who drunkenly reveals that she’s just another mistress and Sheldrake wants to use Baxter’s apartment to spend time with Fran. It is a moment that would play into Baxter and Fran both dealing with their loneliness but also a moment where they start to bond in truly a film that everyone needs to see from Billy Wilder.

2. Fanny & Alexander
Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 family epic about the lives of a family that is shattered by death and torn apart by the arrival of an outsider who would bring terror to its titular characters. The film is a long one but often worth it as its first act is set during the Christmas holidays with a party as it showcases the sense of joy of the holidays with family, friends, and even the people who work at the house all having a good time. The first act does a lot in establishing this family with a Christmas party being at the center of all of this unaware of the dark turns that is to come in the second act where a major character’s death would change everything.

3. Die Hard
The greatest Christmas film ever made. What more could anyone ask in a film like this? It is set during an office Christmas party where everyone is celebrating until a bunch of terrorists arrive and just disrupt the festivities all because they want to steal a shitload of money and then blow up the building to make the authorities to believe they’re dead. What is stopping these terrorists? A NYPD visiting his wife in Los Angeles as they’re going through some problems yet uses his street-smarts, skills, and sense of humor to take down these terrorists while using a walkie-talkie to chat with a LAPD officer still dealing with some issues but is rooting for this wise-cracking guy who is doing everything barefoot. After all, he has a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho!

© thevoid99 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Beatles: Get Back

 

Directed by Peter Jackson, The Beatles: Get Back is a documentary film series that expands on the footage with hours of unreleased material that didn’t make it to the 1970 Michael Lindsay-Hogg documentary film Let It Be about the band’s attempt to make a new album in January of 1969 that culminated with their final live performance to the public. The documentary that features newly-remastered footage as well as material that expands the rarely-seen Lindsay-Hogg documentary from 80 minutes to nearly 8 hours of material. The result is an astonishing and rapturous film from Peter Jackson that manages to bring some new revelations into the story of the Beatles in their final year as a band.

It’s January of 1969 as it had more than a year since the death of their manager Brian Epstein and more than two years since the band had played live to the public as a recent filming for the promotional video for the single Hey Jude where the band was surrounded by an audience gave them an idea. The idea would be for John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr to create new songs for an upcoming concert appearance to be filmed on television in the span of a few weeks as Starr is set to leave to act in a film project for Apple Corps in The Magic Christian with Peter Sellers. The project called Get Back is an attempt of the four to become a band again and to create new music without overdubs and edits and the new songs to be performed live.

Told in the span of 22 days, the film that became Let It Be as it hadn’t been shown publically since the 1980s showcased a fragment of what was happening as it was released to coincide the album of the same name which was released at the time when the Beatles had called it quits. Nearly 50 years later since the release of the film and album of the same name, filmmaker Peter Jackson went into the vaults where he found more than 60 hours of footage and 150 hours of audio that hadn’t been heard as his discovery of the footage along with restoration work lead to revelations of what was really happening in these 22 days. Amidst all of the turmoil and tension that was looming throughout the band over creative differences as well as the lack of leadership when it comes to business. There was still this air of joy of these four men from Liverpool who not only loved making music but also wanted to be a band again instead of this brand that was already recognizable and at times, too big.

Broken into three parts, the film breaks the month into the three settings and events in the course of these 22 days as it does follow the narrative of Let It Be where the first act is about the disastrous sessions at Twickenham Studios that lead to Harrison briefly quitting the band, the second act being about the band moving to Apple Studios on Saville Road and Billy Preston’s arrival, and the third act being the rooftop concert which would be their final performance and the last session of the project afterwards. What Jackson does is follow that narrative but reveal so much more to the story as it is more about a band trying to become a band again and create new songs while showcasing the work that goes through in creating a song. The first part of the film is devoted entirely to the band at Twickenham Studios where they had shot the video for Hey Jude as it would be used as a rehearsal/recording space where the band would try to create a bunch of new songs for a TV special where the band would play to a live audience with these new songs with Glyn Johns being the main producer and the band’s longtime producer George Martin sort of being the executive producer though Johns and Martin were both unsure of the roles they’re playing.

Among the people who are seen throughout the film is filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg, cinematographer Anthony Richmond, longtime road manager/assistant Mal Evans, Yoko Ono, Linda Eastman, and roadie Kevin Harrington. Ono’s presence in the film reveals that she did nothing to disrupt the band creatively as she mainly kept herself quiet while knitting a few things, doing a bit of art, and all sorts of things and only speaks up whenever McCartney and Starr wanted an opinion from her. McCartney would comment in the film about the press and how vicious they are following Harrison’s brief departure with claims that Lennon and Harrison got into a fight (untrue) and knowing that Ono would be the scapegoat as McCartney made the famous joke that the band broke up because Ono sat on an amp. What Jackson is able to reveal in Ono’s role not only redeems her but also reveal that she was treated greatly by the other members of the band as there was a brief shot of her and Linda Eastman giggling in the first part of the film.

The second part at Apple Studios doesn’t just showcase a band trying to enjoy playing together and get some new ideas for songs but also reveal how Billy Preston got to be involved as he was in London doing a few TV appearances as he was someone the band met back in Hamburg in 1962 when he was playing for Little Richard. The band asked if he could just jam with them and his role in playing organs and the electric piano not only liven up the music but also the band themselves. The film also showcases idea of music theory and how accomplished Preston was in that as the Beatles themselves weren’t accomplished in music theory as his role did a lot to give them new musical ideas. The jams are also a key component to how songs are made where the band play covers for the fun of it and then get an idea for a song as it among these little things that inspires them.

The film also reveal other moments during the first and second part as it relates to business as there’s an appearance from the band’s publisher Dick James on the songs he acquired for the band’s Northern Songs catalog as it is a rare moment where they were seen with James in a cordial way instead of the other stories into their relationship that ultimately led to James selling Northern Songs to ATV without the band’s consent. Other Beatle cohorts/Apple officials such as longtime assistant/Apple Corps chief Neil Aspinall, publicist Derek Taylor, and Apple Films producer Denis O’Dell also appear in the film talking about business with Lennon talking about having the Rolling Stones’ then-manager Allen Klein as their new manager. There’s a scene in the third part where Lennon and Harrison have a conversation about Klein that lead to the band’s first meeting with him which is one of several scenes not filmed including an audio conversation between Lennon and McCartney late in the first part.

The third part of the film where its climax is the rooftop performance does feature some enjoyable moments involving Linda’s daughter Heather who would have some conversations with John, play additional percussions with Starr, and even do her own imitation of Ono in a version of Dig It. Mal Evans is a key player in the songs in banging the hammer on an anvil for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer as well as provide additional percussions on a song which showcases why he is an important figure to the band. Even as he would do whatever he can to stall the cops during the rooftop concert as Jackson shows the concert in real-time from the reaction of the people on the streets to those complaining and the police trying to understand what is going on. Yet, the concert also reveals the level of excitement from Starr’s wife Maureen Starkey who got a closer look in watching the band perform live while was also jovial upon listening to the recordings of the songs.

Since the original film by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and shot by Anthony Richmond on 16mm film that was originally meant for television as it lead to the grainy look of Let It Be. Jackson along with Damian McDonnell on the restoration work with additional visuals from Darwin Go not only manage to flesh out much of Richmond’s photography but also reveal something vibrant in how the footage at Twickenham looks as well as the scenes in Apple Studios and the rooftop concert. The footage of those scenes from the film plus the newly-discovered footage add a bigger scope from the 1:33:1 aspect ratio of Let It Be to the broader 1:78:1 aspect ratio as well as showcasing multiple perspectives during the rooftop concert in three split-screens with editor Jabez Olssen not only creating this real-time perspective of the band, the audience, and police at this concert but also the reaction from the people on the street and on the roof of other buildings nearby. Olssen’s editing in the footage that had been released also does more in showcasing the energy of the recordings as well as some montages and small moments such as Starr giving Ono gum which she split with Lennon.

Sound editors Brent Burge and Martin Kwok, with music mixing by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, do incredible in cultivating the 150 hours of audio with in capturing the many outtakes and versions of some of the songs by the band along with some future solo songs from Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison. The mixing in those songs have a lot of breath into how an instrument sounds as Martin’s contribution is crucial as he has been the one overseeing all of the remastering and such of the Beatles’ music that his father George had produced.

For a film with an eight-hour running time that has been broken in three parts, Jackson has managed to create something that is immersive as it showcases a moment in history that is corrected after years and legends that have been told about that period. Yet, there is also an element of melancholia that looms in the film knowing that the band would break up in the year to come with several people in the film that are no longer here. John Lennon, George Harrison, George Martin, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, Derek Taylor, Billy Preston, Dick James, Linda McCartney, and Maureen Starkey have all passed on as they’re now in another universe yet they were all a part of something really special. Something that is never going to be matched or replicated as the music itself still stands for generations to come to discover what made the Beatles so great and so revered as well as the people who played with the band, worked with them, and supported them be just as important.

The Beatles: Get Back is an outstanding film from Peter Jackson. It is a film that not only showcases an important period in time for the band but also reveal so much more about that time and how much these four men loved and cared for each other despite their own issues with one another. It is a documentary that isn’t just a must for fans of the Beatles but it is also a film that showcases what it takes to make great music and what it means to be in a band and finding joy in being part of something that is great and fun. In the end, The Beatles: Get Back is a magnificent film from Peter Jackson.

Peter Jackson Films: (Bad Taste) – (Meet the Feebles) – (Braindead) – (Heavenly Creatures) – (Forgotten Silver) – (The Frighteners) – (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) – (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) – (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King) – (King Kong (2005 film)) – (The Lovely Bones) – (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) – (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) – (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies) – (They Shall Not Grow Old)

The Beatles: The Albums: Please Please Me - With the Beatles - A Hard Day's Night - Beatles for Sale - Help! - Rubber Soul - Revolver - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Magical Mystery Tour - The White Album - Yellow Submarine OST - Abbey Road - Let It Be

Compilations: (1962-1966) - (1967-1970) - Past Masters - (Live at the BBC) - (Anthology 1) - (Anthology 2) - (Anthology 3) - (1) - (Let It Be… Naked) - (Love)


The Beatles Films: (A Hard Day’s Night) – (Help!) – Magical Mystery Tour - (Yellow Submarine) – (Let It Be) – (The Beatles Anthology)

Related: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Across the Universe - Nowhere Boy - George Harrison: Living in the Material World - Good Ol' Freda - (Eight Days a Week-The Touring Years)

© thevoid99 2021

Monday, December 20, 2021

Spider-Man: No Way Home

 

Based on the comic series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man: No Way Home revolves around the titular character/Peter Parker who deals with the events following some incidents in Europe as his identity had been exposed where he turns to Doctor Steven Strange for help where they had unknowingly opened the multi-verse where other villains from other universes go after Parker. Directed by Jon Watts and screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, the film is an exploration of a young man who had become a pariah following a series of lies where he hopes to keep his real identity a secret only to open a multi-verse where other villains who battled different versions of Spider-Man are going after with Tom Holland reprising his role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Steven Strange. Also starring Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Benedict Wong, J.K. Simmons, J.B. Smoove, Tony Revolori, Angourie Rice, Hannibal Burress, Rhys Ifans, Thomas Haden Church, Jamie Foxx, Alfred Molina, and Willem Dafoe. Spider-Man: No Way Home is an enthralling and heart-wrenching film from Jon Watts.

The film picks up where its predecessor left off where Peter Parker’s identity as Spider-Man has been unveiled leading to him to trouble where he turns to Doctor Strange for help only for the spell be botched by Parker leading to the opening of the multi-verse where other villains from other universes try to kill Parker. It is a film about this young man who is just trying to finish his senior year in high school and go to MIT but his friends are affected by their chances as they too know about Parker’s identity as does his aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Parker feels responsible as he wants to be a normal person where he asks Doctor Strange in casting a spell that would allow the world to forget that he’s Spider-Man yet there’s people he cares about that still wants him to know that he’s Spider-Man. The film’s screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers is ambitious in terms of not just the idea of the multiverse and the many foes that Parker has to deal with but also in themes of responsibility and redemption.

Past films about Spider-Man did involve multiple villains in different iterations where they often become bloated and messy but McKenna and Sommers manage to find a structure but know when not to do too much. The first act is about Parker dealing with his identity being known as he is seen by many as a murderer with the Daily Bugle leading the charge as its reporter J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) instigating the matter which makes Parker’s life worse but also affect the chances of his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and their friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) to go to MIT. He goes to Doctor Strange who is dealing with issues at his home as well as the fact that he’s no longer the Sorcerer Supreme due to being blipped as Wong (Benedict Wong) is now filling that role. The second act is about Doctor Strange’s botched spell and what got unleashed in these villains that all want to kill Parker but they all realize that he’s not the Parker they’re going after. Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina), Dr. Norman Osborn/the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Dr. Curt Connors/the Lizard (Rhys Ifans), Flint Marko/the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and Max Dillon/Electro (Jamie Foxx) all have issues as Doctor Strange manages to traps them in the hope of sending them back to their universes but Parker realizes that they’re fated to die as he hopes he can help them as the script manages to show that these men weren’t villains from the start but rather men who made mistakes or were slighted in some way.

It does play into the theme of redemption as it relates to a scene where Osborn in his lost state meets with May knowing that he is mentally-unbalanced as it allows Parker this idea of wanting to help him with Ned and MJ’s help though Doctor Strange does have valid concerns for not wanting to. Parker’s actions in trying to help is what leads to this third act as it doesn’t just play into the theme of responsibility but also how to overcome guilt as it does lead into more ideas of a multiverse and how those from other universes would help Parker.

Jon Watts’ direction is definitely grand in scope and in setting up the multiverse but it is also grounded in this human story of a kid that is a superhero but is aware of what he can do but also knowing that he can do more. While it is shot mainly in Atlanta at the Pinewood Studios in Duluth, GA as Queens and parts of New York City with some additional shots in the New York City area. Watts does manage to make the city a character in the film from the opening scene in Times Square where Parker’s identity as Spider-Man is revealed where he and MJ run from the authorities as it has some amazing scenes of Spider-Man and MJ swinging to avoid the news and such as the usage of close-ups and hand-held cameras add to that chaos. Watts would also keep things grounded for some of the humorous and dramatic scenes with close-ups and medium shots such as Happy, May, MJ, Ned, and Parker all being interrogated by the FBI as May and Parker would lose their home and move in at Happy’s apartment with the AI mini-crane that Tony Stark created. There are bits of humor that Watts put in as it play into the interactions between characters but also in how it plays into some of the absurdity of the multiverse.

There are also some wide shots to play into some of the fights such as Parker’s first interaction with Dillon where Parker unexpectedly gets help from Marko of all people as it really showcases a lot of the complexities into the people Parker is dealing with. Especially as Dr. Octavius, Osborn, Dillon, Dr. Connors, and Marko are all different villains who do have issues with Spider-Man in their respective universes but they also learn about their own fates as it definitely adds a lot of dramatic weight. The sequence of Strange and Parker fighting over an object that Strange created to send the villains back to their respective universes is among one of the most surreal as it play into Strange’s pessimism against Parker’s own belief about second chances for these men as his experiment would show that even people who lost their way can be redeemed.

Yet, this idea would be challenged once again for its third act where Watts showcase not just some intensely dark moments that Parker has to face but also the outcome and how it affects those around him. Even as there are those who feel that they either couldn’t be redeemed or are eager to want something more rather than go back to who they used to be. It would play into the film’s climax where Watts does create this grand moment that has a lot of callbacks to the other Spider-Man films but also an aftermath that is about responsibility and what Parker had to do for himself and for those he cares for. Overall, Watts crafts a rapturous yet emotionally-investing film about a young man trying to reclaim his identity as well as take action for his own mistakes and help those who had been lost in their own rage.

Cinematographer Mauro Fiore does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as its usage of vibrant colors for a few scenes at night including the usage of red and blue lights help broaden a mood for those exterior scenes at night along with the natural approach to scenes in the day. Editors Leigh Folsom Boyd and Jeffrey Ford do excellent work with the editing as it is stylish with its usage of jump-cuts, fast-cuts, and other rhythmic cuts to play into the action as well as some straightforward cuts for some of the dramatic moments. Production designer Darren Gilford, with supervising art director David Scott plus set decorators Rosemary Brandenburg and Emmanuelle Hoessly, does amazing work with the look of the Sanctum Sanctorum and its basement as well as the look of Happy’s apartment and the design of the Statue of Liberty for the film’s climax. Costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays does fantastic work with the costumes in the different designs of the Spider-Man suits including the Iron-Spider suit with its nanotech as well as some the casual clothing from the other characters including some of May’s stylish clothing.

Special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick, along with visual effects supervisors Kelly Port and Chris Waegner, do wonderful work with the visual effects in the design of Octavius’ claws, some of Electro’s powers, the look of the Lizard, and other visual effects as it does have an air of realism and a lot of detail into the villains but also in the overall presentation during the film’s climax. Sound designers Chris Diebold, Tony Lamberti, and Ken McGill, with sound editor Steve Ticknor, do superb work in the sound as it play into some of the sound effects in Spider-Man’s web shooters as well as some of the weapons the villains have as well as other objects in the film. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino is incredible as it is a major highlight of the film with its bombastic orchestral score but also some soaring themes involving strings that include some of its quieter moments while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a soundtrack that features themes from other Spider-Man films by Hans Zimmer, James Horner, and Danny Elfman as well as music from Talking Heads, De La Soul, Odyssey, Liquid Liquid, the Beastie Boys, and Antonio Vivaldi.

The casting by Sarah Finn and Chris Zaragoza is marvelous as it features notable small roles from Angourie Rice as classmate/school reporter Betty Brant, Hannibal Burress as the gym teacher who is convinced that Parker is a murderer, J.B. Smoove and Martin Starr in their respective roles as Parker’s teachers Julius Dell and Roger Harrington who side with him, Paula Newsome as a MIT administrator Parker is trying to meet for Ned and MJ, Arian Moayed as a government official who interrogates Parker and his friends/associates, Mary Rivera as Ned’s Lola who has a hilarious interaction with a couple of characters in a key scene, Tony Revolori as classmate Flash Thompson who tries to use Parker to sell a book as a way to suck up to Parker while sporting a hilarious new look, and Benedict Wong as Wong who warns Strange about the spell he is to cast as he is trying to clean-up the Sanctum Sanctorium and do his duties as the Sorcerer Supreme. Rhys Ifans and Thomas Haden Church are terrific in their respective roles as Dr. Curt Connors/the Lizard and Flint Marko/the Sandman as two villains who aren’t sure about Parker’s plans with Dr. Connors being unwilling to be cured and Marko unsure if he can be redeemed.

J.K. Simmons is fantastic as J. Jonah Jameson as the host of the controversial news organization The Daily Bugle who is convinced that Spider-Man is a villain as he spreads a lot of fake news and is willing to incriminate Spider-Man any way he can. Jon Favreau is excellent as Happy Hogan as the head of security for Starks Industries who helps out Parker and May while letting him live at his apartment as he is in love with May. Marisa Tomei is amazing as Parker’s aunt May as she is someone who is aware of what is going on as well as what Parker is trying to do knowing that these men aren’t bad while giving her nephew some important lessons on responsibility knowing that he is just trying to redeem himself. Jamie Foxx is brilliant as Max Dillon/Electro as a former Oscorp engineer who is given electric powers where his arrival gives him a more normal look as he has his own issues while is intrigued by the idea of having more power to use. Jacob Batalon is incredible as Ned Leeds as Parker’s best friend who is trying to help him in figuring things out as well as being one of the few who knew about Parker’s identity.

Zendaya is remarkable as MJ who is Parker’s girlfriend who is one of the few that knows his identity as she is also aware of what he’s doing while also making some funny comments including some towards Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch is great as Doctor Steve Strange as a master of the mystic arts who agrees to help Parker while dealing with the severity of the spell he created as he is also unconvinced that the villains in the universe can change. Alfred Molina and Willem Dafoe are phenomenal in their respective roles as Doctor Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus and Dr. Norman Osborn/the Green Goblin as two villains who both have issues with Spider-Man as the former is someone who is the first to realize something is up while is unconvinced that he can be cured while the latter is more convinced despite his bipolar personality where he acts evil as both Molina and Dafoe bring a lot more nuances to their characters as well as showcase why they were among the best villains in the Spider-Man film series.

Finally, there’s Tom Holland in a spectacular performance in the titular role/Peter Parker as the young superhero who deals with the consequences of his actions as he tries to fix them only to make things worse while wanting to do what he can to help everyone. Holland adds this maturity to a character that is in transition from being a young man to becoming an adult as he deals with his actions but also what he has to do to be a hero as it is his best performance as the famed web-slinger.

Spider-Man: Now Way Home is a sensational film from Jon Watts that features a tremendous leading performance from Tom Holland. Along with an ensemble cast for the ages, dazzling visuals, a mesmerizing music score, themes on responsibility and redemption, and action set pieces including an unforgettable climax that manages to do so much more in its grand scale. The film isn’t just one of the best entries in the Spider-Man film series and its related franchises but also a superhero film that isn’t afraid to tackle major themes while also being ambitious with a story that is grounded in reality and its exploration of human nature. In the end, Spider-Man: No Way Home is a spectacular film from Jon Watts.

Jon Watts Films: (Clown (2014 film)) – Cop Car

Spider-Man Films: Spider-Man - Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man 3 - The Amazing Spider-Man - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)) – (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part Two))

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 - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame

Phase Four: Black Widow - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Eternals - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – (Thor: Love and Thunder) – (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) - (Ant Man & the Wasp: Quantumania) – (The Marvels) – (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) – (Fantastic Four)

© thevoid99 2021