Monday, May 31, 2021

Films That I Saw: May 2021


Summer is set to arrive and it looks like things are getting back to normal somewhat although here at home, things are getting problematic thanks to a possum that crawled under our house. The possum took a shit under it and the house has been infested with fleas as my mother and I have to do a lot of cleaning as well as get a new vacuum (which is fucking great) and get an exterminator. The possum got captured and it was huge but the fleas are still here as I couldn’t really enjoy watching anything in case I get bitten and such. It’s a new problem that is emerging as I’m also dealing with legal issues relating to content I downloaded back in December where my mother was threatened with a lawsuit and I know owe her money. Well, it could’ve been worse as I haven’t been downloading any torrents for a while I’m also trying to get rid of all of these fleas and insects at the house. Especially as I had just purchased a Blu-Ray player that I hope to use but I might have to wait a little bit longer to install it.

While the things at home aren’t that bad, the same couldn’t be said for what’s been going on in the Middle East in relation to this recent ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. I’ve been trying to understand what has been going into why this conflict began and how it escalated to such extremes yet I keep remembering that there was a peaceful resolution that almost happened in the mid-1990s. I try not to take any sides in this issue but given the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu has been in power for a quarter of a century so far and has refused to leave office amidst a growing political scandal involving voter fraud and such. What does Netanyahu do to divert people’s attention from his own scandal? Easy. He decides to try and get Palestinians out of their homes and create attacks in their settlements including the Gaza strip.

Reading on what is going on, I suddenly realize there is this bias towards Israel from the media and even from President Biden in wanting to express his support for them. Yet, it does show that there are a lot of complications involved that is trying to make Israel seem like the victims but that is far from the truth. The fact that hundreds of Palestinians including children have been killed from this recent conflict doesn’t make Israel look like the good guys. Yet, any critique of Israel will have people claim that you’re an anti-Semite. My response to that is…. FUCK YOU! Palestinians have been kicked out of their homes for far too long and had no choice but to resort to violence. Yet, Israel is much worse considering they have deadlier weapons including chemicals that is illegal in conflict. Through this idea of Zionism and in this act of genocide that is condemned by even people in the Jewish community in the U.S. who are in support of Palestine. I can say this. Israel is not a country. It is a terrorist state run by a man who has become the Zionist answer to Adolf Hitler.
In the month of May, I saw a total of 26 films in 11 first-timers and 15 re-watches with 4 of the first-timers being directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. A slight improvement of sorts from the last month as the highlight of the month has been my Blind Spot assignment in Taipei Story. Here are my top 5 first-timers that I saw for May 2021:

1. The Rover
2. 22 vs. Earth
3. Into the Forest
4. Galveston
5. Black Panthers
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’ve Been Watching

22 vs. Earth
A mini-prequel to Soul that is an exclusive on Disney+, it is a fun little short film about how 22 tries to get a bunch of young baby souls to see things differently and not go to Earth. It is a funny little short that is full of hijinks and mischief as it also has this air of anarchy that also features some music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who also play up into the film’s humor.

Maggie Simpson in the Force Awakens from Its Nap
Another short on Disney+ that I watched that made its premiere on May 4th which is a big day for fans of Star Wars. It’s a short film where Maggie Simpson is sent to daycare as it’s a Star Wars-themed daycare. I haven’t watched The Simpsons in more than 20 years though this was a lot of fun to watch.

Human Voice
A short film from 2014 by Edoardo Ponti that is based on a short story by Jean Cocteau which was recently interpreted by Pedro Almodovar starring Tilda Swinton is a short film that really belongs to Ponti’s mother Sophia Loren. It’s a story about a woman dealing with the fact that her lover has left her for a younger woman as it’s really a one-woman show with Loren just providing all sorts of anguish as it is worth watching just for her.

From William Monahan is this noir film of sorts that had some interesting ideas but the problem was that its lack of plot was meandering despite solid performances from Garrett Hedlund as a depressed filmmaker and Oscar Isaac as a mysterious yet danger drifter. It was a film that had some fine moments but meandered that included an unnecessary subplot involving Mark Wahlberg as a film producer who just wears a bathrobe and talk on the phone a lot as it killed whatever interest I had for the film as I had a review prepared but ended up not doing it as there’s not much to say about a film that is just mediocre.

The House is Black
This 22-minute short film by Forough Farrokhzad about a leper colony in Iran as it is this fascinating short film told in a documentary style. At times, it is unsettling to watch because of the people who are suffering from leprosy yet do manage to live normal lives. The short is consider widely influential and it’s a must-see for anyone interested in Iranian cinema as many consider one of the early touchstones for the cinema in that country.

Black Panthers
A documentary short film shot in 1968 during Huey P. Newton’s trial, Agnes Varda creates a film that doesn’t just explore who the Black Panthers party are but also their ideas. Part of a series of films Varda made in the late 1960s during her time in California when her husband was making Model Shop, the film does have this unique perspective of the party and their goals as well as a look of what they do for the community in Oakland. It’s a film that is worth seeking out as it plays into the period of the times and how the Black Panthers tried to maintain their own ideals against racism and give African-Americans a reason to be proud.

Yes, this film is an underwater rip-off of Alien and its sequels about an oil rig team trying to survive following a mysterious earthquake and creatures killing everyone off. Yet, I enjoyed it because it never takes itself seriously and they had characters that were interesting. Notably with Kristen Stewart in the lead role as she was just someone who understood the stakes with John Gallagher Jr., Jessica Henwick, Vincent Cassel, and Mamadou Athie providing solid supporting performances. It is a film that is horror and a survival film yet it at least offers something a bit more with Stewart proving she can carry a film.

ixi music

This was something I discovered recently through YouTube’s recommendations as I really enjoy this series by this musician named ixi. She analyzes a lot of the music by Nine Inch Nails as well as breaking down some of the melodies, motifs, and such that Trent Reznor is known for as there are many common phrases and notes that he uses in a lot of the music. I learn a lot about music notes and phrases as well as her interpretation to some of those songs that she does play on a keyboard-piano as it makes me appreciate Reznor’s genius as a songwriter even more as well as the contributions many of his collaborators have created including Atticus Ross.

Top 10 Re-watches

1. Roma
2. The Conversation
3. A Fish Called Wanda
4. Far from Heaven
5. The Untouchables
6. Life of Pi
7. No Way Out
8. The Namesake
9. Gung Ho
10. Pitch Perfect
Well, that is it for May 2021. Next month, I will focus partially on LGBT cinema from films based on my never-ending DVR list as well as my next Blind Spot film which will be Pink Flamingos. I also hope to re-start on my Auteurs piece on Kelly Reichardt but also see what film I would choose to return to the movie theaters as I’ve also decided to revive the Cannes Film Festival marathon for this coming July. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021

2021 Blind Spot Series: Taipei Story


Directed and scored by Edward Yang and written by Yang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Chu Tien-wen, Taipei Story is the story of a washed-up baseball player who works for his family’s textile business as he deals with his girlfriend’s desire to go into the modern world during some major changes in the city. The film is a study of a couple whose relationship starts to disintegrate over two different directions with one wanting to hold on the past and other towards this new wave of modernism. Starring Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Chin, and Wu Nien-jen. Taipei Story is a ravishing and somber film from Edward Yang.

The revolves around a couple who move to an expensive apartment in Taipei as a former baseball player returns from America with little prospect of a future while his girlfriend struggles to find work after resigning from her job as she is eager to move to America. It’s a film that explores a couple whose relationship begins to disintegrate amongst a growing sense of major changes in and around Taipei as the woman wants to be part of this new world though her boyfriend struggles to make ends meet as he works for his family’s textile business which is going through issues while coping with his own failures as a once-promising baseball player. The film’s screenplay by Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Chu Tien-wen is largely straightforward in explore the lives of the office worker Chin (Tsai Chin) and her boyfriend Lung (Hou Hsiao-hsien) as they both diverge into paths of their own as it play into what they want but also the struggles of achieving that goal. Chin was working in an office until she resigned over issues in a failing business as she still wants to socialize with people who work in the same field including her boss Mr. Ke (Ke I-cheng) who has feelings for her.

Lung learns that a former baseball player in Ch’en (Wu Nien-jen) has become a taxi driver and is also going through his struggles after doing military service with a wife that is often neglectful towards their children in favor of gambling. Lung also tries to maintain work in his family’s textile business despite the fact that his mother and sister both live in America as he constantly has to talk to his brother-in-law. Adding to his troubles is Chin’s estranged father (Wu Ping-nan) who has been in some serious financial troubles where Lung wants to help him despite the fact that Chin implores that he doesn’t as it would threaten their plans to go to America.

Yang’s direction does have elements of style as much of the film’s compositions are straightforward as it aims for some realism in its visuals. Shot on actual location in Taipei, Taiwan, the city itself is a character in the film as it plays up this representation of a world that is becoming vibrant and being part of a bigger world that it’s caught up on. A world that Chin wants to be in as it includes a scene of her hanging with her younger sister Ling (Lin Hsiu-ling) at a club and later on a nighttime ride through the city with its vibrant lights. The usage of wide and medium shots doesn’t just play into the scope of the city and its locations in and out of the city but also to display this growing schism between Chin and Lung as the latter is often seen in smaller and claustrophobic locations as well as places that are often in decay as he tends to feel awkward during a scene where he’s with Chin and her friends. Notably as one of them would harass Lung about his failed baseball career leading to a fight as Yang doesn’t feature a lot of close-ups in his films except in certain bits as it plays into the uncertainty into Lung and Chin’s disintegrating relationship.

Yang also play into this dramatic subplot that involves Lung and Chin’s father as it plays into Lung’s need to help people as there’s a scene late in the film where the two are having a drink as Chin’s father is talking about what the city used to be and what it has become now. It adds to Lung’s clinging to the past as he faces this uncertainty but also this feeling of failure as he had a lot of promise as a baseball player but failed to live up to expectations in the big leagues. Chin’s frustrations over Lung’s lack of progress to change anything as well as a visit from a former flame in Gwan (Ke Su-yun) that would play into their schism. Also serving as the film’s music composer with cello performances from Yo-Yo Ma, Yang’s score is somber as it adds to the drama with its lush orchestral arrangements and Ma’s cello just adding that sense of uncertainty for both Lung and Chin. Overall, Yang crafts a compelling and evocative film about a couple living in Taipei as they start to disintegrate over ideas of modernism and tradition.

Cinematographer Yang Wei-han does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on natural lighting including for many of the interior scenes where the usage of low-level lights for the nighttime scenes add to the air of realism as well as the vibrant exterior scenes at night. Editors Wang Chi-yang and Sung Fan-chen do excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward to play into the drama as well as a few moments of humor in the film. Production designer Tsai Cheng-pin does fantastic work with the look of the apartment Chin and Lung live in to play into this clash of their ideals along with the places they go to. Costume designer Chen Chih-chan does terrific work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward from the fashionable look of Chin to the more casual look of Lung. The sound work of Tu Tu-chih is superb as it play into the atmosphere of the locations that include a club where Ling takes Chin to and a bar where Lung almost gets into a fight as the music soundtrack features pieces from Lionel Richie, Kenny Loggins, Michael Jackson, and Tina Turner.

The film’s incredible cast feature some notable small roles from Lai Te-nan as an old baseball coach of Lung, Chen Shu-fang as an executive who wants to give a job to Chin, Ke I-cheng as an executive Chin worked for as he pines for her, Yang Li-yin as Ch’en’s wife who neglects her children in favor of gambling, Mei Fang as Chin’s mother, Wu Ping-nan as Chin’s estranged father whose financial troubles forces Lung to help him, Ke Su-yun as a former flame of Lung in Gwan who was also a childhood friend of Chin, Lin Hsiu-ling as Chin’s younger sister Ling who has an interest in American and Japanese culture, and Wu Nien-jen as Ch’en as a former baseball player turned cab driver who tries to help Lung find more work as they lament over their failures to become professional baseball players.

Finally, there’s the duo of Tsai Chin and Hou Hsiao-hsien in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Chin and Lung. Hsiao-hsien provides this low-key yet somber performance as a man who feels like he’s lost as he tries to help out Chin’s estranged father and Ch’en but also lamenting over the fact that he could’ve been someone special in baseball. Chin’s performance is also reserved as a woman struggling to find a job as well as be part of this new Taiwan as well as a desire to go to America yet Chin also provides this frustration and anguish of a woman that wants to be a part of something instead of being out of step with the times like Lung as Chin and Hsiao-hsien also have this great rapport together in playing up this schism that is growing between their characters.

Taipei Story is a sensational film from Edward Yang that features great performances from Tsai Chin and Hou Hsiao-hsien. Along with its ensemble cast, themes of tradition vs. modernism, Yang’s lush music score with Yo-Yo Ma’s cello performances, and its ravishing visuals. The film is a captivating drama that explores a couple coming apart over changes and this need to conform to society with one of them unable to due to old values that he holds dearly. In the end, Taipei Story is a spectacular film from Edward Yang.

Edward Yang Films: (In Our Time-Desires/Expectations) – (That Day, on the Beach) – (The Terrorizers) – A Brighter Summer Day - (A Confucian Confusion) – (Mahjong) – Yi Yi

© thevoid99 2021

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Cyberpunk


For the 20th week of 2021 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We venture into the subject of cyberpunk as it is a film that often involves technology and futuristic dystopia as it play into technological advances and all sorts of weird shit. Here are my three picks as they’re all animated films:

1. Akira
Katsuhiro Otomo’s adaptation of his own manga series is the truest definition of cyberpunk as it plays into a teenage biker who gets in trouble with some criminals while he gain psychic powers. It is a film rich in its anime style while it also play into this world of this subculture of technology and crime as it is a film with these ravishing visuals and an animation style that would be considered groundbreaking.

2. Ghost in the Shell
Mamoru Oshii’s adaptation of the Masamane Shirow’s manga series is another evolution of the anime film style as it does play into the exploits of an android who works for a security agency as she tries to hunt a mysterious hacker. It is an animated film that wasn’t afraid to display elements of sexuality but also play into this dystopian world that is technologically advanced but also carrying elements of the old ways.

3. Big Hero 6
From Disney and Marvel is a film that might not have the edginess as the two other films yet it does play into the theme in terms of the world that the characters are living in but also in how they use technology to try and create a better world. Notably as it revolves around a young teenager who copes with the death of his older brother and the robot he built whose job is to help people in need. Even as the robot becomes part of a team of young scientists to become a group of superheroes who do what is needed which is to help people.

© thevoid99 2021

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Weirdest Movies Blog-a-Thon


Ronyell at The Surreal Movies and TV Blog has created a blog-a-thon devoted entirely to the weirdest movies ever seen. Here are the rules:
1) List up to 5 or 10 of the weirdest movies that you have ever seen. If you want to list over 10 movies or below 5 movies, then you are free to do so.

2) You don't necessarily have to list your favorite movies or movies you even like. Just movies that you think are weird.

3) Use the banner at the top of this page in put into your post.

4) This blog-a-thon runs from April 23rd - May 20th, so you need to send your submissions in by May 20th. After that, I will make a special post where I will list all the bloggers who had participated in this blog-a-thon!

5) If you are interested in joining this blog-a-thon, then please feel free to leave your link to your post here or tweet me (@rabbitearsblog)

6) If you are participating in this blog-a-thon through Twitter or you want to let your followers know about this blog-a-thon, then please use the hashtag #weirdestmoviesblogathon so that way, I will know who's participating in this blog-a-thon.
Well, for anyone that has read this blog know that I watch a lot of weird shit and I praise a lot of weird-ass shit. So here’s 10 films that really fucked me up big time:

1. Un Chien Andalou
I think when it comes to weird movies, no one does it better than the master surrealist Luis Bunuel as he is the definition of weird. In this collaboration with another legend of surrealism in Salvador Dali comes a film that defies description. The 16-minute short film is something that can’t be unseen once it is seen as it has no plot as it’s more about images. Still, what Bunuel and Dali do create are moments that would inspire many filmmakers in the years to come as well as the idea of “what the fuck” moments that still remains vital and dangerous.

2. Daisies
There’s just some films in the history of cinema that defies description and this film by Vera Chytilova that is widely considered to be a landmark film of the Czech New Wave in the 1960s is truly out of this world. It’s a film about these two women named Marie who just create havoc while being wined and dined by all of these rich men and just fuck things up all along the way. There are these moments in the film that are baffling to watch yet the sense of anarchy that these two women do just adds to the enjoyment of this film as it’s something film buffs need to see.

3. The Holy Mountain
There’s weird and then there’s Alejandro Jodorowsky yet unlike Luis Bunuel, Jodorowsky is more concerned with spirituality and fear than the more social experiments of Bunuel. This 1973 cult classic is a story of a thief who encounter these images of spirituality as he finds salvation in this strange alchemist who makes claims about enlightenment. It is a film with wondrous images and incredible art direction while it is also a film that has moments that are fucked up. Notably the idea of a man taking a shit and the turd becomes gold as it adds to these strange questions of enlightenment.

4. House
This Japanese horror film about a group of young school girls who go to the home of one of the schoolgirls’ late aunt as strange shit happens. One of them involving a white cat and other strange shit that occurs in the house while there are a lot of things that is just bonkers. A severed head biting a girl’s butt, a killer piano, and the ghost of an aunt as it’s just a film that is just fucking insane. Yet, it is one of these horror films that is also so goddamn fun to watch.

5. Eraserhead
I was in my 20s when I first saw this film and I had no idea what to think of it then and it’s still one of the weirdest films I had seen. Having been familiar with Lynch’s work from Blue Velvet and beyond, I had no idea what to expect from this film as it’s still one of these films that defies description. It is a film about this man who reunites with his old girlfriend who reveals that she has a new baby yet the baby is a strange-looking mutant that has its charm. The fact that it took years to make and it was a film made with a limited budget is proof of Lynch’s talents as well as bring surrealism to a new level. Notably in the films he would make in the years to come yet it’s this film that often brings me back as this or Mulholland Dr. are often considered to be his best film in my opinion.

6. The Peanut Butter Solution
For anyone that grew up watching the Disney Channel in the 1980s probably will remember this film and as a kid born in the 80s. This film fucked me up. It was scary as fuck as it’s about a kid who goes into some house and gets so spooked out that he loses his hair. Yet, he would find a way to get his hair back thanks to some ghosts and he succeeds but some awful shit occurs involving some evil criminals as it leads into the world of child labor and other fucked up shit. This is a film that is in dire need to be rediscovered.

7. Braindead
I first saw this in my 20s when it was on IFC (when it used to show films uncut and uncensored) as I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was from Peter Jackson who was already hot with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and I saw this before Return of the King was to come out. It is fucking insane. A low-budget zombie movie about a guy whose over-protective mother was eaten by infected creature and then she becomes a zombie and so did many other people. That wasn’t the fucked up part. What was the most fucked up thing about that entire film? I only have 2 words: Zombie Baby!

8. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
I saw this in the late 90s as I wasn’t sure what to think of it as I was only 18-19 when I first saw it. Years later, I began to understand what Terry Gilliam was trying to do in his take on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel as well as capture the fall of the 1960s. The elements of psychedelic imagery and surrealism definitely captures the spirit of Thompson’s novel as does the performances of Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro as it adds to the offbeat elements of the film.

9. Raw
A recent discovery that I saw a few years ago is something I didn’t expect as it isn’t this conventional horror film. Yet, I was troubled by the fact that it’s a film about a young woman who attends veterinary school and has to endure a week-long hazing ritual involving red meat as she is a vegetarian. It is quite an original film that plays into the dangers of a woman being forced to do things against her will. Even to the point as she would gain rashes and other disturbing appetites as it was definitely weird up till the end as it just adds to the sense of horror that is in the film.

10. Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar
The most recent film I had seen in the past few months and I’m still baffled into what the fucking-fuck did I see. It’s a vacation comedy with a bit of suspense and the musical yet I’m just barely scratching the surface into the film as a whole. It’s about these two life-long friends who go on a vacation at a resort in Florida where they meet a man whose job is to carry a mission for an evil albino woman and things suddenly get stranger. Written and starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo as the titular characters with Wiig also playing the evil albino woman, the film feature things that are just bonkers. Jamie Dornan as an assassin who falls in love and dances, Damon Wayans Jr. as an agent who is terrible at hiding, a young Asian kid who sings Barbra Streisand early in the film, Morgan Freeman as a talking crab, and this is just a sample of the insanity that this film has. It’s stupid, ridiculous, and fucking odd yet it’s so goddamn hilarious.

© thevoid99 2021

Monday, May 17, 2021



Directed by Melanie Laurent and written by Nic Pizzolatto that is based on his novel, Galveston is the story of a dying hitman who goes to the Texan town following a failed hit on his life as he accompanies a young woman whom his boss had kidnapped. The film is a thriller set in the late 1980s that plays into a man who knows he has little time left to live as he tries to help a young woman who finds herself in a really dark world. Starring Ben Foster, Elle Fanning, Lili Reinhart, Adepero Oduye, Robert Aramayo, Maria Valverde, CK McFarland, and Beau Bridges. Galveston is a riveting and somber film from Melanie Laurent.

Set in 1988 in Texas, the film revolves around a hitman dealing with terminal lung cancer as he survives a failed hit where he finds a young prostitute as they go into hiding with the prostitute’s young sister as they figure out what to do next. It’s a film that plays into a man who is dealing with not just impending death but also the fact that someone tried to kill him while befriending this young prostitute. The film’s screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto, with additional work from Melanie Laurent, is largely straightforward in its narrative yet it is more of a study of this man who is dealing with death and is trying to protect this young woman he found during this attempt on his life from his boss who had kidnapped the young woman into prostitution. They hide out in Galveston while they make a stop at small town in Texas where the prostitute Rocky (Elle Fanning) retrieves her 3 1/2-year old sister Tiffany (Anniston and Tinsley Price) where the hitman Roy Cady (Ben Foster) would later learn whom Rocky had shot. Roy wouldn’t just deal from the fact that he’s somewhat involved in a shooting but he also has his own troubles not just with his lung cancer diagnosis but also his boss back in New Orleans who wants him dead.

Laurent’s direction does bear some style in the compositions yet much of her approach is straightforward in terms of the suspense and drama. Shot largely on location in areas near and around Savannah, Georgia with some shots at Galveston, Texas, Laurent plays into this world of rural Texas with some of its beaches and suburbia landscapes while also grounding it with locations that aren’t pretty. There are wide shots in some of the locations that include shots of clouds to play into this emergence of an upcoming thunderstorm as it adds to the dreary tone of the film. Still, Laurent does find way to bring some hope for scenes at the beach with Rocky and Tiffany as well as a scene in the third act of Rocky and Roy having a bit of fun.

Laurent would use close-ups and medium shots for those moments as well as some shots that play into the drama including some suspenseful moments that includes a climax where Laurent uses a tracking shot that goes on for a few minutes. Laurent also play into this air of intrigue as well as it play into Rocky and her relationship with Tiffany as Roy would have some discoveries but also deal with his own criminal ties as he’s become burned out to the point that he would threaten his own boss as a showdown would occur but with an aftermath that takes place 20 years later. Overall, Laurent crafts an evocative yet chilling film about a dying hitman trying to help a young prostitute and her young sister.

Cinematographer Arnaud Potier does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key lights for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night as well as natural lighting for many of the scenes in the daytime. Editor Joseph Krings does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts for dramatic effect. Production designer Lisa Myers and set decorator Teresa Strebler do fantastic work with the look of the motel that Roy, Rocky, and Tiffany live in as well as a factory that Roy works at. Costume designer Lynette Meyer does nice work with the costumes as it is largely casual that include some of the fashionable yet skimpy dresses that Rocky wears.

Special makeup effects artist Jamie Kelman does amazing work with the look of Roy late in the film as he deals with his health and the beatings he’s taken from other criminals. Visual effects supervisor Lucien Harriot does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it is mainly set dressing. Sound designer Roland Vajs does superb work with the film’s sound in capturing the atmosphere of the locations as well as in some of the intense moments involving the film’s violence. The film’s music by Marc Chouarain and Eugene Jacobson is wonderful for its low-key orchestral score with soothing strings, electronic textures, and hollow percussions while music supervisor Marissa Gallien provides a soundtrack that largely consists of country and blues with bits of heavy metal and a song from Big Star in Thirteen.

The casting by Kerry Barden, Tracy Kilpatrick, and Paul Schnee is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from CK McFarland as a motel owner who is suspicious towards Roy and Rocky, Robert Aramayo as a low-level criminal who lives at the Galveston motel who tries to get Roy involved in a scheme, Adepero Oduye as a former flame of Roy in Loraine whom Roy hadn’t seen in more than a decade, Maria Valverde as a hooker friend of Roy in Carmen who is one of the few that Roy can trust, and Beau Bridges in a terrific small role as Roy’s boss Stan Pitco who tries to set Roy up. The performances of Anniston and Tinsley Price as the young Tiffany are a joy to watch with Lili Reinhart in a fantastic small appearance as the older Tiffany who appears towards the end of the film.

Finally, there’s the duo of Ben Foster and Elle Fanning in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Roy Cady and Rocky. Fanning provides that air of naiveté as a young prostitute with little direction in her life as she is trying to do what she can for Tiffany while also trying to steer away from the world of prostitution despite her need for money. Foster’s performance is reserved in the anguish he carries as a man that is dying from terminal lung cancer while also dealing with the fact that someone tried to have him killed as he deals with impending death but also what to do with the remaining days of his life. Foster and Fanning together are a joy to watch as they display that air of uncertainty but also the fact that they’re two lonely people dealing with the cards they’ve been given.

Galveston is a remarkable film from Melanie Laurent that features great performances from Ben Foster and Elle Fanning. Along with its supporting ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, a compelling yet intense screenplay from Laurent and Nic Pizzolatto, and a somber music score. The film is a fascinating look into two people who both encountered dark situations as they deal with uncertainty as well as to try find hope in a hopeless world. In the end, Galveston is a marvelous film from Melanie Laurent.

Melanie Laurent Films: (The Adopted) – Respire - (Tomorrow (2015 film)) – (Plonger) – (The Nightingale (2022 film)) – (The Mad Woman’s Ball)

© thevoid99 2021

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Period Dramas


For the 19th week of 2021 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the world of period dramas as it’s a subject that has been revisited many times. Yet, it is a popular topic though it’s starting to get more difficult to find new films to talk about. Here are my three picks as they’re all films set during the second half of the 20th Century:

1. The Ice Storm
Ang Lee’s adaptation of Rick Moody’s novel set in the early 1970s during the Thanksgiving holidays, the film revolves around a family that is crumbling due to sexual desires, neglect, and growing pains. Particularly as you have Kevin Kline’s character having an affair with Sigourney Weaver as his daughter and her sons are exploring sex. It is a film of immense beauty but also incredible performances in its ensemble cast that also includes Joan Allen, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Jamey Sheridan, and Adam Hann-Byrd as well as this study of people trying to find fulfillment with this ice storm being the catalyst for all of these emotions that occur in the film’s climax.

2. In the Mood for Love
The second film in an informal trilogy set in the 1960s and so on from Wong Kar-Wai is this evocative drama starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung as two people who both separately move into the same apartment building in Hong Kong as they learn their respective spouses are having an affair with each other. It is a film that remains this ravishing and heart-wrenching drama filled with gorgeous visuals from cinematographers Christopher Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin as well as the work of editor/production/costume designer William Chang as it plays into this air of loneliness and uncertainty into two people who both deal with heartbreak.

3. Far from Heaven
Todd Haynes’ homage to the films of Douglas Sirk in this rich and touching melodrama about a housewife who deals with the secret that her husband is gay just as she befriends and falls for an African-American gardener. Starring Julianne Moore in one of several career-defining performances for her, the film definitely plays like a melodrama of the past as it is set in the late 1950s but it also has elements that are subversive. Notably in the performances in not just Moore but also Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson, and Viola Davis in a small role as Moore’s housemaid as they stray from all of the stereotypes expected in a melodrama. It is not just one of Haynes’ best films but it is also his most accessible film to date.

© thevoid99 2021

Monday, May 10, 2021

Into the Forest


Based on the book by Jean Hegland, Into the Forest is the story of two sisters who live remotely following a worldwide power outage as they struggle to live without technology as well as deal with a new reality around them. Written for the screen and directed by Patricia Rozema, the film is an exploration of two young women who have to care for one another during a worldwide event that keeps them away from the rest of the world while having to deal with some of its dark aspects. Starring Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella, Callum Keith Rennie, Michael Eklund, and Sandy Sidhu. Into the Forest is a riveting and somber film from Patricia Rozema.

Set in futuristic world where a worldwide power outage has occurred, the film revolves around two sisters who deal with this event as they’re forced to live alone and deal with their surroundings and the resources they have. It’s a film with a simple premise as it spans into nearly two years as it plays into these two young women who are forced to deal with their new situation as they live remotely in a house in the middle of the forest while having little gasoline for the power generator they have in the house. Patricia Rozema’s screenplay is straightforward as it play into the lives of these two sisters in Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) as the former is studying to be a doctor while the latter is trying to restart her dance career following an injury when the power goes out as they’re unable to do anything. The film’s first act is about the two sisters dealing with this newfound worldwide power outage with their father (Callum Keith Rennie) as they try to find ways to survive and with the little fuel they have in the car.

Yet, an accident would leave both of the sisters to fend for themselves as the second act has them dealing with their lack of resources but also what they want individually as Nell had befriended a young man in Eli (Max Minghella) who claims there’s something happening on the American east coast as Nell wants to join him. However, it would also mean abandoning Eva who is already struggling with living without power and is becoming depressed. The film’s third act involves the aftermath of an incident that impacted both sisters as they deal with dwindling resources as well as their home becoming inhabitable.

Rozema’s direction doesn’t bear a lot of stylistic choices in the compositions in order to be straightforward in the world that Nell and Eva are dealing with. Shot on various locations in the British Columbia province in Canada, the film does play into this small town world where Nell and Eva are part of a remote community that is often dominated by technology but everything changes due to this worldwide power outage. Rozema does use a lot of wide and medium shots to get a scope of the locations including the forest near the house that Nell and Eva live in as the house itself is a character in the film that included a dance studio where Eva practices. The medium shots also play into the intimacy of the home that include a lot of straightforward compositions involving Nell and Eva including a scene where they argue about using the gas for the power generator.

There are also close-ups as it play into some of the emotional moments in the film including a traumatic event that would shake both women late in the second act as it adds to the dramatic tone of the third act. Even in scenes where both women are emotional as it play into not just loss but uncertainty as it play into something they have to deal with but also a home that is crumbling prompting them to start something new. Overall, Rozema crafts an engaging and evocative film about two sisters surviving during a worldwide power outage.

Cinematographer Daniel Grant does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it plays into the natural usage of lighting for many of the exteriors including some low-key natural lighting for scenes at night including fire and available light. Editor Matthew Hannam does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward as it plays into some of the dramatic moments as well as some livelier bits and some of the intense moments in the film. Production designer Jeremy Stanbridge, with set decorator Shannon Gottlieb and art director Tara Arnett, does amazing work with the look of the house Nell and Eva live in as the house is a major character in the film in displaying the rooms and such in the house including the detail on the roof that is in need of repair early in the film as well as a small shack that Nell and Eli find. Costume designer Aieisha Li does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely casual in the clothes that many of the characters wear in the film.

Visual effects supervisors Ryan Jensen and Kevin Little do terrific work with the visual effects as it mainly focuses on a key event towards the end of the film. Sound mixers Kristian Bailey and Kirk Lynds do superb work with the sound to play into the atmosphere of the forest and its surroundings as well as its emphasis to record all of the sparse moments in the locations. The film’s music by Max Richter is wonderful for its low-key orchestral score that is largely based on string arrangements to play into the air of uncertainty and loss while music supervisor Velma Barkwell provide a soundtrack that mainly consists of two songs including a cover of Wild is the Wind by Cat Power and a song by Sylvan Esso and Amelia Meath.

The film’s incredible ensemble cast feature some notable small appearances from Sandy Sidhu as a woman quizzing Nell during an online test exam, Jordana Largy as Eva’s dance teacher, Michael Eklund as a creepy supermarket clerk named Stan, Wendy Crewson as Nell and Eva’s late mother who is seen through home movies, Callum Keith Rennie as Nell and Eva’s father who is with them in the early days of the power outage, and Max Minghella in a superb performance as Eli as a young man Nell befriends and falls for as he suggests they all go to the east coast to find jobs and power.

Finally, there’s the duo of Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Nell and Eva. Page provides that air of grounded realism and quirky humor to her role but also knows when she has to be serious as she reads a lot and does whatever she can to make sure she and Eva have resources. Wood brings in that air of uncertainty as a dancer who is recovering from a knee injury as she is struggling to keep things going while also coping with loss and later an event that would trouble her. Page and Wood together have this chemistry and rapport as two young women dealing with a worldwide power outage as well as trying to survive and live with little resources as they’re the major highlights of the film.

Into the Forest is a remarkable film from Patricia Rozema that features great performances from Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. Along with its wondrous setting, gorgeous visuals, and a somber music score, the film is a fascinating drama that explores two young women dealing with a worldwide power outage and their need to survive amidst loss and trauma. In the end, Into the Forest is a marvelous film from Patricia Rozema.

© thevoid99 2021

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Best Director Winners (Oscars Edition)


For the 18th week of 2021 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We return to the subject of the Oscars in the Best Director winners as they’re the ones who take charge of the film and make sure everything work. While not every winner have been great choices, there are those that do create great work. Here are my three picks as these are based on films that my father loved in the last years of his life as these winners were all Mexicans though my parents are Honduran:

1. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu-The Revenant
My dad is a big fan of Leonardo diCaprio as he just loves his intensity and willingness to go beyond his good looks. My dad really was happy Leo won the Oscar for this performance as he also was happy for Inarritu as he liked a few of his films but really liked this one. He loved how intense it was and the fact that Leo was going into places that was grimy and did so many things that no actor should be doing in those extreme conditions. It became one of his favorite films though his favorite performance from Leo is in one of the finals he had seen in Django Unchained.

2. Guillermo del Toro-The Shape of Water
My dad liked the period where the film is set while he was taken aback by some of the film’s violence though he had to remind himself that the film is by del Toro. Yet, it is a film that kind of reminds him of the monster movies of the past while he also liked the fact that there was a lot more practical effects used instead of computer effects as he admits to not be into computerized visual effects. He was also into the story and liked the fact that it had some realism in the story though my dad thinks Pan’s Labyrinth is the better film.

3. Alfonso Cuaron-Roma
The area in which the film was set was an area my dad lived in during his time in college as the film did bring back some memories. He watched it during the Oscar season on his laptop (which he rarely used except for work and sports) as he and my mom watched the film. My mom found it to be boring but my dad was into it as it brought him back to a period in time that he reminded him of his youth. Especially in the social struggles of the time as well as the fact that things in Mexico were chaotic but also had this liveliness that will never be recaptured. He thought the film should’ve won Best Picture instead of fuckin’ Green Book.

© thevoid99 2021