Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Year-End Reflections of 2022


Another year has come to an end and it was a crazy year in general considering what has happened with the world with Russia trying to destroy Ukraine while there’s a lot of upheaval everywhere else including here in the U.S. My mother dealt with inflation as she fucking hates it and blames Joe Biden for it. Still, it was quite fun but also kind of boring and it was also sad considering the many who have died this year with the most recent deaths coming in the form of Pele, Barbara Walters, Don West, Vivienne Westwood, Eduard Artemyev, Ruggero Deodato, and Pope Benedict XVI. There was a lot of sad deaths this year though let’s hope that the people of Ukraine manage to give Vladimir Putin a good kick in the ass for 2023 as well as the end of this far-right bullshit here in the U.S. and the far-left to shut the fuck up.

In the year of 2022, I saw a total of 320 films in 189 first-timers and 131 re-watches with 52 of those first timers were films directed or co-directed by women as part of this pledge as I have managed to achieve that goal which is a small victory. It was a year where streaming practically took over everything that I watched with a lot of these first-timers coming from MUBI as I’m glad to be fully on board with the world of streaming while I’m also set to say good riddance to the expensive world of cable that has become outdated and financially problematic. One of the highlights of the year has been my Blind Spot Series and here is the final ranking of the 2022 Blind Spot Series:

1. Army of Shadows
2. Bringing Up Baby
3. Boat People
4. Dreams
5. Mandabi
6.Celine and Julie Go Boating
7. Westfront 1918
8. Devi
9. The Merchant of Four Seasons
10. The Bigamist
11. Flowers of Shanghai
12. Pedro Costa’s Letters from Fontainhas Trilogy (Ossos - In Vanda's Room - Colossal Youth)
Here are the top 25 pre-2015 first-timers that I saw for 2022:

1. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

2. This Happy Breed

3. A Married Woman

4. The Recorder Exam

5. I Am Love

6. La ricotta

7. Oslo, August 31st

8. Cycling the Frame

9. Code Unknown

10. Heaven Knows What

11. Fermiere a Montfaucon

12. Rejected

13. Scenes with Beans

14. Middle of Nowhere

15. Cul-de-Sac

16. Land of My Dreams

17. Le Coup du berger

18. Trofilm

19. Berenice

20. Goodnight Mommy

21. Timecrimes

22. 24 Hours in the Life of Clowns

23. The Tenant

24. Mood Indigo

25. Palo Alto

This was a good year in sports as the Atlanta Braves won another division title but faltered in the playoffs while the Atlanta United and Atlanta Hawks did alright though I really don’t care for the Falcons. I’m happy that Argentina won the World Cup this year as the World Cup is always something I need to watch despite my issues over the fact that it was set in a terrible country that used slave labor and the blood of immigrants to build these stadiums. Then there’s the world of streaming as MUBI has become my go-to service for films while I also love what Amazon Prime, Disney+, Netflix, and other places have offered as it has given me a chance to seek out more as I hope to have Hulu, HBOMax (before it becomes Warner Discovery… blech), and being away from cable for good.

Then there’s the world of professional wrestling as it’s been a fucking insane year with a lot of highs but also a lot of lows. It was the year Vince McMahon’s personal life became public as he has been forced out of WWE though he is eager to come back with Triple H being the new head of creative as he’s done some good things but also some bad things though I’m willing to give him a chance. AEW started off well but had a terrible summer due to injuries and then came the aftermath of All Out where everything crashed due to a disastrous media scrum and brawl behind the scenes. AEW is still dealing with other issues while the status of CM Punk remains a big question though personally, I hope he doesn’t come back to wrestling ever. There’s been other things in AEW that have been troubling such as Tony Khan’s purchase of Ring of Honor that has been chaotic with ROH and AEW talent making things overwhelming. Though ROH hasn’t been able to get a TV deal which Khan has been trying to do, there is still some hope for the brand while Khan is still dealing with growing pains.

Other companies have been going through some good and bad though NWA has been going through problems and what happened this past November as it is clear that Billy Corgan has fucking lost his mind. The decision he made by having Tyrus (formerly known as Brodus Clay) the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion instead of someone as hot as Matt Cardona is truly the worst. No wonder Nick Aldis left the NWA and I hope Aldis finds a new home somewhere as he is too good to be in a small company as hopefully either WWE or AEW picks him up or even New Japan.

The year has been incredible for professional wrestling as here is my top 15 matches of 2022:

1. FTR vs. the Briscoes trilogy (ROH Supercard of Honor XV/2 out of 3 falls at ROH Death Before Dishonor/Double Dog-Collar Match at ROH Final Battle)

2. Will Ospreay vs. Orange Cassidy-AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door

3. Sheamus vs. WALTER for the WWE Intercontinental Title at Clash of the Castle

4. Jamie Hayter vs. Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s World Championship at AEW Dynamite

5. Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm for the AEW Women’s World Championship at AEW Full Gear

6. Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at the New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night 2

7. CM Punk vs. MJF Dog-Collar Match at AEW Revolution

8. Jamie Hayter vs. Riho at AEW Dynamite

9. Bryan Danielson vs. Hangman Adam Page for the AEW World Heavyweight Championship at AEW Dynamite

10. Chris Jericho vs. Bandido at AEW Dynamite

11. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE World/Universal Heavyweight Championship in a No-Holds Barred match at SummerSlam

12. Wheeler Yuta vs. Jon Moxley at AEW Dynamite

13. Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz, Bryan Danielson, Wheeler Yuta, and Jon Moxley vs. Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, 2.0., Daniel Garcia, and Jake Hager at Anarchy at the Arena at AEW Double or Nothing

14. The Acclaimed vs. Swerve in Our Glory for the AEW World Tag Team Championship at AEW All Out

15. Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi at the 2022 G1 Climax

Wrestler of the Year: Will Ospreay & Jamie Hayter (tie)

Runner-Up: Jon Moxley

Tag Team of the Year: FTR

Runner-Up: The Briscoes

Breakout Star of 2022: Daniel Garcia

Runner-Up: Dominik Mysterio

Well, that is all for 2022. Let’s hope 2023 is a better and healthier year. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2022

2022 Blind Spot Series: Colossal Youth


Written, directed, and co-shot by Pedro Costa, Juventude de Marcha (Colossal Youth) is the third and final film of a trilogy set in the Fontainhas shantytowns near Lisbon, Portugal as it explores the life of an elderly Cape Verdean immigrant in Ventura who deals with the world around him as he’s been abandoned by his wife while spending time with neighbors who have either fled Fontainhas or are still living there in its final days. A mixture of documentary and fiction, the film explore the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution of the 1970s and how it affected those in the 21st Century that lead to a lot of trouble for those living below the poverty line. Also starring Vanda Duarte, Beatriz Duarte, Cila Cardoso, and Alberto “Lento” Barros. Juventude de Marcha is a mesmerizing and haunting film from Pedro Costa.

The film follows a man living in the Fontainhas shantytowns near Lisbon, Portugal as he deals with the fact that the shantytowns are almost extinct as he struggles to find a new home after his wife had left him. It is a film that plays into a man dealing with his surroundings but also meeting these neighbors whom he refers to as his children as they deal with their new lives including Vanda Duarte who has ended her heroin addiction though she is on methadone and trying to raise her own child Beatriz. While there isn’t much of a narrative in the film as it mixes elements of fiction and documentary, Pedro Costa does showcase a world that is almost gone but also where many of the inhabitants of Fontainhas have gone to where its protagonist Ventura is trying to get a home there but not just for himself but also for other neighbors. Even as he deals with the fact that he’s living on the outskirts with a friend as well as coping with health issues and the deaths of those he knew in Fontainhas.

Costa’s direction definitely aims for a minimalist approach as it is shot on digital video cameras with largely static wide-medium shots in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio where there are some close-ups but the camera never moves. It is a similar approach that Costa did with his previous film of his Fontainhas trilogy yet there is a more vibrancy to the look of the film with its usage of available light as Costa shoots the film with co-cinematographer Leondardo Simoes. Costa would keep this minimalist approach with shots ranging from a few minutes to capture everything that is happening with Vanda talking to Ventura in her own room as it’s shot at the corner of a room where both of them are on Vanda’s bed watching TV while Vanda’s young daughter Beatriz is playing with a toy and dancing to music. There are also moments set in the night where Costa and Simoes shoot on available light as there is an atmosphere to the way things are presented as the cameras that Costa and Simoes have are more high-definition that removes some of the crude aspects from Costa’s previous film from the trilogy.

Costa’s approach to shooting for long takes does give the film’s pacing a somewhat sluggish feel but it doesn’t meander in order to showcase Ventura throughout the entirety of the film as he eats with Vanda’s husband or visiting his daughter as they ponder the whereabouts of his wife and son whom they both believe is alive. Costa also play into this sense of loss late into the film with some long, unbroken takes such as Ventura, Vanda, and her husband eating as they lament over those who didn’t survive where music is being played in another room loudly as it plays into the natural approach to sound due to the sound work of Olivier Blanc, Vasco Pedroso, and Jean-Pierre Laforce. Editor Pedro Marques helps maintain this approach to shots that last long while knowing when to and to not cut during a key moment such as Ventura visiting an old friend whose leg injury still pains him after all of these years. It has these moments that doesn’t just play to the social politics of what Ventura and his neighbors went through but also the fact that despite being in a new home. They still have struggles that keep them away from the conventions of modern-day society as they’re still seen as outsiders.

The film’s cast that largely consists of non-actors as it features appearances from Vanda’s infant daughter Beatriz as well as Alexandre “Xana” Silva as a mysterious figure in Ventura’s life, Paolo Nunes as the man who still has issues with his leg, Paula Barrulas as Paulo’s girlfriend, Isabel Cardoso as Ventura’s wife Clotilde, Gustavo Sumpta as Vanda’s husband whom Ventura often hangs out with as they eat dinner, and Cila Cardoso as Ventura’s daughter. Alberto “Lento” Barros is excellent as Ventura’s housemate whom he would live with in various shacks as they deal with their isolation while Vanda Duarte is brilliant as a woman trying to clean herself up as she sees Ventura as a father figure as they both lament over their own sense of loss. Finally, there’s Ventura in an amazing performance as this retired 75-year old laborer whose wife leaves him with a few clothes and that is it as he laments over the world around him but also in wanting a new home but realizes that there are complications that add to this social and political disarray as it relates to the destruction of Fontainhas.

Juventude de Marcha is a sensational film from Pedro Costa. While it is a film that isn’t easy to watch due to its pacing and minimalist approach. It is still this entrancing film that showcases an old man dealing with his surroundings and the social/political chaos that is around him as it relates to people in his community with those accepting their fates with others unable to be part of society. In the end, Juventude de Marcha is a phenomenal film from Pedro Costa.

Pedro Costa Films: (O Sangue) – (Casa de lava) – Ossos - No Quatro da Vanda - (Ou git votre sourire enfoui?) – (Ne change rien) – (Cavalo dinheiro) – Vitalina Varela

© thevoid99 2022

Friday, December 30, 2022

Films That I Saw: December 2022


The year is nearly at an end as it has definitely been crazy but also problematic at times although it was also fun at times. Still, I’m kind of burned out right now as I’m just trying to relax and not really do anything other than just binge-watch a few things. Then there was the 2022 FIFA World Cup as despite my issues about Qatar hosting and some of the things they’ve been doing. I will have to say that it was still a great World Cup not just because of some big teams that got eliminated but also some big surprises from Japan and South Korea proving they can go with the best teams out there yet it was Morocco that won me over. Especially for what they did to reach the semi-finals by not only beating Portugal but for an image that brought a smile to my face.
Morocco may have lost the third-place game to Croatia who had a great World Cup with Luka Modric once again proving to be one of the best to play the game. Morocco became the darlings of the World Cup in terms of not just their skills but how they were able to reach the people as they have nothing to be ashamed of. The fact that they made it that far and get that kind of support is a win in my opinion. Then there’s the World Cup final between France and Argentina as I only saw the extra time period live with one of my aunts from my mother’s side and her boyfriend as that gave me lots of anxiety. I did see what happened earlier and wow… this was one hell of a final. It came down 3-3 at the end of extra time as I was in the TV room with my mother, my aunt, and her boyfriend as we were just filled with anxiety and excitement over that final. When it finished, I was elated that not only did Argentina won the World Cup but that Lionel Messi finally got that moment. He was complementary of his teammates in this victory but also got that chance to be the thing that every player wants to be. Greatest of All-Time.
The debate is fucking over after so many years over who is the GOAT in futbol right now. Messi or Cristano Ronaldo. There was no fucking debate when it came to who is the GOAT as I knew who it was already but I knew that the only way for Messi to do that is to win that World Cup like Diego Maradona did back in 1986. Like Maradona, Messi wasn’t a big guy but could dribble that ball like an artist but what made Messi different from Maradona is that he didn’t have much of an ego and was more grounded as it made him more likeable though Maradona remains the ultimate god of futbol for me. As for Ronaldo, all of those awards, statistics, records, and such don’t mean fucking shit since he never could win the big one let alone share the spotlight to his teammates. Instead, he ended his World Cup crying like the bitch that he is as I hope he continues to cry like a bitch while getting his ass eaten by his bitch Piers Morgan. Messi deserved this and he shared it with his teammates and his family though I know it’s going to be awkward when he returns to his club to meet with his teammate Kylian Mbappe who played a hell of a game and is on his way to become a GOAT. He’s got nothing to be ashamed of nor does France as they played like warriors.
In the month of December 2022, I saw a total of 30 films in 19 first-timers and 11 re-watches with 10 of the first-timers are films directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge which I have managed to fulfill as it helps end the year on a high note. One of the highlights of the month as been my Blind Spot Series pick in Pedro Costa’s Letters from Fontainhas trilogy. Here is the top 10 first-timers that I saw for December 2022:

1. Decision to Leave
2. The Tenant
3. Le pupille
4. For You I Will Fight
5. White Turnips Make It Hard to Sleep
6. Dio: Dreamers Never Die
7. Olla
8. House Comes with a Bird
9. Letter to My Mother for My Son
10. Towards Tenderness
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I Saw

Dio: Dreamers Never Die
One of the last films I saw on Showtime as I’m currently getting the cable cut off is this documentary about one of the greatest figures in heavy metal in the late, great Ronnie James Dio. The film showcases his early days doing do-wop and playing in bands as far as the late 1950s until forming Elf in the 1970s where they often opened for Deep Purple in America that eventually lead to the formation of Rainbow with Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore. It also goes into how he joined Black Sabbath and made, in my opinion, their best album in Heaven and Hell and also Dio’s solo career. It is a documentary that is filled with interviews with many luminaries in metal including Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler from Sabbath, Vinny Appice who played in Sabbath and in Dio’s band, and many others. Even as they touched upon the fallout of the original Dio band that included Vivian Campbell as it showed both sides of why they fell out and Dio’s struggle in the 1990s when metal was considered uncool. It is a must for fans of Dio to see as well as those who are discovering metal to see why Dio was one of the best.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

A 1-minute short from Disney that appeared on YouTube to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Disney Animation marks the return of one of its original characters in Oswald. It is essentially a short in which Oswald goes to a movie theater and tries to get himself back in the movie that he was in as it’s just a fun and innocent short that kids can enjoy.

Blank Narcissus (Passion of the Swamp)
One of several shorts that I saw on MUBI as this one from Peter Strickland revolves around a filmmaker commenting on a film he had found that he made a long time ago with a former lover as it play this young man’s encounter with a swamp. It is a film that is dead-on with its approach to gay love as the filmmaker comments on his relationship with this young man and how it fell apart as it is an incredible short that many should seek out as well as fans of Strickland’s work.

A one-minute short by Alice Diop that is about a man painting a railway is rich in how the man sees things in his painting in comparison the stark look of the railway in real life. It is a wonderful short that proves that you could use a few minutes or one to tell a story.

For You I Will Fight
One of two shorts by Rachel Lang that is part of a trilogy starring Salome Richard as a young woman named Ana who joins the army as a way to find herself amidst a group of young women as they learn about sisterhood and discipline. It is this entrancing short that showcases a woman who is troubled and in need to find herself while discovering these young women who are dealing with the same issues as it is a must-watch.

White Turnips Make It Hard to Sleep
The second short by Rachel Lang starring Salome Richard as Ana as it focuses on adulthood where Richard gives an effective performance as a young woman who is dealing with relationship issues as well as this need to be an artist. It is the lesser of the two shorts but still offers a lot of realism into the difficulties of adulthood.

From Ariane Labed is this phenomenal short about a young Ukrainian woman who moonlights as an exotic dancer that arrives to the French suburbs as this new mail-order bride as she has trouble adjusting to her new environment while sex with her husband is just dull. Starring Romanna Lobach in the titular role, it is a short that is a study of loneliness and cultural differences as the only character she cared about is her ailing mother-in-law whom she dances for as a way to entertain her. It is a short that people need to seek out.

Towards Tenderness
Another short by Alice Diop that is more of a documentary as it play into the world of masculinity and its many fallacies where it features a lot of men wanting to be more caring. It is a short that feature different men including a gay man towards the end who is dealing with his own identity as well as the need to not be like other men who are macho and full of themselves.

Letter to My Mother for My Son
From Carla Simon and featuring an appearance from Angela Molina is a short that is about Simon exploring her own pregnancy as well as her own body as she awaits the birth of her son. Simon speaks through a voiceover narration as she writes a letter to her mother about life and the hopes of a mother as it is rich in its imagery with Simon’s character portrayed by herself and other women in different ages with Molina playing the role of Simon’s mother.

Le Pupille
Of all of the things that appears on Disney+, a short film by Alice Rohrwacher that is co-produced by Alfonso Cuaron that stars Alba Rohrwacher and Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi is something I would’ve never expected. Yet, it ended up being one of the most touching shorts I had ever seen and props to Disney for putting this out to the world in both dubbed English and its original Italian as I went with the latter as it revolves around a group of orphan girls living in World War II-era Fascist Italy during Christmas as they deal with temptation and the need to be in line with Alba playing the head nun and Bruni-Tedeschi as a rich woman asking the girls for a miracle. It is a short that ends with a moral but it ends up being comedic and lively as it is a short film that everyone needs to see as it appeals to not just children but also art-house film fans as it should become a Christmas staple.

Summer Vacation
This 20-minute short from Israel is about a family on a vacation where a man is nearly drowned after being buried by his kid where he is saved by another man who reveals to be his former lover. It is a short about desire and temptation as it is also a really sexy short that only the adults can watch. Even as there is some sex but also this need to be more than just a simple summer family vacation.

Sex Ed by God
A two-minute animated short by Tala Mandani about a man who claims to be God as he guides a boy about the female body and what men should do only for that female subject to take matters into her own hands. It is a funny short that plays into the critique of the male gaze and their own narrow view on sex and why women should have a say as they would men in the scariest place ever.

House Comes with a Bird
The last short I saw on MUBI comes from Janicza Bravo for Miu Miu is about a young woman in Kelsy Lu who shows potential rich clients this house she’s watching over but the potential owners realize that there’s a bird that is in the home and it comes with the house. Among these clients include Natasha Lyonne, Pedro Pascal, Katherine Waterston, and Poorna Jagannathan as they each provide their own view with Lu being the standout as the young woman showing them this house and the bird they might have to take care of as it is rich with its imagery with Lu also providing the short’s score.

Wednesday (season 1)
From Alfred Gough and Miles Millar with episodes directed by Tim Burton, Gandja Monteiro, and James Marshall is a show fans of The Addams Family are likely to watch and it is a great show. Notably with Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams as Ortega is definitely having a break-out year with this show being one of her crown jewels as she provides a lot of wit and unique body language to the character while providing a lot of the dark humor the character is known for. Yet, the show isn’t entirely about Ortega as a major discovery in Emma Myers as Addams’ roommate in Enid as this colorful opposite of the Gothic Addams as she is just a delight to watch while the ensemble that includes Luis Guzman and Catherine Zeta-Jones in their respective roles as Gomez and Morticia Addams, Fred Armisen in a one-episode guest appearance as Uncle Fester, Gwendoline Christie as the school’s headmistress, Riki Lindhome as Wednesday’s court-appointed therapist, and Christina Ricci as a botany teacher are just fun to watch. It is a great show as I await for what will happen for the second season as I just want Wednesday and Enid to become more than just besties.

Acapulco (season 2 episodes 8-10)
The last three episodes of the seasons is further proof of why this show needs to be seen more as I’m hopeful for a third season as it plays into Maximo not only dealing with guilt over his role at Las Colinas but also the departure of Don Pablo who leaves the hotel to be with his family. The show’s season finale is one of the strongest as it plays into this air of optimism for many at Las Colinas but a big reveal in the ending as it relates to the older Maximo. It is a show that my mother and I love to watch as I hope they get renewed.

Willow (episodes 1-2)
Having re-watched the film this month as I hadn’t seen it in years, this show two episodes in has me intrigued as it is great to see Warwick Davis back in the titular role along with Joanne Whalley returning as Sorsha as it focuses on her twin children dealing with a new evil as her son has been taking prompting her daughter, her best friend/lover, a young prince, and a former squire to go on a journey with the son’s girlfriend who is revealed to be Elora Danan from the film as Willow is trying to teach her magic. It has a lot of adventure and wit as I hope to catch up with the rest of the series once the New Year begins.

Match of the Month: Jamie Hayter vs. Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s World Championship on AEW Dynamite

There is no question that the last few months of the year has showcase Jamie Hayter as not just one of the best wrestlers this year but is already cultivating a number of great matches as this one against Hikaru Shida on the December 21st episode of AEW Dynamite as its main event has raised the bar for what women’s wrestling could be for the company. With Athena becoming the ROH Women’s World Champion and employing a strong-punishing style that is far-removed from what is often expected with mainstream wrestling. Shida and Hayter brought that style for their match and showcased exactly what women could do as it was physically intense and also brutal in the way they hit each other. Hayter may have won the match but Shida has proven to be a real ace for that division and hopefully an example of the kind of greatness that division could be for 2023.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
2. The Kingdom
3. Willow
4. A Bad Moms Christmas
5. Swiss Family Robinson
6. Mickey’s Christmas Carol
7. Mulan
8. Winter Storage
9. Corn Chips
10. Out of Scale
Well, that is all for December 2022. With the year-end piece coming later on, there are some films that I hope to watch in January such as The Whale and Babylon as I was unable to see anything this month theatrically but that’s OK. I hope to catch up on some new films that came out in December but also a review of The Kingdom: Exodus and whatever Blind Spot I have as well as whatever I have left in my DVR before it goes away. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2022