Thursday, March 31, 2022

Films That I Saw: March 2022


Springtime… shit… another fucking springtime for me to deal with as pollen has once again arrived as it is why I hate this season more than anything else. I get sick during that time unless it’s raining and raining fucking hard. Still, this is small potatoes compared to what is happening as war still rages on with Russians invading Ukraine as I hope someone kicks Vladimir Putin right in his ass along with all of his cronies including that fat bitch Steven Seagal and all of those assholes at FAUX News. It’s bad enough we have people supporting this bullshit Russian propaganda but in this country of ours no matter how fucked up it is? We’re in some bad times right now as there is this growing sense of Fascism happening. While I am living in a state that does have a dumbass governor along with a shit-for-brains cunt of a senator and an Uncle Tom who doesn’t believe in evolution and science while is running a senate campaign here in Georgia even though he lives in Texas. At least I don’t live in Florida, with apologizes to those in Florida, as that state continues to be the embarrassment of this country not because of its governor who is trying to suppress certain teachings but also to discredit those who oppose him including the LGBTQ community.

Given all of the chaos that is happening around the world and here in the U.S. This past Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was just as bad in not just its presentation in trying to appeal to a fickle generation of idiots who don’t know a good film if it came out of their ass. It was also in trying to make things exciting which was the opposite while the decision to announce winners in several technical categories on Twitter was an awful decision. Having flavor-of-the-month celebrity guests in the show to appeal to that fickle crowd didn’t help matters as the attention should be on the people who contributed to their part in cinema. Just as things were already bad enough, one bad joke from Chris Rock that brought a horrible reaction from Will Smith just destroyed everything and ended up overshadowing everything else. Even though Smith apologized for what he did, it wasn’t enough as it just exposed him as not just a fucking asshole but also someone who basically outed himself as a cuckold since there’s rumors that he and his wife have an open marriage while they’re also part of a narcissistic family with two of their kids being a bunch of spoiled, no-talent assholes and the idea that they might be Scientologists which is bad news.

With so much that is happening as I just got the news a couple of days ago that one of my longtime family friend’s dog just died as I loved that dog. His name was Jack and was such a good dog. He will be missed as is Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters who died abruptly during the band’s South American tour as it is just devastating for not just the band but for so many who knew him and played with him as I don’t think the Foo Fighters will be the same. It may be a started by Dave Grohl after Nirvana’s dissolution but Hawkins was the rock n’ roll spirit that made that band so great and the only drummer who was an equal to Grohl in the instrument in terms of feel and passion. I wouldn’t know where to rank among the greatest drummers ever but he definitely belongs in that list because he was damn good in that instrument. We will miss you Taylor. Thank you for loving life and music as much as we do.

Another major loss this year in the world of professional wrestling is Scott Hall though his death shouldn’t have been surprising if it had happened years ago considering that he and another wrestler in Jake “the Snake” Roberts were both in the running of a death pool for wrestler deaths a decade ago as they were becoming known more for their drug and alcohol abuse. That all changed in 2014 as both men became sober and were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as Roberts has so far maintained his sobriety despite recent health issues in his attempts to quit smoking but is still alive and well. For Hall sadly, the pandemic disrupted his sobriety as he fell off the wagon on-and-off as he struggled to be sober and then earlier this month. He broke his hip and was sent to a hospital here in Marietta, GA near my home where a blood clot did him in as his passing is still devastating. He was one of the guys that made me love pro wrestling ever since the early 1990s when he left WCW to join WWE as “the Bad Guy” Razor Ramon as I thought he was Cuban unaware that he had a career in the AWA in the 80s tagging with Curt Henning.

Though he began his WWE run as a heel, there was something about Razor Ramon that I found appealing in not just the fact that he can work with so many different wrestlers including Sean Waltman as the 1-2-3 Kid whom he put over in early 1993 on an episode of RAW. It was the fact that he just had this charisma about him from the way walked to the ring as if he owned the building while wearing these gold chains and having a toothpick in his mouth and would flick it at you if you disrespect him. He was winning the fans over and it was in the fall of 1993 is where I started becoming a fan of his as it was during this battle royal where the last 2 men would face each other the next week on RAW for the vacant Intercontinental title due to the fact that Shawn Michaels was suspended at the time. The amount of talent in that ring was a showcase for this post-Hogan period known as the New Generation which did focus more on in-ring work, work rate, and making good matches.

Hall was among the pillars of that period along with Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Sean Waltman, pre-babyface Diesel, the Undertaker, Owen Hart, the British Bulldog, and Yokozuna (before his severe weight gain in 1996). That battle royal which featured a lot of that talent in that time showcased this transition of the old guard vs. the new guard where the last six men in the battle royal were Hall and Randy Savage as the babyfaces going against the heels in Rick Martel, Adam Bomb, and the Quebecers. It was down to Hall, Martel, and the Quebecers where Hall would eliminate the Quebecers and the match was over and pandemonium happened. As a 12-year old kid watching that match, I was over the moon when Razor was one of the last two and to see him and Martel ready to just kill each other despite all of these referees and agents trying to stop them. I was like “let them go! Fuck next week! Let’s do it now!” A week later, the match for the IC title happened and it’s one these gems in WWE’s history that often gets overlooked as it’s a classic match that told a story as there’s a lot of holds and power moves. The ending had Razor win the match and the moment he put on that IC belt on his waist. I was like “damn! That looks good on him”.

Hall may be one of these great wrestlers to never win a world title but holding the IC belt from 1993-1996 in four different reigns I think is more than enough as he helped make that championship feel important back then. It was the workhorse championship but it was more about who made that championship as guys like him, Curt Henning, Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Chris Jericho from the late 80s to the early 2000s was a title that everyone needed to have to feel important. Hall’s time in WWE is something many shouldn’t overlook as the matches he had with Martel, Bret Hart, Sean Waltman, Diesel, Jeff Jarrett, Goldust, and most of all, Shawn Michaels are among some of the best work during a period where WWE was trying to find itself in the post-Hogan era.

Hall should also be noted as an influential figure for what he did in WCW in forming the nWo and had a good run during that time as part of the Outsiders with Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman although it would be his own personal issues that would cause his career to slow down. During this period where everyone was given tribute to Hall, there were things about him that I didn’t know including a brief stint working in Japan in late 2001 where he put over an unknown young talent whom Hall would tell everyone this guy would be the next big superstar. That young man that Hall put over was none other than Hiroshi Tanahashi who would become a massive superstar and paid tribute to Hall by doing the Razor walk to the ring while also acknowledging Hall’s influence in the business and stated that one of his all-time favorite matches is the WrestleMania X ladder match for the undisputed Intercontinental Championship between Hall and Shawn Michaels which is a fucking classic as is their 1995 rematch in SummerSlam. It is sad that he is gone as friends, families, and those he influenced are going to miss but he did leave a parting word in his Hall of Fame speech that says a lot about who he is.

In the month of March 2022, I saw a total of 21 films in 9 first-timers and 12 re-watches with 3 first-timers being films directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. Down from last month but mainly due to the fact that I have to help my mother watch my niece and nephew for much of the day on the week days and barely have time to watch films but still, not a bad month. One of the highlights this month has been my Blind Spot film in The Bigamist. Here are the top 5 first-timers that I saw for March 2022:

1. The Batman
2. This Happy Breed
3. Phoenix Rising
4. The Lost Daughter
5. Wonderstruck
Monthly Mini Reviews/What Else I’m Watching

Train Again
One of two short films that I watched from my MUBI subscription is this experimental short film from Peter Tscherkassky that is a tribute to the filmmaker Kurt Kren. It is mainly a short that consists of many films featuring trains as if it plays into the history of cinema through these gorgeous and dazzling images of trains all shot in black-and-white. It’s only 20 minutes long but it is worth watching for anyone that is interested in the history of cinema.

Private Imaginings and Narrative Facts
The second short I watched from my MUBI subscription is a six-minute silent short film by Edward Owens about life in the ghetto as it is just something simple and to the point. It is a film that explores how people lived and how they had to endure the many day-to-day things as it is something worth seeking.

Moon Knight (pilot)
The new series from Marvel that is part of the Phase 4 TV series marks the introduction of a new hero that comic fans are familiar with but not on live action. Created by Jeremy Slater and its first episode directed by Mohamed Diab, it is a show that has humor but it is really a character study of this man in Steven Grant who wakes up every day not knowing what happened to him yesterday or a few days ago as he finds himself in dangerous situations. It is a show filled with horror and suspense with Oscar Isaac bringing a lot of wit into his role as Steven Grant/Marc Spector as there’s a great physicality to his performance while Ethan Hawke’s performance as Arthur Harrow is really unlike anything he does. It’s a good start to the show so far as it’s definitely something different from Marvel.

Wrestling Match of the Month: CM Punk vs. MJF in a dog-collar match at AEW Revolution
Since his return to the world of professional wrestling in late August 2021, CM Punk has taken things slow to get back into ring shape though the matches he had with Darby Allin, Powerhouse Will Hobbs, Eddie Kingston, and last week, Dax Harwood of FTR have been solid as it showed that Punk still has what it takes. This feud he’s had with MJF for the past few months have been awesome as it all dates to a picture of Punk meeting a young MJF at an autograph signing and MJF wanting to be like Punk only to be betrayed when he walked out on WWE in 2014. The match was violent, bloody, intense, and also extremely personal with Punk using his old Ring of Honor music in AFI’s Miseria Cantare – The Beginning which made things so much better. Adding to the drama was Wardlow who would make his babyface turn by giving MJF’s diamond ring to Punk to help Punk win the match.

This has been a hell of a month in professional wrestling with some shocking events in New Japan Pro Wrestling with Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa of the Guerillas of Destiny being kicked out of the Bullet Club as it’s a decision that I am not happy with. Especially since Tama is a founding member leaving the Bullet Club under the leadership of Jay White who brought back Doc Gallows and co-founder Karl Anderson back to the fold with Bad Luck Fale also turning on G.O.D. The other big shock is Gedo turning on his longtime friend Jado who had been voicing his own issues with White as he and G.O.D. have been fortunate to find some allies in Ryusuke Taguchi, Master Wato, and Hiroshi Tanahashi. The New Japan Cup also happened with Zack Sabre Jr. winning his second cup as he is someone that deserves a title shot as he is one of the best technical wrestlers working today.

The NWA is also starting to get interesting as the championship month back in February between Trevor Murdoch against Matt Cardona was an amazing match with Cardona becoming the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion as it’s only added to his now growing reputation as he’s also been winning titles in other companies and has become the most hated wrestler in the independents in the death match scene. Now he’s taking part in a feud with former NWA world champion Nick Aldis that now involve their respective spouses in Chelsea Greene and Mickie James that is also happening on Impact. It is proof that there’s so much happening right now in professional wrestling that showed that you don’t need flavor-of-the-month celebrities or stupendous buzz-words to sell an event. You just need talent, buzz, and doing the work to make things happen. AEW, New Japan, Impact, GCW, NWA, AAA, and anywhere else that loves professional wrestling. Plus, fuck sports entertainment as that shit is for pussies.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. National Lampoon's Vacation
2. Trading Places
3. Thor: Ragnarok
4. Chimes at Midnight
5. The Big Sick
6. The Producers
7. WandaVision
8. Team Darryl
9. Necessary Roughness
10. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Well, that is all for March. Next month, I’m not really sure what I’ll do other than a few films available on streaming as I hope to catch up on a few Oscar winners but also films by Todd Haynes, the Safdie Brothers, and several others while I’m not sure what will be next in my Blind Spot series. There’s a lot of options in my watch lists as I could also do something unexpected. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: (TV Edition) Family Comedies


For the 13th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the world of television in the form of family comedies. Shows that showcase families dealing with their lives and often put themselves into some funny situations and also some serious moments. Here are my three picks:

1. Married… with Children
If anyone here doesn’t think this is one of the greatest shows ever made. I will fucking the shit out of all of you. It’s one thing for a Bundy to insult another Bundy but when someone else outside of the family or their circle of friends insult them. No one will survive. It is a show about a man who sells women’s shoes as he is married to a lazy slob of a wife who does nothing but watch TV with a dumbass but gorgeous daughter and an intelligent yet socially-awkward son. He lives next door to a feminist with has chicken legs and was married to a banker who leaves her and the yuppie world as she later married an aging pretty-boy who often joins Al Bundy in a series of shenanigans. What a great fucking show.

2. Family Matters
A show about a working class family in the suburbs of Chicago as they deal with many changes where its patriarch is a cop, the mother operates an elevator at a store, and they have three kids but also the patriarch’s mother, the matriarch’s sister and her baby boy. Then came their nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel who brings in a bunch of hilarious moments and the show becomes a massive hit. A staple of shows on ABC known as TGIF that also included the show it spun-off from in Perfect Strangers plus Full House and Step by Step. For anyone who was grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, this was the shit and this show with this nerdy kid who causes mayhem though he didn’t mean to made it a joy to watch until the last few seasons and then was moved to CBS in its final season. Fuck CBS.

3. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
A young man from West Philadelphia is playing basketball and then gets into a little fight and his mom gets scared where she has him moving to Bel-Air where his relatives live. The relatives that featured Uncle Phil, Aunt Viv, Hilary, Ashley, the butler Geoffrey, and the greatest character ever in Carlton. It’s a show where a kid from the hood is brought to the posh world of Bel-Air as he adjust to his new world while making fat jokes at his uncle and short jokes towards Carlton but he loves this family. Even as the family also have to endure things that Will often has to face with the privileged Carlton having to learn about racism but also the meaning of what being black really means. It is a great show that still endures as it’s always fun to watch Carlton dance to Tom Jones and there’s nothing wrong with Tom Jones. Any motherfucker who disses Tom Jones will have to answer to my dead abuela!

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Dark Waters


Based on the New York Times Magazine article The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Nightmare by Nathaniel Rich, Dark Waters is about an attorney’s battle against the chemical manufacturing company DuPont over their water contamination in a small town. Directed by Todd Haynes and screenplay by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan, the film is about the real-life battle between Robert Bilott and the DuPont Corporation in the mid-2000s over water contamination in a small Ohio town as Mark Ruffalo plays Bilott. Also starring Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, and Bill Pullman. Dark Waters is a chilling and mesmerizing film from Todd Haynes.

Set largely from 1998 to 2015, the film is about the real-life battle between corporate defense attorney Robert Bilott and the chemical manufacturing company DuPont over water contamination in the small town of Parkersburg, West Virginia as the former’s grandmother lived there where she told a farmer to call Bilott over the deaths of his cows. It is a film that explore this man who is asked by his grandmother to help this farmer who is needing help as he had lost a lot of cows while showing evidence of deformed body parts. The film’s screenplay by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan is largely straightforward yet it follows a long period that play into legal battles and how Bilott kept fighting despite the strain it puts into his family life, his health, and issues involving the firm he works for as it’s a firm known for defending corporations. While the film briefly opens with a few people skinny-dipping onto a lake in 1975 where they’re forced to leave by a couple of men wearing jumpsuits as they spray something in the water. It sets the tone of what Bilott would discover as well as many revelations about what kind of chemicals DuPont has creates where Bilott at first is just doing his grandmother a favor even though his firm works for DuPont.

When the farmer Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp) reveal some of the locations as Bilott gets a closer look into the graveyard that Tennant had created for his dead cows as well as witnessing a cow being killed after acting crazy. Despite the lack of support he gets from the Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm over his case, they do get eventually on board when the firm’s supervising partner Tom Terp (Tim Robbins) realizes what is at stake as well as the chemicals that DuPont had created known as perfluorooctanoic acid, that is used for Teflon non-sticking frying pans and carpet flooring, as the source that’s been contaminating not just the water at a nearby landfill in Parkersburg but at the town’s water where many of its locals are ill. Though the years of litigation, independent testing, and such would be long and arduous as well as reveal so much where Bilott realizes that he must fight despite the fact that it takes away a lot of his time from his family that includes his wife Sarah (Anne Hathaway).

Todd Haynes’ direction definitely has elements of style in his overall presentation but he also knows when to keep things straightforward. Shot on location in Cincinnati, Ohio as well as locations nearby including parts of areas in Ohio as Parkersburg, West Virginia, Haynes makes these locations central to the film as the small town of Parkersburg with several locals including the real Robert and Sarah Bilott as well as other characters do appear in the film in cameos. There are wide shots in some of the locations including shots of the DuPont chemical plant and the buildings in Cincinnati including the one where Bilott worked at. Still, much of Haynes’ direction emphasizes on intimacy in the close-ups and medium shots while also employing some unique dolly and tracking shots for some scenes to play into the atmosphere of a location whether it’s a local church in Parkersburg or a building hallway. Haynes’ direction also play into the dramatic suspense but also this feeling of a moment in time as it mainly from the late 90s to the 2010s as the Bilott home would often change that also feature a humorous bit where one of the sons isn’t happy about having to go to hardwood floors instead of carpet.

Still, Haynes maintains this sense of drama including moments where people representing DuPont want to target Bilott as well as locals from Parkersburg who feel that Bilott is disrupting their livelihood since they depend on DuPont for employment where they take it out on Tennant and another local in Darlene Kiger (Mare Winningham). While the third act does feel overwritten and at times does drag which Haynes definitely aimed for as it play into how long litigation gets where cases take years to do including data research. It does play into the struggles that Bilott went through but also revelations about his own worth and the sacrifices he made despite all of the strain he put on himself and his family all because he became concerned about a farmer. Overall, Haynes crafts an evocative yet haunting film about a corporate defense lawyer who fights for a farmer against a gigantic chemical manufacturing company.

Cinematographer Edward Lachman does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of blueish colors for some of the daytime exteriors as well as the emphasis on sepia-like lighting for some of the interior scenes at night. Editor Affonso Goncalves does excellent work with the editing as it features some jump-cuts, dissolves, and a montage where Bilott explains to his wife in his discovery. Production designer Hannah Beachler, with set decorator Helen Britten and art director Jesse Rosenthal, does amazing work with the evolving look in the interior of the Bilott family home as well as the Tennant farm in its exteriors to play into its decayed look. Costume designer Christopher Peterson does fantastic work with the clothes that play into the evolving style that Sarah would wear throughout the film with everything else from the suits that Bilott wears to the regular and casual clothing of the people at Parkersburg.

Prosthetic makeup effects designer Michael Marino does nice work in some of the film’s minimal effects involving not just the look of a few characters but also in the mutated animal internal organs that Tennant showed Bilott. Special effects supervisor Bob Riggs and visual effects supervisor Ed Chapman do terrific work with some of the film’s visual effects which is mainly bits of set-dressing but also in the video footage that Tennant had filmed in his farm. Sound designer Leslie Shatz does superb work with the sound as it help play into the way characters in locations sound including a few court rooms as well as some of the video that Bilott watched that Tennant film. The film’s music by Marcelo Zarvos is wonderful for its ambient-based score that play into the drama but also the sense of dread that emerges in the film while music supervisor Randall Poster creates a soundtrack that largely feature country music from acts like Willie Nelson, John Denver, Waylon Jennings, Reba McIntyre, and Deana Carter as well as music from Kenny Loggins, Stan Getz, and John Milton Barrett.

The casting by Laura Rosenthal is great as it feature some notable small rules and appearances including real-life people were involved in the case such as Rob and Sarah Bilott as a couple at a posh party, the deformed Bucky Bailey as a man asking Rob for sports scores, Jim Tennant as a diner patron, Darlene and Joe Kiger as church attendees, Elizabeth Marvel as the voice of a doctor talking to Bilott late in the film, the trio of Aidan Brogan, Nathan Slaughter, and Graham Caldwell in their respective roles as the eldest to youngest version of Teddy Bilott, Beau Hartwig and Jacob Bukowski in their respective roles as the oldest and youngest version of Tony Bilott, Keating P. Sharp as the 11-12 year old version of Charlie Bilott, Louisa Krause as the attorney Clara Pfeiffer who is one of the few that supports Bilott in his case, William Jackson Harper as a colleague of Bilott who is baffled by Bilott working on the case, Kevin Crowley as a local West Virginian attorney in Larry Winter who helps Bilott, Denise Dal Vera as Tennant’s wife Sandra, Richard Hagerman as Joe Kiger, Jim Azelvandre as Jim Tennant, and Bill Pullman in a superb performance as Harry Dietzler as an attorney who helps Bilott in the cases as he raises many questions about DuPont.

Mare Winningham is fantastic as Darlene Kiger as a woman who lives in Parkersburg who turns to Bilott over something she received as she realizes something isn’t right while also knowing that the town will go against her in her fight against DuPont. Victor Garber is excellent as an attorney for DuPont who at first helps Bilott out only to become confrontational and denying everything Bilott is asking for. Tim Robbins is brilliant as Tom Terp as a managing partner of the Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm who isn’t supportive of Bilott in this case until he realizes the severity of Bilott’s discoveries as he realizes that they must sue DuPont or else they would look even worse by supporting them. Bill Camp is amazing as Wilbur Tennant as a farmer whose cows had died due to the poisoned water from a nearby landfill as a man who just wants justice despite the fact that he would be ill from the water in his land.

Anne Hathaway is incredible as Sarah Bilott as a housewife/former lawyer who is concerned about her husband’s work as well as what he discovered where she tries to deal with all of it but also defend him when people are going after him as it is Hathaway at her strongest and most stern. Finally, there’s Mark Ruffalo in a tremendous performance as Robert Bilott as a corporate defense attorney for the Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm who is asked by his grandmother to help this farmer only to realize a lot of things went wrong where Ruffalo plays into this man’s own desperation to do what is right even if it brings a strain to his family as it is an engaging and somber performance from Ruffalo.

Dark Waters is an incredible film from Todd Haynes that features great performances from Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway, and Bill Camp. Along with its supporting cast, gorgeous visuals, a chilling music score, and its exploration over a real-life legal war against a giant corporation and the chemicals they created. It is a film that is a haunting drama that explore a man whose job is to protect corporations only to fight against a corporation that has harmed not just a small town but everyone forcing this man to fight for the good of the world. In the end, Dark Waters is a marvelous film from Todd Haynes.

Todd Haynes Films: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story - Poison - Dottie Gets Spanked - Safe - Velvet Goldmine - Far from Heaven - I'm Not There - Mildred Pierce (2011 TV Miniseries) - Carol - Wonderstruck - The Velvet UndergroundThe Auteurs #3: Todd Haynes

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Gaslighting


For the 12th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of gaslighting in which people are told certain things believing them to be true when the reality is that they’re being manipulated for someone’s gain. It’s a subject that is becoming prevalent as people are being fed a lot of bullshit and make them believe it is true as it is more common these days for anyone that watches FAUX News. Here are my three picks:

1. Sunset Boulevard
Billy Wilder’s noir-suspense drama about a lowly screenwriter hired to write a film for a fading film star who still believes that her comeback is coming. Yet, the reality is that she is a woman whose time had come and gone while convinced she gets fan mail although it is her butler that is protecting her from this harsh reality of the fickleness that is Hollywood. It is a film that is full of many twists and turns as it is told by the protagonist where the first thing shown in the film is his dead body as it is one of the finest films of the 20th Century.

2. Rosemary's Baby
The second part of a thematic trilogy of films set inside strange apartments, Roman Polanski’s story about a woman who moves into a new apartment in New York City with her actor husband unaware that the apartment is filled with creepy people. People are telling her all sorts of shit as she believes they’re part of a cult devoted to Satan just as she had become pregnant. It is a film that has all of these people lying to this woman who is smart enough to be aware that something is off as it is a pure horror film.

3. Changeling
Based on real-life events during the 1930s, Clint Eastwood’s drama about a woman whose son goes missing until the LAPD claims to have found her son only to give her the wrong boy. The LAPD claims they found her son but she knows this boy isn’t her son where she is sent to a mental hospital for going against the police while people who know her including a minister who has been outspoken against the police. Yet, it is the truth over what this woman learned about her son’s whereabouts is even more shocking as it play into not just the corruption of the LAPD but something far more sinister that involves a man killing children. It is one of Eastwood’s great films during a period from starting with Mystic River and into this film where he was pretty much on a roll.

© thevoid99 2022

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

2022 Blind Spot Series: The Bigamist


Directed by Ida Lupino and screenplay by Collier Young from a story by Lawrence B. Marcus and Lou Schor, The Bigamist is the story of a traveling salesman from San Francisco who has a life there but another life in Los Angeles where an adoption agent discovers this man’s immoral act. The film is an exploration of a man caught between two lives as well as the fact that he’s in love with these two women. Starring Edmond O’Brien, Joan Fontaine, Ida Lupino, and Edmund Gwenn. The Bigamist is a riveting and somber film from Ida Lupino.

The film is the story of a traveling salesman from San Francisco whose wife wants to adopt a child where an adoption agent becomes suspicious and learns that this man has another wife and a child in Los Angeles. It is a film with a simple premise as it also has a unique structure in Collier Young’s screenplay where the first 20 minutes is about this traveling salesman in Harry Graham (Edmond O’Brien) as he is meeting this adoption agent in Mr. Jordan (Edmund Gwenn) who notices something is off about Harry during their meeting that included Harry’s wife Eve (Joan Fontaine). Mr. Jordan goes to Los Angeles to know more about Harry in his business trips to the city where he finds a name similar to Harry in an address where he makes this discovery.

It is where the film’s tone becomes a reflective one where Harry tells his story to Mr. Jordan about the fact that he has another wife in Phyllis Martin (Ida Lupino) whom he had met at a bus tour as they just clicked despite not romantically being interested in one another. During the course of the film, Harry struggles to do the right thing for both women but circumstances beyond his control as it relates to Eve’s own family issues and Phyllis’ health forces him to be with both whenever he can as both women are unaware of each other’s existence.

Lupino’s direction is largely straightforward in its visuals though there are bits that do play like a noir film of sorts though it is largely a dramatic film set and shot in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. While there are wide shots to establish some of the locations, much of Lupino’s direction is intimate as it play into the drama with the usage of medium shots and close-ups. Lupino also maintains this tense atmosphere in the conversation between Mr. Jordan and Harry with the latter talking about how he met Phyllis and how their relationship only began slowly because both of them were lonely with Harry often feeling secondary to Eve who is dealing with her ailing father. Lupino’s direction showcase the conflict that Harry is dealing with where he thinks about leaving Eve because she’s been distant in order to be with Phyllis but then Eve calls him to be more involved emotionally as things get more complicated. Even in the third act where Mr. Jordan processes Harry’s story where Lupino showcase how complicated things are as its ending is heartbreaking not just for the women but also for Harry who knew things weren’t going to end well. Overall, Lupino crafts a compelling yet haunting film about a man who is married to two women.

Cinematographer George E. Diskant does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography where it is largely straightforward for many of the daytime interior/exterior scenes as well as the usage of some lights for some of the scenes at night. Editor Stanford Tischler does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with some nice usage of transitional dissolves to play into the drama. Art director James W. Sullivan and set decorator Edward G. Boyle do fantastic work with the look of the home that Graham lives with Phyllis as well as the Chinese restaurant where Phyllis worked at. The sound work of Dick Tyler Sr. and Howard Wilson is terrific for its natural approach to the sound from the way some noise is presented at a party to the quieter moments in the film. The film’s music by Leith Stevens is wonderful for its lush orchestral score that ranges from its dramatic and somber themes to suspenseful themes with the string arrangements to play into Harry’s plight.

The film’s superb ensemble cast feature some notable small roles and appearances from George Lee as the Chinese restaurant head waiter Sam, John Maxwell as the judge in the film’s final scene, Lilian Fontaine as Phyllis’ landlady, Peggy Maley as a phone operator that works in the L.A. building where Harry would work at, Jane Darwell as Mr. Jordan’s cleaning lady Mrs. Connelley, and Kenneth Tobey as Harry’s lawyer Tom Morgan. Edmund Gwenn is brilliant as Mr. Jordan as an adoption agent who is suspicious about Harry as he tries to figure him out as he would later listen to Harry’s story where he makes his own assessment revealing to be a man who has a job to do but is sympathetic to Harry’s issues. Joan Fontaine is amazing as Eve as Harry’s wife/business partner as a woman who was emotionally-detached for a time due to her ailing father as she is someone who is always good to him and hopes adopting a child would bring them closer.

Ida Lupino is amazing as Phyllis as a woman who works at a Chinese restaurant as she befriends Harry through mutual loneliness as they have a tryst that at first meant nothing until she realizes she is pregnant while also realizing how much they care for each other. Finally, there’s Edmond O’Brien in an incredible performance as Harry Graham as a traveling salesman who is in love with two women as he puts himself in an awful situation as it is largely driven by uncertainty and loneliness where O’Brien displays that vulnerability of a man who knew he had done something wrong but couldn’t help but try to make things right for these two women.

The Bigamist is a phenomenal film from Ida Lupino that features great performances from Lupino, Edmond O’Brien, Joan Fontaine, and Edmund Gwenn. Along with its simplistic presentation as well as its study of bigamy and a man’s conflict in the decisions he’s made. It is a film that definitely explore a subject matter with great sensitivity while also knowing the implications it would cause in the lives of three people. In the end, The Bigamist is a sensational film from Ida Lupino.

Ida Lupino Films: (Not Wanted) – (Never Fear) – Outrage (1950 film) - (Hard, Fast, and Beautiful) – The Hitch-Hiker - (The Trouble with Angels)

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, March 20, 2022

This Happy Breed


Based on the play by Noel Coward, This Happy Breed is the story of a suburban family in Britain in the course of nearly two decades as they deal with the lives after World War I and the events leading to World War II. Directed by David Lean and screenplay by Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, and Ronald Neame, the film is an exploration into the life of this family as they endure many changes in the course of nearly two decades including new technology and changing attitudes. Starring John Mills, Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, Kay Walsh, and Stanley Holloway. This Happy Breed is a wondrous and enchanting film from David Lean.

The film follows the life of a family from 1919 to 1939 as they live in this house during the course of these two decades amidst many social, cultural, and political changes that would affect this family in this small suburban home. It is a film that follows the life of this family in a former World War I veteran just a year after the war had ended as he moves his family to suburbia as one of his neighbors is another former soldier from the same war. The film’s screenplay is largely straightforward in exploring the life of Frank and Ethel Gibbons (Robert Newton and Celia Johnson, respectively) as well as their children in Vi (Eileen Erskine), Reg (John Blythe), and the youngest daughter Queenie (Kay Walsh), Ethel’s mother Mrs. Flint (Amy Veness), and Frank’s sister Sylvia (Alison Legatt) where they all share this small yet quaint home. Their neighbor across the street from them in Frank’s old friend Bob Mitchell (Stanley Holloway) and his son Billy (John Mills) who is a sailor that often pines for Queenie.

During the course of the film through its narrative, Frank and Ethel would endure a lot of what is happening around them as Reg befriends the socialist Sam Leadbitter (Guy Verney) who would get Reg into trouble during the General Strike of 1926 while Frank and Bob both volunteered during that strike. During the course of the film, Reg and Queenie would try to follow the trends and issues of the time with Frank preferring to stay away while Vi would settle into a family life. Reg would also get married but Queenie would rebel against her family’s ideals for something of her own as the family would deal with new things such as technology in the wireless radio, talking films, and other things as they would also witness events around them that would change Britain just before the start of World War II.

David Lean’s direction does have bits of style but much of it is intimate where a lot of the action takes place inside the Gibbons house with a few scenes set outside of the house. While there are a few wide shots in the film that include an opening and closing shot that reflects the area where the Gibbons live in with un-credited open narration by Laurence Olivier for the opening scene. Lean’s usage of medium shots and close-ups do play into a lot of the drama as many of the house interiors from the first shot of the house from the inside and the last one do make this home a major character in the film. From the dining and tea room where the characters frequent through changing times as well as listening to the wireless radio. Lean also keep things simple when it comes to shooting a conversation as there’s a lot of dialogue that is spoken that often play into the reaction of the times or wanting to be part of this new world unaware that war will be coming. The film also has elements of tragedy during a scene where everything that is being told is shown off-screen where Lean focuses more on the contents on the tea room since the audience knows what these characters are going to discover.

Lean also uses some of these historical events as a backdrop in the film as it play into how the Gibbons’ react such as the trends of the time as well as world events that would play into World War II. Notably in a few scenes involving Bob and Frank as they get drunk while discussing the future as they do become hopeful only to be concerned in the later years with Frank reacting badly to Neville Chamberlain’s trip to Munich and how the people have responded. Even as the characters get older and wiser though a few get lost in trends and such to get them disconnected with reality only to be grounded by their role in the family. Overall, Lean crafts a majestic and compelling film about the life of a family living in suburban London between the periods of two World Wars.

Cinematographer Ronald Neame does incredible work with the film’s luscious Technicolor photography as it adds a lot to the film’s visuals in the many exteriors in the daytime as well some unique lighting for some of the interiors including scenes at night. Editor Jack Harris does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward but also has bits of style while also using fade-to-black to help structure certain scenes to transition from one period to another period. Art director C.P. Newman does amazing work with the look of the house and its many interiors as well as the backyard with the small garden that Frank tends to as the rooms and their evolution in the span of 20 years do add a lot to the visuals but also in helping to tell a story of this house.

Makeup artist Tony Sforzini and hair dresser Vivienne Walker do fantastic work with the look of the characters such as Frank, Ethel, Sylvia, and Bob and how they grew into older people in the coming years without doing too much makeup. The sound work of John Cook, Desmond Dew, and C.C. Stevens is superb for the way things sound outside of a house or how small sounds are presented inside the house. The film’s music by Muir Matheson is wonderful for its serene orchestral score that has some upbeat pieces but also somber bits to play into the drama as it also feature additional music from Clifton Parker and the music from those 20 years in the film.

The film’s marvelous casting feature some notable small roles from Merle Tottenham as the Gibbons’ maid Edie, Betty Fleetwood as a neighbor girl named Phyllis that Reg would marry, Guy Verney as Reg’s socialist friend Sam Leadbitter who would have feelings for Vi, John Blythe as Frank and Ethel’s son Reg as a young man who is eager to be part of the new world but also learn that he has to take the values of the old world to keep him grounded, Eileen Erskine as Frank and Ethel’s eldest daughter Vi who is just trying to find her own identity yet is someone who has a lot more respect to her parents values than her siblings, and Amy Veness as Ethel’s mother Mrs. Flint who often deals with health issues and often argues with Sylvia over trivial things. Alison Leggatt is fantastic as Frank’s sister Sylvia who often talks about many things and follows many trends where she gets into arguments with Mrs. Flint and the annoy the family with her ideas on spiritualism. Kay Walsh is excellent as Frank and Ethel’s youngest child Queenie as a young woman who rebels against her parents’ value while falling for a married man despite an offer from Billy who offers her a better life.

John Mills is brilliant as Billy as Bob’s son who is a sailor and a kind man that has feelings for Queenie despite being away at sea often as he is also someone that has a lot to offer to Queenie as well as be someone who respects Frank and Ethel. Stanley Holloway is amazing as Bob Mitchell as a former World War I soldier who lives across the street from the Gibbons’ home as he fought with Frank as the two deal with changing times but also hoping to maintain some values in the hope of a better future for their children. Celia Johnson is incredible as Ethel Gibbons as the matriarch of the family who deals with a lot of the drama in her family while maintaining the household despite some of Queenie’s actions that would hurt Ethel. Finally, there’s Robert Newton in a phenomenal performance as Frank Gibbons as a World War I veteran who is trying to start a new life in a new home with his family as he deals with changing attitudes and ideals as he tries to maintain his values while watching everything from afar.

This Happy Breed is a sensational film from David Lean. Featuring a great ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, a sumptuous music score, and its exploration of a family’s life during a period of peace between two world wars. The film is an engaging drama with light touches that explore the dynamics of a family living in suburban London in a time when war wasn’t looming. In the end, This Happy Breed is a phenomenal film from David Lean.

David Lean Films: In Which We Serve - Blithe Spirit - Brief Encounter - Great Expectations (1946 film) - Oliver Twist (1948 film) - The Passionate Friends - Madeleine (1950 film) - The Sound Barrier - Hobson's Choice - (Summertime (1955 film)) – The Bridge on the River Kwai - Lawrence of Arabia - Doctor Zhivago - Ryan's Daughter - (Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor) – A Passage to India - (The Auteurs #75: David Lean)

© thevoid99 2022

Friday, March 18, 2022

Phoenix Rising


Directed by Amy J. Berg, Phoenix Rising is a two-part documentary film that follows actress Evan Rachel Wood in her activism over domestic abuse as it play into her own experiences during her own tumultuous relationship in the late 2000s with shock-rocker Marilyn Manson. The film explores the woman’s life as a child actress and a teen star as well as her relationship with Manson that was considered shocking to the public as she was 18 and he was in his late 30s but also the things in that relationship that made her an abuse victim and later an activist. The result is an engrossing yet eerie film from Amy J. Berg.

In 2006, actress Evan Rachel Wood met shock rocker Marilyn Manson at a party at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, California as it marked the beginning of a tumultuous, chaotic, and abusive relationship that ended in 2011 but left Wood with scars and PTSD as she tried to reclaim her life and acting career. Nearly a decade since the end of the relationship that saw her acting career going on an upswing through films like The Ides of March, Kajillionaire, and the TV show Westworld while raising a young son from her relationship with British actor Jamie Bell. There were still questions about her relationship with Manson as she and activist/artist Illma Gore tried to create a bill known as the Phoenix Act in the wake of the #MeToo movement to protect domestic abuse victims and extended the statute of limitations in California. It was then that Wood learned that she wasn’t the only person who had been abused by Manson as other women including Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco were among those who had been abused by the shock rocker.

Split into two parts, the film chronicles Wood’s life and career as it intercuts with her and Gore trying to create the Phoenix Act bill through the many journals and evidence Wood had gathered before and during her time with Manson. Among those also interviewed in the film are Wood’s parents David and Sara as well as her older brother Ira and her stepmother Ashley Wood as well as a few of the women who had relationships with Manson and were abused by him along with a couple of former assistants of Manson who witnessed the abuse but were kept quiet for years by Manson. Yet, the film has Amy J. Berg follow Wood in the course of nearly 2 years where she and Gore are trying to create this bill and also gather up evidence of the abuse Wood had suffered as they would keep it quiet during the pandemic.

The film is shot largely in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic where Wood and Gore gather all of Wood’s personal journals, photos, and other things relating to her relationship with Manson in the hope that authorities would look into all of this and create a serious case. Notably in extending the statute of limitations for victims from 1-3 years to something much bigger in the hopes that domestic violence abuse victims would be given more protection. The film would intercut not just Wood and Gore’s work into creating this bill with Wood being at home to raise her son (whose face is never shown on camera while his face is blurred when he’s on camera) but also in Wood telling her own life story and how she met Manson and the tumultuous relationship they were in. The first part that features these surreal animation bits created by Angelique Georges that depicts Wood as Alice of Alice in Wonderland as this young girl who is confused and then corrupted by Manson. It play into Wood’s own growing pains as her parents split up when she was 9 where she went with her mother to Los Angeles while her brother Ira stayed with their father as she didn’t speak to her dad for almost a decade.

While Wood would become successful and gain serious acting award nominations for her performance in the 2003 film Thirteen, it also had her typecast as troubled young girls in the films she would do despite some of the critical praise she gets. For a young woman who was born and raised in North Carolina for much of her early life and being homeschooled, Wood was someone who had a lot of social anxieties while was freaked out by the idea of sex as there is a humorous anecdote about how she discovered sex by finding a porno magazine as she had boyfriends between 2003 and 2006 but she was still shy and awkward. Then she met Manson while she was in a relationship with British actor Jamie Bell and Manson was then-married to burlesque performer/adult model Dita von Teese. Wood admitted back then that she wasn’t a fan of his music but was aware of him nor was she attracted to him physically but found him intriguing. Even as he claimed to be a fan of her work and wanted to get involved in a project about Lewis Carroll called Phantasmagoria with Wood starring and being credited as a co-writer.

It was then that Manson did things such as love-bombs and all sorts of things where he wouldn’t just break Wood’s relationship with Bell but also charm her and thus their relationship became public in early 2007 much to the shock of those close to Wood including friends and family. Notably as Manson told Wood to look into her business dealings and such as he helped drive a wedge between Wood and her mother Sara who was also her manager though a lot of Manson’s claims were untrue. The relationship started off innocently but things changed following the shoot for the music video Heart-Shaped Glasses from his sixth studio album Eat Me, Drink Me is when things went bad as Wood was given absinthe that was spiked with something as she was in an intoxicated state and ended up doing an un-simulated sex scene without her consent as it lead the relationship to take a dark turn where she would join him on tour and be treated miserably as even some of Manson’s personal assistants and roadies were forced to lock her into a room out of fear for their own safety.

The film’s second part chronicles more of Wood’s relationship with Manson that was an on-again, off-again relationship that included a lot of verbal, physical, and mental abuse where the only breaks Wood had was when she was working on a film such as The Wrestler which is a film Wood is proud of. Unfortunately, it didn’t ease things as the relationship became toxic where Wood witnessed Manson’s own fascination with Nazism as well as saying a lot of racial and prejudice things towards African-Americans and Jews where is at times forced to say the N word and is troubled by his anti-Semitism since she is Jewish. Despite a brief period where she returned to North Carolina where she was with her father and step-mother Ashley, she returned to Manson in a way to defuse whatever destructive behavior he had towards himself only for things to get worse. The final straw came following the moment she was working on Mildred Pierce where she was pregnant during the film as she ended up getting an abortion as he treated her coldly and told her to make dinner when she needed to rest.

The second part also has Wood talking about her experience with other former girlfriends of Manson plus two of his former personal assistants who witnessed his abuse as one of them had befriended Wood in 2007 on tour as he felt guilty of having to do things for Manson. Many of them share the stories of the abuse they suffered but also the pattern of behavior and abuse he had where it becomes clear that they’re not alone that motivated Wood to work more on the Phoenix Act. On September 11, 2020, Manson would release his 11th studio album We are Chaos where questions towards Manson about his past relationship with Wood lead to Manson storming off interviews. It was when many begin to speculate about the identity of Wood’s abuser following her own testimonies including one at Congress in 2018 where Manson is a suspect leading to Wood receiving death threats from his fans. The threats forced Wood to leave Los Angeles with her son and their dog Tommy to the South where she is close by her family including her father, stepmother, and brother Ira who is often at the house playing with his nephew. Gore would stay in Los Angeles to work on the Phoenix Act as she would talk to Wood who would be at her home.

Berg’s direction doesn’t just go into some of the detail into Wood’s journals and recollections but also though excerpts from a 2017 audiobook version of Manson’s 1998 memoir The Long Hard Road Out of Hell which was a bestseller at the time despite the fact that a lot of the things in the book have been embellished, exaggerated, and filled with half-truths as Wood felt there are things there that play into Manson’s own psyche. Even as there’s also clips from some of Manson’s tour videos including some unreleased short films he made that depicted graphic acts of violence including a few that Wood was in from Manson’s own website. There’s even an excerpt of Manson in an episode of Dinner for Five hosted by Jon Favreau where Manson and comedian Andy Dick talked about a short film with Daryl Hannah where both Manson and Dick seem to laugh about Manson’s short films and the women in the film with Hannah feeling uncomfortable. With the aid of cinematographers Jenna Rosher and Curren Sheldon, Berg keeps many of the interviews as well as some of Wood’s own time at home in a straightforward manner while also knowing when to step back. Still, she was given unprecedented access to allow Wood to display her vulnerabilities as she still gets emotional about her experiences. Even as that relationship after it ended still traumatized her and why it lead to her relationship with Jamie Bell following her time with Manson to not work out.

Editors Miranda Yousef and Veronica Pinkham help gather not just some of Wood’s own home videos of her time with her family when she was young but also in some of the home videos she had during her time with Manson as it help bring a lot of weight into a lot of the things that she went through as she had to fake things for the public. Even as she was being slandered by celebrity gossipers and assholes like Perez Hilton who slut-shamed her and said things that are just obscene. Sound designer Mike James Gallagher and sound recordist Ashley Maria also do work in not just capturing many of the natural sounds in the shoot but also in some of the audio excerpts including some of the home videos of Wood’s time with Manson. The film’s music by Aska Mitsumiya is largely an ambient score as it play into the drama and many of the traumatic events that Wood went through.

Phoenix Rising is an incredible film from Amy J. Berg. Not only does it explore a woman recounting her experience in being abused but also trying to survive and overcome it while also sharing stories with those who endured the same experience of abuse. While it is not an easy film to watch in due to the graphic detail into the severity of the abuse Evan Rachel Wood endured in that relationship but also in the fact that she managed to overcome it and eventually out him in the hope that he is held accountable and that abuse victims can be protected through this bill in the hope that it becomes law. In the end, Phoenix Rising is a phenomenal film Amy J. Berg.

Amy J. Berg Films: (Deliver Us from Evil (2006 film)) – West of Memphis - (An Open Secret) – (Every Secret Thing) – (Prophet’s Prey) – (Janis: Little Girl Blue) – (The Case Against Adrian Syed)

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies with a Body Part in the Title


For the 11th week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of movies with a body part in the title that is suggested by Brittani of Rambling Films. Usually, film titles involving body parts often are linked to horror but not all films do that. Here are my three picks:

1. The Man with Two Brains
Carl Reiner’s sci-fi comedy about a surgeon who gets married to a selfish slut where he meets another doctor with a talking brain as he falls for this brain while on his honeymoon in Europe. In Reiner’s third collaboration with Steve Martin, the film is a spoof of sorts in sci-fi and body horror as it includes a subplot involving a mysterious serial killer killing people in Europe while Kathleen Turner plays Martin’s nymphomaniac and selfish wife while Sissy Spacek voices the role of the brain that Martin falls for. It is an absolutely silly yet hilarious film from Reiner and Martin.

2. Breast Men
A comedy from HBO about the creation of breast implants starring David Schwimmer and Chris Cooper as these two men who came up with the idea of the breast implant. It is presented as a comedy of sorts as it feature these interludes of topless women talking about wanting breast implants as well as those getting breast implants with some regretting that decision. It is a film that has a lot of humor and some dramatic moments but it also dark at times with Cooper and Schwimmer both giving solid performances.

3. Booty Call
A 90s comedy that still holds up in terms of humor about two guys trying to score during a double-date as they do whatever they can to score and endure a lot of hijinks. Starring Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, Tamala Jones, and Vivica A. Fox, it is a comedy that never takes itself seriously while it also some hilarious scenes with a couple of Punjabi convenience store owners who bicker about sex but carry some serious heat. It is still hilarious as no wonder Siskel and Ebert both gave the film thumbs up and they’re still right about the film.

© thevoid99 2022

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Lost Daughter


Based on the novel by Elena Ferrante, The Lost Daughter is the story of a woman vacationing in Greece is disrupted by the presence of a young mother forcing her to think about her own past. Written for the screen and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, the film is an exploration of a woman dealing with her own past but also being fascinated by this young mother who is struggling in the new world of motherhood. Starring Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Mescal, Dagmara Dominczyk, Jack Farthing, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Ed Harris. The Lost Daughter is a riveting yet haunting film from Maggie Gyllenhaal.

The film is a simple story of a college professor traveling to Greece for a vacation where she observes a young mother dealing with her daughter who had lost her doll prompting this woman to think about her own past and struggles as a young mother back then. It’s a film that explores the idea of motherhood and how not everyone embraced it as a woman is forced to look back when she was a young woman to two little girls and watch this woman endure the same issues. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s screenplay is largely a straightforward yet reflective narrative where it follows Leda Caruso (Olivia Colman) who goes to Greece on a holiday from work as she rents a small apartment for the time as she watches many people including this young woman in Nina (Dakota Johnson) struggling to take care of her young daughter Elena (Athena Martin). Even as Elena is surrounded by a group of people including family as many of them are terrible and not really helping Nina with her struggles.

For Leda, she is forced think about her time as a young woman (Jessie Buckley) in taking care of her two daughters with her often-absent husband Joe (Jack Farthing). Gyllenhaal’s script often shows Leda in situations where she is just trying to keep things to herself but is often surrounded by people in Nina’s circle who are quite cruel including a pregnant woman in Callie (Dagmara Dominczyk) who wants Leda to move her chair away from her party but Leda politely refuses. Leda would often encounter people who are quite mean to her with the exception of Nina and the apartment caretaker Lyle (Ed Harris) as with the former often coming to her for advice. It would force Leda to think about her own young life and how being a mother to two young girls wasn’t just overwhelming but also suffocating at times as the older Leda often looks on with a sense of regret but also warning Nina that things are going to be much tougher.

Gyllenhaal’s direction is definitely mesmerizing in terms of the setting but also in the air of intimacy into the two stories of this one woman dealing with her role as a mother but also observing this young woman struggling. Shot on location in Spetses, Greece as the small town, beaches, and houses are characters in the film as this tranquil getaway for Leda and many others. Gyllenhaal does use some wide shots to get a scope into some of these locations but uses medium shots to play into the conversations within the characters as well as lots of close-ups to play into some of the anguish as well as young Leda’s own sexual desires that include a scene of her masturbating while wearing headphones to block out her screaming kids. Gyllenhaal plays into this idea of motherhood and it’s not for everyone where the young Leda is more concerned with her own desires and her work rather than be with her daughters who are both seeking her attention. The doll that belong to Elena that Leda realized was in her bag following a moment where Elena had been lost and Leda found her is a symbol of Leda needing to redeem herself but also look back at her own faults as a mother.

Gyllenhaal’s direction also play into Leda struggling to deal with some of the other vacationers though she befriends Nina, Lyle, and a young Irishman named Will (Paul Mescal) who works at the bar at the beach. Gyllenhaal often has the camera in these locations of where Leda walks onto a hill that leads to the beach but also these small locations in the town where she wants to enjoy herself despite some of the awful young locals and tourists who say horrible things to her. The third act does play into the events that Leda regretted in her past during a conversation with Nina as it flashes back to the young Leda going on a trip for a lecture where her own desires come into play among meeting a college professor named Hardy (Peter Sarsgaard). Gyllenhaal would also reveal this key moment that opens the film of Leda walking down the beach at night with a wound in her stomach as it is also a symbolic moment about the many struggles of motherhood and the sacrifices it took to accept this role. Overall, Gyllenhaal crafts an evocative yet chilling film about a middle-aged woman looking back at her faults as a mother years ago as she observes the struggles of a young mother during a vacation in Greece.

Cinematographer Helene Louvart does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on natural lighting for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night as well as for some of the exterior scenes in the daytime. Editor Affonso Goncalves does excellent work with the editing as it does have some stylish jump-cuts as well as some unique transitions into the flashbacks. Production designer Inbal Weinberg, with set decorator Christine Vlachos and art director Monica Sallustio, does brilliant work with the look of the apartment that Leda lives in as well as the home she had when she was younger and some of the places she go to in the town nearby. Costume designer Edward K. Gibbon does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely casual with a few of the stylish clothing and swimsuits that Nina wears.

Tattoo designer Panos Kondylis does nice work with some of the tattoos that Nina has as well as some of the people in her circle wear as it play into the idea of youth. Special effects supervisor Solon Giannoutos and visual effects supervisor Antonis Kotzias do terrific work with the special effects as it is largely minimal including a scene involving a young Leda and a doll and other bits of set dressing. Sound editor Leslie Shatz does superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as some of the sparse sounds heard in a location to give it that sense of realism. The film’s music by Dickon Hinchcliffe is wonderful for its mixture of blues and orchestral string music that play into the drama while the film soundtrack features original music by Greek artist Monika along with music from the Talking Heads, Bon Jovi, Judy Garland, and Roberta Flack.

The casting by Kahleen Crawford is incredible as it feature some notable small roles from Alexandros Mylonas as an older professor that the young Leda meets in a flashback, Alba Rohrwacher and Nikos Poursanidis as a couple of hikers the young Leda, her daughters, and husband meet, Panos Koronis as a Greek man named Vassili who is one of the few in Nina’s circle that is kind to her, Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Nina’s husband Toni, Robyn Elwell and Ellie Blake in their respective roles as Leda’s daughters Bianca and Martha, Ellie James and Isabelle Della-Porta in their respective roles as the voices of the older versions of Bianca and Martha, Jack Farthing as the young Leda’s husband Joe who is trying to do his job as well as be a good father, and Athena Martin in a wonderful performance as Nina’s young daughter Elena. Peter Sarsgaard is superb in a small role as college professor named Hardy whom the young Leda has an affair with during her seminar trip over translations she had created.

Dagmara Dominczyk is fantastic as Callie as a pregnant American tourist who is part of Nina’s circle as she is quite cruel while often being bossy while her kindness never feels sincere as she is someone who thinks knows everything and makes Nina insecure. Paul Mescal is excellent as the bartender Will who works at a beachside bar whom Leda befriends as he helps her out with the locales on the island but also observes the people who frequent though he also takes an interest in Nina. Ed Harris is brilliant as Lyle as apartment’s caretaker as a man that Leda befriends where he spent much of his time in this small town knowing a lot of the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes along while sharing his own stories of struggle with Leda but in a different way. Dakota Johnson is amazing as Nina as a young woman who is struggling with taking care of her young daughter while feeling her marriage is crumbling prompting her to find her own desires as she is being suffocated by people in her circle where she turns to Leda for help.

Finally, there’s the duo of Jessie Buckley and Olivia Colman in tremendous performances in their respective roles as the younger and older version of Leda Caruso. Buckley’s performance showcases a woman that isn’t just struggling with taking care of two young girls but also someone who is just feeling suffocated in the role as she has her own desires. Even though she has rare moments where she shows affection and time towards her daughters as it only play into a woman that knows what she has to do but is overwhelmed by having to be a mother. Colman’s performance is more reserved as the older Leda with the exception of a scene where she is antagonized by a bunch of young asshole men at a movie theater and threatens them. Still, Colman has a performance that showcases a woman with a sense of regret but also harboring the pain that she had as a young woman as it is definitely one of Colman’s great performances who also can sing as she sings along to Bon Jovi.

The Lost Daughter is a phenomenal film from Maggie Gyllenhaal as it features great performances from Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, and Dakota Johnson. Along with its supporting cast, gorgeous visuals, a somber music soundtrack, and its exploration of the themes of motherhood and its many struggles. The film is a fascinating thematic study that explore a woman looking back about her time as a young mother as well as watch a young mother dealing with similar struggles including unhappiness. In the end, The Lost Daughter is a sensational film from Maggie Gyllenhaal.

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