Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Films That I Saw: August 2022

 

Summer is coming to an end as it’s been somewhat of a tiring one but also with an air of sadness that came in earlier this month. After 42 years of service, Scalini’s is closing its doors for good and this was something I hope to never see as it is a sad one. It’s a place just a few minutes from my house that is a family staple as birthdays are celebrated there or special dinners during holidays and such. It was a restaurant that myself and my siblings grew up on as we were notorious for ordering francese plates as my mother and sister would sometimes go for the shrimp francese, my father would often order the red snapper francese, and myself the chicken francese while my youngest sister would just have spaghetti or fettucine alfredo.
It wasn’t just the main course but also the salads and the rolls as we would order it plain with butter instead of having it drenched in garlic. There is a legendary story in the 80s as one of our longtime family friends in Jose was there with my parents and their friends as he hate about 50 or more of those small garlic rolls. The food was one thing that made it special but it was also the atmosphere and also the wall of eggplant babies as it featured pictures of babies on a wall supposedly because pregnant women would eat eggplant parmesan late in their pregnancy and it would cause them to go into labor. It is a great legend though my mother never age eggplant parmesan but I’m definitely sure there were pictures of myself and siblings as babies in that wall while I’m unsure if my nephew and niece are in that wall as well though they have eaten there. I think the last time my mother and I ate there was earlier this year but I have no idea when but I do remember the Christmas before the pandemic as it was Mateo’s first trip. He had spaghetti without sauce as his meal but it was really to play with it as he just loved it as it’s why spaghetti is something he and Adalina love.
Of course these things are inevitable but it never had to be that way as I think the pandemic did a lot to hurt that restaurant’s business though it kept going in doing deliveries and such but eating the food at your home instead of being at the restaurant wasn’t the same. There are rumors that the reason the restaurant is closed is a staff shortage and that is probably true but it still sucks as I hate the fact that it is closing. Now there’s no real reason to come to that area in Cobb Parkway as the only other long-standing local business that is there across the street is House of Chan. Yet, that place is being dwarfed by the Asian buffet place that is next to Scalini’s as I have no interest going in there as my mother didn’t like the food there at all. I don’t like buffet places either as I feel like it is a breeding ground for obesity and I don’t want to be a part of that. Sure, there’s Carraba’s and Olive Garden nearby for good Italian food but it will never top Scalini’s. Thank you Scalini’s for being a big part of my life.

There is a lot going on around the world as Florida is becoming more of a Fascist enterprise as that’s not a place I hope to go to for a while and things at that shithole that is Mar-a-Lago is getting really fucked up. It’s not just Florida where things are bad as there’s a bunch of awful things happening here in the U.S. while there was someone that was at my father’s wake that I didn’t know of had killed herself a week or two ago after she had been reported missing. There was also this recent stabbing of Salman Rushdie as the guy who stabbed him is going to be charged yet I’m sure those who still support the fatwa on Rushdie are upset that he’s still alive and that the guy who stabbed him didn’t finish the job.

Then there’s the shitstorm involving Warner media and Discovery as I had hoped to be subscribed to HBOMax as I’ve heard great things about that streaming service because of its content that included films on Turner Classic Movies and some films from Criterion as well as shows I had hoped to watch like Peacemaker. Well, that’s not going to happen as I’m astounded into why Warner tends to put themselves into bad business deals. Back in 2000-2001, there was a merger between Warner and AOL that ended up being a bad business deal as AOL is almost obsolete and that deal didn’t do either company any favors. This deal with Discovery+ to create a new streaming service that is set to come in the summer of 2023 is going to feature all of the stuff from HBOMax but also stuff from Discovery as I’m not interested in that. I don’t watch Discovery channel and have no interest in what they offer.

What I’m upset about is the fact that this new merger has gotten rid a lot of things. Animation specials, laying off animators, cancelling lots of projects including shows and some films including Batgirl which was nearly finished with a $90 million budget that was to feature Michael Keaton returning as Bruce Wayne/Batman and directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah with Leslie Grace in the titular role and Brendan Fraser in the role of the villainous Firefly. They announce this while one of those directors was on his honeymoon and it really sucks for all of those people involved to see that a film that is close to completion just be thrown away as a tax write-off. The bigger question I have is this. Why cancel a film that cost $90 million that features a legendary actor reprising a role that he became famous for yet still plan to release a $200 million film that is likely to cost more with its marketing budget starring an actor who has already been in trouble with the law despite his bullshit apology?

That makes no fucking sense as it’s not just Batgirl and a Scooby-doo animated film that got cancelled upon their near completion but also other programming that include children and family programming including episodes of Sesame Street. It takes a special kind of evil to do that as it is clear that new CEO in David Zaslav is making a bunch of bullshit excuses and such as he’s also has a reputation of someone that hates LGBTQ content, anything geared towards Latinx/Hispanics, and all sorts of things while is OK with losing a lot of money in order to save his own ass. There is also this supposed 10-year plan for what is going to happen for DC Extended Universe and nothing has been revealed while there are some concerns that there’s only enough marketing budget money for two films coming out of Warner. Black Adam and Don’t Worry Darling as that is concerning.

Another thing about this merger that concerns me is what will happen with AEW as there had been rumors that AEW is trying to get a deal with HBOMax as possible home to stream their pay-per-view events as they only do 4-5 a year but also as a home for Ring of Honor. With this new regime, it isn’t likely to happen as it has me thinking back about what happened to WCW in 2000 during the time of the AOL-Time Warner merger as that was the year WCW lost $60 million in one of its worst creative period. Months later in 2001, WCW shut down because some asshole TV programmer named Jamie Kellner decided not to have wrestling be part of this new idea for Warner TV programming. Yet, in fairness to Time Warner at that time. WCW was just draining money and was on its way out.

With AEW, the timing of this is bad as there’s already some drama behind the scenes as well as lack of communication between wrestlers and Tony Khan as he’s hired people to try and help smooth things. Even as I have become concerned with some of their recent decisions as I really didn’t like that last episode of AEW Dynamite due to that awful unification AEW World title match and what it might lead to for All Out this coming Sunday in Chicago. The timing of all of this is bad with WWE starting to regain some momentum with HHH running creative with reports that morale has been high and everyone is starting to enjoy working again as there’s been some good stuff in WWE.
In the month of August 2022, I saw a total of 33 films with 19 first-timers and 14 re-watches with 9 of these first-timers directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. Similar to the previous month but there was a feeling that I managed to do more but also feel energized as one of the highlights of the month has been my Blind Spot film in Flowers of Shanghai. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for August 2022:

1. Burning
2. The Suicide Squad
3. Nope
4. The Recorder Exam
5. Nest
6. Psychomagic, a Healing Art
7. Cycling the Frame
8. One More Time with Feeling
9. Easter Eggs
10. Mainstream
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’m Watching

ASSEMBLED: The Making of Ms. Marvel
The 11th film as part of the documentary series from Marvel doesn’t just showcase the work that is put into making Ms. Marvel but also a lot of attention to detail in having Bangkok used as Karachi as a lot of credit should go to the production design team in wanting to create something authentic. Even as this was a show made with a lot of people on board including those who wrote the comic series while the cast also talked about their characters and such. The subject of the Partition is touched upon that includes scenes from the fourth and fifth episode with a lot of detail into the migration problems. This documentary is definitely one of the best entry of the documentary series so far while it is further indication that for next year’s Emmys. GIVE THIS SHOW ALL OF THE FUCKING EMMYS!!!!!

Nest
One of several short films on MUBI that I watched this month as this one from Hlynur Palmason as it is shot entirely on one camera position in the course of an entire year. It is about a trio of brothers trying to build a tree house as they go through moments of triumphs and struggles including bad weather and other awful shit. Yet, it is an incredible short that says a lot in just showing so little.

Squish!
This short that mixes animation and live action that relates to Thailand’s history with animation is a mixed bag. It does play into people channeling their illness through art though it tends to meander at times where it wants to be one thing but also another thing as it is kind of weak.

The Recorder Exam
From Kim Bora is a 27-minute short film about a young girl trying to practice her recorder for an upcoming exam as she deals with neglect and indifference from her family in 1988 Seoul during its Summer Olympics. It is a somber yet touching film that really play into a young girl just trying to get some attention but also just wanting to feel like she matters. It is 27 minutes of pure cinema that reaches for the soul and so much more as it is a film that everyone should see.

Easter Eggs
An animated short by Nicolas Keppen that is about a couple of guys trying to get money to buy a mountain bike by trying to find some exotic birds. The short is really a study of toxic masculinity where one guy is giving orders and is a real dick to people as he also forces his friend to do things as he would often get hurt. It is like a Belgian version of Beavis & Butt-head except that one of them is an even bigger dick than Butt-head often is towards Beavis who at least has some balls and compassion. Still, it is a fascinating short to seek out.

Autofiction



From filmmaker Katie Lambert in collaboration with Suede as a promotional short of sorts for their upcoming album is a film about the ups-and-downs of a gay couple as they deal with a lot of things. It moves back and forth from them being young and being big fans of Suede to them as adults where one of them is hoping to see the other at a major club show with Suede as the band of the night.

Cycling the Frame
From Cynthia Beatt is a 27-minute short shot in 1988 during the final years of the Cold War that is essentially Tilda Swinton riding a bike in West Berlin to see the Berlin Wall and how much it covers. There are glimpses of East Berlin from afar with Swinton going to certain sites and such as it is this intriguing and fascinating film that also has a sequel set 21 years later with Swinton doing the same to see where the Wall used to be.

I Am Groot
From Disney+ and Marvel is a collection of five shorts directed by Kirsten Lepore as it all play into the misadventures of Baby Groot. With Vin Diesel doing the voice role of Groot with James Gunn and Bradley Cooper providing voice cameos for an episode each. The shorts play into Baby Groot’s development as he grows up from the moment he takes his first steps to discovering a tiny civilization and being challenged to a dance off. There is also an episode where he takes a mud bath with great results where he proves to be fashionable while he also shows what he can do in order to make great art. This is a series that I think is great for kids to watch as I’m also happy to learn that there’s five more shorts that are in development.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (episodes 1-2)
I’m not surprised by some of the review-bombings the show is getting from a bunch of salty fanboys with sand in their vaginas as it is clear that there is a certain audience that really don’t want to watch shows about young girls or young women. Well you know what? FUCK ‘EM!!!! This show, two episodes in so far, is fucking awesome. Notably as Tatiana Malsany is just killing as Jennifer Walters as she just provides a lot of personality and nuances to the character as well as being She-Hulk while also showing some reluctance in having to be a superhero. I love the moments where the 4th wall is broken while the appearances from Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Smart Hulk is a joy to watch while I also feel for him given that he’s lonely and is need of companionship while is trying to help his cousin. It never takes itself seriously while there’s some great meta-jokes in there while I also love the tone and visuals of it as I’m liking the visual effects as I thought it helped bring a lot of attributes to the She-Hulk character.

Wrestling Match of the Month: Bryan Danielson vs. Daniel Garcia (2 out of 3 falls) AEW Dynamite



Despite all of the shit that is happening in AEW right now, there was a great match they did pull off this month as it is leading to an angle for the soul of Daniel Garcia who is becoming one of the best young wrestlers working today. He’s in his 20s and already, he’s cultivating a collection of great matches as well as being in the main event on several episodes of Dynamite and Rampage. Having tied 1-1 against Danielson who is already known to the world as the best technical wrestler out there (unless you count Zack Sabre Jr.), it was inevitable for these two men to meet again as the match also included the legendary Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat as the guest timekeeper. What they did is put on a clinic in terms of what technical wrestling is and what it should be. Though Danielson won the match two falls to one with Garcia winning the first one, it is Garcia that became the star here as he is now going to be at the center of a big match between Danielson and Chris Jericho on who does Garcia side with. Does Garcia want to be a pro wrestler or be a sports entertainer?

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. Police Story
2. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
3. The Lion King
4. Captain America: The First Avenger
5. The Love Bug
6. Hawaiian Vacation
7. Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo
8. Small Fry
9. Clock Cleaners
10. Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago
Well, that is all for August. Next month, I hope to see Moonage Daydream while watching out for what is happening at the film festival circuit in Venice, Toronto, and San Sebastian as it the preliminary for awards season. My next Blind Spot will definitely be Devi as I will watch a bunch of films by Satyajit Ray during that time as well as other films on whatever I have on my DVR or in streaming. On a final note, while there has been some notable figures that have passed on. One in particular has been Olivia Newton-John who is truly one of the greatest singers ever and a truly lovely person who will definitely be missed. The idea of her not being around anymore is unthinkable as she just lights up the world whenever she smiles and we smile with her. We will miss you ONJ. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Burning (2018 film)

 

Based on the short story Barn Burning by Haruki Murakami, Beoning (Burning) is the story of a young deliveryman who reunites with an old childhood friend where they later meet another young man who raises suspicion among the two. Directed by Lee Chang-dong and screenplay by Chang-dong and Oh Jung-mi, the film is an exploration of a man who finds himself in trouble with this person he doesn’t know while becoming protective of his old friend. Starring Yoo Ah-In, Jeon Jong-seo, and Steven Yeun. Beoning is a gripping and ravishing film from Lee Chang-dong.

The film is about a deliveryman from a rural small town in South Korea where he reconnects with a childhood neighbor as she asks him to watch a cat where she takes a trip to Africa where she meets a rich young man who raises some suspicion into his secret activities. It is a film with a unique premise as it is more about a man who lives at rural area with a farm that is nearly neglected while he works delivering things where he meets a young woman who used to be his neighbor as they rekindle their friendship. The film’s screenplay by Lee Chang-dong and Oh Jung-mi has its main protagonist in Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-In) who lives in a rural farmland area near Paju near the North-South Korean border where he meets Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo) who is working as a dancer for a raffle where Jong-su wins a watch that is for girls. The two reacquaint themselves with Hae-mi set to go on a trip to Africa as Jong-su falls for her where he takes care of her cat even though he never sees the cat.

When Jong-su picks up Hae-mi from the airport, she is joined by a man named Ben (Steven Yeun) who is rich and later takes them to clubs, posh restaurants, and such where Jong-su is confused by Ben and his friendly demeanor. Even as it does play into this social difference as Jong-su living near a farm and Hae-mi living in a tiny apartment while Ben lives in a posh apartment. There is also a subplot in which Jong-su is dealing with the fact that his father (Choi Seung-ho) is in trial over an assault case as Jong-su is going through money problems with a failing farm as it is a big difference to the fact that Ben has it all yet confesses to Jong-su that he burns greenhouses in rural areas that only raises more suspicion for Jong-su who would notice something isn’t right as it relates to Ben.

Chang-dong’s direction is definitely mesmerizing in terms of its approach to long shots as well as its emphasis on simplicity. Shot largely on location in areas in Paju near the border between North and South Korea as the city is based on the latter. The film does play into this world where there is this social disparity of sorts in where both Jong-su and Hae-mi live in as the first shot of the film is a near two-minute tracking shot of Jong-su carrying some things for a store as he walks into the store but the camera only stops at the entrance to introduce Hae-mi who is dancing to some music with another girl holding a microphone. It’s among some of the intricate shooting that Chang-dong would create as he also uses some unique wide and medium shots of the city but also the rural farm area that Jong-su lives in that features loudspeaker audio from afar from North Korea spouting propaganda. Chang-dong does play into this reality that Hae-mi and Jong-su are definitely a part of as they struggle to make money with the latter also dealing with his father going to jail as he tries to get others in his community to sign a petition in the hope he gets a lighter sentence.

Chang-dong does use some close-ups for a few intimate moments including a sex scene in the first act between Hae-mi and Jong-su while the conversation at Jong-su’s home with him and Ben is a key moment that leads to the film’s second act as it also include a flashback of a young Jong-su watching a greenhouse burst into flames. The film then shifts in tone but in a slow manner as it play into Jong-su trying to figure out who Ben is but also about a greenhouse nearby that was supposedly burned. Chang-dong’s direction also feature these intricate scenes of Jong-su following Ben’s car as it also play into this sharp social contrast where Ben’s car is something a rich person would buy while Jong-su is driving a white truck that has been through a lot of years. Its third act isn’t just about Ben’s own lifestyle and how he’s able to have this charmed life but also this social disparity that allows him to do whatever he wants with Jong-su being used. Overall, Chang-dong crafts a provocative and rapturous film about a deliveryman and a young woman who befriend a charming rich man unaware of his dark secrets.

Cinematographer Hong Kyung-po does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its naturalistic approach to some of the exterior scenes set in the morning and evening as well as an interior scene at Hae-mi’s apartment where the sunlight is a key factor. Editors Kim Hyeon and Kim Da-won do excellent work with the editing as it does have bits of style in some of the transitional fade-outs as well as some rhythmic cuts that help play into the suspense. Production designer Shin Jum-hee does amazing work with the look of Hae-mi’s apartment as well as the look of Ben’s posh apartment and the farm where Jong-su lives in. Costume designer Lee Choong-yeon does fantastic work with the costumes from the more casual look of both Jong-su and Hae-mi to the more posh-like clothes that Ben wears.

Special effects supervisor Ryoo Young-il and visual effects supervisor Suk Joong Kim do terrific work with some of the film’s visual effects that mainly play into a few scenes involving fire. Sound designer Lee Seung-cheol does superb work with the sound in the way music is presented at a speaker or at a club as well as the sound of the loudspeaker heard from the North Korean border. The film’s music by Lee Sung-hyun aka Mowg is incredible for its brooding music score that features elements of eerie percussions, warbling bass, and other intriguing instrumentation that help play into the suspense and drama while its soundtrack feature some K-pop music from Sistar, Nana D., and Krein as well as a piece of music for a major moment from Miles Davis.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast feature some notable small roles from Lee Bong-ryun as Hae-mi’s sister whom Jong-su meets late in the film, Ban Hye-ra as Jong-su’s estranged mother whom he sees late in the film about his father, Min Boi-gi as a judge at Jong-su’s father case, Moon Sung-keun as the lawyer representing Jong-su’s father, Choi Seung-ho as Jong-su’s father, and Kim Soo-Kyung as a young woman who is with Ben in the film’s third act. Jeon Jong-seo is incredible as Shin Hae-mi as a young woman who works as a dancer for a department store who is an old neighbor of Jong-su as she is hoping to live a fruitful life despite her lack of direction as she is also someone that likes to dance.

Steven Yeun is phenomenal as Ben as this young rich man who has it all but also has a hobby that involves burning abandoned greenhouses as he is a man of charm but also someone that carries a lot of intrigue in his home and how he uses his wealth. Finally, Yoo Ah-in in a sensational performance as Lee Jong-su as this deliveryman who lives in a dilapidated farm with a young calf who reacquaints himself with a neighbor he hadn’t seen since childhood as he falls for her and then becomes suspicious of her new friend while dealing with things around him that only raises his concerns for Hae-mi.

Beoning is an outstanding film from Lee Chang-dong that features a trio of great performances from Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, and Jeon Jong-seo. Along with its gorgeous visuals, commentary on social disparity and influence, entrancing sound work, and a haunting music score by Mowg. The film is definitely a suspense-drama that doesn’t play by the rules while also providing some unique commentary on how people can use people with someone being aware that they’re being used. In the end, Beoning is a magnificent film from Lee Chang-dong.

Lee Chang-dong Films: (Green Fish) – (Peppermint Candy) – (Oasis (2002 film)) – Secret Sunshine - Poetry (2010 film)

© thevoid99 2022

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Suicide Squad (2021 film)

 

Based on the DC Comics series, The Suicide Squad is a sequel of sorts to the 2016 film in which a group of anti-heroes and villains team-up to stop a major threat in a small South American island nation in the hopes they get a lighter sentence in their prison time. Written for the screen and directed by James Gunn, the film is a different take on this anti-hero group as they deal with corruption and other issues that forces them to save the world from a threat bigger than themselves. Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Capaldi, David Dastmalchian, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Jai Courtney, Alice Braga, Pete Davidson, Sean Gunn, with the voice of Sylvester Stallone, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. The Suicide Squad is an outlandish yet exhilarating film from James Gunn.

The film revolves around a small South American island who had been taken over during a coup where American intelligence officer Amanda Waller sends two groups of anti-heroes to infiltrate the island to destroy a lab known as the Jotunheim and all of its secrets unaware of what it’s hiding. It is a film that explore these band of misfits, criminals, and anti-heroes who are given a chance to reduce whatever prison sentences they have by helping the government destroy this lab created during World War II by the Nazis. Yet, complications arise where one team lead by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) with his old teammate Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) are ambushed with Flag and Quinn both captured forcing the other team lead by the former mercenary Robert DuBois/Bloodsport (Idris Elba) to finish the mission with his own band of misfits that includes the jingoist killer Christopher Smith/Peacemaker (John Cena), a man-eating shark-human hybrid known as Nanaue/King Shark (Steve Agee/voice of Sylvester Stallone), an eccentric man in Abner Krill/Polka Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) who uses polka dots as weapons, and a thief who can summon rats in Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior) like her father before her.

James Gunn’s screenplay doesn’t go into anything that had happened in the previous film as it is more about what is happening at the moment with DuBois being reluctant to take part of this government-led task force run by Waller because he admits to not being a good person. Yet, when he learns that his estranged 16-year old daughter Tyla (Storm Reid) might be going to prison because of stealing a TV watch. DuBois accepts the tasks unaware that his old friend Colonel Flag is leading the first task force that got ambushed because one of its soldiers sold them out to the army of Corto Maltese with only Colonel Flag and Quinn surviving. Still, the group that DuBois is leading are an odd bunch as he also has a phobia for rats which makes him uncomfortable in his interactions with Cazo even though she is a kind-hearted person who likes to sleep a lot. The military dictatorship of Corto Maltese are hoping to be taken seriously with this mysterious weapon that is overseen by a scientist Gaius Grieves/the Thinker (Peter Capaldi) who is the man that Waller wants DuBois and others to take and bring them into the Jotunheim to destroy whatever Grieves is working on leading to many revelations for those working for Waller.

Gunn’s direction is definitely stylish as it doesn’t just play into some of the cartoonish elements when it comes to some of the film’s graphic violence but also in the fact that it is an anti-superhero film grounded by compelling characters who are all just a bunch of misfits. Shot largely on location at the Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Duluth, Georgia with flashback shots of Cazo as a child with her father (Taika Waititi) in Portugal and some of the streets of Corto Maltese shot on location in Colon, Panama. Gunn does play into the stakes with the first shot revolving around a criminal in Brian Durlin/Savant (Michael Rooker) playing handball with accurate bounces where he is called upon to take part in a group that is led by Colonel Flag with Quinn, Digger Harkness/Boomerang (Jai Courtney), and other anti-heroes such as an idiotic mercenary in Richard “Dick” Hertz/Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Cory Pitzner/T.D.K. (Nathan Fillion), Gunter Braun/Javelin (Flula Borg), the alien mass-murderer Mongol (Mayling Ng), and a weasel named Weasel (Sean Gunn). The usage of wide and medium shots has Gunn playing to the scope of the group shots as well as the island that is Corto Maltese as it has a grimy look that is colorful but also in decay.

Gunn also play into this air of dysfunction within the group as well as what goes on in Waller’s main base with her own team of people who are troubled by some of her decisions but also how she runs things. Even in Gunn’s usage of the close-ups as it play into the way characters interact with one another such as Cazo telling her story to DuBois while asking him about his phobia for rats. The film does have a structure but also some non-linear narratives in the script that includes the film’s third act where it does play into revelations into what is inside the Jotunheim. It adds not just a conflict about what this band of misfits is fighting against but also question on who they’re forced to work for. Even when the weapon that is unveiled proved to be bigger than anything or anyone has expected. Overall, Gunn crafts an outrageous yet insane film about a bunch of antiheroes who go to a small South American island to kill some people and destroy some old fortress as well as what is inside.

Cinematographer Henry Braham does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it has elements of style with its usage of vibrant colors, heightened lighting for some of the daytime exteriors, and some unique lighting for some of the interior scenes at night. Editors Fred Raskin and Christian Wagner do excellent work with the editing as it does have some style in some slow-motion work for a fight scene involving Quinn and some soldiers in a hallway as well as jump-cuts and other stylish cuts to play into the story. Production designer Beth Mickle, with set decorator Lisa K. Sessions and supervising art director Alan Hook, does amazing work with the look of the buildings of the island as well as the prison where many of the people of the Suicide Squad live in as well as the club that Grieves visits. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does fantastic work with the costumes as it has different looks for many of the different members of the Suicide Squad including Krill’s polka dot costume, the helmets that DuBois and Smith’s helmets, and the red dress that Quinn would wear upon her dinner with one of the dictators.

The special makeup effects work of Greg Funk, Shane Mahan, Brian Sipe, and Matt Sprunger do incredible work with the look of some of the characters with Krill and the polka dot rashes he has on his face as well as Quinn’s own look. Special effects designers Ethan Carney, Peter Carney, and Bailey Eller, along with visual effects supervisor Kelvin McIlwain, do phenomenal work with the visual effects in the design of Nanaue as well as a big thing that would occur in the film’s climax. Sound designer David Acord does superb work with the sound in some of the sound effects created in some of the weapons the characters create as well as some of the places they go to. The film’s music by John Murphy does wonderful work with the music as it has elements of orchestral bombast to play into the action and suspense along with somber pieces that include a theme for Cazo’s story while the music soundtrack features an array of pieces from Johnny Cash, Pixies, the Decemberists, Kansas, the Fratellis, Ceu, K.Flay, Grandson with Jessie Reyez, Louis Prima, Culture Abuse, and the trio of Drik Barbosa, Gloria Groove, and Karol Conka.

The casting by Yiniva Cardenas and John Papsidera is marvelous as it feature notable small roles and appearances from Lloyd Kaufman as a man at the club, Pom Klementieff in an un-credited performance as a lead dancer in the nightclub, Natalia Safran as the villainous inmate Kaleidoscope, John Leland Gore as the incarcerated villain Double Down, Lynne Ashe as Krill’s mother whom he sees whenever he gets really angry, Sean Gunn in a dual role as the strange animal creature known as Weasel and a convicted villain in Calendar Man, Mikaela Hoover as General Suarez’s secretary Camila, Julio Ruiz as a contact for the Suicide Squad in Milton, Maya Le Clark as the young Cazo, Storm Reid as DuBois’ teenage daughter Tyla who hates her father yet is facing a possible prison sentence, and Taika Waititi as Cazo’s father who is the original Ratcatcher who taught his daughters about the worth of rats. In the roles of Amanda Waller’s team who survey over the whereabouts of the Suicide Squad, the performances of Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, Tinashe Kajese as Flo Crawley, and Steve Agee as John Economos are terrific as the trio who question Waller’s intentions and methods as well as discovering what the Suicide Squad had discovered.

Juan Diego Botto and Joaquin Cosio are superb in their respective roles as the villainous dictators Silvio Luna and General Mateo Suarez as two men who want to prove that their island is nothing to laugh at with the former being a romantic that is in love with Harley Quinn while the latter is just a man of power. In the roles of members of the first Suicide Squad group shown early in the film, Mayling Ng as the alien murderess Mongal, Flula Borg as the athletic Gunter Braun/Javelin who uses a javelin as a weapon that Quinn would later use, and Nathan Fillion as Corey Pitzner/T.D.K. who can detach his arms as weapons are fun to watch in what they can do despite being betrayed with Pete Davidson in a fine small role as the idiotic mercenary Dick Hertz/Blackguard while Michael Rooker’s performance as Brian Durlin/Savant and Jai Courtney’s performance as Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang are a joy to watch with Rooker being the most deadly despite the ambush he had to encounter. Alice Braga is fantastic in her small role as a Corto Maltese rebel leader in Sol Soria who helps out DuBois and his team in overthrowing Luna and General Suarez while also being aware that something worse is happening.

Peter Capaldi is excellent as Gaius Grieves/the Thinker as a scientist who has been experimenting with a mysterious being inside this old Nazi lab/fortress where he is also this man that isn’t afraid to talk shit as he brings a lot of humor to his performance. Viola Davis is brilliant as Amanda Waller as an intelligence officer who organizes the missions and watches over the Suicide Squad as well as playing to their fate in concealing her own intentions for the government. Joel Kinnaman is amazing as Colonel Rick Flag as a military leader who lead one task force of the group until an ambush ruined everything where he is later saved in his capture where he reunites with his old friend DuBois where they both make a discovery into what is inside the lab that questions Flag’s own role for the government. David Dastmalchian is hilarious as Abner Krill/Polka Dot Man as an experiment gone wrong who gets polka dot rashes and uses polka dots as weapons where Dastmalchian has a sensitivity to the way he portrays the character but is also someone with an offbeat sense of humor.

Daniela Melchior is incredible as Cleo Cazo/Ratcatcher 2 as a thief who can summon rats like her father before her as she is also someone who is kind to everyone while also being accompanied by her pet rat named Sebastian who takes a liking towards DuBois. Sylvester Stallone is a fucking hoot in his voice performance as Nanaue/King Shark with Steve Agee doing the motion-capture work as this human-shark hybrid who doesn’t say a lot of words yet eats a lot of people while also learning the value of friendship. John Cena is phenomenal as Christopher Smith/Peacemaker as this douchebag version of Captain America with a jingoist attitude who says a lot of funny and profane shit while also being someone who feels like something has to be done in which he causes a lot of conflict with those he’s with including DuBois and Colonel Flag.

Idris Elba is sensational as Robert DuBois/Bloodsport as a mercenary with unique nanotech that allows him to create weapons as he’s a great marksman but also someone who is reluctant to lead since he doesn’t consider himself a man with redeeming qualities where Elba brings a lot of nuances to the character. Finally, there’s Margot Robbie in a tremendous performance as the famed criminal Harley Quinn who helps out Colonel Flag only to be captured where she deals with surviving an ambush and being a crush for one of the dictators where Robbie brings a lot of energy and wit to the character who is crazy but also someone who cares about her friends and the world in general.

The Suicide Squad is a spectacular film from James Gunn. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, its exploration on a gang of misfits trying to save the world, a fun music soundtrack, and its refusal to take itself seriously. It is a film that isn’t afraid to be profane nor is it willing to play nice in favor of just being a violent film with lots of cartoonish elements that allows itself to be ridiculous and fun. In the end, The Suicide Squad is a tremendous film from James Gunn.

James Gunn Films: (Slither) – (Super (2010 film)) – (Movie 43-Beezel) – Guardians of the Galaxy - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3)

DC Extended Universe: Man of Steel - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Suicide Squad - Wonder Woman - Justice League - Aquaman - Shazam! - Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) - Wonder Woman 1984 - Zack Snyder's Justice League - (Black Adam) – (Shazam! Fury of the Gods) – (Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom) – (The Flash) – (Blue Beetle) – (Batgirl)

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, August 21, 2022

2022 Blind Spot Series: Flowers of Shanghai

 

Based on the novel The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai by Han Bangqing with translation by Eileen Chang, Hai Shang Hua (Flowers of Shanghai) is the story of four late 19th Century courtesans who work in a brothel in Shanghai as they deal with its atmosphere and false beauty. Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien and screenplay by Chu Tien Wen, the film is an exploration of a world where four women are part of this world of decadence as they do whatever they can to buy their way out. Starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Michiko Hada, Michelle Reis, Carina Lau, Jack Kao, Rebecca Pan, Vicky Wei, Simon Chang, Hsuan Fang, Luo Tsai-Erh, Annie Shizuka Inoh, and Hsu Ming. Hai Shang Hua is an intoxicating yet offbeat film from Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

Set in 1884 Shanghai, the film revolves around the life of four courtesans working and living at a brothel as they deal with regular clients and a decadent lifestyle as they’re all eager to leave this brothel. It is a film that doesn’t have much of a structure as it mainly focuses on the many things that goes on at a brothel from dinners with a lot of drinks, food, and smoking opium with a courtesan. Yet, Chu Tien Wen’s screenplay is loose as it plays more into the individual lives of these courtesans and some of the rich clients they’re with as there’s no sexual activity shown but rather conversations with these women wanting to leave this whole business and start a new life outside of the brothel. The first act essentially serves as an introduction to four of these women who all work in different enclaves such as Crimson (Michiko Hada), Jasmin (Vicky Wei), Emerald (Michelle Reis), and Pearl (Carina Lau) who all endure their own drama with Crimson and Jasmin being rivals for the affections of Master Wang (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) who leaves the older Crimson in favor of the younger Jasmin who works at a different enclave as do Emerald and Pearl who deal with other men and such.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of his approach to telling the story as it is set entirely inside a room whether it’s in a dining room or a room for one of the courtesans as it is shot entirely in studio soundstages. Hsiao-Hsien’s direction also play into a period of time where the dialect of Shanghainese is prominent while there are also a role of gender politics that play throughout. Hsiao-Hsien’s approach to compositions is straightforward yet he never uses any close-ups nor does he zoom in or out to get something. Instead, Hsiao-Hsien places the camera into a medium-wide shot to get coverage of the room where he maintains an intimacy but would pan at times on whoever is talking. This approach would allow Hsiao-Hsien to have the camera gaze around with a lot of long shots that occur throughout as it play into the drama. There are a few moments where a character would look at an object of something as there’s only 38 shots in a film with a 113-minute running time. It is an approach that is hypnotic though it is a flawed style as it does make the film’s pacing a bit sluggish though it works due to the setting and how it play into the drama. Overall, Hsiao-Hsien crafts a rapturous yet somber film about the lives of courtesans at a late 19th century brothel in Shanghai.

Cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing does phenomenal work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of available and low-key lighting to help play into the dream-like look of the rooms as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Liao Ching-Sung does nice work with the editing as it is largely fade-to-black cuts that help play into the somewhat episodic-tone of the film. Production designer Hwarng Wern-Ying and co-art director Tsao Chih-Wei do brilliant work with the look of the rooms as well as the dining hall to play into its intimacy as well as allowing its courtesans to showcase their personalities in the room. The sound work of Tu Duu-Chih is excellent for its natural approach to the sound as it is largely straightforward to capture the conversations as well as music that is played on location. The film’s music by Yoshihiro Hanno is amazing for its usage of traditional Chinese instrumentation in the string arrangements as well as some somber orchestral pieces that play into the drama as it is a highlight of the film.

The film’s superb ensemble cast feature some notable small roles and appearances from Hsu Ming as Master Tao, Annie Shizuka Inoh as a young courtesan in Golden Flower, Luo Tsai-Erh as an elder client in Master Hong who helps Pearl in some business dealings involving another courtesan and a young master, Hsuan Fang as a young courtesan in Jade who is in love with a young client, Simon Chang as a young master in Zhu Shuren who is in love with Jade, Jack Kao as Master Luo who helps Emerald in gaining her freedom, and Rebecca Pan in a fantastic performance as Auntie Huang as a brothel madam who runs the enclave that Jade and Pearl work at. Vicky Wei is excellent as Jasmin as a young courtesan from the East Hexing enclave who has become popular as she’s also wooed Master Wang in the hopes that he becomes her husband after his falling out with Crimson.

Michelle Reis is brilliant as Emerald as the courtesan from Shangren enclave who was brought in as a child where she yearns to be free as she finds a man who isn’t just willing to help her be free but also give her something more. Carina Lau is amazing as the courtesan Pearl who works at the Gongyang enclave with Jade and Auntie Huang as someone who acts more like a businesswoman than a typical courtesan while she would also play a key role in dealing with young courtesans. Michiko Hada is incredible as Crimson from the Huifang enclave as a courtesan who once the lover of Master Wang yet is dealing with competition from Jasmin as well as dwindling business where she would spend time doing other things that would eventually upset Master Wang. Finally, there’s Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in a phenomenal performance as Master Wang as a quiet man of wealth who has ended his affair with Crimson in favor of the younger and more popular Jasmin where he deals with what he wants but also feeling like he owes Crimson something as a way to clear her debt where he finds himself confused and angry over not just Crimson’s other activities but also revelations about Jasmin herself.

Hai Shang Hua is a sensational film from Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Featuring a great ensemble cast, intoxicating visuals, a loose yet simple premise, and a hypnotic music score. The film is definitely an unconventional yet engaging look into the life of courtesans in late 19th Century Shanghai as they deal with having to please wealthy men and yearning to be free from their decadent world. In the end, Hai Shang Hua is a phenomenal film from Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien Films: (Cute Girls) – (Cheerful Wind) – (The Green, Green Grass of Home) – (The Sandwich Man) – (The Boys of Fengkuei) – (A Summer at Grandpa’s) – (The Time to Live and the Time to Die) – (Dust in the Wind) – (Daughter of the Nile) – (A City of Sadness) – (The Puppetmaster) – (Good Men, Good Women) – (Goodbye South, Goodbye) – (Millennium Mambo) – (CafĂ© Lumiere) – (Three Times) – Flight of the Red Balloon - To Each His Own Cinema-The Electric Princess Picture House - (The Assassin (2015 film))

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks: Dark Academia

 

For the 32nd week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of dark academia as school is known as a place to learn yet there are also a lot of things where it can go wrong and lead into dark paths. Here are my three picks:

1. Picnic at Hanging Rock
Peter Weir’s adaptation of the Joan Lindsay novel about a story of schoolgirls and teachers who go on a picnic at the formation known as Hanging Rock and the effects it has on a few of those students and others. Three of those students and a teacher would disappear while another student has an encounter as she goes into a state of shock. It is a film that has a lot of ambiguities and intrigue but also a look at the decline of values and etiquette that was part of the 19th Century that is on its way out with many of its characters being confronted by an ever-changing world.

2. Maurice
From James Ivory as part of the Merchant-Ivory brand is an adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel about a homosexual relationship set in an early 20th Century university in Britain. Starring James Wilby as the titular character and Hugh Grant as the object of his affection, it is a film that doesn’t just explore social differences but also the idea of homosexuality at a time when it was still taboo. Even as it is set in Cambridge at that time with the first half set in the university and the second half being about the titular character trying to renew that relationship but also falls for a young groundskeeper.

3. Suspiria
Luca Guadagnino’s interpretation of the Dario Argento horror film is an unusual remake that doesn’t aim to be the Argento film but rather something different as it is set in late 1970s West Germany at a time of social and political upheaval. Set in a ballet school, the play into a group of teachers trying to figure out who they should have to lead them towards the future as they look at a young American dancer who they believe is key to the person they’re choosing. Add a story of an old man trying to find his long-lost love and other creepy things. It is truly a horror film of sorts that defies convention while also playing into this idea of generational guilt.

© thevoid99 2022

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

One More Time with Feeling

 

Directed by Andrew Dominik, One More Time with Feeling is a documentary film that explores Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds making their 16th studio album Skeleton Tree amidst the death of Cave’s 15-year old son Arthur in an accidental death. The film showcases Cave and his band trying to create album during a difficult time in Cave’s life that also include studio performances from songs from that album. The result is a ravishing yet heart-wrenching film from Andrew Dominik.

Set in early 2016 just months after the shocking accidental death of Cave’s 15-year old son Arthur who fell off a cliff at the Ovingdean Gap near Brighton, England. The film chronicles the making of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 16th studio album during the course of 10 days as they’re finishing up the album with testimonies from Cave and his wife/artist Susie Bick discussing grief. The film focuses mainly on not just Cave and the band that consists of multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, drummer Thomas Wydler, bassist Martyn P. Casey, keyboardist/percussionist Jim Sclavunos, and guitarist George Vjestica making new songs and adding new things to recorded songs for their new album that is written largely by Cave and Ellis who have worked together as a duo for film scores since 2005 that includes Andrew Dominik’s 2006 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Shot in black-and-white largely by Alwin H. Kucher at AIR Studios in London in the course of 10 days, the performances that feature large 3D cameras that would move around the studio for some of these long tracking crane shots that goes into the studio and the mix boards where there is a lot that Andrew Dominik is capturing along with traditional film cameras. With the exception of one performance in Distant Sky that is shot in color by Benoit Debie that include some unique visual effects shots from visual effects artist Sam Brady. Much of Dominik’s direction is straightforward as it feature some striking compositions in the performances that include some dolly-tracking shots around the band along with some shots where Cave and Bick talk about their own grief. The film also goes into deep into the creative process in how Cave and Ellis create songs as well as why Ellis has been this great collaborator to Cave ever since he joined the Bad Seeds in 1994.

With the aid of film editor Shane Reid, Dominik makes sure that a lot of the performances are presented with enough coverage on those who are playing as well as ensuring that there’s cuts that add to the drama including scenes of Cave talking about his songwriting in a cab. Sound designer Joakim Sundstrom helps cultivate some of the film’s voiceover narrations that come largely from Dominik, Cave, Bick, and Ellis as it play into the idea of making art gut also ideas on life with Dominik also providing some humorous commentary about his gripes over this 3D camera he’s using. Then there’s the music as a lot of it from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is somber yet gripping as the final song performed in the final credits by Cave and his sons Arthur and Earl with lyrics by Marianne Faithfull.

One More Time with Feeling is a phenomenal film from Andrew Dominik. It is a documentary film that doesn’t just explore a man trying to create and finish a record amidst tragedy but also cope with this intense tragedy. Even as he surrounds himself with his collaborators and family to help finish this record with these incredible songs while also talking about the many contradictions of life and art. In the end, One More Time with Feeling is a sensational film from Andrew Dominik.

Related: (20,000 Days on Earth)

Andrew Dominik Films: Chopper - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Killing Them Softly - This Much I Know to Be True – (Blonde (2022 film))

© thevoid99 2022

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

 

Based on the novel by Giorgio Bassani, Il giardino dei Finzi Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis) is the story of an upper-class Jewish family living in Ferrera, Italy during the time of Fascist Italy as they deal with the growing political turmoil of the times. Directed by Vittorio De Sica and screenplay by Vittorio Bonicelli and Ugo Pirro with un-credited contributions by de Sica, Franco Brusati, Alain Katz, Tullio Pinelli, Cesare Zavattini, and Valerio Zurlini, the film is an exploration of a family whose lives are changed by Fascism as they find themselves lost with the young family members trying to find joy. Starring Lino Capolicchio, Dominique Sanda, Helmut Berger, Romolo Valli, and Fabio Testi. Il giardino dei Finzi Contini is a ravishing and somber film from Vittorio De Sica.

Set in the small town of Ferrera, Italy from 1938 to 1943, the film is an exploration of the life of an upper-class Jewish family who live nearby the home of a richer Jewish family known as the Finzi-Continis whose lavish garden is an idyllic landscape that becomes an escape during the growth of Fascism in Italy. The film is an exploration of the lives of these two upper-class Jewish families as one of them is in love with the daughter of the richer family ever since they were children as they deal with the growing world around them with this lavish garden being a place of wonder. The film’s screenplay by Vittorio Bonicelli and Ugo Pirro does feature bits of flashback as it relates to its two young leads in Giorgio (Lino Capolicchio) and Micol Finzi-Contini (Dominique Sanda) who knew each other as kids with the latter’s family home being this haven where they can play tennis and have fun at this lavish garden that includes Micol’s younger brother Alberto (Helmut Berger) and their friend Giampiero Malnate (Fabio Testi).

The first act is about the life of the Finzi-Continis and the garden that is their escape with the second act being about Giorgio’s pursuit of Micol as she rejects him believing he’s not good enough for her. Even as the second act also play into this chaos with Italy becoming a more Fascist state with Giorgio’s father Beniamino (Romolo Valli) trying to keep the family together as he sends his younger son Ernesto (Raffaele Curri) to France to study. It also play into the world that is crumbling where Giorgio had already been expelled from the tennis club and later a library where he is unable to study because he is Jewish while interracial marriages are also banned. The film explore Giorgio’s own encounter with the real world while Micol has isolated herself in the family home not wanting to deal with the real world with Alberto becoming ill. The third act does play into Italy entering World War II as life for Jews become more difficult with Giorgio pleading with Micol to be with him while also coming to terms that life will never be the same as the garden itself is a shell of its former self.

Vittorio De Sica’s direction is definitely full of gorgeous imagery and a sense of realism as it is shot largely on location in Ferrera with some of it in Venice with the garden shot at the park of Villa Ada near Rome. De Sica’s usage of the wide and medium shots do help play into the many locations in the film but also the world that is the garden at the Finzi-Contini estate where many of the young people play tennis and involve themselves with many activities as a way to escape from this growing threat of war that is to come. Even as De Sica would maintain this air of intimacy in the direction with the medium shots and close-ups inside the homes of Giorgio’s family and the Finzi-Continis where it showed a world where Giorgio’s family do perform certain Jewish traditions while the latter maintain this presentation of being posh and not overtly Jewish to raise concerns with the authorities.

De Sica also play into this sense of beauty that is the Finzi-Contini estate from the road way outside their home where Giorgio would ride his bike on as well as where he would park his bike and climb over its wall. The garden is the centerpiece of this estate filled with trees including a few palm trees and other things as it is a place where everyone can escape from the real world yet as the film progresses. The garden becomes less idyllic despite the beauty it presents itself but without many people there. It doesn’t feel the same as the third act has an air of coldness that looms along with a sense of danger in the fact that anyone who is Jewish, communist, or not wanting to be a part of this world of Fascist Italy is fucked. De Sica’s ending is ambiguous as it relates to the fate of characters but it also presents a world that is lost and could never return with those also filled with regret of the future they could’ve had. Overall, De Sica crafts an intoxicating yet harrowing film about two upper-class Jewish families dealing with the growing changes in Fascist Italy.

Cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri does amazing work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of soft lighting for a few interior scenes along with some natural and lush lighting for the scenes at the garden during the spring and summer as well as low-key lighting for the scenes at night and in the winter time. Editor Adriana Novelli does excellent work with the editing with some stylish jump-cuts for some of the bike ride scenes through the forest as well as a few montages including some of the flashbacks as it play into Giorgio and Micol’s time as teenagers. Production/costume designer Giancarlo Bartolini Salimbeni and set decorator Franco D’Andria does brilliant work with the look of the homes of Giorgio’s family with its modest furniture that is a sharp contrast to the more spacious interiors at the Finzi-Contini estate with its large library where Giorgio is allowed to study while the costumes are also exquisite in the posh dresses that Micol wears that is another sharp contrast to the modest suits that Giorgio wears.

Hair stylist Anna Cristofani and makeup artist Giulio Natalucci do fantastic work with the different hairstyles that Micol would wear throughout the film as it went from stylish to eventually becoming less so as the film progresses. The special effects work of Ettore Catalucci is terrific for some of the minimal shots that play into Alberto’s own sickly state as well as imagery to help make the film feel dreamlike. The sound work of Max Galinsky and Massimo Loffredi, with additional work for its restoration by Stefano Di Fiore, is superb for the sound as it help play into the atmosphere of the locations including the town with the speech over the declaration of war from Italy being a key moment. The film’s music by Manuel De Sica, with additional contributions by Bill Conti, is incredible for its lush and somber orchestral-piano score that play into the drama and romantic tension that looms throughout the film as well as themes that are upbeat that play into happier moments as it is a highlight of the film.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast feature some notable small roles from Giampaolo Duregon as a friend of the Finzi-Contis in Bruno, Marcella Gentile as Giorgio’s young sister Fanny, Raffaele Curi as Giorgio’s younger brother Ernesto who goes to France to study, Barbara Pilavin as Giorgio’s mother, Ettore Gere as the majordomo Perotti, Inna Alexeievna as Alberto and Micol’s grandmother, Katina Morisani as Alberto and Mico’s mother, Cinzia Bruno as the young Micol, Alessandro D’Alatri as the young Giorgio, and Camillo Cesarei as Ermanno Finzi-Conti as the patriarch of the Finzi-Contini who allowed Giorgio to study in his library as he always liked Giorgio feeling he is a good match for Micol and a good friend to Alberto.

Romolo Valli is excellent as Giorgio’s father as a businessman who is proud of his Jewish heritage but would hide during the growth of Fascism as he is concerned for Giorgio as it relates to Micol as well as what will happen to the family knowing something is going wrong. Fabio Testi is brilliant as Giampiero Malnate as a family friend of the Finzi-Contis who is also a communist that isn’t fond of Fascism while he would later lament over the state of the Finzi-Conti with being isolated as he would be called up to military service as he and Giorgio also deal the world around them. Helmut Berger is amazing as Micol’s younger brother Alberto as a young man who idolized Malnate and love Giorgio as a friend as he also deals with illness while becoming aware of some of the drama involving Micol and Giorgio.

Lino Capolicchio is incredible as Giorgio as a young man from an upper-class Jewish family who is in love with Micol and wants to spend the rest of his life with her as he also deals with the changes around him as he’s kicked out of clubs and university because he’s Jewish as he also laments over everything as well as this paradise that is the Finzi-Conti garden that becomes less idyllic. Finally, there’s Dominique Sanda in a phenomenal performance as Micol Finzi-Conti as a young woman who is a childhood friend of Giorgio as someone who is trying to distance herself from the real world while isolating herself as a way to shield from that reality including Giorgio feeling that he’s not good enough for her. Even as she deals with the reality that she and her family eventually have to face as well as what she could’ve had.

Il giardino dei Finzi Contini is a magnificent film from Vittorio De Sica. Featuring a great ensemble cast, ravishing visuals, its themes of isolation and longing during a tumultuous time in Italy’s history, and a rich music score by Manuel De Sica. It is a film that explore life in Fascist Italy just before and during World War II as well as its effects on two upper-class Jewish families where one deal with what is happening while another is trying to not see the truth. In the end, Il giardino dei Finzi Contini is an outstanding film from Vittorio De Sica.

Vittorio De Sica Films: (Rose scarlatte) - (Maddalena, zero in condotta) - (Teresa Venerdi) - (Un garibaldino al convento) - (The Children Are Watching Us) - (La porta del cielo) - (Shoeshine) - (Heart and Soul (1948 film)) - Bicycle Thieves - (Miracle in Milan) – Umberto D. - (It Happened in the Park) - (Terminal Station) - (The Gold of Naples) - (The Roof) - (Anna of Brooklyn) - Two Women (1960 film) - (The Last Judgment) - (Boccaccio ‘70) - (The Condemned of Altona) - (Il Boom) - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - Marriage Italian Style - (Un monde nouveau) - (After the Fox) - (Woman Times Seven) - (Le streghe) - (A Place for Lovers) - (Sunflowers (1970 film)) - (Lo chiameremo Andrea) - (A Brief Vacation) - (The Voyage)

© thevoid99 2022