Monday, October 31, 2022

Films That I Saw: October 2022

 

We’re nearly 2 months away from another year ending and honestly, I’m waiting it for to end right now though it has been a good year of sorts despite a lot of the bullshit and stupidity that is happening around me. Notably in the world of politics as here in Georgia, we have a once-revered college football hero with serious brain issues saying stupid shit and ended up making more of an ass of himself by pulling out a police badge that looks so fake that it makes a toy badge look more legit. In Florida, it’s just the same old shit as it is clear that this is a state that is in need of new leadership or else it’s going to become a full-on Fascist state that people would want to get rid of. Things here in the U.S. is bad while Britain just went through a shitstorm of its own as they had a prime minster that didn’t last very long only for a head of lettuce to last longer as it is clear things aren’t going so well.

Then there’s Kanye West and more of his own bullshit and I’m not really surprised by any of this. I think he’s made some good music but I never thought he was some genius that he claims to be other than someone that has no sense of humor and is really full of himself. Well. Now it seems like all of that talking and all of that crying about himself has finally caught up with him as he is now the new poster boy for the Ku Klux Klan by trying to get people to wear “white lives matter” while claiming that George Floyd’s death was a hoax, Black Lives Matters is a bullshit organization, and awful things about Jewish people. That’s a great way to destroy your own career and having now lost more than $2 billion in sponsorship deals and all other shit. I’m sure this is just the beginning as he’s going to lose a hell of a lot more. People can make excuses for the fact that he’s bipolar and all of that. Yeah well I also have mental health issues but I don’t make excuses for the fact that I can be an asshole as well.
In the month of October 2022, I saw a total of 24 films in 14 first timers and 10 re-watches with five of these first-timers being films directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge where I’m 10 films away from completing my goal as I’ve exceeded my previous quotas ever since I chose to do this pledge a few years ago. One of the highlights of the month has been my Blind Spot Series choice in Boat People. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for October 2022:

1. Werewolf by Night
2. Blonde
3. Goodnight Mommy
4. The Vast of Night
5. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
6. Timecrimes
7. Rosa Rosae: A Spanish Civil War Elegy
8. The Bones
9. Rock Family Trees: The Birth of Cool Britannia
10. The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular
Monthly Mini- Reviews/What Else I’m Watching

The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular
From Disney+ as part of their Halloween collection is a short in which Mickey Mouse tries to tell a scary story to his own nephews as well as Donald Duck’s nephews as they’re continuously unimpressed by what he is offering. Even as Mickey seeks help from Donald and Goofy to bad results with the kids finally pushing Mickey to the edge with a story that is indeed quite scary but also fun. It is something kids could enjoy as well as the adults.

The Bones
One of four short films on MUBI that I watched as this one is a stop-motion animated film that serves as a homage to silent cinema. The film claims to be from 1901 as the filmmakers tell story of a young woman being pursued for marriage from a young man who is associated with a famous political official who wants this marriage to happen for political reasons. Told mainly though the usage of bones, the film is filled with a lot of imagination as it a gem worth seeking out.

Rosa Rosae: A Spanish Civil War Elegy
From Carlos Saura is a five-minute short film about the Spanish Civil War told from those who lived through it as it largely feature drawings and sketches of memories by people dealing with the horrors of that war. Featuring music in the short that play into what was lost from that war. It is truly a gem worth seeking out as well as something fans of Saura should check out.

She Mad: Bitch Zone
One of two shorts created by artist Martine Syms is about a group of girls at a camp as they meet a speaker who talks about what they should do to confront themselves. The result is just messy and felt overlong as I’m not sure what the host is meant to be. At times, it is poorly-lit and whether it is trying to be satirical. It didn’t work for me.

Soliloquy
The second short from Martine Syms that I watched on MUBI is an animated short as if it was made from SIMS is another satire as it plays into a young woman talking about how things were better back then as it is just terrible. It is all talk and such yet never feels like it has any substance to say as it just didn’t work for me at all.

Rock Family Trees: The Birth of Cool Britannia



A documentary from the BBC that I watched on YouTube is about the formation and rise of Britpop and three of the bands who helped create this movement in Suede, Blur, and Elastica with interviews from Suede’s Brett Anderson, Mat Osman, and Simon Gilbert as well as Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann who was also in Suede early in their career. Along with interviews from journalists, the film explore the creation of this scene as it was done by accident while a lot of those bands that include Pulp, Supergrass, and Oasis were trying to maintain an image of Britain that wasn’t from the mainstream and they succeeded but also burned themselves out. While Suede is fortunately still around with Pulp set to go on tour again, many of those bands didn’t last but did make an impact with Frischmann having retired but was able to do a couple of shows with Suede in 1997 with footage of those performances shown in the film as it was just two old friends reuniting and having fun.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (episodes 8 & 9)
The last two episodes of the MCU series showcase not just some of the most creative moments from the MCU but also gave audiences what they wanted in the appearance of Charlie Cox as Daredevil/Matt Murdock. Notably as his appearance is filled with some humor but also giving Jennifer Walters some insight of the kind of heroine she needs to be as the eighth episode is one of the strongest episodes for any MCU TV series. The season finale is a bit of a mess but it did have one of the most inspired moments of creativity in how it breaks down the fourth wall that is obviously inspired by Monty Python and Blazing Saddles. Even as it is about Walters having control of her own narrative while its ending is a happy one with Bruce Banner bringing a surprise of his own who might play a part in the formation of the Young Avengers. Overall, the series is incredible as it proves that the MCU is creating great television and let’s hope that Tatiana Malsany gets some serious accolades for her work as well as the people involved with this show.

Andor (episodes 5-8)
It is clear this is an absolutely different series from the Star Wars franchise as it is a slow burn but a slow burn that actually works. Right now, the first season is in its second act where Andor is taking part of a group for a heist as he succeed but there is also some casualties. There are also stories of people in the Empire trying to understand what had happened in the heist as well as other incidents with the character of Dedra Meero, played by Denise Gough, being one of the more interesting figures as an antagonist who is willing to do whatever she can to find out what is going on. Even as there is this story of the character Syril Karn, played by Kyle Soller, trying to get himself back in favor with the Empire to help out. There are also stories about discord in the Rebellion as it relates to Mon Montha not pleased with Luthen’s methods as she’s trying to raise funds but is having difficulty in trying to keep things secret. It is a great show with the most recent episode featuring an appearance from Andy Serkis as a prisoner running the prison floor that Andor is currently in as well as Forest Whitaker is reprising his role as Saw Gerrera.

Tales from the Territories (episode 1)



A new spin-off series from Vice that featured the wrestling show Dark Side of the Ring as it is about the wrestling territories of the 1960s through the 1980s and what it was like back then before American pro wrestling with national with the WWE. The first episode is about the Memphis territories as it was a roundtable discussion with Jerry Jarrett, his son Jeff, Jerry “the King” Lawler, Dutch Mantell, and Jimmy Hart as it inter-cuts with recreated footage of certain incidents as well as a moment when Randy Savage got angry over someone at a Waffle House leading to all sorts of trouble for the young Savage in the late 70s/early 80s. There were a lot of things that people thought were real as it is a fun show even though I haven’t had the chance to catch up with the rest of the series so far.

Acapulco (season 2, episodes 1 & 2)
This is a show that I wish more people would watch as it’s not only a funny show but it’s also full of heart. Notably as the second season is about the young Maximo trying to do his work and pay for his mother’s medical bills following her eye surgery as he makes a deal with Hector that he’s already paying the price for. So far, it has some humor as the first episode has Hector meeting Julia’s cousin Isabel who is known for stealing things at the hotel while there is also family drama as Hector’s sister Sara just broke up with her girlfriend after attempting to hide her relationship from her mother with her girlfriend pretending to be Maximo’s girlfriend. It is a show that is deserving the rave reviews it is getting as it should be in the conversation more of why people need to get Apple TV+.

Wrestling Match of the Month: Riho vs. Jamie Hayter-AEW Dynamite (10/26/22)



There is no question right now that Jamie Hayter is becoming one of the most popular women wrestlers right now as she’s been gaining a lot of fans for her work even though she’s a heel who is still associated with Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. Her most recent match with the returning Japanese star Riho is a real surprise in terms of not just work rate but also in the fact that these two women put on a clinic in the ring. Riho maybe a smaller wrestler but she can fucking go as she is the more experienced of the two women. Yet, Hayter has one of the best back-breakers that I have ever seen as this was a match these two women have done before but it was Hayter who got the win this time. Even as the post-match has her in line to face Toni Storm for the Interim AEW World Women’s Championship possibly at AEW Full Gear next month.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. Suspiria
2. Finding Nemo
3. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
4. The Lady and the Tramp
5. The Princess and the Frog
6. Black Widow
7. Toy Story of Terror!
8. Trick or Treat
9. Lonesome Ghosts
10. The Keep
Well, that is it for October. Next month, I will be definitely watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as well as whatever films that are on various streaming services that I have in my many watchlists including a few Blu-Rays and DVDs that I own that I had hoped to watch this month. Right now, I’m cultivating a list that I’m calling the Last Dance as my mother and I have made the decision to get rid of cable though we’re not sure when as there will be films in my DVR that I will watch and that will be it. There’s also my Blind Spot as I’m not sure what I will do next while I’m still finalizing the list for next year’s Blind Spot Series. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2022

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Vast of Night

 

Directed and edited by Andrew Patterson and written by Patterson and Craig W. Sanger, The Vast of Night is the story of a radio DJ and a switchboard operator who discover a mysterious audio frequency while working at small town in New Mexico. Based on the real life Kecksburg UFO incident of 1965 and the Foss Lake disappearances around that same time, the film is an exploration of two people working late at night during the late 1950s as they deal with something mysterious that they believe could involve alien lifeform. Starring Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz. The Vast of Night is an entrancing and riveting film from Andrew Patterson.

Set entirely in one night at small town in New Mexico in the late 1950s, the film revolves around a young radio dee-jay and a 16-year old switchboard operator who both discover a mysterious noise that keeps cutting off phone calls with some calling about something up in the sky. It is a film that play into an event in which these two young people are working one night with nearly everyone in town attending a high school basketball game with some who are at home watching what is happening while the two who are at work are trying to figure out the source of this strange audio frequency. The film’s screenplay by Andrew Patterson, under his James Montague pseudonym, and Craig W. Sanger is largely straightforward in its narrative as it takes place entirely in one night.

Yet, it is filled with a lot dialogue that play into the relationship between the radio deejay Everett (Jake Horowitz) and the young switchboard operator Fay (Sierra McCormick) as the latter is interested in what Everett does. Still, it would be Fay’s work on the switchboard that would have her discover this strange sound as she asks a few friends including someone who is watching over her baby sister as she turns to Everett who would use his broadcast to ask someone if they knew this noise that is being played. Among them is a man named Billy (voice of Bruce Davis) who raises a lot of questions into what he discovers as does an old lady in Mable Blanche (Gail Cronauer) who would tell them a story about her own encounters in the film’s third act.

Patterson’s direction is stylish as it is shot largely on location in Whitney, Texas as this small town in New Mexico though the film opens in a room with an old TV showcasing the story in bits of black-and-white as if it was set in the 1950s/1960s and eventually shifting into color when the story is presented. Patterson also uses some unique tracking shots and long shots that play into the atmosphere of the film as it has Everett walking into the school gym where a game is set as it goes on for minutes in one entire take as it play into the kind of person Everett as someone who talks a lot and get things done but he’s also full of himself. Even towards Fay who just got a new tape recorder as she is eager to show Everett as they walk outside of the gym as they both walk towards their work stations while the scene of Fay working the switchboard goes on for a few minutes in one take as she deals with what she is hearing as well as those she’s calling as it is presented in a medium shot. There is also some unique wide shots of the location including a tracking-wide shot where Patterson takes the camera from Fay’s switchboard room to Everett’s radio station.

There are some close-ups in the film as it play into the scene of Everett talking to Billy as he’s recording their conversation while the scene with Blanche is presented in a simple medium shot where Blanche gives this monologue that goes on for minutes in one entire take. It is a chilling scene mainly because of what Blanche is talking about as Patterson only cuts when he has the camera focus on Everett who is in a medium shot in the foreground with Fay in the background as Patterson, under the pseudonym of Junius Tully, does the editing where he allows his shots to linger on while playing up to the suspense in a monologue or something the characters would encounter. The film’s climax is definitely one of intrigue as it play into not just words that Blanche had been reciting but also what it would attract as its ending is a strange one yet it also adds so much more into what is out there. Overall, Patterson crafts a chilling yet ravishing film about a radio deejay and a switchboard operator trying to discover a mysterious audio frequency at a small town in New Mexico in the late 1950s.

Cinematographer Miguel I. Littin-Menz does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on low-key lighting with the exception of the light inside the school gym as much of the lighting emphasis on low colors with some black-and-white for the scenes set in the TV. Production designer Adam Dietrich, with set decorator Tyler Corie and art director Jonathan Rudak, does excellent work with the look of the switchboard room that Fay works in as well as the radio station that Everett works at as it play into a look of the props to play into that period. Costume supervisor Jamie Reed does fantastic work with the costumes as it does play into the period of the times including the long dresses that young women wore at the time.

Visual effects supervisor Rodrigo Tomasso does superb work with the visual effects as it is largely elements of set dressing but also in some of the lighting that play into the suspense. Sound designers Johnny Marshall and David Rosenbald do phenomenal work with the sound in the way the audio frequency is presented and how discomforting is as well as how sound is presented on a location as it is a highlight of the film. The film’s music by Erick Alexander and Jared Bulmer is incredible for its low-key orchestral score that play into some soft moments while eventually becoming intense with its strings along with some eerie textures to add to the suspense while its music soundtrack feature pieces that play into the era of rock n’ roll at that time as it is the music that Everett plays as a lot of it is by Colton Turner.

The casting by Sally Allen and Toni Cobb Brock is great as it feature some notable small roles from Mark Banik and Cheyenne Barton as a couple Fay and Everett meet late in the film as they had witnessed something in the air, Gregory Peyton as a friend of Everett in Benny whom Everett was talking with early in the film, Brianna Beasley as the voice of Fay’s cousin Ethel who is watching over Fay’s baby sister, and Pam Dougherty in a trio of roles as a woman named Mrs. McBroom who goes to Everett early in the film about something in the gym as well as the voices of two characters calling Fay. Bruce Davis is fantastic as the voice of a man named Billy who recognizes the audio frequency as he reveals a lot into what he encountered and what the government is covering up. Gail Cronauer is excellent as Mable Blanche as an old woman who also recognized the audio frequency as she has a story of her own that is just as haunting as Billy’s as it play into what she encountered as a child and later on in life as it related to her own son.

Finally, there’s the duo of Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick in incredible performances in their respective roles as Everett and Fay. Horowitz’s performance is one full of wit but is also a skeptic when it comes to the stories he’s listening to while he is also someone that talks a lot and uses a different voice when he’s on the radio. McCormick’s performance is just as charming when she’s talking fast while is also someone who is more convinced about these stories as she is intrigued by what is happening. Horowitz and McCormick have great rapport together in the way they talk with one another with Horowitz being somewhat immature despite he’s older than McCormick’s character though she is someone more grounded in the way she acts towards humanity.

The Vast of Night is a phenomenal film from Andrew Patterson that features great performances from Jake Horowitz and Sierra McCormick. Along with its supporting cast, intoxicating visuals, a chilling music soundtrack, a simple yet compelling premise, and top-notch sound design. It is a film that uses a minimalist premise and setting while doing a lot with creating suspense and terror by doing so little. In the end, The Vast of Night is a sensational film from Andrew Patterson.

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks (Halloween Edition): TV Horror Themes/Scores

For the 42nd week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks as it’s Halloween season. We go into the subject of television in TV horror scores/themes as it’s something that helps play into the mood for a TV show. Even if it is funny or creepy. Here are my three picks:

1. The Twilight Zone



This famous theme created by Bernard Herrmann is instantly recognizable as it just has this air of terror in that opening note that is followed by elements of orchestral textures with electric guitars and percussions that add to the discomfort. It is a genius theme that remains untouchable in its presentation as it help set the tone for audiences to be in for some serious scares.

2. Tales from the Crypt



A show from HBO that ran from 1989 to 1996 had a theme by Danny Elfman that is iconic. Its orchestral presentation has this element of horror that isn’t just terrifying but also with an air of humor. Notably as the introduction itself is this amazing tracking shot where someone goes to a haunted house as the final shot is just great in the way it introduces to our host in the Cryptkeeper.

3. Twin Peaks



From David Lynch and Mark Frost as well as composer Angelo Badalamenti comes one of the greatest shows to emerge in the 1990s that really defies genres. While it is presented as a suspense-drama show, there was so much more that Lynch did up until early on in the second season as he was pressured by ABC to make the show more accessible that eventually lead to its cancellation and a prequel film of sorts in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me in 1992. The theme is this dreamy and somber piece by Badalamenti that doesn’t just play into the air of melancholia but its score also has elements of quirks and drama that made the show iconic leading to its 2017 revival in a third season that gave the show the finale it deserved.

© thevoid99 2022

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

2022 Blind Spot Series: Boat People

 

Directed by Ann Hui and screenplay by Chiu Kang-Chien from a story by Tin Goh, Tau Ban No Hoi (Boat People) is the story of a Japanese photojournalist who travels to Vietnam three years after the war where he meets a young teenage girl and her family as they try to flee the country. The third film in a trilogy of films relating to the events of Vietnam from the 1950s to the 1970s, the film is an exploration of a family dealing with the fallout of the war and their attempt to escape the country. Starring George Lam, Andy Lau, Cora Miao, and Season Ma. Tau Ban No Hoi is a hauntingly rich film from Ann Hui.

Set three years after the events of the Vietnam War, the film revolves around a Japanese photojournalist who returns to the country three years after covering the liberation of Danang where he is tasked to report on the country’s progress where he is shown things that the government wants him to show but also shielding the truth from him as he meets a 14-year old girl and her family. It is a film in which an outsider sees what Vietnam had become after the war and the lack of progress it has towards people who live near or in the poverty line while also meeting those wanting to leave as well as an officer disillusioned with what the revolution had become. Chui Kang-Chien’s screenplay is largely straightforward as it is told mainly from the perspective of its protagonist Shiomi Akutagawa (George Lam) who is just a photojournalist given the chance to take pictures of life after the war where he is accompanied by government officials to certain places to show this progress and propaganda that they’re spouting.

Yet, Akutagawa’s meeting with this 14-year old girl in Cam Nuong (Season Ma) would change everything as he learns about her awful living conditions with her sickly prostitute mother and two younger brothers. The script also has a subplot involving a young man To Minh (Andy Lau), who used to be a translator for American soldiers, who wants to leave Vietnam with the help of a Chinese prostitute (Coria Miao) who is involved with black-market trade as she is also the lover of a disillusioned government official in Nguyen (Qi Meng-Shi) who had been educated in France as he is appalled by what the country is becoming. Even as he privately talks to Akutagawa as he is someone that didn’t mind being colonized since it allowed him to visit other countries and such where he had a broader perspective on things instead of Vietnam’s attempt to create its own identity with ties to other communist countries at the time.

Ann Hui’s direction is entrancing for not just the compositions she creates but also for showcasing an air of realism that showcases a perspective that isn’t seen often as it relates to those not on board with life in post-war Vietnam in the late 70s. Shot on location at Hainan Island in Southeast China, Hui definitely uses the location as Danang where it opens following its liberation with a band of Vietcong soldiers marching with people waving the Vietcong flag as Akutagawa is shooting pictures of this event as there is a brief shot of a woman on a balcony in the street pulling a South Vietnamese flag from view. Hui’s wide and medium shots doesn’t just get a nice scope of the locations including some scenes near the sea including a conversation between Akutagawa and Nguyen. There are also some close-ups that do play into the horror such as what Nuong and one of her brothers do following an execution as it play into the sense of despair of what the poor has to do to survive. For Akutagawa, it’s a reality that he is capturing on camera that the government doesn’t want him to see as he also meets To Minh who talks about the chaos within the country which is why he wants to leave.

Hui also play into the chaos that occurs in the government where Akutagawa would get himself in trouble at times from soldiers despite his pass that allows him to take photographs. Yet, he would later see things without his camera such as a visit to an area known as the New Economic Zone where he got a glimpse of what really goes on there along with a visit to a camp he went to weeks earlier where children sang to him as he sees what is really happening. Notably in acts of violence where there’s a scene of Minh and a fellow prisoner both are on the ground trying to find landmines which they have to use a stick to feel something slowly or else they trigger a mine and they get blown up. It is among some of the darkest moments of the film while its climax is about Akutagawa coping with Nuong’s fate in relation to the actions of the government as well as what he would do for her and her family. Especially as they would leave Vietnam for the unknown where Hui brings an ambiguity into the dangers of what Akutagawa is doing but also why these black-market boats are so important for those wanting to leave Vietnam at that time. Overall, Hui crafts a visceral and entrancing film about a Japanese photojournalist dealing with the chaos of life in post-war Vietnam for those who don’t benefit from its changes.

Cinematographer Wong Cheung-Gei does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it has a richness in some of its daytime exteriors along with its emphasis on low-key lights for the interior/exterior scenes at night. Editor Kin Kin does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward in playing to the drama with some rhythmic cuts and jump-cuts to play into some of the suspense and action. Art director Tony Au Ting-Ping does amazing work with the sets such as the dilapidated home that Nuong and her family live in as well as the bar/brothel that some of the characters go to.

Costume designer Wong Saan-Ngai does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely straightforward to play into the world that the characters are in with the exception of the government officials with their khaki-looking uniforms. Sound recordists Fan Lee and Hong Lu do superb work with the sound in the way explosions and gunfire sound from afar or up close as well as other elements to play into its natural setting. The film’s music by Law Wing-Fai is incredible for its orchestral score that is filled with some upbeat themes driven by its string arrangements along with some somber and heavy themes that play into the drama.

The film’s marvelous cast feature some notable small roles from Cheung Tung-Sing as a prison camp doctor, Lin Shu-Jin as Akutagawa’s liaison officer Vu, Le Van Quyen as a prison camp official, Wu Shu-Jun as Nuong’s younger brother Van Nhac who deals in black-market stuff, Guo Jun-Yi as Nuong’s youngest brother Van Lang, and Hao Jia-Ling as Nuong’s sickly prostitute mother. Cora Miao is fantastic as an un-named prostitute/brothel-bar owner who is a mistress to Nguyen as she also deals in the black market while trying to help Minh leave Vietnam even though they’re having an affair that Nguyen doesn’t know. Qi Meng-Shi is excellent as Nguyen as a government official who befriends Akutagawa as a man who had been raised during Vietnam’s colonial period as he has become disillusioned with what Vietnam has become as well as lamenting over its propaganda which he sees as constraining.

Andy Lau is brilliant as To Minh as a young man who used to work with the U.S. army as he is trying to get money to get out of Vietnam as he deals with a lot of things while befriending Akutagawa whom he accompanies to a secret place that ends up being far more troubling. Season Ma is amazing as Cam Nuong as a 14-year old girl struggling to help her family while dealing with her poor state while befriending Akutagawa whom she sees as someone who can help her. Finally, there’s George Lam in a phenomenal performance as Shiomi Akutagawa as a Japanese photojournalist who was at the liberation of Danang where he would return 3 years later to see what Vietnam has become after the war where he deals with what the government is trying to hide from him as well as the fact that there’s people who aren’t benefiting from these changes as it is a somber performance of an outsider who is aware that he has a little power to make changes for those who need a better life.

Tau Ban No Hoi is a tremendous film from Ann Hui. Featuring a great cast, rapturous visuals, a riveting music score, and its exploration of life in post-war Vietnam. It is a film that is discomforting to watch in terms of its violence yet it is carried by this story of an outsider trying to get the truth out while helping out those who are troubled by a repressive government regime. In the end, Tau Ban No Hoi is a spectacular film from Ann Hui.

Ann Hui Films: (The Spooky Bunch) – (The Story of Woo Viet) – (Love in a Fallen City) – (The Romance of Book and Sword) – (Princess Fragrance) – (The Swordsman (1990 film)) – (Song of the Exile) – (Zodiac Killers) – (Summer Snow) – (As Time Goes By (1997 film)) – (Eighteen Springs) – (Ordinary Heroes (1999 film)) – (Visible Secret) – (July Rhapsody) – (Jade Goddess of Mercy) – (The Postmodern Life of My Aunt) – (The Way We Are) – (Night and Fog (2009 film)) – (All About Love (2010 film)) – (A Simple Life (2011 film)) – (The Golden Era) – (Our Time Will Come) – (Love After Love (2020 film))

© thevoid99 2022

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Keep (1983 film)

Based on the novel by F. Paul Wilson, The Keep is the story of a group of Nazi soldiers in 1941 Romania who enter an ancient fortress that possesses a mysterious entity that would eventually wreak havoc on everyone. Written for the screen and directed by Michael Mann, the film is a fantasy-horror film that explore this mysterious object that is filled with dark entities that would prove to be troubling for everyone. Starring Scott Glenn, Alberta Watson, Gabriel Byrne, Jurgen Prochnow, Robert Prosky, and Ian McKellan. The Keep is a fascinating but messy film from Michael Mann.

The film revolves around a mysterious fortress in 1941 Romania that the Nazis plan to use during the war where it is revealed that a mysterious entity has emerged within the fortress killing many where a Jewish professor, his daughter, a mysterious man, and other deal with this mysterious entity. It is a film that explore this entity inside a fortress in a small Romanian village near the Carpathian Mountains where the Nazis hoped to have control of the Dinu Pass. Michael Mann’s screenplay does showcase this air of conflict between two German officers in Captain Klaus Woermann (Jurgen Prochnow) and the more sadistic Nazi official Major Erich Kaempffer (Gabriel Byrne) as the former doesn’t want to bring any harm to the Romanian villagers but is also a much more humane individual than the latter who would arrive later following an incident in the fortress in which two soldiers tried to steal a metallic cross thinking it is silver and full of riches only to unleash the mysterious entity known as Radu Molasar (Michael Carter).

Captain Woermann turns to the local pastor Father Mihail Fonescu (Robert Prosky) for advice as Father Fonescu suggests getting the Jewish historian Theodore Cuza (Ian McKellan) who is at a concentration camp with his daughter Eva (Alberta Watson) as they’re retrieved despite Cuza’s ailing health while a mysterious man named Glaeken Trismegestus (Scott Glenn) arrives from Greece to deal with this entity. Mann does maintain this air of intrigue yet the fact that there’s so much going on and a lot of ambiguity into this entity doesn’t do much with the story though it is clear that there is a lot more that Mann wanted to say as it plays into the state of the world as well as the fortress itself as one of the first scenes in the film has Captain Woermann meet a man in Alexandru (W. Morgan Sheppard) who has been watching over the fortress as he made a warning towards Captain Woermann as he and his two adult sons are never seen again. It’s one of these things in the film that feels like it got cut out as there’s a lot of things that are unexplained in the film.

Mann’s direction is definitely stylish in terms of not just the vast scope he presents but also brings in this mixture of horror, drama, suspense, and war into one entire film. Shot partially on location at Llanberis in Wales as well as additional locations in Spain with much of the interiors of the fortress shot at Shepperton Studios near London. Mann definitely maintains some unique compositions including a lot of wide shots to get a look of some of the areas within this fortress that is filled with this air of death. Even in some of the exteriors where Mann uses some medium shots to get a look into the locations as well as the village where the Germans arrive with Captain Woermann wants to ensure civility. There are close-ups that do play into the drama and tension throughout the film yet the script doesn’t do enough to play into the suspense mainly due to the fact that the film was tampered with during post-production as there are scenes in the film that do feel longer as it has a lot more to say but got cut as some of the cutting feels awkward.

The scene where the two soldiers try to get this silver icon out of the wall that would lead to the chaos is a terrifying moment as is the reveal of Radu Molasar but there are elements in which Mann wanted to do so much more but it never goes all the way. Even as the presence of Molasar would loom over the village as Father Fonescu starts to act crazy where there is so much that feels like there is more to say. The film’s climax that involves Trismegestus and Molasar feels unfinished which lead to an abrupt ending of sorts as it does play like it was meant to be longer. Mann clearly wanted more to do but the result is something messy with so many questions into the stakes and the motivations of Molasar as it never is fully realized. Overall, Mann crafts a compelling but under-realized film about a group of people dealing with a mysterious entity at a Romanian fortress during World War II.

Cinematographer Alex Thomson does incredible work with the film’s cinematography as it is a highlight of the film with its usage of striking lighting for some of the interiors inside the fortress as well as some naturalistic looks for some of the daytime exterior scenes. Editor Dov Hoenig, with additional and un-credited work by Tony Palmer, does nice work with the editing as it has some moments to play into the suspense but the additional work from Palmer unfortunately has some jarring moments in the editing as it help play into the truncated tone of a film that felt longer. Production designer John Box, with set decorator Michael Seirton plus art directors Alan Tomkins and Herbert Westbrook, does amazing work with the look of the fortress including many of its interiors as well as the design of some of the interiors in village houses. Costume designer Anthony Mendleson does fantastic work with the costumes as it play into the period of the times including the Nazi uniforms that Major Kaempffer wears along with his own soldiers.

Makeup effects supervisor/prosthetics designer Nick Maley, with creature designer Enki Bilal, does excellent work with the look of some of the design of the corpses with Bilal creating the look of Molasar. Special effects supervisor Nick Allder, along with visual effects supervisors Robin Browne and Wally Veevers, does terrific work with some of the film’s visual effects as it play into the usage of practical effects and optical shots for some of the powers that Molasar has as well as the glowing eyes of Trismegestus. Sound editor William Trent, with re-recording mixer Doug Turner, does fine work with some of the sound in the way gunfire and other sound effects sound though there’s moments where the sound is muddled due to a lot of the chaos that went on during the film’s post-production. The film’s music by Tangerine Dream is phenomenal with its intoxicating electronic score that has elements of lush synthesizers with elements of guitars as it help play into the mood of the film as it is one of its major highlights.

The casting by Jeremy Zimmerman is superb as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Frederick Warder and Bruce Payne as the two guards who tried to steal a silver icon that would unleash the terror that would haunt everyone, David Cardy and John Eastham as Alexandru’s sons who help him watch over the fortress, W. Morgan Sheppard as the fortress caretaker Alexandru whom Captain Woermann respects as he warns him about what is inside, and Michael Carter as the mysterious entity Radu Molasar who is this mysterious creature that is terrorizing everyone as it is a chilling performance though he is hampered by the film’s screenplay. Robert Prosky’s performance as Father Mihail Fonescu is an example of someone being miscast since Prosky doesn’t speak with a Romanian accent as he is someone who is trying to help Captain Woermann while dealing with some of the changes in Dr. Cuza’s behavior.

Ian McKellan is fantastic as Dr. Theodore Cuza as a Jewish professor who used to live in the village as he is taken from the concentration camp where he has an encounter with Molsar who cures his ailments as McKellan manages to even play into some over-the-top acting as a man trying not to get killed by the Nazis. Alberta Watson is good as Eva as Dr. Cuza’s daughter who is accompanying him as she is the lone female figure in the film who is seen by the Nazis as someone they can rape yet is also someone who is trying to understand what is going on as Watson has her moments in a role that is underwritten. Jurgen Prochnow is excellent as Captain Klaus Woermann as an infantry officer who reluctantly takes the assignment as he deals with the chaos involving the entity while also lamenting over Major Kaempffer’s sadistic tactics as he is a humane man that wants to protect the villagers and his soldiers from the chaos as well as questioning the ideas of the Nazis.

Gabriel Byrne’s performance as Major Erich Kaempffer as a Nazi officer who leads a band of commandos as he is a sadistic figure that spews Nazi rhetoric as it’s a role that is underwritten where Byrne doesn’t really get to do much but be an asshole. Finally, there’s Scott Glenn in a superb performance as Glaeken Trismegestus as a mysterious figure who seduces Eva while is also someone that is filled with a lot of ambiguity as Glenn is hampered by the script as it feels like there is more about him but is rushed because of the botch editing of the film though Glenn is able to bring in a performance is still intriguing.

The Keep is a good but extremely messy and flawed film from Michael Mann. While it has some incredible visuals from Alex Thomson as well as a great score by Tangerine Dream and some amazing set design. It is a film that feels like there is more to say in its original 210-minute cut that Mann had intended but instead the final version is at the 97-minute running time which feels more like a preview of something much darker. In the end, The Keep is a superb but undercooked film from Michael Mann.

Michael Mann Films: (The Jericho Mile) – Thief (1981 film) - Manhunter - (L.A. Takedown) – The Last of the Mohicans (1992 film) - Heat (1995 film) - (The Insider) – Ali - Collateral - Miami Vice - Public Enemies - Blackhat - (Ferrari) – (The Auteurs #74: Michael Mann)

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks (Halloween Edition): New Home

 

For the 41st week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks as it’s Halloween season. We go into the subject of a new home where people buy a new house thinking it’s going to be a new start when the reality is that it’s a fucking nightmare. Here are my three picks as these are films that are… well…. Not good at all:

1. Thir13en Ghosts
This was pretty lame despite a promising premise in which a man inherits a home from his uncle that he and his two kids can live unaware that it is a haunted mansion with ghosts living there. It had some gory elements and such but the end results of it is pretty stupid. The look of the ghosts are cool but it often plays into cheap scares and some cheesy kills as one would think that having a film with Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Rah Digga, Shannon Elizabeth (who is briefly topless), and F. Murray Abraham would work but no. It was shit.

2. The Messengers
Starring pre-fame/pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart as a troubled teen who moves to a farm with her family in an attempt to deal with various issues and such from within seems like an interesting idea. Yet, it ends up being a generic film that has an extremely messy climax involving ghosts and other horrible shit. This was definitely not a fun film to watch at all. I feel bad for Stewart in this who was already becoming a promising actress then and is now one of the best working today. Yet, every actor has a stinker or two in them.

3. Dream House
One would expect that a horror film directed by Jim Sheridan starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts to be a winner but that is not what happened with Sheridan, Craig, and Weisz not only disowning the film but never bothered to promote it. Seeing the results, it’s no wonder they disowned it as it’s about a writer who moves into a new home with his wife and kids unaware that something isn’t right as it involved the death of a family inside the home. This is where things get fucked up as there’s a twist involved that makes the whole thing stupid as the film’s production was highly troubled due to clashes between Sheridan and one of its producers in James G. Robinson as the latter ended up re-cutting the whole film without Sheridan’s involvement who chose not to be involved and tried to get his name out of the film. I don’t blame Sheridan for this as no one involved should say anything good about it.

©thevoid99 2022

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

 

Based on the film series written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis that was directed by Ivan Reitman, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the story set more than 30 years after events in New York City in which a single mother and her two teenage kids inherit a home from her late father who had discovered something terrifying as it related to his old job as a Ghostbuster. Directed by Jason Reitman and screenplay by Reitman and Gil Kenan, the film is the third part in a film series that began in 1984 with a sequel five years later as it explore a family in a small town in Oklahoma who discover what a woman’s estranged father had discovered. Starring Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor, Bokeem Woodbine, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, and Bill Murray. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an exhilarating and adventurous film from Jason Reitman.

Set in a small town in Oklahoma, the film follows a single mother and her two teenage kids who have been evicted from their home in Chicago where they inherited the home of that woman’s father whom she never knew where her kids discovered an event that their grandfather was trying to prevent before his passing. It is a film in which a family doesn’t just discover a legacy this man had left behind but also a chance to finish something that he wanted to prevent in order to save the world. The film’s screenplay by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan opens with an old man driving out of a cave and waiting for a ghost to arrive at his home and then cut to another city where this woman in Callie Spengler (Carrie Coon) has just been evicted from her Chicago apartment as she and her two teenage kids in Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) travel to Summerville, Oklahoma where they live in the home of Callie’s estranged father Egon whom the town refers to as the Dirt Farmer. The script is largely straightforward in its narrative yet it does a lot in exploring not just Callie’s resentment towards her father whom she felt abandoned her but also her two kids who are just trying to find themselves in this new town.

Phoebe is the most compelling of the Spengler kids as she is someone who loves science and is offbeat as she is the first to discover things in her grandfather’s home as it allowed her to get to know who he is. While Trevor isn’t as developed as his younger sister as he’s just a 15-year old kid trying to get a summer job and win over his co-worker in Lucky Domingo (Celeste O’Connor) at drive-in restaurant they work at. He does manage to discover something in the mountain above the cave as well as fix up a car he found in the garage that was the Ecto-1 car the Ghostbusters used in their exploits in the 1980s. The script also play into what Egon is trying to deal with and stop from preventing as it is clear that it related to events that happened in 1984 as Trevor, Phoebe, Lucky, and Phoebe’s classmate Podcast (Logan Kim) try to stop it while Callie is in a subplot where she finds herself fascinated by Phoebe’s science teacher Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd) who is a fan of the Ghostbusters as he is suspicious about the earthquakes that is happening in Summerville leading to some big revelations over what everyone has to face.

Reitman’s direction is sprawling in terms of its setting as it is shot on location in areas around Calgary, Alberta in Canada along with a few bits in New York City as it play into a world as if nothing serious is happening though it opens with a chase in which Egon Spengler (Bob Gunton and Ivan Reitman) are awaiting for something to happen only to later be attacked and die of a heart attack. While there are some unique wide shots of the locations that Reitman uses in the film including the scale of Spengler’s farm what he has hidden under his crops. Reitman does maintain an intimacy as well as some style in the medium shots and close-ups that does include moments where Phoebe discovers things about her grandfather as including the ghost trap and the proton pack that her grandfather was updating. There are moments that are funny that involve Phoebe, Podcast, and Gary Grooberson trying to open a ghost trap as well as Grooberson geeking out over the proton pack that Phoebe was using during a chase with Trevor and Podcast.

Reitman definitely creates some callbacks to the previous films that his father helmed but also what happened to the Ghostbusters after the events from the second film and why Spengler went crazy though what Phoebe, Trevor, and eventually Callie discover is that there’s something bigger that is emerging with their old enemy Gozer (Olivia Wilde and Emma Portner, with the voice of Shohreh Aghdashloo) whose arrival in New York City back in 1984 was small compared to what she wanted to do in Summerville. The film’s climax is definitely grand as it doesn’t just have callbacks from the events of 1984 but with much bigger stakes as well as twelve-year-old girl who proves that she too can go against an evil spirit through just sheer will and brains. Especially as the film does serve as a fitting tribute to one of its creators as the film is sort about legacy but also what a parent does for their children. Overall, Reitman crafts a thrilling and enjoyable film about a single mother and her teenage kids finishing up a man’s quest to stop ghosts from creating havoc around the world.

Cinematographer Eric Steelberg does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography in the way many of the daytime locations look in its natural setting along with some elaborating lighting for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night. Editors Dana Glauberman and Nathan Orloff do excellent work with the editing with its stylish approach to fast-cutting for some of the action scenes but also knowing when to slow down in order to have shots linger for a bit including some of the funnier moments in the film. Production designer Francois Audouy and supervising set decorator Peter Lando do amazing work with the look of the Spengler farm with some of its rooms including a secret basement as well as the look of the old Ecto-1 car that is in ruins as well as the look of the Shandor cave in its interiors. Costume designer Danny Glicker does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely casual including the Ghostbuster jumpsuits. Special makeup and live action creature effects designer Arjen Tuiten, as well as Muncher designer Brynn Metheney, does incredible work with the look of Gozer and some of the creatures as well as the Slimer-like creature known as Muncher who can eat metal.

Special effects supervisors Michael Gibney and Elia P. Popov, with visual effects supervisors Michael “Tiny” Alcorn, Sheena Dugal, Alessandro Ongaro, Shirkanth Patil, and Raul Perez, do terrific work with the visual effects in not just using practical effects for some of the design of the monsters and props but also digital effects in the look of the ghosts and a few other bits. Sound editors Will Files and Perry Robertson, along with sound designers Scott Sanders and Chris Terhune, do superb work with the sound as it has some unique sound effects as well as the sound of the Ecto-1 siren and the way the proton pack sounds when it’s on as it help add to the film’s tone. The film’s music by Rob Simonsen is wonderful for its exhilarating orchestral score that has elements of humor and adventure along with somber strings for some of the dramatic moments. The film’s music soundtrack not only features some motifs from the two previous films that was scored by Elmer Bernstein but also music from the Buzzcocks, Funkadelic, Shirley Ellis, the Shirelles, Otis Rush, Willie Nelson, the Delmore Brothers, the Newday, Kelly’s Lot, an original song by Mckenna Grace, and the iconic theme song from the 1984 film by Ray Parker Jr.

The casting by John Papsidera and Ali Safdari is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Tracy Letts as a warehouse store owner, Josh Gad as the voice of Muncher, the trio of Ira Heden, Sarah Natochenny, and Shelby Young as the voices of the mini-Stay Puft marshmallow men, Stella Aykroyd as deputy Medjuck, Bokeem Woodbine as Lucky’s father in Sheriff Domingo, and as the body doubles for Egon Spengler via shadows in Bob Gunton for the opening scene and Ivan Reitman as a stand-in for the ghost version of Spengler with digital effects utilizing the face of the late Harold Ramis. For the role of Gozer, Olivia Wilde brings an un-credited cameo as the physical version of the character with Emma Portner as the spiritual version of Gozer with Shohreh Aghdashloo providing the voice of Gozer as they do terrific work in that character. J.K. Simmons is superb in his cameo as Ivor Shandor as the man who created a temple for Gozer as he is seen as a sleeping body who only wakes up for Gozer.

From the previous films who makes special appearances, the performances of Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz, Bill Murray as Peter Venkman, Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore, Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz, and Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett are an absolute joy to watch in not just being fan service but also playing a key role to the story with exception of Weaver whose cameo appears in a comical post-credit scene that is a call-back to Venkman’s exploits as a professor with Weaver being the one in control. Still, Aykroyd, Murray, Hudson, and Potts do help bring important moments that are inspirational to the younger cast but also set the seeds for a possible future. Paul Rudd is fantastic as Gary Grooberson as a science teacher who teaches at summer school who is also a geek for the Ghostbusters while is also someone who notices how smart Phoebe is where he would have an unfortunate encounter with a ghost. Celeste O’Connor is excellent as Lucky Domingo as a 16/17-year old girl who works at a restaurant as she befriends Trevor while also helps them in dealing with ghosts as she proves to be tough and resourceful.

Logan Kim is brilliant as Podcast as Phoebe’s new classmate who is fascinated by the paranormal and other strange things as he has a podcast of his own while also taking part in many adventures in chasing ghosts. Carrie Coon is amazing as Callie Spengler as the estranged daughter of Egon as she is just dealing with the chaos in her life as well as resentment towards her father where she would discover things about him in why he was never around. Finn Wolfhard is incredible as Trevor Spengler as a 15-year old kid who knows how to fix cars and such as he is trying to figure himself out where he takes part in the fun of catching ghosts as a way to get to know his grandfather while also realizing something bad is happening in Summerville. Finally, there’s Mckenna Grace in a phenomenal performance as Phoebe Spengler as the 12-year old granddaughter of Egon Spengler who is a total nerd that loves science and is always smarter than a lot of people older than her. It is a performance that is filled with humor as she says some bad jokes while also proving she is a lot more powerful and determined to kick some ass as it is a major breakthrough for Grace.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a sensational film from Jason Reitman that features great performances from Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor, Carrie Coon, and Paul Rudd. Along with its supporting cast including people from the previous films, dazzling visual effects, a compelling story on loss and legacy, an exhilarating music soundtrack, and its sense of adventure. It is a film that isn’t just something fans of the film series from the 1980s would enjoy for its callbacks but it is also a film that offers something new while being a tribute to two of its creators in Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman. In the end, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a spectacular film from Jason Reitman.

Jason Reitman Films: Thank You for Smoking - Juno - Up in the Air - Young Adult - Labor Day - (Men, Women, & Children) – Tully (2018 film) - The Front Runner

Related: (Ghostbusters) – (Ghostbusters II) – Ghostbusters (2016 film) - The Auteurs #30: Jason Reitman

© thevoid99 2022

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Thursday Movie Picks (Halloween Edition): The Final Girl

 

For the 40h week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks as it’s Halloween season. We go into the subject of the final girl as it’s a standard trope in horror films as it always play into the last young girl/woman who survives everything as she has to be the one to tell the story. Here are my three picks as they’re based on films from the previous decade:

1. Dana Polk-The Cabin in the Woods
Drew Goddard’s 2011 film is definitely a homage of sorts to horror films of the past as it involves five young people staying at a cabin unaware that they’re part of simulation that is controlled by technicians who play with the fates of people. Kristen Connolly’s performance as Dana Polk is sort of typical as she plays the virginal girl who is often fated to survive yet is suspicious over what is happening as it does play into her own survival. Especially as she has to encounter moments of violence and uncertainty that would allow her to take action.

2. Max Cartwright-The Final Girls
In the role of Todd Strauss-Schulson’s film as the daughter of a horror film star, Vera Farmiga’s performance is also unique take where she is attending a screening with her friends where a fire breaks out and they’re suddenly in the film where Max’s mother Amanda is in as the camp counselor Nancy who doesn’t survive in the film-within-a-film. All of a sudden, everything goes sideways where the character of Nancy finds herself breaking away from the plot schematics with the help of Max and a few of her friends as they play with the many clich├ęs but also try to survive this killer who has damn good reasons for wanting to kill a bunch of people.

3. Tree Gelbman-Happy Death Day
Jessica Rothe’s performance as Tree Gelbman in Christopher B. Landon’s comedy-horror film series is truly one of the most unique take on the final girl persona. Notably as her character gets killed and then wakes up in a guy’s room pondering what has happened to her and why she keeps getting killed. Rothe’s performance is full of wit and charisma as she allows her character to go from a selfish and problematic character to eventually confronting her own issues within herself as well as just do what is unexpected and be kinder to people including those she would care about leading up to a winning sequel.

© thevoid99 2022