Sunday, April 30, 2023

Films That I Saw: April 2023


Well, I’m certainly glad to not live in Florida as I can’t say I don’t blame Dwayne Wade for moving out of the state to protect his transgender daughter. I don’t know anyone aside from my sister’s in-laws (who split their time near Tampa and their real home in Boston) who would want to live in a Fascist state where its governor is suggesting about building a state prison next to Walt Disney World as a way to stick it to Disney. Man, you have to a real fuck-head to think this is a good idea. Ron DeSantis is truly a monster who obviously wants to create this idea of American Fascism into the country as he plans on running for the U.S. presidency but does anyone remember what happens to Fascism in the end? Unfortunately, we live in a country that is full of dumb-fucks so they probably wouldn’t know the answer nor would they care.

With all of the chaos of the world and here in America, you have one foot in the real world as a way to know what is going on and not be disconnected from everything. Yet, you have to have the other foot somewhere else to escape from reality. There are moments where I want to get away from the realism as I prefer to read the news rather than watch bullshit like FAUX News and CNN as both channels got rid of their popular talking heads in Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon, respectively, as I think it is a good thing as both of them are assholes. Lemon maybe the lesser of two evils but he’s still a prick as maybe he and Carlson could work together spouting bullshit for North Korea and Russia. I hear they’re hiring.

Then there’s the world of pro wrestling as it’s been a crazy month with major returns happening although not everyone is excited. In AEW, the return of CM Punk this coming summer is imminent with a new 2-hour show airing live on Saturdays as I have mixed feelings about it. I can understand the money and drawing power Punk has but there’s also a lot of this baggage that he might be bringing as well as the possibility of a roster split which I don’t think is a good idea. Plus, I am not interested in watching a wrestling show on Saturday nights as I’d prefer to relax and watch a film. There’s more to life than just pro wrestling as there’s other things that I want to do. Something that the WWE has been unable to understand as they were starting to entice me with what they were doing at WrestleMania as it had some great matches until the main event in which Cody Rhodes was unable to defeat Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. Yet, it was a backdrop to something even bigger as WWE has sold itself to Endeavor with Meekmahan returning to the fold but with a new look as Solomonster has called him Vincenzo.

Yes, a man in his late 70s has died his hair black and sporting a poor-man’s John Waters mustache is back in WWE and already his fingerprints are back on its product where more dumb shit occurs on the TV. Yet, I’m not entirely surprised knowing that he would worm his way back into the company he helped build but now it is part of an umbrella with the UFC as some major changes are to happen while WWE continues to get a lot of money. Still, not everyone is excited about this as contracts are set to expire with rumors that Drew McIntyre might be leaving and also Bayley has been expressing her own frustrations recently. No one knows what is going on as WWE continues to do what it does while they have to watch out for AEW who are trying to regain some momentum.
In the month of April 2023, I saw a total of 27 films in 17 first-timers and 10 re-watches with two of those first-timers being films directed/co-directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. An improvement from last month as a highlight of the month has been my Blind Spot pick in Gentlemen Prefers Blonde. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for April 2023:

1. John Wick: Chapter 4
2. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
3. The Strange Thing About the Johnsons
4. Year of the Scab
5. Embrace the Panda: Making Turning Red
6. Basically
7. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda
8. Munchausen
9. Big Shot
10. The Turtle’s Head
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’m Watching

Year of the Scab
One of two films from the 30 for 30 series that I saw on Disney+ is about the NFL player’s strike and the replacement players that helped the Washington Redskins win some games until the strike ended. It is a film that showcases the many problems that was happening during the strike as it is largely told from the perspective of these replacement players who are called scabs. The Redskins organization did a lot of what is right in dealing with replacement players while many of the organization including some of the players who weren’t happy being replaced do feel like the replacement players not only deserved some credit but also for helping the team to get to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. It is a strong entry that showcases the moment of players getting that chance to play in the NFL but also some of the darkest aspects such as greed exemplified in how the Dallas Cowboys handled the strike.

Boygenius: the Film

Directed by Kristen Stewart is a short that consists of a trio of songs by the supergroup boygenius that consists of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus for their full-length debut release The Record. Each video provide a sense of the personality of the three women with little interludes shot by Stewart that does a lot into playing up the musicality of the three women.

Big Shot
The second 30 for 30 documentary I saw is directed by Kevin Connolly of Entourage and most infamously is the director of Gotti is a film about the New York Islanders in their hey-day as well as how the team were falling apart into the 1990s until a man named John Spano arrived in the hopes of saving the team. The only problem was that Spano never had the money to buy the team despite his many claims as Connolly does interview Spano who had good intentions but was also a scammer. Connolly also gets the perspective of the locals in Long Island where the Islanders play as it was their team and also showcase their feelings on Spano. The film does have some pacing issues but it is still a good film from Connolly.

The Strange Thing About the Johnsons

One of seven short films that I saw from Ari Aster in anticipation to Beau is Afraid is probably a film that I don’t think I’d watch again though the reaction videos about the short film itself is fucking hilarious. This is a film where once you watch it, you can’t un-watch it afterwards as it is about a relationship between father and son and well…. It is not for the faint of heart as it involves sexual abuse but not what is to be expected. It is a film that is truly FUCKED UP!


The second Aster short is about a woman dealing with her son leaving for college and what she would imagine as she would do something to prevent him from leaving. Starring Bonnie Bedelia, Liam Aiken, Richard Riehle, and Rachel Brosnahan, it plays into Aster’s recurring theme of parental issues as it is largely told from the perspective of the mother. Even when she takes one step too far from having to leave home as the results prove to be troubling.

TDF Really Works

The third Aster short is pretty fucked up as it’s also one of his weakest as it is presented in the form of an infomercial. It is about dick farts. Yes, dick farts. That is all I have to say.

C’est La Vie

Starring Bradley Fisher as a homeless man ranting about everything around him, Aster’s short film is set entirely in Los Angeles where this man to the camera about everything he and lost. Even making some claims, true or false, about his life and the things he wanted to do while there’s a lot of shit that is going on around him. It is an excellent short from Aster.

Herman’s Cure-All Tonic

A short film Aster made early in his career that he didn’t right yet it does play into this theme of family dysfunction as it revolves around this meek pharmacist who works for his abusive father while he also deals with these horrible customers. Yet, he would find something that allows him to get revenge on his father but also make money where things eventually go wrong when his customers become addicted as it lead to all sorts of trouble.

The Turtle’s Head

This short sort of inspired by film noir revolves around a private detective who is more concerned about objectifying women than the cases he takes on. Starring Richard Riehle, it is this hilarious short that has Riehle as this detective where he deals with the unthinkable as it relates to his penis. The way he deals with it is hilarious as well as the reaction from his secretary and mistresses as it is a fun short from Aster.


The last short by Aster I watched is one of his best as it stars Rachel Brosnahan as this entitled actress talking to the camera about her life while being aware of everything around her. Brosnahan is a fucking riot in everything that she is doing including moments that are very explicit as she just rants about everything and everyone including her mother in the background. It is quite extreme in terms of Brosnahan ranting yet it is also funny as it is something fans of Aster must watch.

Embrace the Panda: Making Turning Red
This making-of documentary from Disney+ about the making of Turning Red isn’t just about the film but also the four women who put a lot into the film in director Domee Shi, production designer Rona Liu, visual effects supervisor Danielle Feinberg, and producer Lindsey Collins as they all talk about their own growing pain experiences and such. Even as they put their own ideas into this film about a Canadian-Chinese girl who loves boy bands in the early 2000s in Toronto with three of women being mothers themselves with Liu being pregnant late in the film’s production. It is a great making-of documentary for a film that never got a proper theatrical release as it should be seen by a wider audience.

There is No Modern Romance

In celebration of the 20th anniversary release of Fever to Tell by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is this 2017 documentary film that was released in a limited deluxe edition version of the album as the band uploaded it on their YouTube page. The 28-minute documentary by Patrick Daughters showcases the band in early 2003 just six weeks before the release of their full-length debut album as they tour the U.K. where they deal with hype as well as the physical and mental they put into their live performances. It is a film that fans of the group will definitely want to see if they don’t the limited deluxe edition while it also showcases a band who are about to blow up into something big as well as becoming one of the finest bands of the 21st Century thus far.

The Mandalorian (season 3 episodes 6-8)
The third season of this show is a step down from its predecessors yet it is still a fun and engaging series as the last three episodes have elements of humor but also lots of adventure. Notably as it has Djin, Bo-Katan, and Grogu going on a journey to reunite all other Mandalore clans to reclaim their home planet as well as face an old foe. The episode does feature the return of Moff Gideon but also some surprising revelations into what he is creating as it would set the seeds of the First Order. The season overall is uneven but it is still full of adventure and does have a nice conclusion as I hope there will be a fourth season as it was able to show the chaos that the New Republic is unknowingly creating.

Ted Lasso (season 3 episodes 4-7)
Five more episodes left into the third season and the show is fucking killing it as it doesn’t just play into AFC Richmond not only going through a losing streak after their loss to West Ham but also Zava’s sudden retirement in the fifth episode. It also play into Lasso not just struggling with the revelations about his wife in a relationship with their former marriage counselor but also how much he misses his son who went through a bad day himself as the end of the episode showed a team struggling with this losing streak. It would lead to the sixth episode which I think is not just one of the best episodes of the series but also one of the greatest episodes in television history similar to other defining episodes in TV such as Pine Barrens from the third season of The Sopranos. It has the team playing a friendly against AFC Ajax where AFC Richmond lost as there are multiple storylines involving Rebecca, Ted, Jamie and Roy, Higgins and Will Kitman, Colin and Trent Crimm, and the rest of the team as it went over an hour. Yet, it was worth as it brought something in which the characters bond while Rebecca gets the chance to find a glimpse of happiness through this man she meets.
Then there’s Ted who drank some spiked tea that Coach Beard made and a dip into his favorite barbeque sauce at this American restaurant in Amsterdam as he watches an old Chicago Bulls game becomes this eureka moment relating to triangles as he would come up with ideas that is the basis of one of the greatest tactics in Total Football which was popularized by the Dutch in the 1970s. It would be something the team would use in the following episode where despite a loss to my favorite English team in Arsenal but they would score a goal as it looks like AFC Richmond are going to get their mojo back. There’s a lot happening in the show as Nate is starting to regain elements of his old self as he’s feeling regret over what happened with Ted while Keeley is in a new relationship with her boss Jack though Rebecca is warning her about Jack believing she is love-bombing her. I await for what will happen next.

Wrestling Match of the Month: Gunther (c) vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE Intercontinental Championship – WrestleMania 39 Night 2 – 4/2/23

WrestleMania 39 was a damn good show that featured some amazing matches such as the two women’s championship matches in Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair for the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship and Bianca Belair vs. Asuka for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship plus some surprising gems in Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio, Brock Lesnar vs. Omos, the Street Profits vs. the Viking Raiders vs. Alpha Academy vs. Ricochet & Braun Strowman, and Edge vs. Finn Balor in a Hell in a Cell cage match. One major standout of this year’s WrestleMania was the main event of night 1 in the Usos vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship as it was full of emotion and a lot of storytelling. The night 2 main event between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship was good until its horrendous ending.

Then there’s the Intercontinental Championship in which Gunter defended the championship against Sheamus and Drew McIntyre as it exceeded expectations in not just being hard-hitting. It was also intense in the fact that all three men wanted the championship with Sheamus wanting it more than anyone as it’s the only other championship (aside from the WWE Universal title) that he’s never won. All three wrestlers brought in a European style to what they did as a lot of it was discomforting as the chops all three did to one another hurts. While I was disappointed that Gunter won and retained the championship as I wanted Sheamus to win. There is that possibility of Gunter doing the impossible which is to beat the record of longest Intercontinental Champion held by the Honky Tonk Man at 454 days as Gunter has more than a 120 days to hold on to that title.

Top 10 Re-watches

1. 22 vs. Earth
2. Burrow
3. Lava
4. Sanjay’s Super Team
5. Your Friend, the Rat
6. George and A.J.
7. Popeye the Sailor Man meets Sindbad the Sailor
8. Donald’s Golf Game
9. Mike’s New Car
10. Brave Little Tailor
Well, that is all for April. Next month will be devoted almost entirely to the Cannes Film Festival as this year’s marathon will be for the month as I have a list but I’m also going to improvise by watching whatever is available including my next Blind Spot film for the month in La Haine. Along with a theatrical viewing for Guardians of the Galaxy and maybe Book Club: The Next Chapter as a Mother’s Day gift for my mother. That’s all I have for next month. Before I close, I want to express my condolences to the friends and families of those we lost in Harry Belafonte, Mark Stewart of the Pop Group, Otis Redding III, Murray Melvin, Michael Lerner, Ian Bairnson from Pilot and the Alan Parsons Patrick, John Regan from Frehley’s Comet, Lasse Wellender who was the session/touring guitarist for ABBA, cinematographer Bill Butler, Butch of the Sheepherders/Bushwhackers, and Jerry Springer as they will all be missed. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2023

Friday, April 28, 2023

2023 Blind Spot Series: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


Based on the musical stage play by Anita Loos and Joseph Fields, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the story of a woman who goes on a cruise ship with her best friend to deal with a blown engagement to another man whose father suspects that she just wants to marry his son for their money. Directed by Howard Hawks and screenplay by Charles Lederer, the film is a musical-comedy that plays into the world of showgirls who support each other and hope for a better life until someone questions their values and morals prompting them to seek adventure somewhere else. Starring Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, George Winslow, Taylor Holmes, and Norma Varden. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a dazzling and exuberant film from Howard Hawks.

The film follows two showgirls who both go on a cruise to Paris after one of them deals with an engagement with another man is halted because of his father where they hope to find a rich man. It is a film with a simple premise as it plays into these two showgirls who are best friends despite their different personalities as they go on a cruise to Paris in the hopes of getting rich and meeting men as one of them prefers to find a good looking man no matter if he is wealthy. Charles Lederer’s screenplay is straightforward as it plays into the adventures of Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) as they’re both showgirls who are hoping to get a financial break as the former is engaged to Gus Esmond Jr. (Tommy Noonan) who is smitten with Lee though his father (Taylor Holmes) is convinced that Lee is a gold-digger.

Esmond Sr. hires a private detective in Ernie Malone (Elliott Reid) to tail Lee and Shaw as the two go on a cruise to Paris with Gus’ money as well as credit they would get from Gus upon arriving in Paris. Malone would bump into Shaw as the two would fall for each other despite Malone doing his job where he would catch Lee flirting with Sir Francis “Piggy” Beekman (Charles Coburn) who owns a diamond mine where Lee’s interactions with him would lead to trouble. Even as Piggy’s wife Lady Beekman (Norma Varden) is carrying a priceless tiara that Lee wants as their arrival to Paris would lead to chaos.

Howard Hawks’ direction is lavish in not just some of the set pieces but it is also filled with gorgeous imagery in its overall presentation. Shot on location at the studio backlot of 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles, Hawks uses a lot of wide and medium shots for some of the film’s set pieces whether it’s the dining area in the cruise ship as well as the pool room in the cruise where a group of American Olympians are training. Notably as he would let the camera move around during a musical performance in a scene where Shaw sings where Hawks allows the camera to capture as much space but also follow Shaw every time she moves. There are also moments when Hawks does maintain some intimacy in the medium shots and close-ups as it relates to characters interacting with one another or in a conversation. It adds to not just some of the humorous moments but also in the drama where both Lee and Shaw deal with their respective situations upon their arrival to Paris in the film’s third act. Especially as the former has gained possession of something that would later get her and Malone in trouble though she got it through a misunderstanding.

Hawks’ direction also maintain this sense of humor as there is that element of misdirection as it plays into some of the drama while the big musical number where Lee sings Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend has so much happening. Largely due to the work of choreographer Jack Cole who would direct the sequence as there is a lot of attention to detail in the compositions and the rhythm of the music. It adds to some of the dramatic suspense over Lee’s moral position and what she does want and how Shaw is willing to help her as long as she gets something out of it. Overall, Hawks crafts an exciting and lively film about two women trying to find love and happiness with some diamonds along the way.

Cinematographer Harry J. Wild does brilliant work with the film’s Technicolor photography in creating vibrant colors for many of its interior scenes including some of the musical set pieces along with some additional photographic visual effects by Ray Kellogg for a few exterior scenes on the cruise ship. Editor Hugh S. Fowler does amazing work with the editing as it has this air of fluidity in the musical numbers as well as some rhythmic cuts for some of the film’s comedic moments. Art directors Lyle R. Wheeler and Joseph C. Wright, along with set decorator Claude E. Carpenter, do excellent work with the look of the cruise ship interiors including its rooms, dining hall, and indoor pool room as well as the stage shows for some of the musical performances. Costume designer Travilla does incredible work with the design of the gowns that the women wear including the iconic pink gown that Lee wears for her big performance.

The makeup work of Ben Nye and Alan Snyder do terrific work with the look of the women in their musical numbers as well as the look of Piggy. The sound work of Roger Heman Sr. and E. Clayton Ward is superb as it play into the atmosphere of some of the locations as well as how things sound from afar in some scenes. The film’s music by Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Adamson, Jule Styne, and Leo Robin is wonderful for its sumptuous orchestral score as well as the songs that are performed in the film as it is a major highlight of the film.

The film’s marvelous ensemble cast feature some notable small roles from Steven Geray as the hotel manager in Paris, Marcel Dalio as a magistrate in Paris, Taylor Holmes as Gus’ father Esmond Sr., Norma Varden as Lady Beekman who doesn’t like Lee, and George Winslow as a young heir that Lee hoped to pursue only to realize that something is wrong. Tommy Noonan is fantastic as Gus Esmond Jr. as Lee’s boyfriend who is smitten with her as well as funding her trip to Paris as he tries to deal with his father who objects to their relationship. Elliott Reid is excellent as Ernie Malone as this private detective who tails Lee while falling for Shaw where it creates some conflict for him despite the fact that he is hired by Esmond Sr. to do his job. Charles Coburn is amazing as Sir Francis “Piggy” Beekman as this diamond mine owner who is smitten with Lee to the point that he would later put her and Shaw in trouble.

Finally, there’s the duo of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in tremendous performances in their respective roles as Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw. Monroe brings a sense of charisma and wit to her performance as Lee who seems like this foolish showgirl who isn’t smart but she uses it as a front as someone who is way more clever while being entertaining figure with Marni Nixon providing some vocal dubs in Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. Russell’s performance as Shaw is fun to watch with some of the zingers she brings in as she is the smarter of the two women when it comes to planning but is also someone who is less interested in getting a rich man but rather a strong and caring man. Monroe and Russell together are a joy to watch in the way they use their different personalities together while being these lively performers who also bring in a lot of fun and comedic timing.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a spectacular film from Howard Hawks that features great leading performances from Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Along with its supporting ensemble cast, simple yet effective premise, gorgeous visuals, and an amazing music soundtrack with some incredible musical numbers. It is a film that is full of humor but it is also about female friendship while they go on a quest for men and diamonds. In the end, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a sensational film from Howard Hawks.

Howard Hawks Films: (The Road to Glory) - (Fig Leaves) - (Cradle Snatchers) - (Paid to Love) - (A Girl in Every Port (1928 film)) - (Fazil) - (The Air Circus) - (Trent’s Last Case (1929 film)) - (The Dawn Patrol (1930)) - (The Criminal Code) – Scarface (1932 film) - (The Crowd Roars (1932 film)) - (Tiger Shark) - (Today We Live) - (The Prizefighter and the Lady) - (Viva Villa!) - (Twentieth Century) - (Barbary Coast) - (Ceiling Zero) - (The Road to Glory) - (Come and Get It) – Bringing Up Baby - (Only Angels Have Wings) - (His Girl Friday) - (Sergeant York) - (Ball of Fire) - (Air Force) - (To Have and Have Not) - (The Big Sleep (1946 film)) - (The Outlaw) – Red River - (A Song is Born) - (I Was a Male War Bride) - (The Big Sky) - (Monkey Business) - (O Henry’s Full House) - (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) - (Land of the Pharaohs) – Rio Bravo - (Hatari!) - (Man’s Favorite Sport?) - (Red Line 7000) - (El Dorado) - (Rio Lobo)

© thevoid99 2023

Monday, April 24, 2023

Beau is Afraid


Written and directed by Ari Aster that is based on his 2011 short film Beau, Beau is Afraid is the story of a troubled and paranoid man who goes on a journey to return home to his mother where he deals with the chaos around him as he also faces his own fears. The film is the study of a man who hasn’t done much with his life while living in a world that is chaotic and violent as the titular character of Beau Wassermann is played by Joaquin Phoenix. Also starring Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Parker Posey. Beau is Afraid is a surreal though frustratingly flawed film from Ari Aster.

The film follows a man who is set to meet his mother as he constantly encounters all sorts of chaos where he is often afraid as his journey to return home to his mother becomes this journey filled with lots of misunderstandings and other strange incidents that has him running away. It is mainly a character study of this man who lives in an apartment where a lot of shit happens as he often attends therapy sessions as he is reluctant to visit his mother Mona (Patti LuPone & Zoe Lister-Jones as both the present and younger versions, respectively) whom he’s had a chaotic relationship with. Especially as they plan to meet on the anniversary of his father’s death as he had never known his father since he died before he was even born which makes the journey more difficult while a series of circumstances would delay his departure as he is hit by a truck where he is taken to a house by this couple who are nursing him despite the protests of their teenage daughter.

Ari Aster’s screenplay is sprawling in terms of the journey that Beau Wassermann takes as it also has some flashbacks relating to his life with mother including a moment as a teenager (Armen Nahapetian) when they’re vacationing on a cruise where meets a young girl named Elaine (Julia Antonelli) where they make a vow to lose their virginity to one another as he wouldn’t see her for years as he later learns that she works for her mother as an adult (Parker Posey). Throughout the course of the film, Aster’s script has Beau going through these encounters with people and other things as he is trying to go home as it relates to a Jewish custom but also is forced to confront things in his life had been braver. Yet, Beau is often someone who had a choice to take action or to make a decision but often never stands up for himself which often puts him into danger and all sorts of trouble. Especially in his relationship with his mother where he always does whatever she tells him to do and allows people to step over him.

Aster’s direction is definitely grand in terms of its overall presentation as it is shot largely on location in Montreal as New York City with areas in and around the city in its forests and suburbs as the places that Beau would go to. Yet, it opens with a childbirth scene shot from the perspective of the baby coming out of its mother’s womb as it sets the tone for the chaos that Beau would endure as an adult. Aster would create some unique compositions that play into Beau’s own sense of paranoia and fear such as a man hiding on the ceiling in his bathroom while Beau is in the tub as the close-up of Beau’s face and the man’s face is a key moment. Even as it would be this moment leading to the second act where Beau would be hit by a car while being stabbed by a crazed naked man as it is one of several moments of surrealism that is present throughout the film. The scenes at the home of this couple in Grace and Roger (Amy Ryan and Nathan Lane, respectively) does seem like this sense of normalcy until their daughter Toni (Kylie Rogers) comes in as it adds to this sense is discord where something is going to happen to Beau either through his own decisions or his refusal to take action.

The wide and medium shots don’t just add to the visual look of the film including a scene where Beau is in the forest where he meets an acting troupe putting on a play. It is a scene near its third act where Beau sees himself as this character in a play as it is this surreal moment that play into the kind of future Beau would’ve had if he had been braver. It should’ve been this moment of serious development but given the fact that he is someone that carries a lot of guilt where Aster constantly has Beau in situations where there are moments that go on for too long in a film with an almost three-hour running time. The film’s third act and climax that relates to a supposed flashback or traumatic event has him just take not just the abuse from people who blame him for something he didn’t do but also keeps apologizing as if he was the one that has done something. Its ending is also strange as it plays into a man that doesn’t just have serious parental issues but is also someone without a spine who rarely has a moment of anger as he is driven by fear of not just being unloved but also being someone who never had anyone to tell him to stand up for himself. Overall, Aster crafts a wondrous yet bloated film about a man who is afraid of everything and everyone as he tries to get home to his mother.

Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it has these amazing visuals for many of the daytime exterior scenes with its natural lighting along with some unique lighting for some of the scenes at night including scenes in the forest and at Mona’s home. Editor Lucian Johnston does nice work with the editing in allowing shots to linger a bit along with rhythmic cuts to play into the action and some of the film’s dark humor though it has moments where it lags due to its bloated presentation. Production designer Fiona Crombie, with key set decorator Paul Hotte and supervising art director David Gaucher, does amazing work with the look of the small apartment that Beau lives in to the home of Roger and Grace as well as the home where Mona lives along with the look of the stage play that Beau watches. Costume designer Alice Babidge does excellent work with the costumes in the different array of clothes including some pajamas that Beau wears along with the costumes that the acting troupe wears.

Hair designer Felix Lariviere and prosthetics makeup effects designer Steve Newburn do incredible work with not just the look of Beau with his bruises and such but also in the play scene where he dreams of being the main character in the play with all of its prosthetics as well as a key scene late in the film as it play into some revelations about himself. Special effects supervisor Louis Craig, along with visual effects supervisors Yuval Levy and Louis Morin, does fantastic work with the look of the play fantasy scene with some of its animation as well as some effects for a key scene late in the film. Sound editor Paul Hsu does superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as how music is presented next to Beau’s apartment as well as other things that are played on location. The film’s music by Bobby Krlic is phenomenal for its haunting mixture of woodwinds, percussions, and string instruments to add to the suspense and offbeat humor of the film while music supervisor Jemma Burns creates a soundtrack that is filled with an array of music from various genres ranging from pop and electronic music including songs from Bread and Mariah Carey.

The casting by Julie Breton and Jim Carnahan is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Richard Kind as Mona’s attorney Dr. Cohen, Julian Richings as a strange man Beau meets at the play who claims to know Beau’s father, the trio of Michael Gandolfini, Theodore Pellerin, and Mike Taylor as Beau’s sons in the fantasy play sequence, Alicia Rosario as Toni’s friend Liz, Bradley Fisher as a naked man stabbing people, James Cvetkovski as Beau as a young boy, Hayley Squires as a pregnant woman named Penelope who takes Beau to the forest where she’s part of an acting troupe, Julia Antonelli as a teenager Elaine whom the young Beau would fall for, and Armen Nahapetian as the teenager Beau who would fall for the young Elaine as he deals with his father’s absence and other issues relating to his mother. Stephen McKinley Henderson is superb as Beau’s therapist who observes and takes notes over Beau’s anxieties while also recommending him to take some serious prescriptions with water.

Denis Menochet is terrific as a PTSD soldier named Jeeves who is unstable comrade of Grace and Roger’s son whom they let stay at a trailer at their home as he would be this insane figure that would scare Beau. Kylie Rogers is good as Grace and Roger’s daughter Toni as this troubled and antagonistic teenager who hates Beau as she gets him to do things as a way to humiliate him as well as do whatever she can to get him in trouble. Amy Ryan and Nathan Lane are excellent in their respective roles as Grace and Roger as a couple who hit Beau with their car as they take him in to heal as they are this weird couple who offer to help him yet are offbeat though they come off as cartoonish at times. Parker Posey is brilliant in her small role as the adult Elaine as Beau’s soulmate whom he hadn’t seen in years as she reveals to work for his mother in her business while her reunion with Beau is a joyful moment leading to something hilarious in their meeting.

The duo of Patti LuPone and Zoe Lister-Jones are great in their respective roles as the older and younger version of Beau’s mother Mona Wassermann with LuPone as this domineering woman who has become tired of her son’s anxiety issues though it is clear that she is a toxic woman with little care about his issues. Lister-Jones’ performance is more subdued as she isn’t this sweeter version of Mona but also reveals to be someone who is also toxic. Finally, there’s Joaquin Phoenix in an incredible performance as the titular character as this man who is constantly afraid of everything as he’s filled with a lot of anxieties and fears where he often apologizes for everything. It is a performance that has Phoenix do a lot of physicality as well as display emotions though he is hampered by the script as well as the fact that this character he’s playing doesn’t grow a spine and never stands up for himself as it has these moments of greatness but it is also frustrating at times.

Beau is Afraid is a stellar yet highly-flawed film from Ari Aster despite an incredible leading performance from Joaquin Phoenix. While it is a film that does feature a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, and a killer music score by Bobby Krlic, it is a film that is ambitious in its approach to surrealism but falls flat due to a protagonist that rarely takes action for himself as he continuously gets stepped on over and over again. In the end, Beau is Afraid is a good but bloated film from Ari Aster.

Ari Aster Films: Hereditary - Midsommar

© thevoid99 2023

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda


***In Memory of Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952-2023)***
Directed by Stephen Nomora Schible, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is a documentary about the life and career of the famed Japanese film composer and avant-garde musician during a period in his life as he recovers from cancer while still working on various projects. The film showcases the composer who copes with not just death but the world around him including his disdain for nuclear power as it would inspire his music. The result is a rich and intoxicating film from Stephen Nomora Schible.

Set from 2012 to 2016, the film follows Japanese musician/film composer Ryuichi Sakamoto who first gained fame for being a member of the influential electronic group Yellow Magic Orchestra with Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi in the late 1970s/early 1980s as well as some solo work including composing music for films such as Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and The Last Emperor in which he also acted in and won an Oscar for the latter’s music score with David Byrne and Cong Su. Though a lot of his music that ranged from electronic, avant-garde, classical, and film work, Sakamoto also became a voice against the usage of nuclear power as the film opens with Sakamoto going to the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster a year after the events of the tsunami that lead to a reactor meltdown in one of its power plants. Two years later, Sakamoto is diagnosed with Stage 3 throat cancer as goes into recover splitting his time in both Tokyo and New York City where he works on the music score for The Revenant as well as an album in async that featured new interpretations of existing music including Eduard Artmeyev’s score music from Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky.

Throughout the course of the film, Stephen Nomora Schible would showcase Sakamoto in his home studios in Tokyo and New York City but also Sakamoto’s creative process where he would often compose music on a piano and write music on paper to get some ideas. He would also go to a forest where he finds a destroyed home as he would just record all sorts of audio around him to capture natural sounds as he believes that these natural sounds are musical. Even in the backyard of his Tokyo home where he would capture sounds of rainfall to get something natural for a track inspired by Solaris. Schible’s direction is largely straightforward while he does incorporate bits of archival footage from Sakamoto’s time with Yellow Magic Orchestra as well as some of his solo work including a few pieces and concerts including one in 2012 that he performed for those who lost their homes from the 2011 earthquake/tsunami.

With the help of cinematographers Tom Richmond and Neo Sora, Schible maintains a straightforward presentation without being intrusive in the camera work as he also captures Sakamoto’s routine in his medication for his cancer treatment. Even as he reveals how difficult it is to produce saliva upon swallowing a pill as he admitted that the news about his cancer was a shock to him yet he was willing to do what he can to get better while also working. Editors Yuji Ohshige and Hisayo Kushida do amazing work in not just cultivating all of the footage from the films that Sakamoto did but also in some of the rare footage of him performing a score in the studio as well as talk about the process such as creating a new intro for a score piece for The Sheltering Sky. Sound designer Tom Paul helps capture the many sound recordings that Sakamoto used for his music as well as the way an instrument sounds when he’s playing such as driving a bow on a cymbal or a gong as well as trying to get the right tone from a synthesizer.

Music supervisor John McCullough helps cultivate not just some of the music Sakamoto made with Yellow Magic Orchestra, his solo work, film scores, and various collaborations but also in the music that inspired him including some classical pieces where Sakamoto talks about a few of them. Notably how he believes that someone like Bach would approach a note and what he is probably feeling as well as how Sakamoto would interpret it and do something that makes it his own voice.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is an incredible film from Stephen Nomora Schible about the composer as he works on music for himself and for a film while battling cancer. It is a film that doesn’t give people a chance to know the man but also his own creative process and his views on the world as he deals with the remaining years of his life. In the end, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is a phenomenal film from Stephen Nomora Schible.

© thevoid99 2023

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Thursday Movie Picks: Erotic Thrillers


For the 14th week of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We go into the subject of erotic thrillers as it’s a genre that was once popular but is now considered taboo in today’s age. Especially with modern audiences who want something safer yet their choices make them seem extremely questionable. Here are my three picks as they’re all directed by Brian de Palma:

1. Dressed to Kill
An eerie suspense-drama that explores a woman’s own sexual desires as she would get herself into serious trouble prompting her son to take action with the help of a prostitute. It is a film that plays into the idea of sexual identity and sexual desires but also this idea of sexual repression with a great cast that includes Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz, and David Marguiles as it one of de Palma’s great films.

2. Body Double
A film that definitely makes no bones in the fact that it borrows heavily from the visual style of Alfred Hitchcock with Vertigo being its biggest influence. This film about a man who is asked to housesit a friend’s home only to witness a murder across from that house. It is a film that has a lot of intrigue as this actor with claustrophobia is taking part in a murder mystery that also has him going into the underworld of pornography where he gets help from a porn actress played by Melanie Griffith in uncovering some dark truths about the murder and everything around it.

3. Femme Fatale
If there’s a film that can be considered one of the most underrated films of the past 25 years, this one should be in consideration as it is de Palma at his most pure, seductive, and not being afraid of being style over substance. Even if its plot about a jewel thief betraying her partners only to play dead and marry a diplomat as she continues to hide until a photographer recognizes her and later fall for her isn’t exciting. Yet, de Palma manages to put in a lot of intrigue and incredible visuals for a film that is sexy as well as showing everyone how to create suspense in the right way.

© thevoid99 2023

Monday, April 10, 2023

John Wick: Chapter 4


Directed by Chad Stahelski and screenplay by Shay Hatten and Michael Finch that is based on characters by Derek Kolstad, John Wick: Chapter 4 is the fourth film in the series in which the titular character goes on a quest for vengeance on the High Table following an incident that left him for dead. The film is a revenge film in which the former assassin goes on a journey after events that put him in danger with many in the High Table hoping to get rid of him once and for all only to realize they’re in deep shit with Keanu Reeves reprising his role as John Wick. Also starring Ian McShane, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgard, Laurence Fishburne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Shamier Anderson, Rina Samayama, Scott Adkins, Clancy Brown, and Lance Reddick in one of his final film performances as Charon. John Wick: Chapter 4 is a gripping and exhilarating film from Chad Stahelski.

Following an event in which John Wick is left for dead, the film revolves around the titular character who decides to go on a quest for vengeance against the High Table after events in which people try to kill him. It is a film that follows this assassin who was forced back into the criminal world only to be put into situations he didn’t want to go in which the organization he used to work for now has raised the bounty on his head with one of its members leading the charge to have Wick killed. The film’s screenplay doesn’t just follow the fall-out from events of the previous film that has Wick violate rules within the organization but also a growing bounty on his head where Wick has to figure out how to get them off his back. Even as some of his old allies have to help him in secrecy with New York Continental Hotel manager Winston Scott being excommunicated for his own actions as he wants vengeance on the High Table. Yet, the High Table sends one of its key figures in Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard) to oversee the bounty on Wick as he gets Scott excommunicated while forcing an old friend of Wick in the blind-assassin Caine (Donnie Yen) to find and kill Wick or else he kills his daughter.

Wick would kill an elder above the High Table as he seeks refuge at the Osaka Continental run by his old friend Shimazu Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his daughter Akira (Rina Samayama) who is the hotel’s concierge as she is reluctant to allow Wick stay at the hotel. Yet, Wick is discovered by Caine, de Gramont’s aide Chidi (Marko Zaror), and a bounty hunter in Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson) as they all hunt for him where Wick learns about Scott’s excommunication who tells him about an old rule that would have Wick challenge de Gramont to an old-fashioned duel. The second act is about Wick’s journey to get this duel to happen as he goes through challenges as well as trying to win the favor of his adopted sister Katia (Natalia Tena) by killing a member of the High Table in Killa (Scott Adkins) to avenge her father’s death. The third act is about this duel but also what de Gramont would do to have the duel not happen by facing Scott who would be Wick’s second.

Chad Stahelski’s direction is grand not just for being shot on various locations in New York City, Paris, parts of Jordan, Osaka, and Berlin with some of its intricate set pieces shot in studios in Germany. It also plays into the vastness of a violent criminal underworld that Wick was once part of yet is forced back in only to become the hunted. Stahelski does use wide and medium shots for not just to establish some of the locations but also to play into this world where ordinary criminals and amateurs try to hunt Wick with some intricate fight scenes that also play as if it is a dance routine. Aided by fight choreographers Laurent Demianoff and Corrine Devaux, many of the camera work in the wide and medium shots allow Stahelski to create scenes where the set pieces and the way an actor is positioned on a location during a gunfight or hand-to-hand combat fight is played out without the need to speed things along. Stahelski knows when to slow things down when it comes to non-action scenes where the close-ups and medium shots come into play such as the reunion between Wick and Scott as they both lament over their situation.

Stahelski also plays into this idea of power as it is something that de Gramont has where he is willing to do anything to anyone to kill Wick including Caine and Mr. Nobody. Yet, both men are capable of killing Wick except that Caine is an old friend of Wick while the latter shares Wick’s love for dogs since he travels with a dog who also attacks anyone that is considered a threat as there are moments that do showcases moments of humor. Still, Stahelski does focus on what is at stake and what Wick is willing to do in order to survive but also to put the High Table on its knees due to its rules and some of its outdated ideals. The film’s climax does relate to this duel where de Gramont is someone not capable of doing a duel which is why he sends many criminals to kill him in Paris as it is filled with grand set pieces and fights that shows how much Wick wants to destroy the High Table. Overall, Stahelski crafts a thrilling and visceral film about a hitman on a quest for revenge to destroy the organization that has tried to kill him over and over again.

Cinematographer Dan Laustsen does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of colorful lights for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night as well as low-key lighting for some of the daytime exterior scenes. Editor Nathan Orloff does amazing work with the editing with its approach to rhythmic and jump-cuts that allows the action and fight scenes to breathe as well as knowing when to let shots linger for a bit without playing into conventional editing that is typical with a lot of action films. Production designer Kevin Kavanaugh, with set decorators Rand Abdel Nour and Mark Rosinski plus supervising art directors Andreas Olshausen and Chris Shriver, does excellent work with the look of the Osaka Continental hotel as well as some of the places in Berlin and Paris including the Arc de Triomphe set for a major car-chase scene. Costume designer Paco Delgado does fantastic work with the costumes in the suits that Wick wears as well as the stylish clothing that de Gramont wear.

Hair designer Kerrie Smith, along with makeup designers Antoinette Aderotoye and Stephen Kelly, does terrific work with the look of a few characters including some of the prosthetics for the look of the Killa character as this big fat man that can move fast. Special effects supervisors Gerd Nefzer, Bernd Rautenberg, and Charles-Axel Vollard, along with visual effects supervisors, Antoine Moulineau, Janelle Ralla, and Jonathan Rothbart, do brilliant work with the visual effects in some of the action set pieces where a lot of it is mainly set-dressing. Sound designers Gael Nicolas, Alan Rankin, and Xiao’ou Olivia Zhang, along with editors Paul P. Soucek and Mark P. Stoeckinger, do superb work with the sound as it play into the sounds of katana blades, gunfire, and other objects as well as the way music sounds inside a club and from afar. The film’s music by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard is wonderful with its mixture of rock, metal, and electronic music to create something intense and frenetic to play into the action and suspense while music supervisor Jen Malone cultivates a soundtrack that consists of an array of music from rock, soul, and EDM.

The casting by Kharmel Cochrane and Magalie Combes is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Bridget Moynahan in a brief flashback as Wick’s wife Helen, Sven Marquardt as a bouncer named Klaus who accompanies Wick to meet Killa, Yoshinori Tashiro as a former sumo wrestler who is a gatekeeper for the Osaka Continental, George Georgiou as an Elder in Jordan who operates above the High Table that Wick confronts, Natalia Tena as Wick’s adopted sister Katia who runs her own family as she is reluctant to help out Wick, and Marko Zaror as de Gramont’s longtime aide Chidi who is this intimidating figure who beats up everyone in his path as he is also willing to stop Wick only to do things involving Mr. Nobody that gets him in trouble. Clancy Brown is superb as the Harbinger as a High Table operative who oversees everything including the duel between Wick and de Gramont. In one of his final film roles, Lance Reddick is fantastic as Scott’s longtime concierge Charon who deals with the chaos from the previous events but also the lack of future for the New York Continental Hotel over what had happened.

Rina Samayama is excellent as Koji’s daughter Akira who is also the Osaka Continental’s concierge as she is a fearless warrior who helps Wick with her own reluctance as she becomes aware of the corruption within the High Table. Scott Adkins is brilliant as a High Table official in Killa as a big fat man who killed Katia’s father as he tries to cheat Wick and a few others leading to a big brawl. Hiroyuki Sanada is amazing as Shimazu Koji as an old friend of Wick who runs the Osaka Continental as he does what he can to help Wick while dealing with the High Table including another old friend in Caine. Laurence Fishburne is incredible as the Bowery King as one of the few allies of Wick who helps him gain shelter as well as other things in the hopes of taking down the High Table. Shamier Anderson is remarkable as Mr. Nobody as a tracker/bounty hunter who goes on the hunt for Wick as he is accompanied by a dog who helps him attack others where he ends up sympathizing with Wick upon dealing with Chidi. Ian McShane is great as Winston Scott as the former New York Continental Hotel manager who becomes excommunicated over his own actions relating to Wick as he laments over his own loss but also what the organization he works for has become.

Bill Skarsgard is marvelous as Marquis Vincent de Gramont as this figure of the High Table who wants Wick dead while being arrogant about his place in the High Table in the hopes that he can gain more power with a disdain towards the old ways. Donnie Yen is phenomenal as Caine as a blind former assassin who often watches his daughter from afar as he reluctantly gets back in the game to hunt and kill Wick so that his daughter wouldn’t be killed where Yen maintains this sense of honor and compassion of a man who was also a friend of Wick where he sympathizes with Wick’s issues with the High Table. Finally, there’s Keanu Reeves in an outstanding performance as the titular character who has become the hunted where he goes on a quest for vengeance against the organization he once worked for in the hope he can be free from them once and for all. Reeves maintains this sense of restraint of a man that has lost everything yet is willing to fight for his own survival and sense of honor as he also laments on those who are closest to him that are facing loss of their own as it is an iconic performance from Reeves.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is a tremendous film from Chad Stahelski that features a great leading performance from Keanu Reeves. Along with its incredible ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, Nathan Orloff’s frenetic editing, intricate fight choreography, immense set pieces, and a gripping music soundtrack. The film that doesn’t just raise the game of what action films could be but also infuse it with high stakes, drama, and suspense to explore a man going on a quest for revenge. In the end, John Wick: Chapter 4 is a spectacular film from Chad Stahelski.

Related: John Wick - John Wick: Chapter 2 - John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum - (Ballerina (2024 film))

© thevoid99 2023

Monday, April 03, 2023

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris


Based on the novel Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is the story of a London cleaning maid who discovers a haute couture dress by Christian Dior prompting her to travel to Paris to buy a Dior dress to the amazement of the people working for Dior. Directed by Anthony Fabian and screenplay by Fabian, Carroll Cartwright, Keith Thompson, and Olivia Hetreed, the film is comedy-drama that has a woman who falls in love with the fashion in Paris in the hopes she can be accepted to the world despite being working class as the titular character is played by Lesley Manville. Also starring Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Ellen Thomas, Rose Williams, Jason Isaacs, and Isabelle Huppert. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a delightful and enchanting film from Anthony Fabian.

Set in 1957, the film follows a widowed cleaning lady from London who cleans the home of a client where she discovered a Christian Dior gown as she falls in love with and wants to get one herself where she travels to Paris to purchase a gown to the surprise of the people working at Dior. It is a film that follows this woman in Ada Harris who had lost her husband 13 years ago in World War II as this encounter with this Dior gown while cleaning a client’s apartment has her wanting a dress herself. The film’s screenplay is largely straightforward as it plays into Mrs. Harris’ life cleaning homes for some posh clients including a young struggling actress in Pamela Penrose (Rose Williams) yet is the discovery of this dress that has her aiming for a new dream where she would raise enough money from work but also some overdue war-widow pension and luck gives her enough money to not only travel to Paris but to also buy a gown.

While the house of Dior where its designer (Philippe Bertin) makes the dresses with his employees is exclusive, Mrs. Harris manages to come in with money to buy one to the surprise of many including its director Claudine Colbert (Isabelle Huppert) to reluctantly let Mrs. Harris see the dresses with other rich and exclusive clientele including Marquis de Chassagne (Lambert Wilson) who is friendly to Mrs. Harris. Colbert is unsure about Mrs. Harris buying something expensive from Dior yet the fashion house is going through financial issues due to the exclusive rich clientele that hasn’t paid for the service that Dior and his employees have done. Mrs. Harris would also befriend the accountant Andre` Fauvel (Lucas Bravo) and a young model in Natasha (Alba Baptista) who are both going through their own issues individually as well as their own feelings for each other. Marquis de Chassagne’s friendship towards Mrs. Harris has him reflecting on his childhood but also realizing that Mrs. Harris is a woman that has a lot more to offer as the people at Dior would make a dress that doesn’t just live up to their standards but also something that a common woman could afford.

Anthony Fabian’s direction is vibrant in not just its settings but also in telling this story of a woman who is a dreamer that wants to have some of the best things in life. Shot on various locations in Paris and London as well as Budapest serving as additional locations for Paris and London. Fabian maintains something that is straightforward in terms of the compositions in the wide and medium shots yet does create some stylistic moments whenever Mrs. Harris is gazing over something as there is this great close-up where she is in awe while everything else in the background is moving around her. Fabian’s close-ups add to the drama but also in some of the comedic moments as it relates to some of the culture shock Mrs. Harris goes to as Paris is surrounded by trash due to a strike that is happening at that time. Especially as a woman that Mrs. Harris meet at the fashion show would buy the dress that Mrs. Harris wants as she is connected to a government official who is creating trouble for this strike.

Fabian also plays into some of the social tension and expectations for Dior and its house with Fauvel having some ideas of how to help the house save itself financially as well as not layoff any of its workers and models. It is a key moment late in the film’s second act as it would also play into Colbert’s development as someone who is really protective of Dior and the brand where Mrs. Harris would make a discovery of Colbert’s life outside of Dior that would be a key moment into their tense relationship. Then there’s the dress that people in Dior made for Mrs. Harris as it showcases the amount of work, effort, and craftsmanship that is put into a dress as it is something Mrs. Harris is aware of as it play into what Dior needed to do for their future. It also plays into a dream that Mrs. Harris is trying to fulfill given the fact that she lost her husband and was directionless for years. Especially as reality would set in but it is through her good heart and determination is where the film shows what it needed to be to show the kindness of people no matter where they’re from or what social class they’re in as long as they appreciate the little things that makes life meaningful. Overall, Fabian crafts an evocative and heartfelt film about a widowed cleaning maid traveling to Paris to buy a Christian Dior gown.

Cinematographer Felix Wiedemann does amazing work with the film’s cinematography from the greyish look of London to a more colorful tone for the scenes in Paris in its interior/exterior scenes. Editor Barney Pilling does excellent work with the editing with its stylish approach to dissolves and other stylish cuts to play into the world of haute couture fashion. Production designer Luciana Arrighi, with set decorators Fotini Dimou and Nora Talmaier plus supervising art director Andrew Munro, does brilliant work with the look of the Dior fashion house as well as the more modest homes of Fauvel and Mrs. Harris with the latter being a small apartment in London. Costume designer Jenny Beaven does phenomenal work with the costume design from the ragged yet plain clothing that Mrs. Harris and her British friends wear to the more stylish clothes of the people in Paris as well as the gorgeous design of the Dior dresses that has so much attention to detail as it is a highlight of the film.

Hair/makeup designer Csilla Blake-Horvath does nice work with the look of the characters as well as some of the hairstyle of the times in Paris that the younger women have as well as the different looks that Colbert would have. Special effects supervisors Neal Champion and Robert Horvath, along with visual effects supervisors Nikolas d’Andrade and Sander Jansen, do terrific work with the visual effects as it mainly serves as set dressing for some of the locations as well as a key scene at a London bridge. Sound designers Emiliyan Arnaudov and Marc Lawes do superb work with the sound in the way things sound from afar inside an apartment as well as other natural sounds that appear in the film. The film’s music by Rael Jones is wonderful for its lush and sumptuous orchestral score that is full of rich string arrangements and melodic elements while music supervisor Dushiyan Piruthivirajah provides a soundtrack with some can-can music as well as pop/rock n’ roll music from Chuck Berry and Juliette Greco.

The casting by Katalin Baranyi, Andy Pryor, and Mathilde Snodgrass is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Freddie Fox as a RAF officer who delivers Mrs. Harris her widow’s pension, Guilaine Londez as a posh woman in Mathilde Avallon who buys the dress that Mrs. Harris wants, Dorottya Ilosvai as Avallon’s daughter, Delroy Atkinson as a bus ticket handler in Chandler, Christian McKay as a client of Mrs. Harris in Giles Newcombe, Bertrand Poncet as a Dior designer in Monsieur Carre`, Philippe Bertan as the famed designer Christian Dior during his final year in his life, Roxane Duran as a secretary in Marguerite, and Anna Chancellor as a posh client of Mrs. Harris in Lady Dant who would have the Dior dress that Mrs. Harris discovers. Jason Isaacs is superb as Archie as a friend of Mrs. Harris who is always fond of her as he also helps out with money since he works at the dog races. Rose Williams is fantastic as a young struggling actress in Pamela Penrose whom Mrs. Harris cleans for as she always looks at Mrs. Harris as a godmother of sorts despite the fact that she’s not very smart.

Ellen Thomas is excellent as Mrs. Harris’ friend Vi Butterfield who is also a cleaning maid that is a bit more of a realist yet often brings a lot of laughs and support as a woman who does what she can to help Mrs. Harris as well as be a source of joy. Lucas Bravo is brilliant as the young accountant Andre` Fauvel who befriends Mrs. Harris while expressing his ideas to her in how to help Dior get out of its financial troubles. Alba Baptista is amazing as Natasha as a Dior model who shares Fauvel’s love for existential philosophy as she copes with the pressures in being a model as she also finds support in Mrs. Harris. Lambert Wilson is incredible as Marquis de Chassagne as a wealthy man who is fascinated by Mrs. Harris as she reminds him of a woman who cared for him in boarding school while also realizing that she has a lot more to offer than the people in his social circle.

Isabelle Huppert is phenomenal as Claudine Colbert as the director of Dior who is also Christian Dior’s greatest protector as she is a woman trying to run things while being skeptical towards Mrs. Harris only to realize her value as well as her own similarities with Mrs. Harris in the way they run things. Finally, there’s Lesley Manville in a spectacular performance as Mrs. Ada Harris as this widowed cleaning maid whose encounter with a Dior gown has her reaching for a new dream where Manville brings this exuberance and charisma to a character that is a dreamer but also is willing to fight for those who are feeling defeated as it is a performance for the ages for Manville.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a sensational film from Anthony Fabian that features a tremendous leading performance from Lesley Manville. Along with its supporting ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, its exploration of fashion and what it does for people, Jenny Beaven’s incredible costume design, and a sumptuous music score. It is a film that explores a woman who just wants to buy an expensive gown while bringing some joy to a fashion house that needed to be appreciated for their hard work and dedication to fashion. In the end, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a phenomenal film from Anthony Fabian.

Anthony Fabian Films: (Skin (2008 film)) – (Louder Than Words)

© thevoid99 2023