Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Films That I Saw: May 2023


Summer is coming and things have gotten crazy here in the U.S. and around the world with inflation getting out of control with the U.S. dealing all of this financial shit. Florida has become a bigger shithole in banning all sorts of things while going into war against Disney. It’s a good thing I haven’t traveled in nearly 20 years and Florida is the last place I would go to unless something really bad happens to Ron DeSantis and Florida no longer becomes a red state full of idiots. I want my niece and nephew to go to Walt Disney World real soon as my sisters and I did years ago when we were kids. It is a place full of fun and Orlando was really nice back then despite the fact that Floridian drivers are fucking shit and there was another mass shooting in Hollywood, Florida though fortunately no one has died.

This year’s Cannes Film Festival was pretty good as there was a lot of films that premiered though I’m really getting tired of protestors who are upset over the appearance of Johnny Depp who was there to promote his part in Maiwenn’s new film Jeanne du Barry which received mixed reviews. Don’t these protesters have anything else to do than bitch about his and that? I can understand if revolves around something much more serious with Ukraine but going after someone who had been found innocent over domestic abuse charges after being fucked over by a corrupt system in Britain isn’t the way to go. Yet, it was just Johnny Depp who got into some trouble as his daughter Lily-Rose also gained controversy for her part in the upcoming HBO limited TV series The Idol by Sam Levinson and co-starring Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye as the show has gotten a massive reaction that is polarizing over how outrageous it is.

Overall, the coverage of the festival has been good as I want to give a shout-out to the people at the Film Experience for their coverage on the festival. Yet, they also did some reporting on films that they weren’t able to see including a film in Close Your Eyes which is the first feature-length film by Victor Erice in more than 30 years that didn’t get a lot of coverage because it played at a smaller out of competition section despite some excellent reviews from the few critics that saw the film. The fact that Erice got dissed by festival programmer Thierry Fremeaux like that is proof that there’s some political scheming going on in the festival and it needs stop if anyone else plans on going to Cannes.
I’m happy for the buzz for films such as Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, Todd Haynes’ May December, Hirokau Kore-eda’s Monster, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s About Dry Grasses, and Aki Kaurismaki’s Fallen Leaves while there are films from the Un Certain Regard section in Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy and the section’s winner in How to Have Sex by Molly Manning Walker that has me interested. Yet, there’s 2 films that have me interested in what is coming such as Jonathan Glazer’s Holocaust film The Zone of Interest about Rudolf Hoss’ time as the commandant for Auschwitz while he and his wife build a dream home next to the camp as the film won several prizes including the 2nd place Grand Jury prize. That film starred Sandra Huller who also appears in another big film that would win the Palme d’Or in Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall which is courtroom drama relating to a woman accused of killing her husband similar to her works as a novelist. Having seen a couple of clips of the film, it looks something really intriguing as I’d like to see a lot of these films that have played at this year’s festival.
In the month of May 2023, I saw a total of 10 films in 7 first-timers and 3 re-watches with only one film that I saw as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. Definitely low mainly due to the fact that I spent a lot of time with my niece and nephew as the latter had a couple of unfortunate incidents in school in which a student bitten him twice. The first time was his arm and the second time was his face as I got really pissed off about that and I wanted to beat the fuck out of that other kid’s parents. Mateo’s father wanted to do the same as poor Mateo had a bad time in pre-school while he also got sick with the flu as I had little time to watch films. A highlight of the month is in my Blind Spot film in La Haine. Here are the top 5 first-timers that I saw for May 2023:

1. Atlantics
2. Gimme Danger
3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
4. Orchestra Rehearsal
5. Maggie Simpson in “Rogue Not Quite One”
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’m Watching

Maggie Simpson in “Rogue Not Quite One”
A short made for Star Wars day on Disney+ involves Maggie Simpson taking Grogu’s pram where she gets herself in trouble due to the fact that Homer left her as he went to Moe’s Cantina where he was eaten by a monster. It is a fun short as Maggie Simpson never disappoints though it also reminds me why I haven’t watched the series in a long time.

Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin
A film on Disney+ that my niece and nephew watch a lot as I would watch it with them as this direct-to-video film that revolves around Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and Rabbit going on a search for Christopher Robin whom they believe had been kidnapped due to Owl’s illiteracy. While it is a film that has some amazing animation and some gorgeous set pieces, it is just a mediocre film overall though the kids enjoy it because they love Winnie the Pooh as both Mateo and Adalina each have a Pooh bear they sleep with.

Ted Lasso (season 3, episodes 8-12)
If this is really the final season of the show, then what a show this is as I’m going to miss all of these characters. The last third definitely saw AFC Richmond not only win a lot of games and become the best version of themselves as a team. It also showed a team not only adapting Total Football with elements of Tiki-taka that Pep Guardiola used to help Barcelona dominate in the late 2000s in La Liga as Guardiola makes a cameo appearance as himself in the penultimate episode of the season. The last episodes definitely showcased not just great character arcs for Nate, Keeley, Roy, Jamie, and Rebecca but also things that are touched upon in the world of football such as super leagues which is presented by a guest appearance from Sam Richardson reprising his role as Edwin Akufo who remains this man-child that can’t take no for an answer.

The finale is definitely a great way to end the series with Nate finally returning to Richmond where he makes amends with Ted over what happened in the previous season while is starting to have a life of his own that makes him happy. Roy is starting to make changes for himself as he starts to embrace a few things and finds a real friend in Jamie who also overcomes his own insecurities. The final game is nerve-wracking but in a fun way with West Ham’s owner Rupert Mannion having a fucking meltdown that just tops all of the awful shit he is dealing with as his inability to keep his dick out of his pants has finally caught up with him. To see him leave the AFC Richmond stadium in fucking shame was just beautiful. If this is really the final season, then it is a show that will be missed as I’m glad I discovered though I wished my dad was alive to see this as he would’ve loved this show.

Suntory Whiskey 100

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Suntory Whiskey, Sofia Coppola creates a commercial starring Keanu Reeves who visits Japan to drink with some friends as the commercial features clips from older commercials. One starring Reeves from the 1990s but also commercials featuring Matt Dillon, Sofia’s father Francis Ford Coppola with Akira Kurosawa, Japanese film stars, Ray Charles, and Sammy Davis Jr. All to the tune of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ Crimson & Clover. I don’t drink alcohol and likely never will but… I would like to try Suntory Whiskey. After all, for relaxing times. Make it Suntory time.

Wrestling Match of the Month: Bad Bunny vs. Damien Priest in a San Juan Street Fight – WWE Backlash – 5/6/23

Despite the fact that WWE’s product has returned to its malaise and messy drama due to the return of Vincenzo, there have been some bright spots as WWE Backlash was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a crowd that really made the show fun to watch. A hot and lively crowd can boost a show no matter how bad the card can be yet the show was able to have some standout matches such as the WWE RAW Women’s Championship match between Bianca Belair against Iyo Sky. Yet, the match of the night belonged to music superstar Bad Bunny challenging Damien Priest to a street fight in San Juan. While I much prefer watching technical-based matches, there are moments where I don’t want to watch something that takes itself seriously. This match with an untrained performer going against a veteran pro ended up being way better than I thought it would be as it was just downright entertaining from start to finish. Notably as it involved interference from LwO and the Judgement Day helping out Bunny and Priest respectively but Bunny got additional help from two of Puerto Rico’s living legends in Savio Vega and Carlito!

Professional wrestling doesn’t have to be rocket science nor does it have to be some technical-based masterpiece. The best wrestling involves just sheer excitement and everyone having fun with the crowd going nuts over what they see. It is sports entertainment done right as AEW would do things like this involving the Hardyz in their own match at the Hardy Compound against the Firm in the Firm Deletion match. This is what makes professional wrestling fun and accessible to everyone. Just don’t tell that to Billy Corgan who continues to push some immobile fat-fuck bigot in Tyrus as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Corgan recently stated that if anyone doesn’t like Tyrus, they don’t like professional wrestling. OK Billy, bye! By the way, the new Pumpkins album is a fucking bore!

Top 3 Re-Watches

1. Luca
2. Dumbo
3. Frozen Fever
Well, that is all for May. Next month, I hope to watch new theatrical releases in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Asteroid City while there are films that I had hoped to watch for my Cannes marathon will continue in a different way including a few Palme d’Or winners along with other films I run into whenever I have the time with John Waters’ Polyester being the Blind Spot for June. The only other thing next month that I hope to see is the Cure coming to the State Farm Arena as I haven’t seen them live since 2000. Before I leave, I want to express my condolences to those that have passed this month such as American football legend/actor Jim Brown, Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot, Andy Rourke of the Smiths, Peter Simonischek, composer Bill Lee, Ray Stevenson, novelist Martin Amis, Cream lyricist Pete Brown, Helmut Berger, Algy Ward of the Damned, and the Queen of Rock N’ Roll… Tina Turner. We will miss you Tina Turner.

© thevoid99 2023

Monday, May 29, 2023

2023 Cannes Marathon: Atlantics


(Winner of the Grand Prix Prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival)
Directed by Mati Diop and screenplay by Diop and Olivier Demangel, Atlantique (Atlantics) is the story of a young woman living near Dakar as she is to be engaged to a rich man via an arrangement until she gets the unexpected return from her lover who had been missing since a migration attempt. The film is an exploration of a woman dealing with all sorts of situations including death and the refugee crisis of the 2010s. Starring Mame Bineta Sane, Ibrahima Traore, Amadou Mbow, Nicole Sougou, Aminata Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, and Diankou Sembene. Atlantique is an evocative and rapturous film from Mati Diop.

The film revolves around a young woman living in a suburb near Dakar as she’s about to be married to a rich man via an arrangement where some mysterious events occur involving her lover who had supposedly return following migration attempt that left everyone dead. It is a film that plays into this young woman dealing with loss but also uncertainty and these mysterious events that played into the loss of her lover as well as others who chose to leave after being stiffed over being unpaid for three months wages in building a tower. The film’s screenplay by Mati Diop and Olivier Demangel is largely straightforward as it opens with young men working construction as they go to the foreman demanding their wages with one of them in Souleiman (Ibrahima Traore) who is upset as he meets up with his girlfriend Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) as he hopes to give her a good life despite the fact that she is to marry Omar (Babacar Sylla) through an arranged marriage with Omar already a rich man.

Due to the fact that he got stiffed over his payments, Souleiman and other laborers go on a boat in an attempt to find work in Spain where things go wrong with Ada forced to accept her fate in marrying Omar with many of her friends including the bar owner Dior (Nicole Sougou) looking on until a mysterious incident at Omar’s home occurred. It leads to mysterious events with a police inspector in Issa (Amadou Mbow) doing the investigation until he endures something relating to an illness where he has no clue what happened to him. Even as a tycoon in Mr. Ndiaye (Diankou Sembene) would be a victim of these mysterious actions where the police becomes baffled. It all plays into not just loss but also this growing sense of modernism that creates a social inequality that would force Souleiman and others to flee Dakar for a better world only to be swept away the sea.

Diop’s direction is entrancing for not just the way she shoots this area near Dakar but also this world that is starting to catch up with the rest of the world in creating a 21st Century society despite the social inequality many of the characters deal with. Shot on these locations with this massive futuristic tower that is often seen in the background as this symbol of a new Africa. Diop’s usage of wide and medium shots play into the locations but also gazing shots of the ocean as there’s often shots of the Atlantic Ocean and the sea as it play into this sense of the unknown. Notably as characters would gaze at it while they live in homes on dirt roads while Omar and Mr. Ndiaye live in posh homes with paved driveways around their homes. Diop does maintain some intimacy into the direction that include some close-ups and medium shots including the wedding ceremony scene where Ada marries Omar as they go into the home with a room which is their wedding bed that is lavish.

Diop also maintains this sense of intrigue as it relates to these key incidents that include shots where women mysterious walk towards the beach as if they’re in a trance while other mysterious things occur. It all plays into the specter of death where Ada is constantly questioned by Issa who finds himself sweating and gasping for breath during sunset as there’s shots of the sun setting down towards the ocean. Even as Ada, Dior, and eventually Issa would discover what is happening as it plays into not just loss but also resentment towards those that forced them to migrate to another country. Then there’s Souleiman and his presence as it adds a lot of intrigue into what happened to him but also why he has appeared. Overall, Diop crafts a haunting yet intoxicating film about a young woman dealing with the presence of her former lover following a series of mysterious events.

Cinematographer Claire Mathon does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on a sort of dusty yet naturalistic look for some of the daytime scenes with a lot of natural lighting for some of the scenes in the evening in its exteriors along with some stylish lighting for the interior/exterior scenes at night as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Ael Dallier Vega does excellent work with the editing with its straightforward approach to jump-cuts and rhythmic cuts to play into the drama and suspense. Production designers Toma Baqueni and Oumar Sall do brilliant work with the look of the bar that Dior runs with its neon laser backdrop as well as the look of the posh homes that Omar and Mr. Ndiaye live in. Costume designers Salimata Ndiaye and Rachel Raoult do amazing work with the costumes from some of the lavish dresses and gowns during the wedding ceremony to the casual look that everyone wears on a normal day.

Visual effects supervisor Nicolas Corson does fantastic work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects with the big futuristic building in the background being this symbol of a new Africa that many of the characters don’t feel a part of. Sound editor Benoit de Clerck does superb work with the film’s sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as how music is presented and other sparse moments that add to the film’s naturalistic yet haunting tone. The film’s music by Fatima Al Qadiri is phenomenal with its ravishing mixture of ambient, electronic music, African rhythms, and other kinds of music to create a score that is entrancing in some parts but also haunting to play into the sense of intrigue while music supervisors Steve Bouyer and Pascal Mayer cultivate a soundtrack that features elements of hip-hop and dance from the continent of Africa.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast features largely non-actors and non-professionals with standout performances from Abdou Balde as the police captain, Ibrahima Mbaye as a friend of Souleiman in Moustapha, Coumba Dieng as one of Ada’s friends in Therese who sports blond dreadlocks, Mariama Gassama as Mariama who claims to have seen Souleiman during the wedding party, Aminata Kane as another friend of Ada in Fanta who deals with a mysterious illness like many other women following the events at the wedding, Babacar Sylla as Ada’s rich husband Omar who is baffled by her behavior and her refusal to live with him, and Diankou Sembene as Mr. Ndiaye as a rich tycoon who refuses to pay many of the laborers for three months where he is confronted by mysterious forces.

Nicole Sougou is fantastic as Ada’s best friend Dior as a young who runs a beachside bar where many of their friends hang out at as she would make a discovery late in the film as it relates to these mysterious events. Ibrahima Traore is excellent as Souleiman as Ada’s lover who is upset over not being paid for three months as he wants to create a good life for Ada forcing him to make a migration towards Spain where he returns through mysterious circumstances. Amadou Mbow is brilliant as the police inspector Issa as a man who is tasked with investigating the mysterious incidents where he would interrogate Ada believing she knows something until he makes a discovery of his own into the reasons why he gets sick during the evening. Finally, there’s Mame Bineta Sana in an incredible performance as Ada as a young woman who is engaged to be married to another man via an arrangement as she deals with not just a tragic event but also strange things happening around her as it relates to Souleiman as it is this radiant and touching performance from Sana.

Atlantique is an outstanding film from Mati Diop. Featuring a great ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, an entrancing and chilling story, and an intoxicating music score by Fatima Al Qadiri. It is a film that isn’t just this riveting drama set in a world that is trying to catch up with the rest of the world but also an exploration of a young woman dealing with loss and events that play into her own identity and desires. In the end, Atlantique is a magnificent film from Mati Diop.

© thevoid99 2023

Saturday, May 27, 2023

2023 Blind Spot Series: La Haine


(Winner of the Best Director Prize at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival)
Written, directed, and co-edited by Mathieu Kassovitz, La Haine (Hatred) is the story of three different men in a Parisian suburb who spend an entire day waiting for news about a friend of theirs following a riot as they cope with their surroundings and differences. The film is a study of three men who deal with the assault of their friend as they cope with their own poor existence as they’re all from immigrant families as it play into the fallacies of France’s idea of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Starring Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde, Said Taghmaoui, Karim Belkhadra, Edouard Montoute, and Francois Levantal. La Haine is a gripping and evocative film from Mathieu Kassovitz.

Following the aftermath of a riot in a nearby suburban area of Paris, the film follows a day in the life of three young men who walk around their poor town and eventually into Paris as they await news about a friend of theirs who had been beaten severely by a police officer leading to all sorts of chaos. It is a film that explores three men living in these poor suburbs with one of them wanting revenge while the other two ponder on what to do as it all plays into this air of uncertainty in their lives. Mathieu Kassovitz’s screenplay is largely straightforward as it is told in the span of nearly 20 hours in the lives of these three young men who are all from different backgrounds and such yet they’re all born in France. The Jewish Vinz (Vincent Cassel), the Afro-French Hubert (Hubert Kounde), and the North African Muslim Said (Said Taghmaoui) are all from the same poor area with immigrant families as they ponder the status of their friend Abdel (Abdel Ahmed Ghili) with Vinz wanting revenge on the police as he had found a .44 Magnum revolver that a cop had lost during the riot.

Throughout the course of the film, these three men deal with the surroundings they’re in as they get into clashes with cops, gangs, and such while Vinz carrying a gun doesn’t help matters as Hubert is dealing with the fact that his gym had been burned in the riots halting his growing boxing career as Said is often in the middle being the mediator between the two. Even in the film’s second half where they go to Paris to hide from the police following another raid as they deal with this clash of social classes including a stop at an art gallery. It adds to the chaos with Vinz wanting revenge towards the police while Hubert doesn’t believe all cops are bad despite a moment later in the film where he and Said are humiliated by plainclothes cops during an interrogation.

Kassovitz’s direction does have elements of style in its overall presentation as it is shot on black-and-white film stock and on location in Paris and the suburban area of Chanteloup-les-Vignes. It adds to this sense of realism to the film but also this atmosphere where it is tense as the film opens with a montage of news reports of riots in France as it relates to the poor and their battles with the police. It then shifts to Said as he walks around the neighborhood where Kassovitz uses a lot of wide and medium shots to play into the locations including some unique compositions that play into the sense of alienation that the protagonists. There are also some close-ups that Kassovitz creates as it play into the sense of fear and anger that these characters go into including some of the confrontations such as the scene where the three men try to visit Abdel only to be stopped by the police where Vinz makes some threats with Hubert trying to defuse things and Said trying to sneak into the room.

Kassovitz also plays into this air of social differences as it plays into this fallacies of France’s own ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity as these three men are shackled by their environments while they live in a world where they don’t have much and are often hounded by the police. There are also moments of violence whether through beatings and other physical confrontations yet there is also this element of danger due to the gun that Vinz is carrying. Even in its third act where they try to return home and leave Paris while they get into a confrontation with a gang as it reveal some revelations about these three men and who they are. It also plays into the idea of hate as it is the thing that drives these men whether it is towards the police, society, or racist gangs as it adds to this sense of disenfranchise that they feel as well as a lack of future around them. Overall, Kassovitz crafts an exhilarating and visceral about three young men dealing with the fate of their friend while spending 20 hours trying to deal with the world they’re in.

Cinematographer Pierre Aim does phenomenal work with the film’s black-and-white photography with its approach to grainy film stock as well as its usage of available and artificial lighting for some of the film’s interiors along with some of the interior/exterior scenes at night. Editors Mathieu Kassovitz and Scott Stevenson do excellent work with the editing as their usage of jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts to play into the action and drama add to the eerie tone of the film. Art director Giuseppe Ponturo does brilliant work with the look of the apartment homes of Vinz and Hubert as well as the gym that the latter trained in after it had been burned down as well as other places they go to. Costume designer Virginie Montel does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely casual with many of the people in the suburbs wearing track suits, jeans, and t-shirts to play into the world they come from.

The makeup work of Sophie Benaiche does terrific work with the look of the characters in terms of the blood and bruises that appears following some of the film’s violent moments. The sound work of Vincent Tulli and Dominique Dalmasso do amazing work with the way objects sound as well as gunfire, police sirens, and other elements that play into the tense atmosphere of the film. The film’s music by the French hardcore hip-hop group Assassin is incredible for its intense and vibrant sound that help plays into the atmosphere of the film while its soundtrack features music from Bob Marley & the Wailers, Roger Troutman with Zapp, Isaac Hayes, Expression Direkt, Solo, the Beastie Boys, and Cut Killer who appears in the film playing music in a key scene of the film.

The casting by Jean-Claude Flamand-Barny is wonderful as it largely features non-actors and newcomers including some notable small roles from the trio of Zinedine Soualem, Bernie Bonvoisin, and Cyril Ancelin as a trio of plainclothes police officers who humiliate Hubert and Said during an interrogation, Mathieu Kassovitz as a young skinhead, Marc Duret as a police investigator wearing a Notre Dame jacket, Tadek Lokcinski as an old man in a bathroom who tells the three young men a story about his life that makes them think, Julie Mauduech and Karin Viard as a couple of women at an art gallery, Nabil Ben Nhamed as a young boy who tells the three men a story he watched on TV, Felicite Wouassi and Fatou Thioune in their respective roles as Hubert’s mother and sister, Rywka Wajsbrot and Olga Abrego in their respective roles as Vinz’s grandmother and aunt, Heloise Ruth as Vinz’s sister Sarah, Mathilde Vitry as a journalist trying to talk to the three men about the riots, Vincent Lindon as a drunk man who helps the three in trying to steal a car, and Abdel Ahmed Ghili as Abdel as the young man who is in a coma following a horrific beating.

Francois Levantal is superb as a man named Asterix who lives in a posh area as he owes money to Said where he is a man full of trouble as he tries to get the men to play Russian roulette that would make them uncomfortable. Edouard Montoute is excellent as Darty as a friend of the trio who invites them to a kickboxing fight that Vinz would watch as he also someone that proves to be violent. Karim Belkhardra is fantastic as Samir as a police detective who tries to help Hubert and Vinz following a confrontation at the hospital despite all of the chaos that is happening.

Finally, there’s the trio of Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde, and Said Taghmaoui in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Vinz, Hubert, and Said. Taghmaoui’s performance is full of humor but also someone who feels like he doesn’t get enough credit as he tries to get some money and respect while is also the one who has to mediate between Hubert and Vinz. Kounde’s performance as Hubert is entrancing as this man who is sensitive and rational but is also intense as Hubert is a boxer that has issues with the rioters over burning his gym. Cassel’s performance as Vinz is the most intense as this Jewish man who is upset over Abdel and wants revenge where he is someone that wants to be tough and bad but also naïve in thinking that carrying a gun can give him power.

La Haine is a tremendous film from Mathieu Kassovitz that features a trio of great performances from Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde, and Said Taghmaoui. Along with its riveting visuals, intense presentation, exploration of social disenfranchisement, and its killer music soundtrack. It is a film that is definitely confrontational about the idea of what breed hates and why the ideals of what France is about is full of contradictions and lies. In the end, La Haine is an outstanding film from Mathieu Kassovitz.

Mathieu Kassovitz Films: (Metisse/Café au lait) – (Assassin(s)) – (The Crimson Rivers) – (Gothika) – (Babylon A.D.) – (Rebellion (2011 film))

© thevoid99 2023

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

2023 Cannes Marathon: Gimme Danger


(Played at the Midnight Screenings Section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival)
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Gimme Danger is a documentary film about the career of the influential proto-punk band the Stooges whose three albums from 1969 to 1973 were widely considered to be the blueprint for punk rock. The film chronicles the band’s rise and fall and reunion in the early 2000s following the success of vocalist Iggy Pop’s solo career as it explore the many hardships the band endured despite the attention it got in the underground as well as artists such as David Bowie and Lou Reed. The result is an exhilarating and evocative film from Jim Jarmusch.

Coming out of the rock n’ roll music scene in Detroit that would launch such acts as the Amboy Dukes featuring Ted Nugent and the widely influential proto-punk band the MC5 are the Stooges. Consisting of vocalist James Osterberg aka Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton, drummer Scott Asheton, and bassist Dave Alexander that would later include saxophonist Steve Mackay and guitarist James Williamson. The Stooges from 1969 to 1973 would release three studio albums that many believe helped laid the blueprint and foundation for what would become punk rock in the late 1970s. Like other legendary proto-punk bands such as the MC5 and the Velvet Underground before them as well as the New York Dolls. The Stooges weren’t commercially successful as the group disbanded in 1973 in a haze of drugs and destruction months after the release of their third album Raw Power.

Shot largely in the 2010s before the passing of drummer Scott Asheton in 2014 and saxophonist Steve Mackay in 2015 as they’re both interviewed in the film along with archival interviews from Ron Asheton in the 1980s and 2000s before his own passing in 2009. The film showcases the band’s struggle to get some mainstream success despite being in not just this vibrant music scene in Detroit that wasn’t Motown but also a growing avant-garde music scene in Ann Arbor, Michigan that featured the likes of John Cage. The most prominent talking voice in the film is Iggy Pop as there are scenes with him and Scott Asheton having conversations about their time in the band with Pop and Asheton along with the latter’s younger sister Kathy talking about their early lives. Pop also goes into detail about what makes the Stooges’ music unique where they weren’t just influenced by their environment but also a lot of the underground music that was coming out as well as jazz as the band loved John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

Despite their limitations as musicians, the Stooges were able to come up with ideas that allowed them to grow musically with Pop doing a lot to establish not just what the Ashetons brought to the band but also bassist Dave Alexander who was mastermind for one of the band’s key songs from their 1969 debut album We Will Fall with producer John Cale on viola. Pop also talked about why Alexander was fired from the band in late 1970 as it wasn’t an easy decision with Scott talking about Alexander’s final years that lead to his death in 1975 due to complications relating to alcoholism. Several bass players would come in from 1970 and 1971 with James Williamson joining the group as a second guitarist where a lot of inactivity and being dropped by Elektra Records after two albums lead to a hiatus for the band despite manager Danny Fields’ efforts to help the band find a new label as he is also interviewed in the film. Fields’ loyalty would get Pop to meet David Bowie and his then-manager Tony DeFries where Pop revealed the deal he made with the latter as he described the contract he sign is similar to the one that TLC signed 2 decades later where they have sold 10 million copies of an album and declare bankruptcy.

Though Bowie would use whatever time he had in helping the Stooges in doing additional re-mixing of their 1973 album Raw Power, it wasn’t enough where Pop revealed a lot of sabotaging from DeFries is what stalled the album as well as not having the band do a lot of shows during that time. The film opens with the final months of the Stooges who were playing gigs to an audience that were either hostile or indifferent towards them with Pop, Williamson, and Scott Asheton all reflecting on how these events led to the band’s dissolution. For Jim Jarmusch to open with that story helps set the tone for the chaos on the story of the Stooges as well as little tidbits on Pop’s solo career that was successful which included a rare top 40 hit in the early 90s with Candy featuring Kate Pierson of the B-52s.

It was in the late 1990s when Mike Watt of the Minutemen and fIREHOSE who worked with Ron Asheton in creating music for the 1998 Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine for Ewan McGregor’s Curt Wild character is when Ron became interested in playing Stooges music again with J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. that lead to Scott joining in the project with Mascis and Watt. That eventually led to the Stooges’ reunion in the early 2000s with Watt playing bass for the band where the band played massive festivals including Coachella as it not only gave the band a lot of attention but also money that kept the Asheton brothers from returning to steady jobs while James Williamson was a record producer for a time and eventually an executive for Sony until he returned to the Stooges in 2010 to replace Ron Asheton.

Jarmusch’s direction is largely straightforward as many of the interviews he shot with cinematographer Tom Krueger have Pop, Scott and Kathy Asheton, Steve Mackey, James Williamson, and Danny Fields in unique settings with Pop and Scott having their conversation at Pop’s home. Even as Jarmusch brought in animator James Kerr to create some animated sequences in some of the stories including a phone conversation between Ron Asheton and Moe Howard of the Three Stooges where the latter told him “as long as you don’t fucking call yourself the Three Stooges”. There is also some visual effects work from Chris King that help play into the animation including a scene where Pop is talking and the film gets fuzzy like the old TVs back then. Much of the work that Jarmusch does comes from archival footage thanks in part to the work of editors Affonso Goncalves and Adam Kurnitz who help cultivate as much archival footage from the band in the early 70s as well as rare footage of the Ashetons’ lives following the Stooges’ dissolution including interviews with Ron in the 80s through early 2000s.

Sound designer Robert Hein does superb work in not just capturing many of the audio archives but also some of the interviews and the way the music is presented as much of its music soundtrack features not just music from the Stooges but also other artists including some such as the Sex Pistols, the Damned, the Dictators, Sonic Youth, and David Bowie covering Stooges songs. It shows exactly the vast influence the group had as they were inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 though it was a bittersweet moment considering that it happened a year after Ron Asheton’s passing.

Gimme Danger is a tremendous film from Jim Jarmusch. Not only is it a great documentary about one of the most dangerous acts in popular music but also one of the most influential in terms of their raw approach to rock music. Especially for a band that didn’t get their due during their prime but eventually would receive a lot more in the 21st Century while Iggy Pop continues to have an illustrious solo career. In the end, Gimme Danger is a sensational film from Jim Jarmusch.

Jim Jarmusch Films: Permanent Vacation - Stranger Than Paradise - Down by Law - Mystery Train - Night on Earth - Dead Man - Year of the Horse - Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai - Coffee and Cigarettes - Broken Flowers - The Limits of Control - Only Lovers Left Alive - Paterson - (The Dead Don’t Die) - The Auteurs #23: Jim Jarmusch

© thevoid99 2023

Monday, May 15, 2023

2023 Cannes Marathon: Orchestra Rehearsal


(Played Out of Competition at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival)
Directed by Federico Fellini and screenplay by Fellini and Brunello Rondi from a story by Fellini, Prova d’orchestra (Orchestra Rehearsal) is the story of an orchestra being filmed for a documentary as they deal with their conductor leading to a strike but also chaos within the orchestra about what to do. The film serves as a political commentary towards some of the political turmoil that was happening in the late 1970s as it is told in a documentary style set inside a dilapidated 13th Century church that is to be demolish. Starring Balduin Bass, Clara Colosimo, Elizabeth Labi, Ferdinando Villela, Franco Javarone, David Mauhsell, Francesco Aluigi, and Andy Miller. Prova d’orchestra is a riveting and fascinating film from Federico Fellini.

Set in 13th Century church that is in ruins, the film revolves around an orchestra rehearsing for an upcoming performance as they’re being filmed by a documentary crew as they deal with each other and their tyrannical composer who demands perfection from them. It is a film with a simple premise as it is told in the span of a day as screenwriters Federico Fellini and Brunello Rondi explore this orchestra getting ready for a performance though the rehearsal space they’re using is in a decayed state as well as growing tension among the orchestra. Leading the whole thing is the conductor (Balduin Bass) who is demanding perfection which becomes much for some of the people in the orchestra as many of them talk to the camera crew as they talk about their roles in the orchestra. A union organizer (Claudio Ciocca) is watching over things as he is aware of the tension among the orchestra going into different factions relating to age, social classes, and leftist ideals.

Fellini’s direction is largely intimate as it is shot at the Cinecetta Studios in Rome where there’s very few sets with much of it being in this dilapidated church from the 13th Century that has cracks and mold. While there are some wide shots including some moments in the film’s finale, much of Fellini’s direction emphasizes on close-ups and medium shots as well as lot of dolly-tracking shot that pans around the area where the orchestra is rehearsing. Fellini opens with an empty room in the church as an elderly copyist (Umberto Zuanelli) places music sheets for all of the musicians to read while a few of them arrive with one of them holding a radio listening to a soccer game. The first half of the film is about the members of the orchestra being interviewed individually including a young piano player (Elizabeth Labi), an oboe player (Andy Miller), and many others as they deal with their conductor who likes to have the music be presented a certain way.

Fellini does play into these factions among the orchestra where many of its younger members have leftist ideals with elements of socialism and communism while the older ones prefer to just play with some not happy with the conductor whom they see as this conservative figure that is tyrannical though he is far from this conservative figure when he’s alone in his room and talking to the camera. Still, he endures this sense of chaos that is going on in the church while there is a lot of things happening outside of the church as if it is being destroyed as it does serve as this metaphor for the problems of late 1970s Italian politics. Though Fellini doesn’t make things clear on where he stands nor does he explain where some of the individuals are coming from politically. He does say something about its many fallacies where the film’s ending is about the need for everyone to come together on one thing no matter their differences. Overall, Fellini creates a compelling and engaging film about an orchestra rehearsal going into turmoil.

Cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on low-key lighting as the film is shot largely in interior settings along with the usage of candle lights and lights in the latter for some scenes involving the documentary crew. Editor Ruggero Mastroianni does excellent work with the editing as it plays into some of the chaotic elements of the film with its jump cuts along with some stylish cuts to play into the rhythm of the music. Production designer Dante Ferretti and set decorator Bruno Cesari do incredible work with the look of the interior of the church hall in its decayed state where it looks like it is from the 13th Century with its cracks and mold as well as the hallway and a bar that the characters go to during a break. Costume designer Gabriella Pescucci does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely casual with everyone wearing something of style with the older people wearing suits and the younger people wearing more stylish clothes of the time.

The special effects work of Adriano Pischiutta is terrific for a few scenes relating to sounds outside of the church including a big moment in the film’s climax. Sound effects editor Fernando Caso does superb work in creating sound effects for many of the scenes outside of the church as well as sparse sounds inside the church. The film’s music by Nino Rota is phenomenal as it is not just a major highlight of the film but a key proponent that helps drive the film with its orchestral flourishes and arrangements that features suites and pieces with strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussions all playing their part as it is one of Rota’s great scores in one of the final contributions he created before his death in 1979.

The film’s ensemble cast is wonderful as it features some notable small roles and appearances from the quintet of Heinz Krueger, Angelica Hansen, Luigi Uzzo, Francesco Aluigi, and David Maunsell as violinists, Filippo Trincaia as the orchestra head who is trying to get everyone in place, Daniele Pagani as the trombone player, Franco Mazzeri as a trumpet player who is the victim of a prank, Claudio Ciocca as a union organizer trying to help the musicians with whatever they’re dealing with, Andy Miller as the oboe player who expresses his love for the oboe, Ronaldo Bonacchi as the bassoon player, Franco Ivarone as the bass tuba player who believes the tuba is an important part of the orchestra, and Ferdinando Villella as an old cello player.

Umberto Zuanelli is terrific as an elderly copyist who is trying to write down notes for the conductor as well as assist him any way he can while Sibyl Amarilli Mostert is fantastic as a flute player who is promiscuous but also spouting a lot of feminist and leftist views. Elizabeth Labi is excellent as a young pianist who is eager to be interviewed as she feels like she is important to the orchestra while Clara Colosimo is brilliant as a veteran harp player who feels underappreciated by the other musicians as she believes the harp carries something special. Finally, there’s Balduin Bass in an amazing performance as the conductor as a man who is a perfectionist as he wants everything to not just be right but also in its feel as he is filled with frustrations as well as bearing the responsibility in being someone who wants to present the music to the people in the way he feels.

Prova d’orchestra is a marvelous film from Federico Fellini. While it is a film that has a short running time of 72 minutes and doesn’t do enough to explore many of the political allegories in the film. It is still a film that carries gorgeous visuals, amazing performances from its ensemble, and a tremendous music score by Nino Rota in his final collaboration with Fellini as the film was released in Italy months before Rota’s death in early 1979. In the end, Prova d’orchestra is a remarkable film from Federico Fellini.

Federico Fellini Films: (Variety Lights) – The White Sheik - (L’amore in Citta-Un’agenzia martimoniale) – I Vitelloni - La Strada - Il Bidone - Nights of Cabiria - La Dolce Vita - (Boccaccio ’70-Le tentazoni del Dottor Antonio) – 8 & 1/2 - Juliet of the Spirits - Spirits of the Dead-Toby Dammit - (Fellini: A Director’s Notebook) – Fellini Satyricon - (I Clowns) – Roma - Amarcord - Casanova (1976 film) - City of Women - And The Ship Sails On - Ginger & Fred - (Intervista) – (The Voice of the Moon)

© thevoid99 2023

Thursday, May 11, 2023

2023 Cannes Marathon: Dumbo


(Co-Winner of the Palme d’Or & for Best Animation Design at the 1947 Cannes Film Festival)
Directed by Ben Sharpsteen and screenplay by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer from a children’s story by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl with illustrations by Helen Durney, Dumbo is the story of a baby elephant who is ridiculed for his large ears at the circus while mother is caged following an angry outburst. The fourth film from Walt Disney Animation Studios showcases a young elephant trying to fit in at the circus where his mother and other elephants perform while he gains an ally in a tiny mouse. Featuring the voices of Edward Brophy, Verna Felton, Cliff Edwards, Herman Bing, Sterling Holloway, Margaret Wright, the Hall Johnson Choir, and narration by John McLeish. Dumbo is a majestic and adventurous film from Ben Sharpsteen and producer Walt Disney.

The film revolves around a young baby elephant with large ears as he is ridiculed by many until a mouse tries to help him as they make a major discovery that would put the titular character to the top of the circus. It is a film with a simple premise as it plays into the journey this young baby elephant would take as he would watch his mother be caged in an act of rage after a bunch of mean kids make fun of his ears. The film’s screenplay by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer is largely straightforward as it begins with circus animals receiving their newborns from storks with one of them (Sterling Holloway) carrying the titular baby to Mrs. Jumbo who is part of a herd of elephant circus performers who are eager to see this new baby but are appalled by his large ears. Following an incident that left Mrs. Jumbo enraged and later locked into a cage away from the other elephants, Timothy Q. Mouse (Edward Brophy) would be Dumbo’s only other ally after another incident in which he had been shunned by the other elephants and become part of an act involving clowns that proves to be humiliating.

Ben Sharpsteen’s direction is full of gorgeous imagery thanks in part to the contributions of Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney, and Samuel Armstrong who would each direct some sequences for the film including some musical numbers. Along with the work of art directors Don DaGrasi, Dick Kelsey, Ernie Nordli, Kendall O’Connor, Charles Payzant, Herbert Rayman, Terrell Stapp, and Al Zinnen, with additional un-credited work by Ken Anderson, Robert Cormack, Hugh Hennesy, John Hubley, and Lance Nolley, Sharpsteen and the team would bring a lot of nuances to the characters including the creation of Dumbo, Mrs. Jumbo, Timothy, and many others as well as the environment they’re in. Yet, there are elements in the film such as an animated sequence in which a large number of African-American laborers are shown building the circus tent while many of the people who are at the circus are mainly white along with the performers and its greedy yet unimaginative ringmaster (Herman Bing). The presentation of these crows that Dumbo and Timothy meet in the film’s third act seem to suggest that they’re variations of minstrels though they’re actually sympathetic towards Dumbo’s plight as an outcast while being among those who discovers Dumbo’s gift.

Sharpsteen’s direction also has some unique compositions including moments that are heartfelt such as Dumbo’s reunion with his mother to the song Baby Mine that also has glimpses of other animals with their young ones. The pink elephants sequence is the most surreal sequence in film as it plays into Dumbo and Timothy drinking water that was spiked with champagne as they had no idea what they drank as it leads to them experiencing these hallucinations. It would lead into the events into its third act with the climax being the key event that would show a reason for why Dumbo has these large ears. Overall, Sharpsteen crafts a lively and exhilarating about a young elephant with large ears that prove to be something special.

The sound work of George Lowerre, James MacDonald, and Harold J. Steck is terrific for the sound effects that are created for the film as well as the way certain objects sound on some of the musical numbers. The film’s music by Frank Churchill and Oliver Wallace is incredible as the score is filled with some playful circus numbers as well as some somber orchestral pieces with songs that include lyrics by Ned Washington that is a highlight of the film with songs like Baby Mine and When I See an Elephant Fly as the big standouts.

The film’s marvelous ensemble voice cast feature some notable appearances from Billy Blechter as a clown, the trio of Noreen Gammill, Dorothy Scott, and Sarah Selby as elephant performers who say a lot of things, Margaret Wright as the train Casey Junior, Sterling Holloway as Mr. Stork who delivers the newborn Dumbo to Mrs. Jumbo, the quartet known as the Hall Johnson Chorus that consists of Hall Johnson, James Baskett, Nick Stewart, and Jim Carmichael as four of the singing crows, Herman Bing as the ringmaster who is a greedy man that is hoping to make lots of money despite not coming up with any ideas, and Cliff Edwards as the head crow in Dandy Crow who discovers Dumbo on a tree branch. Verna Felton is brilliant in a dual role as a brief voice role as Dumbo’s mother Mrs. Jumbo and in a more prominent role as the head elephant performer Matriarch who is trying to maintain morale among the elephants yet is the one who banishes Dumbo from the herd. Finally, there’s Edward Brophy in an amazing voice performance as Timothy Q. Mouse as a young mouse who dresses like a ringmaster who is one of the few that befriends and cares for Dumbo as he does what he can to help him in every way he can.

Dumbo is a phenomenal film from Ben Sharpsteen and producer Walt Disney as it’s not just one of the great films of Disney Animation Studios but also a film that explores a young elephant finding his worth. Despite a few elements in the film that are badly dated in its presentation of African-Americans, it is still a film that have a lot of positive attributes in this story about an elephant feeling like he doesn’t belong only for his big ears to be something much more special than he realizes. In the end, Dumbo is a sensational film from Ben Sharpsteen and Disney Animation Studios.

© thevoid99 2023

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3


Based on the Marvel Comics series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the third and final film in a trilogy about the gang of misfits who protect the galaxy as they face new enemies who have issues with the gang including a mysterious new foe with a dark past relating to one of its members. Written for the screen and directed by James Gunn, the film explores this gang of misfits as they learn about the origins of one of their own in Rocket Raccoon while they also deal with the return of Gamora who has arrived from an alternate timeline with little memory about her time with the team. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Will Poulter, Elizabeth Debicki, Chukwudi Iwuji, Sylvester Stallone, Nathan Fillion, with the voices of Bradley Cooper, Maria Bakalova, Linda Cardellini, and Vin Diesel as Groot. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is an exhilarating and riveting film from James Gunn.

Set years after events involving Thanos and his eventual defeat and months following their kidnapping of Kevin Bacon, the film revolves around the gang of misfits who have settled into their home as they are attacked by a mysterious figure who gravely injures Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) as it relates to a new foe who has a past with Rocket prompting the team to try and save him while they learn more about Rocket’s past. It is a film that is about these misfits from different galaxies trying to one of their own despite the fact that they’re all dysfunctional with its leader Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) misses Gamora (Zoe Saldana) as a variant of hers from another timeline is around. After this attack by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) who comes from the Sovereign who still holds a grudge on the Guardians that left Rocket near death as the team are unable to operate on him. They go on an adventure to save him where they get help from the Ravagers leader Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) whom Gamora is working for much to Quill’s surprise as she is reluctant to help the team out having no knowledge of the romance she had with Quill.

James Gunn’s screenplay does have this reflective narrative as it relates to Rocket who had been taken as a baby raccoon to be experimented on by this scientist known as the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) who is trying to create the perfect being by experimenting on animals. It is around this time Rocket befriends other creatures in the otter Lylla (Linda Cardellini), the rabbit Floor (Mikaela Hoover) and the walrus Teef (Asim Chaudhry) as they continue to be experimented with Rocket showing high intelligence and aptitude that impresses the High Evolutionary until Rocket learns about what the High Evolutionary is trying to do leading to chaos and tragedy that Rocket would never tell the gang. The narrative moves back and forth from the team trying to save Rocket and his past as they would learn about Rocket’s past during a heist with Gamora to retrieve Rocket’s file as they also learn about the High Evolutionary where they confront him though Gamora remains uninterested with her android sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) trying to persuade her. Even as they learn more about what the High Evolutionary wants to do as there is a lot at stake in not just for the universe but also in those that the High Evolutionary has experimented on.

The script doesn’t just play into the stakes of what the Guardians face but also in themselves as Quill, Nebula, Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) all go through some development as it help provide some humor but also drama as they’re all desperate to save Rocket whom they care about. Gamora’s development is also crucial as she feels out of step with the team since she has no memory of ever being around them except for Nebula due to the fact that another version of her had been killed by Thanos. New members in Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and the telekinetic dog Cosmo (Maria Bakalova) stay at Knowhere as the former tries to master Yondu’s arrow trick as they would encounter the threat from the High Evolutionary where all of them bring the best in them to stop him.

Gunn’s direction is lavish as it opens with baby raccoons in a cage where a large hand retrieves the baby Rocket as it cuts to Rocket playing a song from Quill’s MP3 music player as he walks through Knowhere as Quill is passed out drunk. It is a scene that does feel like the calm before the storm when Rocket is attacked and severely injured by Warlock as it sets the tone for what it to come as it play into a conflict that the Guardians might not win. Shot largely on location at the Trilith Studios in Duluth, GA along with additional shooting in London and parts of Atlanta, Gunn maintains this sense of dread that looms into the film as it play into Rocket’s past where there are a lot of medium shots and close-ups to play into the world the young Rocket is in and his interactions with his friends inside the cage. There are also some wide shots to not just establish some of the places the Guardians go to but also deal with the situations they’re in.

There are moments that are funny as it plays into Gunn’s sensibility in mixing humor and action as well a scene where Quill tries to reach Gamora about what they had only for everyone else to hear the conversation as it is hilariously awkward. Even as Gamora complains about it in another scene as it leads to a hilarious exchange between Quill and Nebula. Still, Gunn does play into the stakes that relates to Rocket as well as what the High Evolutionary wants from him forcing the team to do what they can to protect with Gamora eventually realizing what is going on. The film’s third act has the team discover more of what the High Evolutionary is doing but also his own dark views on the world as it isn’t about perfection but really about getting rid of the things he doesn’t like to create perfection. This forces the Guardians to not only save the universe once again but to stop this madman from destroying everything that makes the galaxy so great. The film’s ending is definitely the end of something but there is an acceptance as it showcases the growth among these individuals who all mean something to each other as they’re more than just a gang. They’re a family. Overall, Gunn crafts a gripping and adventurous film about a gang of misfits trying to protect one of their own from an evil mad scientist.

Cinematographer Henry Braham does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography for the sunny daytime exterior scenes set in a planet known as Counter-Earth where animal creatures live in that is similar to Earth along with the lighting for many of the interior scenes as well as the look of Knowhere. Editors Fred Raskin and Greg D’Auria do excellent work with the editing as it does have some fast-cutting to play into the action while also creating some invisible cuts for a key fight scene in a hallway that is presented as one-entire take in a tracking shot. Production designer Beth Mickle, with set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg plus supervising art directors Alan Hook and David Scott, does amazing work with the look of the Guardians’ new ship in its interiors as well as the buildings on the planet Knowhere as well as the weird lab-like planet of Orgoscope and the High Evolutionary’s pyramid-like spaceship. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does fantastic work with the costumes from the colorful space suits the Guardians wear at Orgoscope as well as the clothes of the High Evolutionary.

Makeup designer Mo Meinert and key hair stylist Linda Traxler do nice work with the look of some of the characters including the High Evolutionary, the human-animal hybrids at Counter-Earth and some of the other aliens that the Guardians encounter. Visual effects supervisors Stephane Ceretti and Susan Pickett, along with senior special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick, do incredible work with the look of some of the alien creatures that the team encounter as well as the design of some of the animals where there is a lot of attention to detail in the way baby Rocket looks in the close-ups as it shows how much soul is put into an animal. Sound designer David Acord does superb work with the sound in the way some of the creatures look as well as objects from the planets and such. The film’s music by John Murphy is wonderful for its mixture of electronics and orchestral elements that play into the suspense and action while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a fun music soundtrack that features songs by Radiohead, Rainbow, Heart, Spacehog, the Flaming Lips, Alice Cooper, Earth, Wind, & Fire, The The, the Beastie Boys, Florence + the Machines, Redbone, the Replacements, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Faith No More, EHAMIC, X, and the Mowgli’s.

The casting by Sarah Halley Finn is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and cameos from Seth Green as the voice of Howard the Duck, Pete Davidson and Lloyd Kaufman as the voices of a couple of the High Evolutionary creatures, Judy Greer as the voice of a War Pig who works for the High Evolutionary, Dee Bradley Baker as the voice of a Ravager pet in the F’saki known as Blurb that Warlock is fascinated by, Molly Quinn as a Ravager working for Ogord, Kai Zen as a child prisoner of the High Evolutionary in Phyla, Michael Rosenbaum as a high-ranking Ravager in Martinex, Tara Strong as the voice of one of Ogord’s old friends in Mainframe, Jennifer Carpenter as a Orgocorp security administrator, Daniela Melchior as a Orgocorp receptionist that Quill flirts with to get a file for Rocket, and Nathan Fillion in a hilarious small role as the Orgocorp security officer in Master Karja who always says funny things. Miriam Shor and Nico Santos are terrific in their respective roles as Recorder Vim and Recorder Theel who both work for the High Evolutionary as the former becomes troubled by her boss’ ideals while the latter is the weaker of the two who would hide something that the Guardians want.

The quartet of Noah Raskin, Linda Cardellini, Mikaela Hoover, and Asim Chaudhry are superb in their respective voice roles as baby Rocket, the otter Lylla, the bunny Floor, and the walrus Teef as animals who have been experimented with mechanical limbs and such whom the young Rocket befriends as they would be like a family to him until he learns about their fates after a successful experiment. Elizabeth Debicki is fantastic as Ayesha as the Sovereign leader who is eager to get revenge on the Guardians while is someone who fears the High Evolutionary as she was created by him. Sylvester Stallone is excellent as Ravagers leader Stakar Ogord who helps the Guardians in planning their heist while warning them about what they will face. The duo of Slate and the voice of Maria Bakalova are brilliant as Cosmo as a telekinetic Soviet dog who is one of the newer members of the Guardians as she stays behind at Knowhere while arguing with Kraglin over being called a bad dog. Sean Gunn is amazing as Kraglin as a former Ravager who is trying to master Yondu’s arrow’s weapon as he spends time arguing with Cosmo and prove his worth.

Will Poulter is incredible as Adam Warlock as a Sovereign creation who is tasked to get Rocket only for things to go wrong as he is a powerful being but has trouble understanding things since he had just come out of his cocoon. Chukwudi Iwuji is great as the High Evolutionary as a mad scientist who wants to create something perfect as he is this chilling figure that brought a lot of trauma towards Rocket and wants Rocket’s brain to complete his experiment as he is also this mad figure with powers that is hell bent on destroying everything that isn’t up to his liking or expectations. The voice of Vin Diesel is awesome as the tree-like humanoid in Groot who proves to be a cunning warrior despite only saying three words as he is also concerned for Rocket whom he sees as a father figure. Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff are phenomenal in their respective roles as Drax the Destroyer and the empathic powerful Mantis as they both provide not just comic relief but also the two who are goofs with the former often saying wrong things and the latter being the straight woman who tries to restrain Drax.

Karen Gillan is remarkable as Nebula as the android-like warrior who is desperate to save Rocket while is also trying to resolve issues with Gamora as they were both raised by Thanos where Gillan also brings some funny moments. Zoe Saldana is tremendous as Gamora as an alien warrior who is now a variant from an alternate timeline that doesn’t have memories of her time with the Guardians as she is someone still trying to find herself while dealing with stories of her romance with Quill. Chris Pratt is marvelous as Peter Quill/Star-Lord who is desperate to save Rocket as well as dealing with seeing Gamora again while is also an idiot who means well while determine to save the universe. Finally, there’s Sean Gunn and the voice of Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon as Cooper is magnificent in bringing the soul of this raccoon who hides a dark past as he is largely seen in flashbacks as someone that is filled with a lot of intelligence but also love for his friends and family.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a spectacular film from James Gunn. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, high stakes in its screenplay, riveting visual effects, and a fun music soundtrack. It is a film that isn’t just full of adventure and fun but it is also a film that is about a family protecting one of their own as it plays into fallacies of perfection from the eyes of a madman. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a tremendous film from James Gunn.

James Gunn Films: (Slither) – (Super (2010 film)) – (Movie 43-Beezel) – The Suicide Squad (2021 film)

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Spider-Man: Far from Home

Multiverse Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Eternals - Spider-Man: No Way Home - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - Thor: Love and Thunder - Werewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Phase Five: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania - The Marvels – (Deadpool 3) - (Captain America: Brave New World)

Phase 6: – (Thunderbolts) – (Blade (2024 film)) - (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)

© thevoid99 2023