Friday, June 30, 2023

Films That I Saw: June 2023


Summer has arrived as does the heat as it’s going to get hotter as the days go by. While it is often the time for people to have a vacation and such yet I’ve been reading a lot of things about this heat that is emerging from El Nino and that is worrying. Yet, this is just one of many things happening around the world as the war between Ukraine and Russia is still ongoing with chaos already looming in Russia as the country has become divided under Vladimir Putin’s reign. Meanwhile here in the U.S., things are still crazy with Ron DeSantis being a fucking moron with Florida being a shithole with El Pendejo making things just as bad. Even as he’s being indicted on serious federal charges and all sorts of shit while his stupid followers do what they can to help them even if it means getting stiffed at a Cuban restaurant in Miami after claiming he will buy them food only for them to pay. What a piece of shit.

With all of this news happening, the big news this month revolved around a mini-sub that imploded in the Atlantic Ocean in the area where the Titanic sank. The idea of being in a mini-sub the size of a mini-van just to go deep towards the bottom of the ocean to see a sunken ship for a quarter of a million dollars is not my idea of adventure. Especially if the sub is controlled by a video game controller with little room and all sorts of shit where safety regulations are ignored. When James Cameron of all people talks about safety and the what-to-dos and what-not-to-dos in the world of engineering. Yeah, the people who run OceanGate are absolutely fucked. For those people who died including a 19-year old kid who didn’t want to go but only went just to be with his dad on Father’s day. This shit never should’ve happened no matter if a waiver was signed. As far as I’m concerned, fuck the waiver as the family of those that are gone shouldn’t just sue but should fucking destroy OceanGate for everything they have.

Plus, all of that stuff Cameron talked about and the amount of work he put into his own subs through the 33 expeditions he did made me respect the man even more. This is someone who gives a shit about safety when it comes to these situations. Yeah, some of the ideas in his films aren’t so great but the man at least gives a shit about wanting to do something great in whatever field he’s in while also trying to go through every detail of what to do and what not to do. That’s why South Park create this great song about him.
In the month of June 2023, I saw a total of 27 films 22 first-timers and 5 re-watches with 15 of those first-timers being films directed or co-directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. One of the highlights of the month has definitely been my Blind Spot Series pick in Polyester. Here is the top 10 first-timers that I saw for June 2023:

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
2. Mangrove
3. Asteroid City
4. De Djess
5. Les Boutons
6. Le Donne della Vucciria
7. That One Day
8. Seed
9. The Door
10. Brigitte
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’m Watching

Billy’s Dad is a Fudge Packer

This short film that serves as a parody of 1950s educational films revolves around a boy trying to understand what his dad does for a living. It is a hilarious short filled with a lot of double entendres as well as all sorts of things. Even as little Billy also wonders about his sister’s social life and the fact that she wants a pearl necklace. Is she really sure? The short features an appearance from Alex Borstein of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel who is a neighbor that seems to take a liking towards Billy’s mother. It’s fucked up in all of the right reasons.

From Disney+ is a documentary that was pulled recently from the service only for a bunch of people to protest it as it returned to the service due to the demand and it is foolish for the people at Disney to pull this documentary from Disney+. Notably as it is this incredible short film about one of the unsung heroes of the Disney Renaissance period in songwriter Howard Ashman as it is told largely through pictures, rare home footage, and audio interviews with those that knew him until his death in April of 1991 months before the premiere of Beauty and the Beast at that year’s New York Film Festival. The film covers his work in plays as well as his life as a gay man though many of the people who worked with him didn’t seem to mind that he was gay as they loved him as the film does make a great case for him as the man who saved Disney from near-irrelevancy during the 1980s through the songs he created for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin as I’m sure he would’ve had a fucking tirade over these remakes.

Ad una Mela

One of three shorts that served as trailers to promote the Vienna Film Festival in different years as the first that I saw is from Alice Rohrwacher. It does play into her own unique idea of surrealism but also with a sense of wonderment as it revolves around a young girl who grabs an apple and goes into some strange adventure of sorts.


Made for the 2019 Vienna Film Festival is this short by Lucrecia Martel as it plays into a pianist talking as he is pixelated except for his right eye as he talks about his work. It is a short told in 2 minutes yet it is effective as it does play into the many fallacies with artificial intelligence.

The Making of “One from the Heart”

With news concerning the sequel to Joker underway with mentions about the film’s look being inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s 1982 musical-romance. It does raise a lot of interest towards the film though a proper Blu-Ray release for Coppola’s film in the U.S. still hasn’t been released. Yet, the DVD that was released in the 2000s had a lot of extras as some of them are currently available on YouTube including this 23-minute making-of documentary that features interviews with Coppola, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, production designer Dean Tavoularis and some of its cast including Frederic Forrest who died this month. It is a fascinating documentary that shows the kind of ambition Coppola was hoping to have for the film as a lot of his ideas were ahead of its time though it would put him in serious debt for more than a decade.


Made for the 2010 Vienna Film Festival, Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a 2-minute short that has a diver going underwater to view caves in the sea. It is a gorgeous short that manages to do a lot in such a small amount of time as fans of Weerasethakul should seek this one out.

Dark Side of the Ring (season 4, episodes 1-5)
The new season from Vice TV (which I don’t have along with many other cable channels as my mother and I are still trying to figure out where to go once we kill the cable) has arrived and it definitely gets dark. Notably as the first five episodes go into some serious subject matters with four of them relating to some serious dark shit as the first is about the relationship between Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch aka Sunny as the latter was a popular woman in the 90s while the former was a talented worker as they were both a couple. Yet, Sytch’s affairs with other wrestlers including Shawn Michaels and their drug use would play to their downfall with Candido eventually cleaning up until an injury in 2005 lead to his death while Sytch has become this trainwreck whose usage of drugs and alcohol eventually lead to her killing someone in 2022 as she is set to go to prison.

The stories on the Graham family in Florida in Eddie Graham and his son Mike who were both stars in Florida Championship Wrestling as they would both kill themselves as would Mike’s son Stephen along with the stories on Matt Bourne who was famous for playing Doink the Clown in 1993 in WWE who was destroyed by his drug abuse. The most recent episode on the Junkyard Dog who would die in 1998 in a car accident after having achieved fame in the 1980s only to succumb to drug abuse and such. Then there’s the second episode of the season on Magnum T.A. as this was about a popular wrestler in the 1980s who the hottest guy outside of WWE at that time and was set to become the face of NWA until a car crash in 1986 left him nearly paralyzed but sadly would end his wrestling career. That episode was also about a lot of what ifs as it played into what would’ve happened had he not been in a car accident and would the NWA under Jim Crockett Promotions would still go on in the 1980s. Three more episodes are coming in July about Adrian Adonis, Abdullah the Butcher, and the Bash at the Beach 2000 incident with August set to air 2 more episodes with one on Bam Bam Bigelow and the highly-anticipated season finale on Marty Jannetty.

Secret Invasion (season 1, episodes 1 & 2)
Two episodes have arrived for this new show from Marvel that appears on Disney+ as it is so far an amazing show as it plays into a growing civil war between different Skrull factions with a rebellion faction wanting to take over Earth after feeling that a promise that Nick Fury, Talos, and Carol Danvers had made years ago was broken. Yet, Talos and Nick Fury are both struggling with this rebellion as the latter is a completely fragile figure who spent the last few years recovering from the Blip as well as the loss of some friends. Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn are solid so far in their respective roles as Fury and Talos while Emilia Clarke and Kingsley Ben-Adir are real standouts in their respective roles as Talos’ daughter G’iah, who is conflicted in her role in the rebellion, and the rebel leader Gravik. Yet, it is Olivia Colman as the MI6 agent Sonya Falsworth that is just a fucking joy to watch as she’s just devilishly fun as this former ally of Fury who is suspicious about the Skrulls. The ending of the first episode is upsetting though it does lead to Fury realizing what he must do as his back is against the wall.

Wrestling Match of the Month: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Will Ospreay for the IWGP United States Championship at AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door – 6/25/23

Having seen their match earlier this year at WrestleKingdom 17, there was no question that a rematch between these two men was going to happen and what better place to do it at Forbidden Door in Toronto for both AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling for the IWGP United States Championship. This time around, Don Callis was in the corner of Will Ospreay in an act of defiance against his former protégé Kenny Omega as that turn was something everyone saw coming. Callis did interfere on Ospreay’s behalf but it did little for Omega to quit as he took everything Ospreay did but Ospreay would win this match. It was the best match of the night on a pay-per-view event that is another solid win for the company that also featured an incredible main event between Bryan Danielson and Kazuchika Okada that Danielson won despite breaking his arm 10 minutes into the match.

Top 5 Re-Watches

1. Rocco and His Brothers
2. Beauty and the Beast
3. Tangled
4. Cars 3
5. Presto
Before I close this piece. I want to reveal some news as it relates to my Lit20 project which I am going to suspend the project for five years for a lot of reasons. Among them is technical as I wanted to have something visual in terms of backgrounds and such as well as the font from the film. There’s also the fact that I was hoping there would be a 4K Blu-Ray release this year to emerge but that’s not going to happen right now as I’m stuck with the $10 Blu-Ray I bought late last year. Another factor is timing as well as the fact that the essay I was writing about why I love this film didn’t meet my own standards as I’d rather push it to another five years to do other things and hopefully learn some work on creating something that would be in the standard of the visuals of that film. So it’s likely I’ll try and create a list relating to the 20th anniversary of Lost in Translation and then work on something that I feel would play into the film’s greatness.

That is all for June 2023 as I will finish the Women’s Tales series next month as well as the Small Axe film series as well. As far as theatrical releases are concerned, Barbie is the most likely candidate unless I also get time and money to watch Oppenheimer but there is something far more important coming to theaters in July which is a special 50th Anniversary screening of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars as I plan on writing a review on this version of the film that features restored footage of Jeff Beck’s special appearance that was cut from the original film. Along with whatever films I can have the time to watch, my Blind Spot pick for July will be the Marlon Brando western One-Eyed Jacks. Before I bid adieu, I’d like to express my condolences to those that have passed away including the people at that tiny sub, Darren “Droz” Drozdov, Julian Sands, bluegrass musician Bobby Osborne, Nicolas Coster, Frederic Forrest, Megadeth drummer Lee Rauch, Teresa Taylor, Paxton Whitehead, Glenda Jackson, Urge Overkill drummer Blackie Onassis, the famed novelist Cormac McCarthy, Treat Williams, Margit Carstensen, songwriter Cynthia Weill, and announced earlier today is Alan Arkin. Finally, there’s Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri who is probably known many as the Iron Sheik. One of the greatest figures in professional wrestling but also one of the funniest and I will not allow any slander of this man or else he’ll put camel clutch on you and make you humble. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off and I will miss you Sheiky baby. And yes, fuck Cunt Hogan!

© thevoid99 2023

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Asteroid City


Written and directed by Wes Anderson from a story by Anderson and Roman Coppola, Asteroid City is the story of a convention set in a fictional desert town where the event is being disrupted by events that would change the world. Set in the 1950s, the film is an exploration where a group people attending this event for kids with parents attending as they deal with what might be happening. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan, Sophia Lillis, Grace Edwards, and Jeff Goldblum. Asteroid City is a whimsical yet exhilarating film from Wes Anderson.

Set in a desert town near the California-Nevada border in the 1950s, the film revolves around a group of people attending a three-day convention for Junior Stargazers where five of its cadets are to receive awards as well as a special scholarship when an alien arrives and everything goes wrong. It is a film that explores a group of people that includes a grieving photographer with a family of four, his cantankerous father-in-law, a film star with her daughter, a school teacher with a group of young students, parents with their kids attending the event, and a singing cowboy as they all are part of this convention held by a war general and an astronomer. Yet, the story is essentially being told by a TV host (Bryan Cranston) who reveals that the story is being created a troubled playwright who goes through many difficulties in creating the play with a womanizing play director and other actors.

Wes Anderson’s screenplay that is based on a story he created with Roman Coppola as it explores a man trying to create this story of loss and uncertainty in a desert town where its visitors end up staying in due to their encounter with the alien as it serves as an allegory of the events of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019-2021. The story is interspersed with playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton) trying to create his play as he has issues with some of his actors while dealing with its director Schubert Green (Adrien Brody) who is going through his own issues. The script plays into Earp’s trying to stage this play and find meaning while the story within the story showcase many characters not only deal with being in quarantine by the government following their encounter with the alien with the war photographer Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) dealing with grief over the death of his wife but also in trying to tell his kids about it as he finds companionship in the film star Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson) who is also going through her own issues as well as continuously playing troubled and abused women when her gift is comedy.

Anderson’s direction definitely bears a lot of the visual styles he’s known for with his unique approach to tracking shots, camera movements, striking compositions, and other things that he’s known for. Yet, there is also this theatrical element he brings to play into this idea of theater as it plays into the Earp storyline as it also include some unique camera angles as many of those scenes are shot in black-and-white and in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio while much of the film is shot in color in a 2:39:1 aspect ratio. Shot on location in Spain with the town of Chinchon being its nearby location, Anderson creates a world that is quite offbeat where the locations are reminiscent of the American westerns by John Ford yet they’re infused with bits of sci-fi as it play into the inventions the five young kids have created as well as the encounter with the alien as some of the visual effects are a combination of stop-motion animation, miniatures, and other practical effects including a roadrunner that Steenbeck’s three daughters keep meeting.

For a film that blends a lot of genres, Anderson was able to balance it while maintaining a sense of humor where he also manages to make fun of his own visual style in his approach to wide and medium shots. Even in the tight close-ups he’s created that play into some of the emotional moments of the characters as well as medium shots in the way Anderson captures conversations between Steenbeck and Campbell in their respective homes. Anderson would also maintain a different approach in his direction that is looser for the scenes involving Earp and his world as it has this sense of theatricality in the way scenes are presented as well as the usage of wide shots as it all plays into Earp trying to find meaning in his story and what he wanted to say despite frustrating his actors in the project. Especially as the ending plays into Steenbeck’s journey through loss and his own issues where realizes what he must do for his family. In the end, Anderson crafts an intoxicating and riveting film about a troubled playwright who creates a story about a Junior Stargazers convention being disrupted by a visiting alien.

Cinematographer Robert Yeoman does incredible work with the black-and-white look of the Earp scenes that has some unique lighting approaches to the rooms while the scenes on the city are shown with vibrant colors to play into the look of the 1950s. Editor Barney Pilling, with additional editing by Andrew Weisblum, does brilliant work with the editing as it has elements of style as it play into the film’s comedic tone with some rhythmic cuts but also with some cuts that add to the drama and suspense without deviating into conventional methods like fast-cuts. Production designer Adam Stockhausen with supervising art director Stephane Cressend plus set decorators Kris Moran, Sonia Nolla, and Gabriel Picola, does amazing work with the look of the city with its houses, its diner, the science observatory, other buildings and a partially-built highway ramp that remains unfinished along with the look of Earp’s home and the stage sets around him. Costume designer Milena Canonero does excellent work with the costumes in the stylish clothes many of the people at Asteroid City wear that are colorful to the more refined look for the scenes from Earp’s perspective.

Hair/makeup designer Julie Dartnell does fantastic work with the look of Midge in her black hairdo as well as Steenbeck’s beard and other facial props that he wears as his acting persona. Special effects supervisor Pau Costa and special effects designer Carlos Laguna, along with visual effects supervisor Tim Ledbury, do terrific work with the visual effects in the design of the alien and the little road runner that has this element of stop-motion animation, practical effects, and miniatures as it is a highlight of the film. Sound editors Wayne Lemmer and Christopher Scarabosio do superb work with the sound in some of the sound effects created for the scenes at Asteroid City as well as the sounds of atomic bomb sites far from the city as well as the sparse sounds in the Earp scenes.

The film’s music by Alexandre Desplat is phenomenal for its melodic-based orchestral score that has this element of sci-fi and drama with its rich string arrangements, piano riffs, woodwinds, and other instrumentation that adds to the film’s charm. Music supervisor Randall Poster creates a fun soundtrack that largely consists of country/western music from the 1950s with music from Johnny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys, Slim Whitman, Les Baxter, Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys, Tex Ritter, Bill Monroe, Burl Ives, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Eddy Arnold, Bing Crosby, Les Paul and Mary Ford, The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group with Nancy Whiskey, a classical piece from Johann Pachelbel, and a couple of original songs from Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley as the soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal.

The casting by Douglas Aibel is tremendous as it is a large ensemble that includes appearances from Rita Wilson as the mother of one of the Junior Stargazer’s friends, Seu Jorge and Jarvis Cocker as a couple of cowboy musicians, Bob Balaban as an executive for a corporation, Fisher Stevens as a detective investigating the alien encounter, the trio of Ella Faris, Grace Faris, and Willan Farris as Steenbeck’s daughters, and Tony Revolori as General Gibson’s aide-de-camp for the scenes set in Asteroid City. Other notable small roles for the scenes set in the stage and rehearsals include Hong Chau as Schubert’s estranged wife Polly Green who is divorcing him, Willem Dafoe as the revered acting teacher Saltzburg Keitel who holds a seminar with Earp and Schubert, Jeff Goldblum as an actor playing the alien for the play, and Margot Robbie in a small yet crucial dual role as the picture of Steenbeck’s late wife and the actress who was supposed to play her as she appears late in the film in a memorable scene.

The quintet of Aristou Meehan, Ethan Josh Lee, Sophia Lillis, Grace Edwards, and Jake Ryan are superb in their respective roles as the Junior Stargazer awardees in Clifford Kellogg, Ricky Cho, Shelly Borden, Dinah Campbell, and Woodrow Steenbeck as the young kids who all invent something with Kellogg is eager to do dares to the annoyance of his father while Cho is a young kid who has issues with the authority following their encounter with the alien. Lillis’ performance as Borden showcases a young girl who has humor but is also someone that wants to unify everyone while Edwards’ performance as Campbell is more subdued as someone who copes in being in her mother’s shadow though she knows her mother cares about her. Ryan’s performance as Steenbeck and as an understudy in the Earp sequences who tries to get an actress back in the show, is terrific in showcasing a young man coping with loss but also the encounter with the alien where he deals with a lot of questions while has fallen for Dinah.

Hope Davis, Liev Schreiber, and Stephen Park are fantastic in their respective roles as Sandy Borden, J.J. Kellogg, and Roger Cho as the parents who deal with not just being quarantined in the town as well as raising genius kids while Steve Carell is excellent as the motel manager of Asteroid City who finds ways to make some money as well as hoping to sell land for anyone that is interested. Rupert Friend and Maya Hawke are brilliant in their respective roles as the singing cowboy Montana and the schoolteacher June Douglas as two people who become interested in one another while they both play actors in the Earp sequences where the former sports a British accent. Tilda Swinton, Matt Dillon, and Jeffrey Wright are amazing in their respective roles as the scientist Dr. Hickenlooper, the mechanic, and General Grif Gibson with Swinton being a scientist trying to make sense of things while she finds hope in Steenbeck and the Junior Stargazers.

Dillon’s performance as the mechanic is low-key yet memorable as someone who does what he can to fix things but also make art through cars while Wright’s performance as General Gibson is restrained as someone that is trying to maintain order despite the chaos he’s dealing with. The trio of Bryan Cranston, Adrien Brody, and Edward Norton are incredible in their respective roles as the TV announcer, play director Schubert Green, and the playwright Conrad Earp with Cranston being this humorous TV announcer who sort of serves as the film’s narrator while Brody brings a lot of charisma as Green as this director trying to make sense of the play while dealing with his own personal issues. Norton’s performance as Earp is a real standout as someone who is trying to create a great play while also having issues with actors and others over its content as he also deals with his own reputation.

Finally, there’s the trio of Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman, and Scarlett Johansson in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Augie’s father-in-law Stanley Zak, the widowed war photographer Augie Steenbeck/actor Jones Hall, and the film star Midge Campbell/actress Mercedes Ford. Hanks brings a lot of wit to his character as a man who hates Augie as well as dealing with loss and being quarantined in Asteroid City. Schwartzman’s performance as Augie is restrained in showcasing a man coping with loss while his performance as the actor Hall shows a man who is frustrated with Earp’s writing as well as trying to figure out what his character needs to do. Johansson’s performance as Campbell as this movie star who often plays abused women where she often wears makeup to get in character as she is someone who feels stifled as she wants to do comedy while Johansson’s performance as Ford as this actress who has issues with Earp until an understudy convinces her to return to the show as it is one of Johansson’s finest performances.

Asteroid City is a sensational film from Wes Anderson. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, its offbeat narrative that explores art and loss in a unique world, and a witty music soundtrack. The film has a lot of things expected from Anderson but also showcases him dealing with a world where they have no control in its situation with an artist struggling to find ideas in an ever-changing world. In the end, Asteroid City is a spectacular film from Wes Anderson.

Wes Anderson Films: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Hotel Chevalier - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Moonrise Kingdom - Castello Cavalcanti - The Grand Budapest Hotel - Isle of Dogs - The French Dispatch - The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar - The Swan - The Rat Catcher - Poison - (The Phoenician Scheme) - The Auteurs #8: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson Film Soundtracks: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Seu Jorge-The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - (Moonrise Kingdom) – (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – (Isle of Dogs) – (The French Dispatch) – (Asteroid City)

© thevoid99 2023

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Women's Tales II


Le donne della Vucciria (Hiam Abbass) revolves around a party in the middle of a town square in Palermo, Sicily in Italy where Lubna Azabal sings and dances to music with many in the town including an old couple who create puppets watch. It is a short that is just full of beauty and liveliness where Abbass keeps things straightforward in the direction. Even as she focuses on the party itself with women wearing these colorful dresses with socks that also have a sense of style.

Spark & Light (So Yong Kim) is about a young woman played by Riley Keough whose car breaks down somewhere in Iceland as she worries about her mother’s health. The 11-minute short that is shot on location in Iceland has Keough’s character trying to get a signal or some sign that leads her to a home where some strange surreal moments that also involves clothes come into play. Even as it play into her worries and such as it is a gorgeous short that features a strong performance from Keough.

Somebody (Miranda July) revolves around a group of people communicating with each other through an app that July has created as a way to connect with one another. It is a short that is offbeat in the style that July is known for as she appears in the film as a woman at a restaurant reading a menu instead of playing herself. Yet, it is a short that has a lot of heart but also things that are off the wall while using the clothes to help play into this sense of quirkiness.

De Djess (Alice Rohrwacher) revolves around a fashion show hosted by nuns who found dresses on a beach wrapped in plastic as one of the dresses comes to life wanting to be worn by a young maid only for a divaesque model wanting to wear it. It is definitely one of the best shorts of the series in its approach to surrealism and humor where the models who wear these dresses are prey to the paparazzi while the main model played by Alba Rohwacher while Yanet Mojica plays the young maid who is in love with this dress as the dress chooses her. It is definitely a tremendous short worth watching as it showcases the brilliance of Alice Rohrwacher.

Les 3 boutons (Agnes Varda) has a young woman who receives a package where it is revealed to be a big pink gown that is filled with wonders as she would walk around Paris trying to discover the world outside of her small farm life. Starring Jasmine Thiere as this young farm girl who talks to the camera about her life and her own desires. The film has her walking around Paris in a simple dress where she would lose three buttons yet there is this lore about losing three buttons which means that the young woman would get three wishes as there is a sense of beauty and wonderment that Varda would display as it is a tremendous gem from one of the great filmmakers that ever lived.

Related: Part I - Part IIIPart II - Part IVPart V

© thevoid99 2023

Sunday, June 18, 2023

2023 Blind Spot Series: Polyester


Written and directed by John Waters, Polyester is the story of an unhappy housewife who meets a man who offers her a different life away from her philandering husband, selfish children, and a horrible mother. The film is the first studio feature for Waters that is partially inspired by the melodramas of Douglas Sirk as it explores a woman trying to find happiness while is also known for having a unique sense of smell. Starring Divine, Tab Hunter, Edith Massey, David Samson, Mary Garlington, Ken King, Mink Stole, Joni Ruth White, Hans Kramm, Rick Breitenfeld, and Stiv Bators as Bo-Bo Belsinger. Polyester is a riveting and evocative film from John Waters.

The film follows the troubled life of a housewife living in the suburbs of Baltimore who is treated poorly by her philandering husband who runs a porno theater, two teenage children who both take part in destructive activities, and a mother who constantly steals money from her as she yearns for a different life upon meeting a hunk who seems to be everything she wants. It is a film with a simple premise as it follows Francine Fishpaw (Divine) who has a keen sense of smell that allows her to discover something as well as react to whatever she is dealing with as her life is tumultuous due to the fact that her family are rotten while the only friend she has in Cuddles (Edith Massey) who often helps as she had recently acquired an inheritance from her former employer. John Waters’ screenplay is largely straightforward in its narrative as well as being this study of a housewife who has endured a lot of abuse from her family as well as having to tend to them no matter how selfish they are. Yet, she does get glimmers of hope upon seeing this man in Todd Tomorrow (Tab Hunter) as she wouldn’t meet him properly until its third act.

Waters’ direction is definitely stylish as it owes a lot of the melodramatic films of Douglas Sirk in the 1950s as it is shot on location near areas in Baltimore, Maryland. While its look and tone has a lot of elements that Sirk is known for, Waters does put in his own style as far as its approach to bad taste as it relates to the fact that Francine’s family are terrible with her husband Elmer (David Samson) runs a porno theater as he enjoys the publicity he gets while is openly having an affair with his secretary Sandra (Mink Stole). Her daughter Lu-Lu (Mary Garlington) is promiscuous young woman that is in destructive relationship with a young degenerate in Bo-Bo Belsinger while her son Dexter (Ken King) is a teenage glue-sniffer who has gained notoriety in stomping feet in various areas in Baltimore as Waters infuses a lot of dark humor to play into Francine’s own plight as he also creates some unique compositions in the medium shots and close-ups that add to the drama and offbeat humor.

Since the film features a gimmick known as Odorama that allows audience to smell the things Francine smells through a scratch-and-sniff card as it opens with a scientist in Dr. Arnold Quackenshaw (Rick Breitenfeld) who talks about the gimmick as it is presented in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio as it is a comical sequence which then puts the film into its 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Waters would also use wide shots to play into the locations but also in a sequence in the third act when Francine meets Todd properly for the first time as they would spend the day together. It all plays into this strange approach to melodrama with Waters also infusing a lot of these quirky elements as well as doing things that subvert the melodrama in favor of the need to be provocative in a fun way. Overall, Waters crafts a witty yet heartfelt film about a woman trying to find happiness in an unhappy family life.

Cinematographer David Insley does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its colorful approach to its daytime interior/exterior scenes as well as using soft lighting for some scenes involving fantasy while maintaining some style for some of the scenes set at night. Editor Charles Roggero does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with some style in some of the fantasy bits involving slow-motion bits as well as a few jump-cuts to play into its offbeat humor. Art director Vincent Perano and set decorator Beth Sheldon do amazing work with the look of the home that Francine and her family live in with its colorful furniture as well as her bedroom as it owes a lot to the visual style of Douglas Sirk. Costume/makeup designer Van Smith does fantastic work with the costumes from some of the lavish clothes that Cuddles wear as well as the punk-rock trash that Lu-Lu and Dexter wear as well as the look of Francine that adds to the film’s melodramatic tone.

Sound editor Skip Lievsay does superb work with the sound as it plays into not just some of the natural elements but also in some enhanced sound effects to help play into the film’s offbeat humor. The film’s music by Chris Stein and Michael Kamen with lyrics by Deborah Harry is wonderful for its mixture of punk and new wave with orchestral elements as it sort of serves as a parody of melodramatic film scores while the original songs including its theme sung by Tab Hunter as well as a punk-inspired song sung by Kamen and a love song sung by Bill Murray.

The casting by Pat Moran is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and appearances Mary Vivian Pearce and Sharon Niesp as a couple of nuns who would take Lu-Lu away to a convent, Jean Hill as a gospel bus hijacker who decided to get revenge on Lu-Lu and Bo-Bo, Cookie Mueller and Susan Lowe as a couple of foot-stomping victims of Dexter, Michael Watson as Lu-Lu’s clean-cut date who was coerced to do something for Bo-Bo, and Rick Breitenfeld as Dr. Arnold Quackenshaw who appears in the film’s first scene as the man who presents the Odorama card and what to do in a comical manner. Hans Kramm is terrific as Cuddles’ chauffeur Heintz as a German man who would help Cuddles and Francine as well as being a companion to Cuddles. Stiv Bators is superb as Bo-Bo Belsinger as Lu-Lu’s degenerate boyfriend who likes to cause mayhem and such while being a total asshole to everyone he sees despite his love for Lu-Lu.

Joni Ruth White is fantastic as Francine’s parasitic mother La Rue who constantly steals from Francine and wants to live an upper class lifestyle as well as to feed her own cocaine addiction. Mink Stole is excellent as Elmer’s secretary Sandra who likes to engage in perverse activities with Elmer while having a hairstyle similar to Bo Derek from 10. Ken King and Mary Garlington are brilliant in their respective roles as Francine’s teenage children in Dexter and Lu-Lu with the former being a glue-sniffing punk who likes to stomp on women’s feet in an act of pleasure while the latter is a nymphomaniac of sorts who hates her mother and is in love with Bo-Bo as they both would endure their own crises in their lives. Edith Massey is amazing as Francine’s best friend Cuddles as a simple-minded yet kind woman who helps Francine in every way while sharing bits of her inheritance for a good life with a newfound companion in her chauffeur.

David Samson is incredible as Francine’s husband Elmer as this porno theater owner who is the embodiment of sleaze as he treats Francine like shit and does everything he could to humiliate her in every way and flaunt his affairs in front of her. Tab Hunter is great as Todd Tomorrow as this man who is the embodiment of everything Francine wants yet Hunter brings elements of ambiguity that makes him more interesting than some good looking hunk. Finally, there’s Divine in a phenomenal performance as Francine Fishpaw as an unhappy housewife with a unique sense of smell as she is eager for a happier life despite going into alcoholism as well as being humiliated as it has Divine showing his range in melodrama while also playing a character that is just trying to be a good woman and a good mother to her kids despite the shit she had to deal with.

Polyester is a sensational film from John Waters that features a tremendous leading performance from Divine. Along with its supporting cast, colorful visuals, its mixture of satire and homage to melodramas, and a fun music soundtrack. It is a film that isn’t just this fun comedy-drama that sort of makes fun of melodramas but also a film that explores a woman trying to find happiness in a world where she is treated terribly by her awful husband, delinquent teenage kids, and a parasitic mother. In the end, Polyester is a phenomenal film from John Waters.

John Waters: (Mondo Trash) – Multiple Maniacs - Pink Flamingos - Female Trouble - (Desperate Living) – (Hairspray (1988 film)) – (Cry-Baby) – (Serial Mom) – (Pecker) – (Cecil B. Demented) – (A Dirty Shame) – (Liarmouth)

© thevoid99 2023

Monday, June 12, 2023

Women's Tales I


Presented by the fashion brand Miu Miu, Women’s Tales is a collection of short films made by women that in which the filmmakers use the clothes of Miu Miu to each tell a story of their own. Each film is set during a certain collection from that season from the fashion brand where a filmmaker is allowed to create a story through the clothes. There are 25 short films so far that all play into womanhood while wearing beautiful clothing.


Powder Room (Zoe Cassavetes) is about a woman going into a powder room at a lavish hotel in London for some beauty rest as she sees other women going in and getting ready for whatever they’re about to do. It’s a three-minute short that doesn’t have much going for it but it does set the tone for what the rest of the series does though it’s not a promising start despite its minimalist tone.

Muta (Lucrecia Martel) is set on a yacht on the Amazon near Paraguay where eight women would be on the yacht wearing lavish clothing though their faces aren’t shown with a couple of them wearing masks. Featuring regular Martel actress Maria Alche, the six-minute short is a surreal one as it features an unseen men trying to get on the boat but fails as it is one of the best shorts of the series.

The Woman Dress (Giada Colagrande) revolves around a woman who enters a room where three women are preparing a ritual in creating a dress. The six-minutes short is a strange one in terms of its mixture of drama with a bit of horror though the latter is presented in a less gory manner than one would expect. It is a fascinating short that has Colagrande create something that has elements of surrealism but does a lot in emphasizing the creation of a dress.

It’s Getting Late (Massy Tadjedin) revolves around four women getting ready to finish their work to attend a concert by Zola Jesus. Starring Patricia Clarkson, Gemma Arterton, Rinko Kikuchi, and Aubrey Plaza, the short shows what these women do on a work day with Arterton being a stay-at-home mother, Clarkson a film editor, Kikuchi as a corporate executive, and Plaza as a blogger. The short has them taking off their work clothes and put on the Miu Miu outfit to watch Zola Jesus as it is an incredible short.

The Door (Ava Duvernay) is a stylish short that stars Gabrielle Union as a woman dealing with loneliness as she would meet three different women who would give her a night out. Featuring Adepero Oduye, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and singer Goapele Mohlabene as these admirers, the short has Duvernay showcase this sense of sisterhood among black women as the short also has Alfre Woodard as either a neighbor or Union’s mother who helps Union’s character as it is a phenomenal short.

Related: Part IIPart IIIPart II - Part IVPart V

© thevoid99 2023

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Thursday Movie Picks: Seasons in Title


For the 22nd week of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We go into films with seasons in their titles as a season would often be a major part of the film’s story. Here are my three picks as they’re all films by Yasujiro Ozu:

1. Late Spring
Ozu’s adaptation of the novella Father and Daughter by Kazuo Hirotsu is an exploration of a man trying to find a husband for his daughter in the hopes she can get a life of her own. The film follows many of Ozu’s explorations of families and their struggles in adapting to the modern world as the star frequent Ozu regulars in Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara in their respective roles as father and daughter as the former is a widow who is trying to get a life of his own while also wanting the same for his daughter despite her reluctance to leave him all by himself.

2. Early Summer
Ozu’s film about postwar life in Japan explores a family trying to find someone for their daughter who is the representation of someone being caught in the middle between traditionalism and modernism. Again played by Setsuko Hara with Chishu Ryu as her older brother as Ichiro Sugai and Chieko Higashiyama as the parents. It also play into this postwar world of Japan that is growing economically with women becoming more independent yet are struggling to maintain some tradition with some Hara’s friends in the film already in unhappy marriages which adds to her own internal conflict.

3. Late Autumn
Another Ozu film starring Setsuko Hara that is also about a young woman struggling to leave a parent behind for a life of her own is a different film which is more about a mother-daughter relationship with Hara as the mother and Yoko Tsukasa as the daughter as well as being one of Ozu’s first films shot in color. The narrative revolves more on these three old men who are friends of Hara’s late husband as the narrative also focuses more on Hara trying to help her daughter while also knowing that children have to leave the nest no matter how tough things can be as it’s one of Ozu’s great films.

© thevoid99 2023

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse


Based on the Marvel Comics series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and the Miles Morales series by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the sequel to the 2018 film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse that has Miles Morales go on a mission with Gwen Stacy to save every other variants of Spider-Man from a mysterious supervillain that threatens the multiverse. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson and screenplay by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and David Callaham, the film has Morales and other variants not only deal with more variations of the Spider-Man persona including old allies whose lives are being threatened by this new threat. Featuring the voices of Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Issa Rae, Karan Soni, Daniel Kaluuya, Oscar Isaac, and Jason Schwartzman as Spot. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a visually-astonishing and gripping film from Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson.

Set 16 months after events in which Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) became Spider-Man, the film follows the character who deals with a new enemy in Spot who holds a grudge towards Morales as he discovers new powers that threatens the entire multiverse with Morales and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) going on a mission to save the multiverse where some revelations occur as it relates to Morales. It is a film that doesn’t just play into Morales dealing with this threat that would destroy many different universes involving variations of Spider-Man but also so much more including the narrative of Spider-Man. Notably as Morales is still trying to find himself as he is trying to be the new Spider-Man but also a kid living in a prestigious high school in Brooklyn who is trying to do good for his parents. The film’s screenplay by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and David Callaham doesn’t just explore Morales’ struggle in his identity but also this new threat in Spot who is revealed to be someone that Morales had unknowingly met in the past who has the power to create portals through black spots as it allows him to go into the multiverse.

The film’s script doesn’t begin with Morales’ story and his connection with Spot but rather Gwen Stacy who not only misses Morales but also is still coping with the loss of her variation of Peter Parker as her Spider-Woman persona remains on the hunt by her father Captain George Stacy (Shea Whigham) who believes Spider-Woman killed Parker whom he cared about. It is during a mission where Gwen is being confronted by her father who would learn about her identity while also meeting other Spider-Man variants in Jessica Drew (Issa Rae) and Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) as the latter is the leader of the Spider-Society that the former is a member of as she invites Gwen into the fold after capturing a variation of Vulture (Jorma Taccone) from a Renaissance-inspired multiverse. Gwen’s return to Morales’ universe has her trying to capture the Spot as she would briefly visit Morales who is struggling on whether to tell his parents that he’s Spider-Man as revelations about the Spot as well as the fact that it was his spider that bit Morales.

Morales would follow Gwen who reluctantly invites him to her mission to stop the Spot as they travel to a multiverse known as Mumbattan where its Spider-Man in Pavtir Prabhakar (Karan Soni) is dealing with the Spot as they’re aided by another Spider-Man variation in Hobie Brown (Daniel Kaluuya). Despite not capturing the Spot, the Spider-People would save Mumbattan with Morales invited to the Spider-Society where he reunites with Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) and meets O’Hara where revelations about Morales’ role comes into play. Notably in his actions and a narrative that all versions of Spider-Man have to follow in order for them to become who they are.

The direction of Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson is wild not just in the many different animated styles they put in but also in creating something that raises the bar of what animated films could do. Aided by a team of supervising animators in David Han, Nick Kondo, Jeff Panko, Mikaela Pfeifer, Daniel Pozo, Philip Rudolph, and Siggi Orri Thorhannesson in creating different worlds and animation styles ranging from comic-book inspired animation, hand-drawn 2D animation, and computer-based 3D animation. Dos Santos, Powers, and Thompson would also maintain this glitch-based style as it plays into the multiverse breaking apart while doing a lot in playing up these different locations that all of these characters go into. The direction also infuse a lot of unique compositions along with shots that play into the drama and suspense such as the scene where Captain Stacy walks into a rubble where he finds Spider-Woman where he would learn of her identity.

With the aid of production designer Patrick O’Keefe, along with art directors Dean Gordon and Araiz Khalid, and visual effects supervisor Mike Lasker in creating the backdrops for the many worlds. The direction also does a lot to establish the stakes as well as what their respective Spider-Man variations have to endure as part of a grand narrative that all of these variations follow. It is something that Gwen is dealing with knowing as being forced to reveal her own identity to him as it creates a lot of conflict for her when it comes to Morales and his role as a Spider-Man. Even as his own father in Jefferson Morales (Brian Tyree Henry) is about to become a police captain with Morales dealing with the fact that his father could be part of an on-going narrative that he’s not ready to deal with. Its third act that is filled with these dazzling visuals and set pieces as well as many Spider-Man variants with a lot of attention to detail on its look with costume designer Brooklyn El-Omar helping to create a different look for all of these variants. Even as they venture into these alternate universes with the Spot being this major threat who will destroy everything as Morales is forced to confront realities he isn’t prepared for. Overall, the trio of Dos Santos, Kemp, and Thompson craft a visually-grand and audacious film about young superhero dealing with new realities and a new foe who threatens to destroy the multiverse.

Editor Mike Andrews does amazing work with the editing in creating some unique fast-cuts for some of the action but also knowing when to slow things down in the dramatic scene and suspenseful moments with some split-screen shots to help play into the drama. Sound designers Alec Rubay and Kip Smedley do brilliant work with the sound as its creation of sound effects and sparse sound textures add to the sense of urgency into the action and suspense. The film’s music by Daniel Pemberton is incredible for its mixture of electronic music, hip-hop rhythms, and orchestral flourishes that help play into the suspense and action as well as some themes including using Indian-based instruments for the scenes in Mumbattan while music supervisor Kier Lehman creates a fun music soundtrack that features contributions from Coi Leray, Nas, Swae Lee, Future, Don Toliver, James Blake, Offset, Wiz Kid, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky, and 2 Chainz.

The casting by Mary Hidalgo is great as it features a massive ensemble voice cast along with a few live-action appearances such as Peggy Lu as the convenience store owner from the Venom films who has a brief encounter with Spot. Other voice cameos including J.K. Simmons as various versions of J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Sohn as Morales’ school roommate Ganke Lee, Melissa Strum as Peter B. Parker’s wife Mary Jane Parker, Elizabeth Perkins as a variation of Aunt May and the Quippy Spider-Person, Josh Keaton as Spectacular Spider-Man from the late 2000s TV series, Ziggy Marley as a Jamaican convenience store owner, Rachel Dratch as Morales’ school principal, Amandla Stenberg as Margo Kess/Spider-Byte who is a Spider-Person from a virtual reality, Jack Quaid as Gwen’s version of Peter Parker, Greta Lee as the Spider Society AI assistant Lyla, Andy Samberg as a variation of Spider-Man in Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider, and Jorma Taccone as a variation of Vulture from a Renaissance-based universe whom Gwen tried to capture with help from Miguel O’Hara and Jessica Drew.

Shea Whigham is superb as Gwen’s father George Stacy as a police captain who is trying to hunt Spider-Woman over the death of Peter Parker as he copes with Spider-Woman’s identity. Brian Tyree Henry and Luna Lauren Velez are fantastic in their respective roles as Morales’ parents in Jefferson and Rio Morales who both deal with their son’s absences as well as his struggles in school with the former pondering his faults as a father just as he is about to become a police captain. Daniel Kaluuya and Karan Soni are excellent in their respective roles as Spider-Man variants in Hobart “Hobie” Brown/Spider-Punk and Pavtir Prabhakar/Spider-Man India with the former as this British punk rocker with a Cockney accent who is rebellious while the latter is this Indian-based figure who got his powers through magic while wearing Indian-inspired clothing for his own costume. Issa Rae is brilliant as Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman as a pregnant Spider-Woman variant who mentors Gwen and rides a motorcycle that she uses as a weapon where she brings a lot of humor but also is the second-in-command to Miguel.

Jake Johnson is amazing as Peter B. Parker as Morales’ former mentor who has managed to get his life together while being accompanied with a baby girl in Mayday Parker who also has powers of her own where he tries to help Morales over dealing with the Spot. Oscar Isaac is great as Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 as a ninja-like, muscular version of Spider-Man who doesn’t have a sense of humor as he is someone who takes the security of the multiverse very seriously as he sees Morales as someone that could ruin things despite the fact that the Spot is an even bigger threat. Jason Schwartzman is incredible as Dr. Jonathan Ohnn/the Spot as a former scientist whose creation makes him into a villain that can travel through holes until he gains new powers that would allow him to destroy the multiverse as he has a grudge towards Morales.

Hailee Steinfeld is phenomenal as Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman as a teenager still coping with not just the death of her version of Peter Parker but also what is at stake where Steinfeld brings a lot of emotional angst as well as someone filled with a lot of conflict about her friendship with Morales and saving the multiverse. Finally, there’s Shameik Moore in a tremendous voice performance as Miles Morales/Spider-Man as a teenager who is still dealing with growing pains in both as a regular kid and as Spider-Man while dealing with this new villain in the Spot as he also becomes aware of what is at stake where it is this great voice performance that allows Moore bring a lot of nuances to Morales as someone that is just still trying to find himself.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is an outstanding film from the trio of Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson that features a phenomenal ensemble voice cast. Along with a strong and gripping story, visuals that takes animation to new heights, grand set pieces, and an exhilarating music score. The film isn’t just this enthralling superhero film but it is also a film that really raises the bar of what animated films could be as well as how to present something with a story that plays into all sorts of issues such as identity, growing pains, and what it means to be a hero. In the end, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a magnificent film from Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson.

Spider-Man Films: Spider-Man - Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man 3 - The Amazing Spider-Man - The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Spider-Man: Far from Home - Spider-Man: No Way Home - (Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse)

© thevoid99 2023