Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Films That I Saw: October 2023


Congress is a mess. Another mass shooting in the U.S. in of all places, Maine. Another war between Israel and Palestine once again as there’s no real winners. Yeah, humanity is doing great. It’s a shame that everyone couldn’t get along and be rational as we do live in an irrational world. It’s becoming more common place lately as I try to just make sense of everything while preferring to be home. Yet, there has been things at home that has been challenging as a major change has happened for my mother as a dry cleaner that she did alterations for that is across from the neighborhood I lived has finally closed after more than 30 years. It was abrupt as I was just doing another routine dropoff/pick-up when I saw the sign as it had more to do with finances and stuff. The boss runs two dry cleaners and it’s become too much to deal with as he made the decision to close 2 Kings Cleaners in Smyrna though the other cleaners he has in Royal Cleaners just a few minutes from my neighborhood is still there. My mother still does alterations as we’re not hurting for money but other things did happen as my sister lost her job months after she got it because the company closed.

A lot of these things happen though I’m confident that my sister will get a new job yet a lot of these changes did finally became the push of something my mother and I have been wanting to do since the end of last year. After nearly 40 years of living with a format that I’m sure many once lived through. We finally cut the cable for good. Ever since the pandemic, the cable bill had been rising and rising and with streaming becoming more affordable. I realized that we’re still latched on towards something has become a financial burden but also a format that is reaching its expiration date. It started off cutting cable channels but the cable bill was still expensive as I had films on my DVR but eventually I ended up deleting everything because I had no time and it was too much of a hassle. Eventually, we began to watch less and less channels on cable and then with what is happening with my sister and the end of 2 Kings Cleaners was the push. My brother-in-law disconnected the cable boxes and grabbed the remotes. We dropped them off at Spectrum and we got a major reduction in our cable bill.

Finally, one less thing to deal with though it was a format that was once beloved by everyone but its time had come. Still, not everything in the streaming world is perfect as there’s still a lot of films and TV shows that remain lost and need to be found. Even as there’s a lot of price hiking and all sorts of dumb shit that is making things difficult with people not able to catch up with the world of streaming but are also stuck in the world of cable that is hurting them. Netflix has been difficult in taking down password sharing as the only reason my mother and I have is because of my sister but she’s having her own issues as we still couldn’t watch Netflix (whenever we want to watch something) on our smart TVs including a new one that my mother got because the TV she had been using since the 2010s went to shit. Right now, we’re just hoping for things to get better as my mother is currently binging on some TV show on YouTube that she couldn’t stop watching as she at least has something to watch. Plus, there’s still the local channels and I have access to TNT and TBS that does allow me to watch AEW. The TCM app unfortunately is shit as I couldn’t watch anything as I deleted it. I’m trying to keep my options open and hopefully do more in the next year. Even as I’ve decided to take on a project that is in the planning stages that is going to be more important than anything I have ever done.
In the month of October 2023, I saw a total of 29 films in16 first-timers and 13 re-watches with four of those first-timers being films/limited TV series directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. An improvement from last month as there was a number of good films I saw including one of the highlights of the month in my Blind Spot film in Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Here is the top 10 first-timers that I saw for October 2023:

1. Infinity Pool
2. Saint Maud
3. Prey
4. The Damned
5. Yes, God, Yes
6. Once Upon a Studio
7. The Love Witch
8. Angelica
9. Dream Work
10. The Witches
Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’m Watching

Master and Apprentice: A Special Look at Ahsoka
This special from Disney+ served as a preview of sorts to Ahsoka yet it is really about the idea of master and apprentice. Especially in the mentor-student relationship between George Lucas and Dave Filoni as the latter has managed to do a lot with the Star Wars franchise in creating shows and new characters that have managed to connect with an audience. Even as he would use the theme of master-apprentice into Ahsoka as it relates not just Ahsoka being a mentor for Sabine Wren but also Ahsoka being an apprentice to her master in Anakin Skywalker who was Obi-Wan Kenobi’s apprentice as his master was Qui-Gon Jin. It showcases how this mentorship would translate into the story and why it continues to be relevant in the franchise.

Daddy’s Boys

This short film that is written and co-starring current AEW wrestler Ryan Nemeth that also stars his older brother Nick (aka Dolph Ziggler) and Anna Lore is this strange yet absurdist comedy about a guy who introduces his girlfriend to his family. It is there she discovers something about them and the result is funny. Especially as it shows the Nemeth brothers to be natural comedy actors as it shows they can do a lot outside of the world of pro wrestling as it’s worth seeking out for fans of the brothers.


This documentary made with the support of Pink Floyd revolves around the annular solar eclipse where fans of the band are given a chance to travel to a remote area in Australia to see this event. It showcases a fan base all coming together for this event as well as sharing their love for the band and their classic album Dark Side of the Moon which turned 50 earlier this year. For anyone that likes Floyd should see this but it really appeals to those interested in science and astronomy as they should see this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Dream Work
Peter Tscherkassky has become a favorite of mine whenever a short film of his appears on MUBI. He is the master of using found footage and taking footage from other films and absolutely fuck them up in the best possible way. This short is no different as it revolves around a woman having a nightmare as it relates to bad relationships. Anyone familiar with Tscherkassky’s work will know what to expect in terms of its manic editing style and deconstructing imagery.

Once Upon a Studio
In celebration of Walt Disney Studios and Disney Animation Studios, Dan Abraham and Trent Correy create this short that appeared on ABC and later Disney+ as it revolves around a reunion of nearly every Disney animated character from its shorts and feature films including the upcoming film Wish. The mixture of animation and live-action at Disney Animation Studios where nearly every character appears for this photoshoot as it include some archival voice work from Robin Williams as the Genie. The short opens with an appearance from the legendary animator Burny Mattinson who talks to an intern as it marks his final appearance in film as the short is dedicated to him as it’s a must-watch for anyone that loves Disney.

Through My Window
I don’t understand why I can’t get access to Netflix much of the time to see new shorts by Wes Anderson yet I somehow get access to Netflix one late night to see this Spanish film starring Clara Galle whom I know from a Sebastian Yatra music video that my mother and niece like to watch a lot on YouTube. I don’t understand why there’s certain films/shows that Netflix creates that appeals to a certain audience such as shit like those Kissing Booth movies as this is the equivalent to it but set in Spain as it revolves around a young student who falls for her new neighbor and they fall in love despite the disapproval of his parents. There’s also a lot of jealousy and some badly shot sex scenes that really don’t bring anything to anyone that would watch films for the sex scenes. It is really on the level of those 365 Days films from Netflix except not as gratuitous yet they’re both boring and awful as fuck as I am aware there’s a sequel to this film and another one that is coming.

Yes, God, Yes
When it comes to watching films or shows on TUBI, I usually don’t watch anything I haven’t seen before but for some reason late one night. I ended up watching this film out of curiosity as it stars Natalia Dyer as this Catholic high school student who questions her fascination towards sex and masturbation and ponders if she is going to Hell. As a coming-of-age comedy, this film is an absolute gem to discover as it is really about a young woman just finding herself and having a crush on a counselor during a retreat with other students as the film also features a wonderful supporting performance from Timothy Simon as the school priest who also runs this retreat with a secret of his own as he is a sympathetic character. Something I wouldn’t expect from Simon who is known mainly as the asshole from Veep as this was a smart and funny film.

Ahsoka (season 1 finale)
When it comes to Star Wars in its film department, it worries me as I’ve learned that they’re thinking of getting Shawn Levy to helm a film and that is going to fucking suck due to the fact that his films range from mediocre to fucking shit. Thank goodness that Disney has chosen not to interfere too much with the TV shows as Dave Filoni has become everything George Lucas wished he could be had he not involved himself with business and other creative blunders. The season finale for the series isn’t just this great finale in which a lot happens as well as a setup for what is to come for the New Republic with this old threat in Grand Admiral Thrawn. It’s also in the fact that Ezra gets to go home with Sabine finally displaying her knowledge of the Force and Ahsoka getting a great showdown with Morgan Elsbeth. It is a great finale with what I think has one of the best endings to an episode ever. I got emotional for this final shot as it plays into Ahsoka’s master who seems to finally be at peace having gone through so much of his own fear, anger, and conflict from within only to later redeem himself and now can watch with ease at his apprentice adjusting to her new situation.

Loki (season 2, episodes 1-4)
Marvel has been going through a rough stage this year with the disappointing reactions to both Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Secret Invasion while there’s also been some major changes from within while the upcoming film in The Marvels hasn’t been getting a lot of buzz with some believing it will be a disappointment. So there was a lot to worry as it relates to the second season of this series but fortunately, that hasn’t happened. Four episodes in and already it’s gotten quite while with a cliffhanger ending for its most recent episode as there is no clue on what will happen next. Yet, there is a lot going on as it relates to the TVA crumbling as they couldn’t contain the growth of the multiverse with Loki doing what he can to help as he would mature while his friendship with Mobius has gotten strong. Ke Huy Quan’s performance as O.B. is an absolute delight as he lights up every scene he’s in while characters in Hunter B-15 and Casey are not only given more to do but also show some depth while Sylvie is going through her own existential crisis. It’s been really strong lately as I hope the next two episodes deliver with a third season coming.

Werewolf by Night in Color
Having seen this short film from Marvel last year as I thought it was one of the best things they’ve done. This new version which was presented in color by Michael Giacchino is a worthy companion piece as it echoes the look of 1960s Hammer Films from Britain while it also does a lot to play into the gore and violence. While the original black-and-white version is the superior version in my opinion. I do like this version as I do hope they do something with Jack Russell/Werewolf by Night and Elsa Bloodstone in future projects.

Wrestling Match of the Month: Will Ospreay vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey – Impact Wrestling Bound for Glory 2023 – 10/21/23

If there’s a front-runner for wrestler of the year of 2023, it’s Will Ospreay. He’s been delivering on great matches all year as he is pretty much at the top of his game as he would do matches whether in stadiums in the U.K. or at a small indie show in London the night before. Here at the annual Bound for Glory event for Impact Wrestling/TNA, a dream-match between Ospreay and one of the hottest high-flyers in “Speedball” Mike Bailey who has proven to become someone that is destined for the big leagues. Both men have put a lot into this match as Bailey looked great in defeat while it only adds a lot of where Ospreay could go next year as his contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling is set to expire making him the hottest free agent in 2024.

Top 10 Re-Watches

1. Alien
2. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
3. Cruella
4. It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
5. Werewolf by Night
6. Toy Story of Terror!
7. Trick or Treat
8. Lonesome Ghosts
9. Breathless
10. The Rowdy Girls
Well, that is all for October 2023. Next month, I will definitely review new releases in Priscilla and The Marvels while I maybe might do Killers of the Flower Moon as well as The Irishman. Other than some stuff on various streaming services, I’m still unsure what film to pick as the penultimate Blind Spot for November while I’m also not finished with the list for next year’s Blind Spot Series. Before everyone goes out trick or treating and eating candy, let’s express our condolences to those who have passed away this month in Matthew Perry, Richard Roundtree, Suzanne Sommers, musician Aaron Spears, Richard Moll, Steve Riley of L.A. Guns, baseball legend Tom Walker, musician Gregg Hutton, Joan Evans, Betsy Rawls, art director Osvaldo Desideri, film editor Steve Weisberg, Joanna Merlin, Piper Laurie, Lara Parker, Phyllis Coates, Mark Goddard, Brendan Malone, Henri Serre, Burt Young, filmmaker Terence Davies, Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus, and those in recent events in Acapulco, Kazakhstan, Maine, and Israel-Gaza. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2023

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Witches (1967 film)


Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, Le streghe (The Witches) is an anthology film consisting of five comic stories relating to witches all starring Silvana Mangano as it mixes horror and comedy. The anthology film features the work of five different filmmakers with a different cast as it plays into the world of witches who all disguises themselves as different kinds of women. The result is a witty though messy anthology film from producer Dino De Laurentiis.

The Witch Burned Alive

Directed by Luchino Visconti. Written by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi and Cesare Zavattini. Edited by Mario Serandrei. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Annie Girardot, Francisco Rabal, Massimo Girroti, Marilu Toto, Nora Ricci, and introducing Helmut Berger.

The film revolves around an actress who stops at the home of a friend in the Austrian mountains as a party is being held yet is pursued by men at the party with women being jealous of her. It is a short that plays into an actress taking a break from work to see a friend whom she realizes is in a crumbling marriage as she wants to spend time with her but there’s a party at the home as she gets drunk and things don’t go well. It is a film that has some humor and some dramatic tension though there are moments where things drag as Luchino Visconti doesn’t do much to make the sexual tension more prominent as it relates to its protagonist Gloria. Notably as Gloria’s beauty is also the source of tension among the women at the home with Gloria’s best friend Valeria (Annie Girardot) defending her while lamenting her own issues with her husband Paolo (Francisco Rabal). Girardot is the standout in the segment as it also include some fine supporting work from Nora Ricci as Gloria’s secretary and Helmut Berger in his debut film appearance as a hotel page who brings things to Valeria’s home.

Civic Spirit

Directed by Mauro Bolognini. Written by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, and Bernardino Zapponi. Edited by Nino Baragli. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Alberto Sordi.

The segment revolves around a man who is injured in an auto accident as a woman offers to take him to the hospital only to drive somewhere else to her own destination. It is one of the shorter segments of the film as it is more of a comedy in which Alberto Sordi plays this man who is severely injured and is losing a lot of blood with Mangano as this woman who is in a hurry as she is driving ferociously through Rome. Featuring some amazing editing by Nino Baragli, the film is a comical short that has Mangano being this woman that is more concerned about going to a building than helping this man as it a hilarious segment by Mauro Bolognini.

The Earth Seen from the Moon

Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Edited by Nino Baragli. Music by Ennio Morricone. Starring Toto, Ninetto Davoli, Laura Betti, Luigi Leoni, and Mario Cipriani.

A man and his son both travel around the streets of Rome to find a woman for the man so he can create a new family as they chose this mysterious deaf-mute woman. It is a short that is comical but also stylish with Toto playing the father and Ninetto Davoli as his red-haired son wearing a New York City sports team sweater as Pasolini brings this sense of absurdity into the film. Notably as there’s a key scene at the Coliseum involving the mute woman known as Absurdity who takes part in a scheme of theirs. Featuring some great art direction and Baragli’s offbeat editing as well as Morricone’s wondrous music score that stands out from the rest of the music score in the film. This short is easily the best one in the film.

The Sicilian Belle

Directed by Franco Rossi. Written by Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, and Bernardino Zapponi. Editor Giorgio Serralonga. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Pietro Tordi.

A woman has been humiliated by a man prompting her father (Piero Tordi) to find out who he is as he would massacre the entire family. It is the weakest short of the film series as it doesn’t really much of a story as it is a more dramatic story that has some dark humor but it doesn’t really give Mangano much to work with.

An Evening Like the Others

Directed by Vittorio De Sica. Written by Cesare Zavattini, Fabio Carpi, and Enzo Muzii. Editor Adriana Novelli. Music by Piero Piccioni. Starring Clint Eastwood, Valentino Macchi, and Pietro Torrisi.

The final short of the series revolves around a housewife imagining herself as a woman being swept off her feet by her husband yet the reality is that her husband is content and prefers to work and sleep though he wants to do things for her. Even as the fantasy has him becoming desperate for her attention as it plays into some comical moments but also lavish scenes of her wanting to be the center of attention towards all men with the husband unable to get her attention. It is a film that has a lot of humor though Clint Eastwood’s performance as Charlie is odd considering that isn’t known much for comedy as he’s a bit miscast though there is a brief moment of him playing a cowboy while his scenes set in reality as the husband has him playing it straight where he does manage to hold his own with Mangano.

As a film overall, it is a messy one with Pasolini’s segment being the best of the bunch while the segments by De Sica and Bolognini are strong with the latter being the shortest. Visconti’s segment is a bit dull in parts though it does feature some unique visuals with Rossi’s being the weakest as it wants to be funny but it never hits. All of the segments were shot by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno whose photography does add a lot of vibrancy to the film with some low-key work for Visconti and De Sica’s segments to more wondrous colors in Pasolini’s segments. Art directors Mario Garbuglia and Piero Poletto, with set decorators Emilio D’Andria and Cesare Rovatti, do amazing work with the sets with the design of the gravestones for the Pasolini segment being the highlight of the film. Costume designer Piero Tosi does excellent work with the many dresses that Mangano wears in her different characters including the layers of gowns she would wear for De Sica’s segment.

Makeup artist Goffredo Rocchetti does nice work with some of the makeup with the look of green hair and heightened makeup in Pasolini’s segment being the standout. Special optical effects work by Joseph Nathanson is good for the scene in De Sica’s segment in a stadium as it plays into Mangano’s character as the object of desire. The sound work of Vittorio Trentino is terrific in playing up the locations as well as some sound effects in the film. Much of the film’s music by Piero Piccioni as it has its moment in its playful music along with some low-key pieces for the dramatic work yet it is Morricone’s score for the Pasolini segment that is the real standout of the music.

Le streghe is a stellar though flawed anthology film. While it features great performances from Silvana Mangano along with some nice technical work along with standout segments from Mauro Bolognini and Vittorio de Sica as well as a great short from Pier Paolo Pasolini. It is a film where there are things to watch though there are bits that don’t make it work. In the end, Le streghe is a good film from producer Dino De Laurentiis.

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

Pier Paolo Pasolini Films: (Accattone) – (La Rabbia) - Mamma Roma - (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) - (Location Hunting in Palestine) – (Love Meetings) – (The Hawks and the Sparrows) – (Oedipus Rex) – Teorema - (Porcile) – (Medea (1969 film)) – (Appunti per un film sull’India) – (Notes Towards an African Orestes) – The Decameron - The Canterbury Story - Arabian Nights - Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom

Luchino Visconti Films: (Obsessione) – (Giorni di gloria) – (La Terra Firma) – (Bellissima) – (Appunti su un fatto di cronaca) – (We, the Women) – (Senso) – White Nights (1957 film) - Rocco and His Brothers - (Boccaccio ’70-Il lavoro) – The Leopard - Sandra – (The Stranger (1967 film)) – The Damned - Death in Venice - (Alla ricerca di Tadzio) – (Ludwig) – (Conversation Piece) – The Innocent (1976 film)

© thevoid99 2023

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Saint Maud


Written and directed by Rose Glass, Saint Maud is the story of a nurse who has become religious following a traumatic incident as she hopes to save the soul of a patient she is caring for. The film is an exploration of a woman seeking redemption by becoming Catholic as she deals with a troubled patient whom she believes has been corrupted by Satan. Starring Morfydd Clark, Lily Frazer, Lily Knight, Marcus Hutton, Turlough Convery, Rosie Sansom, and Jennifer Ehle. Saint Maud is a chilling yet evocative film from Rose Glass.

The film revolves around a young nurse who becomes a private carer for a revered yet hedonistic dance choreographer who is dying of cancer as she would care for her only to get more than she bargained for as she seeks the help of God to save this woman. It is a film that explores a young woman who had recently converted to Roman Catholicism following an incident that left a patient dead though many feel that she isn’t at fault over what happened. Rose Glass’ screenplay opens with this incident that leaves this young nurse traumatized as it then cuts to a moment sometime later where she’s alone and getting ready to care for a new patient under a private agency. The protagonist in Katie (Morfydd Clark) had changed her name to Maud as she would care for this once famous dancer/choreographer in Amanda (Jennifer Ehle) who is suffering from stage four lymphoma as Maud does a lot to help Amanda physically but also spiritually despite the fact that Amanda is an atheist.

Yet, Maud is dealing with a mysterious presence that she believes is God but is troubled by the presence of Amanda’s lover Carol (Lily Frazer) whom Maud believes is corrupting her. Maud does what she can only to be pushed to the edge where she also contends with her own vices and guilt over what happened to a patient she tried to save. Especially as she was once known as someone who was socially-active and chaotic but she had since become withdrawn and devoted to God where reality and fiction would collide. Glass’ script also plays up into Maud’s own supposed encounters with God as a book that Amanda gave her with religious imagery would only heighten her mission to save Amanda.

Glass’ direction is largely straightforward in terms of her compositions yet there are elements of surrealism that does add to the troubled mental state of Maud. Shot on location in North London and Scarsborough as this seaside town in Britain, Glass doesn’t go for something very stylish early on as her approach to wide and medium shots help play into the locations but also a world that Maud is living in as she’s conflicted by this modern lifestyle that everyone around her is living with a more chaste life in which she sees a lot of things go wrong. Notably in a brief scene where she gives change to a homeless person in a hope to make that man’s life a bit better. Yet, there is something off about it as well as it relates to that homeless man as it plays into Maud’s disconnect with the real world. The usage of close-ups are also prominent throughout the film as it play into Maud talking to God as the film often features a lot of voiceover narration as if she’s having a conversation with God. Even in scenes where Maud is at her little apartment home as it plays into her own disconnect with the real world.

Glass’ direction also play into the drama that looms throughout Maud in her attempts to get the agnostic Amanda to be with God and away from temptation. Yet, she is confronted by the fact that Amanda is hedonistic and likes to party as a way to cope with dying where Maud is forced to face reality. Glass would have Maud attempt to return to the real world but there are scenes that do play into this idea of a spiritual world calling to her whether there’s things in the background vibrating around Maud or a scene where she is convinced that God is talking to her. It all leads to this third act of her wanting to prove her devotion but it would blur the lines of reality and fantasy to herself and those around her. Overall, Glass crafts an unsettling yet riveting film about a young nurse’s devotion to God following a traumatic incident that left her patient dead.

Cinematographer Ben Fordesman does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on low-key lighting for many of the interior scenes at night as well as some of the scenes outside of Amanda’s house with more vibrant lights for the scenes in the town with more natural yet low-key lighting for the daytime scenes. Editor Mark Towns does amazing work with the editing with its stylish approach to jump-cuts and montages that help play into the drama and suspense as well as blurring the lines between reality and fantasy in Maud’s perspective as it is a highlight of the film. Production designer Paulina Rzeszowska, with set decorator Anna Mould and art director Isobel Dunhill, does excellent work with the look of Maud’s small apartment home as well as the house that Amanda lives in. Costume designer Tina Kalivas does terrific work with the costumes as it has some style in the clothes that Amanda wears to the more demure clothing that Maud wears except in her attempts to reconnect with the world.

Hair/makeup/special makeup effects designer Jacquetta Levon does fantastic work with the look of the characters including Amanda in her decaying state while she also wears wigs as well as the look of Maud who becomes crazier during the film’s progression. Special effects supervisors Scott MacIntyre and Eddy Popplewell, along with visual effects supervisors Nicholas Bennett, Nick Bennett, and Gary J. Brown, do nice work with the visual effects as there’s bits of set-dressing in some scenes but also in some of the weather formation that Maud would see as if God appears to her. Sound designer Paul Davies does superb work with the sound as it plays into the atmosphere of the rooms but also the things that Maud would hear as it adds to the drama and suspense as it is a highlight of the film. The film’s music by Adam Janota Bzowski is incredible for this eerie and brooding score that is largely based on dark-ambient electronic textures along with some low-sounding strings as it adds to the sense of discomfort in the film while music supervisor Jen Moss provides a soundtrack of music that is diverse as it features music from Gang of Four, the Jesus Lizard, Austerity, ESG, Naked Naked, Al Bowlly, Fxckers, Ruby Murray, and an acapella version of Hank Williams’ I Saw the Light that is sung by Maud during a key moment in the film.

The casting by Kharmel Cochrane is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Carl Prekopp as a homeless man, Marcus Hutton and Turlough Convery as a couple of men Maud meets in her attempt to reconnect with the real world, Rosie Sansom as a nurse that Maud would meet late in the film, Lily Frazer as a lover of Amanda in Carol who likes to encourage and enable Amanda’s bad habits, and Lily Knight as a nurse in Joy whom Maud used to work with as she knew what had happened and wanted to catch up.

Jennifer Ehle is phenomenal as Amanda Kohl as a revered dancer/choreographer who is dying from stage four lymphoma as she is also an atheist who is baffled by Maud’s beliefs while also trying to be open to it only to later be dismissive of those beliefs as she finds a way to push Maud’s buttons. Finally, there’s Morfydd Clark in a tremendous performance as Katie/Maud as this young woman who has recently converted to Catholicism following a traumatic event as she is hoping to save Amanda’s soul. Clark’s performance brings a lot of physicality to her work as well as being someone that is devoted to God as it plays into her own mental descent as it adds to the chaotic element of her performance as it is a career-defining feat from Clark.

Saint Maud is a spectacular film from Rose Glass that features an outstanding break-out performance from Morfydd Clark. Along with a great supporting performance from Jennifer Ehle, its haunting music soundtrack, intoxicating visuals, and its study of a woman’s devotion to God that would eventually lead to madness. It is a chilling character study of sorts that plays into a woman who is still haunted by trauma and is eager to save a hedonistic woman from herself only to take extreme measures to prove her worth to God. In the end, Saint Maud is a sensational film from Rose Glass.

© thevoid99 2023

Monday, October 23, 2023

Infinity Pool


Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, Infinity Pool is the story of a vacationing couple who spend their time at an island resort where they meet a mysterious woman who takes them to a world outside of the resort that is anything but idyllic. The film is a sci-fi horror film that explores a couple who enters a world that forces them to confront their own desires and such as well as issues relating to their marriage. Starring Mia Goth, Alexander Skarsgard, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Amanda Brugel, and Thomas Krestchmann. Infinity Pool is a disturbing yet ravishing film from Brandon Cronenberg.

Set in a fictional European country where a couple is vacationing at an island resort isolated from a poor country, the film follows this couple who meets a woman who takes them to a world outside of the resort where things aren’t idyllic with the husband succumbing to vices and such beyond his control including actions where he is forced to watch a double be created for his execution. It is a film that explores this writer who is trying to create a second book until he meets this woman and her husband as they take part in decadence until an incident leaves the writer guilt-ridden until he learns about something that doesn’t allow him to be punished but it comes with a price. Brandon Cronenberg’s screenplay does have a straightforward narrative as it plays into a vacation that novelist James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard) and his wife Emily (Cleopatra Coleman) as they’re in this idyllic island but are unaware of what is outside of their resort until they meet actress Gabi Bauer (Mia Goth) and her architect husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) where they rent a car outside of the resort for a picnic where things get weird and later dark where James gets in trouble with everyone witnessing what happened.

What follows is an arrest for James over what happened as its police chief in Detective Thresh (Thomas Krestchmann) reveals that the penalty is death yet James is given an offer to have a double fill in for him with a hefty fee that would also allow him and Emily to watch the execution. What happens is a key moment in the film where James realizes what he can get away with his actions as he also learned that Gabi and Alban have also done the same thing with other rich tourists. Notably as they use their wealth to do things and create doubles to watch them be executed for their crimes as James would enjoy it at first but Emily is disgusted as she would leave the resort leaving James to be with the Bauers and their friends in acts of decadence that eventually would take a toll on him. Notably as guilt starts to emerge with the Bauers and their friends playing awful pranks that would become more gruesome.

Cronenberg’s direction definitely bears a lot of style in not just his approach to suspense, horror, and drama but also in dark humor in some places as well as bringing in elements of surrealism. Shot largely on location at the Amadria Park resort in Sibenik, Croatia with additional locations shot outside of Budapest, Hungary and bits in Toronto. Cronenberg creates something that does feel idyllic in this resort where there beaches are gorgeous and there’s plentiful of food while the tourists are largely protected except for a key moment when a citizen rides a vehicle on the beach is when James and Emily meet Gabi who claims to be a fan of James’ only novel. Cronenberg would employ some unique extreme close-ups that does play into James’ attraction towards Gabi including a scene at a beachside picnic outside of the resort where James is urinating offsite until Gabi comes behind him and does something to increase their attraction. There are also some unique wide and medium shots that Cronenberg creates that includes the very first meeting James have with the Bauers’ friends as their faces aren’t shown except for James and Gabi.

The direction also has Cronenberg play into these elements of violence and surrealism with the latter playing into these hallucinogenic moments where Gabi introduces James to a hallucinogen that would bring in strange visions and take part in orgies as he becomes attracted towards Gabi. Yet, the parties eventually become chaotic where the people James surrounds himself with are people of power who come to the island every year to commit horrible crimes and get away with it as this sense of immorality starts to come ahead. Notably in its third act where the violence is intense as it relates to James’ own revelations in not just his guilt but also the fact that he is part of a small circle that comes from money except that he is married to money. All of which makes him an easy target for Gabi and her friends to be part of a toxic world that allows themselves to get away with anything including death for a brief moment in time. Overall, Cronenberg crafts a harrowing yet intoxicating film about a novelist’s vacation into Hell filled with ideas of cheating death and getting away with all sorts of things due to his privilege.

Cinematographer Karim Hussein does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its stylish usage of lights for some of the interior scenes at night including some of the hallucinogenic scenes while emphasizing on some natural lighting for some of the daytime exterior scenes. Editor James Vandewater does excellent work with the editing as it is stylized with some unique jump-cuts to play into some of the film’s surreal moments as well as its suspense along with straight cuts to help long shots linger for a few minutes. Production designer Zosia Mackenzie, with set decorator Rita Hetenyi plus art directors Clara Farkas and John O’Regan, does amazing work with the look of the home that the Bauers live in as well as the interiors in the resorts as well as the rooms where the doubles are made. Costume designer Maria Fater does fantastic work with the clothes that the characters wearing including some of the stylish clothes that Gabi wears that often shows her cleavage.

Hair designers Anna Cichon and Daniel Losco, along with makeup designers Rita Balla and Svetlana Gutic, do brilliant work with the look of the characters including some of the masks they would wear as well as some of the surreal moments in the film where makeup is prevalent. Special effects supervisor Paul Stephenson and visual effects supervisor Andy Robinson do terrific work with the visual effects for some of the surreal moments in the film along with some key violent moments in the film. Sound designers Rob Bertola and Alex Bullick, along with sound editor Jill Purdy, do superb work with the sound in creating unique sound textures in some of the surreal moments in the film as well as the sounds from natural locations as it is a highlight of the film.

The film’s music by Tim Hecker is phenomenal for its electronic-based score with elements of ambient textures as well as some brooding synthesizers as it adds to the film’s disturbing tone as it is a major highlight of the film while it also includes a soundtrack featuring music from Sook-Yin Lee & Adam Litovitz, Clinic, Derek & Brendan Fletcher, Timbre Timbre, Jim Williams, and the trio of Anand Chitragupth, Milind Chitragupth, and Sameer Anjaan.

The casting by Mark Bennett and Deirdre Bowen is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Kristof Kovacs as a young boy who takes part in the execution, Gergely Troscany as a posh local Gabi and her friends rob, Caroline Boulton as a posh actress in Bex, Jeffrey Ricketts as Bex’s husband Charles, John Ralston as the posh Dr. Bob Modan, Amanda Brugel as Dr. Modan’s wife Jennifer, and Thomas Krestchmann in a superb performance as a police detective in Thresh who allows James the chance to get away from his crimes through a fee as a way to not create any more trouble. Jalil Lespert is excellent as Gabi’s architect husband Alban as a man who likes to take part in debauchery as he also takes part in open relationships with others as he does a lot to enable James’ bad behavior. Cleopatra Coleman is amazing as James’ wife Emily as a woman who is troubled by her husband’s behavior as well as the presence of the Bauers as she doesn’t like what James can get away with due to the laws in this country prompting her to leave.

Alexander Skarsgard is incredible as James Foster as a novelist trying to come up with ideas for another book as he gets involved in a serious event that has him become guilty until he learns about a law that allows a double to fill in for his own execution. Skarsgard brings some humor into the role but also a lot of emotional weight as guilt starts to come in as well as the fact that he becomes a pawn in a world where the rich can get away with anything as long as they have money. Finally, there’s Mia Goth in an outstanding performance as Gabi Bauer as this actress who likes to goad James into doing bad things and get away with it but also seduce him. Goth’s performance is this wild firecracker who doesn’t just exude sex appeal but also charisma that allows herself to be front and center as well as do bad things and enjoy it as it is a career-defining performance for Goth.

Infinity Pool is a spectacular film from Brandon Cronenberg that features great performances from Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth. Along with its supporting cast, eerie music score, gorgeous yet hypnotic visuals, and a gripping story of guilt and privilege. It is a film that doesn’t play nice while also doing what it can to showcase what people could do in a foreign land and get away with it all because they have money and status. In the end, Infinity Pool is a tremendous film from Brandon Cronenberg.

Brandon Cronenberg Films: (Antiviral) – (Possessor)

© thevoid99 2023

Saturday, October 21, 2023

2023 Blind Spot Series: Tetsuo: the Iron Man


Written, edited, co-starring, art directed, co-shot, special effects, and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is the story of a man whose encounter with a metal fetishist has him infected by this disease that turns his flesh into scrap metal. The film is a body-horror film that explores a man who would deal with this new disease as well as encountering those suffering from this plague. Starring Tomorowo Taguchi and Kei Fujiwara. Tetsuo: The Iron Man is an astonishingly fucked-up and terrifying film from Shinya Tsukamoto.

The film revolves around an ordinary salaryman whose encounter with a metal fetishist has him be infected by a disease as his body turns into scrap metal as it plays into a man’s nightmare following this encounter. It is a film with a simple premise as it plays into a man who was out with his girlfriend as he would accidentally hit this mysterious man with his car and leave him for dead only for his body to suddenly be covered in scrap metal. Shinya Tsukamoto’s screenplay does follow a simple and straightforward narrative at first as it follows this ordinary salaryman in Tetsuo (Tomorowo Taguchi) where he is shaving but finds a piece of metal on his face. Then things get weird he meets a woman (Nobu Kanaoka) at a subway where she would encounter some piece of scrap metal and gets infected where things go wrong. Especially when Tetsuo’s date with his girlfriend (Kei Fujiwara) notices something is wrong as it leads to all sorts of things including have a gigantic drill as his penis.

Tsukamoto’s direction is very stylish as it is shot on areas outside of Tokyo where it largely takes place in industrial-based suburbs as well as a few other locations where much of it revolves more on this idea of cyberpunk. Especially as it opens with a man (Shinya Tsukamoto) who has put a piece of scrap metal into his thigh until he gets hit by a car. Shot on a low-budget where a lot of the camera work is hand-held where there are elements of shaky-cam in terms of some of the action. Tsukamoto also employs stop-motion animation for some sequences where the actors would be involved as it adds to this offbeat presentation of the film where Tsukamoto would do a lot of the visual effects as well as designing the look of Tetsuo when he’s covered in metal. Shot in black-and-white with co-cinematographer/costume designer Kei Fujiwara who also designed the metal costume of Tetsuo. Tsukamoto also uses close-ups and medium shots to play into the sense of terror as it relates to Tetsuo’s transformation with some gory detail.

Also serving as the film’s editor and overseeing its sound design, there is a frenetic presentation to the editing as it plays into the suspense and horror as the film’s photography also has a crudeness that adds to its sci-fi/horror presentation. Yet, Tsukamoto does maintain a sense of understanding into what is going on while also playing with its narrative as it showcases Tetsuo’s transformation but also things that he sees that are the cause of his actions where there are these elements of surrealism. Tsukamoto’s approach to the climax relates to Tetsuo’s action early in the film and whether or not should he embrace his new self or rejecting it as the latter would kill him. It also plays into this intense music soundtrack by Chu Ishikawa whose music score is a major highlight due to its pulsating industrial-based sound as well as elements of jazz that adds to the film’s offbeat tone. Overall, Tsukamoto crafts an enthralling yet disturbing film about a man who is plagued with a disease that turns his flesh into metal.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast feature a few notable small roles from Renji Ishibashi as a homeless tramp, Naomasa Musaka as a doctor Tetsuo sees on a TV who talks to him, Nobu Kanaoka as a woman in a subway that Tetsuo meets who gets infected, and Shinya Tsukamoto as a mysterious man who is a metal fetishist who would be the one to infect Tetsuo. Kei Fujiwara is excellent as Tetsuo’s girlfriend as a woman who also witnessed the hit-and-run yet also didn’t do anything though she would be shocked by what Tetsuo has become despite getting really horny. Finally, there’s Tomorowo Taguchi in an incredible performance as the titular character as this mild-mannered salaryman whose hit-and-run encounter with this metal fetishist has him succumbed to this strange disease as he struggles with his new self as it is largely a physical performance from Taguchi who manages to bring a lot into this performance as a man who becomes metal.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a tremendous film from Shinya Tsukamoto. Featuring a great cast, raw yet exhilarating visuals, its disturbing take on body horror, and a killer music soundtrack by Chi Ishikawa. This is a film that is definitely not for the faint of heart while also being something extreme yet also exciting in its premise of a man whose flesh turns to metal. In the end, Tetsuo: The Iron Man is a magnificent film from Shinya Tsukamoto.

Shinya Tsukamoto Films: (The Phantom of Regular Size) – (The Adventure of Denzu-Kozo) – (Hiruko the Goblin) – (Tetsuo II: Body Hammer) – (Tokyo Fist) – (Bullet Ballet) – (Gemini (1999 film)) – (A Snake of June) – (Vital) – (Haze (2005 film)) – (Female-Tamamushi) – (Nightmare Detective) – (Nightmare Detective 2) – (Tetsuo: The Bullet Man) – (Kotoko) – (Fires on the Plain) – (Killing (2018 film))

© thevoid99 2023

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Damned


Directed by Luchino Visconti and written by Visconti, Nicola Badalucco, and Enrico Medioli, Gotterdammerung/La cadula degli dei (The Damned/The Fall of the Gods) is the story of an industrial family who have begun doing business with the Nazis during the ascent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s that includes an amoral heir who would add to the growing chaos. The first film in a thematic trilogy relating to Germany, the film is an exploration of a family’s descent into greed and decadence as they sell their soul in their association with the Nazis. Starring Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Thulin, Helmut Berger, Helmut Griem, Umberto Osini, Charlotte Rampling, Florinda Bolkan, Reinhard Kolldehoff, and Albrecht Schoenhals. Gotterdammerung is a gripping and eerie film from Luchino Visconti.

Set in 1930s Germany, the film revolves around a steel industrial family who have decided to do business with Nazi Germany in its ascent only for the association to cause the family to unravel from the death of their patriarch as well as the activities of a few including an heir whose amoral behavior would help maintain more chaos. It is a film that explores a family who makes a deal with the Nazis which would benefit them financially and socially but it would also begin their downfall. The film’s screenplay opens with a dinner celebrating the birthday of Baron Joachim von Essenbeck (Albrecht Schoenhals) who is beloved by many in his family yet is reluctant to associate himself with the Nazis despite his conservative views. Yet, the night is shattered by the news of the Reichstag fire while son-in-law Herbert Thalmann (Umberto Osini) is another person who isn’t fond of the Nazis where the night ends badly when the baron is found dead with gunshot wounds on his body as the gun belonged to Thalmann though he is innocent yet is forced to flee knowing that he’s an outspoken critic of the Nazis.

The baron’s death sets everything in place as his daughter-in-law Sophie (Ingrid Thulin) is having an affair with the family’s executive Friedrich Bruckmann (Dirk Bogarde) who is also friends with a cousin of Sophie’s late husband in the SS officer Aschenbach (Helmut Griem) as they seek to take control of the family business with the approval of the baron’s grandson and Sophie’s son Martin (Helmut Berger) who inherits much of the share as he allows Bruckman to take control instead of the baron’s boorish nephew in Konstantin (Reinhard Kolldehoff). It would eventually cause a power struggle within the family as Herbert’s wife Elizabeth (Charlotte Rampling) asks Sophie to clear Herbert’s name unaware of her role in implicating Herbert. Meanwhile, Konstantin discovers something about Martin’s amoral lifestyle as he would use it as blackmail to get control of the family business to sell arms to the SA that Konstantin is a part of. Yet, it is Aschenbach that would stir things up as well as find ways to get Martin back on board but also find ways to do whatever he wants in order to ensure that the Nazis have a future. It all plays into a family dealing with the demands of a new world and how it would create chaos within this family as many of them scheme and do whatever they can to crave power as well as revel in decadence.

Luchino Visconti’s direction is definitely wondrous as it plays into a moment in time that is based on a real-life family known as the Krupp who would help create steel and weaponry for the Nazis only for their then-patriarch to be charged with war crimes. Shot on various locations in Austria, parts of then-West Germany, and interiors shot at Cinecitta Studios, in Rome, Italy with some of it near Dusseldorf and the Austrian village of Unterach am Attersee as Bad Wiessee. Visconti’s usage of the wide and medium shots don’t just play into the home of the von Essenbeck but also the world they live in as Visconti would create some unique compositions and framing that includes the opening party where Martin would be in drag as Marlene Dietrich as he performs in front of his family as it’s interrupted by the news of the Reichstag fire. Visconti also plays up a world that is lavish but also terrifying considering the world that this family lives in with some not wanting to be part of the Nazis. At the center of the turmoil is Martin as he is someone that has a lot of power but also does activities that are immoral as he’s also bisexual and molests children including a couple of his own cousins that Konstantin is aware of.

Visconti would also use close-ups to create some dramatic suspense as well as the sense of fear that would loom in Sophie and Friedrich as they would conspire to gain whatever power with Aschenbach being the man they turn to. Even as it means playing a role in an act of violence as there’s a key sequence late in the film’s second act that was originally cut from the film’s American release back in 1969 as it was spoken largely in German where a major event in Nazi Germany’s history takes place as much of the film is spoken in English for its American release with an alternate Italian dubbing for its European release. It is a key sequence that wouldn’t just play into this corruption that this family would be involved in but also a shift in power from within with Aschenbach stirring the pot. Yet, Visconti would create something that does feel operatic while also playing into some things that were considered taboo as it relates to the growing immorality that Martin would gain. Even as he would gain a few allies but also do things that would eventually destroy the reputation of his family. Overall, Visconti crafts a chilling yet disturbing film about a family’s fall from grace in their association with the Nazis.

Cinematographers Armando Nannuzzi and Pasqualino De Santis do amazing work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of colorful lighting for some of the interior scenes at night as well as maintaining some vibrant and low-key colors for some of the daytime exterior scenes. Editor Ruggero Mastroianni does excellent work with the editing as it has some unique jump-cuts to play into the suspense and drama as well as some rhythmic cuts that add to some terrifying moments in the film. Art directors Pasquale Romano and Enzo Del Prato do brilliant work with the look of the von Essenbeck family estate with all of its rooms that are lavish and full of wide spaces as well as the main office of the factory that the family runs.

Costume designer Piero Tosi does fantastic work with the costumes from the designs of the Nazi uniforms as well as the dresses that Sophie and Elizabeth wears as well as the clothes that the men wear including the Marlene Dietrich costume that Martin wears for his performance. The sound work of Renato Cudueri and Vittorio Trentino is superb for its approach to natural sound as well as the mixing to play into some of the drama and terror with a key sequence in the film. The film’s music by Maurice Jarre is incredible for its rich orchestral score filled with sumptuous string and woodwind arrangements that play into the sense of decadence and chaos that looms throughout the film with a couple of songs from those times including songs that were sung by Marlene Dietrich.

The film’s marvelous cast feature some notable small roles from Karin Mittendorf and Valentina Ricci in their respective roles as Herbert and Elizabeth’s daughters in Thilde and Erika, Irina Wanka as a young Jewish girl that Martin meets as she lives next door to Martin’s girlfriend, Nora Ricci as the von Essenbeck estate governess who runs the house, and Florinda Bolkan as Martin’s girlfriend Olga whom he doesn’t see often as well as the fact that there is no real commitment between the two towards the end as it relates to Martin’s own descent into immorality. Albrecht Schoenhals is terrific as Baron Joachim von Essenbeck as the family patriarch who is reluctant in aligning himself with Nazi Germany as well as having issues with their ideal that would unfortunately lead to his assassination. Reinhard Kolldehoff is superb as the baron’s nephew Konstantin who is also an officer for the SA paramilitary group as he wants to run the family business in the hopes of winning favor of Adolf Hitler towards the SA as he eventually becomes disillusioned with Hitler during a key moment in the film.

Charlotte Rampling is fantastic as Herbert’s wife Elizabeth who is troubled by her husband’s disappearance knowing that he didn’t kill the baron while is also someone who isn’t fond of the Nazi ideals as she asks Sophie for help only to be unaware that Sophie is the one who framed her husband. Renaud Verley is excellent as Konstantin’s nephew Gunther as a young man who is hoping to not be involved in the war as he is also close to Herbert and Elizabeth where he later succumbs to Aschenbach’s circle. Umberto Osini is brilliant as Herbert Thalmann as a man married to the family who is beloved by many though he isn’t fond of the Nazis as he is later accused of killing the baron forcing him to go into exile. Helmut Griem is amazing as Aschenbach as a SS officer who stirs the pot within the von Essenbeck family as he manipulates his way into the family’s affairs as he was a cousin of Sophie’s dead husband as he also does whatever he can to cling on to power by association.

Ingrid Thulin is incredible as Sophie as the baron’s daughter-in-law who is having an affair with Friedrich much to the baron’s disapproval as she is a woman that is hoping to have more power within the family as well as being the mastermind of killing the baron where she hopes to maintain shared control with Friedrich where she also would do anything including going against her family. Dirk Bogarde is phenomenal as Friedrich Bruckmann as a social-climbing executive of the family business who is having an affair with Sophie as he hopes to gain power only to involve himself with things that would push the family away as well as become Aschenbach’s puppet for a time. Finally, there’s Helmut Berger in a tremendous breakout performance as Martin von Essenbeck as the baron’s amoral grandson who likes to involve himself in things that are considered obscene as well as using his status to do what he wants only to find himself in trouble where he turns to Aschenbach as Berger exudes charisma but also something very dark from within as he leans towards the ideas of Nazism.

Gotterdammerung is a spectacular film from Luchino Visconti. Featuring a great ensemble cast, stylish visuals, Maurice Jarre’s exhilarating music score, and a look into a family’s descent into immorality and chaos. It is a film that explores the life of family during the early years of Nazi Germany and how everything they used to believe in crumble into a world that is full of hate. In the end, Gotterdammerung is a tremendous film from Luchino Visconti.

Luchino Visconti Films: (Obsessione) – (Giorni di gloria) – (La Terra Firma) – (Bellissima) – (Appunti su un fatto di cronaca) – (We, the Women) – (Senso) – White Nights - Rocco and His Brothers - (Boccaccio ’70-Il lavoro) – The Leopard - Sandra – (The Stranger (1967 film)) – The Witches (1967 film)- The Witch Burned AliveDeath in Venice - (Alla ricerca di Tadzio) – (Ludwig) – (Conversation Piece) – The Innocent (1976 film)

© thevoid99 2023

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Angelica (2015 film)


Based on the novel by Arthur Phillips, Angelica is the story of a couple whose life, following the birth of their daughter, unravels through mysterious events that haunts the wife who believes something is haunting them and their daughter. Written and directed for the screen by Mitchell Lichtenstein, the film is a psychological/supernatural drama-horror film that explores a couple dealing with their surroundings as a woman also copes with her own sexual repression. Starring Jena Malone, Janet McTeer, Ed Stoppard, Tovah Feldshuh, Charles Keating, Henry Stram, Daniel Gerroll, James Norton, and Glynnis O’Connor. Angelica is a rich and evocative film from Mitchell Lichtenstein.

Set in Victorian London, the film follows the life of a young woman who marries a scientist as their blissful life is interrupted following the birth of their daughter as the woman succumbs to madness relating to her physical and mental condition believing something is haunting her daughter. It is a story of this woman whose love for her husband and child is tested yet her physical ailment following her daughter’s birth forces the couple to not have sex much to the frustration of the husband who becomes troubled by his wife’s growing paranoia. Mitchell Lichtenstein’s screenplay opens with a young woman in the titular character (Jena Malone) as she has finished a play as she’s asked by her aunt Anne Montague (Janet McTeer) to see her ailing mother Constance (Glynnis O’Connor) who would tell her daughter the story of her young life and what happened to her father Dr. Joseph Barton (Ed Stoppard). It would lead into the main narrative set nearly 30 years ago when the young Constance (Jena Malone) was a shopkeeper who meets Dr. Barton as the two fall in love, marry, and would gain a daughter in Angelica.

However, Angelica’s birth was nearly fatal to both the baby and Constance as the latter still deals some physical pain which prevents her and Dr. Barton to have sex as the latter becomes frustrated where he focuses more on his work as a scientist experiment on animals to find diseases. It is something Constance would discover as it would add to their growing separation as well as her own erratic behavior where the housemaid Nora (Tovah Feldshun) would turn to Montague in an attempt to scam Constance but Montague realizes that Constance’s growing fears into this supernatural thing she’s seeing has merit where she befriends Constance and helps her along with Nora. Still, Dr. Barton remains troubled by his wife’s behavior following an incident including a moment where Constance poured oil around Angelica’s bed to prevent a ghost from taking Angelica. It all plays into whether everything Constance is dealing with is a product of her unhappiness or something much more as it relates to her love for Angelica and her husband’s growing estrangement.

Lichtenstein’s direction is stylish for the fact that the story is set in mid-19th Century London during the era of Queen Victoria as it is shot on location in areas in London as well as bits of New York City for the scenes set in the late 19th Century with the adult Angelica as well as areas where Montague lived in. Lichtenstein’s direction has moments that are straightforward in its compositions with elements of wide and medium shots as he does maintain this sense of beauty in the world that is Victorian London where everyone of upper and mid-upper class society wear the finest clothes. Still, Lichtenstein maintains this sense of dramatic tension that would be prevalent throughout the film as it plays into Constance’s own growing sense of madness but also this loss she would have due to the fact that she couldn’t have sex with her husband as it would hurt her drastically or kill her. Sex is a major factor in the film as Dr. Barton often tries to get some sexual pleasure but since he can’t do anything anal with her. There is a moment in the film where he tries to get her to perform oral sex but she is too distracted with what is happening with their daughter.

When the film moves into the second half where Constance meets Montague, things do loosen up a bit where Montague also gets Constance to relax as it does give the film bits of humor. Notably as it is where Montague also has Constance to think a bit more for herself instead of the need to please her husband who would continue to grow detached from her. Still, the element of horror is prevalent into what Constance sees as it relates to what Dr. Barton had shown her early in the film that adds to Constance’s mad state. Even as the film reaches its third act where Dr. Barton goes to colleagues and such to play into his own perspective unaware that he has contributed to his wife’s mental state through his own neglect. Its finale returns to the adult Angelica as she tries to get an understanding into her mother’s mental state as well as why her mother was protective of her despite the risk of her marriage. Overall, Lichtenstein crafts an eerie yet compelling film about a young woman’s mad encounter with the supernatural in her attempt to save her marriage and her daughter.

Cinematographer Dick Pope does incredible work with the film’s cinematography as its usage of oil lamps for some of the interior/exterior scenes at night as well as other low-key lighting adds to the film’s gorgeous look as well as its emphasis on heightened colors for some of the film’s daytime scenes. Editors Andrew Hafitz and Lee Percy do excellent work with the editing as it has elements of style in the jump-cuts as well as rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and drama. Production designer Luciana Arrighi, along with set decorators Kimberly Fahey, Susan Raney, and Katie Tharp plus art directors Matteo De Cosmo and Chris Wyatt, does amazing work with the look of the home that Dr. Barton and his family live in as well as the home that Montague lived in that is a direct contrast to the spacious and refined home of the Bartons. Costume designer Rita Ryack does fantastic work with the costumes in the design of the Victorian dresses of the times that is filled with vibrant colors and textures that says a lot about Constance’s place in society but also her own unraveling as she tries to maintain the role of a wife of an important figure in the world of science.

Makeup supervisor Emma J. Slater and hair stylist Joseph Whitmeyer do wonderful work with the design of some of the hairdos that Constance has as well as the look of the older Angelica. Visual effects supervisors Theodore Maniatis, Todd Sarsfield, Vico Sharabani, and Angus Wilson do terrific work with the visual effects in the look of the parasites that Dr. Barton shows Constance early in the film as they would form as a supernatural force that only she could see though some of the effects look clunky at times. Sound editor Robert Hein does superb work with the film’s sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations along with some sound from afar to help play into the horror elements in the film. The film’s music by Zbigniew Preisner is brilliant for its orchestral score along with elements of piano-based orchestral pieces that play into the drama as well as themes that add to the suspense and melancholia as it is a major highlight of the film.

The casting by Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Connor Inorio and Pela Kolodziej in their respective roles as the infant and two-year old Angelica, Henry Stram and Daniel Gerroll as a couple of doctors who warn both Constance and Dr. Barton about having sex as it relates to the former’s physical condition, James Norton as a colleague of Dr. Barton who suggests getting a mistress for Dr. Barton, Glynnis O’Connor as the older Constance as an ailing old woman filled with regret, Emma Caraman as the young Angelica who tries to deal with her mother’s mad state, and Charles Keating in his film performance as Dr. Miles who would meet Constance and Angelica late in the film to see if there’s anything wrong mentally with the former. Tovah Feldshun is excellent as the housemaid Nora who watches over everything as she does try to help Constance but also wanted to profit from what Montague is doing only to realize that Constance is really ill.

Ed Stoppard is brilliant as Dr. Joseph Barton as a scientist who tests on animals as he becomes sexually frustrated and emotionally-detached as he was once in love with Constance as he would use his time at work to distract himself only to find other ways to fulfill his sexual pleasures though he is confused by his wife’s mental state. Janet McTeer is great as Anne Montague as a woman who knows a lot about witchcraft and such though her intention was to scam Constance only to realize how fragile Constance is where she helps Constance loosen up but also do what she can to help Constance in her troubled mental state. Finally, there’s Jena Malone in a phenomenal performance as both the adult Angelica and the young Constance where she is a more subdued as the adult Angelica as she sports a heavier British accent. In the role of Constance, Malone adds this sense of innocence that would unravel as she becomes troubled by what is haunting her daughter but also in how it would cause her husband to be distant where Malone brings a lot of anguish to her role as well as playing someone who is a prude but is also trying to come out of that despite her mad state as it’s one of Malone’s great performances.

Angelica is a sensational film from Mitchell Lichtenstein that features great performances from Jena Malone and Janet McTeer. Along with its supporting cast, wondrous visuals, Zbigniew Preisner’s incredible music score, and its exploration of madness and sexual repression that leads to strange supernatural events. It is a film that mixes horror, suspense, and the period drama that plays into a woman coping with her love for her daughter but also her madness that would push her husband away. In the end, Angelica is a phenomenal film from Mitchell Lichtenstein.

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