Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Impostors

Written, directed and co-starring Stanley Tucci, The Impostors is the story of two struggling actors who accidentally stow away on a cruise to run from an egomaniacal actor while meeting with an array of offbeat passengers and crew members. The film is a farcical comedy where it involves many people who pretend to be someone else while dealing the need to act in order to save themselves. Also starring Oliver Platt, Alfred Molina, Lili Taylor, Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Steve Buscemi, Michael Emerson, Billy Connolly, Dana Ivey, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub, and Isabella Rosselini. The Impostors is a rip-roaring and exhilarating film from Stanley Tucci.

Set during the Great Depression in New York City, the film revolves around the misadventure of two struggling actors who receive tickets to a show starring an egomaniacal actor where they insult him at a bar only to go on the run and find themselves as stowaways on a cruise ship. It’s a film that play into two men who are trying to make it as actors but upon learning they’re on a cruise ship where they pretend to be stewards. Stanley Tucci’s screenplay is quite loose where it plays into these misadventures of Maurice (Oliver Platt) and Arthur (Stanley Tucci) to them trying to get food as they’re unemployed as well as what goes on in the ship as they encounter a series of offbeat passenger and crew members. Among them is a deposed queen (Isabella Rosselini), a heartbroken singer (Steve Buscemi), a once-rich-turned poor widow (Dana Ivey) with her grieving daughter (Hope Davis), a possibly gay tennis pro (Billy Connolly), and other oddball characters. Adding to the turmoil is the fact that the famed but arrogant actor Jeremy Burtom (Alfred Molina) is also on the ship.

Tucci’s direction is definitely stylish starting with an opening credits sequence where Maurice and Arthur cause trouble as a way to avoid paying for coffee and food as it’s presented like a silent movie. Then it becomes partially straightforward with elements of slapstick comedy where some of it is shot partially in New York City while much of it is shot on a soundstage for the scenes set on the cruise ship. While Tucci would create some amazing compositions with the wide and medium shots, much of it presented loosely where he allows his actors to just create performances that are exaggerated. While it does help to tell the story, there is an element where it feels self-indulgent at times but Tucci wants to create something where the actors are there to have fun and allow themselves to over-act at times. Overall, Tucci creates a silly yet extremely fun film about two actors who stowaway on a cruise and try to find a way to solve problems through the power of acting.

Cinematographer Ken Kelsch does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the colorful and sunny look of the daytime New York City exteriors to the look of the many interiors on the cruise ship as well as some of its exteriors. Editor Suzy Elmiger does brilliant work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts play into its humor and lively tone. Production designer Andrew Jackness, with set decorator Catherine Davis and art director Chris Shriver does amazing work with the look of the cruise ship with its exteriors as well as some of the interiors of the rooms and ballroom in the ship. Costume designer Juliet Polcsa does fantastic work with the design of the clothes from the clothes of the men including the lavish look of Burtom and the dresses that the women wear.

Hair stylists Victor DeNicola and Carla White do nice work with the hairstyles the women wore in those times along with some of the wigs that some of the characters wear. Sound editor Robert Hein does terrific work with the sound in the way some of the sound effects are presented as well as the sparse moment in the play scene. The film’s music by Gary DeMichele is wonderful for its ragtime/jazz-based score that played into the period of the times while music supervisor Margot Core creates a soundtrack that play into that period including some old music in French as it relates to the destination of where the ship is going to.

The casting by Ellen Lewis is incredible for the ensemble that is created as it feature some notable small roles from David Lipman as a baker Arthur harasses and gives Maurice tickets to a show, Matt Malloy as a fellow actor that Maurice and Arthur knows who had been humiliated by Burtom, Lewis J. Stadlen as a band leader, Elizabeth Bracco as an entertainment director for the cruise, Allan Corduner as the ship’s captain, Michael Emerson as Burtom’s assistant, Teagle F. Bougere as a sheik who has a fondness for a certain French song, Matt McGrath as an Italian detective named Marco who is afraid to kill as he has feelings for one of the ship’s directors in Lily, and Woody Allen in an un-credited yet funny performance as a neurotic stage director Maurice and Arthur audition for. Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney are superb in their respective roles as the con artists Johnny and Maxine as Americans who pretend to be French as they both try to woo Mrs. Essendine and the sheik. Tony Shalhoub is stellar as the ship’s first mate Voltri as a man who runs the ship but also has some very dark motives of his own.

Dana Ivey is wonderful as the widowed Mrs. Essendine who is upset that her late husband didn’t leave her a cent while Hope Davis is terrific as her daughter Emily who grieves for her father and acts melancholy until she notices the heartbroken singer. Isabella Rossellini is fantastic as the veiled queen who laments over being deposed and not want to be seen as she is fun to watch while Campbell Scott is hilarious as the German cruise director Meistrich who has a thing for Lily where he is just a hoot. Billy Connolly is excellent as the tennis pro Sparks who definitely bear some homosexual tendencies as he is fond of Maurice while Steve Buscemi is amazing as the suicidal and heartbroken singer Happy Franks. 

Lili Taylor is brilliant as a cruise director in Lily who befriends Maurice and Arthur as she tries to help them hide as well as deal with Meistrich. Alfred Molina is phenomenal as the egomaniacal actor Jeremy Burtom as a man who is quite full of himself and isn’t aware that he’s just a hack. Finally, there’s the duo of Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt in remarkable performances in their respective roles as Arthur and Maurice as two unemployed struggling actors trying to get work where an awkward moment with Burtom leads them to accidentally stow away on a cruise where they do whatever they can to hide as they use their acting skills to save them.

The Impostors is a sensational film from Stanley Tucci. Featuring a great cast, amazing set pieces, lively music, and a willingness to just let loose and have fun. It’s a film that is aware that it’s being indulgent while giving the actors a chance to just act out and be funny. In the end, The Impostors is a spectacular film from Stanley Tucci.

Stanley Tucci Films: (Big Night) - (Joe Gould’s Secret) - (Blind Date (2007 film))

© thevoid99 2016

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Based on the characters from DC Comics, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is about two superheroes who both go into conflict with each other unaware that a mogul is stirring the pot from underneath to get them to kill each other. Directed by Zack Snyder and screenplay by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio, the film is a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel where Superman copes with being a polarizing figure in the world with Batman being uneasy with Superman’s action from that film as Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El is once again played by Henry Cavill and Batman/Bruce Wayne is played by Ben Affleck. Also starring Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is an enthralling but messy film from Zack Snyder.

The film revolves around a growing conflict between two superheroes who both want to do good but have different ideas of what to do with it as they would eventually have a showdown unaware that a mogul is trying to get them to fight each other for his own gain. It’s a film that plays into not just actions but also its consequences where it begins with the climatic showdown between Superman and Zod at Gotham from Man of Steel but it is seen from the perspective of Bruce Wayne who would watch thousands of innocent people killed including some of his employees at a building he owns with one of them losing his legs. Superman not only copes with being a polarizing figure trying to do good though innocent people would be killed in these attempts as members of the United States government want to question his intentions. Still, Clark Kent would question the intentions of Batman who had been doing vigilante work on his own brand of justice where even the people of Gotham are afraid of him.

The film’s screenplay by David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio definitely play not into this conflict between these two men but also questioning themselves where Wayne and several others aren’t sure if Superman is really trying to do good as there are those who are also willing to discredit Superman. The one person that is doing that and more as well as stirring the pot between Batman and Superman is this mogul in Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). While Wayne’s longtime butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) believe that Superman isn’t the enemy and Kent’s adoptive mother Martha (Diane Lane) tries to assure her son to do good no matter all of the bad that is happening. Even Kent’s girlfriend/fellow journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) tries to assure Clark that he is doing good while she would do her own investigation into a bullet shell she found in Africa during an assignment that went wrong where Superman saved her but he would be accused of killing several people.

While the film’s script does establish the characters including their motivation as well as their own suspicions. The narrative however is a total mess due to the fact that there is so much that is going on as well as a lot of exposition of how Luthor views the world and this subplot that relates to these other individuals with superpowers that Wayne would learn. One of which would reveal to be Wonder Woman who would be integral to the film’s climax as she brings some weight into unveiling the truth of what is happening and who is the real enemy. Yet, the journey for Wonder Woman to be involved is a clunky one in the script as other aspects that relate to the suspicion Wayne and Kent have toward each other as well as the government’s suspicion on Superman aren’t fully realized.

Zack Snyder’s direction definitely has a lot of stylistic elements not just in the conventional aspects of bombastic action films but it does have moments where he does break away from the action. Shot on various locations in Detroit, Chicago, and parts of New Mexico as Africa, the film does play into a world that is uncertain about what is going to happen with Superman being seen as a savior for some but others see him as a false idol. Snyder does use a lot of wide shots to establish some of the locations as well as some medium shots to play into the vastness of the crowds along with some of the conversations. There are some close-ups where Snyder does play into some of the intrigue such as a meeting between Wayne and Diana Prince at a museum where the former is intrigued by the latter. It’s among one of the highlights of the film that shows Snyder just restraining himself a bit as well in his slow-motion action scenes.

The direction does have moment that feature moments that are surreal such as a few dream sequences of what Wayne is dealing with as it relates to the death of his parents and the idea of Superman as a threat. There are moments that drive the story such as Superman attending the U.S. Senate Committee in the hope that he can announce his intentions which would lead to a key plot point in the film. It’s just that Snyder tends to draw things out while also trying to find time to introduce other characters that is to be part of something bigger. It is part of the reason for the film’s uneven tone where there is this story about Superman going against Batman but also wanting to tell the story of these two men working together for something good. The film’s climax where the two team up with Wonder Woman to face a monster called Doomsday is quite thrilling but it is followed by a more drawn-out ending that goes a little overboard. Overall, Snyder does create an exhilarating yet flawed film about two superheroes being manipulated by a tyrannical mogul who wants them both dead by killing each other.

Cinematographer Larry Fong does excellent work with the film‘s stylish cinematography with its usage of de-saturated colors and some low-key grainy camera work for some of the nighttime interiors as well as the usage of blue and sepia for some of the daytime exteriors. Editor David Brenner does nice work with the editing as it does go into the typical fast-cutting style that is expected in action films though it does allow each scene to establish what is going on while it also has some stylish jump-cuts. Production designer Patrick Tatapoulos, with set decorator Carolyn “Cal” Loucks and supervising art director Troy Sizemore, does brilliant work with the look of the Luthor estate as well as the home and land of Bruce Wayne along with the secret room where he does his own investigation with Alfred. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson does fantastic work with the design of the costumes that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman wear as well as those gorgeous dresses that Prince wears in social gatherings.

Visual effects supervisor John “D.J.“ Des Jardin does amazing work with the visual effects as it play into some of the design of the cities and the powers of Superman as well as in the look of the monster that is Doomsday. Sound designers Chuck Michael and Jussi Tegelman, with sound editor Scott Hecker, do superb work with the sound with the layer of sound effects and the way Doomsday sound along with how some of the locations are presented with the sound. The film’s music by Tom Holkenberg aka Junkie XL and Hans Zimmer is wonderful for its mixture of bombastic orchestral score provided by Zimmer with some of Holkenberg‘s approach to rock and electronic power as it has some amazing themes including the one for Wonder Woman‘s arrival.

The casting by Jo Edna Boldin, Kristy Carlson, and Lora Kennedy is great as it feature some notable small role and appearances from news reporters Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper, and Charlie Rose as themselves along with the famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as himself. Other small roles from Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan as Bruce’s parents in the flashback scene of their murder, Michael Cassidy as the young Bruce, Mark Edward Taylor as an executive at Wayne Enterprises who would be killed in the film’s opening sequence, Christina Wren and Harry Lennix in their respective roles as Major Farris and Secretary Swanwick who are among the few that believe that Superman was set-up in Africa, Kevin Costner in a cameo appearance as Clark’s adoptive father Jonathan Kent, and Robin Atkin Downes as performance-capture model of the monster that is Doomsday.

Other noteworthy small roles include Scoot McNairy as a former Wayne Enterprises employee Wallace Keefe who has a legit grudge towards Superman, Tao Okamoto as Luthor’s assistant Mercy Graves, and Callan Mulvey as the Russian terrorist Anatoli Knyazev whom Wayne suspects to have some affiliation with Luthor as he would also be involved in setting up Superman for an incident in Africa. Holly Hunter is terrific as Senator June Finch as a woman that wants to question Superman to see if his intentions are good while becoming uneasy about Luthor and his obsession towards Superman. Diane Lane is fantastic as Martha Kent as Clark’s adoptive mother who tries to assure her son about his role in the world as she would also become a key factor in the climax into what Superman has to fight for.

Laurence Fishburne is superb as Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White who is frustrated with Kent’s frequent absences and the compromises he had to make to keep his paper afloat. Jeremy Irons is excellent as Alfred Pennyworth as Wayne’s longtime butler/guardian who is kind of the conscience of sorts while getting to say some funny lines as well as have Wayne see reason about what Superman is doing. Amy Adams is amazing as Lois Lane as Kent’s colleague/lover who is trying to see what really happened in Africa as well as try to help Kent see that he is someone trying to do good. Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant as Lex Luthor as a mogul who despises Superman and will do anything to destroy him where Eisenberg has this darkly-comic approach to the character that is quite offbeat but fun to watch.

In the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is phenomenal as the Amazonian warrior who disguises herself as an antiques dealer who doesn’t appear much but her scenes do provide some importance while showing what she can do when she is Wonder Woman when she joins the fight against Doomsday as she steals the show. Henry Cavill is marvelous as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman as someone who is struggling with his role as a superhero while dealing with its consequences and expectations where he also finds himself in conflict with Batman over different ideas of doing good. Finally, there’s Ben Affleck in a remarkable performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman as a vigilante who brings fear to his enemies as he wonders if Superman is really on Earth to bring chaos as well as have suspicion towards Luthor where he makes a discovery about others who might join in the fight for good where Affleck really brings in the sense of ingenuity and awesomeness that is Batman.

Despite its flaws due to a messy script and some drawn-out storylines including its ending, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still a terrific film from Zack Snyder. Featuring a great cast, a fantastic score, dazzling visual effects, and an intriguing yet flawed premise, it is a superhero film that is exciting while setting the stage for something bigger to come. In the end, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a stellar film from Zack Snyder.

Zack Snyder Films: (Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)) - 300 - Watchmen - (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole) - Sucker Punch - Man of Steel - (Justice League)

DC Extended Universe: (Suicide Squad) - (Wonder Woman)

Batman Films: (Batman (1966 film)) - Batman (1989 film) - Batman Returns - Batman Forever - Batman & Robin - Batman Begins - The Dark Knight - The Dark Knight Rises

Superman Films: (Superman) - (Superman II) - (Superman III) - (Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) - (Superman Returns) - (Superman II: The Richard Donner’s Cut)

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, December 02, 2016

Song One

Written and directed by Kate Barker-Froyland, Song One is the story of an anthropologist who returns home after her brother becomes comatose from an accident as she uses the music of his favorite singer to try and revive him. The film is a drama where a woman tries to patch things up with her brother while meeting the musician he admired. Starring Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Ben Rosenfield, and Mary Steenburgen. Song One is a lively and compelling film from Kate Barker-Froyland.

The film is a simple story of an anthropologist who returns from Morocco after learning her estranged brother has been hit accidentally by a car as he’s become a comatose. Trying to find ways to revive her brother, the woman learns about his favorite singer as she attends his show where she would meet him as he would later take part in trying to revive the woman’s brother. The film’s screenplay by Kate Barker-Froyland doesn’t have a lot of surprises in terms of plotting but it does create characters that are interesting as well as not being afraid of being flawed. The film’s protagonist Franny (Anne Hathaway) is someone who is often used to have things in control until she learns that her brother Henry (Ben Rosenfield) is in a coma as she blames herself for not contacting him due to a fight. Going through his journals and opening up videos he sent that she never saw, she would embark on a journey to not only understand more about her brother but also the musician he idolizes in James Forester (Johnny Flynn).

Barker-Froyland’s direction is definitely very simple as it play into the world of folk music bars and such that Franny would encounter. Shot largely on location in Brooklyn, New York with some of it shot on Morocco, the film plays into a woman trying to learn about the world that her brother seems to be drawn into as well as want to be part of. While there are some wide shots, Barker-Froyland would favor more intimate compositions with the usage of the medium shots and close-ups to play into the drama. Barker-Froyland would create a looseness to the musical performances while creating moments that are just low-key and to the point. Even as it wouldn’t be overly-dramatic where Barker-Froyland would just maintain something that is real and natural which include some tense moments between Franny and her mother Karen (Mary Steenburgen). Still, it is about a woman trying to reconnect with her brother through music as well as find out much about herself and the man her brother idolizes. Overall, Barker-Froyland creates an engaging though formulaic film about a woman trying to revive her brother through music.

Cinematographer John Guleserian does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography from the way many of the interior/exterior shots of New York City looks at night to some of the naturalistic look of the scenes set in Morocco. Editor Madeleine Gavin does nice work with the editing as it is quite straightforward while including some stylish jump-cuts to play with the conventions of the drama. Production designer Jade Healy, with set decorator Brandon Tonner-Connolly and art director Anne Goelz, does terrific work with the set pieces from the hospital room where Henry slept at as well as the home that Karen lived in. Costume designer Emma Potter does wonderful work with the costumes as it is mostly casual that play into the look of hipster New York City.

Sound mixers Hicham Amedras and Jeff Pullman do superb work with the sound to play into the natural elements of the sound in the many locations including some of the music clubs. The film’s music by Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice, with additional music by Nate Walcott, is brilliant for its mixture of folk and indie music while music supervisors Eric Craig and Brian McNelis create a soundtrack that does play into the indie-folk scene with some music from Morocco as well as contributions from Dan Deacon, America, Sharon Van Etten, and Nina Simone.

The casting by Tiffany Little Canfield and Bernard Telsey is marvelous as it feature some notable small appearances from Lola Kirke as a performer and Sarah Steele as a fan who asks James to sign her iPod. Ben Rosenfield is superb as Henry as Franny’s younger brother who wants to be a musician only to become comatose following an accident where he spends much of the film lying in bed. Johnny Flynn is terrific as James Forester as a popular indie-folk musician that Franny would discover and meet as he learns about Henry and helps Franny while dealing with his own issues in his career. Mary Steenburgen is amazing as Karen as Franny and Henry’s mother who is coping with the latter’s accident and coma while wondering if she had been a good mother as well as deal with Franny on some unresolved issues. Finally, there’s Anne Hathaway in a remarkable performance as Franny where she plays this woman who feels guilty for what happened to her brother as she is desperate to wake him up where it’s Hathaway displaying some humility and restraint as well as bits of charm as it’s one of her finer performances.

Song One is a stellar film from Kate Barker-Froyland that features an excellent performance from Anne Hathaway. Along with a superb cast and a nice film soundtrack, it is a film that maybe formulaic and doesn’t do anything new but it at least has characters that are compelling enough to be invested in. In the end, Song One is a very good film from Kate Barker-Froyland.

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Getaway (1972 film)

Based on the novel by Jim Thompson, The Getaway is the story of a criminal who is released from prison by his wife as they’re both on the run following a botched bank robbery as well as what the wife had to do to get her husband released. Directed by Sam Peckinpah and screenplay by Walter Hill, the film is a neo-noir film that explores a couple trying to survive while with things that nearly destroyed their marriage. Starring Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson, Al Letteri, Sally Struthers, Bo Hopkins, Jack Dodson, and Slim Pickens. The Getaway is a thrilling and compelling film from Sam Peckinpah.

The film follows a couple who go on the run after a robbery for a businessman went wrong as some secrets are unveiled that make things more complicated for this married couple. It’s a simple film that isn’t just about relationships and what some will do to help that person but also the severity of these sacrifices. Walter Hill’s screenplay doesn’t just show the intense love that Carter “Doc” McCoy (Steve McQueen) and his wife Carol (Ali MacGraw) have for each other but also in the situation they’re in as play into corruption and deals of the worst kind. Especially as Doc is serving prison time for his own work as a robber as he is being denied parole until Carol makes a deal with the corrupt businessman Jack Beynon (Ben Johnson) to release Doc but Doc would have to perform a bank robbery with two other men.

Doc does the deal but the robbery doesn’t go well as one of his accomplices in Rudy (Al Letteri) would try to create a double-cross that failed only for Doc to realize he’s being double-crossed by Beynon who would reveal what Carol did to get Doc out of prison. Hill does create a unique structure where the first half is about Doc’s release, the botched robbery, and the ill-fated meeting with Beynon after the robbery while its second half is about Doc and Carol on the run as they ponder the future of their marriage. Yet, they’re being pursued by Beynon’s men and a wounded Rudy as well as the law where it just adds to the trouble that the McCoys would have to endure. Even as they try to make it to El Paso, Texas and reach the border with nearly half-a-million dollars which Beynon’s men and Rudy want.

Sam Peckinpah’s direction definitely bear a lot of the stylistic elements he’s known for with its usage of slow-motion to capture some of the graphic violence as well as its disdain for aspects of the modern world. Shot in various cities around Texas including San Antonio and El Paso, the film does have the feel of a western but it meshes with element of noir though not on a visual sense for the latter. While Peckinpah uses a lot of wide shots for the locations as well as some intense scenes in the violence. He would favor something that is more intimate as it relates to the McCoys’ relationship with each other as well as some of the characters they meet. Notably the scene after the botched robbery where there is this air of tension between Doc and Beynon as it has a lot of what is happening where it does play into the elements of film noir.

By the time the film reaches the second half where much of it is spent on the road where the McCoys are on the run. There is a looseness to the direction while Peckinpah would also maintain some suspense as it relates to a sequence involving a con man in a train or car chases involving the cops. The scenes on the road also pertain to Rudy where he holds a veterinarian and his wife hostage as it would create more issues as the wife would fall for Rudy. The climax is set at a hotel where many criminals would hide out as it is quite bloody as well as display some intricate framing in how Peckinpah would play into the suspense to see if the McCoys can survive the attack from all of these forces who doesn’t just want the money but also the McCoys dead. Overall, Peckinpah creates a captivating and gripping film about a married couple going on the run with nearly half-a-million dollars in cash.

Cinematographer Lucien Ballard does excellent work with the film‘s very sunny and colorful cinematography for many of the daytime exterior locations as well as some of the interiors while using low-key lights for the scenes set at night. Editor Robert L. Wolfe does fantastic work with the editing with its usage of slow-motion cuts, jump-cuts, and other stylistic moments to play into the suspense and violence. Art directors Angelo P. Graham and Ted Haworth, with set decorator George R. Nelson, do amazing work with the look of Beynon‘s house and office as well as the hotel that many of the criminals stay at near El Paso.

Sound editor Michael Colgan and Josef von Stroheim do superb work with the sound as it play into the chaotic sounds of gunfire and violence as well as some of the moments involving the car chases and dumpster truck scene. The film’s music by Quincy Jones is brilliant for its jazz-like score with elements of rock, country, and funk as it play into the energy of the film as well as some of the somber moments as it is a highlight of the film.

The casting by Patricia Mock is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Dub Taylor as the hotel owner Laughlin, Bo Hopkins as a robber in part of the heist who would fuck things up accidentally, Richard Bright as the con man that tried to steal the bag of money from Carol, Roy Jenson as Beynon’s business partner Cully, Jack Dodson as the veterinarian named Harold whom Rudy would hold hostage to fix him up, and Slim Pickens in a brief yet superb performance as a cowboy Doc and Carol would meet as he is just so fun to watch in his brief cameo. Sally Struthers is pretty good as Harold’s wife Fran who would fall for Rudy as she does whatever she can to help Rudy while being frightened by the chaos around her. Al Letteri is fantastic as Rudy as a robber who tries to double-cross Doc as he would survive their encounter as he goes after him and Carol.

Ben Johnson is excellent as Jack Beynon as a corrupt businessman who would use his influence to get Doc out on parole but he would also do things to Doc that would just push the McCoys to the edge. Finally, there’s the duo of Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw in remarkable performances in their respective roles as Doc and Carol McCoy. McQueen provides that sense of bravado and grittiness to his performance as a robber that knows everything but would display some vulnerability and humility into what his wife had to do to get him out of jail. MacGraw’s performance as Carol shows a woman that is desperate to help her husband anyway she can as she then feels disappointed and ponders if she made the right decision. McQueen and MacGraw definitely display some chemistry that bring some realism to the couple in the way they love each other as well as express their own frustrations as it plays true to the world of noir.

The Getaway is a phenomenal from Sam Peckinpah that features great performances from Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw. Featuring a superb supporting cast, gorgeous locations, thrilling action, and a snazzy score from Quincy Jones. The film is one of Peckinpah’s more accessible films as well as a great blend of noir and suspense with bits of the western. In the end, The Getaway is an incredible film from Sam Peckinpah.

Sam Peckinpah Films: The Deadly Companions - Ride the High Country - Major Dundee - Noon Wine - The Wild Bunch - The Ballad of Cable Hogue - Straw Dogs - Junior Bonner - Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid - Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia - (The Killer Elite) - (Cross of Iron) - (Convoy) - (The Osterman Weekend) - (The Auteurs #62: Sam Peckinpah)

© thevoid99 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Films That I Saw: November 2016

What is there to say? I’ve been through some pretty bad years. The years growing up into my teens and deal with the bullshit that is middle school and high school. 9/11. Dropping out of college after five-six years of nothing to show for. Losing my youngest sister at 23 in 2009 that would be followed a year later with me going through a year-long depression. A couple of years later, I would check myself into a psychiatric hospital for a few days as I’m still paying off that debt. Those were some tough years as there’s been some good times and bad times but 2016. I know it’s a month away from being finished but I wish it was over now because this is pretty much the worst year I’ve been through. Not on a personal level but it’s been a fucking bummer considering what has been happening. Just as this month started off good when the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series after a long 100-year drought in what I think is one of the best baseball games I had ever seen. It goes into shit.

Now the future is more uncertain as it’s going to be in the hands of… there’s so many things I want to say. I want to say the most offensive thing that I can think of but it wouldn’t be enough to describe how much I’m not happy with the result of the Presidential election as my sister and her husband aren’t happy about it either. There’s longtime family friends of my parents who are supporters of this man as I’m no longer their friends and as far as I’m concerned. They can fuck off. As if that wasn’t bad enough, more fucking deaths happened in Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, Fidel Castro, Florence Henderson, and just recently, the 70-plus people who are part of the Chapecoense football team from Brazil whose plane just crashed in Colombia. I’m also hearing things about the Dakota pipeline where protesters are being assaulted while a high school teacher told African-American students that the future president will send them back to Africa. Honestly, I don’t know what to say as this year is just fucking shit. I’ll leave it to John Oliver and everyone else to pretty much state the year that is 2016.

In the month of November, I saw a total of 36 films in 25 first-timers and 11 re-watches. Slightly down from last month but saw a damn good number of first-timers as the highlight of the month is my Blind Spot film in Roman Holiday. Here are the top 10 First-Timers that I saw for November 2016:

1. Carol

2. 13th

3. Arrival

4. 45 Years

5. De Palma

6. The Getaway

7. Cop Car

8. Big Hero 6

9. Deadpool

10. The Good Dinosaur

Monthly Mini-Reviews

This is What They Want

In the first of five documentary pieces of the 30 for 30 series that I’ve watched, the first part is about Jimmy Connors and the unexpected comeback he had at the 1991 U.S. Open where he reached the semifinals. It is a fascinating piece about one of the most popular and controversial figures in tennis who made the sport more accessible to the public as his performance at the 1991 U.S. Open was unexpected with the people rooting for him.

Muhammad and Larry

From Albert Maysles is another documentary of the 30 for 30 series as it is about the 1980 fight between Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes where Ali came out retirement to fight Holmes. The footage shot by the Maysles brothers doesn’t just reveal Ali’s attempt to try and get back in the game but also the reality that was being faced as he was definitely past his prime. It is kind of a heartbreaking film to watch as Larry Holmes appeared in the film through old footage and new footage as someone that remains humble as he had some regrets about fighting a man he idolized as well as the fact that fight was made all because of money.

The Boy Next Door

I do like erotic thrillers but I think they were best made in the 1980s as this was quite tame and lacking in any substance. Sure, Jennifer Lopez looks good it was nice to see her in a sex scene despite not showing much compared to the other naked chick in the film. It’s just very formulaic and lacking any real kind of suspense as Ryan Guzman is just bad in this while John Corbett and Kristin Chenoweth are just wasted. It’s a bad movie and nothing that I would expect from someone like Rob Cohen who is just a bad director.

The 5th Wave

Another of those lame young-adult adaptations that has little to no substance as this film is no different with a few exception due to the performances of Chloe Grace Moretz and Maika Monroe. It’s about a series of catastrophic events in which teenagers find themselves having to fight aliens who have taken over planet Earth. Moretz’s character is someone who sees what is really happening as she goes on a journey to find her little brother as it has a twist that is quite obvious as it never holds up.

No Mas

The third film that I saw from the 30 for 30 series is one of the best as it’s about the rivalry between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran for the welterweight world title. Yet, the film is more about the second fight in which it was a rematch with Duran as the champion as it is still quite controversial all because Duran quit the fight in the eighth round. The film features interviews with Leonard and Duran as well as supermodel Christie Brinkley who was a photographer during the fight and the training as well as Mike Tyson who gives his own views on those fights as well as why Duran quit.

The U Part 2

The sequel to the popular The U documentary focuses on the University of Miami rebuilding itself in the mid-1990s under the guidance of coach Butch Davis who would set a template for his replacement in Larry Coker who would bring the university a fifth national title in an undefeated season in 2001. Yet, a year later and another undefeated season that would lead to another shot at the national title would end on a bad call during overtime and the team goes into a freefall in many ways. Notably as it involves some scandal due to a booster as well as reveal some things that the NCAA did to the university which was really unfair.

Four Falls of Buffalo

In the early 90s, there was no team that was as good as the Buffalo Bills who would spend from 1990 to 1993 going to the Super Bowl four times but never win one. The fifth 30 for 30 doc that I saw is about that team and how special they are as they were a team that really played well but it is a shame they never got to win the Super Bowl. Still, that doesn’t take away anything they accomplished in those four years as well as play along with the fact that they were close in winning a Super Bowl.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. Se7en

2. Wadjda

3. Thirteen

4. A propos de Nice

5. Charlie Wilson’s War

6. The Game

7. Panic Room

8. You Don’t Know Bo

9. The Beach

10. The Game Plan

Well, that is it for November as there isn’t much that is going to happen in December other than my final Blind Spot assignment for the year as well as the last Auteurs piece of the year on Sam Peckinpah. Along with some recent films and hopefully new ones, the list of what is coming next year will happen as well as some announcements on what I plan to do next year as I’m going to scale back a bit. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off….

© thevoid99 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2017 Blind Spot Series

With the year that is 2016 coming to a close (thank God) with one more film in the Blind Spot Series left for the year that will be Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot. The time has come to look into what is ahead for the next Blind Spot Series which has been something I've enjoyed as it gives me the chance to not only see films that I had never seen before. It also shows me all kind of different films and filmmakers as the choices for the 2017 series doesn't just reflect the many different genre of films that I wanted to see but also to shake things up. Some of which are based on filmmakers I've recently discovered or know very little about. Even as a lot of these films are old classics as it's something I want to rectify more and more over the years. Especially the films the pre-World War II era and everything else before the 1960s while I also made the decision not to choose films from the 21st Century. Having done two trilogies this year, I decide to just do one as a way to not overwhelm myself. Here are the 11 films and one trilogy of films that I will watch for 2017:

Rio Bravo

How Green Was My Valley

The Big Red One

A Brighter Summer Day

World on a Wire

The Lady Eve


Hoop Dreams

Swing Time


Rear Window

& Pier Paolo Pasolini's Trilogy of Life (The Decameron - The Canterbury Tales - Arabian Nights)

© thevoid99 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thirteen (2003 film)

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke and written by Hardwicke and Nikki Reed, Thirteen is the story of a thirteen-year old girl who befriends a bad girl in middle school as she is introduced to the world of chaos and self-destructive behavior as she would worry her mother. Loosely based on Reed‘s own experiences, the film is a coming-of-age film that explores a young girl‘s growing pains and her mother becoming frightened by her daughter‘s behavior. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Nikki Reed, Brady Corbet, Jeremy Sisto, Deborah Kara Unger, D.W. Moffett, Vanessa Hudgens, Kip Pardue, and Holly Hunter. Thirteen is a thrilling yet haunting film from Catherine Hardwicke.

The film follows the life of a thirteen-year old girl who goes from a sweet and caring honor student with a lot of promise who then befriends a popular bad girl as she becomes an unruly bad girl exploring sex, drugs, and alcohol much to the worry of recovering alcoholic mother. It is told in a very straightforward fashion as this young girl doesn’t just struggle with being in middle school but also the transition of growing out of an adolescent into becoming a teenager who would do wild things as she is introduced to all sorts of things by a girl who is also thirteen. The film’s screenplay by Catherine Hardwicke and Nikki Reed which is sort of based on the latter’s experiences as a young girl that is struggling to find herself in that period between childhood and adulthood as it is very confusing and volatile at times. For the protagonist Tracy Freeland (Evan Rachel Wood), she is a young woman that is full of innocence but there is something about her that is off and confused.

Notably as Tracy often feels slighted by her mother Melanie (Holly Hunter) who devotes time trying to work as a hairdresser as well as spend time with a recovering addict in Brady (Jeremy Sisto) whom Tracy isn’t fond of. When Tracy enters middle school as this epitome of goody two-shoes kind of girl, she is mocked by some of her classmates as she begs her mother to get trendy clothes to fit in. Once the popular bad girl Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed) takes notice of Tracy as well as see what Tracy does to fit in, Tracy becomes part of this clique of girls wearing racy clothing and do outrageous things. When Evie’s legal guardian Brooke (Deborah Kara Unger) goes away for a convention for a few weeks, Evie would temporarily live with Tracy, Melanie, and Tracy’s older brother Mason (Brady Corbet) for a while. Melanie reluctantly let Evie live with them as she becomes a positive maternal figure for Evie in some ways but she eventually would drive a wedge between Melanie and Tracy. The latter of which becomes more destructive and less caring as it makes everyone uncomfortable except for Evie.

Hardwicke’s direction is definitely stylized with its usage of hand-held cameras as well as create certain moods in the photography to help express the whirlwind of emotions that Tracy would go through. Shot on location in and around Los Angeles, California on 16mm film, Hardwicke would go for something that is intimate where she mainly uses a lot of close-ups as well as some medium shots to play into the family dynamic as well as the growing friendship between Tracy and Evie. While there are some wide shots, it also has this stylized approach to the way the camera moves such as the scenes of Tracy and Evie walking around Hollywood where Tracy gets really high and loses Evie who would be someplace else as Mason would make a chilling discovery of what Tracy has become. The direction also play into this air of recklessness into what Tracy and Evie would do such as the opening scene of how wild these girls are and it would return again as it shows how far Tracy has descended. By the time the film reaches its third act, the de-saturated look in the colors become less defined and moodier as it play into that descent but also some of the realities that even Melanie is unprepared for. Overall, Hardwicke creates a gripping yet visceral film about a thirteen-year-old girl trying to grow up too fast in the worst ways.

Cinematographer Elliot Davis does incredible work with the film‘s stylish photography with the usage of blue-colored filters as well as some grainy yet de-saturated look of some of the scenes set in the daytime and at night in the interior/exterior scenes. Editor Nancy Richardson does excellent work with the editing as it features a lot of stylish jump-cuts and dizzying fast cuts as it play into the craziness of what Tracy would go through as it is a highlight of the film. Production designer Carol Strober, with set decorator Donti Hurst and art director John B. Josselyn, does fantastic work with the look of the home the Freelands live in as well as some of the shops the characters go to.

Costume designer Cindy Evans does wonderful work with the costumes from the stylish clothes that Tracy and Evie would wear as well as some of the clothes that Melanie wears. Sound designer Frank Gaeta does superb work with the sound as it play into some of the chaotic moments that go on at the house and at some of the locations as well as some of the quieter moments in the film. The film’s music by Mark Mothersbaugh is amazing for its electronic-based score that features some playful melodies as it also has bits of rock and pop to play into the culture that Tracy and Evie are in while music supervisors Michelle Norrell and Amy Rosen provide a soundtrack that play into that world as it features music from Liz Phair, Clinic, Folk Implosion, MC 900 Ft. Jesus, the Like, Katy Rose, Kinnie Star and Carmen Rose, and Imperial Teen.

The casting by Jakki Fink, Shani Ginsberg, and Christina Sibul is great as it feature some notable small roles from Charles Duckworth as a teenage boy that Tracy likes in Javi, Jenicka Carey as a friend of Evie in Astrid, Cynthia Ettinger as a frequent customer of Melanie, Sarah Clarke as a family friend of Melanie, Kip Pardue as a neighbor named Luke that Evie would seduce, Vanessa Hudgens as a friend of Tracy who would be abandoned only to maintain her nice-girl persona, and D.W. Moffett as Tracy and Mason’s father who is startled by what happened to Tracy as he is unsure of what is happening. Deborah Kara Unger is terrific as Evie’s guardian Brooke who gives Evie a home and often lets her do what she wants while having a scary moment during the film’s climax as it relates to Tracy’s behavior. Jeremy Sisto is superb as Melanie’s boyfriend Brady as a recovering addict who is trying to redeem himself despite being disliked by Tracy as he becomes aware of the bad influence Evie has become.

Brady Corbet is excellent as Mason as Tracy’s older brother who has a thing for Evie but eventually becomes overwhelmed as he realizes how bad of an influence she’s become. Nikki Reed is amazing as Evie Zamora as a troubled teenager who is popular as she is quite wild and can do a lot of things as she introduces Tracy to a lot of things while being a true friend of sorts where she goes to Melanie in needing a positive maternal figure. Holly Hunter is brilliant as Melanie Freeland as a woman that is struggling to raise two kids as she is unaware of what her daughter is going through as she then becomes scared of what Tracy is becoming as she has a hard time about all that is happening. Finally, there’s Evan Rachel Wood in a phenomenal performance as Tracy Freeland as a thirteen-year old girl who goes from sweet and innocent to being unruly and unpredictable as it’s a wild and scary performance from Wood who displays all of the manic energy and terror of being a teenager.

Thirteen is a spectacular film from Catherine Hardwicke that features incredible performances from Evan Rachel Wood, Nikki Reed, and Holly Hunter. Along with an excellent supporting cast, dazzling visuals, and a fantastic music score and soundtrack. It’s a film that is quite intense as a coming-of-age drama where it does have elements that feel very real but also provide some hope about how a parent handle the growing pains of a child. In the end, Thirteen is a tremendous film from Catherine Hardwicke.

Catherine Hardwicke Films: (Lords of Dogtown) - (The Nativity Story) - (Twilight (2008 film)) - (Red Riding Hood (2011 film)) - (Plush) - (Miss You Already)

© thevoid99 2016