Saturday, April 25, 2015

Clouds of Sils Maria

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, Clouds of Sils Maria is the story of a famous film actress who is asked to star in the play that launched her career but in a different role as she copes with aging and the death of an old mentor. The film is an exploration of a woman who tries to figure out the ways of a new world as she contends with a young actress who is known for being notorious while is accompanied by a loyal assistant who tries to help her. Starring Juliette Binoche, Kirsten Stewart, and Chloe Grace Moretz. Clouds of Sils Maria is a compelling yet mesmerizing film from Olivier Assayas.

The film revolves around a famous film actress who goes to Switzerland to pay tribute to her mentor as she learns he had just died as the play that launched her career is being remade by a new director who asks her to play the older woman. It’s a film that isn’t just about the art of acting but also the world of aging as the actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is playing the role of a character that she has no relations to as she also learns that the character that she played many years ago is being played by a talented but troubled young actress. Aiding Enders into preparing the role is her loyal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) where the two stay at the home of Maria’s late mentor as the lines begin to blur into the role that Maria is trying to play with Valentine reading lines as the character that made Maria famous.

Olivier Assayas’ screenplay doesn’t just explore Maria’s resistance into playing the role of the older woman Helena who falls in love and becomes destroyed by this young woman named Sigrid. It’s also in the fact that Maria once played Sigrid which was written by her mentor and it was the role that gave her the big break when she was just 18. Still mourning over the loss of the man who gave her the break and the offer to play Helena in that play doesn’t just put Maria in emotional and mental turmoil as she is aghast that the young actress Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz) is to play Sigrid. While Valentine finds Jo-Ann to be very interesting, Maria isn’t so sure as she and Valentine spend much of their time in the Alps hiking and reciting lines for play where Valentine offers her own interpretation of the play as things do intensify. Notably as Maria ponders about who she is and is she becoming Helena.

Assayas’ direction is very simple in terms of its compositions as he shoots the film largely in Switzerland where much of the story takes place in Sils Maria near the Alps. Assayas definitely makes Sils Maria and other locations in Switzerland and places in Germany characters in the film yet it does play into the wonder that is Sils Maria. Assayas does go for a lot of great wide shots of those locations while he keeps things very intimate with its usage of close-ups and medium shots as it relates to the relationship between Maria and Valentine. Assayas does bring in elements of humor as it relates to Maria’s own reaction towards Jo-Ann and her films while there’s also some commentary that these young starlets aren’t exactly what they seem. Even when Maria and Valentine eventually meet Jo-Ann in the third act as Assayas’ camera becomes more intimate with its dolly-tracking shots as it reveals the different kind of youth that Jo-Ann is. It does play into the world of aging but also reasons into why Maria has trouble relating to the character she is to play which adds a complexity to her relationship with Valentine. Overall, Assayas crafts a very intriguing yet evocative film about an actress dealing with death and aging.

Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux does amazing work with the film‘s cinematography with its low-key yet stylish look for the scenes set at night to the more naturalistic look of the daytime exterior scenes including some of the moments at the Alps. Editor Marion Monnier does brilliant work with the editing with its stylish use of dissolves and jump-cuts to play into the drama along with some inspired use of transitional fade-outs. Production designer Francois-Renaud Labarthe, with set decorator Gabriele Wolff and art director Gabriella Ausonio, does fantastic work with the hotels that Maria and Valentine would stay in along with the home of Maria‘s mentor.

Costume designer Jurgen Doering does nice work with the costumes as it features mostly casual clothing with the exception of the Chanel dresses that Maria would wear early in the film. Visual effects supervisor Mikael Tanguy does terrific work for some of the minimal visual effects that involve the mysterious clouds that loom over the Alps. Sound editor Nicholas Moreau does superb work with the sound as it’s very sparse in its intimate setting along with low-key moments for the locations in the Alps near Sils Maria. The film’s music soundtrack largely features classical pieces by Georg Friedrich Handel and Johann Pachelbel as well as a brooding electro-rock piece from Primal Scream.

The casting by Antoinette Boulat and Anja Dihrberg is wonderful as it features notable small roles from Brady Corbet as a young filmmaker wanting to work with Maria, Benoit Peverelli as a publicist for Maria in Zurich, Caroline de Maigret as a Chanel press agent, Nora von Waldstatten as Jo-Ann’s co-star in a sci-fi movie, and Angela Winkler as the widow of Maria’s mentor who would reveal to her about the home and what happened to her husband. Hanns Zischler is terrific as an actor Maria worked with in the past whom she disliked as he tries to flirt with her upon their reunion to pay tribute to their mentor. Johnny Flynn is excellent as a famous figure whom Jo-Ann is dating in the film’s third act as it would cause some trouble into their lives. Lars Eidinger is superb as the director Klaus Diesterweg as a famous theater director who wants to remake the play that Maria was famous for as he wanted Maria to play the role of the older woman Helena.

Chloe Grace Moretz is fantastic as Jo-Ann Ellis as this young actress who is a magnet for trouble as she is asked to play the role that Maria was famous for as she copes with her fame and ideas of the play where Moretz brings that young naiveté to her performance as well as someone who is actually more aware of her dysfunction as a person and as a celebrity. Kristen Stewart is amazing as Valentine as Maria’s personal assistant who accompanies her to Switzerland and helps her with the play as Stewart brings some humor to the role as well as someone who isn’t afraid to say things as it’s a very reserved and engaging performance from Stewart who does get to provide some scene-stealing moments. Finally, there’s Juliette Binoche in a remarkable performance as Maria Enders as this famous film star coping with the loss of her mentor and aging as she has trouble trying to play a role that was the opposite of the character that made her famous as it’s a performance where Binoche brings some anguish and humility as well as elements of humor as it’s one of her finest performances to date.

Clouds of Sils Maria is a phenomenal film from Olivier Assayas that features incredible performances from Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloe Grace Moretz. It’s a film that explores the world of art as well as an actress coming to terms with getting older and be forced to face realizations about herself. In the end, Clouds of Sils Maria is a sensational film from Olivier Assayas.

Olivier Assayas Film: (Disorder) - (Winter’s Child) - (Paris Awakens) - (A New Life) - (Cold Water) - (Irma Vep) - (Late August, Early September) - (Sentimental Destinies) - (Demonlover) - Clean - (Boarding Gate) - Summer Hours - Carlos - (Something in the Air)

© thevoid99 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (Director's Cut)

Directed by Adrian Meben, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is a concert/documentary film in which the British progressive rock band plays live inside the ruins of Pompeii. The film is an unusual concert film as the band plays inside an abandoned amphitheatre with no audience as the material covers tracks the band did in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The film would also be inter-cut with footage of the band recording their 1973 breakthrough album Dark Side of the Moon. The result is a visually hypnotic and mesmerizing film from Adrian Meben.

The film is simply a concert performance of Pink Floyd playing a few songs in an empty amphitheatre in Pompeii as they would also walk around its surroundings while doing a few performances in a studio in Paris inter-cut with images of Pompeii as well as breaks into the recording of Dark Side of the Moon. It’s a film that showcases the art rock band at a crucial period in time where they would break away from being this cult art-rock band that were previously famous for bringing their own take of British psychedelia in the late 1960s to becoming the world-famous stadium rock band of the 1970s and beyond. The performances at Pompeii features images of the locations with its volcanoes and ruined landmarks as director Adrian Meben brings a visual interpretation of these songs.

Half of the cuts are from the band’s 1971 release Meddle where the 23-minute track Echoes opens and closes the film as it’s split into two parts while two of the tracks are from the band’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets with a famous B-side in Careful with That Axe, Eugene that is performed. Many of which plays into the band’s approach to art and progressive music where Meben would inter-cut with images of Pompeii and nearby locations as well as images of space. Though some of the results that are unveiled in Maben’s 2003’s cut of the film which does expand the original 1972 one-hour cut and its 1974 expanded 80-minute cut. The space images does sort of take away the elements of the band’s performance and the images of Pompeii despite the nice visual effects work of Michel Francois and Michel Y Gouf in the backdrops for the band in their performances.

The film also features footage of the band in various recording sessions in Paris and in London at Abbey Road Studio as the former showcases them doing recordings on the track Echoes with interviews from the band during that time as much of the Paris interviews are shot in black-and-white. The scenes in Abbey Road showcase the band recording tracks for their 1973 breakthrough album as well as outtakes of what they were doing at the time. With the aid of cinematographers Willy Kurant and Gabor Pogany, Maben captures not just the band at work but also in its performances with nice wide shots and lingering, naturalistic images of Pompeii.

With the aid of editor Jose Pinheiro, with Nino DiFonzi for its 2003 director‘s cut, Meben brings in some stylish editing to the performances such as stylish montages and jump-cuts. The sound work of Charles Rauchet and Peter Watts, with additional work from Philippe Carrere for its 2003 director’s cut, add to the power of these performances as well as capturing some of the moments that occur in the locations in Pompeii. Even in some of its smoky areas as it help add various textures to some of the songs the band does.

Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is a marvelous film from Adrian Meben. Fans of the band will definitely see this as essential though some of the new material Meben adds for its 2003 cut isn’t that great. It’s a film that captures the band at a moment where they were adventurous and fearless before they would become the icons of rock. In the end, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii is extraordinary film from Adrian Meben.

Pink Floyd Films: (London ‘66-‘67) - Pink Floyd: The Wall - (The Final Cut) - (Delicate Sound of Thunder) - (Pulse)

© thevoid99 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Edge of Tomorrow

Based on the light novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow is the story of a public relations officer who is forced to take part in a war against aliens on Earth as he finds himself in a time loop whenever he dies. Directed by Doug Liman and screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, the film is a sci-fi thriller where a man is being trained numerous times following his death to kill aliens with the help of a soldier. Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Noah Taylor, and Brendan Gleeson. Edge of Tomorrow is a thrilling and exciting film from Doug Liman.

Set in a futuristic world where Europe is ravaged by an alien invasion, the film revolved around a military publicist who is forced to go into combat to fight the aliens where an encounter with one has him in a time loop as he teams with a soldier who knows what is happening to him. It’s a film that does feature a lot of exposition that plays into the world of time travel where this man finds himself getting killed several times and then come back to live where he encounters the same thing every day as he and this top soldier try to change things for the future. It is a film where two people become aware of what is happening and what they’re facing a planned invasion against aliens proved to be fatal prompting this officer and soldier to try and change things before the invasion ever begins.

The film’s screenplay does carry some expositions about the idea of time loops but it manages to pay off since it does help drive the story and the development of its central characters. Notably the character of Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) who had never been in combat as his job is to spread the good news about the war against these aliens when he is really just lying to the public. When he refuses to cover an invasion out of fear, he ends up being sent against his will as a soldier forced to fight with others where he would meet the super-soldier Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) during the battle as she would train him after times he would die as she knows that he is in a time loop as it had happened to her in a previous battle where she helped the humans beat the aliens in that battle. Since she is unable to know what will happen, she trains Cage as they both try to find this mysterious alien object and destroy it or else humanity gets wiped out.

Doug Liman’s direction is very intense as it plays into not just the chaos of war but also play into a world where humanity might not have a tomorrow. While it is a film that has a lot of heavy drama and sci-fi context, Liman does balance it with elements of humor as it relates to Cage dying over and over again. The sense of repetition manages to not only amp up the humor but also showcase the humility in Cage as he is forced to deal with the reality of his situation and what he could do with it. Liman’s compositions are quite stylish in terms of angles but also in re-creating the same scenes to play into the repetition where there will always be different results as Liman’s approach to wide and medium shots often set up what will happen but also how some images manage to repeat themselves. Even in moments where Cage would die once again as he would meet Rita telling her what they did wrong as they would also confer with a mechanic named Dr. Carter (Noah Taylor) who was a government scientist that knows a lot about these aliens.

Liman’s approach to repetition not only allows the audience to understand what is happening and the characters that Cage is fighting with but also in what he and Rita could do to set things right. Most notably in the third act where Liman takes great advantage of the locations in Britain where the film is set to play into a world that is now gone as it adds to the stakes of what they’re doing. Even as their encounters with the aliens would have severe consequences about the power that Cage has in order to reset time as he copes with what had happened as Rita is also figuring out how to avoid the chaos in battle. Especially as its climax revolves around this being which they need to stop before anyone would get destroyed in this invasion that would eventually be a slaughter. Overall, Liman creates a very engaging yet entertaining film about a man who keeps getting killed and finds himself in a time loop to find ways to save the world.

Cinematographer Dion Bebe does excellent work with the cinematography from its low-key approach to color with its exterior and interior lighting schemes along with some very dark and colorful lights for the scenes set at night. Editors James Herbert and Laura Jennings do amazing work with the editing to capture some of the chaos that goes on in battle with its fast-paced cutting while slowing things down for its element of suspense and humor. Production designer Oliver Schon, with supervising art director Neil Lamont and set decorators Elli Griff, Gena Vasquez, and 3D drafter Chris “Flimsy“ Howes, does brilliant work with the design of the ships and base where the military does its job as well as the look of certain locations in their ruined state. Costume designer Kate Hawley does terrific work with the costumes from the look of the uniforms to the design of the armored suits the soldiers wear in battle.

Hair/makeup designer Sarah Monzani does nice work with some of the makeup such as a scar on Rita‘s head and other marks for the soldiers to showcase their experience in battle. Visual effects supervisor Nick Davis does fantastic work with the look of the monsters as well as some of the look of the cities to play into its sense of dread and terror that looms in the film. Sound designer James Boyle and sound editor Dominic Gibbs do superb work with the sound from creating some sound effects for the aliens as well as capturing many of the elements in the battle scenes. The film’s music by Christophe Beck is wonderful for its bombastic orchestral score that also features more low-key and somber elements that play into the drama as well as pieces for its humorous moments while music supervisor Julianne Jordan brings in a decent soundtrack of pop and rock songs.

The casting by Lucinda Syson is great as it features notable small roles from Charlotte Riley, Jonas Armstrong, Kick Gurry, Dragomir Mrsic, Franz Drameh, Tony Way, and Masayoshi Haneda as a squadron Cage would work with every day as they’re unaware of what is happening to them as they would later be useful for the film’s climax. Noah Taylor is excellent as a former government scientist who understands how the aliens work as he knows what Rita went through as he also tries to help Cage out in how to defeat the aliens. Bill Paxton is superb as Master Sgt. Farell who is the leader of the squadron that Cage would work with as he makes sure everyone is on their feet for the mission as he is unaware of what will happen. Brendan Gleeson is fantastic as General Brigham as the military leader who runs the whole operation as he would put Cage into combat to make sure things go well.

Tom Cruise is brilliant as Major William Cage as this military publicist who is inexperienced in battle as he gets killed many times but finds himself in the same situation when he arrives at base through a time loop as Cruise manages to bring in some humility and humor in his role. Finally, there’s Emily Blunt in an incredible performance as Sgt. Rita Vrataski as Blunt manages to be the total scene-stealer as a woman that is a supreme badass who had been through everything Cage went through as she guides him while being quite distant which gives her the unfortunate nickname as Full Metal Bitch as Blunt brings a lot of nuance and depth as it is one of Blunt’s finest performances.

Edge of Tomorrow is a remarkable film from Doug Liman that features top-notch performances from Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise. The film is more than just a typical sci-fi action-thriller but one that has a sense of humor while not being afraid of not taking itself so seriously. In the end, Edge of Tomorrow is a phenomenal film from Doug Liman.

Doug Liman Films: (Getting In) - (Swingers) - (Go (1999 film)) - (The Bourne Identity) - (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) - (Jumper) - (Fair Game (2010 film)) - (Mena)

© thevoid99 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 Blind Spot Series: Sullivan's Travels

Written and directed by Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels is the story of a Hollywood filmmaker who decides to make films about the real world as he pretends to be a hobo as he struggles with what story he wants to tell. The film is an exploration into the world of artistic freedom as it’s told with a lot of humor as it revolves a man who is known for making comedies as he wants to do something serious. Starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake. Sullivan’s Travels is a witty yet whimsical film from Preston Sturges.

Set in the final years of the Great Depression, a comedy filmmaker wants to make a film about the poor as he pretends to be poor only to get into some bad situations that forces him to crawl back to his life of comfort. It’s a film that plays into a man who wants to see if he can make something very serious as he decides to dress up like a hobo and endure the same suffering as the poor. Yet, things don’t go well for John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) as he endures a series of humiliating moments until he is aided by a wannabe actress (Veronica Lake) who would join him in his quest to pretend to be poor. Still, Sullivan and this young woman would cope with not just the strange realities of being poor and having to ride trains illegally but also elements that end up being very comical.

Preston Sturges’ screenplay is very witty about the not just Sullivan’s struggles to feel the reality of the poor but also the disconnect that he has since he is someone that is known for making escapist comedies. Part of Sullivan’s motivations to do this adaptation of O Brother, Where Art Thou? revolves around the unhappiness of his own life as he’s in a loveless marriage while feeling unfulfilled creatively. By pretending to be a hobo for research purposes, things don’t go as its planned as the studio hires various people on a bus to follow him where a lot of hi-jinks ensue prompting Sullivan to make a brief retreat to Hollywood after meeting this young woman who would join him in another attempt to understand the poor. The woman’s motivation isn’t just wanting to become an actress but also not return home as a failure as she finds Sullivan as her chance of success and hope.

Part of the success for their relationship isn’t just two people dealing with loneliness but also the dialogue that Sturges creates which is very stylish and rhythmic. The monologues that Sturges creates for these characters including the smaller ones are very to-the-point as well as showcase a sense of frustration and determination into what they want. There’s also some humor that play into the dialogue as it adds to Sturges’ own approach of timing and in fleshing out the characters. Especially in moments when there’s no dialogue as it plays into what Sullivan wants to do and what he wants to say for the people living in such hard times.

Sturges’ direction is very engaging for not just capturing the world of Hollywood but also its emphasis to provide people something that is escapist which Sullivan want to stray away from. While much of the compositions that Sturges creates are simple, he does manage to infuse some style into his direction such as long takes in a scene where Sullivan talks to his bosses about what to do as it is told in one entire take in a medium-wide shot. Sturges’ approach to directing actors and knowing where to place them in the frame not only add to the sense of wanting to capture something real but also combat with Hollywood’s own artificiality in a very funny way. Most notably a sequence where the bus full of reporters and studio people following Sullivan are forced to chase him as it’s among these moments that are just crazy. It’s among some of the hilarity that Sturges wants to create while many of the scenes involving the poor and how they live are taken very seriously.

The direction also has elements where Sturges knows when to just keep things simple which include the scenes between Sullivan and the young woman who joins him as there’s bits of comedy but it’s mostly very low-key. Sturges doesn’t go for a lot of close-ups as he wanted to showcase more of what Sullivan and the woman are doing in their surroundings. It’s in these locations where it helps tell the story of where they are as they would endure moments that are quite grim but also show that there is still elements of life. Even in the film’s third act where Sullivan would endure a journey of his own as it plays into the harsh realities of those who are suffering where he would have his own epiphany about himself and his role as a filmmaker. Overall, Sturges creates a very entertaining and exuberant film about a filmmaker trying to understand the struggles of the poor by becoming poor himself.

Cinematographer John Seitz does amazing work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to play into some of the stark look of the scenes where the poor lived with its unique approach to lighting that feels entrancing as opposed to the more simplistic yet lively approach to the world of Hollywood. Editor Stuart Gilmore does excellent work with the editing with its stylish use of rhythmic cuts, montages, and dissolves to play into the humor as well as some of the stranger elements that Sullivan would endure in its third act. Art directors Hans Dreier and Earl Hedrick do fantastic work with the set design from the bus the studio people and journalists would use during Sullivan’s journey as well as the design of his home and the drab places he would go to.

The costumes by Edith Head does brilliant work with the costumes from the dresses that the young woman would wear as well as the hobo clothes she and Sullivan would wear. The sound work of Harry D. Mills and Walter Oberst is terrific for the sound that is captured on location as well as some of the effects that play into the film‘s humor. The film’s music by Leo Shuken and Charles Bradshaw is superb for its orchestral score that ranges from playful for its humorous moments to some somber pieces for its drama and sense of despair.

The casting by Robert Mayo is great as it features notable small roles from Georges Renavent as an old tramp Sullivan would encounter, Margaret Hayes as one of the studio bosses’ secretary, Robert Harwick and William Demarest as the studio bosses, Robert Grieg as Sullivan’s butler, and Eric Blore as Sullivan’s valet as Grieg and Blore both give very funny performances. Finally, there’s the duo of Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea in phenomenal performances. Lake brings a sense of beauty but also humility and humor as a young woman who joins Sullivan on his journey as she helps him try to survive being broke. McCrea brings some grit and humility to his role as John L. Sullivan as this filmmaker wanting to find some realism as he later endures the harshness of reality. Lake and McCrea as a duo have this very lively chemistry that has both of them be funny but also serious as they allow themselves to be characters to root for.

Sullivan’s Travels is a spectacular film from Preston Sturges that features exhilarating performances from Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake. Not only is it is comical road film but also an engaging one that explores the world of the Great Depression from the view of an outsider. Especially as it is presented with elements of somber reality mixed in with elements of comedy that does more than just entertain. In the end, Sullivan’s Travels is an exquisite yet incredible film from Preston Sturges.

Preston Sturges Films: (The Great McGinty) - (Christmas in July) - (The Lady Eve) - (The Palm Beach Story) - (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek) - (Hail the Conquering Hero) - (The Great Moment) - (The Sin of Harold Diddlebock) - (Unfaithfully Yours) - (The Beautiful Blond of Bashful Head) - (Vendetta (1950 film)) - (The French, They Are a Funny Race)

© thevoid99 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Pink Floyd: The Wall

Based on the 1979 album by Pink Floyd that was conceived by its bassist/lyricist Roger Waters, Pink Floyd: The Wall is the story of a rock singer tormented by memories of his childhood and his dissolving marriage along with stories about the father he never knew as he succumbs to madness. Directed by Alan Parker and screenplay by Roger Waters, the film is a visual interpretation of the album that features animated sequences from Gerald Scarfe who did the album sleeve and animated backdrops for the 1980-1981 tour for the album as the character of Pink Floyd is played by Bob Geldolf. Also starring Christine Hargreaves, Eleanor David, Alex McCoy, Jenny Wright, and Bob Hoskins. Pink Floyd: The Wall is an eerie yet visually-dazzling film from Alan Parker.

The film plays into the mind of a troubled rock star who is haunted by the death of his father as well as a crumbling marriage and all sorts of troubled memories that forces him to build a mental wall against his demons. It’s a film that plays into a man who becomes insane as he would later imagine himself as a totalitarian dictator as it shows troubled he is as he also copes with memories of his mother who would smother him throughout his childhood. Roger Waters’ screenplay doesn’t have much dialogue as much of the narrative is told through the music with some re-recorded tracks from the album made specifically for the film. The first half is about the Pink Floyd character building his wall based on not just his own troubled memories but also the stories of his own father (James Laurenson) as well as events that led to his breakdown relating to marriage. The film’s second half is about Pink in the aftermath of building his wall as he succumbs to madness and later tries to make sense of what he’s feeling.

Alan Parker’s direction is very stylish in terms of some of the compositions he creates as it is a mixture of a lot of genres ranging from war to simple drama. Much of it involves some unique tracking and dolly shots for some of the action as well as some intimate yet startling scenery set in the hotel room that Pink is in. Parker’s usage of close-ups are intriguing from one unique shot of this extreme close-up of a cigarette half-burnt as the camera moves slowly for a close-up of Pink’s face. The usage of medium shots such as the scenes in the hotel room and moments that involve events outside of Pink’s life that includes his wife (Eleanor David) and her lover (James Hazeldine) which plays into Pink’s own sense of loss and growing state of madness.

Adding to Parker’s own unique visual approach are the animation sequences of Gerald Scarfe that played into Pink’s own sense of despair. The animation aren’t just surreal but also have a sense of terror as it relates to what Pink is going through. Then there’s the music which not only drives the story but also help play into the sense of loss that looms over Pink. While the result isn’t entirely perfect as a few songs are shifted into other parts of the narrative while a couple like Hey You and The Show Must Go On are omitted from the film. Parker is able to keep the story faithful while making it something that is clearly of its own. Overall, Parker creates a very thrilling and intense film about a man’s mental descent into madness.

Cinematographer Peter Bizou does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography to set moods for the look of the hotel room as well as some of the nighttime interior/exterior settings for some of the locations in London and other British cities. Editor Gerry Hambling does brilliant work with the editing to capture some of the moments of excess and craziness in the Young Lust sequence as well as some stylish cuts to match some of the animation and live action scenes. Production designer Brian Morris, with art directors Chris Burke and Clinton Cavers, does amazing work with the design of the hotel room that Pink lives in as well as the design of the ceremonies he would have as a dictator along with the design of the meat grinder sequence for Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2.

Costume designer Penny Rose does terrific work with the costumes from the period clothes of the young Pink in the late 1940s/early 1950s to the design of the uniforms he would wear in his dictator persona. Sound mixer Clive Winter does nice work with some of the sound to play into some of the action as well as capturing the chaos of war while music producer James Guthrie provide some sound effects and expand them for the music with some of the songs by Pink Floyd sung by Bob Geldolf for a few of the songs.

The casting by Celestia Fox is superb as it features appearances from Roger Waters as Pink’s best man, Phil Davis as a roadie, James Laurenson as Pink’s father, Michael Ensign as the hotel manager, Margery Mason as the teacher’s wife, James Hazeldine as Pink’s wife’s lover, and as a group of groupies, Joanne Whalley, Nell Campbell, Emma Longfellow, and Lorna Barton. Other notable small roles include Jenny Wright as the American groupie for the One of My Turns scene, Alex McAvoy as the teacher for the young Pink, Christine Hargreaves as Pink’s mother, and Eleanor David as Pink’s wife as they would represent elements of the wall that Pink would built.

Bob Hoskins is terrific in a small role as Pink’s manager despite the minimal dialogue he has. In the roles of Pink Floyd, there’s David Bingham as the little Pink who is craving for a father figure while Kevin McKeon plays the adolescent Pink who not only copes with his father’s absence but also elements that would shape his upbringing. Finally, there’s Bob Geldolf in a remarkable performance as Pink Floyd as it’s a mostly silent performance as it’s very eerie while he goes full on for the few songs he sings to play into Pink’s own unraveling into a madman.

Pink Floyd: The Wall is a phenomenal film from Alan Parker. While Pink Floyd purists will obviously favor the original album in terms of its story, the film does serve as a true and definitive visual companion piece to the album for those that didn’t see the band nor Roger Waters’ recent tour do the album in its entirety in a live setting. As a standalone film, it is one of the most visually-sprawling rock films ever created that transcends the idea of the music video. In the end, Pink Floyd: The Wall is an enthralling film from Alan Parker.

Alan Parker Films: (Bugsy Malone) - (Midnight Express) - (Fame (1980 film)) - (Shoot the Moon) - (Birdy) - (Angel Heart) - (Mississippi Burning) - (Come See the Paradise) - (The Commitments) - (The Road to Wellville) - (Evita (1996 film)) - (Angela’s Ashes) - (The Life of David Gale)

Pink Floyd Films: (London ‘66-‘67) - Live at Pompeii - (The Final Cut) - (Delicate Sound of Thunder) - (Pulse)

Related: The Wall (album) - Roger Waters-The Wall Tour Live 11/18/10 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena

© thevoid99 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mother (2009 film)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho and screenplay by Joon-ho and Park Eun-jyo from a story by Joon-ho, Madeo (Mother) is the story of a woman who becomes very protective of her shy, mentally-challenged son when he becomes accused of murder as she seeks to find the truth. The film is a strange and dark story that relates to a mother helping out her adult son as she copes with what he might’ve done while trying to see if something else really happened. Starring Kim Hye-ja and Won Bin. Madeo is an eerie yet evocative film from Bong Joon-ho.

When a young, mentally-challenged man who has trouble remembering things is accused of murdering a young woman. The man’s middle-aged mother comes to his aid to see if he really did kill this woman as she goes on her own journey to seek the truth once the police and a lawyer she hired were either unable or disinterested in helping them. It’s a film that is a simple mystery-drama but it’s also a film about a complex mother-son relationship where a woman has been raising her adult son who isn’t able to comprehend the things he does as Do-joon (Won Bin) does odd things like collect golf balls with his trouble-making friend Jin-tae (Jin Goo). For Do-joon’s mother (Kim Hye-ja), she is convinced that Jin-tae is absolute trouble as she would immediately suspect him for the murder of this young schoolgirl that Do-joon is accused of.

The film’s screenplay is quite loose in terms of its structure and narrative as it more plays into the journey this woman would take to find out the truth. Even as she constantly asks her son various questions about what happened that night yet he has a hard time remembering. While the police believe that he is the killer and the mother hires an attorney that is more concerned with giving Do-joon a reduced sentence instead of proving his innocence. The lack of effort only prompts the mother to find the truth yet things are very complicated as she copes with her son in jail as it is the focus of the film’s first half as well as initially suspecting Jin-tae. The film’s second half becomes more about the victim and what was she doing on the night she was killed as things become more complex as the mother may have proof that her son didn’t do it as there are those that did want this young girl dead because of her seedy reputation.

Bong Joon-ho’s direction is quite mesmerizing not just in its locations where it’s set in these rural city areas near mountains and fields but also in the way Joon-ho captures these moments that are entrancing to watch. Even in some of the simplest moments in some of his close-ups on the characters and how he frames them as it plays into a woman constantly in worry as well as trying to see if there’s some justice. Joon-ho’s approach to wide and medium shots along with tracking and dolly shots not only play into some of the drama but also suspense as it relates to the mother’s search for the truth. Joon-ho’s approach to suspense definitely plays into unconventional rhythms as he is more about uncovering these intricate moments of suspense while using bits of flashbacks to unveil clues and such.

Joon-ho usage of flashbacks as it relates to what happened in the murder not only plays into the mother’s own understanding of what she is encountering but also some of the bigger questions into what really happened. Especially when the mother meets this mysterious man she had previously encountered as he is either involved or knows something. Some of the images that Joon-ho would create play into some of the drama and sense of terror while there’s also some elements of black comedy. Even as it relates to Do-joon and his antics while he also takes great offense to being called a “retard” which also plays into what might’ve happened. For the mother, it forces her to face some realities she didn’t want to deal with but also cope with the severity of what happened on that night. Overall, Joon-ho creates a gripping yet intoxicating film about a mother trying to prove her son’s innocence over a murder.

Cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo does amazing work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of lights for some of the film‘s nighttime interior/exterior scenes with some naturalistic looks for some of the daytime scenes and the settings in the forests. Editor Moon Sae-kyung does brilliant work with the editing with stylish usage of jump-cuts and dissolves to play into the drama and suspenseful moments of the film. Production designer Ryu Seong-hie does excellent work with the look of the home that Do-joon and his mother live in along with the building rooftop the girl’s body was found.

Costume designer Choi Se-yeon does nice work with the costumes as it‘s very casual for the look of the characters including the mother. Visual effects supervisor Yi Zeon-Hyoung does terrific work with some of the minimal visual effects that relate to some of the violence that occurs in the film. Sound designer Cho Ye-jin does fantastic work with the sound to play into the suspense and terror that looms in the film along with key moments that play into the drama. The film’s music by Lee Byung-woo is incredible for its somber yet lush orchestral score that plays into the suspense and drama along with some themes for the latter as it relates to the mother.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Yoon Je-moon as a detective leading the case who knows Do-joon, Mun Hee-ra as the young woman Ah-jeong who would be killed, Kim Gin-goo as the girl’s grandmother, Yeo Moo-yeong as the lawyer hired to help Do-joon, Chun Woo-hee as a young student that Do-joon and Jin-tae know, Jeon Mi-seon as a friend of the mother who helps her in the case, and Lee Young-suck as a mysterious man whom the mother encountered on a rainy day. Jin Goo is excellent as Do-joon’s friend Jin-tae who is this troublemaker that the mother initially suspects as he plays a key part into solving the mystery over what happened.

Won Bin is brilliant as Do-joon as this mentally-challenged young man who isn’t sure what happened on the night he was suspected of murder as it’s a role that is a bit comical but it’s more serious as it plays into someone trying to remember. Finally, there’s Kim Hye-ja in a phenomenal performance as the titular character as this woman who does acupunctures and cuts herbs who tries to figure out if her son is innocent as it’s a very eerie and intoxicating performance to watch.

Madeo is an outstanding film from Bong Joon-ho that features a riveting lead performance from Kim Hye-ja. The film isn’t just a compelling suspense-drama but also a film that plays into a mother trying to find the truth about her son. Especially as she faces a world where she is forced to take matters into her own hands. In the end, Madeo is a sensational film from Bong Joon-ho.

Bong Joon-ho Films: Barking Dogs Never Bite - Memories of Murder - The Host (2006 film) - Tokyo!-Shaking Tokyo - Snowpiercer - (The Auteurs #44: Bong Joon-ho)

© thevoid99 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

While We're Young

Written and directed by Noah Baumbach, While We’re Young is the story of a middle-aged couple who cope with their life as they would start to socialize with a young couple in their 20s. The film is an exploration into the world of adulthood and growing up as two different couples hang out together in an attempt to have fun and figure out how to live their lives. Starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Horowitz, Brady Corbet, and Charles Grodin. While We’re Young is a witty yet compelling film from Noah Baumbach.

The film is the story of a couple in their 40s as they cope with aging and uncertainty until their lives are sparked after meeting a young couple in their 20s where they become reinvigorated creatively and in themselves. At the same time, they help this young couple with a documentary film where things become more complicated where the old couple starts to get close the younger one while alienating their older friends. It’s a film that plays into the idea of aging and growing up but also ambition and such as the character Josh (Ben Stiller) is a documentary filmmaker struggling to finish a film as he and his wife Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are also dealing with the fact that their friends are spending more time being parents as they become unsure about having children.

Noah Baumbach’s screenplay does have a unique structure as well as some depth into the key characters in the film as both Josh and Cornelia are reluctant into having children as their previous attempts ended up not being good. Upon meeting the aspiring filmmaker Jamie (Adam Driver) and his wife Darby (Amanda Seyfried), the two would socialize with the two where both couples get something out of each other. Jamie isn’t just a fan of Josh’s work but also the work of Cornelia’s father Leslie Breitbart (Charles Grodin) whom Josh was mentored by. Jamie’s influence on Josh would seep into his work and ideas to get more money for the film he wanted to make where Josh would also help Jamie out with his own film project as it related to an old friend he knew as a kid.

Eventually, it plays into the ideas of ambition as Josh copes with his own failings as a filmmaker but also deals with Jamie’s ambition which would affect everyone’s lives. Even as Cornelia returns to the producer’s hat which becomes complicated while Darby becomes left out as her character is the one that would grow up as she craves for something simpler. All of which play into this world of ambition as Cornelia and her father gets sucked into Jamie’s world as Josh’s own professional life begins to fall apart where he is forced to act like the adult. Even if he comes to term with who he and Cornelia are as well as who Jamie and Darby are.

Baumbach’s direction is quite simple in terms of the compositions he creates as it is emphasized more on capturing moments that are happening as opposed to something that is more visual. Shot on location in New York City and various nearby locations, the film is definitely a look into this world of the city where 20-somethings created an environment of their own. Baumbach’s usage of close-ups and medium shots are very potent as it includes a scene of the two couples in a car where Josh and Jamie are in the front both wearing Fedora hats while Cornelia, Darby, and a friend are in the back singing an obscure song from a commercial that Josh did years ago. There are elements in the film that does feel loose and realistic as well as comical such as a scene where Cornelia goes to this thing with mothers and their babies as it’s very silly that plays into Cornelia’s sense of discomfort.

Baumbach also plays into the world of high art culture and the world of film as it relates to Josh and Jamie where they would collaborate on a film together. In some ways, Baumbach sort of makes fun of the world of documentaries as it relates to some of the current gimmicks some use to tell their stories. Even as it plays into the idea of old vs. new generation ethics and such where Baumbach definitely approaches it with some humor and some light drama as it delves into Cornelia’s own sense of confusion about where to go and Darby’s own frustrations with the idea of ambition. All of which leads a climax as it relates to the idea of what it means to be an adult. Overall, Baumbach creates an engaging and funny film about a middle-aged couple seeking to find their youth through a young couple.

Cinematographer Sam Levy does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it is very colorful and vibrant that captures many of the moments of New York City with some intimate lighting schemes for some of its nighttime interior scenes. Editor Jennifer Lame does superb work with the editing as it‘s straightforward in some parts while has some stylish usage of montages and jump-cuts to play into the humor. Production designer Adam Stockhausen and set decorator Kris Moran do amazing work with the look of the home that Josh and Cornelia live in as well as the place that Jamie and Darby live in.

Costume designer Ann Roth does nice work with the costumes as it‘s very low-key and casual with a sense of style that plays into the world that Jamie and Darby live in. Sound editor Paul Hsu does terrific work with the sound as it‘s very low-key in some places with some raucous moments in some of social events the characters go into. The film’s music by James Murphy is fantastic as it‘s a very low-key electronic music score that plays into the humor and drama in the film while music supervisor George Drakoulias brings in a fun soundtrack that features classical pieces by Antonio Vivaldi to a diverse array of contemporary music from David Bowie, Lionel Richie, Survivor, Paul McCartney & Wings, Haim, 2Pac, A Tribe Called Quest, Danny Kaye, and the Psychedelic Furs.

The casting by Douglas Aibel and Francine Maisler is brilliant as it features notable small appearances from Peter Bogdanovich as a tribute speaker, Ryan Serhant as a dim-witted hedge fund investor, Dean Wareham as a shaman, Liz Stauber as the sister of Jamie’s old friend Kent, Matthew Maher as Josh’s editor Tim, Bonnie Kaufman as the wife of Josh’s documentary subject, Dree Hemingway as Jamie and Darby’s flat mate Tipper who aids Jamie in his film work, and the legendary folk singer Peter Yarrow as Josh’s documentary subject who often says strange things that are often quite amusing. Charles Grodin is excellent as Cornelia’s father Leslie Breitbart who tries to help Josh with his documentary while being impressed with what Jamie has come up with. Adam Horowitz and Maria Dizzia are fantastic in their respective roles as Fletcher and Marina as Josh and Cornelia’s friends who had just become parents as they have a hard time dealing with Josh and Cornelia’s new activities. Brady Corbet is amazing as Jamie’s old friend Kent who becomes Jamie’s documentary subject as it’s an odd but engaging performance from Corbet.

Amanda Seyfried is remarkable as Darby as a young woman who is skilled at making things including her own ice cream as she bonds with Cornelia in dancing while being alienated by Jamie’s ambitions. Adam Driver is marvelous as Jamie as an aspiring filmmaker who befriends Josh when he attends one of Josh’s lectures as he is someone that does mean well as he is generous and cool but also is very driven to succeed which alienates Darby and scares Josh. Naomi Watts is riveting as Cornelia as a woman who used to produce films for her dad as she copes with not wanting to be a mother as she tries to find herself while being infatuated with Jamie and Darby. Finally, there’s Ben Stiller in a phenomenal performance as Josh as a documentary filmmaker struggling with aging as he tries to feel young while becoming usurped by Jamie as it would affect his professional and personal life.

While We’re Young is a sensational film from Noah Baumbach. Armed with a great cast, a fun soundtrack, and engaging views on aging and adulthood. It’s a film that isn’t just one of Baumbach’s more accessible films but also one of his funniest in terms of exploring the downsides of growing up as well as some of the fallacies of youth. In the end, While We’re Young is an exhilarating and heartfelt film from Noah Baumbach.

Noah Baumbach Films: Kicking and Screaming - Highball - Mr. Jealousy - The Squid & the Whale - Margot at the Wedding - Greenberg - Frances Ha - (Mistress America) - The Auteurs #41: Noah Baumbach

© thevoid99 2015