Sunday, March 26, 2017

Westworld




Written and directed by Michael Crichton, Westworld is the story revolving around an amusement park for adults where they pretend to be in the American West and have fun until some androids malfunction and kill off some guests. It’s a film about the dangers of technology and what happens when the fantasy turns against the individual trying to live that fantasy. Starring Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, and Yul Brenner. Westworld is an intriguing and thrilling film from Michael Crichton.

The film is the story of a couple of guys who go to this theme park for adults where they can delve into any fantasy world they want to be a part in whether it’s the age of the Romans, medieval times, or the American West where they can do whatever they want with the androids they encounter. Yet, something goes wrong during this vacation where guests pay $1000 a day for their own desires to be fulfilled where the androids suddenly go rogue due to some malfunction. Michael Crichton’s screenplay has a very simple structure yet it slowly plays into the moments everything goes wrong where it also shows what is happening behind the scenes as the people who created the androids suddenly have no control of what is happening. Though the objective of the park is giving people a chance to play fantasy and be unharmed, that fantasy becomes reality once everything else goes to shit.

Crichton’s direction is very simple as it starts off with this ad about this amusement park and the people who have returned as the announcer says “Boy, have we got a vacation waiting for you”. Then it cuts from being a small TV aspect ratio ad into a full-on widescreen experience as it play into what these two men are about to go into as one of them had been to the park. Many of Crichton’s compositions are simple as it pays homage to films set in the American West and medieval times with some stylistic elements that includes some slow-motion action for the former. There are also some chilling and suspenseful moments once it reaches the second half involving the character of the gunslinger (Yul Brenner) where Crichton shows exactly what he sees as it is one of the very first moments in film that uses digital image processing as it adds to the film’s climax where a protagonist has to deal with the gunslinger without any tricks. Overall, Crichton creates an engaging and whimsical film about a theme park for adults that goes horribly wrong.

Cinematographer Gene Polito does excellent work with the cinematography as it is very straightforward with its gorgeous lighting and moods for some of the interior scenes at night as well as in the rooms where the scientists work at. Editor David Bretherton does terrific work with the editing as it has some elements of style in some slow-motion cutting as well as some jump-cuts. Art director Herman A. Blumenthal and set decorator John P. Austin do fantastic work with the set design as it play into the different areas of the park such as the look of the castle interiors in the medieval times area and the look of the American west in the western area. The special effects work of Charles Schulthies is wonderful for the look of what the androids see from their perspective as well as in some of the look of the androids in what they look like from the inside. The sound work of Richard S. Church and Harry W. Tetrick is superb for the sounds of gunfire and other objects that play into the worlds that the characters are in as well as the technological sounds in the computer rooms. The film’s music by Fred Karlin is wonderful for its mixture of musical styles that play into the different worlds with some orchestral pieces to play into its suspenseful moments.

The casting by Leonard Murphy is great as it include some notable small roles from Anne Randall as a medieval servant named Daphne, Terry Wilson as a sheriff, Victoria Shaw as the medieval queen, Linda Scott as a French prostitute, Michael Mikler as the black knight, Majel Barrett as a brothel madam, Norman Bartold as a man pretending to be a medieval knight for his fantasy, and Alan Oppenheimer as the supervisor watching over everything in the park as he tries to figure out what is going on with androids. Dick Van Patten is superb as a banker who goes into the west in the hopes he can become a cowboy where he is quite funny in his attempts to become a sheriff.

James Brolin is excellent as John Blane as a guest who had visited the park as he guides his friend into what goes on while becoming aware that something isn’t right. Richard Benjamin is brilliant as Peter Martin as John’s friend who is new to the experience at the park where he would have fun until he too becomes aware that something isn’t right. Finally, there’s Yul Brenner in an amazing performance as the gunslinger as it’s a variation of the character he played in The Magnificent Seven where even though it is a supporting role. It’s a performance that is just unforgettable in how menacing his presence is as he becomes the one android that goes completely rogue.

Westworld is a remarkable film from Michael Crichton. Featuring a great cast and a fascinating premise that blends all sorts of genres. It’s a film that definitely showcases what happens when a theme park for adults become a nightmare when the robots suddenly go rogue. In the end, Westworld is a marvelous film from Michael Crichton.

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

For All Mankind




Directed by Al Reinart, For All Mankind is a film about the Apollo program from NASA that would send astronauts to the moon. The film is a documentary that relies on the footage from those events as it’s told by some of the astronauts who would land on the moon during an intense space race against the Soviet Union in the 1960s. The result is a mesmerizing and evocative film from Al Reinart.

Featuring largely footage from the nine manned-missions to the moon from 1968 to 1972, the astronauts from Apollo 8 to Apollo 17 tell their stories through audio interviews and recollections about the missions from liftoff to returning to Earth. It’s a film about these missions that were considered monumental in the history of the 20th Century as the film begins with President John F. Kennedy’s speech about wanting to go to the moon and to do the impossible. Compiling more than 80 hours of footage into an 80-minute film, Al Reinart chooses footage to help tell a straightforward narrative from ascent into outer space and then back down to Earth. With the aid of editor Susan Korda in compiling many of the footage the astronauts filmed as well as the scenes in the control centers in Houston and Cape Canaveral.

The footage showcases what the astronauts see in space and life in and out of the space capsules including the landing of the Apollo 11 LEM on July 20, 1969 which would be a historical day. There’s other moments that is shown as well as a moment where one of the astronauts drops a feather and a hammer at the same time proving Galileo’s theory on what happens when there’s no atmosphere as it proves that Galileo was right. With the help of sound editor Bill Wistrom, Reinart also compiles the many interviews from the astronauts who were part of the program as they all talk about what they were doing on the moon or what the capsule pilots were doing orbiting the moon.

Adding to the film’s evocative tone is its music by ambient music pioneer Brian Eno. Consisting material from albums Music for Films III and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks with some of the contributions from those albums from Daniel Lanois, Roger Eno, and John Paul Jones. The soundtrack also features music that the astronauts played ranging from classical music pieces as well as contemporary music from Frank Sinatra and some country music from Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.

For All Mankind is a phenomenal film from Al Reinart. It’s a film that tells the story of the Apollo program and the astronauts who were part of something very special that is very unlikely to be replicated again in the 21st Century. In the end, For All Mankind is an incredible film from Al Reinart.

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rio, Eu Te Amo




Rio, Eu Te Amo (Rio, I Love You) is an anthology film collecting a series of short films by several of the world’s finest filmmakers about stories of love in the city of Rio de Janeiro. With four segments directed by Brazilian filmmakers Carlos Saldanha, Fernando Meirelles, Jose Padilha, and Andrucha Waddington plus six segments helmed by Guillermo Arriaga, Stephan Elliott, Im Sang-soo, Nadine Labaki, Paolo Sorrentino, and John Turturro as well as transitions directed by Vicente Amorim. The film follows the idea of love through many different people in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The result is a lively and enchanting film all set in the wondrous city of Rio de Janeiro.

In Dona Fulana (directed by Andrucha Waddington and written by Waddington and Mauricio Zacharias), an old homeless woman (Fernanda Montenegro) is roaming around the streets of Rio living her life as she is followed by a young man (Eduardo Sterblitch) as he tries to help her. La Fortuna (written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino) follows a couple (Basil Hoffman and Emily Mortimer) vacationing in Rio where the husband is paralyzed with a stroke while dealing with his spoiled wife who refuses to give him the vices in life that could kill him. In A Musa (directed by Fernando Meirelles and written by Antonio Prata and Chico Mattoso), an artist (Vincent Cassel) makes a sand sculpture as he notices a woman (Debora Nascimento) where he tries to win her love by making a sculpture.

Acho que Estou Apaixonado (written and directed by Stephan Elliott), a popular movie star (Ryan Kwanten) is struck by the wonders of the Sugarloaf Mountain where he and his Brazilian assistant (Marcelo Serrado) climb the mountain as the latter tells him about the legend of the mountain where they meet a beautiful spirit (Bebel Gilberto). In Quando nao ha Mais Amor (written and directed by John Turturro), a couple (John Turturro and Vanessa Paradis) breaks up as they cope with what they had and what got lost. Texas (written and directed by Guillermo Arriaga) is about a one-armed boxer (Land Viera) who is given a chance to help his model wife (Laura Neiva) walk again following an accident where he is offered a proposal by a man (Jason Isaacs) that comes with dire consequences.

In O Vampiro do Rio (written and directed by Im Sang-soo), an old vampire (Tonico Pereira meets a prostitute (Roberta Rodrigues) as he hopes to make her part of a small group of people who live in the city as vampires. Pas de Deux (directed by Carlos Saldanha and written by Elena Soarez) revolves around a ballet couple (Rodrigo Santoro and Bruna Linzmeyer) who perform behind a silhouette curtain for a performance as they quietly bicker about some life-changing decisions. Inutil Paisagem (directed by Jose Paldiha and written by Octavio Leonido) follows a man (Wagner Moura) who flies on a glider over Rio as curses the statue of Christ the Redeemer over his own failed relationship with his ex-wife (Cleo Pires). The final segment in O Milagre (directed by Nadine Labaki and written by Labaki, Rodney El Haddad, and Khaled Mouzanar) has an actor (Harvey Keitel) and an actress (Nadine Labaki) meet a boy (Caua Antunes) at a train station who is waiting from a phone call from Jesus Christ where the actor and actress do something to make that call happen.

The film follows a series of stories about love through ten different segments plus transitional scenes involving characters from those stories as well as a cab driver (Michel Melamed) and his former flame (Claudia Abreu) which is written by Fellipe Barbosa and directed by Vicente Amorim. It all plays into the ideas of love in many ways as it’s all set in the city of Rio de Janeiro where it is a character in the film and many of its landmarks add to its beauty. Though the filmmakers in the film don’t really do anything new to explore more of the city including its slums. It’s more about the city and how it inspires love in many different ways through the eyes of its filmmakers and their own takes on love. Filmmakers such as Stephan Elliott, Andrucha Waddington, Fernando Meirelles, and Nadine Labaki tell stories that are very unconventional as it doesn’t exactly follow the formula of love. Instead, they go for something different in their own definition of love as their segments are the ones that really standout as it also uses the locations and situations to really do something wondrous.

Another segment that is very unconventional is from Im Sang-soo whose idea of vampires living around Rio as they wear sunglasses to protect themselves from the sun is actually a very crafty and fun idea. Especially as they would spend the night dancing around as if it was Carnival where it has something a bit dark but also fun. Jose Paldiha’s segment is the most simple of them all but it’s also kind of controversial considering that its protagonist would make a very obscene gesture towards Christ the Redeemer but it does have a beauty for the fact that it’s shot largely from a glider’s perspective. The rest of the film does kind of play by the rules as far as the conventional ideas of love yet all manage to create stories that are at least engaging. Paolo Sorrentino’s segment is mainly comical while the segments by Guillermo Arriaga and John Turturro are the most dramatic. The segment by Carlos Saldanha is definitely the most beautiful in terms of its presentation as it’s more focused on ballet and music with some rumblings of what is happening behind the scenes between the two dancers.

Visually, the film does follow similar visual palettes in its cinematography though they’re able to give each segment something of its own with Saldanha’s shot largely at night and Meirelles’ segment starting off at night and then into the day where he would have the most technically inventive with its editing both visually and in its sound. Much of the film’s music soundtrack features an array of music from Brazil including the samba and bossa nova with much of its contribution from Gilberto Gil providing the film’s theme music. The film’s phenomenal cast all do some fantastic work with Fernanda Montenegro being the big standout in the titular role of Dona Fulana while Harvey Keitel provides a very kind and sensitive performance as an actor who would help a kid in getting a message from Jesus Christ in the O Milagre segment where Keitel would speak Portuguese for part of the film.

Rio, Eu Te Amo is a marvelous anthology film that features some incredible segments from Fernando Meirelles, Im Sang-soo, Carlos Saldanha, and several others. Along with a great cast, amazing music, and gorgeous images, it’s a film that portrays Rio not just as a place of paradise but also something that is wild and intoxicating from the perspective of its locals to the tourists visiting the city. In the end, Rio, Eu Te Amo is a sensational film that explores all the joys and frustrations of love in Rio de Janeiro.

Related: Paris, Je T'aime - New York, I Love You - (Tbilisi, I Love You)

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Underdog




For the fourth week of March of 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We go into the subject of the underdog as it’s something that is kind of happening for anyone paying attention to the NCAA basketball tournaments where underdogs would upset heavily-favored colleges all over the U.S. This is a subject that obviously touches the heart of people where it’s always about someone or a team that seem like the kind of people you wouldn’t think would win anything but end up becoming something that we root for. After all, it took the Chicago Cubs more than one-hundred-and-seven years to finally win a World Series against another underdog team who hadn’t won a World Series in sixty-eight years in the Cleveland Indians. Here are some films that truly capture that spirit of the underdog:

1. Hoosiers



One of the great sports films ever made is set in a small rural town in Indiana where a former college basketball coach is given a chance to coach a high school team that definitely seemed like they’re destined to go nowhere. Yet, it has something that is engaging not just in its rural values of hard work and doing the best you can but also use what you have. It’s that idea is what makes the film unique where it doesn’t follow any real sense of narrative formula expected in underdog films while giving the audiences to care about as the film feature iconic performances from Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper.

2. Rudy



Another film that is directed by David Anspaugh and written by Angelo Pizzo who both did Hoosiers is also inspired by a true story but it is about a real-life person in Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who dreams about playing football for University of Notre Dame. While it’s a film that does take a few dramatic liberties, it is still an inspiring film about a kid who worked hard to play as a walk-on for the school he has always supported and would finally get to play a game in its final moments. It’s a film that has so much to offer as it’s filled with rich imagery and a great cast led by Sean Astin in the titular role as it’s my father’s favorite film.

3. Survive and Advance



From the ESPN documentary series 30 for 30 is a film about real-life underdogs that can’t be scripted on a narrative feature. The film is about the 1983 college basketball team from NC State under the guidance of its coach Jim Valvano. It’s a film that is told by the players of that team who were going through a lot of bad luck and moments where they were close but unable to get the job done. It’s a very somber film as it is told thirty years after the championship win but also twenty years since Valvano’s passing from cancer as the team talks about what they had to do to make it to the NCAA championship and go against the much-heavily favored University of Houston that featured future basketball legend Hakeem Olajuwon.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Young Girls of Rochefort




Written and directed by Jacques Demy, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort) is the story of two sisters who hope to go to the big city when a fair arrives in their port town as they hope to find men and a chance to succeed. The film is a musical set in a small port town in France where it plays into two sisters trying to make it and escape their dreary world. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakaris, Grover Dale, and Gene Kelly. Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a splendid and enchanting film from Jacques Demy.

Set in the actual port town of Rochefort during the course of an entire weekend, the film is about a fair that is happening in the town where twin sisters hope to find their ideal men during the fair while hoping to go to Paris to pursue their own dreams. It’s a film that is about trying to find love but also deal with lost love and other complications with everyone getting ready for this fair that was to showcase a lot of things to the locals in Rochefort. Jacques Demy’s screenplay follows a lot of characters and their own pursuit for love with the twin sisters Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange (Francoise Dorleac) as the leads in the story as they’re two women who can sing and dance as they both want to go to Paris. Upon meeting the carnies Etienne (George Chakaris) and Bill (Grover Dale), they find a chance to get out of Rochefort even though their ideal figures of who their soul mates are just happen to be in the city. At the same time, there’s other characters who cope with love such as Delphine and Solange’s mother Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux) over a fiancée she left behind while a music shop owner in Simon Dame (Michel Piccoli) has just arrived to the town lamenting over someone he had lost as he befriends Solange.

Simon’s friendship with Solange would prompt him to call upon an old friend who could help her with her dreams of writing music in an American named Andrew Miller (Gene Kelly) as the two would meet but are unaware of who they really are. Another storyline involves a sailor named Maxence (Jacques Perrin) who is also a poet and painter as he is looking for his own ideal form of love through a painting he made as the woman in the painting looks a lot like Delphine though he’s never met her. There’s a lot that goes on yet Demy always find a way for these multiple stories with multiple characters to not overwhelm the narrative as he would write the lyrics and dialogue that would reveal a lot for all of these other storylines to make sense.

Demy’s direction is just intoxicating to watch in every sense of the word as it is shot on location in Rochefort where it is made to look like a real small town that has a lot more to offer. Shot on a 2:35:1 aspect ratio, Demy uses the widescreen format to his advantage not just in the wide shot where he captures so much coverage in the town but also in the scope of the dancing. Aided by choreographer Norman Meen, the dancing in the film definitely has a sense of movement that Demy would follow not just in wide and medium shots but also know when to cut and get it from another angle or for a close-up. Demy would use some tracking shots to follow some of the dancing while setting up moments from one part of a street to another to follow one character’s narrative into another where it all connects. Demy would also create simple moments for the non-musical scenes as it is more about the characters and what they would do where it would either set up a musical moment or something that would become a plot-point for a character. Even as its climax is at the fair where it is about these twin sisters finally reaching their dream to go to Paris and make something of themselves but also leave behind the idea that they might’ve never found their ideal figures of love. Overall, Demy creates a wondrous and majestic film about twin sisters trying to find love in their small port hometown.

Cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet does amazing work with the film’s colorful and gorgeous cinematography as much of the film is shot in the daytime where it captures the fullness and beauty of the colors as well as the locations with very few scenes shot at night that includes a dinner at Yvonne’s café. Editor Jean Hamon does excellent work with the editing as it does have elements of style but knows how to play with the rhythm of the music and in the dancing as it’s one of the film’s highlights. Production designer Bernard Evein and set decorator Louis Seuret do brilliant work with the set design from the look of Yvonne’s café as well as some of the staging in the fair and the music shop owned by Simon.

Costume designers Jacqueline Moreau and Marie-Claude Fouquet do fantastic work with the costumes as it adds to the film’s gorgeous visuals with its vibrant colors and how it play into the personality of the characters in the film. The sound work of Jacques Maumont is superb as it is very straightforward while capturing the atmosphere of the fair and some of the other local events. The film’s music by Michel Legrand is incredible as it is a highlight of the film with its playful score and the songs written with Demy as it says so much about the characters and helping to drive the story.

The film’s phenomenal cast include some notable small roles from Genevieve Thenier as Yvonne’s café waitress Josette, Pamela Hart and Leslie North as a couple of performers that dump Etienne and Bill for sailors, Patrick Jeantet as Yvonne’s youngest son Booboo, Rene Bazart as Yvonne’s father, Henri Cremieux as an old friend of Yvonne’s father who visits the café, and Jacques Riberolles as Delphine’s art gallery boyfriend Guillaume who is quite full of himself as the two break-up early in the film. Michel Piccoli is superb as Simon as a music shop owner who is an old friend of Andy as well as a mentor of sorts for Solange with her music as he also laments over love that he’s lost many years ago. Danielle Darrieux is fantastic as Yvonne as a café owner who also laments over a lover she left behind while coping with the fact that her daughters are leaving home to pursue their dreams as she’s the only person in the film that actually sings while everyone lip-syncs other people’s voices. Jacques Perrin is excellent as the sailor Maxence as a man who is trying to finish his service in the military while pursuing his own dreams as an artist where he hopes to find the woman he painted but never met.

George Chakaris and Grover Dale are brilliant in their respective roles as Etienne and Bill as two smooth-talking but kind carnies who try to woo Delphine and Solange while helping out Yvonne and other locals in the world of love. Gene Kelly is marvelous as Andrew Miller as an American friend of Simon who visits the small town as he gets a glimpse and falls for Solange while discovering a piece she wrote that she dropped upon their first meeting. Finally, there’s the duo of Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac in remarkable performances in their respective roles as Delphine and Solange. Deneuve and Dorleac, who are sisters in real-life, both provide a great sense of comic timing and charm as well as displaying their own vulnerabilities as women trying to find their ideal mates and their pursuit to follow their dreams in the big city despite leaving the one place they call home.

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a spectacular film from Jacques Demy. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, top-notch choreography, and sumptuous music. It’s a film that doesn’t just bear many elements into what makes the musical a joy to watch but it’s also backed by a universal and engaging story about finding love in a small portside town in France. In the end, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a tremendous film from Jacques Demy.

Jacques Demy Films: (Lola (1961 film)) - Bay of Angels - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg - (Model Shop) - Donkey Skin - (The Pied Piper (1972 film)) - (A Slightly Pregnant Man) - (Lady Oscar) - (La Naissance du Jour) – (Un chambre en ville) - (Parking (1985 film)) - (Three Places for the 26th) - (Turning Table)

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Young Victoria




Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee and written by Julian Fellowes, The Young Victoria is the story about the early life and reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th Century as she copes with her new role as Queen of Great Britain and her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The film is a dramatized take on Queen Victoria’s early life as well as what she had to do in trying to maintain her duty as queen but also finding some self-being as a person as the role of Victoria is played by Emily Blunt. Also starring Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Mark Strong, Thomas Krestchmann, Julian Glover, Jesper Christensen, Jim Broadbent, and Miranda Richardson. The Young Victoria is an enchanting and engaging film from Jean-Marc Vallee.

The film is about the early life of Princess Victoria of Kent, who would later become Queen of Great Britain on June 20, 1837 at the age of 18, as she deals with the role she is to play where many around try to put their own interests towards her with some wanting her to fail. It’s a film that explores a woman being aware of the role she is to play as she also tries to assert her own ideas while there are many that are plotting against her with some wanting her to give up her claim to the throne. At the heart of the story is her relationship to her first-cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Rupert Friend) who is sent by his uncle as a way to seduce her for political reasons but he falls for her and would end up being her greatest ally. Julian Fellowes’ screenplay does take some dramatic liberties such as an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria in 1840 as well as some of the details of her coronation and the age of Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany) who was 40 years older than the queen.

Yet, it does remain faithful to the events that was happening while creating a story that is engaging about Queen Victoria’s understanding of her role but also being aware of what is going on around her. Early in the film, she is being forced by her mother in the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) to sign away her powers while she is ill as she would refuse to. Especially as she has a strong devotion towards her uncle in King William IV (Jim Broadbent) who isn’t fond of her mother but wants to ensure that Victoria would have her place to rule Britain despite the opposition of so many. The character of Prince Albert is definitely a unique one as he is someone that knows the pressure of what Victoria is to endure where he would have ideas that would help her and Britain. Yet, she would take the advice of Lord Melbourne as her private secretary where things don’t go as she wants them to as she ponders every decision she makes as well as the people she wants around her.

Jean-Marc Vallee’s direction is very straightforward for not just capturing that period in time during King William IV’s final year but also into the glimpse of Queen Victoria’s life before she becomes queen. Though the first sequence that is presented is her coronation which would be shown again, it play into the many doubts that is looming once she becomes queen as Vallee’s direction would feature some wide and medium shots of the coronation in different perspectives. Much of the film is shot on various locations around Britain with some of it on actual palaces as well as some re-creation of the exteriors of Buckingham Palace as Vallee doesn’t go for anything stylistic but rather something simple and to the point. Even in the close-ups as it play into the anguish that Victoria endures where she would often vent her feelings through corresponding letters with Albert as it would strengthen their relationship. Vallee would also create moments that play into their growing relationship once they’re together with Albert knowing his place but also slowly do things to make sure that Victoria would be confident in her own decisions as queen. Overall, Vallee creates a riveting yet intoxicating film about the early life and reign of Queen Victoria.

Cinematographer Hagen Bogdanski does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the natural look of the daytime interior/exterior scenes to the usage of lights for some of the scenes set at night. Editors Jill Bilcock and Mat Garner do brilliant work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and some stylized cuts to play into the rhythm of the film. Production designer Patrice Vermette, with set decorator Maggie Gray and supervising art director Paul Inglis, does amazing work with the look of the interiors of the palaces and dining halls as well as the design of the carriages in those times. Costume designer Sandy Powell does fantastic work with the costumes from the look of the gowns as well as the clothes that the men wore in those times.

Hair/makeup designer Jenny Shircore does terrific work with the design of the hairstyles and extensions they wore during the day as well as the look of the men. Sound designer Martin Pinsonnault does superb work with the sound as it play into the sparse elements of what goes on in the palace as well as the raucous sounds for some of the parties. The film’s music by Ilan Eshkeri is sublime for its low-key orchestral score that play into the drama while music supervisor Maureen Crowe creates a music soundtrack that largely consists of the music of the times including some classical pieces that Victoria and Albert have a fondness for.

The casting by Susie Figgis is incredible as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Josef Altin as the man that tried to assassinate Queen Victoria, Genevieve O’Reilly as Lady Flora Hastings, Julian Glover as the Duke of Wellington, Michiel Huisman as Prince Albert’s brother Ernest, Michael Maloney as Sir Robert Peel who briefly replaces Lord Melbourne as prime minister, Rachel Stirling as the Duchess of Sutherland who is the queen’s lady-in-waiting during her early reign, and Jeanette Hain as the queen’s caretaker in Baroness Louise Lezhen. Other noteworthy small roles include Jesper Christensen as Baron Stockmar as an advisor to Prince Albert in how to woo Victoria while Thomas Krestchmann is superb as King Leopold I of Belgium who is hoping that Prince Albert succeeds in the hopes of a political alliance with Britain and Belgium. Harriet Walter is wonderful as Queen Adelaide as Victoria’s aunt who is one of the few people that Victoria can trust and turn to as she also feels that Albert has a very important role in helping Victoria. Jim Broadbent is fantastic as King William I as Victoria’s uncle who is aware of what is going on as he doesn’t like Victoria’s mother very much while worrying about Victoria once she becomes queen. Mark Strong is excellent as Sir John Conroy as a comptroller to Victoria’s mother who wants to maintain control and influence into Victoria as a man that wants power even though Victoria hates him.

Paul Bettany is brilliant as Lord Melbourne as the prime minister who becomes the queen’s advisor as someone with good intentions only to create some trouble in the queen’s early years as he would later find himself dealing with Albert for the queen’s attention in power. Miranda Richardson is amazing as the Duchess of Kent as the queen’s mother who would try to get her daughter to listen to Sir Conroy only to become estranged from her daughter until Albert would be the one to end the estrangement. Rupert Friend is marvelous as Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as the man who would be Queen Victoria’s husband and greatest ally where Friend is quite restrained in his performance as someone who is just loyal and devoted to a woman he feels has a lot to offer to the world. Finally, there’s Emily Blunt in a radiant performance as the young Queen Victoria as a woman trying to deal with the role that is set upon her as well as wanting not to fail and do right for her country as it’s one of Blunt’s finest performances in displaying the anguish and determination of one of the greatest figures in history.

The Young Victoria is a remarkable film from Jean-Marc Vallee that features an incredible leading performance from Emily Blunt. Along with a great supporting cast, beautiful locations, rapturous images, and some fine technical work. It’s a film that chronicles the life of a woman in her early years as she would later become a definitive figure for Great Britain. In the end, The Young Victoria is a phenomenal film from Jean-Marc Vallee.

Jean-Marc Vallee Films: (Black List) - (Los Locos) - (Loser Love) - (C.R.A.Z.Y.) - (Café de Flore) - Dallas Buyers Club - Wild (2014 film) - Demolition (2015 film) - (Big Little Lies)

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One)




Written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) is a documentary film about the recording of the titular song by the Rolling Stones that is inter-cut with segments relating to the political and social events of the late 1960s. The film marks the beginning of a period of experimental features for Godard in his movement away from traditional narrative while he chronicles one of the most popular bands at that time during a crucial period in their career. The result is a fascinating though uneven film from Jean-Luc Godard.

The film follows a series of recording sessions in June of 1968 by the Rolling Stones for a song that is to reflect into the chaos of that year entitled Sympathy for the Devil. During the course of the film as the Stones would try and create this song, the film would be inter-cut with dramatic segments featuring actors reading or giving their views on many social and political ideologies of the time. Yet, both narratives would often feature a brief jump-cut of someone spray painting political slogans all over London during the course of the film. It’s a film that has two very different things happening yet both segments would also feature commentaries by a narrator (the voice of Sean Lynch) reading stories on Marxism where it would often drown out some of the things that is happening or be drowned out by comments from those talking politics or the Stones playing music as well as sounds of jets flying in the air courtesy of sound mixers Derek Ball and Arthur Bradburn.

Both the segments involving the Stones and the political content are shot in long takes by Jean-Luc Godard with the aid of cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond as it follows not just what is going on but also in the environment. Whereas the Stones are seen recording at Olympic Studios in London, the political segments largely take place in different areas. There’s two different segments involving black militants talking about their own ideas while executing white women in one segment as it takes place in a junkyard near a river. A segment with actress Anne Wiazemsky as a character talking to people in the forest about what she thinks the state of the world and the different ideas of politics. There’s one segment taking place inside a bookstore where a Fascist reads a book on Fascism with two customers beaten and bloodied by other Fascist customers as the store is surrounded by comics, pulp novels, and nudie magazines.

The scenes involving the Stones recording Sympathy for the Devil shows the band hard at work trying to develop the song that would become one of their defining songs as vocalist Mick Jagger tries to find the right vocal tone for the song while guitarist Keith Richards would play bass on the song trying to find its groove. Drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman would provide their own contributions to the song as would session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins and producer Jimmy Miller. The scenes also showcase guitarist Brian Jones becoming less involved as there’s a major scene during the recording where the band plus Hopkins and percussionist Rocky Dijon are all playing in the circle while Jones is playing acoustic guitar in a booth behind Jagger. It is a moment that shows his diminishing role in the band as he would die more than a year after the recording of the song.

While the film does contain some rich cinematography by Richmond as well as some straightforward editing by Ken Rowes including the jump-cuts to showcase the young woman spray-painting slogans on walls around London. The film is definitely uneven largely due to the fact that Godard wants to create something that is a response to the events of 1968 as it’s really 2 different films. Yet, the film’s original intentions had Godard wanting to make something that is more political but clashes with one of the film’s producers in Iain Quarrier, who plays the role of a Fascist book seller, would complicate things as the resulting film that is shown is quite uneven. It’s uneven to audiences that thought they would see a film about the Stones in their prime only to see something else while Godard-enthusiasts would wonder why the Stones in a film that definitely has a lot of commentaries on the politics of the times.

Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) is a stellar film from Jean-Luc Godard. Though it’s a very uneven film due to its different subject matter. It is still an interesting film that chronicles a tumultuous time period inspired by the events of 1968 as well as a look into the Rolling Stones creating one of their defining songs. In the end, Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) is a terrific film from Jean-Luc Godard.

Related: Gimme Shelter - Crossfire Hurricane

Jean-Luc Godard Films: All the Boys are Called Patrick - Charlotte et son Jules - A Bout de Souffle - (The Little Soldier) - A Woman is a Woman - Vivre sa Vie - Les Carabiniers - Contempt - Bande a Part - (A Married Woman) - Alphaville - Pierrot Le Fou - Masculin Feminin - Made in U.S.A. - (Two or Three Things I Know About Her) - (La Chinoise) - (Weekend) - (Joy of Learning) - (Tout va Bien) - (Letter to Jane) - (One A.M.) - (Number Two) - (Here and Elsewhere) - (Every Man for Himself) - (Passion) - (First Name: Carmen) - (Hail Mary) - (Soft and Hard) - (Detective) - (King Lear (1987 film)) - (Keep Your Right Up) - (Novelle Vague) - (Allemagne 90 neuf zero) - (JLG/JLG - Self-Portrait in December) - (For Ever Mozart) - (Historie(s) de Cinema) - (In Praise of Love) - (Notre musique) - (Film Socialisme) - (Adieu au Language)

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