Friday, December 15, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2



Directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Derek Kolstad, John Wick: Chapter 2 is the sequel to the 2014 film in which the titular former-hitman being forced to take part in assassination only to get into serious trouble just as he refused to return to the world of crime. It’s a film in which a man who had once gained peace in his life only to be driven back to the dark world of crime is suddenly trying to fight to retain this sense of peace that he has been craving for as Keanu Reeves reprises the role of the titular character. Also starring Common, John Leguizamo, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Ian McShane, and Laurence Fishburne. John Wick: Chapter 2 is a gritty and evocative film from Chad Stahelski.

The film follows the titular character who has just gotten revenge from the people who had lured him back into the world of crime as he hopes not to return until a crime boss asks him to do an impossible assignment as part of a blood oath Wick made many years ago. Wick initially refuses until his house was destroyed as he is forced to do the assignment as it relates to a person being coroneted to a high seat of crime lords in the hope he can’t do anything else ever again. Yet, the assignment proves to be tricky and challenging where it’s the aftermath that is more troubling as it play into the rules of what Wick has to live by. Derek Kolstad’s screenplay showcases Wick’s reluctance to return to the underworld as all he wants to do is live peacefully as he would make that deal with another crime lord earlier in the film who is related to the people that wronged him in the previous film.

Yet, that peace would be brief all because of the crime boss Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) who gives Wick a marker that reminds him of the blood oath Wick makes. One of the two rules that Wick has to live by is to never turn down a marker and the other is no killing at any hotels known as the Continental as it’s forbidden in the criminal underworld. Wick has already violated one rule in private as he is forced to do the assassination for D’Antonio as it relates to a seat in this high council of criminal bosses. For everything that Wick has to do in this assignment in Rome, he also has to deal with other hitmen wanting to kill him including a boss’ loyal bodyguard in Cassian (Common) whom Wick has a mutual sense of respect for. When he returns to New York City to seek the help of another crime lord in the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) who is an outsider but also lives by the same code of the underworld.

Chad Stahelski’s direction is definitely stylish in its approach to the violence and action while it has a fluidity that harkens to martial arts and samurai films of the past. Shot on location in New York City and Rome, Italy with additional locations in Montreal, Stahelski opens the film with a car chase in New York City as it establishes what Wick is doing and what he wants where it sort of picks up where the previous film left off. While there are some wide shots of the different locations in the film including some unique compositions in some of the meetings and violent moments in some elaborate sequences. Stahelski knows when to slow things down as it relates to the story and what is going on through simple compositions in the close-ups and medium shots as well as the fact that Wick is still coping with the loss of his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan) some years ago. Stahelski’s approach to set-pieces and how to create moments of suspense are key to the action as he prefers to take its time rather than just go all-in and heighten the action even more following an action sequence.

Most notably a scene in which Wick faces off with Cassian in a New York City subway train where they both look at each other and they’re stuck in a crowd of people but rather than try to kill each other. They bide their time so that people can leave as neither man is interested in killing innocent people which showcases this rare sense of humanity that these two men have which is often lacking in action films. The stakes are also bigger for the film’s third act as it relates to Wick being this target and what D’Antonio is trying to do. Its climax is definitely inventive and stylish in its compositions and choreography with an aftermath that is about this air of uncertainty for Wick. Overall, Stahelski crafts a thrilling and intense film about a hitman being lured back into the criminal underworld.

Cinematographer Dan Laustsen does brilliant work with the film’s stylish cinematography with its usage of stylish lights and colors for some of the scenes including the Roman caverns and lights at night in Rome as well as some of the locations in New York City. Editor Evan Schiff does excellent work with the editing as it is very stylish with its fast-cuts to play into the action but knows when to slow things down and not deviate into chaotic fast-cutting styles. Production designer Kevin Kavanaugh, with set decorators Letizia Santucci and David Schlesinger plus supervising art directors Isabelle Guay and Cristina Onori, does fantastic work with the look of the sets in Italy as well as the sets of the Continental hotel lobbies in Rome and New York City as well as the museum for the film’s climax. Costume designer Luca Mosca does amazing work with the costumes from the design of the suits that Wick wears as well as some of the clothes of the other characters.

Visual effects supervisor Paul Linden does nice work with the visual effects as it is largely low-key as set-dressing for some of the locations as well as for some of the film’s action sequences. Sound editor Mark P. Stoeckinger does superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as how gunfire and knives sound. The film’s music by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard is wonderful for its mixture of electronic, rock, and orchestral music that play into the suspense and action while music supervisor John Houlihan create a soundtrack that is a mixture of rock and electronic music that includes a cut from Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains.

The casting by Jessica Kelly and Suzanne Smith is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Bridget Monyahan as Wick’s wife Helen via flashbacks, Peter Stormare as a mob boss whom Wick confronts early in the film, Tobias Segal as a homeless hitman, Peter Serafinowicz as a tailor for the Continental, John Leguizamo as Wick’s friend Aurelio who owns a chop shop, Thomas Sadoski as a policeman friend of Wick in Jimmy, Lance Reddick as the concierge for the New York City Continental hotel in Charon, Franco Nero as the manager of the Continental hotel in Rome, and Claudia Gerini as Santino’s sister Gianna who has a seat in the high council of crime lords. Ian McShane is excellent as the New York City Continental hotel manager Winston who is a longtime friend of Wick that warns him about some of the consequences of what Wick would do. Ruby Rose is fantastic in a silent role as Santino’s mute bodyguard Ares as a woman that communicates through sign language as she is this ambiguous figure who is very deadly in the way she is willing to protect Santino.

Common is brilliant as Cassius as a bodyguard for a high council official who also knows Wick as he shares an equal amount of respect for him in the way they do business as well as trying to kill him but with a sense of honor. Laurence Fishburne is amazing as the Bowery King as a crime boss who is part of an underground crime syndicate as he helps Wick in dealing with Santino as well as knowing about what is happening to Wick. Riccardo Scamarcio is superb as Santino D’Antonio as a crime lord that wants Wick to do an assignment by using a sacred code in the hopes he can get a seat at a high council and rule New York City for his own reasons. Finally, there’s Keanu Reeves in a phenomenal performance as the titular character as a man trying to move away from the world of crime only to be lured back because of a blood oath that he can’t refuse where he deals with the task he’s given as well as cope with the loss of his wife and home where Reeves display that restraint in his anguish while knowing that Wick is headed for uncertainty.

John Wick: Chapter 2 is a sensational film from Chad Stahelski that features another incredible performance from Keanu Reeves. Along with its supporting cast, dazzling visuals, and a gripping music score, it’s an action film that manages to do more than expected with its story of vengeance as well as what a man is forced to do when he’s lured back into the world of crime. In the end, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a riveting film from Chad Stahelski.

Related: John Wick - (John Wick: Chapter 3)

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pawn Sacrifice



Directed by Edward Zwick and screenplay by Steven Knight from a story by Knight, Stephen J. Revele, and Christopher Wilkinson, Pawn Sacrifice is the story about the legendary 1972 chess match between the American chess champion Bobby Fischer against the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky at Reykjavik, Iceland. The film is a dramatic account of the match as well as a look into the early life of Bobby Fischer who was considered a prodigy as he’s played by Tobey Maguire with Liev Schreiber as Spassky. Also starring Lily Rabe, Michael Stuhlbarg, Robin Weigert, and Peter Sarsgaard. Pawn Sacrifice is a compelling and haunting film from Edward Zwick.

The film follows the life of American chess champion Bobby Fischer as he is to face the Soviet Union’s grandmaster Boris Spassky in a game to determine who the world’s best in the game of chess is. Steven Knight’s screenplay doesn’t just follow Fischer’s early life as a young boy obsessed with the game to the point that he would be the youngest grandmaster in American chess but also considered the most gifted player of his generation. Yet, Fischer’s obsession would also lead to his own mental deterioration as much of the film’s narrative takes place during the 1960s to the climatic 1972 world championship match against Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. During the course of the film, Fischer would call in former chess champion in Father William Lombardy (Peter Sarsgaard) to accompany him as his second and an attorney in Paul Marshall (Michael Stuhlbarg) to handle his business dealings as well as Fischer’s demands.

While Fischer would play several of the Soviet’s top chess grandmasters, he wants to face Spassky as his attempt to confront him during the Soviets’ visit to Santa Monica falters due to his paranoia as would another attempt at match in Europe. Upon choosing Iceland, Fischer almost never shows up because of the press coverage and he becomes more unhinged during the first game due to the sounds of the camera and the sound of a crowd watching the game. The script showcases that sense of paranoia where Fischer’s older sister Joan (Lily Rabe) tells Marshall to have her brother be sent to a hospital for evaluation where he’s already gaining delusions of grandeur and claims that the Soviets and the Jews are after him which baffles Marshall who knows that Fischer is Jewish. The script does have some faults as it relates to its sense of time with the exception of the second half as it relates to the match in Iceland though there are some historical errors in which Marshall claims to represent Jimi Hendrix only two years before Hendrix had even released an album.

Edward Zwick’s direction does have bits of style in terms of the way he would present television coverage of the Fischer-Spassky match yet would maintain something very straightforward for the rest of the film. Shot mainly in Montreal for the scenes set in Brooklyn, New York and other parts of the city with the scenes of the Fischer-Spassky match shot on actual location in Reykjavik, Iceland and scenes shot in Los Angeles. Zwick would capture a period in time where so much is happening yet Fischer lives in a world that is simpler away from Vietnam, Flower Power, and popular music as he is also more concerned with playing chess in the park or at chess clubs with other chess players. Much of the direction has Zwick favor more intimate shots in the close-ups and medium shots as it play into Fischer’s growing sense of paranoia while there are some wide shots of some of the locations.

The usage of TV footage of various interviews that Fischer gave during the height of his fame is sort of re-created to showcase the sense of enjoyment he has but also his growing disconnect with reality. Even in the climatic series of chess matches against Spassky where it’s got an intimacy in the direction and compositions as it play into Fischer’s own sense of paranoia and the need to get into Spassky’s head. Overall, Zwick crafts a compelling and fascinating film about the real-life chess match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky and the events that lead to this event.

Cinematographer Bradford Young does brilliant work with the cinematography in the look of the exteriors with its usage of low-key blue and green for the scenes in day and night as well as the usage of low-key colors for the interior scenes. Editor Steven Rosenblum does excellent work with the editing as it has some stylish montages into Fischer’s ascent into the world of chess as well as some rhythmic cuts to play into the methodical approach of the chess players in their movements on the board. Production designer Isabelle Guay, with head set decorator Paul Hotte plus art directors Jean-Pierre Paquet and Robert Parle, does amazing work with the sets from the motel in Santa Monica where Fischer and his small entourage live in to the Brooklyn apartment that is his home as well as the house he would live in Reykjavik. Costume designer Renee April does fantastic work with the costumes as it is mainly straightforward in contrast to the period that the characters are in as they mainly wear suits with the exception of Father Lombardy and some of the female characters in the film.

Visual effects supervisor Alan Munro does terrific work with the look of the old TV footage and how the actors are integrated into the old footage as well as some set-dressing for some of the locations. Sound designer Lon Bender does superb work with the sound as it play into the sense of paranoia in Fischer over the things he claims to hear as well as the atmosphere of some of the places that he plays at. The film’s music by James Newton Howard is wonderful as it is this low-key orchestral score that play into the drama as well as some of the suspense as it relates to Fischer’s paranoia while music supervisor Steven Rosenblum provide a soundtrack that play into the time period with contributions from the Spencer Davis Group, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Carl Perkins, the Ventures, Al Green, and the Doobie Brothers.

The casting by Andrea Kenyon, Victoria Thomas, and Randi Wells is incredible as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Evelyne Brochu as a young woman that Fischer meets and befriends at Santa Monica, Conrad Pla as Fischer’s chess teacher Carmine Nigro, Sophie Nelisse as the young Joan Fischer, Aiden Lovekamp as the young Fischer, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as the teenage Fischer, Brett Watson as the chief arbiter Lothar Schmid for the Fischer-Spassky match, and Robin Weigart as Fischer’s mother Regina who is estranged from her son due to her Socialist views as she wants to be there for him but finds herself continuously pushed away. Lily Rabe is fantastic as Fischer’s sister Joan as a woman who is concerned about her brother’s mental health as she is aware of the things he says where she knows he’s losing it. Michael Stuhlbarg is excellent as Paul Marshall as an attorney who would become Fischer’s agent in ensuring that Fischer gets paid and be given certain demands as he also deals with Fischer’s erratic behavior.

Peter Sarsgaard is brilliant as Father William Lombardy as a former chess champion turned priest who becomes Fischer’s second and closest ally who also watches what is happening to Fischer as he is aware of the mad obsession Fischer has for the game. Liev Schreiber is amazing as Boris Spassky as the Soviet grandmaster who is the epitome of cool as someone that is good at chess while knowing what Fischer is trying to do where he also succumbs to his own bit of paranoia. Finally, there’s Tobey Maguire in a phenomenal performance as Bobby Fischer as the famed chess prodigy who was considered the greatest chess player in the United States as he wants to defeat Spassky in the hope he can be the best while succumbing to his own paranoia and delusions that would lead to his mental deterioration where Maguire displays that anguish and despair in that man.

Pawn Sacrifice is a marvelous film from Edward Zwick that features a great performance from Tobey Maguire. Along with its supporting cast and a look into the events that lead to the legendary chess match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. It’s a film that showcases a man and his obsession to be the best that would eventually cost him his mind. In the end, Pawn Sacrifice is a remarkable film from Edward Zwick.

Edward Zwick Films: (About Last Night) – (Glory (1989 film)) – (Leaving Normal) – (Legends of the Fall) – (Courage Under Fire) – (The Siege) – (The Last Samurai) – (Blood Diamond) – (Defiance (2008 film)) – (Love & Other Drugs) – (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back)

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie



Based on the characters from DC Comics and Lego Construction Toys, The Lego Batman Movie is an animated film in which Lego Batman is trying to defeat the Joker and other villains while dealing with his own fears when he finds himself adopting a young boy who would become his sidekick. Directed by Chris McKay and screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, and John Whittington from a story by Grahame-Smith, the film is a comical take on the Batman story told through Legos as it’s a spin-off of the 2014 film The Lego Movie with Will Arnett reprising his role as Batman. Also starring Zach Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred. The Lego Batman Movie is a fun and exhilarating film from Chris McKay.

The film follows the Caped Crusader who is once again battling the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) and his army of villains to save Gotham as he isn’t sure what to do next after the Joker suddenly surrenders to the Gotham’s new police commissioner in Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). It’s a film in which Batman is forced to face his greatest fear as he refuses to believe that he can work with other people preferring to work by himself. The film’s screenplay explore Batman’s desire to be the hero of Gotham and his belief that he can do it himself yet he remains haunted by the fact that he lost his parents as a child and couldn’t cope with the idea of a family. Yet, at a gala to celebrate the retirement of Jim Gordon (Hector Elizondo) where they announce Gordon’s daughter Barbara as his replacement. Batman in his true identity as Bruce Wayne would meet a young orphan in Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) where he unknowingly adopts him. Adding to this is the fact that he would use Grayson to retrieve a weapon at the home of Superman (Channing Tatum) in the hopes he can get rid of the Joker but he is unaware of what the Joker is planning.

Chris McKay’s direction is definitely stylish as it play into this world where it all Legos and all of the characters are Legos while using references to all of the Batman films of the past. While McKay would use wide shots to get a look of Gotham as well as some extravagant action set pieces in which Batman would battle various villains. McKay would also utilize medium shots and close-ups to play into the humor and some of the drama as the latter relate to Batman’s issues over needing some companionship as the only person he has around him is his butler Alfred. McKay would infuse a lot of offbeat moments in the animation as well as footage of films such as the 1966 Batman film and Jerry Maguire with the latter being a film that Batman likes to watch. It’s among these moments that provide that heightened sense of entertainment as well as moments where Batman reluctantly makes Grayson his sidekick known as Robin.

The film also has McKay maintain a look that fit in towards every set piece and how the characters would build something through whatever Lego piece they can find. Helping McKay with the look is production designer Grant Freckelton in the way Gotham looks as well as Wayne Manor and what the Joker would do to it for its third act. The film’s third act doesn’t just feature Joker teaming up with various villains from other stories such as Gremlins, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and other franchises/films. It just adds to a climax that is crazy but also filled with a lot of humor and moments that aren’t afraid to be ridiculous. Overall, McKay creates a joyful and exuberant film about a vigilante struggling to deal with the idea of needing a family again.

Editors David Burrow, Matt Villa, and John Venzon do amazing work with the editing as it is stylish to play into the action without deviating too much into chaotic editing styles while playing up to the film’s humor with its approach to rhythmic cuts. Sound designer Wayne Pashley does brilliant work with the sound in creating some of the sound effects as well as how the voices matches up with whatever objects the characters are using to shoot. The film’s music by Lorne Balfe is fantastic for its orchestral-based score as it has a lot of bombast in the percussions and in the string arrangements while the soundtrack feature a lot of music from artists and acts like Patrick Stump, DNCE, Harry Nilsson, Wham!, Alesso with Tove Lo, Cutting Crew, Rick Astley, and Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine.

The casting by Mary Hidalgo is great as it feature notable small voice roles and appearances from Eddie Izzard as Lord Voldemort, Jermaine Clement as Sauron, Jonah Hill as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Channing Tatum as Superman, Adam DeVine as Barry Allen/the Flash, David Burrows as an anchorman and Mr. Freeze, Doug Benson as Bane, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Conan O’Brien as the Riddler, Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, Jason Mantoukas as the Scarecrow, Riki Lindhome as Poison Ivy and Wicked Witch of the West, Seth Green as King Kong, Kate Micucci as Clayface, Mariah Carey as Mayor McCaskill, Lauren White as Chief O’Hara and Medusa, Susan Bennett as Batman’s computer, and Hector Elizondo as Gotham police commissioner Jim Gordon who retires and gives the job to his daughter. Jenny Slate is wonderful in her small voice role as Harley Quinn as the Joker’s girlfriend who would help him conspire his scheme to defeat Batman and destroy Gotham.

Ralph Fiennes is excellent as Alfred Pennyworth as Batman/Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler who is aware of Bruce’s reluctance to invite people into his life as he sees Dick as someone that could probably help Bruce. Rosario Dawson is brilliant as Barbara Gordon as Gotham’s new police commissioner who wants to make some changes as she hopes to rid Gotham of crime once and for all yet realizes how much she needs Batman to help achieve these ideas. Michael Cera is fantastic as Dick Grayson/Robin as an orphaned boy accidentally adopted by Bruce Wayne as he would become Batman’s sidekick where Cera brings in that sense of boyish energy that is needed to be Robin. Zach Galifianakis is amazing as the Joker where he provides a lot of wit and depth into the character as well as providing a complexity to the Joker as someone who just wants some respect from Batman and is willing to do anything to get that. Finally, there’s Will Arnett in an incredible voice performance as Batman/Bruce Wayne as the Caped Crusader who thinks he is cooler than everyone and doesn’t need anyone’s help but also has this torment inside over the idea of having a family again as it’s a very comical performance from Arnett.

The Lego Batman Movie is an awesome film from Chris McKay. Featuring some dazzling animation, some very funny and adventurous moments, and a lot of high-octane action. It’s a film that definitely manages to be something fans of Batman can enjoy as well as be something that is just pure fun for audiences of all ages. In the end, The Lego Batman Movie is a marvelous film from Chris McKay.

Related: The Lego Movie - (The Lego Ninjago Movie)

Batman Films: (Batman (1966 film)) – Batman (1989 film) - Batman Returns - Batman Forever - Batman & Robin - Batman Begins - The Dark Knight - The Dark Knight Rises - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - (Justice League)

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

Logan (2017 film)




Based on the Marvel Comics character Wolverine created by Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita Jr. and a storyline by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, Logan revolves around an aging mutant who deals with mortality as he cares for his aging mentor and the discovery of a young girl who has powers similar to his as they’re being chased by anti-mutant forces. Directed by James Mangold and screenplay by Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green, the film is the third film of an unofficial trilogy of the Wolverine/Logan character that is played by Hugh Jackman with Patrick Stewart as the ailing Charles Xavier/Professor X. Also starring Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Dafne Keen, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, and Elizabeth Rodriguez. Logan is an enthralling yet heart-wrenching film from James Mangold.

It’s 2029 as mutants are nearly extinct with not a single one has been born in 25 years as the film revolves around an aging mutant who has given up trying to do good preferring to work as a limo driver in order to buy a yacht for himself and his ailing mentor Charles Xavier. During this time, Logan is being pursued by a nurse who has a young girl with her as she would later reveal to have powers similar to what Logan has in terms of its super-healing and using adamantium claws to attack. The girl is being pursued by a mysterious organization who want her where Logan and Xavier learn why as they decide to protect her and drive her to a mysterious sanctuary. The film’s screenplay is really more of a character study that relates to the Wolverine who has basically forsaken that name as he has reverted to his birth name in James Howlett. He’s also drinking to cope with the fact that he’s lost so many friends and has been unable to help forcing himself to just live by whatever job he can get to help himself and Charles with help from an albino mutant/tracker in Caliban (Stephen Merchant).

During a call for his limo service, Logan meets this nurse in Gabriella (Elizabeth Rodriguez) who offers him money to take her and this young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota near the Canadian border. Yet, Logan has been encounter by a militant named Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) to go after Laura where Logan and Xavier learn why Pierce wants Laura as it relates to a big revelation about a new generation of mutants who are being experimented on as an army with Laura and several others having escaped. Logan reluctantly takes Laura to North Dakota with the ailing Xavier who would have these monstrous seizures that would nearly freeze everything around him as his telepathic powers have become unstable due to his age. It makes Logan’s mission more difficult as he is also becoming ill due to the effects of the adamantium in his body that has made him age and his healing powers becoming much slower as well as ineffective. There is also this element of myth as it relates to Logan seeing that Laura has been carrying comic books that relate to his character as it drives him away from wanting to help her out. It’s that internal struggle that Logan faces in wanting to help but often faces obstacles where many others would be hurt or killed along the way.

James Mangold’s direction is definitely adventurous in terms of the setting but also quite confrontational as it relates to the violence as the film opens with a hungover Logan passed out on his limo being awoken by a gang trying to steal his hubcaps where he ends up killing them. Shot on various locations in New Orleans, various cities in New Mexico, and areas in Louisiana and Mississippi, the film does play into this mixture of the western, road movie, adventure, and drama as it relates to the humanity that Logan is trying to distance himself from. Mangold would use some wide shots for some of the vast locations Logan, Xavier, and Laura would go to as they’re being chased by Pierce and his army known as Reavers who capture remaining mutants they need. Though much of the film is set in various locations in the American Southwest including Mexico with some of it set in Las Vegas.

Mangold does maintain that sense of the western as it relates to the role that Logan is playing as well as one of the references Mangold uses in a film that Xavier and Laura watch. The film also has Mangold do something simple as it relates to the need of compassion and to help others when Logan, Xavier, and Laura meet a family in need of help as Logan does and they get shelter in return as it’s a brief moment of peace which is something Xavier needed as he had been filled with regrets for much of his life. The film’s third act is about Logan coping with something he never thought he would face which is mortality as he is aware of the fallacy of immortality having seen so many friends come and gone. Especially in moments that are quite brutal as Mangold doesn’t shy away from the fact that the film is very violent with lots of blood and deaths that are shocking to watch as it play into that struggle of humanity that Logan seems to lose faith on.

The third act which is set in the mountains where Laura, who had been largely silent, find these other mutant children who had been on the run is a moment where Logan sees a future that could be hopeful but doesn’t want to get close to it thinking he could undo it. The film’s climax isn’t just this showdown between Logan and these forces who want these children for their own reason but also everything Logan never wanted to be as well as to ensure this young girl that she never becomes what many evil forces wanted him to be. It’s a moment that is powerful but also heartbreaking as it conveys loss but also hope for a future generation. Overall, Mangold creates a visceral yet evocative film about a lost mutant who regains his purpose in life to help those in need of help including a young girl.

Cinematographer John Mathieson does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it play into the sunny look of the American Southwest in its various locations as well as the usage of lights for some of the scenes set at night plus the abandoned compound where Logan, Caliban, and Xavier live in with its shades and such. Editors Michael McCusker and Dirk Westervelt do brilliant work with the editing as it captures the energy in the action while knowing when to slow down for the dramatic scenes without deviating too much into conventional editing styles. Production designer Francois Audouy, with set decorator Peter Lando and supervising art director Chris Farmer, does amazing work with the look of the abandoned factory/compound that Logan, Caliban, and Xavier live in as well as the farm home of the family Logan, Xavier, and Laura meet plus this mysterious lab for the people that Pierce works for. Costume designer Daniel Orlandi does nice work with the clothes from the military uniforms that Pierce and his team wears to the more casual look that Logan, Laura, and Xavier wears.

Special effects makeup artist Ozzy Alvarez does fantastic work with the look of Caliban as an albino whose weakness is sunlight as well as some of the gore in the characters that encounter Logan and Laura. Visual effects supervisors Richard Betts, Chas Jarrett, Doug Spilatro, and Chris Spry do incredible work with the visual effects in the way some of the action is presented as well as some set-dressing in some of the locations and the powers of some of the younger mutants plus a weapon created by the company Pierce works for. Sound designer Hamilton Sterling, along with sound editor Donald Sylvester, does superb work with the sound in creating sound effects for some of the weapons as well as the way some of the locations sound and the moments whenever Xavier is having a seizure. The film’s music by Marco Beltrami is wonderful for its orchestral score that play into the drama and action while music supervisor Ted Caplan provides a soundtrack that features elements of hip-hop, country, and blues with contributions from Jim Croce and Johnny Cash.

The casting by Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman, and Priscilla Yeo is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Elizabeth Rodriguez as a nurse named Gabriella who had been taking care of Laura, Eriq La Salle and Elise Neal as a farming couple who take in Logan, Laura, and Xavier, Quincy Fouse as the farming couple’s son, Dave Davis as a convenience store clerk, and in roles of young mutants that are Laura’s friends that include Doris Morgado, David Kallaway, Han Soto, Jayson Genao, Krzysztof Soszynski, and Alison Fernandez as kids who are seeking shelter and not be used as weapons. Richard E. Grant is superb as Zander Rice as a scientist who is the film’s main antagonist as a man that is hell-bent on creating something that would give mutants a chance to be used as weapons and soldiers that can do anything under anyone’s command. Boyd Holbrook is fantastic as Donald Pierce as a militant working for Rice who is eager to capture Laura where he sports an artificial arm and is ruthless in his pursuit to capture Laura. Stephen Merchant is excellent as the albino mutant tracker Caliban as someone who helps take care of Xavier for Logan while being someone who knows that Logan is ill as he doesn’t take shit from him.

Dafne Keen is phenomenal as Laura as a young girl who sports powers similar to Logan as she spends much of the film being silent and observant until she is threatened as she is a fierce killer that hasn’t experienced a lot of tender moments as there is this nice balance of innocence and rage in Keen who is just a joy to watch. Patrick Stewart is incredible as Charles Xavier/Professor X as a powerful telepath who is dealing with a growing illness as he’s unable to control his powers as he is filled with remorse and frustration where Stewart provides some funny moments in his banter with Logan as well as display a sense of grace over his regrets and need for peace. Finally, there’s Hugh Jackman in a tremendous performance as the titular character as a mutant who has little purpose in his life as he is a man filled with anguish and loss where he is eager to just end it all in the hope he can never see anyone killed because of him as it’s Jackman delivering a performance that is really heartbreaking to watch but also filled with a sense of honor into the fact that only he can be the Wolverine.

Logan is an outstanding film from James Mangold that feature spectacular performances from Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, and Patrick Stewart. Along with its supporting cast, high-octane action, studies on humanity and mortality, and gorgeous visuals. It’s a film that definitely raises the bar of what a superhero-action film can be as well as provide something that is very emotional where it gives the Wolverine character a fitting send-off. In the end, Logan is a magnificent film from James Mangold.

Related: Shane - 3:10 to Yuma (2007 film)

X-Men Films: X-Men - X2: X-Men United - X-Men 3: The Last Stand - X-Men Origins: Wolverine - X-Men: First Class - The Wolverine - X-Men: Days of Future Past - Deadpool - X-Men: Apocalypse - (New Mutants) - (Deadpool 2) – (X-Men: Dark Phoenix)

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Get Out



Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out is the story of young African-American who is in an interracial relationship with a white woman where she takes him to her family home where he makes an awful discovery. The film is a horror film set in a quaint American suburb where a young man realizes what is going on as it relates to the world of white liberals and their ideas of race. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Lakeith Stanfield, and Catherine Keener. Get Out is a thrilling and horrifying film from Jordan Peele.

The film follows an African-American photographer who reluctantly agrees with his white girlfriend to visit her family at their countryside home where he learns that the family’s African-American maid and groundskeeper act very strangely as is an African-American guest at an annual party. It’s a film that explore the idea of a world where a young man is about to go into a world that he isn’t sure would be receptive in as he arrives to this small countryside town where it is the opposite where he’s welcomed. Jordan Peele’s screenplay showcases why Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is reluctant to meet this family but he is calm by the reception he’s given though he notices a lot of odd things at the house where his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) lives with her family that consists of her neurosurgeon father Dean (Bradley Whitford), her psychiatrist-hypnotist mother Missy (Catherine Keener), and younger brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones).

Dean and Missy may seem welcoming towards Chris as they both offer to help him quit smoking yet Jeremy is a little leery towards Chris. Jeremy doesn’t surprise Chris but it’s the housemaid Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and groundskeeper Walter (Marcus Henderson) who both sport these strange smiles just make Chris uneasy. When Missy converses with Chris, things take a weird turn as it relates to a tragedy in Chris’ life as it lead to moments that become offbeat to the guests Chris meets at this annual gathering Dean and Missy have every year. Notably as they’re largely white with the exception of an Asian and an African-American man named Logan (Lakeith Stanfield) who also acts odd as he’s in a relationship with a white woman 30 years older than him. The odd atmosphere and people Chris meets would have him asking many questions as it would lead to something darker prompting his best friend in TSA agent Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery) to make some chilling discoveries of his own.

Peele’s direction does have elements of styles in terms of the camera movements he creates as well as the element of surrealism that looms throughout the film. Especially in the opening sequence in which an African-American is at a suburb calling a friend telling him about some fucked-up shit as he notices a white car is driving nearby and some weird shit happened. Though the film is set at upstate New York with a few shots set in New York City, much of the film is shot on location in Fairhope, Alabama and the city of Mobile, Alabama as it play into this idea of an idyllic countryside home near the suburbs in an autumn setting. Peele’s usage of the wide shots play into the vast scope of the exterior of the house while he would use some dolly-tracking shots for some unique medium shots to get a look at the interiors of the house. It would play into something that is idyllic but there is still something off as Peele’s approach to the humor is restrained while the drama is also low-key and straightforward. The second act in which the annual party with all of these guests is definitely an intriguing sequence. Notably in that restrained approach to humor where there’s subtleties into what these guests are saying.

When a moment at the party becomes chilling, it does create that sense of intrigue that Chris is dealing with as it confirms that something has been off the moment he and Rose accidentally hit a deer on their way to Rose’s family home. Peele’s direction would leave behind small clues such as a door that’s left ajar in Rose’s room as well as the behavior of the housemaid and groundskeeper whenever they approach him. The film’s third act is definitely a horror film but not in a gory nor in a conventional sense in comparison with modern horror. Instead, Peele takes his time to let things unfold while balancing that with some humor involving Rod’s own discovery and his need to seek out help. It all play into these ideas of social classes and race relations where Chris is aware of the way things are but never would realize how far some people would go to ensure African-Americans’ place into 21st Century society. Overall, Peele crafts a very witty yet harrowing film about an African-American’s visit to his white girlfriend’s family home where it’s not what it seems.

Cinematographer Toby Oliver does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the natural and colorful look of the daytime exterior scenes to the usage of low-key lights for the exterior scenes at night as well as other lighting schemes to play into the suspense and horror. Editor Gregory Plotkins does brilliant work with the editing as it doesn’t devolve into conventional horror editing techniques as it plays more into building up the suspense with its stylish edits while using some inventive montages to help play into the suspense and surrealism. Production designer Rusty Smith, with set decorator Leonard R. Spiers and art director Chris Craine, does fantastic work with the look of the Armitage family home as well as some of its rooms and the apartment that Chris lives with Rose where Rod is watching Chris’ dog. Costume designer Nadine Haders does terrific work with the costumes as it is quite straightforward with the exception of the posh clothes of the party guests as well as the clothes that Logan wears.

The visual effects work of Paul Baran does superb work with the visual effects as it is largely minimalist for the deer-hitting scene as well as these surreal sequences whenever Chris is under a state of hypnosis where he’s in this strange world. Sound editor Trevor Gates does amazing work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the party as well as the way Missy would stir her teacup with a spoon as it adds a lot to the sound design as it is one of the film’s highlights. The film’s music by Michael Abels is incredible for its mixture of low-key orchestral music mixed in with some Swahili-inspired chants that include bits of blues to play into the suspense and horror while music supervisor Christopher Mollere provides a fun soundtrack that mixes pop and hip-hop as it features cuts by Childish Gambino, Flanagan and Allen, and Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.

The casting by Terri Taylor is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Richard Herd as Dean’s father, Erika Alexander as a detective that Rod goes to in the third act, Marcus Alexander as the groundskeeper Walter, Betty Gabriel as the housemaid Georgina, Lakeith Stanfield as the odd yet young African-American guest Logan, and Stephen Root in a superb small role as a blind art gallery dealer in Jim Hudson who is interested in Chris’ photos. Lil Rel Howery is fantastic as Chris’ friend Rod as a TSA agent who house-sits Chris’ apartment and his dog where he would get calls from Chris about the trip as he notices something is off when he doesn’t get any calls prompting him to start his own investigation. Caleb Landry Jones is terrific as Rose’s younger brother Jeremy as a young man that doesn’t seem fond of Chris as he wants to practice jujitsu moves on him while being too eager to play into the scheme that is unveiled in the third act.

Bradley Whitford is excellent as Dean Armitage as Rose’s father and a revered neurosurgeon who is warm to Chris while being very odd in the way he approaches or converses with Chris. Catherine Keener is brilliant as Missy Armitage as Rose’s psychiatrist/hypnotist who is also warm to Chris as she is intrigue into the tragedy of his life as she would use it as a tool to get him hypnotized. Allison Williams is amazing as Rose Armitage as Chris’ girlfriend as this young woman who epitomizes kindness and free-thinking as she understands Chris’ reluctance to meet her parents while there is something off about her when she’s at her parents’ home where she adds a layer of creepiness to her performance. Finally, there’s Daniel Kaluuya in a remarkable performance as Chris Washington as an African-American photographer who gets invited to meet his girlfriend’s parents as he tries to remain calm and collective but notices something isn’t right as it’s a very restrained performance from Kaluuya that would eventually become more chilling as the film progresses.

Get Out is a tremendous film from Jordan Peele. Featuring a great ensemble cast, an eerie music soundtrack, themes on race and social classes, and an inventive and witty script that is willing to create discussion. It’s a film that is definitely explores the ideas of racism in a modern context and how people perceive others who are different as well as what they want to do in a modern world. In the end, Get Out is a phenomenal film from Jordan Peele.

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, December 09, 2017

We Own the Night



Written and directed by James Gray, We Own the Night is the story of a club manager who finds himself in trouble following a raid where his boss decides to target both his father and brother who are cops. The film is an exploration of a man trying to live his own life as he contends with the drawbacks of his lifestyle and how it would affect his family. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, and Robert Duvall. We Own the Night is a gripping and evocative film from James Gray.

Set in the late 1980s in New York City, the film revolves a nightclub manager who works for the Russian mob as a raid led by his brother lead to trouble where he learns about a drug deal that has gotten dangerous forcing him to turn to his family. It’s a film that is not just about loyalty but also a study of a man caught between two different worlds where he is already in the world of running a club with drugs and seedy businesses while his father and older brother are cops. James Gray’s screenplay follows Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) who spends much of his time running a nightclub in New York City while being with his Puerto Rican girlfriend Amada (Eva Mendes) and their friend Jumbo (Danny Hoch). Bobby works for the Russian mob leader Marat Buzhayev (Moni Moshonov) who owns the club as a legit way of making business though he allows his nephew Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov) to make deals as he is about to make a huge drug deal that would change things. The news gets the attention of Bobby’s older brother Captain Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg) who would lead a raid that doesn’t go anywhere but only furthers the tension between him and Bobby.

When Joseph is gunned down and in a critical state following a hit, Bobby finds himself torn between his loyalty to the mob as well as his love for his brother and father in Chief Albert Grusinsky (Robert Duvall) as the latter wants to protect him. When Bobby is asked to see what Vadim is up to by some of his father’s fellow officers, Bobby reluctantly agrees as a way to make amends with his brother but he eventually realizes that he isn’t safe once Vadim learns who he’s related to. Amada would be in danger as she copes with having to give up a lifestyle that she’s used to as well as be disconnected from her own family which would eventually cause tension with her and Bobby. Notably in the third act where Bobby makes a decision that is more about doing what is right for everyone and himself rather than return to a life that is filled with too much trouble.

Gray’s direction definitely bear elements of style in terms of some of the compositions while he would also create a period in time when New York City was still dangerous but had risen from the ashes of its dreary period of the late 70s thanks in part to its then-mayor in Ed Koch who appears in the film as himself. Shot on location in New York City, the film does play like a look back in time when the city was thriving but also had this air of unease where it’s the police that is trying to bring order back as the film’s title comes from a tag from one of chevrons on the police uniforms. Much of the film is set in the night with Gray focusing on that world though there are substantial scenes set in the daytime as it play into the world that Bobby lives in where he gambles or parties with Amada. It’s something different to what Joseph does where he splits his time doing his work with the police and being with his own family. Gray would shoot some wide shots of some of the locations though he would avoid certain landmarks of the city to maintain this element of the street and areas that involve people of Russian descent.

The direction would also have these intense moments such as a chase scene in the rain where Bobby and Amada are in a car where they’re being attacked with Bobby’s father trying to stop the attackers as it’s a key moment that would lead to the third act. It would play into what Bobby needed to do as Gray’s usage of close-up and medium shots play into the drama as well as how he deals with near-moments of tragedy and other things that add to Bobby’s development to help his family. Even as he has to deal with the other people who were like family to him as he is aware that everything he had done for them is meaningless. The film’s climax which is set in a bed of reeds is definitely one of the most chilling moments in the film as it play into the sense of the unknown and what a man will do to make things right. Overall, Gray creates a thrilling and compelling film about a nightclub manager turning straight when the mob he works for goes after his family.

Cinematographer Joaquin Baca-Asay does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it has some distinctive looks into the way the scenes at the club as well as some exterior scenes at night are light while it emphasizes on something low-key for some of the daytime scenes as well the mood for the car chase scene in the rain. Editor John Axelrad does excellent work with the editing as it has elements of style as it relates to the action and suspense while being more straightforward in its approach to the drama. Production designer Ford Wheeler, with set decorator Catherine Davis and art director James C. Feng, does amazing work with the look of the nightclub that Bobby manages as well as the look of some of the homes of the characters in the film. Costume designer Michael Clancy does fantastic work with the costumes as it has elements of style in what Bobby and Amada wear to the clubs as well as the look of the police uniforms.

Visual effects supervisors Iva Petkova, Kelly Port, and Mike Uguccioni do nice work with the visual effects as it is mainly set dressing for a few spots including a shot where the World Trade Center buildings are seen through a window. Sound designer Douglas Murray does superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the nightclub as well as some of the intense moments of violence including the film’s climax. The film’s music by Wojciech Kilar is wonderful for its usage of low-key string arrangements to play into the drama and suspense while music supervisor Dana Sano provides a cool soundtrack that features a lot of the music of the late 70s/early 80s from Blondie, the Clash, David Bowie, the Specials, Louis Prima, Tito Puente, and a mixture of traditional Russian music and jazz.

The casting by Douglas Aibel is marvelous as it feature notable small roles and appearances from former New York City mayor Ed Koch as himself, Maggie Kiley as Joseph’s wife, Latin artist Coati Mundi as himself at a club performance, Yelena Solovey as Buzhayev’s wife Kalina, Tony Musante as Captain Jack Shaprio who is an old friend of Albert, Antoni Corone as another friend of Albert in Lt. Solo, and Moni Moshonov in a terrific small role as the mob leader Marat Buzhayev as a man who treated Bobby like a son despite his dealings. Danny Hoch is superb as Bobby’s best friend Jumbo as a guy who helps run the nightclub as well as party with him while not knowing anything that is happening to Bobby or his family. Alex Veadov is fantastic as Vadim Nezhinski as Buzhayev’s nephew who is also a ruthless drug dealer that is willing to make sure things go right and kill anyone who gets in his way.

Eva Mendes is excellent as Amada as Bobby’s girlfriend who is happy in the lifestyle that she and Bobby live until Bobby gets into danger where she gets a closer look into the dark aspects of the lifestyle where Mendes really shows her frustration and sadness over Bobby’s eventual decision with his life. Robert Duvall is brilliant as Chief Albert Grusinsky as Bobby’s father who is aware of the lifestyle of his son as he hopes Bobby would get into the straight-and-narrow where he learns the kind of trouble he’s in as he does what any father would do which is to protect him. Mark Wahlberg is amazing as Captain Joseph Grusinsky as Bobby’s older brother who is this hard-ass that is trying to do what is right for the law despite getting into fights with his brother where he learns how deep into trouble his brother is following his own recovery from a hit as he does whatever he can to help him. Finally, there’s Joaquin Phoenix in an incredible performance as Robert “Bobby” Grusinski/Bobby Green as a nightclub manager trying to live his own life until he learns of a drug deal that would get him into trouble after his brother was nearly killed as Phoenix’s performance is one of anguish and determination that includes the film’s climax.

We Own the Night is a phenomenal film from James Gray. Featuring a great ensemble cast, gorgeous cinematography, a riveting story, and a thrilling soundtrack, it’s a crime-drama that explore the idea of loyalty and a man being torn between his love for his family and the people who are part of the dark and seedy world of crime. In the end, We Own the Night is a sensational film from James Gray.

James Gray Films: Little Odessa - The Yards - (Two Lovers) – The Immigrant (2013 film) - (The Lost City of Z) – (Ad Astra)

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, December 08, 2017

Joy (2015 film)




Written and directed by David O. Russell from a story by Russell and Annie Mumolo, Joy is a loosely-based bio-pic about the life of Joy Mangano as a woman who would become a self-made millionaire and run her own empire despite the dysfunctional presence of her family. The film is a look into a woman who comes from a troubled family forcing her to do things by herself as she would gain fame through a series of inventions as Mangano is played by Jennifer Lawrence. Also starring Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Bradley Cooper, Elisabeth Rohm, and Robert de Niro. Joy is a compelling though messy film from David O. Russell.

Set in 1990 upstate New York, the film revolves around a mother of two children who shares her house with her grandmother and mother while working for Eastern Airlines as a booking clerk with her ex-husband living in the basement. Yet, Joy Mangano’s life is about lost potential who had dreams to create things when she was a kid but the dysfunctional life of her family which included her father Rudy (Robert de Niro) moving in to her home after a break-up where he would share the basement with Joy’s ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez). When Rudy gets a new girlfriend in the rich Italian widow Trudy (Isabella Rossellini) and she invites Joy and Joy’s older half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm) to the boat. Joy gets an idea while cleaning spilled wine on the boat as it would be the start of an empire as well as tapping into the lost hopes and dreams she had when she was a child.

David O. Russell’s screenplay is partially told through the perspective of Joy’s grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) as someone who had seen Joy’s potential when she was a child and then be destroyed when her family was torn apart by divorce with Rudy going to someone else while Joy’s mother Terri (Virginia Madsen) spends much of her life in her room watching soap operas to escape from the harshness of reality. The script is often messy and can be over-the-top in its usage of flashbacks in the first act where Joy looks back at her marriage to Tony including their wedding reception in which her father embarrasses her. Joy is definitely at the center of the film as someone that is dealing with the fact that her life hasn’t gone well as she often has to deal with Peggy’s comments while Rudy often makes cynical comments though he means well. Tony is at least supportive as he would become one of the few that really believes that Joy can succeed through the invention of the Miracle Mop. Yet, would face challenges including from those who claimed to have a patent over the creation of the mop while Joy would find an outlet to sell her mop through the emergence of QVC.

Russell’s direction does have elements of style as it play into the setting and time period of the 1980s and early 1990s while much of his compositions are straightforward. Shot on location in and around Boston, Massachusetts with additional locations at Wilmington, Massachusetts, Russell would create a film that is set largely in the winter to play into the look of upstate New York where the characters live in which include the garage that Rudy owns which is managed by Peggy. There are some wide shots of the locations including scenes at the QVC studio that include this telethon studio that turns around for a different set. Yet, Russell would maintain an intimacy as it relates to the family drama where it can be overwhelming at times due to the number of people arguing over Joy in the usage of close-ups and medium shots. The film’s second act would loosen up as it relates to Tony taking Joy to a studio where she would be introduced to QVC and an executive in Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper).

The fact that the script is told partially from Mimi’s perspective does make the film tonally uneven as it would also affect the film’s pacing leading to its third act where it is about some of the business problems caused by Joy’s family over these people involved in parts manufacturing. Especially as Joy knew she had to pay certain amount of royalties to a man who created a patent for this mop as she would be forced to take control of her empire by herself with only a few such as Tony to be the ones to really support her. Her action to confront these men who are trying to ruin her would show what she has to do as it relates to the questions that Trudy has asked about what is a person willing to do to succeed. Overall, Russell crafts a fascinating though flawed film about a woman who finds her lost potential in creating things and later build an empire.

Cinematographer Linus Sandgren does excellent work with the cinematography with the look of the daytime exteriors with the usage of natural lights while going for something low-key and low for the interior scenes at night. Editors Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Tom Cross, and Christopher Tellefsen do nice work with the editing as it is stylized in some parts while it is mainly straightforward to play into the drama. Production designer Judy Becker, with set decorators Gary Alioto and Heather Loeffler plus art director Peter Rogness, does brilliant work with the look of the sets at the QVC building as well as the home where Joy and her family live in plus the garage her father owns. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson does fantastic work with the costumes as it play into something that looks casual in some parts but mainly play into the look of the late 80s/early 90s.

Visual effects supervisors Trent Claus and Gregory D. Liegey do terrific work with the visual effects as it is mainly set dressing for the look of the different places that Joy and other characters go to. Sound designers Jason King and Jay Nierenberg, with sound editor John Ross, do superb work with the sound as it play into the chaos inside Joy’s home as well as the scenes at various gatherings and at the QVC studio. The film’s music by West Dylan Thordson and David Campbell is wonderful for its mixture of orchestral music with bits of rock in parts of the film while music supervisor Susan Jacobs provides a soundtrack that mixes Latin music, pop, rock, and jazz to play into the different worlds that Joy encounters.

The casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Donna Mills and Susan Lucci as soap opera actresses, Drena de Niro as a QVC saleswoman in Cindy, Jimmy Jean-Louis as a Haitian repairman in Toussaint whom Terri falls for, Madison Wolfe as the young Peggy, Emily Nunez as the young Jackie, Isabella Crovetti-Cramp as the young Joy, Aundera and Gia Gadsy as Joy/Tony’s daughter Cristy, Tomas and Zeke Elizondo as Joy/Tony’s son Tommy, and Melissa River in a wonderful performance as her late real-life mother Joan Rivers who sells things for QVC as it’s so dead-on. Dascha Polanco is superb as Joy’s best friend Jackie who helps her out with some of the business aspects in selling the mop as well as one of the few who really believes in her product. Virginia Madsen is fantastic as Joy’s mother Terri as a woman who had lost a lot of hope in reality by spending much of her time watching soap operas until she would fall for a repairman and bring some encouragement to Joy.

Isabella Rossellini is excellent as Trudy as an Italian widow who becomes Rudy’s new girlfriend as a woman who isn’t sure about Joy’s new idea as she reluctantly gives her the money only to find a way to get it back. Elisabeth Rohm is brilliant as Joy’s overachieving half-sister Peggy as someone who constantly belittles Joy to prove that she is superior and would end up causing financial trouble for Joy against Joy’s will. Diane Ladd is amazing as Joy’s grandmother Mimi as a woman who is Joy’s greatest supporter as someone who is also a dreamer and had seen a lot of the struggles the family has endured. Edgar Ramirez is incredible as Joy’s ex-husband Tony as a failed musician that doesn’t like Joy’s father very much as he would be the one to get Joy to meet with QVC and be one of her true supporters in her ideas. Bradley Cooper is terrific in a small role as Neil Walker as a QVC executive who sees what Joy has created and decides to help her sell the Miracle Mop in the hope that it would make money.

Robert de Niro is remarkable as Joy’s father Rudy as a man who means well but often embarrasses Joy while often favoring his daughter as it’s a flawed but fun performance from de Niro. Finally, there’s Jennifer Lawrence in a phenomenal performance as the titular character as a mother of two children with an ex-husband that is dealing with her life believing she’s failed until she came up with another idea as it is one of Lawrence’s finest performances.

Joy is a stellar though flawed film from David O. Russell that features an incredible leading performance from Jennifer Lawrence. Along with its supporting cast, cool score, and an engaging story that is very messy in its structure and tone. It’s a film that has a fascinating look into the life of Joy Mangano though it tends to overwhelm itself with all of the family drama and wanting to be this study into the cutthroat world of business. In the end, Joy is a very good film from David O. Russell.

David O. Russell Films: (Spanking the Monkey) – (Flirting with Disaster) – Three Kings - I Heart Huckabee's - (Soldier’s Pay) – The Fighter - Silver Linings Playbook - American Hustle - Accidental Love

© thevoid99 2017