Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Films That I Saw: May 2015



Summer is finally on its way although it feels like it has come quite early as it’s hot and sunny here in the South. Yet, it has also arrived in some very unfortunate circumstances in India as I hope whatever Indian readers I have or bloggers that are in the country are OK as I want to express my condolences to those who maybe lost someone due to this awful heat wave. Summertime is often the time where people want to go see big movies and such as a way to stay cool in air-conditioned theaters and fin some escape from the real problems of the world.

The summer time will be a period where I will a couple of major projects as it relates to a few things that I have been wanting to do for the year. Last month, I mentioned about doing a marathon devoted to Star Wars as I am going to do that with not just its original trilogy in its original format but also the prequels and maybe a few things related to the franchise. The project that I’m going to do relates to what will be coming back to television next year and that is Twin Peaks. I have never seen the show as I’ve always been intrigued by it as I am a fan of David Lynch and it’s been something I wanted to do for years. Now that definitive box set of the series has been released along with the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and a collection of lost scenes.

It opened the door for me to do it as I was ready until I heard news that he was off the show for a while which made me want to close the doors down on the project. Now that he’s back and with full control, I am happy to announce that the project that will relate to the series is back on. Along with the Star Wars and my list of the 150 best films of the past fifteen-years coming, this will be a very busy summer along with my Auteurs projects and my Blind Spot Series. I’m not sure when the Summer of Twin Peaks will start but it is going to happen as I will do both seasons, the film, and its lost scenes.


In the month of May, I saw a total of 34 films in 21 first-timers and 13 re-watches. Slightly down from last month which is a bit surprising considering how much I saw as one of the highlights of the month is my Blind Spot film in Charulata. Here are the top 10 First-Timers that I saw for May 2015:

1. Mad Max: Fury Road


2. Mommy


3. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck


4. Guardians of the Galaxy


5. Au Revoir Les Enfants


6. Ex Machina


7. Mad Max


8. The Headless Woman


9. Force Majeure


10. El Sur


Monthly Mini-Reviews

The To Do List


I thought this was a pretty funny comedy about sex as it was also intriguing that it was told from a woman’s perspective as it’s this story about Aubrey Plaza trying to lose her virginity before she goes to college. It is set in the early 90s where there are some funny moments that involves Plaza trying to discover the world of hand-jobs, blow-jobs, and all sorts of things as it has a great supporting cast in Rachel Bilson, Bill Hader, and Clark Gregg. It’s not a film for everyone but it is quite refreshing to see sex be portrayed with humor from the perspective of women.

Elvis Costello: Mystery Dance


I’m a big fan of Elvis Costello as I thought this was an alright documentary about his career though I wanted so much more. It didn’t just cover aspects of his career but also Costello’s love-hate relationship towards fame as the film plays into his upcoming retirement as he is devoting himself more towards family. The documentary also features interviews with some of his collaborators who talk about his love for music and why he is willing to take on so many genres. I would recommend this for Costello fans though they will understandably be upset into why albums like Imperial Bedroom (my favorite album of his) aren’t talked about.

Top 10 Re-Watches:

1. Gimme Shelter


2. Missing


3. The Celebration


4. A Fish Called Wanda


5. CQ


6. Revenge of the Nerds


7. Real Genius


8. The Jane Austen Book Club


9. In & Out


10. Ordinary People


Well, that is it for May 2015. Next month aside from my Blind Spot series and summertime projects, there will be a couple of Auteurs pieces coming from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Xavier Dolan where the latter is a big deal as I will watch Tom at the Farm this month along with a few Auteurs-related pieces for films by Gaspar Noe, Bennett Miller, and Jacques Tati. I admit to being behind on some theatrical releases as I hope to do The Avengers: Age of Ultron next month as well as Inside Out. Other films I hope to review are some 2014 releases and a few films by Ingmar Bergman, Louis Malle, and Woody Allen. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…

© thevoid99 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road



Directed by George Miller and written by Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, Mad Max: Fury Road is the story of a drifter in a desert wasteland as he helps a woman flee from a cult leader who is trying to retrieve his wives. The film is another post-apocalyptic film where it is set in a desert world as Max Rockatansky is in another adventure as he is joined by a mysterious woman in a world that is completely chaotic. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Courtney Eaton, and Hugh Keays-Byrne. Mad Max: Fury Road is an astonishing grand and enthralling film from George Miller.

Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where civilization is on the bring of extinction, the film revolves around a survivor who is captured by a cult as he finds himself in a chase after a truck driver steals a cult leader’s group of wives as he would later help them find freedom. It’s a film that where the character of Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is once again trying to find something in his life as he remains haunted by failures and loss. All of that sense of encounter of terror and chaos forces him to fend for himself and go on his own where he eventually finds a reason to do something in helping this rogue truck driver named Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is trying to drive to her old homeland with the wives of the cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

The film’s screenplay doesn’t carry a lot of exposition nor does it have a lot of dialogue though it does open with some bits of exposition of where Max had been through for so many years as he is just a survivor. He is constantly haunted by the image of a child he was unable to save as he is first seen captured by a sickly group of young men in white known as War Boys who are part of Joe’s cult. Since Max has blood that can help some of these boys, he is attached to one of them in Nux (Nicholas Hoult) who wants to impress Joe as he joins them on the chase with Max in tow. Yet, the screenplay showcases exactly what the world has come to where Joe has complete control of the water where the people could only get as little as possible while gasoline and milk. Joe also treats people as slaves including women which is a big reason why his five brides are fleeing him and ask Furiosa to drive them away from Joe. Once Max learns what Furiosa is doing, he isn’t sure if he should trust her but realizes what is at stake.

Part of the script’s success isn’t in the fact that there’s an element of feminism that isn’t heavy handed but also reveals that these five wives of Joe are real characters that all have something to say as they’re sick and tired of being objectified and used as slaves. Most notably in a shot where one of the brides is trying to get a chastity underwear out as another one is using bolt-cutters to unchain her. During this chase where Max and Furiosa are taking turns in driving this massive war rig, the script allows these women to be fleshed out as they all want something where they are able to live good lives. The film’s third act isn’t just about these characters trying to reach the destination but also wonder if there is a world where there is hope as Max would be the one to give Furiosa an idea and help her as if they are partners without the need to make out or have sex.

George Miller’s direction is very grand not just for the setting he creates for the film but also in the way he stages the chase scenes and the sense of chaos that surrounds it. Shot on location in Namibia as well as parts of Australia, the locations set in the deserts, swamps, canyons, and mountains do serve a purpose as it establishes a world that is very unforgiving and with a sense of the unknown. Since it is largely a chase film that goes throughout the desert, Miller does use a lot of wide shots to capture the vast look of the locations where it does play into something that feels like a post-apocalyptic world where civilization doesn’t exist. Even as Miller knows how to put his actors in a frame and be part of this vast location where they feel like they’re lost and trying to find something.

The direction also has an element of realism in the way the chase scenes are presented as well as the cars and trucks that are used where Miller definitely goes for an old-school approach of using actual effects rather than heavily rely on computer-based visual effects with the exception of a few scenes. Miller’s usage of close-ups and medium shots do play into the sense of a community trying to come together and help each other as well as stand up for something in a world where order has ceased to exist. Even as it would lead into this extravagant climax where so much is at stake while it is not afraid to delve into moments that are scary but also engaging. Overall, Miller creates an intense yet monstrous film about a drifter who aid a group of women to find hope in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Cinematographer John Seale does brilliant work with the film‘s very exotic and vibrant cinematography with its emphasis on the sunny desert look to play into its location along with some usage of blue-filters for some scenes at night with some inspiring lighting cues in the film as it among one of the film‘s technical highlights. Editor Margaret Sixel does amazing work with the editing by not just playing into the sense of chaos that occurs with some fast-cutting but also know when to slow it down for the non-action scenes and using fade-outs to help structure the story. Production designer Colin Gibson, with art directors Shira Hockman and Jacinta Leong and set decorators Katie Sharrock, Lisa Thompson, and Gena Vazquez, does incredible work with the set design from the look of the Citadel canyons where Joe runs his cult as well as the design of the trucks and cars that occurs through the chases.

Costume designer Jenny Beaven does excellent work with the clothes from the look of Joe and his gang as well as the other cults to the bridal-look of Joe’s wives. Hair/makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt does fantastic work with the look of the characters from the war boys to the look of Joe as well as the hair and makeup of their cult. Visual effects supervisors Andrew Jackson and David Nelson do superb work with the look of the grand winds and tornados along with creatures as they keep things to a minimum in order to play into more practical effects. Sound designers Christopher S. Aud, Julian Slater, and David White, along with sound editors Scott Hecker, Mark A. Mangini, and Wayne Pashley, do phenomenal work with the sound to play into the sense of terror that looms over the film as well as some of the music that is played on location from Joe‘s cult including a guitarist with a guitar that is also a flamethrower. The film’s music by Junkie XL is spectacular with its mix of bombastic beats and orchestral flourishes along with elements of guitars and electronics to play into the chaos and thrill of the chases.

The casting by Nikki Barrett and Ronna Kress is wonderful as it features some notable small roles from Joy Smithers, Gillian Jones, Megan Gale, and Jennifer Hagan as a group of women Furiosa knows, Melissa Jaffer as a woman who has provided a source for the future that one of the wives befriends, John Howard and Richard Carter as a couple of ruthless gang leaders, Nathan Jones as Joe’s strongman son Rictus Erectus, and Josh Helman as Nux’s fellow war boy Slit. In the roles of the five wives, Courtney Eaton is terrific as the more scared Cheedo the Fragile who often thinks about going back to Joe for safety while Abbey Lee Kershaw is superb as the Dag who connects with one of the old women in its third act as she would also start to yearn for something that might bring some hope.

Zoe Kravitz is excellent as Toast the Knowing as a wife who aids Max in reloading the weapons and often observes everything Riley Keough is fantastic as Capable who would befriend Nux while being the one who can help fix the truck. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is amazing as The Splendid Angharad as a wife of Joe who is pregnant as she is the one in most danger as she is eager to not have a child that would become a slave or a warlord like her husband. Hugh Keays-Byrne is brilliant as Immortan Joe as this cult leader who rules the wasteland as he goes on a chase to retrieve his wives and ensure his legacy.

Nicholas Hoult is marvelous as a sick war boy named Nux who is trying to prove his loyalty to Joe as he endures many situations where he proves to be a reliable person for Max and Furiosa. Charlize Theron is phenomenal as Imperator Furiosa as this rig truck driver with a prosthetic left arm that decides to defy Joe and do what is right without the need to explain herself as it’s a very chilling yet enthralling performance that has Theron be a full-on badass. Finally, there’s Tom Hardy in a remarkable performance as Max Rockatansky as a drifter who finds himself in a troubling situation as he struggles to find some good and meaning in his life as Hardy largely gives a silent performance with few words while not afraid to be overshadowed as he and Theron act as total equals that deliver and more.

Mad Max: Fury Road is an outstanding film from George Miller that features top-of-the-line performances from Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. Along with a great supporting cast, spectacular stunts and special effects, enthralling music, and dazzling visual effects. It is a film that doesn’t just act as a full-on action blockbuster that entertains but does so much more as it manages to be a feminist film without the need to say anything big. In the end, Mad Max: Fury Road is an astounding and rapturous film from George Miller.

George Miller Films: Mad Max - (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior) - (Twilight Zone: The Movie-Nightmare at 20,000 Feet) - (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) - (The Witches of Eastwick) - (Lorenzo’s Oil) - (40,000 Years of Dreaming) - (Babe: Pig in the City) - (Happy Feet) - (Happy Feet Two)

© thevoid99 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy




Based on the Marvel Comics by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Guardians of the Galaxy is the story of a space warrior from Earth who teams up with a group of misfit aliens to stop an evil lord from destroying the galaxy. Directed by James Gunn and screenplay by Gunn and Nicole Perlman, the film is the story of a formation of a group of individuals who shouldn’t work together but manage to do whatever it takes to save the universe. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Guardians of the Galaxy is an adventurous and fun film from James Gunn.

Set in a galaxy just billions of miles away from Earth and its solar system, the film revolve around a group of misfits who are forced to come together to battle an evil lord who is eager to retrieve a mysterious object in the hopes he can rule the galaxy. While it is a plot that is very simple, it is more about these very odd individuals who are the last group of people that should be working with each other. One of which is a thief from Earth named Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who had been abducted by alien bandits on the day his mother had died when he was a kid as he would steal this artifact for money. Yet, he would be pursued by an alien warrior named Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is affiliated with the dark lord Ronan (Lee Pace), who also wants the artifact to betray Ronan. Adding into the mix is a genetically-engineered raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a tree-like humanoid named Groot (Vin Diesel), and another alien warrior named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has a grudge towards Ronan for killing his wife and daughter.

The film’s screenplay by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman not only delve into who these characters are but also their motivations as Drax and Gamora both have issues with Ronan while Rocket is just looking for a big payday as he is hiding his own sense of pain as it relates to who he is. There is an element of loss that looms over the film as it relates to the walkman that Quill often carries that features a mixtape that his mother had made for him before her passing along with an unopened present. Groot is just an innocent character only says the words “I am Groot” yet proves to be a vital asset to other four in their conflict with Ronan. The film also establishes this galaxy the people live in as there’s human beings living with aliens in other planets while a peace treaty has been made which Ronan threatens to destroy. The artifact may serve as a MacGuffin but it does hold some key importance into the motivation of the characters into saving the galaxy from being destroyed by Ronan.

Gunn’s direction is quite lavish not just into the world that is created but also in how diverse the galaxy is. Even as it isn’t afraid to be silly and comical such as an opening sequence of Quill walking into a mysterious planet while listening and dancing to a song from his walkman. It sets the tone for exactly what Gunn wants to do which does deviate from the conventions of most comic-book based superhero films. Especially as Gunn balances a lot of humor with some adventure and character-driven moments to play into the development of this band of misfits coming together. Presented with some unique wide and medium shots, Gunn does establish the sense of a group having to work together as he includes some moments that are funny. Most notably a conversation scene involving Rocket, Quill, and Gamora about a plan to escape a prison is shot in the foreground while Groot is in the background doing something with Drax watching him. It’s among these moments in the film where the humor and adventure not only manage to mix well but also play into the personality of these characters.

The action is quite intense where Gunn knows how to set up many sequences that include some dogfights involving little spaceships and moments of suspense as it plays into the discovery of this artifact that involves a mysterious man known as the Collector (Benicio del Toro). It would add into the stakes of what these characters should do as they’re facing Ronan and his army where its climax is quite vast. Notably as it manages to mix in elements of humor, suspense, action, drama, and adventure all into one. It is clear that Gunn is trying to give his audiences what they want but also have them wanting more and have a good time with it. Overall, Gunn creates a thrilling and exciting film about a group of misfits trying to save the galaxy from an evil lord.

Cinematographer Ben Davis does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its sunny and vibrant look of the Xandar planet where things are peaceful to lighting schemes for some of the scenes such as the prison and the darker planets where the villains rule. Editors Fred Raskin, Craig Wood, and Hughes Winborne do amazing work with the editing in creating unique rhythms for the humor and actions scenes while not delving into conventional fast-cutting styles. Production designer Charles Wood, with supervising art director Ray Chan, set decorator Richard Roberts, and 3D set decorator Chris “Flimsy” Howes, does brilliant work with the design of Quill‘s spaceship as well as the home of the Collector and Ronan‘s home ship to play into the personality of these characters.

Costume designer Alexandra Byrne does terrific work with the clothes from the look of Ronan and the Collector as well as the clothes of the main characters to play into their personalities. Makeup designer David White and hair designer Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou do fantastic work with the look and design of the characters including the aliens in their skin color as well as the look of Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, and several others. Visual effects supervisors Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, and Paul Corbould do incredible work with the visual effects from the design of Groot and Rocket as well as some of the spaceships and the look of the galaxy itself with its different planets.

Sound designer David Acord, along with sound editors Christopher Boyes and Matthew Wood, does superb work with the sound from the sound effects that are created as well as the sense of atmosphere that occurs in some of the action scenes. The film’s music by Tyler Bates is wonderful for its bombastic orchestral score with some chilling themes to play into the drama while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates an absolutely fun soundtrack that features a lot of music from the 60s and 70s with acts like Blue Swede, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, the Raspberries, Norman Greenbaum, David Bowie, the Runaways, Rupert Holmes, Redbone, Elvin Bishop, 10cc, The Jackson 5, and Five Stairsteps that is part of the mixtape Quill’s mother made for him.

The casting by Sarah Finn and Reg Poerscout-Edgerton is phenomenal as it features small appearances from Gregg Henry as Quill’s grandfather, Sean Gunn as a first-mate of the bandit Yondu, Laura Haddock as Quill’s mother, Wyatt Oleff as the young Quill, Christopher Fairbank as an alien black markets dealer, Peter Serafinowicz as a Nova Corps officer who dislikes Quill, Melia Kreiling as an alien fling of Quill early in the film, Alexis Denisof as vizier for the dark lord known as Thanos, Ophelia Lovebond as a slave of the Collector, and Stan Lee in a cameo appearance as a ladies’ man. Other noteworthy small roles include Glenn Close as a Nova Corps leader who is trying to keep peace in the planet of Xandar, John C. Reilly as a Nova Corps officer who often arrests Quill, and Josh Brolin in a cameo appearance as the evil dark lord known as Thanos who is the adoptive father of Gamora and Nebula.

Benicio del Toro is fantastic as an eccentric man known as the Collector who likes to collect all sorts of things as is eager to have the object that Quill and the gang has. Djimon Hounsou is terrific as an ally of Ronan in Korath as a hunter who is eager to help Ronan in bringing terror. Karen Gillan is excellent as the cyborg hunter Nebula who despises Gamora as she is loyal to Ronan in the hope that she can destroy the world. Michael Rooker is superb as the bandit Yondu who is Quill’s adoptive father who has issues with Quill as he also hopes to retrieve the artifact for Thanos. Lee Pace is amazing as Ronan the Accuser as a dark lord hell-bent on destroy Xandar and the galaxy in the hope that he can rule all. Vin Diesel is brilliant as Groot as this tree-like humanoid who only says a few words but possesses an innocence that is so endearing as Diesel also brings that sensitivity into the physical performance which was done by motion-capture.

Bradley Cooper is hilarious as Rocket as this genetically-engineered raccoon with a feisty attitude and a warped sense of humor as he is more concerned with getting paid. Dave Bautista is marvelous as Drax the Destroyer as this big alien who seeks vengeance for the death of his wife and daughter as he copes with his grief and is eager to do whatever it takes to get Ronan. Zoe Saldana is sensational as Gamora as an alien assassin who is trying to retrieve the mysterious artifact in the hope that it stays away from Ronan while dealing with Quill’s persona and being affiliated with Ronan. Finally, there’s Chris Pratt in a remarkable performance as Peter Quill/Star Lord as this thief who is very off-the-wall and funny while proving to be a cunning warrior that can rally everyone and kick ass.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a spectacular film from James Gunn. Armed with a great cast, a fun soundtrack, thrilling visual effects, and an engaging story about a group of misfits teaming up to save the galaxy. It’s a film that manages to bring in a lot of joy and wit as well as characters to root for while going along for the ride. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy is a tremendous film from James Gunn.

James Gunn Films: (Slither (2006 film)) - (Super (2010 film))

Marvel Phase One Films: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers (2012 film)

Marvel Phase Two Films: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Marvel Phase Three Films: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - (Thor: Ragnarok) - (Black Panther)

© thevoid99 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Revenge of the Nerds




Directed by Jeff Kanew and screenplay by Jeff Buhai, Miguel Tejada-Flores, and Steve Zacharias from a story by Tim Metcalfe, Revenge of the Nerds is the story about a group of misfit and oddball freshmen who decide to fight back against a jock fraternity with their intelligence in the hope that they can enjoy collegiate life. It’s a film that plays into the world of the underdog mentality as a group of young men deal with not just prejudice for being very different and weird but also realize that they can’t back down for who they are. Starring Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Curtis Armstrong, Timothy Busfield, Larry B. Scott, Andrew Cassese, Michelle Meyrink, Brian Tochi, Ted McGinley, Donald Gibb, Julia Montgomery, David Wohl, Bernie Casey, James Cromwell, and John Goodman. Revenge of the Nerds is a wild and rapturous film from Jeff Kanew.

The film is a simple story about a group of newly-arrived freshmen students who arrive to Adams College as they’re being harassed and ridiculed by a jock fraternity forcing these group of geeky and brainy men to fight back with their intelligence. It’s a film that doesn’t just explore the social politics of college but also how this group of odd and diverse misfits who don’t really fit into any kind of clique come together and stand up for themselves. Along the way, hilarity ensues involving panty raids, a party with an equally-odd band of sorority sisters, and other antics. Especially as they find ways to humiliate the jocks in their own unique way and win over people who have dealt with prejudice or have a hard time with conformity.

The film’s screenplay not only bring in a lot of humor to the film as it plays into many of the antics that occur but also portray many of the characters as real people. Leading the pack are Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine) and Gilbert Lowe (Anthony Edwards) who are just a couple of freshmen that want to study computer science and have some fun. Yet, because of the carelessness of the jock fraternity in the Alpha Betas when they burned their house down during a party. The freshmen including Skolnick and Lowe are forced to live in the gym with other outcasts including a near-sighted geek named Poindexter (Timothy Busfield), a Japanese student in Takashi (Brian Tochi), a 12-year old aerodynamics expert named Wormser (Andrew Cassese), the openly-gay Lamar (Larry B. Scott), and a perverted slob named Booger (Curtis Armstrong). There, the band of outcasts eventually find a house to live in and apply into a fraternity where they’re given a tryout by a fraternity president in U.N. Jefferson (Bernie Casey) to be part of his all-black fraternity known as Lambda Lambda Lambda.

The script also plays into this back-and-forth conflict between the nerds and the Alpha Betas as the jock themselves in star quarterback Stan Gable (Ted McGinley), Danny Burke (Matt Salinger), and Ogre (Donald Gibb) try to intimidate them physically and pull off these very mean pranks. At the same time, they would abuse their own power as leaders of the school’s Greek council to get things their way which only drive the nerds to fight back with the aid of the equally-nerdy and oddball sorority in the Omega Mus against the Alpha Betas and the Pi Delta Pi sorority in an annual competition. The script doesn’t just showcase these Nerds trying to prove that anyone can do it by being themselves but also be proud of who they are. Even as they manage to be a threat to the Alpha Betas and their idea of conformity and power.

Jeff Kanew’s direction is very simple as it doesn’t go for anything stylistic as it’s more concerned with creating a film that is consistently funny. Shot on location near Tucson, Arizona, the film plays into the world of college life outside of academics as it focuses on a world that is changing. One of which involves a group of jocks and party animals who often get in their way and not think about what is ahead of them. Then you have the nerds who arrive not only to expand their own intelligence but also find a place where they can have fun and also think of a future for themselves. Kanew’s approach to compositions often involve a lot of medium shots and close-ups as he’s more concerned with maintaining a sense of energy that is happening during the antics that occur such as the panty-raid sequence and the party scene with the Omega Mus where the nerds get very high on marijuana provided by Booger.

The film also features these very offbeat moments in the humor such as some of the scenes at the annual fraternity-sorority competition as it reveals exactly what the nerds would do if they’re forced to take part in physical competitions. There’s also moments where some of the humor is quite crass as it involves some of Booger’s own gross antics where he is able to challenge Ogre into a belching contest. It all plays into the wild world of college as it proves that nerds can party to but also not be afraid to say who they are. Especially in the film’s ending where one of them has finally had enough of the abuse in the hands of the jocks and felt that something needs to be said. Overall, Kanew creates a wild yet enjoyable film about a bunch of nerds taking a stand against a bunch of idiotic jocks.

Cinematographer King Baggot does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography to play into the sunny look of the locations along with some unique lighting schemes for some scenes set at night. Editor Alan Balsam does fantastic work with the editing with its stylish cuts from the sequence of the nerds cleaning up the house they would live in to some slow-motion cuts for some of the competitive moments. Production designer James L. Schoppe and set decorator Frank Lombardo do terrific work with the look of the gym and the home the nerds would live in as well as the hall of the Greek council.

Sound editor Michael O’Corrigan does nice work with some of the sound effects as well as some of the craziness that occurs in some of the parties and collegiate activities. The film’s music by Thomas Newman is brilliant for its mixture electronic-based music with some orchestral elements while music supervisor Martin Schwartz creates a fun soundtrack that features music from Michael Jackson, Queen, Gleaming Spires, Ya Ya, Andrea & Hot Mink, Bone Symphony, The Rubinoos, Jill Michaels and Pat Robinson, and Revenge (not the U.K. 90s group of the same name).

The casting by Susan Arnold and Paula Herold is great as it features some notable small roles from James Cromwell as Lewis’ dad, Alice Hirson as Gilbert’s mother, Matt Salinger as the Alpha Beta Danny Burke, Donald Gibb as the caveman-like Alpha Beta named Ogre, and David Wohl in a terrific performance as the college’s dean who sympathizes with the nerds as he is often bullied by the football coach. John Goodman is fantastic as the college’s football coach Harris who doesn’t like the nerds as he would encourage his players to humiliate them. Ted McGinley is superb as the star quarterback Stan Gable who sees nerds as inferior as he often cares more about himself than his girlfriend. Julia Montgomery is wonderful as Stan’s girlfriend Betty who is often pursued by Lewis as she deals with Stan’s selfishness.

Michelle Meyrink is brilliant as the nerdy Judy who befriends Gilbert as she would help him and the nerds meet her sorority in the Omega Mus who are total party animals. Bernie Casey is phenomenal as Lambda Lambda Lambda leader U.N. Jefferson who is reluctant to have the nerds join his fraternity until he realizes what they’re capable of in being able to stand up for themselves. Brian Tochi and Timothy Busfield are excellent in their respective roles as Takashi and Poindexter as two very different nerds with Tochi as a Japanese exchange student and Busfield as a near-sighted nerd with thick glasses.

Andrew Cassese is amazing as the 12-year old genius Wormser who becomes very interested in women while Larry B. Scott is fabulous as the openly-gay Lamar who is quite smart but also has great fashion sense. Curtis Armstrong is incredible as Booger as a slob who doesn’t fit in anywhere as he parties with the nerds and gets them to have fun. Anthony Edwards is remarkable as Gilbert Lowe as the more sensitive nerd who is able to find a girl but is also the one guy that refuses to be intimidated as he rallies the nerds into standing up for themselves. Finally, there’s Robert Carradine in a marvelous performance as Lewis Skolnick as a nerd with a distinctive laugh that is eager to have a good time and be smart while is also someone that just wants to be accepted.

Revenge of the Nerds is a tremendous film from Jeff Kanew. It’s a film that manages to not only explore the social world of college cliques but also manages to find some heart and laughs into a bunch of people who don’t fit in while being able to be proud of who they are. In the end, Revenge of the Nerds is a spectacular film from Jeff Kanew.

Related: (Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise) - (Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation) - (Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love)

© thevoid99 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck




Written, co-edited, and directed by Brett Morgen, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a documentary about the life and death of the Nirvana vocalist/guitarist who struggled with fame that led to his suicide at the age of 27 in April 5, 1994. Through various archival and rare footage provided by Cobain’s family as well as several animated sequences by Stefan Nadelman and Hisko Hulsing. The film plays into Cobain’s life and career as he was considered the voice of a generation during a turbulent period in the early 1990s. The result is a fascinating yet haunting film from Brett Morgen.

In the early 1990s, a little band that blended punk rock aesthetics, heavy metal rage, and pop sensibility known as Nirvana went from being this obscure band from Aberdeen, Washington to becoming the biggest band in the world in the span of a few years. Its leader in Kurt Cobain became an unlikely spokesman for a generation of disaffected and angry youth who had enough of 1980s Republican propaganda and big-haired rockers wearing spandex. Yet, Cobain would have trouble adjusting to his new fame as his addiction to heroin to cope with a stomach ailment and other things eventually led to his suicide at the age of 27. The film isn’t about his death but rather his entire life up until his suicide attempt in March of 1994 in Rome, Italy while on tour.

Featuring new interviews from Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, Cobain’s widow Courtney Love, Cobain’s parents Don Cobain and Wendy O’Connor, Cobain’s sister Kim, Cobain’s stepmother, and a few that also knew him. The film doesn’t just explore the life of a young man whose idyllic childhood was destroyed upon his parents’ divorce at the age of 9 as his life would become very tumultuous as Cobain’s parents and stepmother revealed how bad things were as he was forced to live from one relative’s home to another before eventually settling to live with his mother. Since he was also a social outcast by the time he was a teenager, it was through punk rock where he found salvation as he would form a band with high school friend Krist Novoselic that would eventually become Nirvana.

Through some re-created animated sequences by Stefan Nadelman and Hisko Hulsing based on Cobain’s own drawings and notes from his own notebook, the film not only plays into the evolution of Cobain as an artist but how his art would express the rage and despair that would loom all over him. Even as they would use some archived audio to recreate stories about Cobain’s life such as the time he would hand out with stoners and do things with a mute fat girl. The animation plays into not just some of the music Cobain did with Nirvana but also into how complicated his life was even when he did become successful. With the aid of editor Joe Beshenkovsky and sound designer Cameron Frankley, Brett Morgen captures the intensity of Nirvana’s sudden success from being this little band playing in small clubs in Washington and in houses where only a few people show up to suddenly playing stadiums in Brazil.

One notable moment in the film that is really striking about how bad Cobain was to adjust from this sudden change is an interview with her mother where she talked about the day she first heard the band’s 1991 breakthrough album Nevermind. She would tell her son that this album will change his life and he’s not going to be ready for this change as her premonition wasn’t just spot-on but also terrifying. There’s also a moment where Courtney Love talks about their relationship as she revealed why Cobain tried to kill himself in Rome in March of 1994 for something she thought about doing. She also revealed what happened in 1992 when Nirvana took a break on tour as it is revealed through rare home movies as it reveals exactly what the two were doing at that time. On the one hand, it shows a couple just absolutely in love and having fun but it’s also scary considering that the two were junkies at a time when Love didn’t know she was pregnant with their daughter Frances Bean.

With the aid of cinematographers Jim Whitaker and Nicole Hirsch Whitaker, many of the new interviews are presented in a straightforward manner while Morgen and Beshenkovsky would create edits to explain some of the things that were happening as some of the editing is shown in montages to play into the band‘s sudden rise. Music supervisor Howard Paar would provide some contributions from the Everly Brothers, the Brady Bunch Kids, The Jury (a super group featuring members of Nirvana and Screaming Trees), and variations of Nirvana songs by other people into the mix as much of the music is from the band and some audio montages and rare recordings from Cobain including a cover of the Beatles’ And I Love Her.

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is an incredible film from Brett Morgen. It’s a film that doesn’t just reveal what kind of person Kurt Cobain was but also why he didn’t live very long. It’s a film that is quite adventurous but also very scary considering how flawed of a person Cobain was. Especially as he was put into a pedestal that only made things worse as all he ever wanted was something normal. In the end, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is a phenomenal film from Brett Morgen.

Related: (The Kid Stays in the Picture) - Crossfire Hurricane

© thevoid99 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Blind Spot Series: Charulata




Based on the novel Nastanirh (The Broken Nest) by Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata is the story of a housewife in late19th Century India who tries to find love and herself through art. Written for the screen, scored, and directed by Satyajit Ray, the film is an exploration of a woman coming into her own during a period in pre-independence India where a woman copes with her unhappy marriage and the trappings of being a housewife. Starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee, Sailen Mukherjee, and Shyamal Ghosal. Charulata is a ravishing and enchanting film from Satyajit Ray.

Set in 1870s India during a Bengali Renaissance period, the film revolves around the titular housewife (Madhabi Mukherjee) who finds her own artistic voice following a visit from her husband’s poetic cousin as she would fall for him while dealing with her husband’s attempt to create a powerful newspaper for India. It’s a film that plays into not just some of the social changes that is emerging in India but also a world where there’s various people trying to find their voice in an era where they’re still being governed by the British. Amidst all of these political and social changes that is happening, it is this housewife of a newspaper editor that would find some change through meeting her husband’s cousin while dealing with the presence of her brother and his spoiled wife as the former is working with his brother-in-law.

Satyajit Ray’s screenplay doesn’t just explore Charulata’s desire to find her own voice and meaning in her life but also in a world that is changing as her husband Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee) is hoping to give the Bengalis a newspaper of their own with a political voice. His work would definitely absorb him as he doesn’t mean to neglect his own wife because he feels like he is doing something that matters. Upon the arrival of his cousin Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee), Charulata is a little taken aback by his very lively and playful presence but is intrigued by his love of poetry and how talented he is. Through Amal’s encouragement, Charulata would find her own artistic voice through writing but also in her skill in sewing. While Charulata falls for Amal and vice versa, neither are willing to create trouble as the film’s third act plays to some misfortunate events that would affect Bhupati due to an act of betrayal of someone close Bhupati and Charulata.

Ray’s direction is very engaging not just in his approach to close-ups, zoom lenses, and compositions. It’s also in how he is able to create a drama that feels very contemporary at a time where it is about a country trying to forge its own identity. Ray’s direction has an intimacy as it plays into a typical life of an upper-class couple living in India as Bhupati uses his home as a place where he can work while Charulata would often spend time alone or with her spoiled sister-in-law. Ray’s usage of close-ups and medium shots would maintain that sense of intimacy while he knows where to frame his actors for a shot as it often used as an emotional tool. The direction also have these lively moments such as Charulata on a swing which captures everything in a close-up while there’s another shot of her in the background while Amal is lying on the ground in the foreground.

Ray also creates some dizzying imagery as it relates to Charulta’s own sense of artistic awareness in this element of surrealism that seems like it is from another memory. There are moments in the film where music help plays into the story as Ray is also the film’s music composer as he brings in some enchanting themes that would underscore much of the film’s drama. Even as he would put in songs by Baiju Bawra, Joyeb, Nidhubabu, Raja Rammohan Roy, Tansen, and the film’s original novelist Rabindranath Tagore into the mix as it help plays into the drama. Especially in its third act where betrayal and disappointment would emerge as Ray’s camera knows where to step back as well as present something where there’s an ambiguity for the film’s ending. Especially in the way he would approach the ending as it is told with such style. Overall, Ray creates a captivating yet engrossing drama about a housewife finding her voice in 19th Century India.

Cinematographer Subrata Mitra, with lighting by Satish Haldar, does amazing work with the film‘s black-and-white photography with its approach to naturalistic lighting for the daytime scenes along with some low-key lights and moods for some of its nighttime moments including the key scene where Bhupati reveals to Amal about what happened to him. Editor Dulal Dutta does excellent work with the editing as it is mostly straightforward with the exception of a dizzying montage with its inspired usage of dissolves to play into Charulata‘s own artistic growth. Art director Bansi Chandragupta does fantastic work with the look of Charulata‘s home as well as Bhupati‘s office and printing press where he does his work. The sound work of Nripen Paul, Atul Chatterjee, and Sujit Sarkar is brilliant for the sparseness of the sound as well as the way wind sounds in some of the film‘s key moments.

The film’s incredible cast include some notable small roles from Bholanath Koyal as a house servant, the musician Joyeb as a party performer, Suku Mukherjee and Dilip Bose as a couple of colleagues of Bhupati, and Gitali Roy as Charulata’s bored and spoiled sister-in-law Manda who is also attracted to Amal. Shyamal Ghoshal is terrific as Charulata’s brother Umapada who is hired to manage and watch over the finances of Bhupati’s newspaper as he is someone that is very inexperienced while being someone that Amal doesn’t trust. Shailen Mukherjee is amazing as Bhupati as a newspaper editor who unintentionally neglects his wife as he is eager to make his newspaper mean something as well as hoping for some change for India despite being under British rule at that time.

Soumitra Chatterjee is brilliant as Amal as this young poet that is eager to make as a writer with his cousin’s help as he also inspires Charulata to find her voice as he struggles with his feelings towards her and his loyalty to his cousin. Finally, there’s Madhabi Mukherjee in a radiant performance as the titular character as this housewife who feels lonely and trapped by her surroundings as she meets and falls for her husband’s cousin which would inspire her to find an artistic voice as she also copes with not wanting to hurt her own husband once his whole world begins to fall apart as it’s an intriguing and complex performance.

Charulata is an astonishing film from Satyajit Ray that features top-tier performances from Madhabi Mukherjee, Soumitra Chatterjee, and Shailen Mukherjee. It’s a film that isn’t just an intriguing study of change and the need to say something in a world that is changing. Especially as it plays to India trying to find its own voice years after breaking away from Britain as it manages to be so much without the need to say something politically but rather emotionally. In the end, Charulata is a spectacular film from Satyajit Ray.

Satyajit Ray Films: Pather Panchali - Aparajito - (Parash Pathar) - The Music Room - The World of Apu - (Devi) - (Teen Kanya) - (Rabindranath Tagore) - (Kanchenjungha) - (Abhijan) - (Mahanagar) - (Two) - (Kapurush) - (Mahapurush) - (Nayak) - (Chiriyakhana) - (Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne) - (Aranyer Din Ratri) - (Pratidwandi) - (Sikkim) - (Seemabaddha) - (The Inner Eye) - (Ashani Sanket) - (Sonar Kella) - (Jana Aranya) - (Bala) - (Shatranj Ke Khilari) - (Joi Baba Felunath) - (Hirak Rajar Deshe) - (Pikoo) - (Sadgati) - (Ghare Baire) - (Sukumar Ray) - (Ganashatru) - (Shakha Proshakha) - (Agantuk)

© thevoid99 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

2015 Cannes Film Festival Marathon Post-Mortem



The 2015 Cannes Film Festival has just ended with a lot of pizazz and spectacle as the winners have been announced as the festival and this marathon is now over. First, I want to thank The Film Experience for their coverage as well as the Dissolve, Hitfix, and IndieWire for their coverage as well. I would have to say that this year's festival was a bit underwhelming. Not a lot of standouts this year as there were some good films but also some bad ones. One of the big disappointments that definitely scared me is Gus Van Sant's Sea of Trees which I had hoped would be a return-to-form of sorts for him due to its subject matter. Instead, it's being called his worst film to date as it got booed very badly. One of the films I'm anticipating for in Gaspar Noe's Love, like a lot of the films this year, received mixed reviews but I'm glad to hear that Noe isn't taking the criticism severely as I still want to see it.


Then there's the films that did get good buzz like Denis Villeneuve's Sicario, Matteo Garrone's Tale of Tales, Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, Justin Kurzel's adaptation of Macbeth and Joachim Trier's Louder than Bombs that has me excited while I still want to see Hirokazu Koreeda's Our Little Sister despite the mixed reception it received. Then there's the winners as I'm happy that Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster won the third place Jury Prize while I'm ecstatic that Todd Haynes' Carol got some major buzz plus a surprising Best Actress prize for Rooney Mara which she would share with Emmanuelle Bercot for Maiwenn's new film Mon roi

Other winners include Vincent Lindon for Best Actor for Stephane Brize's The Measure of a Man, Michel Franco for Best Screenplay for his film Chronic, and a Best Director prize to Hou Hsiao-Hsien who has returned after a long period with his wuxia film The Assassin that got excellent reviews. One of the films that I'm intrigued about that had been getting a lot of buzz is Son of Saul by Laszlo Nemes which won the 2nd place Grand Jury Prize as it's from someone new as I have no idea what it's about. Finally, there's the Palme d'Or winner in Jacques Audiard's Dheepan which I have heard about but wasn't sure if it was coming out this year. I'm happy that Audiard won as he is one of the finest filmmakers working today as this film once again plays into the struggles of outsiders.


Now that the festival and the prizes have been given out. The marathon has come to an end as I would say this year's marathon was a major improvement over last year as there were more diverse films this year as well as those that really stood out. Though I was originally going to include one of my Blind Spots for the marathon, last-minute changes forced me to whittle the marathon down to 14 films as I'm pretty tired at this point. It did start off well with Festen and ended appropriately with CQ with another re-watch in Gimme Shelter being a highlight of the marathon. Now it's time to announce the winners of the fictional prizes in my marathon.


The Palme d'Or goes to..... Mommy


After seeing this during the late moments of the marathon, there was no question that any other film in the marathon wasn't going to beat this one. I've become a recent convert of the cult of Xavier Dolan as I know now why he is so fucking awesome. It is truly an enthralling and powerful film that isn't afraid of making anyone uncomfortable nor was it afraid to present something in an odd film format. Xavier Dolan isn't even in his mid-20s yet is making the kind of films that lives up to the works of the masters. The performances of Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement, and Antoine-Olivier Pilon are just astonishing as if I was the jury at the festival. I would give the Palme d'Or to all 3 actors and to Xavier Dolan. Plus, because of that film. I'll never get Oasis' Wonderwall out of my head.

The 2nd Place Grand Jury Prize goes to.... The Headless Woman


This was definitely one of the more entrancing and provocative films of the marathon as it is clear that Lucrecia Martel is among the group of female filmmakers who is definitely trying to change the game. It's a film that didn't need to very much but Martel manages to find a story about a woman unraveling emotionally and mentally because of a hit-and-run accident she might've caused. It's a film that plays into the social divide in Argentina into how a woman's family is trying to shield her from what she did as the incident took place near the canals of where the poor lived. It's a very intriguing film as Lucrecia Martel is someone that needs more exposure.

The 3rd Place Jury Prize goes to.... Force Majeure


This was definitely a film that didn't let go from the beginning and Ruben Ostlund's story of a family vacation goes horribly wrong due to a near-death experience is certainly compelling from start to finish. Especially as it plays into the reaction of human nature and what people should do in light of these situations. Armed with a great cast and inspired usage of the French Alps location, it's a film that manages to be so much more as it is as well as being a family drama that confronts the idea of what parents should do in these horrendous situations.

The Best Director Prize Goes to... Victor Erice for El Sur


Arguably the Spanish cinema equivalent to Terrence Malick in terms of making films infrequently and with such beauty, Victor Erice's work in El Sure is just astonishing. It's the work of a man that clearly knows how to frame an image and capture something that is very naturalistic and entrancing. Erice is definitely a master in the art of filmmaking as his sophomore feature really shows why he is needed so often and why it's frustrating he doesn't work very often.

The Best Actor Prize Goes to... Philippe Nahon for I Stand Alone


Nahon's performance in Gaspar Noe's film is definitely unforgettable. It's also one that isn't afraid to make anyone uncomfortable. While it's largely based on internal monologues, it's a performance that is frightening yet very uncompromising of a man that is just being cast aside from society in his attempt to find redemption.

The Best Actress Prize Goes to... Maria Onetto for The Headless Woman


Onetto's performance is key to the success of Lucrecia Martel's film as it is also surprisingly restrained and low-key. Even as it's a performance that is just very haunting in the way Onetto portrays a middle-aged dentist from a mid-upper class family who is trying to make sense of what is happening. There is this sense of internal anguish into the role as is just mesmerizing to watch.

Best Screenplay Prize Goes to... Garry Michael White for Scarecrow


Garry Michael White's screenplay was a major standout in Jerry Schatzberg's film as it was this very unconventional road movie. Notably as it paired two men who couldn't be very different from anyone else. Yet, it's a script that is full of wit and character study as it would allow these two men to rely on each other and grow with each other in their dream to find something that would give them a future.

The Technical Jury Prize Goes to.... Jose Luis Alcaine for El Sur


Alcaine's cinematography for the film is definitely gorgeous as it's usage of naturalistic and available light. It plays into what is expected in Victor Erice's work as it presents a world from the perspective of a young girl and her relationship with her father. It is some of the best photography that is seen to a film that isn't shown very often.

The Special Jury Prize Goes to.... Jacques Tati for Parade


Tati is definitely a master performer as his final feature film is definitely a celebration into the world of performance and mime. It's a film that is unquestionably entertaining where it's Tati at the center of it not just as a performer but also as the ringmaster in creating something that feels very lively while letting the spectators be part of the show.

And now, the ranking for the eight remaining films of the marathon:

4. El Sur


While it may not have been the whole film that Victor Erice had intended to tell, it is still one of the most gorgeous and touching films about a relationship between a father and his daughter. Even as it is presented with a sensitivity and a naturalistic tone that is just exotic and evocative.

5. Scarecrow


Jerry Schatzberg's 1973 Palme d'Or-award winning film is a very unlikely yet witty buddy-road comedy that plays into two very different men with the same dream to make something of themselves. Featuring top-notch performances from Al Pacino and Gene Hackman, it's one of the more underrated films of the 1970s as it is filled with unique character study and some hilarious moments.

6. I Stand Alone


Gaspar Noe's feature-film debut might not be as intense as the work he would do later on but it is still quite extreme in terms of its exploration of alienation and prejudice. Especially as Noe's film has a nihilistic edge into what Philippe Nahon's character would endure to get back on those that wronged him.

7. Parade


Jacques Tati's final feature film is definitely full-on entertainment. It's not just a film where the audience is part of the show but it's a film that is more about the celebration of performance no matter how silly it is. Even as a man getting chased by a mule manages to bring in some of the big laughs.

8. Sweet Charity


Bob Fosse's directorial debut in the world of film is a stylish yet lavish remake of Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria as it is a hell of a debut film. Especially with Shirley MacLaine in the leading role as she manages to put a lot of charm and vulnerability into her performance.

9. Miss Julie


Alf Sjoberg's adaptation of August Strindberg's play is an intriguing study of repressed love and desires as well as social and class divides. Especially as it's a film that manages to be a provocative story about people who have these expectations of who they are and what they're supposed to do as it plays into the conflict of their desires.

10. Othello


Orson Welles' take on William Shakespeare's play is a mesmerizing yet stylish take on the tragedy with Welles playing the lead role. Yet, it is Michael McLiammoir's performance as Iago that is really what makes the film so interesting in the way he deceives and plots his way to destroy the titular character.

11. Climates


Nuri Bilge Ceylan's study of a relationship disintegrating in the course of three seasons is definitely the most challenging film of the marathon. Largely due to its minimalist plot and unwillingness to play by the rules as it is not an easy film to watch but certainly an engrossing one.

Well, that is it for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and its marathon. It was definitely fun though tiring as I've updated my Palme d'Or list of what I've seen so far. Definitely will change again maybe later this year or in next year's marathon. Until then, Au Revoir.

© thevoid99 2015