Monday, September 18, 2017

Wind River

Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, Wind River is the story of a young FBI agent who helps a tracker find a murderer at an Indian reservation in Wyoming. The film is an exploration into the world of Native Americans and how two different people try to do what is right as they also explore the dark aspects of their surroundings. Starring Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Gil Birmingham, Jon Bernthal, and Graham Greene. Wind River is a riveting and somber film from Taylor Sheridan.

An 18-year old Native American woman is found dead by a wildlife tracker as he is aided by a young FBI agent who wants to know if it was a homicide as they deal with not just their surroundings but also the sense of tension among the Native American community in a small town in Wyoming. It’s a film that isn’t just about a murder in an area that features a prominent Native American community in this small Wyoming town but also a man who knows that girl as she was the best friend of her daughter who had died a few years earlier. Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay isn’t just about the mystery of who killed this young girl but also the neglect towards Native Americans as it relate to them being victims of crime despite the fact their local sheriff in Ben (Graham Greene) is a Native American who cares about them but isn’t given enough resources to do justice.

Yet, the Native Americans do have an ally and friend in Cory Booker (Jeremy Renner) who is agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that tracks wild animals that is harmful to any farm animals as he is first seen killing wolves from afar for trying to attack a herd of sheep where he would find the body of this girl in Natalie Hanson (Kelsey Chow). The idea that Natalie could’ve been murder catches the attention of FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) who arrives to Wyoming unprepared for its conditions and the land itself as she believes that it is a murder. Banner is definitely the outsider as someone who hasn’t been on the field nor does she know how to conduct herself as a Caucasian in a Native American community as she needs Booker to help her. Booker’s role in the investigation is personal as he is still reeling from the loss of his daughter a few years ago that led to him being separated from his wife as he makes a promise to Natalie’s father Martin (Gil Birmingham) to find out what happened. Even as he has to contend with some in the Native American community who don’t like him because he’s Caucasian yet is one of the few that can actually help them.

Sheridan’s direction is definitely exquisite in terms of the setting and locations though it is actually shot in Utah as part of this small town in Wyoming with areas near the Rocky Mountains. Much of the direction is quite simple as it play into this very cold and snowy land that is Wyoming in the northwestern part of America as it features images of the Native American community feeling disconnected from traditional society as there’s a shot of the American flag shown upside down. For someone like Booker, he understands their disconnect as he too is disconnected from traditional society due to his grief yet is still trying to be a good father to his son Casey (Teo Briones) as well as help out his ex-wife’s parents. While Sheridan would use a lot of wide shots to capture the scope of the locations, he does maintain an air of intimacy in the close-ups and medium shots as it relates to the investigation and the interaction between characters during the non-investigation scenes.

Sheridan would take his time in letting things unfold for the film’s climax where he would put in something that is a major reveal about what happened but also this air of isolation that is prevalent to those who aren’t part of conventional society. It adds to this harrowing conclusion that emphasizes on this neglect in American society towards not just Native Americans but also this region such as Wyoming, the Dakotas, Utah, and areas with Native American reservations that doesn’t seem to really be part of the United States of America. Especially when it comes to justice as there are very few instances where the right thing is done yet America is more concerned with what’s happening in other parts of the country and the world rather than those who were in this country first. Overall, Sheridan crafts a gripping and chilling film about a tracker and a FBI agent trying to find out who killed an 18-year old Native American woman.

Cinematographer Ben Richardson does excellent work with the film’s cinematography in the way many of the daytime exteriors are presented with its emphasis on natural lighting with the scenes at light displaying some low-key lighting for some scenes including the exterior settings in some scenes. Editor Gary D. Roach does brilliant work with the editing as it is straightforward for much of the film with some rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense and action. Production designer Neil Spisak, with set decorator Cynthia A. Neibaur and art director Lauren Slatten, does fantastic work with the look of the homes of Booker, the Hanson family, as well as some Native American junkies who live in trailer parks. Costume designer Kari Perkins does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual with the look of the uniforms the deputies wear with winter hats and such as well as the winter gear that Banner had to borrow on her search of the murder site.

Hair/makeup designer Felicity Bowring does terrific work with some of the makeup as it relates to the sense of loss that Martin Hanson is dealing with as he’s wearing war paint to express his grief. Visual effects supervisor Dottie Starling does some fine work with the visual effects as it is mainly set-dressing for a few exterior shots in the film. Sound editor Alan Robert Murray and sound designer Tom Ozanich do superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as the sound of gunfire and such throughout the film. The film’s music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is amazing as it is a major highlight of the film for its mixture of folk and ambient music with violins to play into the somber tone of the film while the rest of the soundtrack consists mainly of folk and country music.

The casting by Jordan Bass and Lauren Bass is incredible as it feature some notable small roles from Tantoo Cardinal and Apesanahkwat as Booker’s former in-laws, Eric Lange as the local autopsy official, Tokala Black Elk as a notorious junkie in Sam Littlefeather, Martin Sensmeier as Martin’s estranged drug-addict son Chip, Teo Briones as Booker’s son Casey, Althea Sam as Natalie’s mother, Kelsey Chow as Natalie, Julia Jones as Booker’s estranged ex-wife Wilma, James Jordan as a man working at an oil rig in Pete, and Jon Bernthal as an oil worker named Matt who was seeing Natalie on the night she died. Gil Birmingham is excellent as Martin Hanson as Natalie’s father who is given the news about his daughter as he succumbs to grief and anger while asking Booker to do what is right. Graham Greene is brilliant as Ben as the town’s local sheriff who is also Native American as a man that had seen a lot as he tells Banner about how things work in the town as he also hopes to do what is right for everyone.

Elizabeth Olsen is phenomenal as Jane Banner as a rookie FBI agent who is given her first real test as an agent while being someone that is an idealistic in wanting to do what is right as she also copes with the severity of her assignment and what she has to do to get things done. Finally, there’s Jeremy Renner in a sensational performance as Cory Booker as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent/tracker who would find the body of this young woman forcing him to deal with his own loss from years ago where he would help Banner and others find out who killed her as well as gain some redemption for how he lost his own daughter.

Wind River is a tremendous film from Taylor Sheridan that features top-notch performances from Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. Along with its supporting cast, themes on justice and neglect, eerie music score, and a chilling setting. It’s a suspense film that doesn’t play by the rules while acknowledging the sense of alienation and neglect towards a group of people who never have things go in their favor. In the end, Wind River is a magnificent film from Taylor Sheridan.

Related: Sicario - Hell or High Water

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

mother! (2017 film)

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, mother! is the story of a couple whose quiet life in the country is disrupted by visitors who come in for some unknown reasons causing all sorts of trouble. The film is an unconventional horror story revolving around unexpected visitors as it explores the idea of idol worship and desires to start a family. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Kristen Wiig, and Ed Harris. mother! is a visceral and harrowing film from Darren Aronofsky.

The film follows the life of a couple living in the middle of the country as a writer (Javier Bardem) is struggling to write a new book while his wife (Jennifer Lawrence) is finishing the redecoration of their house where they get some unexpected visitors that would shake everything up. It’s a film that explores the idea of worship as the writer is dealing with the expectations of a new book as he has writer’s block as well as the fact that starting a new life hasn’t helped him with his wife seemingly happy with the tranquility in shaping their home. Yet, she would see things such as a beating heart inside the house as if it’s haunted as it would worsen with the arrival of an ailing doctor (Ed Harris) who is later joined by his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Darren Aronofsky’s screenplay is filled with a lot of themes as the writer is willing to have guests in his home as the doctor is a fan of the writer’s work as it later goes into chaos due to the people that come to the house. For the wife, it becomes overwhelming as these visitors would disrupt everything as the wife questions her husband’s generosity as she believes he is selfish and often too inviting as well to the point that he neglects her. All of this happens during its first half as the second half becomes about the arrival of a new person for the writer and his wife but also more chaos and tragedy that would loom throughout due to the fact that writer revels in the worship of his readers who have taken his work way too seriously.

Aronofsky’s direction is definitely stylish in the way he would open and end the film in the same way as if it’s all part of something biblical. Shot near Montreal, the film is set entirely in a country house in the middle of nowhere as it serves as this kind of idyllic world where the wife is in charge while her husband struggles with trying to write a new book. While there’s some wide shots in the film for much of the exteriors, Aronofsky aims for something more intimate with the usage of medium shots and close-ups as there’s a lot of emphasis on the latter. Notably in moments where the wife would touch the wall as if there is something living in the house as it would show the image of a heart beating as if the house is real. Aronofsky would create moments that are quite calm yet there is something that is uneasy such as the wife’s interaction with the doctor’s wife who would say these very offbeat yet cruel things throughout the film as it would baffle the wife who becomes more uneasy. Another part of Aronofsky’s direction that is unique is the fact that he would shoot close-ups of certain objects as well as the focus of a crystallized object at the writer’s office.

Things would intensify during the second act when the doctor and his wife would receive a visit from their two sons (Brian and Domhnall Gleeson) as it adds more chaos where Aronofsky’s usage of hand-held cameras to follow the action would show the sense of disruption at the house. Notably in the third act following the aftermath of the release of the writer’s new book where it’s just mayhem. There’s moments in this sequence that is quite ridiculous as well as grotesque but there’s also some dark humor in the film that add to the insanity of what is happening. Even as the writer is forced to see what his work has done as it adds a lot of religious and biblical allegory into everything that has happened with the wife at the center of it all. Overall, Aronofsky crafts a chilling and intense film about a couple’s tranquil life disrupted by strange visitors.

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with the usage of natural colors for some of the daytime exteriors as well as some low-key lighting and moods for many of the interior scenes including the ones at the basement and for the scenes at night. Editor Andrew Weisblum does brilliant work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and other stylized cuts to play into the suspense and heightened drama that looms throughout the film. Production designer Philip Messina, with set decorators Larry Dias and Martine Kazemirchuk plus art directors Isabelle Guay and Deborah Jensen, does amazing work with the look of the house and the way the different rooms look as well as how they would look in its decayed form including the basement. Costume designer Danny Glicker does nice work with some of the costumes as it is mostly casual with a bit of stylish clothing from the things the doctor’s wife wears as well as a dress the wife would wear in the third act.

Special effects makeup artists Mathieu Baptista and Shane Shisheboran does terrific work with some of the makeup for the look of some of the people that would emerge at the house as it adds to the insanity that occurs in the film. The visual effects work of Kenneth Caines and John Mangia does fantastic work with the visual effects from the look of the heart as well as some of the stranger things that occur in the house that would haunt the wife. Sound designers Paula Fairfield and Craig Henigan do superb work with the sound from the way some of the sounds of the house is presented as well as how objects are heard as it help add to the film’s approach to suspense and horror. The film’s music by Johan Johansson is wonderful as it’s very low-key with its approach to ambient music as it’s used very sparingly as sound texture while the only real piece of music in the film is a cover of The End of the World by Patti Smith.

The casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu is incredible as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Stephen McHattie as a zealot, Kristen Wiig as the writer’s publisher, Jovan Adepo as a mysterious cup holder, and the duo of Domhnall and Brian Gleeson as the feuding sons of the doctor and his wife. Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer are phenomenal in their respective role as the doctor and his wife with Harris as this kind and curious man that is eager to meet the writer as he is becoming very ill while Pfeiffer is just sublime as this very bitchy and intrusive woman that wants to know what is in the mind of the wife.

Javier Bardem is remarkable as the writer as this man that is struggling to write something as well as be attentive to his wife where he’s trying to find inspiration as it’s a very complex role of a man trying to be this figure for his adoring fans but also be there for his wife. Finally, there’s Jennifer Lawrence in a sensational performance as the wife as this young woman struggling to create a life for herself and her husband as she deals with these intrusive visitors as well as the neglect she’s getting from her husband as it’s a role of anguish and terror of a woman trying to protect the home she’s created.

mother! is a marvelous film from Darren Aronofsky that features incredible performances from Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ed Harris. Along with its eerie visuals, biblical references, eerie suspense, and moments of horror, it’s a film that is willing to push all sorts of boundaries and raise discussion though some of its presentation is flawed. In the end, mother! is a riveting film from Darren Aronofsky.

Darren Aronofsky Films: Pi - Requiem for a Dream - The Fountain - The Wrestler - Black Swan - Noah (2014 film)

The Auteurs #2: Darren Aronofsky

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Written and directed by Werner Herzog, Stroszek is the story of a German street performer who is released from prison as he dreams of going to America in the hopes he can find great promise there as he is joined by a prostitute and an old man in his journey. The film is an unusual road film in which a man tries to go to America to see if there is such a thing as the American Dream only to face the realities of his new surroundings. Starring Bruno S., Eva Mattes, and Clemens Scheitz. Stroszek is a mesmerizing yet harrowing film from Werner Herzog.

The film follows a man named Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.) who is released from prison as he has trouble trying to find his role in the world as he joins a down-on-her-luck prostitute and an old man to travel to America where the old man’s nephew lives and work at Wisconsin. It’s a film that is about a trio of misfits who don’t really fit in with the many ideas of modern-day West German society as they hope to go to America to find a new life and something good. Werner Herzog’s screenplay doesn’t just follow the struggle that Bruno, the prostitute Eva (Eva Mattes), and the old man in Scheitz (Clemens Scheitz) as they deal with their dreary surrounding in West Berlin. It’s also for the fact that there isn’t really anything for them as they hope going to America would change things.

The first act is set in West Berlin while the second act begins in New York City as they would go to the small town of Railroad Flats, Wisconsin to meet Scheitz’s nephew Clayton (Clayton Szalpinski). With Bruno getting a job working for Clayton in his garage and Eva working as a waitress at a diner, it seems like the idea of the American Dream would come true but it would turn out to be just a myth. Especially in what they had to do to get things they want as it causes all sorts of problems for Bruno, Eva, and Scheitz with Scheitz succumbing to paranoia. Adding to this problem is the language barrier and cultural differences as Bruno and Scheitz don’t speak nor understand a word of English with Eva being the only person who can as she becomes indifferent to her surroundings as well as towards Bruno.

Herzog’s direction is definitely straightforward for much of the film while it is also very offbeat in terms of how he showcases America from a foreigner’s point of view. Shot on location in West Berlin, New York City, parts of North Carolina, and various small towns in Wisconsin such as Madison, Nekoosa, and Plainfield. Herzog would create something where it play into individuals who have no place in the world as Bruno’s release from prison has him forcing to not do certain things like drink alcohol or get into trouble as the first place he goes to following his prison release is a bar and have a drink of beer. Yet, life in Berlin is quite troubling as he’s constantly bullied by a couple of pimps who often abuse Eva while finding places to play his accordion and glockenspiel become harder forcing him to believe that America might be the place to go. Much of Herzog’s approach to compositions has him using close-ups and medium shots to play into the way the characters deal with each other and their situations as there are a few wide shots for the scenes in Berlin. Once they arrive to America, the wide shots are more prominent as it displays this sense of culture shock and bedazzlement for the scenes in New York including a shot at the observatory floor at the Empire State Building.

The scenes in Wisconsin are also straightforward as Herzog would use non-actors to be in the film to give it a sense of authenticity as well as that sense of confusion the Germans would deal with upon their arrival. Much of the approach to compositions remain the same but the tone is different as it has bits of humor but also some low-key drama as it play into not just this sense of alienation for these characters but also the growing dissolution among the three as Scheitz’s interest in animal magnetism and Eva’s own interest toward truckers add to Bruno’s own sense of loneliness. The film’s climax which is set in another small town somewhere in America doesn’t just play into Bruno’s own realization of the myth of the American Dream but also wonder if there is a place for him in the world. The film’s ending is definitely brutal mainly for its imagery as it has something that is very dark in its humor but also says a lot about humanity trapped into the expectations of their role in society. Overall, Herzog crafts a haunting yet intoxicating film about three Germans traveling to America to find a new life only to face the realities of the world.

Cinematographer Thomas Mauch does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with the look of the low-key yet naturalistic lighting for the scenes set in Germany to the more colorful look of the scenes in America including some of the dreary scenes in Wisconsin. Editor Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus does brilliant work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts play into some of the drama and humor as it is a highlight of the film. The sound work of Haymo Heyder and Peter van Anft is superb for the way it captures all of the natural elements of the location without the need to heighten the sounds. The film’s music consists of an array of musical pieces such as the stuff Bruno performs with his accordion as well as some country music from Chet Atkins and Sonny Terry.

The film’s incredible cast mainly consists of non-actors such as Clayton Szalpinski as Scheitz’s nephew Clayton, Scott McKain as a banker, Ely Rodriguez as Clayton’s assistant, Ralph Wade as an auctioneer, and the duo of Wilhelm von Homburg and Burkhard Driest as a couple of brutal pimps who bully Bruno and often abuse Eva. Clemens Scheitz is amazing as Scheitz as Bruno’s elderly neighbor who is given a chance to go to America as he becomes interested in animal magnetism while dealing with the downside of American society. Eva Mattes is great as Eva as a young prostitute who has endured a lot of abuse in Berlin as she is eager to go to America where she is able to find her role but becomes indifferent once she is unable to get what she wants forcing herself to take her own direction that wouldn’t involve Bruno. Finally, there’s Bruno S. in a phenomenal performance as the titular character who is this unemployed street performer who just got released from prison as he deals with his role in the world as well as the growing sense of alienation in America that forces him to question the decisions he’s made in his life and if there is a role for him in the world overall as it’s just an engaging and eerie performance from Bruno S.

Stroszek is a tremendous film from Werner Herzog that features sensational performances from Bruno S., Eva Mattes, and Clemens Scheitz. Along with its gorgeous visuals and compelling story on alienation and demystifying the myth of the American Dream. It’s a film that explores America from the point of view of those who had never been to the country and deal with the realities to fit in with society. In the end, Stroszek is a spectacular film from Werner Herzog.

Werner Herzog Films: Feature Films: (Signs of Life) - (Even the Dwarfs Started Small) - (Fatana Morgana) – Aguirre: The Wrath of God - (The Enigma of Kasper Hauer) - (Heart of Glass) – Nosferatu, the Vampyre - Woyzeck - Fitzcarraldo - (Where the Green Ants Dream) – Cobra Verde - (Scream of Stone) - (Lessons of Darkness) - (Invincible (2001 film)) - (The Wild Blue Yonder) – Rescue Dawn - (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans) – (My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?) – (Queen of the Desert) – (Salt and Fire)

Documentaries: (The Flying Doctors of East Africa) - (Handicapped Future) - (Land of Silence and Darkness) - (The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner) - (How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck) - (La Soufri̬re) - (Huie's Sermon) - (God's Angry Man) - (Ballad of the Little Soldier) - (The Dark Glow of the Mountains) - (Wodaabe) РHerdsmen of the Sun) - (Echoes from a Somber Empire) - (Jag Mandir) - (Bells from the Deep) - (The Transformation of the World into Music) - (Death for Five Voices) - (Little Dieter Needs to Fly) РMy Best Fiend - (Wings of Hope) - (Pilgrimage) - (Ten Thousand Years Older) - (Wheel of Time) - (The White Diamond) РGrizzly Man - Encounters at the End of the World - Cave of Forgotten Dreams - (Into the Abyss) Р(On Death Row) РFrom One Second to the Next - (Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World) Р(Into the Inferno)

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017


Directed by Yann Demange and written by Gregory Burke, ’71 is the story of a British soldier who finds himself separated from his unit during a riot in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the tumultuous period known as the Troubles. The film is a look into the real-life conflict that began in the late 1960s between Britain and IRA as a young man finds himself in the middle of this conflict which was at its most dangerous in 1971. Starring Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, David Wilmot, Richard Dormer, Paul Anderson, and Charlie Murphy. ’71 is a gripping and intense film from Yann Demange.

The film follows a young soldier who is tasked with other young soldiers to control a situation in Belfast where it turned into a riot as he finds himself all alone when his unit had fled and IRA soldiers trying to find and kill him. It’s a film that explore what happens to a young man who goes head-on into the turmoil between the British and the Irish where the original plan from the former is to help officials arrest those suspected of being involved in the IRA. What happens becomes very chaotic as this young man finds himself lost after seeing a fellow soldier shot in the head who was trying to save him as he goes on the run and hide from the IRA. Gregory Burke’s screenplay explores the plight that this young soldier in Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) is dealing with as he has to hide while befriending a few locals along the way. Yet, just as he thinks he has found some form of safety. Something bad happens immediately as he has to keep on running and survive while his unit deal with having to find him in Belfast knowing there’s trouble as they’re also dealing with undercover officers who pretend to be IRA soldiers.

Yann Demange’s direction is definitely very intense as it has this sense of immediacy once the event in Belfast come into play. Shot on mainly in Britain, the film doesn’t start off with this air of combat but rather soldiers involved in a boxing match of sorts between soldiers who are in training. Once they’re assigned to Belfast to aid British police officials in arresting suspects, the film has this sense of unease as Hook would visit his younger brother before he goes to Belfast as a reminder that he’s just a young man. Once he’s in Belfast on assignment with his unit that is led by a young lieutenant and a corporal who are there to smooth things and not get into trouble. Chaos ensues as Demange’s direction become intense and immediate with its usage of hand-held cameras for the close-ups and medium shots while the violence is unexpected and unsettling. Especially in the moment where Hook is being beaten by locals as he is trying to be saved by another young soldier only for that man to be shot in the head.

While there are some wide shots, Demange would prefer to maintain that air of intimacy into what Hook is going through as Demange’s close-ups help play into his fear. There are moments in the film that are intense as well as in the suspense as it also show what some of these men in the IRA are up to as some are for a cause with some having their own personal motives. Even the men working undercover have this air of ambiguity as the British lieutenant isn’t sure if he could trust them. The film’s climax is about the rescue for Hook who is also has to fend for himself and protect those who were able to help him despite their cultural and social differences. All of which would play into this conflict that had brought a lot of pain where this young man ponders his role in this conflict. Overall, Demange crafts a visceral and harrowing film about a young British soldier and his encounter with war in 1971 Belfast.

Cinematographer Tat Radcliffe does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key and natural lighting for the scenes in the daytime as well as elements of sepia and lights for the scenes set at night. Editor Chris Wyatt does amazing work with the editing as its usage of jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts play into the suspense as well as the action that goes on throughout the film. Production designer Chris Oddy, with set decorator Kate Guyan and supervising art director Nigel Pollock, does fantastic work with the look of the home base of the British unit as well as the pub and houses in Belfast. Costume designer Jane Petrie does nice work with the costumes as it is mostly casual from the look of the locals in the style of the clothes of the early 70s as well as the uniforms of the British soldiers.

Makeup designer Emma Scott does fantastic work with the makeup from the look of Hook with the blood and bruises that he would suffer throughout his body. Visual effects supervisor Simon Hughes does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects for one key sequence in the film as well as a few set dressing for some wide shots of Belfast at night. Sound designer Paul Davies does superb work with the sound that play into the chaos of the riots as well as some of the violent conflict in the film as it has this array of mixes to play into Hook’s perspective as he would encounter all sorts of violence. The film’s music by David Holmes is incredible for its mixture of low-key synthesizers, guitars, and bombastic beats to play into the suspense and sense of terror while music supervisor Dan Rodgers does wonderful work with the soundtrack as it feature some music of the times from Wanda Jackson, Arthur Alexander, Solomon Burke, Lee Hazelwood, Jack Scott, and Butch Moore plus an electronic cut from Aphex Twin.

The casting by Jina Jay is great as it feature some notable small roles from Paul Popplewell as a training corporal, Corey McKinley as an Irish child who is a loyal to the IRA that helps Hook, Harry Verity as Hook’s younger brother Darren, Babou Ceesay as the unit’s corporal, Paul Anderson as an undercover officer in Sgt. Lewis, Barry Keoghan as a teenage member of the IRA in Sean, and Sam Reid in a terrific role as a sympathetic British lieutenant who is trying to ensure the well-being of Hook and other soldiers while questioning the methods of the undercover officers. Killian Scott is superb as an IRA leader in James Quinn who is eager to find Hook and kill for the cause while David Wilmot is fantastic as the senior IRA leader Boyle who goes to the British in dealing with the crazed Quinn.

Richard Dormer and Charlie Murphy are excellent in their respective roles as the father-daughter duo Eamon and Birgid as two people who help the wounded Hook with Murphy as the conflicted woman who had been part of the riot while Dormer is the more understandable man who knows what Hook has to do. Sean Harris is brilliant as Captain Sandy Browning as an undercover officer who is trying to do everything to stop the IRA as he has some very brutal tactics and ideas that make some who are working for him uneasy. Finally, there’s Jack O’Connell in a remarkable performance as Gary Hook as a new recruit for the British army who endures a terrifying experience as he tries to survive as well as deal with the reality of the conflict he’s involved in forcing him to fight for himself as well as face the truth on the war he’s in.

’71 is a phenomenal film from Yann Demange that features an incredible performance from Jack O’Connell. Along with its ensemble cast, gripping action, and a look into the period known from the Troubles from both sides, it’s a film that is intense as well as being very engaging into what was happening in these turbulent times. In the end, ’71 is a spectacular film from Yann Demange.

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Financial World

For the second week of September 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We venture into the world of finances as films allow audiences to go into place they’re not familiar with such as world of stocks, money, and deals. It’s a subject that can be complicated but here are three different films that allow audiences to venture into that world in a very accessible way:

1. Trading Places

From John Landis is one of the funniest comedies ever as its interpretation of Prince and the Pauper is set in the world of finances where two ultra-rich commodities broker-brothers make a bet in changing the lives of one of their rich employees and a poor, homeless man and see how their lives turn out. Though it’s not really about finances, it does contain a lot of ideas into the financial world such as its climax where both Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy both team up to get revenge over this bet that affected both of their lives.

2. Margin Call

From J.C. Chandor is one of the finest debut films of the 2010s so far as it explores the financial crisis of 2007-2008 in the span of 36 hours in which a group of people learn about what happened and what they can do to save themselves. It’s a film that is quite complex with a large ensemble cast yet it is about the human drama and what they’re dealing with as it’s not just that they’re losing their jobs but also finding someone to blame. It’s a very compelling film that is hard to get into at first but it does pay off in the end.

3. The Big Short

From Adam McKay comes this adaptation of Michael Lewis’ novel that is also about the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Yet, it’s a multi-layered film that explore three different storylines in which a group of individuals would make some serious discoveries that would impact the world of finances. With a great ensemble cast as well as some very humorous cameos from celebrities that explain some of the complexities of finances, it’s a film that showcases a sense of humanity in a group of people just trying to make sense of everything that went wrong as well as deal with immorality that comes with capitalism.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe

Directed and shot by Les Blank, Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe is a documentary short film in which German filmmaker Werner Herzog fulfills a bet that he loses to another filmmaker in Errol Morris. The film chronicles what Herzog had to do after seeing that Morris had finally made a film that would be the documentary Gates of Heaven as Herzog would show what he had to do to live up to promise. The result is a hilarious documentary short film Les Blank.

The film follows filmmaker Werner Herzog who arrives to San Francisco for a screening of Gates of Heaven to spread the word about the film as well as eat his shoe in front of the public following its screening. Throughout the course of the film, Herzog comments on the industry and his views on film as he would stop at a restaurant to cook his shoes. With footage from Charles Chaplin’s film The Gold Rush, Herzog’s own film Even the Dwarfs Started Small, and bits of Errol Morris’ Gates of Heaven interspersed with Herzog holding his public feast of shoes. Shot with hand-held cameras by Blank, the film has Herzog making humorous anecdotes about what he’s about to eat as well as the recipes he put into his shoes to give it taste. With the aid of editor/sound recordist Maureen Gosling, Blank would put in footage of other films to play into everything Herzog is about to get himself into. Yet, it is all about honoring the wager that he had with another filmmaker all in the name of cinema.

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe is a delightful film from Les Blank. It’s a very witty and enjoyable documentary short that follows a revered filmmaker doing what he says he was going to do as well as provide his own views on the world of film and the industry that often doesn’t take risk. In the end, Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe is an incredible film from Les Blank.

Related: (Gates of Heaven) – Burden of Dreams

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Directed by George Miller and screenplay by Miller, Terry Hayes, and Brian Hannant, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is the story of a man driven by loss as he reluctantly help a group of settlers deal with marauders wreaking havoc during a post-apocalyptic period in Australia. The film is a sequel to the 1979 film in which Mel Gibson reprises his role as Max Rockatansky as he tries to cut himself off from humanity only to realize what he needs to do to regain. Also starring Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells, Emil Minty, Michael Preston, and narration by Harold Baigent. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a thrilling and high-octane film from George Miller.

The film follows a man who would go on the road with his dog as he finds himself dealing with crazed marauders where he later finds a small village with lots of gasoline that is being threatened by marauders as gas is now the biggest currency in this post-apocalyptic environment. It’s a film that forces a man to deal with the demons from his past as he struggles to survive with just by himself as he knows that there are marauders just creating havoc and doing whatever they can for one bit of gasoline. The film’s screenplay that feature opening and closing narration by Harold Baigent as an unknown character who describes the events that led to what has happened showcases a world that has lost its way.

Max Rockatansky is just passing by trying to salvage whatever he can find as he would encounter a gyro pilot (Bruce Spence) where he would show him an oil refinery that is constantly attacked by the marauders. He agrees to help them retrieve an oil rig in exchange to get his car fixed and with his own supply of oil in return. Yet, things become complicated due to the marauders including a crazed henchman named Wez (Vernon Wells) who just likes to kill no matter what while he also wants revenge for the death of his companion in the hands of a feral boy (Emil Minty) that befriends Max.

George Miller’s direction starts off with a montage filled with stock footage and images from the previous film as it relates to the chaos that lead to the events in the film as this opening montage is presented in a full-frame 1:33:1 aspect ratio before being presented in a widescreen format in the 2:35:1 aspect ratio. Shot on location near the mining town of Broken Hills, New South Wales in Australia, the film play into this world that is quite desolate and chaotic where it’s cars that kind of rule the land as they’re used as weapons all in the need to get oil so the marauders can wreak havoc. There are some wide and medium shots Miller uses to capture the scope of the location while he would use close-ups for a few moments in the action but most of its usage is on the characters in the non-action scenes as a lot of those shots are straightforward.

In the action scenes, Miller maintains a realism in the way stunts are performed as well as the intensity of the action where much of it is on the road with some of it on the air. Miller also maintain some focus on what is at stake as well as identifying the people at the oil refinery who just want to live and restart their lives with Max unsure if he wants to help them. The film’s climax is intense as it play into the stakes as well as what Max has to do to help these settlers find hope. Overall, Miller crafts an exhilarating yet intense film about a loner trying to help settlers deal with marauders in a post-apocalyptic world.

Cinematographer Dean Semler does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with the natural approach to the daytime exterior scenes as well as the usage of low-key lights and fire for the scenes at night. Editors Michael Balson, David Stiven, and Tim Wellburn do excellent work with the editing as it captures the energy of the action with some jump-cuts as well as some transition wipes and dissolves to help play into the non-action scenes. Art director Graham “Grace” Walker does amazing work with the look of the cars as well as the oil refinery which looks a bit like a fortress. Costume designer Norma Moriceau does fantastic work with the costumes as some of the marauders wore some kind of strange leather gear with spikes and masks.

Makeup supervisor Lesley Vanderwalt does nice work with the makeup from the look of some of the characters as well as the Mohawks of some of the marauders. Sound editor Bruce Lamshed does terrific work with the sound in capturing the atmosphere of the action as well as the sound of gun fire and engines as it add to the film’s chaotic tone. The film’s music by Brian May is superb for its bombastic orchestral score that add to the action and suspense as it is a major highlight of the film.

The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Arkie Whiteley as the captain’s girlfriend whom the gyro pilot is fond of, Max Phipps as a marauders crier Toadie, Virginia Hey as a woman warrior who isn’t fond of Max at first, Michael Preston as the settlers’ idealistic leader Pappagallo, and Kjell Nilsson as the marauders’ charismatic leader Lord Humungus who is never seen without his mask as someone that wants to bargain with the settlers or else would cause mayhem. Emil Minty is fantastic as the feral kid who wields a boomerang that can kill people as he is fascinated by Max despite the fact that he never says anything other than scream and bite.

Vernon Wells is excellent as Lord Humungus’ henchman Wez as this Mohawk-sporting marauder who is quite wild and vicious as he shoots arrows from his arms. Bruce Spence is brilliant as the gyro captain as a gyro-copter pilot who is kind of the film’s comic relief as a wanderer that is trying to survive as he would eventually be an ally of Max. Finally, there’s Mel Gibson in an incredible performance as Max Rockatansky as a loner with an Australian Cattle Dog who is just moving along to not deal with anything as he reluctantly help some settlers as a way to get him back in touch with reality as it’s a very restrained yet chilling performance from Gibson.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a phenomenal film from George Miller that features a great performance from Mel Gibson. Armed with dazzling visuals, high-octane action sequences, and a chilling story of survival in the post-apocalyptic world, it’s a film that offers so much in terms of what is expected in action films but also provide something more as it’s about a man trying to come to grips with loss and his reluctance to reconnect with humanity. In the end, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a spectacular film from George Miller.

George Miller Films: Mad Max - (Twilight Zone: 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) – Mad Max: Fury Road

© thevoid99 2017