Friday, March 23, 2018

The Auteurs #64: Taika Waititi

Among the current wave of filmmakers emerging into the consciousness of the mainstream, Taika Waititi is a unique filmmaker who has managed to arrive to Hollywood but with a voice of his own. Like other renowned filmmakers from New Zealand like Jane Campion and Peter Jackson, Waititi has been able to use his clout to get films made in his home country. Unlike the more poetic Campion and the bombast-adventurous Jackson, Waititi’s films specializes more on a mixture of comedy and tragedy with characters who don’t fit in with the conventions of society as they adjust to their surroundings and situations. Having just gained major acclaim and success in his contribution to the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, Waititi still uses his unique voice to provide something different that gives mainstream audiences something they often don’t see in films.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand on August 16, 1975, Taika David Waititi was the son of a Maori and a Russian-Jewish mother as he spent much of his life living at the Raukokore area in one of the northern islands of New Zealand as well as the city of Wellington where he would attend the secondary Onslow College at the suburb of Johnsonville. While attending the Victoria University of Wellington to study drama, Waititi would meet two men who would become lifelong collaborators in Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. Along with actor Carey Smith and theater director David Lawrence, Waititi, Clement, and McKenzie would form the comedy troupe So You’re a Man in the mid-1990s as they would mix elements of improvisational comedy and music as it would last for a few years. Waititi would maintain his friendship with Clement and McKenzie as the two would form the music-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. Waititi would act in short films and TV programs in New Zealand in the early 2000s while learning about the world of filmmaking where he would direct TV shows for New Zealand TV and make his first short film in 2002 called John and Pogo.

Two Cars, One Night

In 2003, Waititi with the help of the New Zealand government was given money to make a short film as it would be set entirely at a parking lot at a local pub in the small town of Te Kaha. The short would revolve around two boys waiting in a car and beside them is a girl as one of the boys is intrigued by the young girl. The eleven-minute short would be shot in black-and-white by cinematographer Adam Clark as it would convey the sense of wonderment of a boy meeting this girl as they start off as rivals and then become friends. The short would showcase Waititi’s approach to offbeat humor and low-key drama as well as life in New Zealand that is outside of its well-known locations and focus on Maori-based individuals.

The short film made its premiere at various film festivals in 2004 where it was a major festival hit as its acclaim in various film festivals including the Berlin Film Festival and the AFI Film Festival landed Waititi an unexpected Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. At the ceremonies in 2005, Waititi would pretend to fall asleep when his name was announced as a nominee making a small but funny impression. Though the film lost to Andrea Arnold’s Wasp, the short film did serve as a launching pad for his filmmaking career.

Tama Tu/What We Do in the Shadows: Interviews with Some Vampires

Having gained a collaborator in cinematographer Adam Clark, Waititi would continue to make short films to hone his craft as a filmmaker. One short Waititi made in 2004 is set in World War II in which a small Maori battalion fighting in Europe as they await for the enemy to arrive. The short would be different from in terms of its visuals and setting as Waititi made films that would become more colorful. Nevertheless, his approach to humor remain intact as the six soldiers waiting in a destroyed building would silently entertain themselves to let time pass by. It is part of Waititi’s approach to show these men in a different light while a Maori sniper sees a Nazi crawling on the rubble where he finds a cat as the sniper becomes hesitant to kill a man who is displaying a form of humanity. The short made its premiere in 2004 through various film festivals as it would help raise Waititi’s profile.

Through his friendship with Jermaine Clement, the two collaborated on a short film that revolved around vampires living in modern-day Wellington. With Jonathan Brugh playing a vampire with Clement and Waititi, the short film would presented in a documentary style. The short would play into three vampires living their lives as they deal with what they have to do day-to-day as well as try to find blood including virgin blood. The short would also include a new vampire named Nick who would hang out with the trio along with his human friend Stu as they deal with some of the drawbacks of being a vampire. The short would premiere in 2004 as it was well-received as it would be a project Waititi and Clement would later revisit nearly a decade later.

Eagle vs. Shark

Through his work in short films, Waititi was invited to the Sundance Institute in Utah to develop ideas for what would become his feature film debut. Bringing along his then-girlfriend in actress/writer Loren Horsley to Utah, the two came up with an idea about a shy woman who begins a relationship with an eccentric oddball at a costume party as she accompanies him to his hometown to confront a childhood bully. The film would play into ideas that Waititi had flirted with in his short films in mixing comedy and tragedy as the story would eventually become this journey of a woman meeting her boyfriend’s eccentric family in a small town in New Zealand who are still coping some major loss in the family. Horsley would play the lead role of Lily while Waititi asked Clement to play the other lead in Jarrod.

Having sold the script and gaining a $1.35 million budget for the film as it would be shot in Wellington and the small town of Porirua, Waititi would also assemble a small crew that would include regular cinematographer Adam Clark, film editor Jonathan Woodford-Borinson, sound editor Dave Whitehead, and the New Zealand indie rock group the Phoenix Foundation. The casting would also feature local actors as one of them in Rachel House, who would play Jarrod’s sister Nancy, would become one of Waititi’s circle of regular actors. Production began in the fall of 2005 in New Zealand as Waititi would also call upon animators Guy Capper and Francis Salole of Another Planet Limited to create some stop-motion animated sequences for the film.

The film would play into not just the idea of loneliness and not fitting in to the world in general but also characters needing to find people or a place where they can feel like they’re at home. Even as Lily would learn more about Jarrod and his family where she also discovers the elements of tragedy as it relates to Jarrod’s brother who is only seen in pictures as he’s played by Waititi. It would play into Jarrod’s own determination to not just step out of his brother’s shadow by wanting to win over his brother’s former fiancĂ©e but also prove to his family that he’s not this loser which also includes his daughter unaware that his family feel that Lily is exactly what he needs in his life.

Following a lengthy post-production period in 2006 following its 25-day shoot in the fall of 2005, Miramax decided to buy the film for its North American release at the Cannes Film Festival where they saw the film’s five-minute preview trailer. Finally being released in June of 2007 in the U.S. and Canada in a limited release, the film did OK in the box office by barely making back its $1.35 million budget. The film’s critical response was mixed with some praising the film for its humor though some critics compared the film to the 2004 indie hit Napoleon Dynamite in the fact that both films had quirky characters. Still, the film did do well in New Zealand where it had a better reception as it did help raise Waititi’s profile.

Flight of the Conchords (TV series)-“Drive-By”/”New Fans”/”New Zealand Town”/”Evicted”

In 2007, Waititi was asked by Jermaine Clement to direct four episodes for a show Clement created with Bret McKenzie and filmmaker James Bobin that is based on Clement and McKenzie’s musical duo project Flight of the Conchords. The show revolves around Clement and McKenzie as two musicians trying to make it in New York City only to cope with all sorts of things including their incompetent band manager Murray Hewitt, played by Rhys Darby, and their sole fan in Mel who is played by Kristen Schaal. Waititi would helm four episodes in the series as the first of the four was the seventh episode of the first season entitled Drive-By in which Clement and McKenzie deal with a prejudiced fruit vender, played by Aziz Ansari, who hates New Zealanders leading to all sorts of chaos and some bad advice from their friend Dave (Arj Barker) who gets the two to stand up for themselves. The episode would also feature a subplot in which Murray falls for a tech support lady at the consulate building he works at.

For the tenth episode of the first season entitled New Fans, Clement and McKenzie were asked to play at a world music festival where they unexpectedly get new fans who raises the suspicions of their biggest fan in Mel. Clement and McKenzie would act like rock stars as Waititi would even film a song Mel sings to lament the change in the two as it wouldn’t last. For the eighth episode of the second and final season of the series in New Zealand Town, Waititi would direct an episode in which Clement and McKenzie discover the wonder of hair gel which gives them some unexpected popularity. The newfound attention would give New Zealand’s prime minister a chance to create a small section of New York City devoted to New Zealand as the episode would include famed TV star Lucy Lawless in the role of the minister’s assistant. The episode would play into that brief flirtation with fame for Clement and McKenzie until they deal with the nightmare over what happens when there is no hair gel.

For the series finale called Evicted, Clement and McKenzie deal with being evicted as they try to find a place to live as they briefly stay with Mel and her husband Doug. The episode would also have the two stage an off-Broadway musical to save their career but also deal with Mel and Doug being separated as it would lead to Clement, McKenzie, and Murray eventually returning to New Zealand. The episodes that Waititi directed would be popular as well as help give the show an immense sense of popularity despite its two-season run.


During his time developing ideas for Eagle vs. Shark at the Sundance Institute, Waititi had another idea for a project that was much more personal to him than the project that would become his first film. When it was called Choice in its early stages, Waititi was invited to the Sundance Writer’s Lab where he worked with Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, Frank Pierson, and David Benioff in coming up with ideas and develop this story set in the early 1980s in a small New Zealand bay village about two boys who deal with the return of their estranged father unaware of his true intentions. The project would go through many drafts as Waititi ended up doing Eagle vs. Shark as his first film while honing his craft as a filmmaker through other projects. After a few years of work on TV, commercials, and music videos, Waititi felt the time was right to make his sophomore film which he would retitle as Volcano.

Waititi decided to play the role of the two boys’ father in Alamein while he would call upon many of his collaborators to take part in the project including actress Rachel House in the role of Aunt Gracey. Rather than bring upon established or emerging actors, Waititi and casting director Tina Cleary chose to get locals to be part of the film with other collaborators in Craig Hall, Stu Rutherford, and Cohen Holloway in small parts and cameos. Though Waititi was hoping to shoot the film near Waihau Bay where he spent much of time growing up as a child, the region proved to be unsuitable due to the fact that the area was a popular tourist destination. Waititi would eventually find the right location as he and Cleary casted Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu as the role of the protagonist’s younger brother Rocky. Though the actor Waititi chose to play the role of Boy, Waititi would discover an unknown in James Rolleston who shown up for a costume fitting as an extra where he gave the young actor an audition and eventually giving him the lead role.

Filming took place during the spring of 2009 as Waititi would infuse elements of reality and fantasy as the latter represents Boy’s idea of what his father is doing as Waititi would draw inspiration from the music videos of Michael Jackson who was a big deal to young kids in New Zealand as there’s also a few kids in the film dressed like the King of Pop. The film would also play into Waititi’s thematic exploration of comedy/tragedy as the character of Rocky is consumed with guilt believing he killed his mother during childbirth. The film also has elements of coming-of-age and growing pains as it play into Boy dealing with the reality of who his father is and his father’s lack of compassion as he only returned home to retrieve stolen money he had hidden years ago. Yet, his reluctance to be a father for his two sons hides the fact that he’s still unable to cope with the loss of his wife who would appear in recurring flashbacks.

The film made its premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival that January as part of the World Cinema section where it was a major hit while the film would garner rave reviews. Two months later, the film was released in its native country of New Zealand where it was a major box office hit in the country as well as being a hit with the local critics. Though the film only achieved a limited release around the rest of the world, the film did manage to get some buzz through international film festivals as it would prove that Waititi is a unique voice in film.

What We Do in the Shadows

Following a contribution to the omnibus film series One 42 Dream Rush as well as directing the first season of the New Zealand TV series Super City and appearing in a small supporting role as Thomas Kalmaku in the ill-fated 2011 big-budget film version of Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds. Waititi would also get married to film producer Chelsea Winstanley as the two welcomed a daughter in 2012 named Te Kainga o Te Hinekahu Waititi. It was around this time he and longtime friend/collaborator Jermaine Clement decided to revive an idea based on their 2004 short film as it would have the same presentation as well as the same actors from the short while expanding on the ideas of vampires living in the 21st Century to play into their encounter with modernism.

With Winstanley serving as a producer for the film and helping Waititi and Clement obtain the film’s $1.6 million budget, Waititi and Clement agreed to share directing duties for the film like they did with the short as well as expand a lot of ideas that short had hinted. The film would play into three vampires living in Wellington as they try to find blood as they also deal with the shortage of virgins in the 21st Century where they transform a man into a vampire who would have a friend that would introduce the three to technology. The film also showcases a secret culture of creatures including werewolves, zombies, and other things as it is told in a documentary style by a film crew for the New Zealand government.

Waititi, Clement, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, and Stu Rutherford would reprise their roles from the short as Rutherford’s character of Stu is expanded greatly as the IT tech man named Stu who helps the vampires discover technology including the Internet. The cast include another of Waititi and Clement’s collaborator in Rhys Darby as the head of a local werewolf clan as there’s tension between vampires and werewolves. The film also showcase Waititi’s fascination with the drawbacks of immortality as his vampire longs to reunite with his soulmate whom he would watch over every now and then as she is in Wellington as an old woman. The film would mix the ideas of humor and horror with the latter being played for laughs as well as creating silly moments involving vampires fighting each other or dealing with consequences that would harm vampires where the character of Nick is being punished for his actions where the character of Viago didn’t want to do the punishment as what is unveiled prove to be one of the funniest moments in the film.

The film made its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival that January where it was a big hit as it would be played at various film festivals while being released in New Zealand and Australia in June of that year. The film’s American release took longer due to the search in finding a distributor as it was bought by various American studios including Paramount for a limited release in February 2015 where it surprisingly did well making more than $2 million in the U.S. with the rest of its worldwide grossing nearing $7 million.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

The success of What We Do in the Shadows would give Waititi not just a bigger visibility with Hollywood as Walt Disney Animation hired Waititi in writing a draft for their 2016 film Moana as the film would feature voice contributions from Waititi’s collaborators Rachel House and Jermaine Clement. Waititi’s ideas for the film were eventually scrapped though Waititi wasn’t upset about what happened as he was eager to work on another project based on a book by Barry Crump called Wild Pork and Watercress as he had been adapting the book into a script since 2005. The script went through many changes where Waititi finally found the approach in the need to tell the story as he decided to focus on the relationship between this troubled young teenager and a remote old man who both go on the run through the New Zealand bushes following a series of misunderstanding.

Waititi would be given a $4.5 million budget as well a lot of freedom of what he wanted to do as he also shuffled his crew a bit as he had gained editors Tom Eagles and Yana Gorskaya as part of his collaborative team as well as cinematographer Lachlan Milne. The casting which would include Rachel House in a key supporting role as the child welfare worker Paula and Rhys Darby as a recluse who would help the film’s protagonists. Waititi decided to cast Julian Dennison in the role of the teenager Ricky Baker as Dennison had worked with Waititi on various commercials Waititi directed. For the role of Ricky’s adopted uncle Hec, Waititi was able to get Sam Neill who had been famous for being in films such as Possession, Dead Calm, Jurassic Park, In the Mouth of Madness, and many other films while remaining in his home country of New Zealand. The part of Hec’s wife Bella went to local actress Rima Te Wiata who would provide a sense of warmth and love to the character of Ricky as well as the source of tragedy that Ricky and Hec would endure in their journey to the bushes.

The shoot lasted five weeks at locations such as Waitakere Ranges and the Central Plateau where many of the countries’ bushes are shot as Waititi wanted to explore the locations and use it as a character in the film. Especially as Hec and Ricky are joined by their dogs where they encounter all sorts of things such as nature and idiotic hunters that add to their adventure. Waititi didn’t just want to make Hec and Ricky’s growing relationship into something that is offbeat but also show these two sharing common ground in not just their encounter with tragedy but also their disdain for authorities. All of which play into these two in need of a family and to not feel lonely as it would be a recurring theme that Waititi continuously explored in his films.

The film made its premiere in January of 2016 at the Sundance Film Festival where it was a big hit as it got released in New Zealand to rave reviews as well as being a hit in the box office. While the film was later released internationally in the middle of the year including the U.S. in a limited release. The film was able to become a box office success grossing more than $23 million worldwide as well as being a major hit with film critics as the film’s critical buzz and art-house success was a big surprise for Waititi.

Team Thor/Doctor Strange mid-credits scene

During the post-production for Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Waititi was contacted by Marvel Studios’ president and film producer Kevin Feige about helming the third film about the comic hero Thor. Waititi was one of several filmmakers in consideration as they were given ideas of what Feige and the studio wanted where Waititi created a sizzle reel that ended up impressing Feige. During the development for the third film on Thor, Waititi decided to come up with an idea of a short relating to Thor’s absence over the dispute that was happening in Captain America: Civil War. The short revolved around Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, living in Australia with an officer worker named Darryl Jacobson, played by Daley Pearson, as it is told in a documentary style of sorts. Notably as Thor wants to take a break from fighting as he learns about the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America. The short would also feature a cameo from Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner who had also disappeared following the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The short premiered in July of 2016 at Comic-Con in San Diego which proved to be a major hit with fans as well as being a popular short on YouTube which prompted Waititi and Feige to make a sequel in which Thor continues to slack around in Australia while hanging out with Darryl as the short would also be popular with fans. During the post-production for Doctor Strange as Waititi is set to work on the next film about Thor, Waititi was asked to shoot a mid-credits scene in which Thor meets Doctor Steven Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, where Thor is trying to find his father. The scene wouldn’t just be a set-up for the next film about Thor but also have Doctor Strange become an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Thor: Ragnarok

While being approached about helming the third film about the Nordic mythological prince of Asgard, Waititi’s sizzle reel featured a key element that would surprise producer Kevin Feige which was the use of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song which featured a lot of Norse mythology in its lyrics as Waititi felt the song was perfect to accompany Thor. In early 2016 as Waititi would develop ideas as he would collaborate with Feige, actor Chris Hemsworth, and one of the film’s screenwriters in Eric Pearson who was re-writing ideas by the previous film’s screenwriters in Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost about where the character should go. Having seen many of the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe including the previous two films of Thor as the first one was directed by Kenneth Branagh and the second film helmed by Alan Taylor. Waititi knew they had to do something different as Hemsworth expressed wanting to show Thor in a more comical side.

While Waititi would work with an entirely different crew including the famed Spanish cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe and music composer Mark Mothersbaugh from new wave band Devo. Waititi was able to infuse his own ideas in casting with casting directors Sarah Finn and Kirsty McGregor where one of his regular actors in Rachel House was given a small but memorable supporting role as the Grandmaster’s bodyguard Topaz. Along with Sam Neill making a cameo in the film with Matt Damon, Chris’ brother Luke, Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as Doctor Strange, and Stan Lee who created the comic for Thor with Jack Kirby and Larry Leiber. Waititi also wanted to bring in an offbeat ensemble that would include Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, and Anthony Hopkins respectively reprising their roles as Loki, Heimdall, and Odin with Jeff Goldblum as the eccentric ruler of Sakaar in the Grandmaster and Cate Blanchett in the main antagonist role of Hela, the Goddess of Death.

During its development, Waititi and co-writer Eric Pearson went to Feige about having Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk into the story as a reference to Planet Hulk storyline from the mid-2000s in which the Hulk had become a champion gladiator as Mark Ruffalo agreed to appear in the film as the cast had expanded to include Tessa Thompson in the role of the former Asgardian warrior Valkyrie. Waititi would create a character that he would play through motion-capture in a rock-based gladiator named Korg who acts as a comic character for Thor to encounter as production began in mid-2016 in Australia as Hemsworth wanted to be closer to his family while at work. Though the film would be this extravagant superhero film in which Thor has to battle Hela who is revealed to be his half-sister that Odin had imprisoned for her dark ambitions. Waititi was given the chance to use the film to explore Thor coping with his shortcomings as well as the sins that his father had unfortunately kept secret.

Another aspect of the film Waititi wanted as he worked closely worth Aguirresarobe, production designers Dan Hennah and Ra Vincent, and the people in the visual/special effects department in wanting to create a look that was similar to the artwork of the late Jack Kirby. Especially in creating different looks for the planet of Asgard and Sakaar while Waititi brought in actor Stu Rutherford in creating a special lighting system for some scenes for the film. Waititi also wanted the film to be offbeat in its humor while he and Feige were successful in getting permission from the surviving members of Led Zeppelin to use Immigrant Song for two of the film’s major action scenes as well as its theatrical trailer.

Following a lengthy post-production period and re-shoots in 2017, the film was finally released in early November of 2017 where it was a huge box office hit grossing more than $854 million worldwide against its $180 million budget. The film was also a hit with critics who felt the film wasn’t just the best film about Thor but also one of the strongest entries of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film didn’t just become Waititi’s most commercially successful film but also provided him with a sense of clout and visibility in the world of cinema as someone who can create offbeat films and appeal to a wide audience.

Team Darryl

As a bonus short for the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi decided to create a sequel to the Team Thor shorts as it relates to Darryl moving to Los Angeles for his new job where he gets an unexpected housemate in the Grandmaster. The short is the most recent release from Waititi as it is told in a documentary style where Darryl copes with the Grandmaster’s oddball persona and how he deals with those don’t do what he says as he laments over Thor whom he felt was a better roommate.

Future Projects: We’re Wolves/Bubbles/Jojo Rabbit/Akira

Having created a lot of buzz and a following film buffs and film critics, it is clear that Waititi is someone that Hollywood wants to work with yet he has already attached to several projects that are in the works. Among them is a sequel to What We Do in the Shadows in We’re Wolves that would explore the werewolves living in Wellington while a TV series based on the original film is also in the works for FX that is executive produced by Scott Rudin though Waititi’s involvement on the series is uncertain. The second project Waititi is developing is a collaborative project with Mark Gustafson in a stop-motion animation bio-pic on Michael Jackson told by his pet chimpanzee Bubbles as it would mark Waititi’s foray into animation as he created animated sequences in a few of his films.

Another project he’s attached to that has attracted some controversy called Jojo Rabbit which Waititi will direct and star as Adolf Hitler who appears as a ten-year old boy’s imaginary friend during World War II. Though it’s a project that’s been developed for years since it was part of the 2012 black list of unproduced scripts, Waititi’s involvement might create something offbeat as well as baffle audiences about a German boy’s fondness for Hitler. The fourth and final project that Waititi is being attached to is a live-action version of Katsushiro Otomo’s 1988 anime cult film Akira. Though it’s unsure if Waititi will stay on board though the filmmaker wants to retain elements of Otomo’s original manga and the ethnicity of the characters in order to not whitewash anything which had been a source of controversy in relation to the 2017 film version of Ghost in the Shell.

Having made some short films, be involved in different TV projects, and with five feature films under his belt including a strong contribution to one of the most popular film universes. Taika Waititi is definitely a filmmaker with his own unique voice who can find the balance between comedy and tragedy as well as put it into places or in characters that might seem unusual at first. Yet, there is something in these films and characters whether it’s two video-game loving oddballs, boys in a rural New Zealand port town, vampires living in 21st Century Wellington, a juvenile delinquent and a cantankerous old man on the run in the bushes, or the God of Thunder in a planet full of trash that make them so endearing which allows audiences to connect with them as well as be able to laugh with them or cry whenever they deal with something. That is the gift of a storyteller and why the world of cinema is fortunate to have someone in Taika Waititi to tell these stories.

© thevoid99 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Nostalgia

For the 12th week of 2018 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer. The theme for this week is on nostalgia where it’s often about characters or something where everyone wants to look back at a moment where things were simpler and less complicated in comparison to a present-day surrounding. Here are my three picks:

1. Wild Strawberries

Ingmar Bergman’s road movie in which a professor goes on a trip with his daughter-in-law to receive an award where he reflects on his life in the past. It’s one on of Bergman’s quintessential films as well as one of his most accessible, in my opinion, as it plays into a man thinking about his time when he was young and the mistakes he’s made in his life. It’s a film that is rich and compelling as it features an incredible leading performance from Victor Sjostrom as a man haunted by his own faults and the hope to find an idea of redemption.

2. Amarcord

A classic film from Federico Fellini is a semi-biographical film about Fellini’s life growing up in a small town Italy. It’s a film that bear many of the elements that Fellini is known for such as the fascination towards women, extravagant images, childlike mischief, and innocence. All set during the era of Fascist Italy as Fellini reflects on this time in his life as there’s elements of melancholia but also a sense of joy into the innocence of childhood despite its time of darkness.

3. My Winnipeg

Guy Maddin’s 2007 film is truly a film that defies description and conventional ideas as it’s a mixture of documentary and fiction as it play into Maddin’s hometown. Told in a visual style that references home movies and newsreel, it’s a film that doesn’t try to be anything as it also pokes at legends of the town as well as lament of what used to be in Winnipeg when he was young and what it had become now. It’s a rich film that needs to be seen as it confirms Maddin as one of the true original voices in cinema.

© thevoid99 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018 Blind Spot Series: The Best Years of Our Lives

Based on the novella Glory for Me by MacKinlay Kantor, The Best Years of Our Lives is the story of three men who served in World War II as they try to readjust their lives after the war. Directed by William Wyler and screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood, the film is a study of post-war life seen by three men from different background and social classes who are forced to deal with things in the past and things around them now. Starring Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. The Best Years of Our Lives is a majestic and riveting film from William Wyler.

The film is a post-war drama set in a small town of Boone City where three different men from different military branches and social classes meet on their way home as they become friends as they cope with post-war life and trying to become civilians again. There, they all endure challenges in not just returning to their old lives but also in the changes as well as the people in their past lives. Robert E. Sherwood’s screenplay explore the struggle of these three characters and how family including the women in their lives cope with this struggle to return to civilization. The characters in Al Stephenson (Fredric March), Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) are all men that lived in the same town but never knew or encountered each other as they meet at an airport on their way home where they share a plane and meet up again later that night at a bar owned by Homer’s uncle Butch Eagle (Hoagy Carmichael) with Stephenson’s wife Milly (Myrna Loy) and daughter Peggy (Teresa Wright).

Al Stephenson was a platoon sergeant who has been married to Milly for nearly 20 years as he also worked at a bank as his story arc has him not just coping with returning to work where he becomes an alcoholic but also what his bank is doing for veterans who are asking for loans that they won’t approve. Derry’s arc as this soda pop jerk turned Air Force captain has him struggling to find good work as he doesn’t have much skills while his marriage to Marie (Virginia Mayo) becomes rocky due to her need of wanting more forcing Derry to befriend Peggy whom he’s fascinated by. The third arc on Parrish as a sailor who lost his hands and now has mechanical hooks copes with his family and girlfriend Wilma (Cathy O’Donnell) over his disability as he becomes unsure of what to do and being a burden to many. It all play into men dealing with not just returning home but wondering if they’re really home.

William Wyler’s direction does bear bits of style yet remains very intimate in the way he captures the lives of three men returning home following their time at war. Shot on various locations in Los Angeles and Hollywood, the film does play into this air of a small town life where Wyler would use some wide shots for the locations as well as some scenes at Stephenson’s home or at the bar that Butch runs. Yet, much of Wyler’s approach to the compositions aren’t in simpler, intimate shots in the close-ups and medium shots but also to establish this air of utopia in a small town that is dealing with a post-warm boom and optimism. There are moments early in the film where the three men meet as they all board the same plane as they become equal realizing they all served their country for the same reasons. Even as they meet up again unexpectedly at Butch’s bar as Milly and Peggy would meet Derry and Parrish as Peggy is aware of the demons that Derry is dealing with. The direction would feel lively to play into these three men escaping from the memories of war but when they have to deal in socializing with others or trying to readjust. Wyler’s direction would showcase this disconnect of what is going on with the main characters in the foreground and others in the background.

The direction would also play into the struggle of men in service as it relates to Stephenson talking to a former Naval officer who wants to make money for a farm as Wyler allows the conversation to take its time without the need to cut fast as it adds to Stephenson’s realization that he still has something to do. Even as he becomes aware of Peggy’s attraction towards Derry as she goes out on a double-date with a friend with Derry accompanied by his wife whom she dislikes for the way she treats her husband. Wyler also wanted to capture the sense of realism as it relates to Parrish and his struggles including a scene where he meets Derry at a store he’s working at where a man (Ray Teal) make some claims about the real reasons World War II happened which pissed both men off. It would add to this sense of alienation for the two men with Parrish unsure about his place in the world and being accepted for he is while Derry copes with being in an unloving marriage and little prospects about what to do next. It all play into three men and their loved ones pondering that idea if they can recapture the best years of their lives. Overall, Wyler crafts a riveting and touching film about three men dealing with post-war life after World War II.

Cinematographer Greg Toland does incredible work with the film’s black-and-white photography as it is rich in its imagery to some of the scenes at night including a banquet scene and a tense meeting between Derry and Stephenson over the latter’s daughter at Butch’s bar as it is a major highlight of the film. Editor Daniel Mandell does excellent work with the editing as it doesn’t rely too much on style other than a few rhythmic cuts to play into the conversations the character has without the need to cut too fast. Art directors Perry Ferguson and George Jenkins, with set decorator Julia Heron, do fantastic work with the look of Stephenson’s family apartment to the cramped apartment Derry lives with his wife as well as Butch’s bar where it becomes a meet-up of sorts for the protagonists.

Costume designer Irene Sharaff does terrific work with the costumes from the dresses that the women wear as well as the clothes that the men wear. Sound editor Gordon Sawyer does superb work with the sound as it play into the different locations as well as the scenes at the bar and at a club where Derry and his wife are on a double date with Peggy and her date. The film’s music by Hugo Friedhofer and Emil Newman is wonderful for its serene orchestral score that play into the drama as well as eerie scenes of Derry’s own memories with some lively music from the music of the times.

The film’s tremendous cast feature some notable small roles from Roman Bohnen as Derry’s father, Gladys George as Derry’s stepmother, Victor Cutler as Peggy’s date William Merrill during her double-date with Derry and Marie, Walter Baldwin and Minna Gombell as Parrish’s parents, Marlene Aames as Parrish’s sister Luella, Michael Hall as Stephenson’s teenage son Rob, Don Beddoe and Dorothy Adams as Wilma’s parents, Leo Penn as a scheduling clerk early in the film, Ray Teal as a man at the story Derry works at who makes claims about the war that upsets Derry and Parrish, and Hoagy Carmichael in a terrific small role as Parrish’s uncle Butch who runs a bar and plays piano at the bar. Cathy O’Donnell is fantastic as Parrish’s girlfriend Wilma who copes with Parrish’s isolation as she wants to help him and understand what he’s going through.

Myrna Loy is radiant as Stephenson’s wife Milly who deals with her husband’s growing alcoholism while being sympathetic in his need to help other soldiers and giving Peggy advice about her feelings for Derry. Virginia Mayo is excellent as Marie Derry as a nightclub waitress that isn’t happy about the lack of major money coming from her husband as she becomes more eager to spend money and have fun rather than sympathize with her husband’s troubles. Teresa Wright is brilliant as Peggy Stephenson as Al and Milly’s daughter who befriends Derry as she learns about his post-traumatic stress disorder that eventually lead to her feelings for Derry and disdain for his wife Marie.

Harold Russell is amazing as Petty Officer 2nd Class Homer Parrish as a sailor who lost both hands during a battle in the sea as he copes with being a burden over his mechanical hooks as well as the uncertainty of what to do next in his life. Dana Andrews is incredible as Captain Fred Derry as a bombardier with little skills who copes with not just finding work but also bad memories and being in a loveless marriage that is starting to crumble where he finds solace in Peggy though he knows it could mean trouble for his friendship with her father. Finally, there’s Fredric March in a phenomenal performance as Platoon Sergeant Al Stephenson as a former banker who copes with the aftermath of war through alcohol unsure of what to do until finding a way to help other soldiers despite having to deal with his bosses as it’s an understated yet engaging performance from March.

The Best Years of Our Lives is a spectacular film from William Wyler. Featuring a great cast, a compelling story, gorgeous visuals, and a luscious score. It’s a film that explores post-war life where three men deal with the aftermath and the struggle to readjust themselves to becoming civilians again as it’s told with elements of realism as well as an air of earned sentimentality. In the end, The Best Years of Our Lives is a magnificent film from William Wyler.

William Wyler Films: (Straight Shootin’) - (Anybody Here Seen Kelly?) - (The Shakedown) - (Hell’s Heroes) - (A House Divided (1931 film)) - (Tom Brown of Culver) - (Counsellor at Law) - (Glamour (1934 film)) - (The Good Fairy) - (The Gay Deception) - (These Three) - (Dodsworth) - (Come and Get It) - (Dead End (1937 film)) - (Jezebel) - (Wuthering Heights (1939 film)) - (The Westerner) - (The Letter) - (The Little Foxes) - (Mrs. Miniver) - (Memphis Belle: A Story of Flying Fortress) - (Thunderbolt!) - (The Heiress) - (Detective Story (1951 film)) - (Carrie (1952 film)) – Roman Holiday - (The Desperate Hours (1952 film)) – Friendly Persuasion - (The Big Country) – Ben-Hur (1959 film) - (The Children’s Hour) – (The Collector (1965 film)) – (How to Steal a Million) – (Funny Girl) – (The Liberation of L.B. Jones)

© thevoid99 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Beatriz at Dinner

Directed by Miguel Arteta and written by Mike White, Beatriz at Dinner is the story of a Mexican-American massage therapist who is unexpectedly invited to dinner by one of her clients where she finds herself dealing with an arrogant dinner guest. The film is a look into a dinner party filled with rich white people and a lone working-class Mexican-American who finds herself at a dinner where it eventually starts to unravel due to her presence. Starring Salma Hayek, Connie Britton, David Warshofsky, Chloe Sevigny, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and John Lithgow. Beatriz at Dinner is an eerie yet somber film from Miguel Arteta.

What happens when a massage therapist finds herself being a guest at a dinner party where the man who is the center of attention happens to be one of the most evil men living on Earth? That is pretty much what the film is about as it explores a day in the life of this woman named Beatriz (Salma Hayek) who spends the day doing work at a massage therapy center in helping cancer patients as she also has a rich client in Kathy (Connie Britton). Mike White’s screenplay doesn’t just explore Beatriz’s day as she copes with loss of a goat who was killed by her neighbor but also a day that feels very typical until she is asked to see Kathy who is preparing for a dinner party with her husband Grant (David Warshofsky). Beatriz’s relationship with Kathy and Grant has much to do with the fact that Beatriz had helped their daughter with her battle with cancer. Due to the fact that Beatriz’s car couldn’t start, Kathy invites Beatriz to stay for dinner where Beatriz spends much of the film being this observer as the guests at the dinner party are all white.

The guest of honor at this dinner party is the real estate mogul Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) who is this unconventional antagonist who seems to take pleasure in the money he makes as well as be arrogant in his accomplishments. Yet, Beatriz is curious over a connection she has with him as Strutt is accompanied by his wife Jeana (Amy Landecker) while a couple in Shannon (Chloe Sevigny) and Alex (Jay Duplass) are also guests at the party. Beatriz would observe everything that goes on while also telling about how she met Grant and Kathy through their daughter only to be interrupted by Strutt who would ask questions about her status in America. The dinner would eventually intensify with Kathy stuck in the middle wanting to protect Beatriz yet is aware that Strutt is the reason she and Grant are living a life of luxury as they really don’t know anything else.

Miguel Arteta’s direction doesn’t really bear much of a visual style other than recurring images of Mexico as well as Beatriz’s dead goat and ocean waves as it play into the sense of longing and loss that looms Beatriz during the course of the day. While there are some wide shots in the film including the way Arteta would frame some of the characters in a scene inside Kathy and Grant’s home as a way to show how detached everyone else is to Beatriz’s life and Beatriz herself. It’s also the way Arteta would use close-ups and medium shots to play into Beatriz’s own observation of this party as well as the guests who don’t know her at all as they find her interesting but are concerned about their own lives and what’s going to happen. Yet, with Strutt being the center of attention talking about his accomplishments and ultra-conservative views on the world. Beatriz would eventually find herself becoming more disgusted with him and who he is as a human being.

Arteta’s approach to the suspense and drama is restrained as well as it play into Beatriz being this outsider who would realize more of her connection to Strutt and his actions towards the world. There are these brief moments of intense moments of confrontation but it is all about the status quo as there’s elements of realism that Beatriz has to deal with as it relates to who she is and the ways of the world. Despite the things Strutt says and his actions about what he does, there is still an air of defiance and dignity in Beatriz in how Arteta would frame her as it does play into her place in the world. Overall, Arteta crafts a riveting and understated film about a Mexican-American massage therapist being a guest in a dinner party with one of the vilest men in the world.

Cinematographer Wyatt Garfield does excellent work with the film’s cinematography for the usage of low-key lights for the scenes in the daytime as well as the look for the scenes at night including its interior/exterior setting. Editor Jay Deuby does fantastic work with the editing as it does have bit of styles in the usage of the recurring flashbacks in some stylized transitions as well as some rhythmic cuts to play into the drama. Production designer Ashley Fenton and set decorator Madelaine Frezza do amazing work with the look of Kathy and Grant’s home in how lavish it is as well as the look of their daughter’s room. Costume designer Christina Blackaller does wonderful work with the costumes as it play into the ordinary look of Beatriz to the more posh look of Kathy and her friends.

Visual effects supervisors George Loucas and Scott Mitchell do nice work with the visual effects as it is largely minimal for some exterior set dressing including images that Beatriz would see. The sound work of Dan Snow is superb for its low-key atmosphere in the dinner scenes as well as how Beatriz would observe guests outside the house as she is listening to their conversations. The film’s music by Mark Mothersbaugh is terrific for its low-key approach to the music with its mixture of ambient, soft keyboard-based music, and somber orchestral music to play into the melancholia while music supervisor Margaret Yen provides a low-key soundtrack filled with kitsch music played in the background as well as an ambient piece by Brian Eno.

The casting by Joanna Colbert and Meredith Tucker is amazing as it features a few small roles from John Early as Grant and Kathy’s servant and Enrique Castillo as a tow truck driver. Jay Duplass and Chloe Sevigny are superb in their respective roles as the couple Alex and Shannon with the former being someone who likes to drink and do immature things while the latter is a snobbish woman who believes she has a lot to offer. Amy Landecker is fantastic as Strutt’s wife Jeana as a woman who doesn’t really know much about the world as well as being ignorant about everything she has. David Warshofsky is excellent as Kathy’s husband Grant who isn’t keen on having Beatriz at the dinner party but reluctantly gives in since Beatriz did a lot for his daughter.

Connie Britton is brilliant as Kathy as a woman who is kind of Beatriz though she’s is torn in her loyalty to Strutt for the lifestyle he’s brought to her and Grant as well as what Beatriz meant to her as it’s a tricky performance from Britton who could’ve been a one-dimensional character but shows there’s still an air of humanity despite her ignorance of what Beatriz is going through. John Lithgow is incredible as Doug Strutt as it’s a performance that just oozes this air of inhumanity, arrogance, and disdain as someone who is proud of what he’s done with little regard for what other people think and whom he’s hurt as it is one of Lithgow’s great performances. Finally, there’s Salma Hayek in a phenomenal performance as the titular character as a Mexican-American massage therapist who becomes an unexpected dinner guest as she deals with the other guests including Strutt whom she would despise as the night goes on as it’s a restrained performance from Hayek that shows a woman who’s endured so much loss and heartache as it’s Hayek in one of her defining performances.

Beatriz at Dinner is a sensational film from Miguel Arteta that features top-notch performances from Salma Hayek and John Lithgow. Featuring a compelling script by Mike White, a superb ensemble supporting cast, and a look into a world that is toxic with the person at the center of attention mirrors a certain figure who is probably the most hated individual of the 21st Century so far. In the end, Beatriz at Dinner is a spectacular film from Miguel Arteta.

Miguel Arteta Films: (Star Maps) – (Chuck & Buck) – (The Good Girl) – (Youth in Revolt) – Cedar Rapids - (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) – (Duck Butter)

© thevoid99 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

Boy (2010 film)

Written, directed, and co-starring Taika Waititi, Boy is the story of two brothers who learn their father is returning as they deal with his arrival as well as growing pains as it relates to the death of their mother. The film is a coming-of-age film set in a small town in New Zealand in 1984 as two boys don’t just cope with loss but also deal with fantasy and reality as it relates to their father returning home. Also starring James Rolleston, Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu, Moerangi Tihore, Rachel House, and Cherilee Martin. Boy is a touching yet whimsical film from Taika Waititi.

The film follows two young boys living in the small New Zealand town near the Bay of Plenty region where they get an unexpected from their absentee father believing he’s going back to be a full-time father unaware of his real intentions of returning home. It’s a film that blur the ideas of fantasy and reality where it’s the former that surrounds the mind of its titular protagonist (James Rolleston) who believes his father Alamein (Taika Waititi) is doing all sorts of things such as being a war hero, an artist, and all sorts of things though he does know that his father has also been in prison. When Alamein does return home while his mother has gone to Wellington to attend a funeral leaving Boy to watch over his little brother Rocky (Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu) and their cousins. Taika Waititi’s screenplay opens with Boy telling these stories during a day in school as he is someone filled with a lot of fantasies in his head as well as the belief that his father met Michael Jackson whom he and many of the kids in the town idolize.

Boy and Rocky live with their grandmother and cousins as their mother had died giving birth to the latter as the memories of her passing would recur in Alamein and Boy’s mind as it’s something neither want to deal with. For Rocky, he is consumed with guilt over the idea that his arrival killed his mother where he believes he has special powers while he is suspicious about his father’s return. Alamein would return with a couple of friends who are part of his gang as he would take Boy under his wing in the hope he can find what he claims is buried treasure. Boy is also someone trying to deal with the idea of winning over a classmate in Chardonnay (RickyLee Waipuka-Russell) as well as be one of the cool kids despite having friends who are also outcasts of sorts because they’re oddballs. During the course of the story, Boy would help his father find the buried treasure as he would call him Shogun while Rocky would watch from a distance as he befriends a local eccentric named Weirdo (Waihoroi Shortland).

Waititi’s direction does have elements of style yet it does have this balance of grounded reality as he shoots the film on location at the Bay of Plenty region in New Zealand. With a cast that largely consists of Maori-based locals, Waititi would make a film that is more about oddballs and their surroundings that is completely removed from more conventional ideas of society in well-known cities like Auckland and Wellington. While Waititi would use a lot of wide shots of the locations, Waititi would also use close-ups and medium shots to establish the characters and their own encounter with someone or something. Even as he would create recurring compositions to mix in with the idea of Boy’s fantasy about his father and the reality of who he is. Notably as Waititi would create these whimsical scenes of fantasy including re-creation of sets that pay tribute to the music videos of Michael Jackson during the Thriller era with kids wearing clothes similar to what Jackson wore during that time.

The film also features bits of hand-drawn Crayola animated sequences as it relates to Rocky’s own guilt and belief that he has powers where it carries an air of innocence into not just the ideas of fantasy but also what Rocky believe his father and brother are feeling as it relates to his late mother. Even as the third act does have Rocky eventually warming up to his father though with a sense of caution while Boy would also have to cope with the realities of the world as well as what he did find. Yet, it would also feature these moments where it is clear that Boy’s perception of who his father starts to unravel as Alamein is really a child in his own ways as someone who is still hung up on causing trouble and not taking responsibility. All of which plays into the fact that he is unable to face the truth about his wife’s death as well as playing a role in what he’s supposed to be for Boy and Rocky. Overall, Waititi crafts a charming yet heartfelt film about a boy dealing with the return of his estranged father.

Cinematographer Adam Clark does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it is very colorful in capturing the look of the New Zealand bushes and locations by emphasizing on the natural look while infusing some stylish lighting for the fantasy scenes as well as a few scenes at night. Editor Chris Plummer does excellent work with the editing as it does have elements of style in the jump-cuts and other stylish cuts to play into the humor as well as some of the film’s dramatic moments. Production designer Shayne Radford does amazing work with the look of the recreation fantasy scenes as well as the sense of realism in the look of the locations to play into a world that is ordinary but also unique in its own way. Costume designer Amanda Neale does fantastic work with the costumes as it does bear into bits of style in what was cool during the 1980s with some more lavish work for the fantasy scenes.

Hair/makeup designer Dannelle Satherley does terrific work with the look of the characters including the hairstyle of the times including Boy’s haircut to look a bit like Michael Jackson. Visual effects supervisor Brett Johansen does nice work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it relates to some of the fantasy scenes as well as the animated sequences. Sound designer Tim Prebble does superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as the sound effects in some of the fantasy scenes. The film’s music by Lukasz Pawel Buda, Samuel Scott, and Conrad Wedde of the Phoenix Foundation is wonderful for its low-key mixture of folk and indie rock that play into some of the adventurous moments as well as the moments of melancholia while music supervisors Chris Gough and Jonathan Hughes provide an array of offbeat music including the music of the times from acts like Musical Youth, Patea Maori Club, Herbs, Prince Tui Teka, St. Josephs Maori Girls Choir, and the Ratana Senior Concert Party.

The casting by Tina Cleary is incredible as it feature some notable small roles from Mavis Paenga as Boy and Rocky’s grandmother who is also Alamein’s mother who goes away to attend a funeral, Cohen Holloway and Pana Hema Taylor as two of Alamein’s friends/cohorts in their respective roles in Chuppa and Juju, Craig Hall as Boy’s school principal Mr. Langston who believes Boy has some potential to do more, Manihera Ranguiaia as a bully in Kingi, Darcy Ray Flavell-Hudson as Kingi’s older brother who wants to be in Alamein’s gang, Rajvinder Eria and Maakariini Butler as a couple of Boy’s friends in their respective roles as Tane and Murray, and Rachel House in a terrific small role as Boy and Rocky’s aunt Gracey who runs a local store and does all sorts of things while isn’t entirely fond of Alamein.

Waihoroi Shortland is superb as the local eccentric Weirdo who is believed to be mentally challenged as he is always trying to find things in a river when he’s really just a harmless man that Rocky befriends. Cherilee Martin is excellent as Boy and Rocky’s young cousin Kelly who is suspicious about her uncle’s return as she finds herself having to take care of her younger sisters when Boy spends time with his father. Moerangi Tihore and Haze Reweti are fantastic as the siblings in their respective roles in Dynasty and Dallas with the former as a girl who has feelings for Boy while the latter is an oddball who is Boy’s best friend. RickyLee Waipuka-Russell is wonderful as Chardonnay as Boy’s crush who is also a schoolmate that becomes interested in Boy because of his father and the people he brings in.

Taika Waititi is brilliant as Alamein as a man who returns home for selfish reasons where he tries to play dad only to use Boy in finding his treasure and lead his gang as they would eventually get in trouble. Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu is amazing as Rocky as 7 year old boy who believes he has super powers as he copes with the idea that he killed his mother in childbirth while becoming suspicious over his dad’s return as it’s an understated yet mature performance from the young actor. Finally, there’s James Rolleston is remarkable in his role as the titular character as a 11 year old boy who has a wild imagination into what he thinks his father is doing as he hopes he can be cool while later dealing with growing pains and memories of his mother which he is unable to cope with that loss and the realities of who his father really is.

Boy is a phenomenal film from Taika Waititi. Featuring a great cast, beautiful images, a compelling story, and a lively film soundtrack. It’s a coming-of-age film that showcases two boys dealing with the return of their father and sense of loss while dealing with the ideas of fantasy. In the end, Boy is a sensational film from Taika Waititi.

Taika Waititi Films: Two Cars, One Night - Eagle vs. Shark - What We Do in the Shadows - Hunt for the Wilderpeople - Thor: Ragnarok - Auteurs #64: Taika Waititi

© thevoid99 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks: Childhood Favorites

For the 11th week of 2018 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer. The subject is on films that anyone liked when they were children. It’s often movies that one can look back with a certain fondness as well as have some memory of when they saw it and their sense of joy for it. Here are my three picks:

1. Follow that Bird

I was five-six years old when this film was playing constantly on HBO. It’s a film that still holds a place in my heart as it had everything I liked at the time. Muppets, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, and cameo appearances from Chevy Chase and John Candy. It’s a film that revolves around Big Bird having to move from Sesame Street to live with a bird family by some adoption agency. Yet, Big Bird wants to stay in Sesame Street as it’s a mixture of road adventure film with the rest of the gang from Sesame Street go and get him back while a couple of smarmy circus organizers try to retrieve him for their own money-making act.

2. The Great Muppet Caper

Another favorite of mine when I was a few years old as it’s a film I still love to watch as it revolves around the Muppets involved in a case of theft in London. It has Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear as twin brothers who are journalists working on an assignment with the Great Gonzo as they have to deal with the lecherous Charles Grodin trying to steal jewels and later pin it on Miss Piggy. It’s a fun film with great cameos from John Cleese, Peter Ustinov, Jack Warden, and Peter Falk.

3. The Goonies

If anyone who reads this blog and doesn’t think this is one of the finest films ever made….. FUCK YOU!!!!! This is a childhood staple about a group of kids trying to find a secret treasure somewhere in the Pacific Northwest to save their town from being bought out by some rich asshole and douchebag little shit of a son. Along the way, they have to deal with a family of thieves and all sorts of shit while being aided by a deformed man who is related to the thieves as it’s just a whole lot of fun. I’m still waiting for the sequel.

© thevoid99 2018