Saturday, September 23, 2017

Shine a Light

Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shine a Light is a concert-documentary film that chronicles the band’s performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York City in 2006 during the Bigger Bang tour as it includes archival footage from other films and backstage footage. The film showcases the band celebrating their longevity as they’re joined by special guests in Jack White of the White Stripes, Christina Aguilera, and blues legend Buddy Guy. The result is an enthralling and lively film from Martin Scorsese.

On October 29 and November 1, 2006, the Rolling Stones played two shows at the Beacon Theatre in New York City as the second show was filmed by Martin Scorsese who wants to present the ultimate concert film of one of his all-time favorite bands. While it is mainly a film that shows the band playing some of their hits as well as some beloved album cuts, it does show footage behind the scenes where the band and Scorsese talk about how to film the concert as well as including footage from the past as it relates to the band’s notoriety. Scorsese would appear early in the film through black-and-white footage of scenes backstage about the staging and how to light the show as he and cinematographer Robert Richardson discuss what to do.

Much of the concert footage is shot on digital with Richardson leading the way with an array of esteemed cinematographers as camera operators such as Emmanuel Lubezki, Ellen Kuras, and John Toll as well as filmmaker Albert Maysles being an onstage cameraman. There is an air of excitement in the performances with vocalist Mick Jagger displaying a ferocity in how he moves which is astonishing for someone who was in his 60s during the performance. Guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood are also displaying a sense of energy into their performance while drummer Charlie Watts remains this strong force on the drums. Aided by other musicians such as keyboardist Chuck Leavell, bassist Daryl Jones, saxophonist Bobby Keys, backing vocalists Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler, and a few others. The Stones prove that they still have that sense of power as their music is aided by the masterful sound mixing of Bob Clearmountain who is aided by sound editors Fred Rosenberg and Philip Stockton for the audio cuts to mix in with some of the archival footage.

The guest performances from Jack White on Loving Cup, Buddy Guy on Champagne & Reefer, and Christina Aguilera on Live with Me are among some of the highlights while the film also features an appearance from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, his wife Hilary, and family who had the two shows used as a benefit for Clinton’s charity in the Clinton Foundation as they’re joined by Poland’s then-president Aleksander Kwasniewski for the concerts.

Editor David Tideschi does excellent work in capturing the energy of the shows while allowing the chance to not delve too much into some fast-cutting style that is common with music videos in order to get a sense of what is happening on the stage. The visual effects work of Sam Khorshid does nice work on the lone visual effects which are these crane shots towards the exterior of the Beacon Theatre and out for the ending which features the Stones’ logo as the moon.

Shine a Light is a spectacular concert film from Martin Scorsese. Not only is it an entertaining film with great music and performances but it also captures the Rolling Stones still managing to play incredible music at a time when many artists in their age group would’ve retired or slow themselves down. In the end, Shine a Light is a phenomenal film from Martin Scorsese.

Related: Sympathy for the Devil (One Plus One) - Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus - Crossfire Hurricane

Martin Scorsese Films: (Who’s That Knocking on My Door?) – (Street Scenes) – (Boxcar Bertha) – (Mean Streets) – (Italianamerican) – Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Taxi Driver - (American Boy: A Profile on Steven Prince) – (New York, New York) – (The Last Waltz) – Raging Bull - The King of Comedy - (After Hours) – The Color of Money - The Last Temptation of Christ - New York Stories-Life Lessons - (Goodfellas) – Cape Fear (1991 film) - The Age of Innocence (1993 film) - (A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies) – (Casino) – (Kundun) – (My Voyage to Italy) – Bringing Out the Dead - (The Blues-Feel Like Going Home) – Gangs of New York - (The Aviator) – (No Direction Home) – The Departed - Shutter Island - (A Letter to Elia) – (Public Speaking) - George Harrison: Living in the Material World - Hugo (2011 film) - The Wolf of Wall Street - (The Fifty Year Argument) – (Silence (2016 film)) – (The Irishman (2018 film))

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

Daddy's Home

Directed by Sean Anders and screenplay by Anders, Brian Burns, and John Morris from a story by Burns, Daddy’s Home is the story of a mild-mannered man who finds himself having to compete for the attention of his step-children once their father appears to try and put himself into their relationship. The film is a comedy that pits father against stepfather all to try and see who can be the best father. Starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Bobby Cannavale, Hannibal Burress, and Thomas Haden Church. Daddy’s Home is a funny and exciting film from Sean Anders.

The film is a simple story of a man who works as an executive at a smooth-jazz radio station as he had been a stepfather to a couple of kids for years as he is trying whatever he can to help them when that all changes when his wife’s former husband arrives for a visit and all hell breaks loose. What happens is that it becomes this kind of mental competition and one-upmanship between two men who both want to become the best father to these two kids. The film’s screenplay by Sean Anders, Brian Burns, and John Morris doesn’t just explore the two different men in this scenario in the mild-mannered and sensitive Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) and the more macho and adventurous Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) in how they deal with each other but also in their idea of raising kids. Watching all of this is Brad’s wife Sara (Linda Cardellini) who married Dusty many years ago but divorced due to his immaturity and lack of commitment to family as she isn’t sure if Dusty is really there for noble reasons. Even though Brad finds Dusty intimidating physically and mentally, Dusty would see what Brad can bring to the table as it would force him to raise his gain but also deal with the challenges in being a full-time father.

Sean Anders’ direction is very straightforward in terms of the compositions he creates as well as emphasizing on a few stylish moments in the film such as a skateboarding sequence with the usage of the GoPro camera. Still, Anders just goes for something simple as the film is shot mainly in and around New Orleans as it does have a few wide shots though Anders would favor medium shots and close-ups to focus on the characters and the comedic moments. Some of these moments involve Brad trying to upstage Dusty by doing crazy stunts only for it to go wrong as it does deliver. Anders would wisely know not to emphasize too much on gags in order to focus on Brad and Dusty to get an understanding on fatherhood as it would it add a common goal for these two men. Notably a scene where Brad and Dusty help the latter’s son Dylan (Owen Wilder Vaccaro) in dealing with a bully as well as wanting to dance with Dusty’s daughter Megan (Scarlett Estevez) for an upcoming father-daughter dance at her school shows that these two men do bring the best in each other. Overall, Anders creates a charming and hilarious film about a stepfather competing with a father for the affection of their children.

Cinematographer Julio Macat does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it’s straightforward for many of the daytime exterior/interior scenes with some lights for the scenes at night. Editors Eric Kissack and Brad Wilhite do nice work with the editing as it has elements of style with some of the rhythmic cuts to play into the humor as well as some of the gags. Production designer Clayton Hartley, with set decorator Jan Pascale and Elliott Glick, does fantastic work with the look of the home that Brad and Sara live with the children as well as the look of the few places they go to. Costume designer Carol Ramsey does terrific work with the costumes as it is mostly casual from the sweater vest look of Brad to the more rugged look of Dusty.

Visual effects supervisor Paul Linden does very good work with some of the film’s visual effects as it relate to a few of the big gags in the film as it relates to Brad trying to one-up Dusty. Sound editors Andrew DeCristofaro and Michael Payne does superb work with the sound as it if straightforward to play into the atmosphere of some of the locations including a basketball arena and other locations for the activities Brad does with the kids. The film’s music by Michael Andrews is wonderful for its mixture of jazz and light-hearted orchestral music to play into the film’s humor while music supervisors Dave Jordan and Jojo Villanueva create a fun soundtrack that features an array of music from the Pixies, AC/DC, Metallica, the Hives, Jay-Z, the Offspring, the Commodores, T.I. with Rihanna, the Temptations, and Leo Sayer.

The casting by Allison Jones is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Paul Scheer as a basketball radio DJ, Chris Henchy as a smooth jazz DJ, Hannibal Burress as a handyman named Griff who would be at the house due to befriending Dusty, and Bobby Cannavale in a funny performance as Dr. Emilio Fernandez as the famed fertility doctor who checks on Brad as he also knows Dusty. Owen Wilder Vacarro and Scarlett Estevez are fantastic in their respective roles as Dylan and Megan Mayron as two kids who aren’t fond of Brad as they’re excited to have their father around as they go to both of them for advice. Thomas Haden Church is excellent as Brad’s boss Leo Holt who gives Brad some bad advice as well as tell some hilarious stories of his own failures in the marriages he had been in.

Linda Cardellini is brilliant as Sara Whitaker as Brad’s wife/Dusty’s ex-wife who isn’t initially fond of having Dusty around though she realizes that he is trying to prove to be a good father while wanting to have another child despite the fact Brad might not be able to. Mark Wahlberg is incredible as Dusty Mayron as a rugged guy who does all sorts of things that makes him popular as he tries to do whatever he can to win back his children by playing mind games with Brad while dealing with his own faults as a father. Finally, there’s Will Ferrell in a marvelous as Brad Whitaker as a radio executive who is trying to win over Dylan and Megan as well as understanding them where he feels threatened by Dusty forcing to try all sorts of things where it’s a manic and wild performance from Ferrell.

Daddy’s Home is a remarkable film from Sean Anders that features great performances from Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Along with its supporting cast, engaging story, and some very funny moments, it’s a film that isn’t just enjoyable for families but also a comedy that is edgy but also sensible for children. In the end, Daddy’s Home is an amazing film from Sean Anders.

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Comedies That Aren't Funny

For the third 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 comedies as it’s a genre that is aimed at one thing. Making audiences laugh. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to follow that rule as some either try too hard while some just cater to the lowest common denominator. Here are my three picks:

1. Freddy Got Fingered

For a while in the late 90s/early 2000s, there was a period where Tom Green was funny as it included The Bum Song and his small role in Road Trip. Then came this film that he starred, wrote, and directed that well… made people wonder was this guy funny to begin with? It’s about this wannabe animator who is trying to impress his dad by doing stupid things and then accuses him of molesting his younger brother. From then on, it goes from one awful gag to moments that are just extremely awful in terms of taste. For anyone who thought Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom was fucked up for the extremes it took. Wrong, Tom Green outdoes Pasolini but in the name of stupidity.

2. The Heartbreak Kid

The Farrelly Brothers used to be the funniest guys making movies but ever since 2001’s Shallow Hal, they went on to make movies ranging from mediocre to just downright awful as their remake of Elaine May’s film is one of the worst films ever made. It’s just lazy in terms of trying to make people laugh with the same gags whether it’s Malin Akerman being annoying, Danny McBride going nuts, Carlos Mencia doing the same joke, and Ben Stiller being the victim of these jokes. It’s a film that is just downright stupid and showcases the Farrelly Brothers at their worst as they did manage to get someone named Shawn Michaels to be in the film. Unfortunately, it’s not the man who is known as the Showstopper, the Icon, the Headliner, the Main Event, and Mr. WrestleMania himself.

3. Meet the Spartans

For anyone that wondered why there hasn’t been a lot of spoof films lately, that is easy because we can thank two assholes for that in Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Their spoof/parody movies don’t just cater to the lowest common denominator in trying to get a cheap laugh but it’s done with really no effort despite the money that is given to them. In this film that is a spoof of 300, it’s just one lame gag after another and then repeat. Oh, let’s have Carmen Electra pose provocatively for this scene. Let’s include some people playing famous people in this scene or let’s have a dance number in this scene. Porno filmmakers are more talented than these morons as they have to make their films with a limited budget and a script that lacks subtext but at least you respect them for trying to entertain and titillate their audience. Friedberg and Seltzer do none of those things as they don’t deserve to be called filmmakers or bad filmmakers as bad filmmakers at least do whatever they can to create something awful with some effort. Friedberg and Seltzer are much worse as they’re just scumbags.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Creed (2015 film)

Directed by Ryan Coogler and screenplay by Coogler and Aaron Covington from a story by Coogler that is based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone, Creed is the story of a young man who is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps as he seeks the help from his father’s greatest opponent in Rocky Balboa. The film is a spin-off of sorts of the Rocky series that has Balboa return to the world of boxing but as a mentor to the son of his greatest opponent while he is fighting his own personal battles as Stallone reprises his role as Balboa with Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed. Also starring Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris, Tony Bellew, Graham McTavish, and Phylicia Rashad. Creed is a thrilling and evocative film from Ryan Coogler.

The film follows a young man named Adonis Johnson who learns at a young age that he’s the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed from Creed’s widow Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad) who adopts him hoping he would get the chance of a life without any complications. Yet, Adonis yearns to fight like the father he never knew as he travels from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to meet the man who was considered his father’s greatest opponent in Rocky Balboa who had disconnected himself from the world of boxing as he’s reluctant to return to that world. The film’s screenplay by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington definitely provide some insight into who Apollo Creed was before he fought Balboa as well as the fact that he was a flawed man who cheated on his wife just before he died. Yet, it is more about this young man in Adonis who is trying to make his own mark without using his father’s namesake as he wants to do it on his own despite the fact that he’s given a great education, a stable job, and a home that many struggling boxers would want.

Unfortunately, Adonis still has a chip of his shoulder of not feeling wanted nor feeling like he has an identity as he turns to Balboa for help who has his own reasons for not wanting to train him. Still, Balboa sees the passion in Adonis and the hunger to fight as he would train and mentor him while Adonis finds his footing in Philadelphia where he embarks on a relationship with a young R&B singer named Bianca (Tessa Thompson) where they both live in the same building. The script doesn’t just play into Adonis coming into his own as a boxer and a person but also Balboa struggling with the past as well as the fact that he’s becoming sick forcing him to confront his own mortality having already lost so many people in his life. The film’s climax does involve a big fight where Adonis not only has to accept his namesake but also fight a top fighter who is about to go into forced retirement due to an impending prison sentence.

Coogler’s direction is stylish in terms of not just some of the compositions but also in the way he would create scenes in the film. Shot mainly in Philadelphia with some of it in Los Angeles as well as the film’s climax in Liverpool, the film does have a somewhat worldly feel yet it is grounded in the streets as it play into Adonis’ need to connect with the real world as he is first seen as a child fighting with another boy at juvenile center where he would meet Mary Anne Creed for the first time. Much of the direction is intimate as Coogler would use a lot of medium shots and close-ups to play into Adonis’ encounter with people including scenes with Bianca as they’re both individuals fighting to reach a certain dream as well as having similar struggles as Bianca wears hearing aids in her ear due to some disease. That sense of grounding in Coogler’s direction gives the film an air of authenticity that often lacks in boxing films while using Philadelphia as this epicenter of an array of diverse cultures.

While there are some wide shots in some scenes, Coogler’s approach to directing the few fights in the film are stylish as the first major professional fight for Adonis against a top contender from Philadelphia is shot entirely in one-take for two rounds with a long tracking shot with Steadicam cameras to capture the fight. It’s among a few moments in the film where Coogler would create something that feels technical but also add a realism to what goes on inside the ring. The direction does have a few visual references to the Rocky films yet it remains all about Adonis and what he has to fight for in the film’s climax where he goes up against the light heavyweight world champ in “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew) as it carries a lot of weight into what is at stake. Overall, Coogler crafts an enthralling and rapturous film about a young man trying to make his own mark in the world with the help of the man who gave his father one of his great fights.

Cinematographer Maryse Alberti does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on natural lighting for many of the scenes set in the daytime along with some stylish lights for some of the interior scenes set at night. Editor Michael P. Shawver and Claudia Castello does excellent work with the stylish cuts as it has elements of jump-cut and slow-motion cuts to play into the drama as well as the training montages and the fights. Production designer Hannah Beachler, with art directors Danny Brown and Jesse Rosenthal plus set decorator Amanda Carroll, does fantastic work with the look of the house that Mary Anne lives in as well as the apartment that Adonis lives in at Philadelphia as well as the gyms that he goes to with Balboa. Costume designers Antoinette Messam and Emma Potter do terrific work with the costumes as it is mostly casual to play into the look of winter-time Philadelphia as well as the look of the boxing trunks Adonis and other fighters would wear.

Visual effects supervisors Alison O’Brien and Dean Wright do nice work with the film’s minimal visual effects as it is mainly used for the film’s climax for the size of the crowd in some shots of the film. Sound editor Benjamin A. Burtt does amazing work with the sound in the way some of the punches are presented as well as the sound of the crowds in the fights and the way music is heard at the apartment Adonis is living in. The film’s music by Ludwig Goransson is superb for its mixture of orchestral bombast with elements of R&B grooves, hip-hop beats, and electronic textures to play into the local atmosphere of Philadelphia while including elements of Bill Conti’s score music from the Rocky films while music supervisor Gabe Hilfer creates a fun soundtrack that consists of blues, R&B, and hi-hop from acts such as Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, 2Pac, the Roots with John Legend, Meek Mill, and several others from the Philadelphia hip-hop and R&B music scene.

The casting by Kathy Driscoll and Francine Maisler is incredible as it feature some notable appearances and small roles from the famed cut man Jason “Stich” Duran as Adonis’ cut man, Andre Ward and Gabriel Rosado as a couple of light heavyweight fighters Adonis encounters with, Alex Henderson as the young Adonis, Ritchie Coster as one of Rocky’s old opponents in Pete Sporino who is now a trainer whose son is a fighter training at Rocky’s old gym, and Wood Harris as Tony “Duke” Evers’ son Tony Jr. who runs a gym in L.A. that isn’t keen on training Adonis as he’s training another fighter that was supposed to fight Conlan. Tony Bellew is terrific as the light heavyweight champion “Pretty” Ricky Conlan as a top boxer who likes to talk trash as well as be trouble as he would become Adonis’ top opponent hoping to beat him.

Graham McTavish is superb as Conlan’s manager/trainer Tommy Holiday as a man who is trying to take care of Conlan’s business as well as be the one to set the fight against Adonis. Phylicia Rashad is fantastic as Mary Anne Creed as Apollo’s widow and Adonis’ stepmother who is not keen on having Adonis follow in his father’s footsteps as well as wanting to protect him from being beaten as she has to accept the fact that he is his father’s son. Tessa Thompson is excellent as Bianca as an R&B singer-songwriter trying to make it as she befriends Adonis and becomes his girlfriend while trying to understand his struggle towards his father’s legacy and other issues in his life.

Sylvester Stallone is phenomenal as Rocky Balboa as the former boxing legend who has retired as he reluctantly becomes Adonis’ trainer and mentor while dealing with his own mortality as Stallone provides some charm and wit but also a humility and grace of a man facing his life and the guilt over the loss of one of his greatest friends. Finally, there’s Michael B. Jordan in a sensational performance as Adonis Johnson-Creed as the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed who is trying to define his own legacy as he struggles with his identity as it’s a performance with some humility and charisma but also a grounding as a young man coping with the legacy of the man he never knew.

Creed is a tremendous film from Ryan Coogler that features great performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. Along with its incredible ensemble cast, top-notch direction, gritty visuals, and a hypnotic soundtrack, it’s a film that isn’t just a worthy entry into the Rocky series but also a boxing film that explores a young man trying to find himself in and out of the ring. In the end, Creed is a spectacular film from Ryan Coogler.

Ryan Coogler Films: Fruitvale Station - (Black Panther (2018 film))

Rocky Films: Rocky - (Rocky II) – (Rocky III) – (Rocky IV) – (Rocky V) – (Rocky Balboa) – (Creed II)

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hello, My Name is Doris

Directed by Michael Showalter and written by Showalter and Laura Terruso that is based on two short films by Terruso, Hello, My Name is Doris is the story of a woman in her 60s who falls for a much-younger co-worker as she tries to woo him as well as become independent from her family and older friends. The film is an exploration of a woman trying to put some spark in her life as she goes after a man who is young enough to be her grandson. Starring Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly, Beth Behrs, Natasha Lyonne, Stephen Root, Elizabeth Reaser, and Wendi McLendon-Covey. Hello, My Name is Doris is a delightful and charming film from Michael Showalter.

The film follows a shy and eccentric woman whose mother had just died as she falls for a new and much-younger co-worker in his 20s as she tries to figure out how to get his attention. It’s a film that explores a woman who is given a new jolt in life through this young man as she tries to understand what he likes and what he does while she is coping with the loss of her mother as well as being known as a hoarder of things she finds and brings to her home. The film’s screenplay by Michael Showalter and Laura Terruso shows the world that Doris (Sally Field) is in as someone who has collected so many things at her home as she wears quirky yet colorful clothes, sports a weave, and sometimes wears two glasses to read things. Yet, Doris lives alone despite the offer from her younger brother Todd (Stephen Root) to live at his home with his wife Cynthia (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and their two kids as well as sell the house.

Doris refuses as she spends much of her time with longtime friend Roz (Tyne Daly) who has spent much of her time raising her 13-year old granddaughter Vivian (Isabelle Acres) since her daughter is in prison awaiting a parole hearing. When Doris meets this young man in John Fremont (Max Greenfield), she falls head over heels for him as she turns to Vivian for help on things about him as well as creating a fake Facebook account and getting advice from a self-help guru. Learning about what music he likes and other interests, she does whatever he can to get to know him and be with him as there are these moments of fantasy into what Doris would see life with John is like yet she would have to contend with reality. Not only for the fact that she’s in her 60s and John is in his 20s but also other realities that include reasons into why she’s a hoarder and how this pursuit of John has alienated friends and family.

Michael Showalter’s direction is very straightforward as it opens with the funeral of Doris and Todd’s mother as it play into how odd Doris is in the way she looks as well as how she’s coping with the loss. Shot largely in Los Angeles though many of the exteriors are shot in New York City where the film is set, Showalter mainly goes for intimate compositions with the usage of medium shots and close-ups while exploring the world of modern-day New York City youth culture such as indie music, EDM, and other places that hipsters are known to frequent at. There are moments in the film where Showalter would create these moments of fantasy as it relates to Doris’ reaction towards John as it is playful. There are also moments in the film that showcase the humor very naturally such as the scene where Doris is eating dinner at Todd’s home where she’s wearing odd clothes because she’s about to attend a EDM concert with John later in the night. It’s among these weird moments that has Doris be part of a world she has no clue of what it’s about yet they would include her as they think she’s really cool. The film’s tone does change in the third act as it relates to not just the reality that Doris is facing about herself but also John and his own life as it’s filled with things that she doesn’t really know about him or what he wants in his life. Overall, Showalter crafts a charming and heartfelt film about a woman in her 60s who falls for a man in his 20s.

Cinematographer Brian Burgoyne does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as much of it is straightforward with the exception of the neon lights for the scenes at the EDM concert. Editor Robert Nassau does nice work with the editing as it is straightforward for much of the film with the exception of a few scenes such as Doris’ fantasies and a montage sequence of her dressing for a party. Production designer Melanie Jones, with art directors Catherine Devaney and Eve McCarney plus set decorator Karuna Karmarkar, does fantastic work with the look of the office floor that Doris and John work at as well as her home that is filled with all of these antiques and stuff she’s found over the years.

Costume designer Rebecca Gregg does brilliant work with the costumes from the colorful and offbeat clothes that Doris wears throughout the film as it adds so much to her character with everyone else being straightforward. Sound editor Tom Paul does terrific work with the sound as it is straightforward with the exception of the concert scene. The film’s music by Brian H. Kim is wonderful for its low-key score of soft orchestral and jazz-like pieces while music supervisor Andrew Gowan creates a fun soundtrack that features a mixture of EDM music and pop music to play into the different world and musical tastes of John and Doris.

The casting by Sunday Boling and Meg Morman is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Jack Antonoff of Fun as the singer of the EDM band that John and Doris sees, Rebecca Wisocky as Doris’ boss, Kyle Mooney as band photographer, Rich Sommer as a young co-worker of Doris in Robert, Kumail Nanjiani as another young co-worker of Doris in Nasir, Natasha Lyonne as a co-worker of Doris in Sally, Don Stark as John’s uncle Frank who tries to flirt with Doris at a party, Isabelle Acres as Roz’s granddaughter Vivian who helps Doris know more about John, Caroline Aaron as a friend of Doris and Roz in Val, and Peter Gallagher in a terrific small role as the self-help guru Willy Williams. Beth Behrs is superb as a young woman named Brooklyn who is often seen with Jack during the film’s second-half while Elizabeth Reaser is fantastic as Doris’ psychiatrist Dr. Edwards as a woman that is trying to understand Doris as well as see the things in Doris’ home. Wendi McLendon-Covey is wonderful as Todd’s wife Cynthia who is always critical of what Doris has in her home as she would unknowingly push Doris’ buttons while Stephen Root is excellent as Doris’ brother Todd who is just trying to help her as well as express his own issues with her as it relates to their mother.

Tyne Daly is amazing as Roz as Doris’ longtime friend who is still dealing with the loss of her husband many years ago as she becomes baffled by Doris’ strange behavior as well as having to accept the fact that she is getting old. Max Greenfield is brilliant as John Fremont as a young man in his 20s who becomes a new superior for Doris as he is curious yet welcoming towards Doris’ presence as he admits to the difficulties he’s having in his life at work and in his personal life. Finally, there’s Sally Field in a spectacular performance as Doris as this woman in her 60s who falls for this young man as she tries to get his attention as it’s this incredible mixture of comedy and drama where Field just exudes this air of awkwardness and physicality to her performance as it’s really a master at work making it one of Field’s defining performances.

Hello, My Name is Doris is a remarkable film from Michael Showalter that features a phenomenal performance from Sally Field. Along with its ensemble cast, themes on aging and exploring new worlds, and moments that are funny and endearing. It’s a film that manages to be not just entertaining but also give audiences something full of heart in this exploration of a woman trying to nab a man that is much younger than her. In the end, Hello, My Name is Doris is a sensational film from Michael Showalter.

Michael Showalter Films: (The Baxter) – (The Big Sick) – (The Last Ride of Cowboy Bob)

© thevoid99 2017

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