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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 112

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Alimony - 1949 - 5/10

Beware those innocent eyes.
Kitty leaves the Midwest for the wicked city.
Unable to find work, she freelances for a shyster lawyer, playing the badger game.
Trapping soon-to-be divorced husbands into compromising photo shots.
That is good, and Martha Vickers is scrumptious.
Secondary story of struggling, weak willed composer is blah.
Cheapie has its moments but is too moralizing to qualify as exploitation or tawdry.

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When Ladies Meet - 1933 - 5/10

Creaky Pre-Code vehicle about oh-so-sophisticated adults carrying on.
An unwanted boyfriend is jealous that his girl is drawn to an older man. Married man.
The unwanted arranges a “chance” encounter between the cheater and cheated.
Then there’s a whole pile of talk and deep thought in the drawing room.
Myrna Loy sparkles as the open-minded youngling, but this is Ann Harding’s film.
When she appears, eventually, she totally dominates every scene.
Tame, talky, based - obviously so - on a play.

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 - 2016 - 6/10

Not as disappointing as feared – I thought, and my bride spoke aloud.
Sequel to the wildly popular original returns with, what appears to be, the entire ensemble.
This time Ian and Toula’s daughter is preparing for college.
Toula’s parents discover their marriage license was never signed … so.
Not as fresh as the original, but the original wasn’t as fresh either after watching six times.
Lightweight, feel-good. Fans of the first film will likely enjoy.

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The Killing Bottle - 1967 - 6/10
AKA - Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Zettai zetsumei // 国際秘密警察 絶体絶命

Agents from the International Secret Police face off against the ZZZ group.
ZZZ plans to assassinate the prime minister of Buddhabal with a deadly expanding foam.
Fast moving spoof of spy thrillers, peppered with hijinks and bumbling action sequences.
Nick Adams has a flair for comedy and engages well with Tatsuya Mihashi.
Makoto Satô and Annu Mari are memorable villains.
And Kumi Mizuno plays the comic, yet lethal, “assistant.”
Rumors linger about a her torrid affair with Adams, whose death the next year launched numerous theories.

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Moonlight Murder - 1936 - 6/10

Creaky mystery set at the Hollywood Bowl.
The opera tenor is being threatened - “Sing onstage and you will die!”
There are attempts and numerous suspects.
The tenor is dallying with his leading lady as well as the lead dancer.
Each are highly jealous, with suspicious husbands in the company!
The understudy wants the tenor’s role. An insane composer is on the loose!
At barely 60“, the plot rockets along although a full 10“ are rehearsals and performance of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.”

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I’m Not Running - 2019 - 7/10

Dr. Paula Gibson took on the government and won.
Bureaucrats, wanting to shave expenses, plan to shutter smaller, local hospitals.
After all, what’s an hour drive to a well oiled mega medical complex?
Victorious, Gibson is the people’s choice to be Health Minister.
If she will run.
Essentially British theatre (know your NHS) with swings in chronology.
College years, intern, canvasser, treating her alcoholic mother, picking a side.
Contrasts what is right with theatre and what is wrong with the medical system.

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Crime Diaries: Night Out - 2019 - 6/10
AKA - Historia de un Crimen Colmenares

Luis attends an upscale school, packed with privileged, affluent students.
He is neither, though he is popular, particularly with one girl who recently dumped her rich, possessive boyfriend.
Ask anyone. Dating drama happens every day.
Except Luis winds up murdered.
Police swiftly zero in on suspects and witnesses. Who did it, who watched.
Columbian series told from numerous points of view.
Stories contradict, witnesses disagree, experts clash.
Once the lawyers get involved, lies and objections dial to 11.
Based on true events, this is an extremely frustrating view.

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CBGB - 2013 - 6/10

Alan Rickman as Hilly Kristal, founder and manager of New York’s CBGB club.
Groups in movie include Television, Blondie, Dead Boys, Ramones.
Cartoon panels used throughout. Mirrors the secondary narrative of PUNK magazine.
Narrative and characters pounce around faster than a Ramones song.
Just keep up, dammit.
Packed with songs and history.
Accurate? No idea
Rickman shines in one of his last head-lining roles.

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The Heirs - 2021 - 6/10
AKA - Les Héritiers

Diane, owner of a PR firm, specializing in crises, disappears off the Brittany coast.
Her three-man team of consultants soon bicker for control, then finds clients jumping ship.
Once they accept a volatile client, with inflammatory claims, the firm itself is at risk.
Although given the mystery tag, this is a white collar drama.
Aesop’s parable of the bundle of sticks applies.

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Crazy Sex - 1976 - 5/10
AKA - Nian Hua Re Cao // 拈花惹草

Two tales here, both middling.
A nightclub owner, smuggling drugs on the side, decides to teach a female rival a lesson.
Only – oops – wrong female! She soon blackmails him.
The owner’s wife, meanwhile, after a brief romp, finds herself blackmailed.
Next tale, a farce, tracks the aging jeweler and his young wife who prefers a youthful neighbor.
Nearby, in the crowded hutong, is a very busy bordello.
Topless scenery throughout, with implied, though obscured, slide the weasel action.

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Bright Days Ahead - 2013 - 6/10
AKA - Les Beaux Jours

Midlife crisis alert!
Woman drops her dental practice after dispute.
Too old for new career, too young for retirement, she investigates the senior center.
Tries acting class, pottery, painting, the lot.
Eventually, she begins an affair with one of the instructors, twenty years younger.
Her husband - yes, she is married - is blind, disinterested, tolerant.
Typical of too many French films, plot never really goes anywhere.

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Never Trust A Gambler - 1951 - 5/10

Steve, on the run as witness in a murder, hides out at his ex-wife’s home.
Despite a mousy appearance, Virginia has attracted a predatory masher in the form of a cop.
When he shows up at her home, drunk, and tries to rape her, Steve defends her and the cop is killed.

Once the body is found, the force, despite knowing the guy is filthy, starts to investigate.
So-so mystery piddles around most of the time, eating minutes, churning a loose plot.
There is a Noir buried in this, and it takes off in the last fifteen minutes.
Otherwise, poorly written, badly directed. Grilled cheese sandwich gone cold.

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The Collapse - 2019 - 7/10
AKA - L’Effondrement

Apocalypse fans!
The power grid has failed, the supply chain has fizzled.
Gasoline is precious, food stocks dwindling, civilization reverting.
Each episode is a 20” one-off. The grocers, gas station, farmer’s enclave.
Charting the worsening situation, and the depths to which people will go to survive.
The whole gas-auto-travel concept had me wondering, “Where do folks think they can go?”
Exceptional series, and prescient, airing before events in 2020, and still ongoing consequences.

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Cruise - 2022 - 7/10

Essentially a one-man play, as Jack mans the LGBTQ suicide lines.
Most callers aren’t offing themselves. They are in a funk, depressed, lonely, or straight jerks.
Then he receives a call from Michael, who prefers to talk with an older person.
Too bad, Jack is all there is that day. In fact, he is annoyed at the implied reverse agism.
Spurred, Michael begins to unwind his youthful, larger than life days.
The 80’s. Underground clubs in Soho, freewheeling partners, reveling in the hedonistic life.
The absolute best of times, until HIV begins sweeping like a passionless scythe.
Riveting show that will have you panting to keep pace.

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 (Edited)

Last Days At The Fillmore - 1972 - 6/10

Documentary about the final five days at Fillmore West is, in many ways, more Bill Graham than the musicians.
Bill on the phone, walking the hall, reminiscing, etc …
Split screen is overused and is not well done. Meaning this is not an immersive experience.
Performances, what there are of them, are mostly crowd favorites.
Apparently the DVD differs from the theatrical run and subsequent VHS, trimming some music, as well as volatile confrontations between Graham and musicians.
The vinyl and CD souvenir albums have an additional 40” of music.
Many of the concerts from this week can be found at Archive in toto.
This is not essential viewing, and I always recommend Monterey Pop first.

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The Big Short - 2015 - 7/10

Fun times for those who want to relive the financial meltdown of 2008.
Where tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, lost their homes, their jobs.
Film follows a disparate, unconnected group of traders and brokers who realized the US housing market was built upon crappy loans. If the loans are shoddy, so are the bonds. And the banks who hold those bonds?
At times, the structure is a bit too cute for its own good, with oddball cameos explaining happenings.
Clever, extremely well executed from start to finish - if a shade overlong.
Might be stomach churning for those who suffered through this time - probably most of us.

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Two For The Seesaw - 1962 - 6/10

Unusual pairing of Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine in film version of then-popular Broadway play.
Nebraska lawyer, going through mid-life crisis, relocates to New York City (where old chum now lives).
He arrives in the middle of a boisterous Greenwich Village apartment party.
Intellectuals, artists, beatniks, big-talkers and hangers-on.
Shirley is ditzy dancer (getting old at 29).
Despite age difference, they give the relationship thing a whirl.
Talky, rather dated, almost completely shot on a handful of interior sets. Screams stagebound.
Interesting curio, nonetheless. Glimpse of topical Broadway, circa 1960.

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On The Run - 1988 - 6/10
AKA - Mong ming yuen yeung // 亡命鸳鸯

Heung meets with his ex at the restaurant. She is a police inspector emigrating to Canada.
After he asks her to take him with her, her reply is evasive.
He leaves and soon after she is assassinated.
Homicide quickly hunts for the hitman, though Heung searches for who hired the hitman.
The plot, if you can call it that, rapidly goes into cat n mouse chases and shootouts.
Although Yuen Biao is the lead, he is overshadowed by a coldly menacing Pat Ha.
Sufficient action sequences, along with a dark tone, weakened by too much comic relief.

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The Maidens Of Fetish Street - 1966 - 5/10
AKA - The Girls On F Street

Odd grindhouse gem examines Nick and the “maidens” in his life.
He has a thing for burlesque dancers, strippers, prostitutes.
Buxom, voluptuous women. Those who prefer hefty females with curves and hard expressions, sign in please.
At one point they are referred to as “animals of the bedroom jungle”.
The dialogue, mostly from an omniscient narrator, is stilted to the point of mannered theatre.
Great use of the now-gone Bunker Hill neighborhood of Los Angeles and the Angel’s Flight.
For Eric Stanton fans, keep an eye out when Nick prowls the LA literary establishments.
Beautifully restored by Nicolas Winding Refn.
Subtitles = https://subscene.com/subtitles/the-girls-on-f-street/english/2915718

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Suffragette - 2015 - 7/10

Working class laundress gradually gets drawn into the Suffragette movement during pre-WWI England.
She goes from passing rallies, to listening, to becoming an activist.
Radicalized, if you will, because of heavy handed government (male) crackdowns and retribution.
Politicians who speak from both sides of their mouth are another root.
Drab set design and costumes illustrate the drab existence.
Although rather like History 102, the film does its best not to preach nor get strident.
Fairly successful, too, though if you don’t believe in your heart of hearts that women are not truly equal to men, then you will not like this one.
Once the “Ascot” phrase is mentioned, most will know where this is going.

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Berlin - 2021 - 7/10

The tourist bungled his accommodation reservation, so he’s in Berlin without a place.
Luckily, or as the playwright would have it, an attractive female bartender offers a couch for the night.
Inside her spacious, well-appointed digs, the couple banter, flirt, try to get a read on each other.
When he casually jokes about being a spy, I make a mental note.
And when she confesses she comes from money, a lot of money, I no longer trust the guy.
Nothing is accidental. The meeting was premeditated.
An uncomfortable past quietly surfaces. Behavior, almost a century gone, justifies retribution.
The myth of forgiveness, etched in excuses and betrayals, sparks this thriller.

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Mock The Week: S21 Final - 2022 - 7/10

No! Really? Canceled? Over and done?
Long running panel show hosted by Dara Ó Briain.
Brood chamber for dozens of young comedians, many of whom went on to greatness, or mass popularity.
I have watched and laughed for over a decade.
Where, oh where, will I get the warped take on British news, as well as the rest of the world?
Say it ain’t so.

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Every Day’s A Holiday - 1937 - 6/10

Peaches O’Day is a flim flam artist, routinely selling the Brooklyn Bridge to rubes.
Or using the dim-witted to appropriate the latest fashions for her wardrobe.
Set during New Years Ever 1899, starring Mae West, also script by West.
Peaches is adored by the citizens (West’s public), though she is hounded by the police (Production Code).
Not at the level of I’m No Angel or She Done Him Wrong, this is still a zesty romp, with quick repartee and barbed jokes.
“… a politician talks so much but says nothing …”
Subs = https://subscene.com/subtitles/every-days-a-holiday/english/2920180

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Inspector Koo - 2021 - 5/10
AKA - Kookyungyi // 구경이

Ex police officer Koo is unofficially part of an insurance company’s risk management.
Our detective is a self confessed “alcoholic who displays antisocial tendencies with anxiety disorder.”
This annoyed me - until I began to view Ms Koo as a spoof, a parody, of that endless stream of defective detectives.
Operatives with limited social skills. Blind lame stutterers. Ones with Tourette syndrome, Alzheimer’s, leprosy.

Aside from Koo’s confessed limitations, she also does not bath, her body odor is pungent.
She scratches her scalp frequently, head lice or flea infestation.
Chances are she fails to use the toilet so her clothes are a stench of urine and feces.
Anyhoo, Koo chases a couple of fraudulent claims, sniffs out a string of accidents that prove neither random nor accidental.
Nope. There is a diabolical serial killer (aren’t they all?).
And the prime suspect, a sweet faced drama student, seriously bent, but capable of meticulous staging and execution.

From the inspector to her boss to the big boss to the villain, forceful women rule.
Each have emasculated male sidekicks, neutered and cowardly.
Narrative arc descends from tightly plotted to padded to frivolous.

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The Green Archer - 1940 - 6/10

Fairly early Columbia serial. Younger brother is convicted of crime and sent to the slammer.
Meanwhile, the older brother, the cunning, sly one, inherits large manor home from where he spins his web of crime.
The huge estate has subterranean tunnels, trap doors, secret rooms, intercom, giant killer dogs (Great Danes), a car elevator (with full time elevator operator), even an underground garage!
The villainous brother masterminds a platoon of thugs and robbers. Local police are hapless.
Squared off against evil doers is the masked ghost of the house - the Green Archer!
And an insurance agent named Spike!
Much of this serial is ridiculous and awful in a delightful way.
The crime lord is a preening fool. He struts, gloats, brags about his big ole brain, then wails like Baby Huey when he loses a round. Fortunately, his feeble brained flunkies more often than not bail him out.

Female characters squeak when startled and stand still during fistfights, watching or wringing their hands. One memorable scene, she keeps straightening her hair while Spike gets his ass kicked. Guess the day was windy.
The Green Archer communicates by shooting arrows with notes into stuffed furniture. I started wondering if he did re-upholstery work during his day job.
Quality of chapter cliffhangers? This serial has more cheats than a trailer park.
Caution - Children in 1940 were less shielded than those of today, as this serial is filled with killings.