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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 12

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Wicked Woman - 1953 - 5/10

Bottled blonde steps off the bus in the boondocks, rents a room in a dumpy boarding house, hires on as waitress in low end dive.
Another role in the checkered career of Beverly Michaels, who seemed to glide from one trashy film to another.
This one exudes sleaze. Flophouse sets filled with low life schemers and their petty dreams.
The plot is no inspirational theme, rather seduction and greed. Souls fighting for loose change.
Characters are broken failures, and everything they attempt seems to collapse.
Not really dark enough or fatalistic to be a Noir proper, but sour candy for the fans of Michaels, and as good a film as any to start if you’re tempted by, or have a weakness for, hard blondes.

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The Soul Of Youth - 1920 - 6/10

Sentimental, moralizing, creaky saga of orphan boy Ed’s mistreatment and struggle.
Abandonment, a harsh orphanage, life on the streets.
Ed’s is a full story, running side by side with a conflict between politicians, one crooked, one honest.
By and by, the current of events pull Ed into the maneuverings.
The print I saw was wonderful! Beautifully restored, adroitly tinted, with an evocative piano score.
This is one of the very few surviving (and available) films of William Desmond Taylor.
Must see for Silent fans.

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Cyborg Girl - 2008 - 6/10
AKA - Boku no Kanojo wa Saibogu // 僕の彼女はサイボーグ

Cross between Terminator meets Robotrix meets Fembots, mixing comedy, romance, time travel and apocalypse.
Whew!
Smokin’ hot female cyborg, wearing skin tight getups, sent to protect clueless young male.
Haruka Ayase is so scrumptious in this, one temporarily forgets how derivative the script is, or how the male lead couldn’t out act a paper sack.
Cyborg Girl is ostensibly a romantic comedy, heavy on broad based, juvenile behavior.
Truly, the male has negative social skills and behaves like he has never spoken with a girl in his life.
Good special effects, used (wisely) sparingly. Plus a few plot twists near the end.
More innocent viewers would rank this higher - more skeptical souls would cut the score.
Probably make an innocuous date flick.

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Peur Sur Le Lac - 2020 - 6/10
AKA - Fear By The Lake

Apocalypse fans!
An unknown contagion blazes through Annecy. Coughing followed by the spew of blood.
Authorities don’t know what it is, how it got there, or how to contain it.
Government voices send in doctors and troops, but not much leadership.
The infected and the deaths escalate dramatically. Panic.
Most, if not all, of the secondary characters are irritating, frantic Nellies.
Eerily prophetic, though not enough meals.
Would that current mass outbreaks be resolved within six episodes.

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Into The Night - 2020 - 7/10

Apocalypse fans!
A NATO officer hijacks a jet in Brussels, orders an immediate departure!
Destination, west. Head west, avoid the first rays of sunrise at any cost.
To press home his demand, he shoots the pilot, though not mortally.
Sure enough, even though our NATO officer flies off the handle and seems nuts, he knows something.
Sunshine is lethal. Only staying in the dark side of Earth ensures survival.
Most of the passengers are self centered, and there are malfunctions and shortages every episode.
New shake of an old concept. Inventive thriller benefits from a constant deadline. Slick cliffhanger.

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8 Tage - 2019 - 5/10
AKA - 8 Days

Apocalypse fans!
In eight days, asteroid Horus will strike Earth!
Eight part series checks off our dwindling days, as individuals flee, others bunker down, others party.

In this depiction, most hop all over the place like frantic titmice, devolving to their base cores.
I disliked almost every character and kept urging the asteroid to accelerate.
Science is nonexistent. Horus is 60 kilometers wide. Aside from the catastrophic blast, the ensuing dust cloud would create the equivalent of nuclear winter. No sun, crop failure, freezing temps. Quit running, rodents.

What is my shallow advice?
Hit the stores. Premium booze, gourmet food, plenty of ice. Charge it all! The bill ain’t never gonna arrive.
Savor your time. If younger, relive 1978, pre-AIDS. Splash.
To quote poet Magidson, “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”
Apocalypse or not, it always applies.

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 (Edited)

Woman In The Shadows - 1934 - 5/10

Vintage clunker wheezes worse than an asthmatic in foggy weather.
A fallen woman (luminous Fay Wray) escapes clutches of her sugar daddy mentor.
She finds shelter in the cabin of newly released convict (who served three years for manslaughter).
Talky adaptation of Dashiell Hammett work unfolds on a few sets.
Camera work is static, the narrative is dull. I watched to see Wray, who is beautiful in this.
Trivia: Filmed at Biograph Studios.

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 (Edited)

Piranha 3DD - 2011 - 5/10

Wheee!
Highly anticipated follow-up to the masterpiece that was Piranha 3D.
Lake Victoria might have been infested, but a nearby lake ramps up as the new wet n wonderful party place.
As any horror aficionado knows, piranhas can always navigate underground tunnels and passages to find new eating places.
This film lacked the budget of the earlier film, but producers compensated by adding hundred of girls. Plenty are topless, a fair share naked.
That DD in the title does not indicate battery sizes, either.

Couple of plot problems. Why were those two guys hunting dead cows in the lake early on?
Then there’s the girl who somehow gets a fish up her … umm … in her Temple Of Happiness.
When her boyfriend bypasses temple columns with his … Moisture Detector … then the piranha bites and latches on like a starving man onto a stale hot dog. I mean … how come she never knew about that fish?
The young actors were adequate enough. Subtle and nuanced roles were reserved for the big talent.
Gary Busey - Christopher Lloyd - Ving Rhames - David Hasselhoff.
Hasselhoff even sings!
Who were listed as producers? Why, those arthouse auteurs - Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
Don’t miss closing credits.

Note: I gave this 5, but could have easily docked it 3 for silliness and stupidity. Likewise, could have just as easily boosted it 3 for silliness and stupidity.

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 (Edited)

Tiger Bay - 1959 - 6/10

Seaman Korchinsky returns from recent voyage, only to discover his girl now keeps company with a rich swell.
Two minutes of rage lead to regret, remorse and flight.
There is a witness, however, a young girl. Talkative and a habitual liar.

Great looking urban film, shot in Cardiff. Neighborhood brims with immigrants and working class.
The coppers, as in most period British films, are dogged, yet receive scant cooperation from locals.
Story becomes one of hunts and standoffs, and viewer sympathy shifts periodically.

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Lesson Of Evil - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Aku No Kyôten // 悪の教典

The new English teacher is energetic, inspirational, and students seem to like him.
Then again, the classroom suffers cheating, bullying, attitudes, sexual misconduct.
Just as the teacher’s lounge has petty rivalries and jousting.
The teacher knows how to coax performance, and how to solve problems.
Yet, he does have a tolerance limit. He also has a dark streak.
Another lopsided Miike release.
The director, revisiting his grisly roots delivers a film that is repetitive and 15 minutes too long.
Unlikely to receive much of a US airing, whose school system it seems patterned after.

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 (Edited)

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery Of The Toynbee Tiles - 2011 - 7/10

Strange documentary of tiles placed in asphalt streets of dozens of cities
Cryptic messages and questions posed.
Who placed them? Who was Toynbee? What did the tiles have to do with 2001 or Jupiter?
Narrator begins the global hunt for more tiles and tries to penetrate the mystery.
Fascinating story that quickly draws you in and retains interest throughout.
This very reminiscent of In the Realms Of The Unreal, also worth hunting down.

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Razortooth - 2007 - 3/10

Why do schlock studios keep making these monster craptaculars?
Because muffin brains like me spy them on the shelf and squeal with mindless glee.
A giant killer eel is loose in the southern swamps.
The eel is killing and eating unwashed, dumber than fencepost rednecks (not to be confused with articulate, well manicured rednecks).
Movie absurd beyond belief. Fellow hutong viewers began heckling me for finding this gem.
At the risk of getting a ban for this -
Wait for the moment when one of the “intelligent science students” declares the best method to deal with this creature is to find its Achilles eel.

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Radioactive - 2019 - 6/10

Biopic of Madame Marie Curie. Early childhood to death.
In between, marriage, acclaim and pariah status.
Aside from what I read in high school science, I knew nothing about her and trust this to be somewhat faithful.
Interspersed throughout are fast forward scenes of future uses of radiation.
Benefits include radiology, along with Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
Pandora’s box, opened by science.

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Red Rock West - 1993 - 7/10

Choose Life!
Drifter Nicholas Cage rolls into Red Rock, Wyoming, looking for any sort of work.
He is mistaken for hitman, Lyle from Dallas, and paid to whack someone.
Payouts - double crosses - then the real Lyle appears.
Dennis Hopper unforgettable as Lyle.
Cage, here reminding us, was a great actor … once upon a time.
Dark, moody Neo Noir.

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Marshland - 2014 - 7/10
AKA - La Isla Mínima

A pair of detectives investigate the disappearance of two sisters.
“They were whores,” spit several residents. “They wanted to leave,” retort schoolmates. “We all do.”
The rural area, a maze of wetlands, is miles and decades away from Madrid. 1980 Madrid.
One detective, the younger, is an idealist whose opinions have landed him this backwater of post Franco Spain.
The older man, hardened by the regime, appreciates the here and now over “what might be” mañana.
Although some have likened this to True Detective, viewers with a longer reach might recall Castle Of Sand (1974) with Tetsurō Tamba.
Comparisons aside, this is an outstanding thriller with excellent use of the Spanish outback.

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Nun Va Goldoon - 1996 - 6/10
AKA - A Moment Of Innocence

Ex-policeman seeks out a film director, looking for work.
Twenty years previous, the director, then a student, had stabbed the policeman during a protest.
He decides to make a movie of that encounter.
Thing is, the officer has his own memories of the event … and who should play him.
The handsome candidate, of course!
As the narrative is filmed, the policeman realizes how much he misunderstood.
Warm cinema from Iran, except for all the snow which surprised ignorant me.
For those who enjoy stories within stories, of films from Iran, search this out.

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Hitler’s Rise: The Colour Films - 2013 - 7/10

Two part documentary detailing events from the final year of World War I to Kristallnacht.
Covers the leader’s growing oratory skills, deft manipulation of others, and incredible energy.
Weimar economics are covered, as well as street clashes between the Red Front and the SA.
Some visuals are soft (to be expected). Digitized color, which I usually disdain, is restrained and well done.
Solidly presented timeline, and quite accessible (this not limited to Hist buffs).
Modern day Cassandras should respond to the line, "Hitler provoked disorder, while at the same time, claiming to be the only man capable of stopping it.”

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Trilogy Of Terror - 1975 - 6/10 (composite)

Part One, “Julie,” college guy bags his introverted English professor. Yawn.
Part Two, “Millicent/Therese,” sisters (one mousey, one frisky) snipe. Zzzzzz.
Part Three, “Amelia,” finds woman torn between spending night with obsessive mother and the new boyfriend she is keenly interested in.
Why she even bought him a birthday gift. A curio.
A fetish doll of a Zuni warrior, its spirit restrained by the golden chain encircling its waist.
Of course, if the chain were to somehow slip off . . .

Hair raising thriller still packs a punch, helped by Karen Black’s all-in performance.
Goofy nonsense, but my God, that doll is an remorseless block of fury.
Unforgettable adaptation of Richard Matheson’s “Prey.”

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The Living And The Dead - 2016 - 6/10

Circa 1890. Educated couple relocate to his mother’s rural farmstead after she dies.
Viewers - even inattentive viewers - will quickly realize the pair has moved to Spooky Lane England.
Possessions, ghostly hauntings, curses, the Ouija board!, and deaths, lots of graves.
Our couple, being educated and of scientific inclinations, disregard superstitious villagers.
Well photographed, nicely cast (save for the husband), the stories feel like “death of the week.”
This viewer’s sympathy ebbed more each week as the characters became myopic and dim brained, putting friends, neighbors, and family into clear risk.

What made this so disappointing is because the time, 1890, is the cusp of the Modern Age. The couple are familiar with Freud, photography, and scientific journals.
The pair are outsiders, and juxtaposed against the villagers, whose activities and attitudes have changed little since the 1600s.
Many possibilities were available, the writers seemingly took the easier route.
Bummer.

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Rien Ne Va Plus - 1997 - 6/10
AKA - The Swindle

Con-artists and sharpers, Betty and Victor, fleece convention rubes and day trippers.
Small time targets. Low risk. Modest payouts.
Then Betty develops a high risk scam on her own, eventually telling Victor part of the details.
From here on, alliances flicker and trust dissolves, leaving viewers to navigate multiple shell games.
Lightweight material, especially for a Chabrol film, although the tone darkens as locations warm.

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Fig Leaves - 1926 - 6/10

Adam and Eve enjoy the paradise of Eden, complete with zoo animals and dinosaurs.
Newsboys even delivers stone tablets of daily events.
Eve complains, however, she doesn’t have a thing to wear (fig leaves seem identical).
Adam ignores her, so she vents to another neighbor, the serpent.
Flash forward a million years! Adam Smith is a plumber, and wife Eve complains about her wardrobe.
Silly film benefits from Olive Borden, who was an exotic beauty.

In real life, she and costar George O’Brien had a torrid affair at this point, which Fox capitalized on.
Borden was also a notorious clothes horse, and this film concluded with a fashion show featuring “nothing-to-wear” Eve.
That event was originally in Technicolor, now lost, but the still below gives an idea.

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The Undying Monster - 1942 - 6/10

Handsome Gothic potboiler set in the craggy cliffed manor house.
An ancient family curse stalks the final descendants, brother and sister.
The night air is rent with the howls of — what?
Reminiscent of “The Hound Of The Baskervilles,” this is, nonetheless, its own beast.
A solid B-film mystery, that never reveals until the end, and at 63 minutes, does not outstay its welcome.

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 (Edited)

Vanity Street - 1932 - 6/10

A starving girl hurls a brick through a drugstore window, then waits to be arrested.
“They’ll feed me in jail, right? Being in prison is better than starving, yes?”
She gets a break, followed by rather cruel advice, finally a job in a revue.
Amoral Pre-Code film breaks several taboos, flirts with a few others in barely an hour.
Helen Chandler displays her usual brittle, nervous energy.

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Maudie - 2016 - 6/10

Arthritic and otherwise disabled female moves out of her aunt’s home to work as housekeeper.
The man who hires her, a fish seller, is slow on the uptick, as well.
She paints, however, and her work has an undeniable primitive charm.
Slow, very slow, yarn of the creative outsider, based on Nova Scotia artist, Maud Lewis.
Bleak cinematography captures the loneliness, and acting is excellent, if gloomy.