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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 136


Da Killa - 2002 - 6/10

Early on, a Juju priest concocts a devil’s blend and infuses a hefty bag of reefer.
Why? Who knows? Perhaps his fetish doll knows. For the doll sees all.
The narrative shifts to Leroy, over-stressed at home, hurrying to work.
Where, street-side, he costumes up and advertises for the local vacuum store.

Life, for Leroy as for many of us, quickly sours.
He is fired, turns to crime, drinks, gambles, cheats with women.
Then gets ahold of that tainted weed, which turns him into a fiend.
What follows is a murderous rampage.

Despite being an ultra-low budget production, this is a lot of fun.
Many of the sequences are laugh out loud hilarious.
Almost everything occurs in the Como neighborhood of Fort Worth.
The cast seem to have been recruited on-site.
Music, a blend of hip-hop and synth, is great, although dialogue is often indecipherable.
Somewhere, Rudy Ray Moore is laughing his ass off.

Note: JD is still selling copies at Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jd.jimmersoniv/)


The Wet Pit Below - 2047 - 4/10

Clara and Fred, along with Sue and Butch, are driving cross country.
They plan to make it BIG in Hollywood. Major film, indie film, TV or porn.
While Clara and Fred milk the snake enroute, Sue and Butch trail in the second car.
Less groping and stroking from this couple, who serve to narrate proceedings.
In Arkansas, a repo man seizes one vehicle, so they detour off the main route to avoid another seizure.

Where their vehicle breaks down in the abandoned hamlet called America’s Dream.
Clara and Fred (cousins or siblings?) find a cobwebbed house with clean sheets.
Meanwhile, Sue and Butch explore the basement, finding a damp stone pit with ladder rungs.
Descending – for five padded minutes! – only to find a second well, and where their incessant talking rouses the dreaming deity below.

Dread Cthulhu!
Who does not like its naptime disturbed. Worse, is infuriated that it is in Arkansas.
Grade-D sleazy mess from the Pepper Brothers has dismal production values, repetitive Casio score, and what can only be called “experimental” camera work.
Acting talent? Please! Although Clara (Misty Moss?) is easy on the eyes and noisily enthusiastic.
For Cthulhu completists who think they’ve seen it all, a shoddy Cthulhu porno.


The Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh - 1963 - 6/10

The right Reverend Syn, minister by day, rebel leader by night.
Pre-Colonial Revolution, the English needs recruits. If none volunteer, they are impressed.
Meaning, forcibly enlisted.
Opposing them are the masked Scarecrow and his renegade team.
What ensues is high adventure, plenty of action (no bloodshed), and a series of cat n mouse chases.
Patrick McGoohan dominates throughout and is unforgettable, both as the enlightened minister to his village, and as the rather frightening Scarecrow.
Warning: The official DVD / BluRay is ridiculously overpriced!


Defending Your Life - 1991 - 7/10

That’s the way it goes sometimes. One moment you’re rolling easy down Life’s Highway, the next moment you’re dead and in Judgment City.
Say where? Daniel is in the waiting zone, where he will be deemed eligible to ascent to Heaven, or back to Earth.
Hit and miss Albert Brooks comedy is one of his best, with plenty of jokes and compelling concepts.
Meryl Streep, especially luminous and likeable here, is an enlightened soul, all but predestined.
Brooks, on the other hand, is one of us. A schlub.


The Princess Comes Across - 1936 - 6/10

On the trans-Atlantic liner, Mammoth, a blackmailer shakes down a bandleader and a Swedish princess.
Then he is found dead. By the princess, who is a fraud. While the bandleader has a prison record.
What else? An escaped murderer is a stowaway, on a vessel with five police inspectors.
Most of the comedy is from Lombard who does not overplay her silly schtick. Instead, she channels Garbo.
MacMurray shows a tougher edge, which suits him, and feeds the mystery angle.
Excellent old-fashioned whodunit, superbly shot, especially complicated shadow scenes.


Shanghai Fortress - 2019 - 5/10
AKA - 上海堡垒

I suppose this fulfills lesser ambitions.
A Chinese spaceship brings back a self-replicating energy source, Xianteng.
Coal, gas, oil, all replaced and humanity experiences an new Renaissance.
Until Alien invaders arrive, seeking Xianteng, and laying waste the planet.
Of major cities, only Shanghai holds out, but for how long?
Wild SciFi actioner will be high octane java juice for fans of Transformers, Independence Day, Matrix Revolutions.
Plenty of major CGI conflicts, interspersed with unrequited romance storylines.


Stop Nyqvist - 2022 - 6/10
AKA - Pysäyttäkää Nyqvist

Heads at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs want a patsy to blame for their own blunders.
Foolish intern Nyqvist is pushed to the head a newly founded secret service.
Thing is, Nyqvist is motivated and earnest. A go-getter.
Hoping to impress his Finnish bosses, he sinks a sub!
International crisis #1. Then he realizes he has a highly proficient assassin on his team.
Later, two assassins!
A Swedish hitman arrives to whack our hero.
Eight part series spoofs espionage thrillers, though I confess some Finland references eluded me.


Wild Reeds - 1994 - 7/10
AKA - Les Roseaux Sauvages

Coming of age * film of three (perhaps four) students
Cramming for their baccalauréat, exploring (questioning) their sexuality, worrying about their futures.
A constant background presence is France’s ongoing war with Algeria, and the upcoming, mandatory service.
Held my interest throughout, and I generally dislike films with children or young adults.
These are intelligent, and either intellectual or self-aware.

  • Coming of age? I know adults in their 60’s who are still adolescents. Many never grow up.


The Last Voyage - 1960 - 6/10

Ocean liner disaster flick slots somewhere between A Night To Remember (1958) and Titanic (1997).
Robert Stack leads a sizable cast, although Woody Strode steals the movie as the engine stoker.
An aging vessel, on its final Pacific crossing, suffers and explosion and begins to leak.
Stack’s wife is trapped between steel, and the waters rise closer.
The narrative shifts between crew and passengers in rapid paced Hollywood adventure.
George Sanders quite good as the captain who refuses to accept events.
Predictable, although not as hammy as the highfalutin nonsense in 1997.


Ice Station Zebra - 1968 - 6/10

Big cast, slow-moving twaddle
After a satellite crashes in the Arctic, a US submarine is dispatched to rescue a British contingent there.
Soviet MiG fighters are also enroute. Rescue? Please. The satellite is an early spy satellite.
The effects are impressive, lots of model work.
The story drags, characters are too muddled, there is little tension for a thriller.
At two and a half hours, a cut of thirty minutes would have helped.
Based on an Alistair MacLean novel, although not as popular as other film adaptations.


Mouths Of Sand - 2020 - 7/10
AKA - Hondar Ahoak

Recently reactivated Inspector Garcia is called in about the disappearance of Captain Josu.
Everyone in the small Basque port assumes Josu is dead, and refers to him in the past tense.
As with most mysteries, there is thicket of suspects with motives.
Josu had been convicted of smuggling and drug-running a decade earlier.
Inspector Garcia pursues the drug angle, rather than the disappearance proper.
Upsetting the entire local equilibrium and economy.
Unusual mix of legends and mysticism adds color to this short series.
Spanish production, although Basque is the primary language.


Milk Teeth - 2020 - 6/10

Anyone who hates flossing, this opens with the dangers of over-zealousness.
A barter is extended. Teeth for wishes.
Consider, he is in the orphanage and desperate for adoption.
Prospective parents come, and choose other boys.
Underlying terror, but overly dark.


Fist Of Legend - 1994 - 7/10
AKA - Jing wu Ying Xiong // 精武英雄

Martial arts master Chen Zhen returns to a troubled Shanghai.
Time is 1937, and the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Chen’s teacher had been killed in a duel with a karate master, and Zhen suspects foul play.
True or not, honor is now at stake, for the Chinese, for the Japanese.
Perhaps Jet Li’s finest film, with outstanding fights.
By this time, however, his onscreen personal of dour & sour stone face is entrenched.
Final duel with General Fujita is classic Hong Kong cinema.


Wake In Fright - 1971 - 7/10

Beware, beware, beware.
School is out for the six week Christmas break.
Teacher John Grant is bound for the Sydney beach and his girlfriend.
First, a stopover in Bundanyabba, where he gets caught up in local pastimes of drinking, carousing, gambling.
Gambling to the extent that he loses all his money and has to stay.
Australian outback presages Mad Max and Wolf Creek and is scarier than either.
Be warned, the midnight kangaroo hunt is just that – an actual hunt with dozens of killings.
Otherwise, this will stay with you for months, perhaps haunt you enough to stay home this year.


Forest Of The Missing - 2022 - 6/10
AKA - La Forêt des Disparus

A series of graves are discovered in the borderland between France and Germany.
All men, all murdered. From recently to decades earlier.
Jurisdiction is murky, so both nations share in the investigation.
As does a judge currently on hiatus, suffering amnesia, though disturbed by flashbacks.
In and of itself, the plot is thin broth, although there are compelling side stories and detours.
The core is feminist empowerment, which I could never decide if it was preachy or mirrored today’s cultural zeitgeist.


The Anonymous Heroes - 1971 - 6/10
AKA - Wu Ming Ying Xiong // 無名英雄

Light-hearted adventure set between the Chinese revolutionary period and WWII.
Japanese are referenced, but they are only supplying weapons at this stage.
Two devil-may-care brothers agree to help the revolutionaries, and are joined by a feisty female.
While this boasts numerous action sequences, the narrative moves along.
The planning, the theft, a wild chase involving a train and galloping horsemen.
I don’t really know the history of that era, so I’m sure I missed out on references.
Nevertheless, what a wild ride, with a trio of charmers.


The Miracle Club - 2023 - 6/10

1967, and the faithful, hopeful, still pray that a miracle may happen at Lourdes.
Four women, one with a son, the other three with a bitter history.
One has just traveled from Boston for her estranged mother’s funeral.
They take the bus, then the ferry, only to find hotel rooms must be shared.
A drama of grievances, a sad history that will never stay buried, possible forgiveness.
Some of the side-stories (menfolk) are cliché, but this is a warm Irish film, with plenty of salt.


The Ultimate Degenerate - 1969 - 4/10

Maria, bored with her lesbian exhibitionism, answers a classifieds for sex-work.
Soon she is involved in nude go-go dancing, whipped cream, striptease, cigar stuffing.

The “boss” is a wheelchair confined nutjob, into sadism and accidental murder.
Lots of photographs are taken, inventive usage of corncobs, bondage, I lost track.
Full nude throughout, although not necessarily arousing.

The music consists of classical chamber, bachelor pad lounge, bump ‘n grind.
Smutty peep show concludes with an orgy of sadism.
Note: My opening titles read “The Degenerate”. No “Ultimate”.


Paris Police 1900 - 2021 - 7/10

Perhaps better for French history majors, but one should be able to keep up with references.
In this case, the ongoing, divisive Dreyfus Affair, which the military is unable to cover-up, and agitators are exploiting.
The root is anti-Semitism, which, like any hatred, is a toxic stew of hatred of the other, self-hatred and fear.
Dreyfus is background to the sexual intrigues, assassinations, beatings, animal cruelty.
And yes, the treatment of animals in this is fairly shocking.
E07 ends on a momentous cliffhanger. The resolution of that is particularly lame.
Excellent series, and I plan to view the followup, Paris Police 1905.


Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World - 2017 - 6/10

Early on, we see a stand-in for Link Wray power chording his hit, “Rumble”.
The high points are the main contributors. Wray, Buffy Saint Marie, Redbone, Mildred Bailey, Robbie Robertson, Jesse Ed Davis, Randy Castillo, Charley Patton.
These stories enrich the proceedings, although the chronology is jumbled.
Other speakers, such as talking heads, often come across as climbing a bandwagon, wanting to be part.
Then again, others claim heritage, which I found distracting.
My life, I’ve heard boasts of having 1/16th or 1/32nd or 1/64th percent of tribal blood.
Most of the doc is intelligent and informative, but a handful of wannabees soured this a little.
Tuscarora section is a gem.


Jude - 1996 - 6/10

Jude is intelligent, but working class. And in 1895, class is preeminent.
No matter how intelligent he is, university doors are firmly closed.
His marriage falters and the subsequent affair whit his cousin bucks social conventions.
Well acted, and fairly faithful to the Thomas Hardy novel I had to read in college.
This is, however, bleak, depressing, brutal and tough sledding throughout.
Edinburgh photography, the Scottish grey, adds considerably.
Kate Winslet, as the free spirit, crushed, is unforgettable.


The Nightingale - 2018 - 7/10

1825, the English redcoats struggle to civilize the Australian Outback, what would become Tasmania.
Wholesale genocide of local tribes, and the use / abuse of convict labor – slaves.
Women are property, tribal women, rape holes.
Clare is Irish, attractive, too attractive, and the English lieutenant takes her by force.
She is, after all, property. Then events take an uglier turn.

Ostensibly a tale of boiling vengeance, strung out over several days.
Also growing understanding, tolerance, then acceptance, amidst barbarity and brutality.
Revenge runs deep, though, and the vast majority of the populace, citizens and enforcers, hide blood soaked hands.


Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre - 2023 - 6/10

A team murders their way to a crack theft and the British government activates a rogue unit.
Next, the unit jets from one location to the next while the plot breathlessly keeps pace.
Brisk, extremely brisk, Guy Ritchie caper film has few lulls.
Photography and settings mirror Bond or Mission Impossible franchises.
Jason Statham helms the team, delivers one-liners and is an unstoppable fighting machine.
Hugh Grant and Josh Harmett both extremely funny throughout.
Guy Ritchie could do this in his sleep, but I enjoyed more this one than his last few outings.
Diverting, if mindless popcorn.


Daughters Who Pay - 1926 - 6/10

Foolish Larry confesses his difficulties to sister, Margaret.
He has embezzled company funds to play the stock market and has lost $10K.
She pleas with his boss, who has his own troubles.
His son is smitten with a cabaret dancer, the exotic Sonia.
Sonia, a Russian expat, is imperiled by the local Communist cell.
Overly complicated, but the narrative moves swiftly.
Marguerite de la Motte is striking throughout, centering the movie.
Nevertheless, anytime the head baddie appears (Bela Lugosi) his face holds the screen.


Snake Sisters - 1984 - 5/10

The snake lays sixteen eggs; three extra large ones hatch out as human females.
Life is idyllic on the tiny island until the females begin menstruating.
Then they start seeking another sort of snake.
Nudity throughout, quite a bit of sex, and eating (implied) of animals.
I don’t know the history, so don’t know if this is pure fantasy or based on Filipino folklore.
Definitely a curio, and perhaps more for seekers of such.