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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 22


The Children Of The Century - 1999 - 5/10
AKA - Les Enfants du Siècle

French costumer.
Old fashioned potboiler detailing the affair between George Sand and poet/critic Alfred de Musset.
Despite fabulous sets (including the actual rooms Sand and Musset occupied in Hotel Danieli, Venice), and stunning costumes (including a sapphire ring and jewel-encrusted dagger belonging to Sand), and earnest acting, the film suffered from ham fisted, melodramatic direction.
Actors over-emoted, the narrative charged from major crises to tiny dustups like a careening speedboat.
The characters grew annoying, whining throughout.
I saw the long version, 135 minutes. Spare yourself.


Hungry Hearts - 2014 - 6/10

Jude and Mina meet cute, bounce the bedsprings, marry, have a baby! The End.
Instead, as with most partnerships, they soon begin bickering.
How to raise the child, what foods to feed the child, what to expose the child to, what to shelter it from.
One parent is over-protective to the nth degree. That said, food, water, air, all are less than safe.
Uncomfortable battle plays out, which will resonate with keep viewers who distrust the medical establishment, who refuse vaccinations, as well as parents who will do anything to keep their child healthy and safe.
Speaking of “safe,” this would complement 1995’s Safe with Julianne Moore.
For those who don’t have enough to worry about already.


The Man In The Back Seat - 1961 - 6/10

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Wilde

Joe, bookie at the dog track, counts his earnings before heading home.
Joe never sees them, the two thugs who knock him unconscious then shove him into the car.
The story is now their’s, the two punks.
Tony and Frank, who drive all over London while Joe, handcuffed to his earnings, slowly bleeds out.
Compact Noir follows two losers, layabout schemer and spineless friend, down Dead End Alley.
Lady Luck, gracing them with one score, turns her back, and they hit one rotten break after another.
Brief, bleak, dark.


Andy Parsons: Slacktivist - 2013 - 7/10

Stand-up comedian mixes everyday observations, personal foibles, and topical fury.
The latter has dated somewhat, and the second half of the show may prove too English for outsiders.
As political targets, bankers, celebrities lose relevance, the score should dip a point.
What is here is gold, however. Parsons is not particularly foul mouthed, nor does he rely on salacious comments or belittling of vast swathes of the population.


Jerichow - 2008 - 5/10

German love triangle drama with three characters old-enough-to-know-better, making poor decisions.
Turkish owner of a string of snack stands hires a discharged vet to drive.
The boss has drinking problems, and a young, trophy wife, built like a snake (ie: not a gram of fat on her).
Classic rule - Don’t bang the boss’s wife. Secretary and daughter are bad enough, but the wife …
Course then we would not have predictable movies like Jerichow.
“Making of” documentary tried to explain hidden motivations and underlying character issues.
Zzzzzzzz …


Juarez 2045 - 2017 - 4/10

Welcome to sunny Mexico, amigos!
Mexican cartel head acquires military robots to reinforce his team.
According to news flashes, carnage and rivers of blood spew in his wake.
The US of A sends in a black ops squad of Marines to take him down.
Fairly crappy movie all the way around. Bad script, poor acting, sorry camerawork.
Haters of hand held cinematography will be seasick during battle sequences.
Much of this defies logic: Marines wear combat gear throughout, either in the wastes or Juarez proper.
With more budget, this might be better, though the concept is still a knockoff.


Paul McCartney Really Is Dead - 2009 - 8/10

Where or where to begin with this masterpiece?
In 1999, George Harrison was attacked at his Friar Park estate by a deranged fan.
Except it wasn’t a crazy person, this was a hit ordered by MI 5. The same group who offed John Lennon in 1980.
Alarmed, George taped two microcassettes of a dark secret.
Paul McCartney, as we know him today, is a fake.
The real Paul died in 1966 in a car crash after picking up a lovely young fan named “Rita.”

This insane “documentary” was one of the funniest things I’ve watched in years.
After Paul died, a MI 5 operative (Maxwell) installed a substitute to prevent millions of teenage fans from committing suicide. During interviews with random fans, I scoffed at the screen, “Those are American accents.”
My bride was more specific, “Brooklyn.”
That was one of countless errors and preposterous claims. George on the cassette does not sound like the real George. The Liverpool accent drifts in and out. Sometimes he pronounces his handler Maxwell, other times Mockswell.
If you are past your 40’s you likely remember all this crap when it was current. I Was - 28 IF - O.P.D. and other clues. This film was a treasure trove of conspiracy whispers, including a whopper revealed at the end that I will not disclose here.
Paul McCartney Really Is Dead was gloriously, spectacularly awful! A must for fans of bad cinema.


Marwencol - 2010 - 7/10

Mark Hogancamp got the living crap beat out of him in a bar.
Literally. He was in a coma for days.
When he emerged, he had to relearn how to walk and talk again.
After 30 days, the hospital gave him the old “Good luck” heave ho.
He had been an artist with talent before, but lost the skills to draw when injured.
He began creating tableaux using dolls, setting them in a violent, often bloody, WWII environment.
Doll characters had their basis in Mark’s real life friends and coworkers.
Quick moving story as he uses his outsider art to rehabilitate his artistic abilities, work through obsessions, fixations, and inner demons, then gaining recognition from galleries.

A fave - Stuntman Kurt, shot by Nazi, drinking whiskey.


Vincere - 2009 - 4/10

Italian potboiler about one of Benito Mussolini’s mistresses.
She goes insane - or is insane to begin with - and is institutionalized.
Ham fisted acting accompanied by operatic music cranked to 11 during heavy melodrama.
Possibly the music was meant to wake dozing viewers.
As far as historical accuracy, I do not know.


A Gentle Creature - 1969 - 6/10
AKA - Une Femme Douce

Elle, impoverished student, selling the last of her possessions, meets Luc, young pawnbroker.
His interest swiftly turns obsessive and he proposes marriage.
Maybe Elle could do a lot worse, and penury is a powerful inducement.
The story, told via flashback and memory, peers at a dispirited union.
The marriage, Elle quickly realizes, is unequal. While she “aspires,” he sets limitations.
She must adapt. Theirs is a relationship without smiles.
The one-sided perspective will leave many stymied.


Infinity Chamber - 2016 - 6/10

Set in the near future, the US Presidency incarcerates opposition in mass isolation cells.
Frank, inside the coffee shop, is shot by two security police.
When he revives, he is in a high tech prison, watched over by a computer.
Film unspools as a series of loops, as an advanced A I program extracts information.
Takes awhile to build momentum, and viewers are always on uncertain ground.
Intelligent SciFi, done with a minimal budget.
Christopher Kelly as Frank performs well in what is primarily a one-man show.


The Forgotten Plague - 2015 - 6/10

Documentary on tuberculosis focuses less on the disease (possibly the most lethal, killing roughly 25% of the population for centuries), but rather on the search for the cure.
TB was only recently been “cured” in the 1950’s, so this features many survivors sharing firsthand memories of life in the wards, in the sanatoriums.
Peppered with photos, the doc is well organized, though the tone is dry and detached.
Well done, but surprisingly dull.
Cured is a curious word. As of 2017 there were 10M cases of TB on the planet.


Sex, Chips And Rock N’ Roll - 1999 - 6/10

Coming of age mini-series.
Sisters Arden and Ellie fall in the path of The Ice Cubes, a rising pop group in the early 60’s.
Wistful recollection of Eccles, with an irresistible song selection and youthful performances.
Nice layers of multiple generations conflicting, as well as surprising class misconceptions.
I found this quite by accident when looking for other work by James Callis (AKA - The Wolf, AKA - Gaius Baltar).


A Perfect Getaway - 2009 - 6/10

Oh, those turistas. Especially the twenty somethings.
Irritatingly upbeat, eager for risky adventures, seeking trouble.
This had been on my list for awhile, but the females always vetoed with, “No more dead teenager films.”
Perfect Getaway is not a dead teenager flick.
A honeymoon couple starts trekking the remote Kalalau Trail.
They learn that other honeymooners had been murdered by a mysterious couple.
Could the killers be the creepy hitch-hikers they refused to give a ride to? Or the crazy vet and his cracker girlfriend?
Nice thriller with good twists.
Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn stand out, but all leads give decent performances.


Urbanized - 2011 - 6/10

Ten year old documentary about urban planning.
Making cities more “liveable.” More green space, less overcrowded slums.
Cleaner apartments, running water, crime control, on and on.
The mayor of Bogota prioritized buses carrying 100 citizens over 100 cars with 1 driver each.
Good luck with that in other (ahem, privileged) nations.
Anyway, all the speakers are idealists.
Two elephants are NEVER mentioned.
Ongoing climate change and the mass migration that will ensue.
And, the human population which continues to increase exponentially.
Are those realities too taboo to discuss?


Meek’s Cutoff - 2010 - 6/10

A group of pioneers heading for Oregon in 1845 hires a mountain man who knows a shortcut.
Yes, shortcut. Females worldwide are shaking their heads.
Of course he gets them lost. In the desert, no less.
Adding to their parched thirst, a Paiute Indian is prowling about.
The film is very slow, colors washed out, dialogue sparse.

Much of the film is from the women’s point of view.
Thus we cannot hear what menfolk quietly discuss.
Not an action flick, but a mood piece that will try the patience of many.


Moka - 2016 - 7/10

Early on, mother flees (escapes) from the clinic where she had been under observation.
She suffers profound grief following the death of her son by a hit and run driver.
Remorse is not on her mind, however, retribution is.
Through a hired private detective, she “thinks” she has found the driver.
Her mind is made up, though for viewers the quarry is less clear.
A great deal of tension in this tale of grim resolve vs unsubstantiated assumptions.
Emmanuelle Devos excellent as the parent turned hunter.
In many ways a remake of 1969’s Que la Bete Meure with less moral clarity.


The Art Of The Steal - 2009 - 6/10

Documentary on how Philadelphia politicians, charitable institutes, and foundations, colluded to disregard the stipulated will of mega collector Albert C Barnes, and shift stewardship of a priceless collection to the Philadelphia Museum.
Why? Tourist money in the millions.

The group I viewed this with were appalled.
I argued theft is in our DNA. I referenced the Elgin Marbles, the Hermitage, loot taken by Caesar, Napoleon, Goering, and untold wealth grabbed by Conquistador Spain from Central and South America.
The group chastised me for being cynical. I declined to point out that living room outrage is the equivalent of the social media “Dislike.” The protesting sheep is still mutton.


The Day Of The Wolves - 1971 - 6/10

Very interesting el cheapo caper film.
First fifteen minutes are wordless as we watch various individuals - assassin, bank robber, second story man - ply their trade, then get recruited for a big job.
The plan, organized by Number 1, is to take down a small desert town.
The men all wear beards and go by numbers, not their names. If any get caught, they can’t tell the Feds jack.
Pace bogs midway with endless rehearsals and town politics, until the robbery unfolds in a blaze of bullets.
Well cast with name actors, and lesser known, though no bad acting.
Soundtrack, a mix of psychedelia and funk, is pretty good.
Film stock is bad, the look is cheap, editing is jumpy. In short, Grindhouse fare.
I bet 5¢ that Mr. Tarantino saw this at one point and it influenced Reservoir Dogs.


The Possessed - 1965 - 6/10
AKA - La Donna Del Lago

Mid-winter, and the writer returns to the lake hotel where he penned his previous novel.
Partly to recapture inspirational magic, more to see the blonde beauty who has been thinking of since he left.
Only thing … turns out she is dead. Suicide, says the official report. Murder whispers the villagers.
So, does he start on his book? Of course not, he starts asking questions.
The deeper he digs into the mystery, the more false trails he unearths, not to mention numerous nightmare sequences, designed to bewilder the viewers.
Moody, atmospheric tale photographed in a high Gothic style, though the sound mix is overly aggressive.
All in all, a good mystery.


Golden Exits - 2017 - 7/10

New York professional archivist hires (another) young, female assistant.
She is Australian, inexperienced, pretty, and received coolly by the archivist’s wife and sister-in-law.
A thick undercurrent pervades the marriage, a tension that smells of infidelity.
The Aussie had been to the States a decade earlier and had developed a crush on a musician, whom she casually sets about stalking. His male vanity is flattered, his wife’s radar hones in, however.
Very much a film dominated by conversations, said and unsaid, as well as glances and fleeting physical touches.


Witchcraft XI: Sisters In Blood - 2000 - 3/10

I ought to have my head examined.
Watched this winner because Anita Page was in it.
Miss Page was one of the last working Silent Era actresses.
She appeared in three scenes, wearing nightgown and hairnet. Probably filmed at her nursing home.
“Plot” is of a trio of drama students who get possessed by witches then do lots of bouncing to raise a lesser demon and open a doorway to Hell.
Most of the spawning is of the topless variety, as the babes grind away sporting black panties.
These were not exactly top tier thespians. In one scene I found myself trying to read the titles on her bookshelf, while the gent, laying passive under her indifferent loins, was trying to keep from yawning.
Hold yourself back.


Best Worst Movie - 2009 - 7/10

Documentary on Troll 2, often listed as the worst movie ever made.
Unlike Troma camp, Troll 2 was not meant to be awful, but a cascade of bad acting, inept script, an Italian director and writer who could not speak English, zero production values, resulted in a reel of brown goo.
Then the movie went on to become a cult favorite, though the Italian director still insisted Troll 2 was an artistic triumph, full of meaning and family values.
The documentary catches up with old cast members (George Hardy is now a dentist) and shows packed midnight movie houses.
Real passion from people who love bad movies.
Consider yourself warned.


Death Smiles On A Murderer - 1973 - 6/10
AKA - La Morte Ha Sorriso All’assassino

An out of control carriage wrecks, leaving a dead driver and lovely female with amnesia.
No worries, the rich family nearby take her in.
The local doctor (Klaus Kinski) is summoned, who declares her health problems are temporary.
Nevertheless, as soon as he returns to his laboratory, he bubbles into mad professor behavior.
Film mixes Gothic, Giallo, Carmilla, Poe, Frankenstein, all sorts of influences in a chaotic mess.
It is never uninteresting, but it never goes anywhere, either.
DVD audio commentary confirmed my take.
Worth a watch, especially for Kinski fans who is good in this.


The Flood - 2019 - 7/10

Female immigration officer takes the difficult case of a refugee from Eritrea asking for asylum.
Trouble is, he had been apprehended carrying a knife, and the Home Secretary wants a clear message sent.
The seeker talks and gives his story. The road trip of one.
Questions of whether there is room or opportunity for everyone are not addressed.
Political refugee or an economic migrant, the film picks a side early and sticks with it.