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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 26

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Behind The Burly Q - 2010 - 7/10

Ba da bing! Va va voom!
Documentary about the heyday of burlesque. Era of strip tease, before shaved and pierced became de rigueur.
Mostly interviews, remembrances. Alan Alda spoke of his father, a burlesque comedian.
Dozens of stories from still living performers (many died soon after filming). Fabulous photos.
Hard to wrap my mind over the notion of daily matinée shows. Talk about happy hour.

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Bridesmaids - 2011 - 4/10

I like chick flicks, the more razor honed, the better.
This was a monster smash. So much for expectations.
Bridesmaids featured a slate of 40ish year old actors, playing roles better suited to teens.
Apologies, I’m insulting teenagers. Few would be as consistently dim as the characters in this shriller.
The lead is a whiny loser, who somehow still has friends … friend.
Still she was blonde, dumb, and dumb is funny.
Guys trapped watching this, beware.

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Point Break - 1991 - 7/10

Police thriller delivers the action in spades.
FBI rookie is transferred to Los Angeles, and is soon assigned to bank robbery division.
The best heist crew? Outfit known as the ex-Presidents. Numerous smash and grab, clean getaways.
Lab forensics soon zero in on residual evidence which points to the surfing scene.
Wait! You mean surfers could be organized enough to stage and execute a daylight robbery?
Narrative rocks along throughout with surf sequences, shootouts, car chases, and extreme sports.
This has aged fairly well (though the notion of bank robberies was over by the 1970’s).
AVOID the 2015 remake which has become a magnet for “worst ever” reviews.

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The Ides Of March - 2011 - 4/10

Absurd political thriller set amidst the US primary season.
Five or ten minutes in, the main character (Gosling - the smartest guy on the team) takes a phone call and begins a series of stupid, moronic decisions.
He does things your high school student council rep would have shunned.
Intelligent actors, good sets, excellent concept, completely undermined by contrived, muddled script.
Others around me voiced, “No!” “Stop!” or “You idiot!” before every ludicrous act.
Then again, maybe this is symbolic of politicians in general?
Except! Gosling is “Staff” and staff is always expendable.
Asinine.

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Let The Sunshine In - 2017 - 5/10
AKA - Un Beau Soleil Intérieur

Successful artist Isabelle picks up numerous men, engages in meaningless affairs.
She longs for LOVE, real love, with Mister Right, not Mister Right-Now.
That said, she seems to hone in on married guys, ones not remotely interested in leaving their wives.
I think they were aiming for “hot mess,” but failed miserably.
Being a successful artist does not add a layer of interest. Her character is a drag.
Pity party sad sack, who laments to anyone within earshot.
Note: After preview audiences began laughing at this stinker, producers and everyone involved decided they ought to term this a comedy.
Don’t buy it. This is as funny as an armpit in late summer.

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Gloria Bell - 2018 - 6/10

Self named character is looking for a dance partner, not necessarily a commitment.
Mister Right-Now will do nicely. Meanwhile, her career is smooth sailing, her children are grown and doing OK.
At a 70’s retro club she meets a retired ex Marine (oddly miscast John Tuturro) and they hit it off. Sorta.
He’s recently divorced, has family issues and is needy.
To my mind, Gloria is already an empowered female. Her bucket list doesn’t include this thumb sucker.
Yet without this trainwreck love affair, there would not be this movie.
Thin and somewhat overpraised.

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Apocalypse Now Redux - 1979/2001 - 8/10

For some reason I never got around to viewing the longer version (3+ hours).
In many ways, this is more coherent than the 1979 edition.
Restored sequences often add to narrative, though at other times it gets preachy.
First half of the film terrifically exciting, sound mix, cinematography all gung-ho.
Second half of the narrative bogs in the muck, likely by design.
The 1st Air Cav attack always good demo if you have new screen or sound system to show off.

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Like Crazy - 2011 - 6/10

British exchange student falls in love with Los Angeles based student.
During courtship, both make youthful promises.
She over-stays her visa and is not allowed to return to the States.
They try to maintain their relationship, then try to meet others.
They try to forget, they try to hold on. The breeze of reality dissipates the bond.
Bittersweet romance grinds into the real world.
Characters flawed but likable.

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Fishermen’s Friends - 2019 - 6/10

Crowd pleasing yarn of Cornish fishermen who sing shanties, get discovered by a label rep.
Brits have these films down to a formula. When they work, the trans-Atlantic crowd goes wild.
Other times, the stories fall flat or feel forced.
This is good, reminiscent in places of The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill, other times Waking Ned Devine.
With ten men in the group, most are given one-liners and sharp retorts. Most of these zingers are funny and strike home.
The label rep is truly out of his element, a well-intentioned, and not overly stuffy, Margaret Dumont type.
Plenty of songs with layered harmonies. Predictable to a tee, fine if you are in the mood.

Aft deck:
^

For years, at the record shop we had a regular who rolled in looking for sea shanties.
The guy was a caricature of a retired tar.
Built like a fire hydrant, he sported an English naval cap and a thin tee shirt over a massive gut.
Whatever the shirt, there was always permanent spillage cascading from his top deck to Davy Jones locker.
If he had toiled in the navy, then it must have been manning the bilge pumps because he was near deaf.
His sea shanty requests were always barked or shouted.
One of my coworkers named him Poopdeck Pappy and the tag stuck.
Most employees hid, but there were always a few - ahem - who had a soft spot for wackos.
Now and then, browsing import catalogues, I came across CDs of sea shanties and ordered.
Poopdeck always bought.
I think he would have liked this film. Probably sing along, too, causing shipmates to mutiny.
^

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Death Fever: News From Antwerp - 2019 - 6/10
AKA - Totenfieber: Nachrichten aus Antwerp

Ellen travels to the coroner in Antwerp to identify her daughter.
Questions about the death become moot the next day - after the body vanishes.
Ellen tries to locate her daughter’s flatmate, only she has disappeared.
A well meaning friend opens a door into Santería, and mysteries compound.

Film moves quickly, so you have little time to nitpick discrepancies.
Entertaining horror / thriller will also appeal to conspiracy types.

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Love Crime - 2010 - 7/10
AKA - Crime d’amour

Kristin Scott Thomas plays ambitious, manipulative boss, who claims credit for work done by her junior.
Of course, she earns a much higher wage than her underling, and a tidy bonus.
(Ha ha ha, stand in line, underpaid flunkies of the world!)
Meanwhile, her subordinate, Isabelle, lays a trail of vengeance via deception.
Solid French revenge film with some nice twists and turns.
Nothing but villains in this; pick your baddie and root.

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 (Edited)

Kfulim: S02 - 2018 - 7/10
AKA - False Flag

One of those rare second seasons that are superior to the first.
This series is slightly longer, with fewer “persons of interest.”
While omnipresent, even the forces of Shin Bet and Mossad, have less screen time.
The focus here is on a terrorist incident designed to disrupt a proposed oil pipeline.
As before, there are lambs offered up a culprits, should investigators want easily solutions,
For thriller fans, espionage buffs, and those who favor densely plotted mysteries.
This is masterfully arranged and executed, though hopefully viewers know a smattering of Mid-East politics and history.

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Another Year - 2010 - 6/10

Quiet slice from Mike Leigh.
Happily married couple (Jim Broadbent & Ruth Sheen) and the friends who pass in and out of their lives.
Events move from season to season.
Nothing earth shaking, though Lesley Manville terrific as desperately lonely best friend.

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Picking Up The Pieces - 2000 - 5/10

Murder and dismemberment open up this black comedy that shifts gears into religious satire.
Woody Allen plays Tex, a kosher butcher living in Texas.
Sharon Stone is Candy, his trampalicious wife. She won’t stay buried. Well, her hand won’t stay buried.
In due time it is revered as a sacred relic. - - Swear, I ain’t making this up.
Cheech Marin, Kiefer Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Lou Diamond Philips, Eddie Griffin bolster a big cast in this terrible nonsense.
Several scenes filmed in a trailer park.
Music by Flaco Jimenez.
Be advised, this is NOT a Woody Allen script.

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American Grindhouse - 2010 - 6/10

Careening documentary of grindhouse cinema covers miles of territory at breakneck speed.
From the Silent era’s Traffic In Souls, through sleaze, exploitation, Blaxploitation, spoofs, until current times.
Always the same ethos, get asses into theater seats! And what works for Klaw will be gobbled by MGM.
I could not keep up. There must have been 200 films, although many were simply lobby cards or posters.
Titles raced by, and I’m going, “Hey! I never heard of Wolf Woman from 1916. I gotta find this winner!”
Quite a few talking heads, all seem utterly delighted to have been invited to gab away.
Absolute must-see for fans for trash, bad cinema, Grade Z shambles.

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56 Up - 2012 - 9/10

Eighth installment of outstanding Up documentary series, which began in 1963 with 7 Up.
The children are now 56. As theorized, the personality of the child very much predicted the adult. The other notions, such as class separation, did not hold as much. Privilege helped, though not always. Likewise, many of the East Enders climbed far.
At their current age, none of them allowed themselves to be baited, goaded or bullied by director Apted.
Worth tracking down right now as the three part series.
The DVD releases are never as good as the TV airings.
Charles, ever stubborn, remains MIA.

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Young Doctors In Love - 1981- 5/10

More misses than hits in dated spoof of hospital dramas.
Interns arrive at busy hospital and brace for ER overload.
In the same vein as Airplane and Naked Gun, except the writing is worn out.
Assorted actors do their best, but jokes are stale, many of the setups forced.
I recognized cameos from General Hospital, a rage when this came out, forgotten now.
Likewise, references to trashy fare like Student Nurses and Candystripe Nurses, staples of drive-ins back during that time. Watch for a young Michael Richards (Cosmo Kramer) as a hitman.
OK if you like 70’s - 80’s spoof films, and have viewed the better ones already.

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13 Tzameti - 2005 - 7/10

A young, barely employed roofer overhears a fractured discussion from a dying, drugged oldster about making a big score.
The geezer dies, the kid intercepts his mail and decides to follow the steps and take his place.
Easy money.
Black and white French film, stark and dark, turns grim once the kid arrives at the destination.
Once the money men arrive, guns are passed. Then there is no backing out.
Again, this is the 2005 French original, not the 2010 Hollywood rehack.

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63 Up - 2019 - 9/10

Ninth installment of this, at this point, tremendous documentary.
By now, participants are staring at mortality and taking a hard look back at their lives.
Unlike most of us, who enjoy faulty memory or nostalgia to deceive ourselves, they encounter a brutal looking glass every seven years.
For those who have access, the three part TV specials are generally superior to the movie condensations.
Highly influential. There is an ongoing Russian series (I have, but have not watched),
I cannot imagine a similarly honest series launching in this Age Of The Selfie.

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 (Edited)

Enemy At The Gates - 2000 - 5/10

Lord, this shoulda been good! Stupid ass producers.
1942, the Nazis surge across Europe, striking into Russia, and try to capture Stalingrad.
Soviets resistance is furious, though they are no match for the Wehrmacht.
That is, until a sniper emerges who proves deadly to the German officer corps.
Soviet propaganda elevates him to “hero” status, Berlin sends in their best sniper.
Great war scenes, taut cat and mouse sequences between the two shooters.
What went wrong? Some fool decided to shoehorn in a love story.
Worse, turn that into a triangle of jealousy and resentment.
I wish some faneditor would “fix” this.
This could have been great.

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The Trip - 2010 - 6/10

I had been looking forward to this.
Faux road trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, spending a week driving from one hotel & gourmet restaurant to another.
Some food, of course, yet this was more a character study of a fading, almost-star and a regional player.
Throughout, both acted like prats in a pissing contest.
Depressing in a way, as viewers observe Coogan grasping that his youth, and his “moment” have passed.
Impressive impersonations of Sean Connery and Michael Caine.
Darkly ironic, since Coogan and Brydon are dwarfed by comparison.
Fill your boots, man!

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That Cold Day In The Park - 1969 - 7/10

From her upstairs window, a woman spies young man on park bench, as rain begins.
She invites him inside to warm, offers a meal, takes his clothes to wash.
That last piece ought to have warned him. Keep an eye on your clothing. He is young, however.
While not a hustler, he knows a good setup when he sees one.
Unfortunately, he fails to grasp her degree of loneliness, the current world she feels trapped in.
Early Robert Altman film came right before the “big titles.”
Moody thriller, although those elements are tame by today’s norms. A dark atmosphere predominates.
Slow, stealthy spider and fly story, focuses on the patient cocooning of the prey.
Sandy Dennis occasionally breaks the fourth wall by staring directly into the camera.
Forcing viewers to look inside her in return, seeing a creepy soul whose tight screws begin to pop free.

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Full Circle - 1977 - 6/10
AKA - The Haunting Of Julia

Ten years after Rosemary, Mia Farrow reprises another haunted mother.
After her daughter dies, she separates from her husband, moves into a large, fully furnished flat that may or may not be haunted, and starts “seeing” her daughter.
Based on the Peter Staub book, before he struck gold with “Ghost Story.”
In the movie, you don’t know why she separates from her husband, though in the book he is clearly overbearing, and perhaps more interested in her trust fund than her.
Implausible common Horror violations include:

  1. When the door is locked, then audibly unlocks - you DO NOT go inside.
  2. Never EVER descend into the basement when you are alone in an empty house.
    Farrow fine as grieving mother, everyone else appears bored.

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The Great War - 1964 - 9/10

Grandfather of war documentaries and one of the greatest documentaries ever made.
At a whopping 26 episodes, this is thorough, well researched, and fair minded.
In 1964 many veterans of World War I still survived and they spoke throughout.
Officer aides, footsoldiers, villagers. English, French, Germans, Austrians, Australians, Turks . . .
Minor shortcoming is that few of the interviewees are identified.
Mountains of newsreel footage, campaign maps and strategies. Surprise victories, bitter defeats.
Initial episodes are not even battle related, but background history and events leading up to conflict.

We are still in the 100 year anniversary of WWI; this documentary shows how easy it is to slip into wars, all flag waving and shouting, and how difficult it becomes to get out of them.
Resentments, alliances, race hatred. Realities true during Caesar’s and Napoleon’s era, resonate today.
Several years in, World War I becomes one of attrition, deprivation and endurance.
On both sides, on-leave soldiers grasp how civilians, far removed behind the lines, no longer care about the war nor the soldiers bleeding and dying in miserable trenches, who stand forgotten. Much as today.

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Air Doll - 2009 - 7/10
AKA - Kûki Ningyô // 空気人形

An inflatable toy (think unwanted male’s action toy) wakes up one morning and realizes she has developed consciousness.
She wanders the neighborhood, makes friends, finds a job at a video store.
Emotions begin to flower and she has trouble with those.
Moody, melancholy film about loneliness and emptiness.
Yet also about opening your heart to others, despite the inevitable pain.
Haunting, minimalist score.