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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 28

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Urban Explorer - 2011 - 4/10

A mixed quartet of global tourists opt for the €300 (each!) illegal tour of the Berlin sewers.
Destination, a recently discovered, now sealed Nazi room.
Obviously, those 20ish gimbots have never watched a dead teenager flick in their lives.
What else would explain, “Oh, sewer walk, fun!” ?
Avoids clichés initially, then succumbs to predictability and formula.
Docked several points for lazy writing (eg: helpless, whiny female characters), and one stupid decision after another made by players so they could be easy targets.
Caveat emptor.

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A Fantastic Woman - 2017 - 7/10
AKA - Una Mujer Fantástica

On the eve of a vacation together, Marina’s much older boyfriend suffers what appears to be a stroke.
Complications follow, as she must deal with the hospital, police, finally the man’s family.
Marina’s trans status informs everyone she comes into contact with.
Remarkable study of an individual walking a tightrope without a net.
Bystanders ignorant, indifferent, hostile. try to be tolerant, open-minded, yet the sooner they see the backside of Marisa, the better.
Her reaction is poignant throughout. Resigned, stoical, barely suppressing a desperate grief.
Memorable scene when one of the relatives describe her as chimera.
Of course, he does not “see” her, he only sees the surface, and her reaction resembles a wound.
Real tour de force. At first, I thought this was from Spain, but no, Chile.

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Anonymous - 2011 - 4/10

Shakespeare never wrote all those plays. Nor poems.
All were penned by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.
Very handsome looking production that methinks doth protest too much. Or persuades too much.
Typical nonsense from director Roland Emmerich.
His highlights feature: Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012, 10000 BC.
He can make em glossy, he can make em gassy, he can make em loud, he can make em preposterous.
With Anonymous, he succeeds on all fronts.
Given extra star because it really does look terrific.

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Darkman - 1990 - 6/10

My introduction to Liam Neeson, thirty years ago.
He had been in other films (eg: Excalibur), but this was his first starring actioner.
Neeson harrowing as vengeance driven scientist squared off against the murderous Larry Drake and his trusty cigar cutter.
Sam Raimi’s comic tendencies now come off as silly and distracting.
Darkman came between Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness.
Those two were horror comedies, Darkman was more violent and should have thrust straight for the jugular.
Definitely a series that could use a reboot.
Neeson could also replay the role, much harder, more diabolical.

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Death In Leon - 2016 - 7/10
AKA - Muerte en León

Documentary covering the assassination of Isabel Carrasco, chief of the government in Leon, Spain.
The murder occurred in broad daylight, and the killer freely confessed.
The story, the conspiracy, plays out in the courtroom.
Who else participated? How much did they know? And when?
As with real trials, viewers hear well coached stories, interpretations, dissembled versions.
Being a political murder, there is the whiff of corruption, evidence tampering and manipulation.
Quite absorbing, even though I knew nothing about Spanish politics.

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Cold Comfort Farm - 1995 - 7/10

The story of Robert Poste’s child, Flora, left orphaned by the unspecified demise of both parents.
She decides to stay with relatives at Cold Comfort Farm.

Droll comedy packed with memorable quotes.
“I saw something nasty in the woodshed.”
“If you come to this doomed house, what is there to save you?”
“Drain the well, there’s a neighbor missing.”
“There’ll be no butter in hell!”

Kate Beckinsale shines in an early role.

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La Belle Endormie - 2010 - 6/10
AKA - The Sleeping Beauty

Catherine Breillat mixes the sleeping princess with the Snow Queen, shuffles and extends the time.
An evil witch delivers the curse, a trio of less powerful faeries attempt to modify the curse.
Princess Anastasia, succumbing to the splinter, begins a long, dreamlike quest.
An imaginative reexamination of childhood fairy tales, with no special effects or computer gimmicks.
Breillat disorients expectations of an audience familiar with childhood tales.
Nice followup to the previous Perrault film, Barbe Bleue.

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Hesher - 2010 - 6/10

Angry downer.
Young boy grieves for mom, dad is depressed, grandma does her best.
Into their lives comes “Hesher.” An angry troublemaker with the firebug gene.
Note: this character was supposedly patterned after Metallica’s Cliff Burton.
Slow moving at times, though generally interesting. The females of the audience hated this film (which they selected), whereas the guys laughed a lot. Probably much more tolerant of males barely housebroken.
Stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman.

Metallica enjoyed the film and allowed a batch of songs to be used throughout.

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Bedlam: S02 - 2012 - 6/10

Ellie sees dead people. She has visions, premonitions, hears voices.
It costs her a paramedic job, and her fiancé drops her because he is as understanding as a fish hook.
So Ellie makes her way to the haunt packed Bedlam Heights, now rebranded Brightmoor.
Why? Who knows. Yet she gets to stay there free. Room and meals, gratis, while she does zip.
Followup to Bedlam S01, has a mostly new cast, is more drama oriented, with fewer kills.
Ellie has a looser grasp of her “gift” than did Jed, and most of the characters are illogical.
Nevertheless, S02 is better written and stitches a decent ending.

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Space Battleship Yamato - 2010 - 5/10
AKA - 宇宙戦艦ヤマト

Wow, flashback to a bygone era.
Earth is being bombarded by hostile aliens using radioactive meteorites.
The hope for humanity lies with SB Yamato, which resembles a submarine meets aircraft carrier meets shark.
The cast overacts, spitting their lines in staccato outbursts which reminds me of the 60’s era.
Fighter pilots participate in dismal CGI dogfights, while the bridge crew parks at futuristic, 1984 type, consoles.
The Captain fares better, sitting a Laz-E Boy recliner.
Every single character is selfless, noble and heroic.
I have a foam brick that I toss at the screen sometimes. This movie, I hurled it frequently.

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The Future - 2011 - 4/10

Depressing tale of two sad sack whiners.
Early on, they decide to adopt a terminally ill kitty.
They bounce working from one meaningless job to another, quietly complain, and wish they were more successful.
I suspect the writer/director was making a point about disconnection - or life’s pointlessness - or souls without direction.
Failure on all fronts.
Both actors delivered lines in monotone, suggesting they were on Quaaludes, Prozac or Lithium.
By the end of the film, their characters had not advanced one iota, yet I had lost 90" of my life watching this lifeless poo poo.
And the terminally ill feline? Mope, mope, mope.

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Chefs: S01 - 2015 - 6/10

Nasty French series of sharp edged knives in the kitchen.
Once lauded restaurant suffers debts, deals with fickle fans.
New hires, a new investor, new business manager join the unhappy team.
Meals are the rarefied sort, meaning €200 will get you a large white plate and what looks like hors d’oeuvres.
Beyond my range, so I watched with passing interest.
Writing is spotty. Narrative tottered between predictability and surprise twists.
There is a S02, chances are I will pass.

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The Horrible Dr. Hichcock - 1962 - 6/10
AKA - L’orribile Segreto del Dr. Hichcock

The premier surgeon in London, circa 1885, has a miraculous anesthesia.
Which, back at home, he and his wife indulge in as their sexual proclivities are kinked.
Others could have warned him. Sex and medicines, like sex and ropes, are often fatal.
Twelve years later, Hichcock finally finds a new wife.
Who is curious about locked doors, footsteps, strangers on the lawn.

Truly gorgeous Gothic movie, listed as Horror, but it seems closer to Mystery / Thriller.
Little surprises in a story that seems to borrow heavily from du Maurier’s “Rebecca.”
Barbara Steele is quite lovely in this, though her role is a dewy eyed victim.
Robert Flemyng owns the film as Dr. Hichcock. Obsessed, cool, controlling, mad.

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The Trip To Italy - 2014 - 6/10

Sequel to The Trip (2011) which I had looked forward to viewing, but ended up disliking.
So why I put this on … more fool me.
Once again Coogan and Brydon tour a series of top restaurants, crack wise, bitch, and chase tail.
Well, not Coogan who seems more restrained in this film, subdued, as if he was not keen on the project.
Nor would most relish spending weeks with Rob Brydon who excels as an annoying prat.
Breathtaking scenery, mouth-watering food, with added bits with family back home.
At one point Coogan’s son visits - as played by an actor.
The journey is scripted. Coogan and Brydon play themselves, yet they are reading lines. OK - fake, not a doc.
If you go into this knowing both men play versions of themselves, in a story otherwise utterly fictitious, you will perhaps enjoy this more.

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Dear Prudence - 2010 - 5/10
AKA - Belle Épine

After being arrested for separate shoplifting, two teenage girls form a tenuous relationship.
Unlike what some reviews indicate, they do not “bond.”
One is bourgeois, has superior prospects, yet is adrift following the death of a parent.
The other is harder to pinpoint, save she of rougher cloth, with more limited means.
Both are drawn to an underground scene of midnight motorbike racing, and death.
None of these lost souls are portrayed well, nor are they particularly interesting.
Nor is the film, for that matter.
Premarital sex, midnight motorbikes, cigarettes. These teen tropes were done in the 50’s, likely before that.
Here, set in 2010, they seem quaint.

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Carnage - 2011 - 6/10

Saw this first at a local theatre production. Live drama. I hated it.
Film version boasts big names: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C Reilly, Christoph Waltz. Roman Polanski directs.
Carnage remains a play set in one room, though.
Two sets of parents escalate the playground spat begun by their two boys.
Jodie Foster’s character is defensive and one of those “must have the last word” types. Waltz is the chronic cellphone addict.
Even after I quaffed a bottle of red, this didn’t feel any better.
If you like talky, argumentative dramas, jump on this, Floyd.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz …

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Viy - 1967 - 7/10

Bratsky Monastery in Kiev releases students for summer break.
The rector warns them to avoid excess debauchery, before they dash off, stealing food and groping females.
As dusk settles, young priest Khoma and two companions request shelter from an old crone.
Before he realizes his situation, the woman mounts Khoma (not like that, naughty), seizes her broomstick, and away they fly.
Oh, no, she a witch!
Well, a lot more lands in Khoma’s plate. Cossacks, a dead maiden, gallons of vodka, and a spooky three night wake.
Funny, frightening, beautiful photography, with a hair raising finale.
Based on Gogol‘s short story, this is faithful and picturesque.

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Suite Française - 2014 - 6/10

Can a sensitive Wehmacht officer and sensitive young wife of his enemy find love in Occupied France?
Paris has recently fallen and Nazi officers are billeted with local families.
In this film, at least, the homes have attractive females of varying availability.
While our lieutenant is a gentleman, others act on urges.
Although “based on a true story,” this is not remotely original.
The more interesting aspects are how villagers react to the invaders, and turn on each other.
That is secondary, however, to the doomed love of kindred spirits.
Weep n sleep.

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Georgia O’Keefe - 2009 - 6/10

Biography of painter O’Keefe (Joan Allen) and husband Alfred Steiglitz (Jeremy Irons).
Well acted, well photographed, shifting from Manhattan to the Southwest desert.
Probably should have been a mini-series.
As shown, this seems more a sketch of mannerisms and iconic paintings.

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Carry On Screaming - 1966 - 6/10

Guilty pleasure here.
Silly spoof of Hammer films, packed with puns, slapstick and smoldering innuendo.
(Fenella Fielding is the essence of smokin’ hot.)
After a series of females go missing in the woods, Detective Sergeant Bung and his assistant get on the case.
They visit Bide-A-Wee Rest Home, hoping for witnesses, but the sergeant only finds temptations.
Classic horror films, TV horror, and English lore are all skewered.
Corny, wacky nonsense is an elixir for farce aficionados.

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Russia 1917: Countdown To Revolution - 2017 - 7/10

Compressed telling of events leading up to the Bolshevik revolution.
Narrative begins 239 days out, until time collapses to “Zero Hour.”
An unlikely takeover of power, a nation, and history.
Talking heads propel the facts, but they frequently disagree.
Modern reenactments are used sparingly for Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and Kerensky.
Remainder of the visuals are period newsreels and Silent era footage.
Those Silent films were especially useful, as they were accepted as history.
Many of the declarations by participants were taken as factual and believed.
Worthwhile viewing, though lacking depth and not without flaws.
For example, one of the speakers opines that this is where “fake news” begins.
Sorry, as long as humans have breathed, they have deceived.

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Boyfriends And Girlfriends - 1987 - 6/10
AKA - L’ami de Mon Amie
AKA - My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

During lunch, city employee Blanche meets student Lea.
Both are in their early twenties and talk soon revolves around boyfriends, potential boyfriends, lovers.
The females we understand somewhat, their emotions, their reactions. Males, not so much.
Casual connections, impromptu breakups.
The girls are a chummy duo, and I speculated that if this movie was remade, would producers feel compelled to inject a lesbian subtext?
Decent Rohmer film should be fine for his fans, though it is as airy as a soufflé.

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Gantz - 2010 - 6/10
AKA - 前編

Japanese Sci-Fi - Horror - action film based on popular manga.
Recently deceased souls were revived by Gantz, a large black sphere, to eliminate aliens among us.
Aliens are at once ordinary and strange.
If combatants succeed, points are awarded. 100 points = return to living. Dead combatants stay dead.
Followed by a sequel.


Gantz: Perfect Answer - 2011 - 6/10
AKA - ガンツパーフェクトアンサー

Not nearly as different or inventive as the first film, but the sequel reveals who is killing those “recently deceased,” and why.
And what happened to combatants who were slain in battles.
More full on conflicts, with a highlight occurring in a high speed subway.
The rare sequel that provides resolution to the first movie.
Both Gantz flicks ought to be viewed as a pair.

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Hitchcock - 1986 - 6/10

From the BBC Omnibus series, this shallow overview came out a few years after his death.
First part covers his English era and early US years.
Second half covers his prime years and “decline.”
Talking heads are a mixed lot, and most seem a tad dismissive, the writers especially so.
Some actresses also aired their laundry. Again, this was released within a few years of his death.
Smattering of film clips with major omissions (The Lodger, Lifeboat, Notorious, To Catch A Thief, many others).
Worse, spoilers mar the film reviews (in 1986, most filmgoers had viewed the majority of Hitchcock’s movies).

More recommended would be Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick Collaborations, a documentary covering his early years in the States and lengthy struggles with the obsessive producer.

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Cheri - 2009 - 5/10

Michelle Pfeiffer stars as an aging Parisian courtesan (prostitute), who has lengthy affair with the 19 year old son of a rival.
Somewhat based on the novel by Collette, though the book focused on Cheri (the son) while the movie showcases Lea.
Glossy trash.