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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 6


The Prodigal Daughter - 2020 - 6/10
AKA - Die Verlorene Tochter

During the last high school dance, the richest girl in town disappears.
Ten years later, memory gone, Isa suddenly returns.
Conveniently, as the family begins to squabble over the inheritances.
Multiple mysteries are explored in this 6 ep series.
Was she kidnapped originally? If so, by whom? And why?
Where has she been? Why did she return? At this precarious moment.
As the narrative unfolds, personalities and backstories surface in an ugly light.
Does not stitch neatly for meticulous viewers, yet this is a fine, if unpleasant, slow boil thriller.


Railroaded! - 1947 - 6/10

The masked goon, cocksure and aggressive, shoves the muzzle into the terrified doll’s face.
She shrieks, a nearby cop on the beat rushes over, and the robbery skids into chaos.
Hot lead spits across the room, leaving one dead policeman and a critically wounded thug.
For what, Junior? Knocking off a beauty salon.
The other robber, the one who gets clean away, is a calculating block of ice.
He sets up a patsy, an innocent schmuck, a rube, because he is wise and cynical about lawmen.
He knows cops will embrace the frame, knows they are under pressure, knows they will railroad an innocent man in a breath.
Then, while police push the stooge towards the gas chamber, he makes a play for the rube’s sister.

Middling Noir starts strong and the finish is a tour de force. In between, it shuffles indecisively.
Mystery, police procedural, romance, thriller. Blame the script, which cannot make up its mind.
Best is John Ireland as the dead eyed villain, more interested in his gun than men or women.
Much of this Anthony Mann film is quite dark (though later work would be darker), so view in a dimly lit room.


One Child Nation - 2019 - 7/10

Difficult to rate this because it omitted an angle I wanted to see explored.
China, circa 1980, saw their population soar past 1 billion. Starvation loomed on the horizon.
Families were ordered / coerced / forced to limit children to one.
Noncompliance led to abortion, then sterilization.
Documentary interviews families, village party leaders, midwives.
Many are surprisingly forthcoming with guilt, or with pride.
The main consequence pursued was the abandonment or adopting out of unwanted infants.
The concept of “little emperors” was not explored, nor the generation of males who can never marry owing to the missing females.


Satan’s Slaves - 2017 - 6/10
AKA - Pengabdi Setan

Mawarni has been ill for three years, exhausting the family’s financial resources.
Finally she dies. Or … does she?
While the father goes to find work, the children realize there was an incredibly dark side to their mother.
And a bargain, a pact if you will, that demands payment.
Decent Indonesian horror outing benefits from several unique perspectives on a genre film.
Conflict of Islamic faith and surviving paganists is another nice wrinkle.
One sequence is laughably over the top, though others are fairly creepy.


Innocente - 2016 - 5/10

Roxane wakes up on the floor, half naked. Near her, is a half naked man, only he’s dead!
Does she phone the police? No. She slaps on some clothes, grabs her things, and runs.
Police come calling, her explanations are absurd, and into the slammer she goes.
After an eight year stretch, she’s out, desperate to find out who framed her and why.
And then she steps in it. Again. And again.

Sad sack Roxane drove me nuts. She is impulsive, heedless, and often downright stupid.
Moreover, she does not learn from mistakes, so she keeps repeating them.
I started rooting for any potential baddie to whack her.
French series grows preposterous, but is mercifully brief.


The Forbidden Room - 2015 - 7/10

Wow, I have seen some truly bizarre films in my time, this one hits my top 2% in out-there!
Collision of arthouse, experimental, Silent cinema, demonstration shorts …
A submarine crew is trapped undersea with a cargo of explosive jelly.
Because they are running out of air, they gobble down hotcakes since those are filled with air pockets.
A sopping wet woodsman (Sapling Jack) enters their midst via a door / duct.
He shares his story of fighting the Red Wolves who had captured the lovely Margot.
Margot in turn, remembers when she had over a hundred broken bones set by the doctor who fell in love with her, only he was kidnapped in the sensuous embrace of skeleton women.

That’s maybe the first twenty minutes of an almost two hour visual kaleidoscope.
Visual dissolves, inter-titles, musique concrète, a powerhouse cast, in a film confusing, funny, and thoughtful.
Oh, one of the woman’s boyfriends turns into a banana. How could I forget that?
Unwary - beware.


Miss Fisher & The Crypt Of Tears - 2020 - 5/10

Resistance is futile.
My outlook when I was first told this series was crowd-funding shekels for a film version.
(Yeah, and I’ve seen every episode of the series. I live with females.)
Miss Fisher heads to the Mideast to free an innocent, dispel a curse.
Fisher’s character is now written as Emma Peel doing an Indiana Jones reboot.
Her Steed, Inspector Jack, trails after her like a mopey discarded suitor.
To be blunt, Detective Jack ought to be given the ole heave ho from the “guy club.”
Story is unoriginal, it looks cheap, and the charm (and cast) of the series is absent.
For fashion devotees, Phyrne’s wardrobe is limited.


Agatha And The Curse Of Ishtar - 2019 - 6/10

Soured by that Miss Fisher misfire? Try this.
Miss Christie, newly divorced, dwells on the mystery at hand. Mysteries, actually.
She is in Iraq, visiting archeological sites, and wanders into a murder.
And then another.
Not only is she embroiled in murders, and deepening mysteries, she meets one Max Mallowan.
Fans of Agatha Christie, this is an entertaining homage, cleverly scripted by someone who knows her work.
There are in-jokes, classic setups, and a touch of romance.
On the downside, dialogue has been extensively, and poorly, looped.
Sync is noticeably off, and it sounds as if it had been recorded in a particularly resonant chamber.


The Case Of The Krimi - 2018 - 6/10

Brief documentary, presented by Marcus Stiglegger.
Charts the genesis, heyday, and collapse of Krimi films.
The look originated in Expressionism, the stories from 1920’s crime novels by Edgar Wallace.
Fast paced crime yarns, set in London (Hamburg), often with Klaus Kinski as villain.
As the era progressed, films grew sillier and spawned spoofs.
Breezy overview of the Krimi subgenre, which became an important influence on Giallo.


Yellow Fever: The Rise And Fall Of The Giallo - 2016 - 7/10

From those lurid yellow books and the tropes of Krimi.
Add the high fashion and opulent interiors, along with those deadly, shiny knives.
Nicely done documentary will have people wanting more (read a book, folks), but there is plenty here.
Clips from keys films, analysis of innovations. Key players such a Argento, Fulci, Bava …
Critics predominate among the talking heads, with director Argento and actress Barbara Bouchet recollecting.
Missing many people, but there is a more recent documentary out there, All The Colors Of Giallo.
Those who have several Giallos under their viewing belt will enjoy this more.