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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 70


Vidal Sassoon: The Movie - 2010 - 6/10

Glossy documentary of the revolutionary hair designer, now beginning to slip into memory.
Filled with old footage and recent interviews with friends, family, and Sassoon himself.
Earlier years were more informative: His participation in underground groups opposing Mosley’s English pro-fascist parties.
Also his service during 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Followed by the apprenticeship, then the fame.
Plenty of Swingin’ 60’s footage, the five point cut, and survivors recalling the past.
Any hint of negativity (three divorces, one child committed suicide, selling off the business) omitted.
Still hear the commercial tag - “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”


The Dollmaker - 2017 - 6/10

After their young son dies, the parents hear whispers of a skilled doll maker.
And yes, what he fashions is astonishingly lifelike.
There are two stipulations, however: The doll can never go outside, and it can only be held for a specific amount of time each day.
When there are rules, they will be broken.
In this short, there are consequences.


The Uncanny - 1977 - 6/10

How about perilous paws? Chilling claws? Or feline fiends? Or tabby terrors?
Anthology series showcases those murderous monsters. Housecats.
An elderly woman changes her will, leaving her profligate nephew scat, the bulk to her cats.
The scheming maid decides to interfere, running afoul of a pack of growling inheritors.
Another story finds hammy horror actor Valentine De’ath (whom everyone calls VD) recently bereft.
Luckily, his new lust interest resembles a young version of his dead wife.
Too bad the cat is such a sourpuss.
Silly movie has fine cast, and a winking sense of humor, but it plods and scenes extend too long.
Then again, how about uncanny tails?


Tokyo Fist - 1995 - 7/10
AKA - Tokyo Fuisuto // 東京フィスト

Salaryman invites boyhood friend, now a boxer, home for dinner.
The more virile friend quickly charms, seduces, and swipes the wife.
The business man, showing some steel, hits the boxing gym, starts running, builds his stamina and endurance.
Sparring matches turn ugly, while the wife discovers her own steel fetish.
Glorious, blood spurting fights throughout.
Same crew that did Tetsuo films.


Escher: Journey To Infinity - 2018 - 6/10

Grrr. Neither fish nor fowl, this. Not a biography, nor an analysis of the man’s work.
Much of this is history (lite) and a travelogue, traipsing with Escher from one country to another.
Neither world war is mentioned, though the lead-up to WWII is alluded to.
Two surviving sons provide family incidents and anecdotes.
Escher’s personality, not here. Art historians or curators? No. Just Graham Nash.
One gets the impression the producers did not know, and were not curious, about Escher.

My wife, like Graham Nash, was one of those hippies whom the mathematical artist impressed.
She still has books on him, as well as a framed glass plate which has survived seven relocations.
Had the filmmakers consulted at least one of her books, this might have had more substance.


The Jockey Of Death - 1915 - 6/10
AKA - Il Jockey Della Morte

Henri de Castelroc makes his way to the family estate, to find it owned by another.
He also had a cousin, who, as a young girl, had been stolen by gypsies 15 years before.
Had the owner of the castle and estate not overplayed his hand … well, there would be no movie.
And once underway, this hurtles, especially in one lengthy, outstanding chase sequence.
Through sewers, railroad tracks, across rooftops, down cable lines, and cycling on a power line!
Clearly, some reels are lost, yet the narrative holds, and this is like an cascade of cliffhanger thrills.

I made some subs here =


The Foul King - 2000 - 6/10
AKA - Banchikwang // 반칙왕

Alright fight fans!
Meek, lower tier bank clerk enters the wrestling arena.
Trains to be the masked villain!
By turns funny and sad, the latter involving his depressing workplace and the way others view him.
Once that mask is donned, though, beware the tiger.
Laugh out loud film with outrageous main event.
Early film of Kang-ho Song whose profile swiftly climbed in the West thanks to Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, The Host, The Good, The Bad, And The Weird, even Snowpiercer.


Nobody Knows - 2020 - 8/10
AKA - Amoodo Moreunda // 아무도 모른다

Outstanding K-drama / thriller / mystery.
Almost 20 years after her childhood friend was murdered by Stigmata Serial Killer, Cha Young-Jin leads her own criminal investigation unit.
Just as well, too, for the killer has apparently resurrected after two decades of inactivity.

There is a lot of narrative track laid down in this.
It felt like at least 20 plotlines. A killer, decades old murder, a church that may be a cult, a crazy rich hotel owner.
To the writer’s credit (yes, writer, not the compromising writing room), threads stitch by the conclusion.
There are also kids, a crutch I usually dislike, who are struggling junior high pupils.
Acting fine throughout, though Park Hoon steals the limelight as the hotel owner.

A soul of boundless enthusiasm, generosity, and possessing an uncanny ability to gauge others.
The richest guy in the room, yet still connected to his humble roots (his meals of instant noodles).
His roots, however, deeply embedded with the church, reveal a tangled web.
A stealthy malevolence in Memories Of The Alhambra, Hoon here is a rich complication.
At 16 episodes, Nobody Knows makes a fine introduction to K-dramas for those who enjoy mysteries.


Home Education - 2016 - 7/10

Upstairs, Pa lies on the bed. Dead.
Only, he’s not really dead, he will revive soon.
So long as mother and daughter Rachel can keep the dust away from him.
Dust carries bacteria, you understand? And bacteria is a killer.
Rachel is being home-schooled by a mother possessing crazy ideas.
The two females are terrific in different ways. The set design is masterful.
Wonderful, unsettling psychological horror short.

Reworked subs here =


The Wildest Dream - Conquest Of Everest - 2010 - 7/10

Modern documentary retracing George Mallory’s 1924 Mt Everest attempt, which ended in his and his companion’s disappearance. His frozen body, with compound fracture, was found in 1999.
1924 was near the end of the glory years of the old explorers. Both poles, darkest Africa, perfumed Asia, tropical South America, all have been trekked. Only that peak remained to be claimed.
Two modern climbers retraced Mallory’s path, wearing layered clothing, fur hats, hobnail boots, goggles.
The ladder, placed near the top in the 70’s (and used since by countless handicapped, overweight, blind wannabee mountaineers) was removed.
Film swings back and forth between Mallory, his letters, the 20’s and the difficulties the modern duo encounter.
Cold as Hell.


Candyman - 2021 - 6/10

Neither sequel nor remake, but closer to message film.
Artist Anthony, casting about for another inspiration, hears the story, rumor, legend of Candyman.
The subsequent gallery exhibition proves a hit with wine n cheese gawkers and sarcastic critics.
As Anthony delves into the myth, darkness gathers.
Film checklists neighborhood gentrification, racial oppression, the inescapability of destiny.
Despite its name and the shadow of its predecessor, not a fun horror film.


Eerie Tales - 1919 - 6/10
AKA - Unheimliche Geschichten

Closing time in the rare book shop, and three characters emerge from paintings.
The Devil, the prostitute, and Death. Pre-Internet, pre-radio, what do they do?
Start reading books.
Five-part anthology, of which the best known adaptations might be Poe and Stevenson.
Dramatic interpretations are over the top and sweepingly theatrical.
Conrad Veidt is especially flamboyant.
Nonetheless, one watches this creaky vehicle to see the scandalous Anita Berber.
If her story were told today, Berber would tempt a caricature of Weimar decadence. Except she was the real thing.

Subs for this are easy to find. If you cannot =


I, Tonya - 2017 - 7/10

Uncomfortable story of the damaged, yet gifted individual.
In other spheres, participants are judged on talent. Their gifts. Not always, of course.
With figure skaters, presentation factors more than ability. A wholesome back story counts double.
Tonya Harding’s ugly, messy life overshadowed her jaw dropping athletic abilities.
Again and again and again, judges penalized her because she was not pretty, her costumes reflected her meager budget limitations, and because of her rough edge.
In many ways, an extremely funny film, this will leave a foul taste in your mouth, and perhaps an utter disgust at the so-called sport of figure skating.

My bride and I followed figure skating for almost two decades. Caught celebratory ice tours afterward, even tried to buy tickets for a couple of Olympics (concert scalpers have nothing on that racket).
After the drama packed '94 Olympics, we lost our enthusiasm, and never viewed skating again.
As “sport,” it was more theatre and politics, and felt a little fixed. (Christine Brennan’s expose, “Inside Edge,” confirmed grumbles and aired scandals.)
Probably had thus ever been, but dreamers clutch after candy floss until it falls.


Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets - 2014 - 6/10

The Brit group stopped touring and playing in 2002.
Ten years later, Pulp decided to regroup and give a farewell concert to hometown Sheffield.
Doc avoids the typical career overview sweep. Instead, catches up with members where they are now, walks through landscapes of Sheffield itself as well as the musical themes, and interviews many Sheffield residents (seems like the whole city plans to attend).

Highly entertaining, and you do not have to be a hardcore fan to enjoy.
Highlights include the numerous choral groups and glees singing favorite songs.


This Is Not A Burial, This Is A Resurrection - 2019 - 7/10

After her son dies, Mantoa realizes how completely alone she is, having buried daughter, grandchildren and husband.
Her depression leaves her all but listless.
Until a village council alerts her and her neighbors that their community is to be dispersed.
The Ministry has approved a dam for a reservoir.
“What about the graves? What about our ancestors?”
Quiet film about resisting the all-powerful, faceless, Authority.
Slow at times, yet the visuals are arresting.


Armeeka - 2009 - 6/10

The trailer indicated a comedy of newly arrived Palestine woman navigating the USA with humorous results.
Apparently, the trailer caught the only funny moments of the movie.
Remainder of film is OK, showing the harsh realities of Palestine, and the difficulties of transitioning to a new culture (be it 1000 miles away or half a globe away) where your skills, contacts, and credentials mean little.
Not the comic gem it was marketed as. Otherwise, tolerable.
If you go in assuming this is a drama, you may rate this higher.


Humanoids From The Deep - 1980 - 5/10
AKA - Monster // Midnight Love Thing (ha, sorry)

Creature feature that revels in excess, gore, nudity and general tastelessness.
Modest fishing town hosts annual salmon festival, and gets excited about brand spanking new canning factory!
Alcohol fuels male tempers into fights and more fights. Females mostly stay frisky.
Then, without warning, from the churning Pacific depths, a mutation surfaces.
It kills menfolk, it eats dogs and children, and women – it slips the willie in them.
While clearly a budget affair, the pace seldom plods and there is a pile of death and depravity for the drive-in crowd.

This ripoff of Alien was not trashy enough for Roger Corman, so when the original director balked at reshooting gratuitous bouncing knockers and multiple rapes, Corman fired her and hired another.


It’s Only A Play - 2021 - 7/10

“There’s no business like show business.”
After opening night, characters converge in the producer’s suite, while the after-party swings outside the door.
Tension quietly mounts as they wait for reviews, suspecting, fearing, knowing, the play is a turkey.
Very funny production clutches stereotypes like bowling trophies.
The playwright who has never equaled his first play. The talent who sold out and went Hollywood.
Another Hollywood soul, the has-been, looking to Broadway for a comeback.
The poison pen critic. The producer, with more money than sense. The moon-eyed newcomer.
Like I said, mercilessly funny, aimed at theatre souls.


A Better Life - 2011 - 6/10
AKA - Une Vie Meilleure

A young couple discover an abandoned house, in the middle of nowhere, but near the lake.
“I could create a classy restaurant here!” says the male, a school cook.
We just need to borrow enough money …

As any older soul could warn, there are dreams and there are pipedreams.
The couple, and it is very difficult to ascertain how long they have known each other, take on debt.
Crushing debt. But it’s for a better life, right? A glorious future!
The story wears one down. The man has an unpleasant streak, the woman nurses illusions of her own, plus she has a son whom she drags into the swamp.
The bitter passage that we have all either witnessed or experienced.


Chicago Syndicate - 1955 - 5/10

City officials recruit Federal accountant to infiltrate seemingly untouchable crime group.
Dennis O’Keefe shuffles through the bookkeeper role, while others around him generate a lot more voltage.
Xavier Cugat leads his band, smoldering Abbe Lane croons “One At A Time.”
Still, this is a B-movie quickie. Only a handful of guys make up the mighty syndicate, and the nightclub they spend most of their time at is cheap looking.
Passable time waster.


Cold Courage - 2020 - 6/10

Might have scored this slightly higher had not the creators deliberately bungled the ending.
Finnish immigrant Lia is recruited by a clandestine political action group.
Aim? Prevent right wing candidate Arthur Fried from being elected.
There is a side plot of white slave traffic, which feels tacked on, as well as a useless police investigation.
John Simm is spectacular as the charismatic Fried (Putting the Great Back into Great Britain) and is the reason to watch this series.
Eight episodes feels about right, and midway through the finale, you envision how this should wrap.
Except – No! – While this could easily conclude, show producers decided to stall and milk for a S02.
Don’t bother. This is good, but not that good, and don’t encourage lazy crap like that.


City That Never Sleeps - 1953 - 5/10

The city, in this case Chicago, may not sleep, but this was a snoozer for me.
Marked as Film Noir, it is not. This is a cop drama as a stolid cop contemplates turning in his badge.
An entrenched kingpin has offered him a hefty retainer to punish an uppity minion.
The copper, Gig Young, is sour on the uniform, the citizens, the whole night-in night-out.
His wife even makes more money than he does! Plus, a dancer (burlesque) has the hots for him!
Well, forget Officer Sad Sack.
William Talman, in an edgy villainous role, owns the screen as the aforementioned underling who harbors berserk fury.
The Reaper could not have recruited a better soldier.


The Man Who Would Be King - 1975 - 7/10

Big time, old fashioned adventure film based on Kipling.
Caine and Connery perfect as greedy scoundrels who trek from India to Kafiristan.
Intend to hoodwink the natives, seize the treasure, return to England dripping wealth.
Oh, the best laid plans . . .
Stunning photography (shot in Morocco’s mountains), magical sense of time and place.
Bit slow at times (Star Wars came out two years later, Raiders Lost Ark in ‘81.), and felt quaint when it came out.
Noteworthy for the lack of gore or gratuitous violence.

In the brief documentary, director John Huston commented that he had hoped to shoot this years earlier with Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart, but both died.
Thinking about it, this could have been made in the 40’s with Errol Flynn and David Niven.


The Frolic - 2007 - 6/10

Demons follow psychologist Dr. Munck home.
He has been interviewing a child serial killer, one John Doe, who seems to slither under his skin.
Based on a Thomas Ligotti story, this suffers budget limitations, poor direction, and perhaps limited understanding of the author.
Mr. Doe is shot, head down, making creepy eyes (when girls do this, they are called bedroom eyes).
Throughout, the obvious dominates over nuance.
Score by Steven King, including bandmate, Ligotti.


Desert Flower - 2009 - 6/10

Lush biographical portrait of supermodel Waris Dirie.
Narrative swings back and forth between her perseverance in 80’s London, her childhood in Somalia, and her excruciating solitary trek across the desert wastes to Mogadishu.
The imagery from Africa is gorgeous, though the gradual revelations from her childhood, grow increasingly horrifying.
Based on Dirie’s autobiography.