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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 80


Bad Guys - 2014 - 6/10
AKA - Nappeun Nyeoseokdeul or 나쁜 녀석들

Hardboiled Korean actioner. Oft told concept, but well executed.
Police commissioner offers special deal to three long term convicts:
“For every crime solved, five years will be knocked off the sentence."
The three include a professional assassin, a Gangpae strong arm enforcer, and a serial killer.
Overseeing them is a detective who had been suspended for excessive use of force.
Those expecting violence will be amply rewarded.
Beatings - stabbings - shootings.
Defying the usual K-drama clichés, there is limited romance, few tears. Very plot driven, and it is apparent the writers have numerous ideas they want to explore.
For a couple episodes I worried the characters were going mushy, the sympathy route. Did not happen.
Episodic by nature, yet there is an overall arc to the 11 episodes which gets progressively darker, concluding with an ass-kicking finale.


Hackney’s Finest - 2014 - 6/10

Acceptable crime spoof that launches interesting, stumbles at the end.
Rogue copper tries to bust drug courier network.
After a savage interrogation of a suspect, he gets what he thinks is his first break.
He enlists a Russian crew for the dirty work, the courier has a Jamaican connection.
Accents = Cockney, Pakistani, Russian, Chechen, Jamaican, Oxford, dunno what else.
Brace for a degree of incomprehension unless you are a UK local.
Fun ride for much of the film, but budget limitations apparent by the end.
Ran out of energy, laughs, twists.
Caveat emptor - overdose of drug use in this, lot of free basing.


Murder In The Larzac - 2020 - 6/10
AKA - Crime dans le Larzac

Local mover & shaker, butcher, mayoral candidate is murdered
Usual duo arrives. Prosecutor (left) and local police captain (right).
The victim was roundly despised and the village is packed with motive bearing suspects.
Middling mystery benefits from professional officers.
(The bane of French mysteries is the two leads sniffing each others pants.)
Conclusion was mediocre, but one seldom expects much from these.


The Naked City - 1948 - 6/10

Acclaimed Noir, shown in documentary fashion, of a police investigation.
Realism is helped by location shooting across New York.
Open windows and street filming also mean the audio leaves much to be desired.
Story itself is a dry procedural of cops tracking the murderer of a model.
As for Noir camera flourishes and characters, The Naked City is fairly light.
The villains are the most memorable, cops bland.
I was not disappointed, though this reminded me of an OTR show.


Prevenge - 2016 - 5/10

Eight months preggers widow starts hearing voices.
Voices urging violence against a seemingly disparate group of individuals.
Motives play out, as does the notion of escaped punishment.
Long patches of dull, interrupted by episodes wildly inappropriate, cringe inducing, tasteless.
There it is. Too much dull, not enough black humor.
BUT - If you’re in the mood for a pregnant slasher film, this is a superior choice.


Inherent Vice - 2014 - 6/10

I disliked the book, my bride dislikes Joaquin Phoenix, so what was I thinking?
I was hoping-hoping-hoping for an echo of Boogie Nights.
Paul Thomas Anderson directs, and location setting marks a return to the Los Angeles of the 70’s.
Not to be. Boogie Nights was almost epic in its structure and grandeur.
Inherent Vice is the incoherent ramble of a blitzed stoner. That is fully in keeping with the novel, though.
Seemingly important characters surface, only to disappear. Many story threads wither unresolved.
Overlong, and not especially funny, though it had its moments.
Think shaggy dog yarn. Almost like Big Lebowski - only straight and grim faced.
Good Noirish acting from Phoenix and Brolin not enough.


The Armoire - 2017 - 7/10

Young, aspiring actor moves into spacious (?) Los Angeles apartment.
She buys a few pieces of cheap second-hand furniture, then spies the wooden wardrobe in a parking lot.
Empty inside … or is it?
Short horror is an intense shocker, well timed, excellently cut.
This one would have made a terrific “Night Gallery” episode.


Asphalt - 1929 - 6/10

German silent film melodrama about a wayward B-girl and earnest policeman.
The girl is caught at a jewelers, hiding merchandise.
The arresting cop hauls her off to headquarters, where she convinces him to take her home so she can get her papers.
In her rooms, no papers are forthcoming. Instead, she opens wide and pulls him into the scented petals.
Melodramatic plot, great exterior photography of Weimar Berlin.
The real star - or distraction - is Betty Amann.
Like the better known Louise Brooks, she was another American cast for her striking looks.
Unlike Brooks, however, Amann is by turns exotic, hard, and flat out kooky looking.
Her hairstyle features a big curlicue plastered across her forehead, which makes her look cross-eyed.
The story is one of weakness and redemption. There is a moral center to this, in contrast to Pabst’s bleak films.


The Scarlet Camellia - 1964 - 7/10
AKA - Goben no Tsubaki // 五瓣の椿

Such an innocent face. Yet underneath the smile simmers the fury.
No bones about this, Shino, under various pseudonyms, is a hunter.
Quarry, men who despoiled her flagrant mother, crushed her father.
Shino’s vengeance is righteous, and she leaves a red camellia beside each corpse.
Measured film (print I saw was close to 3 hours) is broken in two halves.
First section is devoted to Shino, her backstory, her technique.
Second follows Sakichi, the inspector, seeking her, growing to respect her guile and intelligence.
Outstanding classic Japanese film, working on multiple levels.

English subs = https://subscene.com/subtitles/the-scarlet-camellia/english/2692001


The Devil’s Hand - 1961 - 4/10

Our guy keeps having nightmares of a leggy blonde flouncing around in her sheer nightgown up in clouds.
By chance (ha!) he walks into a doll shop and sees a doll that looks just like that blonde!
The shopkeeper says it belongs to Bianca, and the guy can deliver it if he wants.
Curvy Bianca, still wearing sheer fabric, greets him at the door then flows against our man.
Before he can say he’s got a mousy girlfriend, his mind goes soft and his trousers go stiff.
For devotees of the great devil god, Gamba, this is a must!
Anyone else, this is crap - see through crap - though it is fun for about an hour.


Rats - 2016 - 6/10

Rodentmentary by fluff documentarian Morgan Spurlock.
Rat infestations in New York, New Orleans, Cambodia, the English countryside …
There’s more and more and more. How come?
More Humans + More Garbage = Billions More Rats!
Couple of nice tidbits when the biologist extracts tapeworms and botfly larvae from rodents.
Oodles more pathogens that easily jump from rat to human.
Speaking of jumping, wait for the peaceful white toilet moment.
Squeamish alert! Spurlock borrows a page from Michael Moore when he travels to an Asian bistro.

Note - I’m a city kinda guy. Our neighborhood has all sorts of midnight varmints.
I have cats. Usually between 2-4. Squealers in this show oughta befriend felines.


The Ledge - 2021 - 6/10

Two young women, vacationing in the Dolomites, prepare for sheer face ascent.
Then the van pulls in, four guys hollering, breaking out the booze.
999 females out of 1000 would sniff “vacation rape” and quickly leave.
1 in 1000 would go “free booze” and stay.
3 of the guys realize one has psychopathic tendencies, “but he’s our friend.”
Fabulous photography during the ascent, before stalling out.
Beware trailer, unless you need a one minute, highlight reel synopsis.


Amateur - 1994 - 6/10

Strange, almost surreal mystery with Isabel Huppert as ex-convent nun now making a living writing pornography.
Oh yes, she is also a self proclaimed nymphomaniac and a virgin.
Who does she tell all this to?
A guy with amnesia whose wife (an infamous porn actress) possibly tried to kill him.

Forgetting anything? Mmm, two hitmen. Cop who over-empathizes.
In other hands Amateur could have been a fun, even funny, film.
It did hold my interest throughout, as I wondered what the next turn would be.
Offbeat to be sure, entertaining if you are in the proper mood, but forgettable.


The Windmill Massacre - 2016 - 5/10

Visitors hop the tour bus to see Holland countryside and picturesque windmills.
Save for a father/son, all are solo passengers.
Deeper into wildwood they go, not noticing the darkening sky until their phones don’t work.
Acceptable Slasher, well photographed and the cast has a couple recognizable faces
Predictable storylines, with a moral underbelly and limited invention.
Nice use of Dutch folklore and an injection of Japanese superstition.
Not top shelf, but good late night watch.


A View From The Bridge - 2015 - 7/10

Theatre junkies, fill yer boots, man!
Eddie Carbone, longshoreman, arguably at his masculine peak,
Lives with his wife and niece, who has been his ward since her infancy.
Then the family takes in two cousins from Italy.
Overnight, the girl grows from awkward adolescence into young womanhood.
And Eddie, who still views her as something between daughter and playmate has trouble.
Miller’s play is a potent play of repressed sexuality and manly dick swinging.
Mark Strong absolutely searing as the conflicted Eddie.

English subtitles = https://subscene.com/subtitles/national-theatre-live-a-view-from-the-bridge/english/2692000


Angel Dust - 1994 - 5/10
AKA - Enjeru Dasuto // エンジェル ダスト

Japanese thriller about a serial killer who strikes on crowded subways the first Monday every month.
He targets young women, using a hypodermic to inject poison into them.
Nice ratings, notwithstanding, this proved a frustrating mystery.
The female police analyst / profiler is a rather weak soul who has unresolved feelings for an old flame, a psychiatrist who now deprograms “cult victims.”
Director Ishii seems to have been profoundly influenced by David Lynch (Twin Peaks aired a couple years earlier).
A cave, and murder within, recur frequently.
Revelations and subsequent mysteries pop up from time to time. None have any bearing on the murder.
It was like the writing room said, “Oh, here’s a weird idea!” and tossed it into the plot. Repeat. Repeat.
Half the room fell asleep during this one.
I stayed awake - wish I hadn’t.


Jupiter Ascending - 2014 - 3/10

After-hours at the zoo, there will be a shift switch.
Lions and chimps stroll concrete pathways, twirling cage keys, cigarettes dangling from lips.
Inside cages will be humans. On one cage will be a sign reading NON COMPOS MENTIS.
The grinning lunatic within will likely be watching Jupiter Ascending.

Despite atrocious reviews, I told myself it couldn’t be that bad.
Even so, I could go stupid. Apparently not stupid enough.
OK - one day our heroine is scrubbing toilets for a living. Then she finds out she is galactic royalty.
She actually owns planet earth!
Yay! No more taxes, no more waiting in line at the taco drive through, no more living with white trash relatives who want to sell her eggs for drug money.
Does she go that route? Aaaacccckkkk !!
She gets a teenage crush on wolf guy who flies about on magic shoes, she gullibly believes all sorts of lies from supposed relatives who do nothing all day - as they have for thousands of years. TV? Dining? Bathroom? Nope, they just sit around.
Expect lots of overwhelming CGI that adds zilch. Expect endless, overlong fights that are actually quite petty (wolf guy in combat with squads here and there). Expect a script geared for autistic cockroaches. Expect to see name actors sleepwalking their way through this vat of hogfat.
Further evidence of the sad creative decline of the Wachowski siblings.
Jupiter Ascending ain’t Fifth Element, let alone Interstellar or Gravity.
This makes Matrix Revolutions, the Zion crap, appear intelligent.
Yes - I watched it. Idiot.
Hopefully the inevitable porn spoof (Jupiter Ass-Ending) will prove superior.


Gun Crazy - 1949 - 8/10

After a stint in reform school, then a hitch in the Army, the local man returns home.
Bit aimless, only talent he possesses is marksmanship. His love, guns.
Until the Brit cowgirl arrives with the carnival. And man, can she shoot.
Their eyes lock, and from there on they ride the Noir highway into darkness.

There is the belief that a good person can redeem a borderline soul. (I could be an example there.)
By extension, a bad individual can corrupt the wayward one.
In Gun Crazy, the smoldering Peggy Cummins is not pure evil, but she is bad.
She truly loves her man, but she has a big empty inside, as well as a murderous streak.
Guns and sex propel this offbeat Noir, one of the absolute best.


The Girl Before - 2021 - 7/10

Tight four-part thriller, based on hit novel (that apparently received negative blowback).
After passing a peculiar series of examinations, a single woman moves into an austere dwelling.
The house, which resembles a modern museum interior, possesses a clinical personality.
The architect who designed it seems an emotionless, tightly wound obsessive.
Oh yeah, the previous tenant had died there.
Oh, so had a woman before that.
Our tenant, Jane, does not find that out until later.
Well constructed burner will absorb some, alienate others.


Laggies - 2014 - 6/10

A rare Keira Knightley vehicle that I actually enjoyed.
She relies less and less on her squints, pouts, head shakes, her bag of “cute” crutches.
Acting, instead of coasting.

Ten years after prom night, college degree in hand, Megan is back in her parents’ home, waving a cardboard sign outside dad’s accounting agency.
Her friends, meanwhile, are gliding into adulthood - getting married, making babies.
By chance, she starts hanging with high school seniors, seeing mistakes they are making, by extension mistakes she has made.
One of the girls has a divorced father.
Lightweight romance is a bit predictable, but Knightley underplays her role and dumps the glamour thing,
Good date flick.


Summer Of Love - 2007 - 6/10

Indifferent use of period sights and sounds from San Francisco, circa 1967.
Interviews with still-surviving, oldish spokesmen from the era.
Music soundtrack a mix of San Francisco and Los Angeles groups. In some cases, cover groups.
Some clips from the Human Be-In, next to nothing from Monterey Pop.
At the end, speakers confessed how very sour it all became, as tens of thousands flooded in.
PBS aired a couple superior docs of that period with Coyote - worth seeking out.
The “summer of love” turned 50 awhile ago. This balances rosy memories with the mess.


Death In The Soul - 2018 - 6/10
AKA - La Mort dans l’âme

The first lawyer walked off. The second now faces the same blank wall.
“I confessed to the police. I killed my son. We’re done.” Silence.
Yes, the son was killed. Did the father actually kill him? Was it suicide? Or an outsider?
One of the more interesting French mystery thrillers, this told from the attorney’s point of view.
Throughout, this weaves Noir elements into the ugly village secrets.
Not classic, by a long shot, yet a cut above the usual.


Foxcatcher - 2014 - 6/10

Based on the true life murder committed by wealthy DuPont scion.
Whereas most of his family is involved with horses, he is passionate about wrestling.
Not professional, but Olympic.
He ingratiates himself with gold medal brothers with his estate and wealth, and envisions himself as coach premier.
His training methods are non-existent, his obligation schedule heavy, and his need to control massive.
Any perceived slights or disloyalty yield consequences.
A moody film, shot on dreary outdoor days or inside washed out rooms, displaying lives.
Superb acting all around. Atmospheric, if noticeable, score.


The Great Beauty - 2013 - 8/10
AKA - La Grande Bellezza

Visually striking film of the compromised soul.
Forty years previous, Jep wrote a well received book.
That was his entry to the high life, free pass to the In-Crowd.
He never wrote again, becoming a dilettante and coasting on his laurels.
Dizzying array of sybaritic pleasures, contrast with the sheer futility of living.
Point, all shall die. So why struggle to be heard, seen, appreciated?
Jep, the gracious, ever-smiling wastrel, is repeatedly paired against creative stragglers, or humans falling into despair, or the frail and elderly, coming face to face with the summation.
Tour de force, though overlong and not always enjoyable.


Kissed - 2020 - 6/10

Norman is coroner or morgue attendant.
Tidying up the female body before … well, before the final enclosure.

Any seasoned guy would tell him.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Girls remember. Forever.”
Still, some people never listen to anyone.