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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 95


Yummy - 2019 - 6/10

Alison has found a budget hospital for her procedure.
In a decision that will horrify the casual fratboy, she opts for breast reduction, from F to B.
She fails to consider, when you go budget, you get what you pay for.

“You think, maybe, we can get out of here?”
Medical experiments gone awry soon lead to corridors packed with ravening corpses.
The kind that chomp down and spread the infection.
Splatter horror, spliced with twisted, laugh out loud moments.


High Tension - 2003 - 5/10
AKA - Haute Tension

Slasher film of two females who visit one of their parents in remote farmland France.
Access is through dirt road and seemingly endless cornfield.
They arrive late at night, say hello, then everyone goes to sleep.
No one hears the rusted work van arrive, nor hear the heavyset man approach the house.
The intruder’s motivations are vague, though a reason teases out midway.
Film suffers structural problems as it is carnage heavy in the beginning, then plods for forty minutes.
There is an unexpected and terrific “turn” near the end.
Unfortunately, I started applying logic at that point and the whole film collapsed for me.


Orange - 2015 - 6/10
AKA - Orenji // オレンジ

Adolescent fairy tale, told to maximize emotional impact.
Walking to school, Naho finds in her purse a letter from her future self.
Ten years older, suffering regrets.
Her letter tells her things that are going to happen, things she must try to prevent.
Inside the classroom, the new transfer student is introduced, and as the letter predicts, events begin to unroll.
A story of desperately trying to avoid Fate, or to swerve the path, and the ramifications.
School is idealized, with little drama and resentment.
The concept of a clutch of honest friends supporting each other is rare, though I did witness such on occasion.


Happening - 2021 - 7/10
AKA - L’événement

Anna discovers she is pregnant, all but a death blow to her ambition to be a teacher.
She asks around, tying to find a solution, but this is 1963 and no one will help her.
Abortion in France was illegal, those who even gave advice could be sent to prison.
As is ever the case, the sperm provider bears no responsibility.
Weeks glide by, while at school her grades worsen.
Wrenching drama will resonate with some.


High-Rise - 2015 - 5/10

After equipment malfunctions and breakdowns, residents of an exclusive apartment tower break into class tribalism.
From the onset, there seem to be glitches and warning signs, yet tenants flood in.
Based on a J G Ballard novel, the setting is symbolic of Thatcher Britain or Reagan America.
Everyone out for themselves.
With few exceptions, characters are cold, bored, self-absorbed, or disengaged.
The more affluent or status-worthy reside in upper floors, lower orders near street level.
This is a major flaw. In all exclusive communities, low rents are not tolerated.
The descent into dystopia is abrupt. When violence mounts, no one phones police, no one flees.
Heavy handed allegory with paper thin characters.


Theatreland - 2009 - 7/10

Behind the scenes series examines upcoming performances at Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Even before opening, the first play is sold out, “Waiting For Godot” with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.
Backstage means observing the grips, ushers, managers, designers.
From repairs to excited brushes with the famous.
Alert! The complete “Waiting For Godot” is NOT included.
Overlong by two episodes, the final episodes show the hectic mounting of the next production, “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”
One gets the sense the latter has a rocky future.


Manhattan Murder Mystery - 1993 - 7/10

Allen and Keaton play a long married couple.
After a neighbor dies, Keaton grows suspicious that the widower does not grieve enough.
Perhaps even, he killed his wife!
Allen tries to inject reason into her thoughts, but she is headstrong.
And, as I have often discovered, never dismiss female intuition.
Delicate balance of comedy, mystery, and fondness for old cinema and OTR.
For the curious, this is a “good” Allen vehicle.


Faneditors, take note!

Be Kind, Rewind - 2008 - 7/10

Video store memories.
Two pezheads accidentally erase the tapes.
With fools’ inspiration, they opt to reshoot films using themselves and locals.

The results, at the very least, are atrocious. Yet in the so bad, they are funny category.
This film beams innocence. A lessor narrative would be snarky or smugly ironic.
The charm of characters and stories shines though.
Aspiring faneditors, get your sweded fix here.


Ferry Cross The Mersey - 1964 - 6/10

Overlooked jewel that came out during the British Invasion, but was NOT released in the States.
Gerry Marsden and mates are art students by day, musicians at night.
A fellow student, and very posh bird, takes interest and finds the lads a manager.
Now, if they could only nail the upcoming Merseybeat competition.
Film is shot in and around Liverpool, including the ferry.
Plot is innocuous, though seldom dull.
This is packed, packed, with musical numbers. The Pacemakers’ finale seems to have been filmed very close to an extraordinarily hot crowd. There is a real sense of frantic energy.
While not at the level of A Hard Day’s Night, it is superior to Catch Us If You Can.
One number was filmed inside the Cavern Club.
Fellow performers seen during the film include Cilla Black, The Fourmost, The Black Knights, Earl Royce And The Olympics, The Blackwells.


Black Tight Killers - 1966 - 7/10
AKA - Ore ni Sawaru to Abunaize / 俺にさわると危ないぜ

Passenger invites the stewardess out to dinner.
While dining, she notices a man spying on them from the shadows.
Her date (the airline passenger), a war photographer, chases after the shadowy man.
Only to see him murdered in the alley by three women wearing leather jackets and black tights.
Meanwhile, the stewardess is kidnapped by the yakuza.
This is the first five minutes! The photographer is soon pursued by police, yakuza, American mobsters, and the lethal lovelies, the black tight killers.
The story - with a half dozen plots - explodes at breakneck speed.
Groovy music, wildly inventive camera work, and fountains of color.

One scene: Our hero, an often thickheaded sort, get rescued frequently.
A sportscar driving hottie bails him out then asks if she can spend the night,
“Because I spent all day playing golf and it’s too late to face my parents.”
Yes, he buys that excuse.
Once at his place, in bed, she’s cold. “Could you bring a blanket? And yourself?”
Naturally he takes advantage of the situation only to begin screaming in pain.
“Ninja trick,” she purrs, “octopus pot. Now talk.”
“You’re one of them! Oww!! You’re one of the black tight killers!”
“Talk. Or I tighten the octopus pot … like this. Tighten more and you die.”
Of course he talks. He shouts.
Just one of dozens of wild scenes in crazed spoof of action movies.


The Final Girls - 2015 - 7/10

Intelligent, funny, loving tribute to slasher films of the 80’s.
From opening “Camp Bloodbath” trailer, to synth music, tunes by Kim Carnes and Warrant, to key ingredients of masked psychopath, keen edged weapon, horny teenagers, empty campground, this film scores again and again.
Tone jumps from howlingly funny to bittersweet, often in a heartbeat.
The mother-daughter element, which breaks formula rules, is very potent.
What is so enjoyable is the script is whip-smart, ironic and reverent.
You can tell the creators have a true fondness for the genre.

DO NOT VIEW THE TRAILER!! It reveals the whole story and many of the surprise jokes.


The Manor House Of Fear - 1927 - 6/10
AKA - Le Manoir de la Peur

The ruined manor lies behind the cemetery, and is said to be haunted.
So when the brooding stranger arrives, restores it, then moves in, the villagers know the Devil has come.
Silent film is high Gothic and crime. Superstition and thwarted love.
Pacing is brisk and the photography, especially night scenes, are extraordinary for their time.
The soundtrack was an electronic score of noise and blips, which I finally turned off.
Video elements were pretty good. Translated French inter-titles into English were by me.
Subs = https://subscene.com/subtitles/the-manor-house-of-fear/english/2800554


The Undead - 1957 - 4/10

Roger Corman cheapie filmed inside an empty supermarket.
De-listed scientist, after having traveled in Nepal, hires a hooker (named Diana Love) to help with research.
No, not that kind of research. Hypnosis / regression into past lives.
Anyway, Miss Love drifts back to the Middle Ages and recalls she is imprisoned and scheduled for a beheading.
The “witch” accusation carries a heavy punishment.
Her “modern” soul gives her alter-ego escape advice, which results in altering the time line!
One of the best reasons to watch this flick is for “real witch” (sexy Allison Hayes) with her imp (Billy Barty).

If you didn’t get enough of Ms Hayes in Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman this has more bodacious goodies.
Acting in the modern sequences is wooden, lines poorly delivered.
Problems are less noticeable in the medieval era because everyone speaks a Shakespearean hybrid dialect.
Atmospheric score. Cheap, though OK special effects (don’t expect too much).
Mr Satan is a laissez faire bon vivant, and a cheerful pragmatic.


The Making Of A Legend: Gone With The Wind - 1988 - 8/10

Gone With The Wind, I have screened three distinct times. 1969, 1979, 1989.
The 30th anniversary, the 40th. and the 50th. Each time in a full-sized theater.
Even though I own a copy on Laserdisc (sealed) and DVD (sealed), I never felt right watching on TV.
The documentary on the making GWTW, however, I have viewed a dozen times.
Truly outstanding. Acquiring the rights, finding a Scarlett, director burnout, music issues, endless editing.
For movie buffs, this is spellbinding. For creative aspirants, this shows how difficult the process was for Selznick.
Absolutely irresistible.


I, The Executioner - 1968 - 7/10
AKA - Minagoroshi no Reika // みな殺しの霊歌 / Requiem For A Massacre

The first murder was vicious.
The victim stripped, bound, gagged. Forced to write the names of the others.
By the second death, police suspected a serial killer.
Three other women meet. From fearful to dismissive. One wonders if deaths had to do with “that day”.
So do we. Yet the mystery of what and why is doled out in stages.
Camerawork is inspired throughout, from low ground angles to extreme closeups.
Makoto Satô is an intense, remorseless, deliverer of vengeance.
Gripping thriller, though the denouement … I dunno.


The Wolfpack - 2015 - 5/10

Exasperating documentary that offers more unanswered questions than insight.
Story of seven sheltered children growing up in lower east side New York.
Sheltered, as having over-protective parents (dad) in the extreme.
The kids were never allowed to leave the apartment or interact with dangerous New Yorkers.
What social skills they learned were from television and DVDs.
In the doc, they act out scenes from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.
Straight off, seven kids, two parents, New York apartment - how can they afford rent?
Especially since the Peru born father never got a green card and never found work.
The boys speculate they own 5000 VHS and DVDs. How were those purchased?
There is a daughter, not shown. The boys confide they heard dad slap their mom.
Was there abuse going on? What sort?
Where was Child Protective Services?
One of the boys (I had trouble separating) mentioned Mom was paid for home schooling them.
Huh? New York pays home schooling parents? Enough for rent, utilities, food, clothes, etc … ?
Plus, how did they pay for doctor visits, the dentist?
The family story is odd to the point of bizarre, yet the storytelling is a rambling, incoherent jumble.
Much is unsaid, much may be invented.
Be wary when watching this one.


Blow Out - 1981 - 6/10

Travolta stars as a movie sound designer who accidentally records what seems to be a killing.
As he slowly understands what he has gotten himself into, professional silencers circle.
Travolta is very good, Lithgow as a villain is terrifying.
If you enjoyed Blow-Up (1966), this DePalma vehicle is a decent clone.
More visceral, definitely, also with more suspense, though Antonioni’s film left the viewer with a haunting unease and sense of foreboding, that this does not.


Alone - 2020 - 7/10

Still grieving, Jessica loads the U-Haul and embarks on the four day trip to relocate.
The route takes her off the main highways, and onto two lane roads in the Pacific Northwest.
Where, after awhile, she notices the same vehicle, same driver, following her.

“Hey, I’m sorry, there was a misunderstanding back there where I almost ran you off the road.”
Even female intuition wailing full bore doesn’t always measure up against a determined predator.
Outstanding example of how to craft a tense thriller on a budget.
Both leads are superb. Jessica shows more common sense than hundreds of movie screamers.
While Sam, a sketch of friendly, soft spoken mendacity, is the typical “ordinary guy.”


Eddie The Eagle - 2016 - 6/10

Feel good biopic of unlikely celebrity of the ‘88 Calgary Winter Olympics.
Eddie Edwards has Olympic dreams, despite being far-sighted, ignored by teammates and country, and possessing limited funds.
He just wants to compete! And the Olympics are - supposedly - a celebration of amateur sport.
“Ski jumping," he decides. “Yeah, I can do that!"
Passable entertainment, the equivalent of sponge cake.


Rabbit Test - 1978 - 4/10

After a quickie, one night stand (actually on his back, atop a pinball machine) Lionel finds himself pregnant.
Comic implications ensue, especially after female shy Lionel meets a nice girl.
Written and directed by Joan Rivers (her lone directorial effort).
The premise has possibilities, and the cast is loaded with cameos of once-popular faces.
Biggest problem is there simply aren’t enough jokes, or flat out don’t land, or are beyond tasteless.
A brilliant comedian, Rivers would have been able to read a room and adjust.
Not here. Belly flop of a misfire.


X - 2022 - 6/10

1979, indie film producers opt to shoot their porno in rural Texas.
The crew rents a home from a frail, elderly couple and begin filming.
The porn “plot” is typical of the era: a disabled motorist encountering horny farmer’s daughters.
Throughout this slow burner, a fragrance of sultry dread builds.
Of which the crew seems unaware, until the tension boils over.

The homework for this is excellent. The TV preacher looks like Brother Lester Roloff.
Lone Star beer, blue eyeshadow, mini-skirts, tube tops.
One of the players, Mia, seems a cousin to another naughty innocent, Desireé Cousteau.
Unsettling to many viewers is likely the unpleasant contrast between youth and decrepitude.
Ripe and its inevitable rot into decay. No one envisions being grandpa after a few turns.


Inquietude - 1998 - 4/10
AKA - Anxiety

Portuguese arthouse film appears crafted to test the stamina of foreign film buffs.
Three sequential tales - extraordinarily slow - of unhappy, over-thinking worriers.
Famous father and son fear they may become forgotten.
Artist is concerned about fate of prostitute (courtesan) he is obsessed with.
Girl fears she cannot marry a boy from another village.
Dialogue is ponderous, fraught with meaning, dense with muddling layers.
Others around me dozed off.
Poster film for people who hate arthouse films.


Book Of Days - 1989 - 7/10

When tearing down a city wall, construction workers open up a view into the past.
The appears to be a medieval French village (though characters speak English).
(Mostly unseen) documentarians wander freely and question individuals.
Shepherds, merchants, a storyteller, the physician, share their lives, allow us to observe.
There is a theatrical element in this Meredith Monk film, but do not be put off by that.
Mesmerizing throughout, even breaking the fourth wall at times.
Highlights include a pageant, and the onset of the plague.


Monterey Pop - 1968 - 8/10

For many, this is the peak, the moment the Summer Of Love bloomed.
This concert, especially the extended version, is artifact and testament to that moment.
The Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Festival came two weeks before Monterey, but scant little survives.
Monterey featured groups from San Francisco and Los Angeles, from Chicago, New York, England…
Watching, one sometimes catches the heady hope that a better world is at hand.
Sure, Woodstock was more massive and influential, but it came two years later.
It was also profit oriented, less idealistic.
As with most moments, they are precious because they don’t last. Then the memory fades.
This documentary, however, is a glorious reminder (and something of a myth) of three days in 1967.