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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 30

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Time
 (Edited)

Tabloid - 2011 - 7/10

Errol Morris documentary.
If you are British, and of a certain age, you might remember the antics of Joyce McKinney and her Manacled Mormon boyfriend.
In 1977, Southern belle McKinney flew to London to free her Mormon boyfriend, to de-brainwash him back into loving her.
She kidnapped him from London, drove him to Devon, chained him to a bed, removed his magic Mormon underpants, and frakked his brains out for 3 days.
Then Scotland Yard became involved. And the High Court.
British tabloids had a field day with this one.

One of the reporters termed McKinney “barking mad.”
A hoot of a story and never boring, with escapes, disguises, revelations, and cloning!

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The Great Passage - 2013 - 7/10
AKA - Fune wo amu // 舟を編む

Within the publishing firm, the sales division is only too happy to transfer their worst salesman to the dictionary division - considered career death.
Once there, the nebbish bookworm excels and gradually rises through the small ranks.
The updated edition, titled “The Great Passage,” takes 15 years of checking, cross-checking, verifying, re-verifying definitions and meanings before it finally reaches publication.
As the world shifts from print to digital.
Not altogether dull, the story moves at its own leisurely pace.
By any standard, geeky and better suited to obsessive bibliophiles.

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Genius - 2016 - 7/10

Unexpected story about the relationship between writer Thomas Wolfe and his early editor, Maxwell Perkins.
To be honest, I have not thought of Wolfe since the 70’s, and even then he had faded into memory, eclipsed by the dandy, Tom Wolfe.
Thomas Wolfe, played by an outstanding Jude Law, is boisterous and ebullient, a gushing force of nature.
Perkins, an in-control Colin Firth, struggles to rein in his literary excesses which mirror the author.
Note - The first draft of his second novel, “Of Time And The River,” ran 5000 pages!
Character story of two men, with late 20’s New York in the background.
(Neither the Jazz Age nor Roaring Twenties nor Great Depression are indicated.)
Generally, I find stories about writers duller than faded wallpaper.
Genius does not have the usual scribbling, typing, pacing the floors anguish.
Instead, this bares the arguments over words, sentences, paragraphs.
The craft of editing reams of art into a form that will attract as many readers as possible.

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Non-Fiction - 2018 - 7/10
AKA - Doubles Vies

By turns pretentious, engaging, twaddle.
Chief of publishing firm tries to stay current, and profitable.
The market is shifting to ebooks and digital, away from traditional print.
Digital, however, earns scant revenue, contrary to all predictions.
Abundant discussions include, does texting count as writing? Does looking at texts count as reading?
Authors complain, “My blog gets steady traffic, though few buy my books or ebooks.”
Comic angles include a mediocre scribe, a writer of auto-fiction, who foolishly inserts references to Haneke’s “White Ribbon” and is asked (by his audience above) to explain the film.
Cover art for this film promises sensual jollies, which prove to be meaningless affairs, serving as plot padding.
May be engrossing for readers, writers, aspiring publishers, French film buffs.
Non-readers (sorry, one book per year doesn’t count, Floyd) may regard this as kryptonite.
Pair with Late August, Early September (1998).

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Out Of Mind: The Stories Of H.P. Lovecraft - 1998 - 7/10

Satisfying homage to HPL.
Mixes several stories together, and adds typical Lovecraft themes of dislocation, time shifting, and indifferent alien presences.
Fine acting all around, with Christopher Heyerdahl a ringer for a thoughtful HPL.
The other character was the oft-played Randolph Carter.
All mood and suggestion, scant monster minutes.

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Joanna And Jennifer: Absolutely Champers - 2017 - 6/10

Holiday bonbon from Pats and Eddy. Oops, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders.
In this documentary, the ladies travel to France. What region? Champagne!
They tour several vineyards, including their quaff of choice, Bollinger.
Muddling excursion doesn’t really go anywhere, yet goes down smooth.
Lumley, as one might expect, is an experienced and professional host. Saunders often lapses into Edina buffoonery and frivolous remarks.
Fine for fans of the Ab Fab series, certainly superior to the bloated 2016 movie.

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Okatsu The Fugitive - 1969 - 6/10
AKA - Yôen dokufu-den: Okatsu kyôjô tabi // 妖艶毒婦伝 お勝兇状旅

Third part of a copycat trilogy.
Expert swordswoman, Okatsu, seeks revenge after murder of her parents (again) and a rape at the hands of the feudal lord.
Plot involves tobacco smuggling and seizing villagers for slave labor.
Carnage at the end, but no gushing geysers, typical of chanbara from that period.

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Creature From The Haunted Sea - 1961 - 4/10

Thrill as shipboard romance is terrorized by google eyed monster demanding girl scout cookies!!
Oops, wait, sorry.
Cuban generalissimo, fleeing Castro’s revolution with crate of gold, hires crooked American skipper.
Avarice swiftly swells to homicide, while a gruesome, unforgettable horror trawls in their wake.
Grade-D garbage from Roger Corman, filmed after he lensed two other films and still had another week of shooting time available in Puerto Rico.
Later marketed as a comedy, the humor is moronic and stupid.
As a Horror flick, c’mon as scary as an angry Brillo pad (which was what the creature costume was).

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Corridor Of Mirrors - 1948 - 6/10

Surreal, dreamlike, hypnotic film, set mostly in a gargantuan house (think TARDIS interior).
Gay young nymph meets reclusive, mysterious man at swank club.
Their affair borders on obsession, climaxing in a decadent 14th Century Venetian masquerade.
Great use of sets, shadows, atmospheric music, and Madame Tussaud’s.

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Greta - 2018 - 6/10

Young woman spies forgotten purse on subway seat and decides to return it to the owner.
And no, she is not a native urban dweller, but newly arrived, living with more cynical roommate.
The owner of the purse is a Parisian expat, missing her daughter.
The young girl has a similar ache in her heart, her mother being recently dead.
Bonding is swift.
Dark thriller is effective for awhile, when the tension of uncertainly predominates.
Sooner or later, though, filmmakers have to reveal the mystery, and they play a weak hand.

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Sweet Karma - 2009 - 6/10
AKA - Сладкая Cудьба

Dark revenge exploitation flick, recalling grindhouse fare from the 70’s.
Russian girl, Karma, goes to Toronto searching for her sister.
Sis had signed a contract for that great paying housekeeping job.
Which turned out to be sex trade.
Naked women, pole dancing, strip clubs, rapes, fish net n leather.
Karma follows the trail of revenge. Knives, tire irons, strangling.
Old school vengeance. Nothing original. Film stock poor, look is appropriately grainy.

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Hell Girl - 2006 - 5/10
AKA - Jigoku Shōjo // 地獄少女

J-dorama adaptation of popular anime series.
At midnight, seekers of Hell Girl key in her website and one lucky soul is answered.
By and large, all desire revenge, or justice.
Summoned, Hell Girl hands them a wooden fetish with a red ribbon around it.
Untie the ribbon, and your target is ferried immediately to Hell.
Payment – damnation. Those who untie the ribbon will spend eternity in Hell once they die.
Episodes, without credits, run a scant 20 minutes…
Stories are generic, young actors get their chance, veterans overact, sets are cheap.
Low expectations justified.

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Mysterious Doctor Satan - 1940 - 5/10

Vintage Republic serial.
The Copperhead tries to save the earth from Doctor Satan.
Satan intends to conquer the planet using robots that resemble and move like drunken trash cans.
Copperhead is secretly Bob Wayne (unknown if he was related to Bruce Wayne). No one else knows, even though he’ll be Bob one second, then bound in as Copperhead, still wearing the same suit and tie. His voice is not disguised, and Copperhead drives Bob’s cars!
Most action is of the fisticuff variety.
Not the best, though I’ve sat through worse.

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The Motive - 2017 - 6/10
AKA - El Autor

Álvaro has literary aspirations.
Not getting published in some ezine, not landing a bestseller. No. LITERATURE, full stop.
But, he doesn’t really have the talent, or ideas, or rich memories to mine from.
Instead, he begins observing neighbors in his apartment, then manipulates them.
Character study of a classic meddler, and not the sanctimonious or well-intentioned sort.
Far more absorbing than the typical “writer” plot, as this guy is a real piece of work.
At times infuriating, always uncomfortable.

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 (Edited)

Night Wind - 1999 - 5/10
AKA - Le Vent de la Nuit

Pretentious French twaddle with Catherine Deneuve and Xavier Beauvois.
Deneuve has an affair with a younger man, because she is bored, or dead inside.
The young man describes himself as an artist, when he is not even an assistant.
Then there’s a 60’s burnout.
Tedious slog with stagnant pond characters.
Deneuve remains attractive, but she cannot illuminate the whole film.

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Mystère à la Tour Eiffel - 2017 - 6/10

There are a series of these Mystère films. In the Louvre, At The Opera . . .
Ostensibly chick flick mysteries, these fall into the subgenre of “frock films.”
Meaning, like the Miss Fisher series, aficionados watch these to admire the wardrobe.
I will try to limit myself to this lone review.

There are a handful of murders in late 19th century Paris.
All would be considered “locked room” affairs.
The obvious culprit is the attractive, young blonde.
Magicians play a role, detectives are dim witted, and our heroine finds shelter in an underground lesbian enclave.
Narrative is generic, twists are implausible, the clothes - I admit - are very nice.

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 (Edited)

25th Reich - 2012 - 3/10

There was the Third Reich, followed eventually by the 25th Reich.
Yep, more Nazis. Wish writers could come up with new baddies.
This lacked the budget of Iron Sky and looks it.
During WWII, a squad of US GIs in Australia (?!?) are hunting two escaped pumas (cats, not slightly older women).
Yes, glorified dog catchers, the Army’s finest.
First hour is all walk n talk. Endless trudging montages, followed by 5-10 minutes of exposition to advance the plot. Yawn.
Last 20 minutes, the film roars into overdrive.
Nazis, space ships, gunfights, time travel, spider tanks, disturbing sex, cliffhanger. Bad CGI.
You already know how feeble you are. If you are still reading, hunt down this turkey.

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The Man From Beyond - 1922 - 5/10

Harry Houdini silent.
Legendary escape artist made a number of films, but this was not his best.
Houdini, discovered in an Arctic shipwreck is chopped out of a huge chuck of ice.
After thawing, he revives, and it turns out he has been there since 1820. 100 years.
In no time flat, he finds a female who resembles his long lost flame.
Plot detours into reincarnation territory, one of Houdini’s obsessions.
A cliff hanging sequence (literally) and swim near the top of Niagara Falls are highlights.

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Band Of Assassins - 1962 - 6/10
AKA - Shinobi no Mono // 忍びの者

Fast paced action in feudal Japan.
Warlord Nobunaga overpowers rival houses and crushes opposition alliances.
The emperor seems a target, as do the ninja fortresses.
Narrative follows ninja attempts to thwart, stall, stop Nobunaga as the wily family chief orders Goemon (peerless Ichikawa Raizo) to assassinate the ruthless chieftain.
Skills dominate over magic. Treachery is the main tool, as well as manipulation, sexual and emotional.
Followed by numerous sequels and a craze for ninjas. 007 fans will recognize sequences later cribbed for You Only Live Twice.

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Arctic - 2018 - 7/10

Mads Mikkelsen as Overgård, alone in a polar wasteland, stoically waiting / hoping for rescue.
His makeshift camp lies inside airplane wreckage, he catches fish when he can.
Lone neighbor, seen in the distance, is a lumbering polar bear, also hunting.
Ostensibly an endurance story, one can see how this might perplex lazy viewers.
Unlike a Hollywood film, there is no backstory. No memories of wife, girlfriend, plane crash.
Monologue is spare, Overgård is taciturn and ordinary, not some heroic survivalist.
In short, no spoon-feeding for an audience of limited imagination.

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Hooligans: The Untold Story - 2006 - 7/10

Documentary of the 2006 World Cup, set in Germany.
Security types keep 3000 troublemakers from arriving.
That ought to cover everyone, right?
Riots, brawls, fights, melees.
And bars never stopped serving beer, even amidst flying chairs.
Rumble!

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Free Solo - 2018 - 7/10

Stunning mountain climbing documentary, and I have viewed more than I want to.
This follows simply the best free climber in the world. No hammers, hooks, pylons, clamps. No rope.
Handhold, foothold, finger, toehold.
Awesome! Note, however, the life expectancy of this small group is not lengthy.
Without a rope, even the tiniest error …
The subject, the emotionless Alex Honnold, is far from likeable. Fellow climbers refer to him as Spock.
What drives him? He cracks the door a slice when he mentions his “bottomless pit of self loathing.”
Blonde girlfriend Sanni, who receives a fair amount of screen time, seems mismatched.
As expected, scenery is breathtaking. Unbelievable.

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A Bird Of The Air - 2011 - 6/10

A parrot flies through Lyman’s open trailer door and into his life.
He works midnight shift as rescue patrol on deserted New Mexico highways.
Lyman is also an orphan, with no idea of his parents, his background, family history.
With the aid of a perky librarian (aren’t they all), he begins to track the bird’s previous owners,
trying to solve one mysterious beginning to compensate for his own.
Quirky love story, comedy, character study.

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 (Edited)

Two Weeks - 2013 - 6/10
AKA - Toowickseu // 투윅스[

K-drama, patterned after “The Fugitive” finds petty level criminal accused of murder.
This is not the first time he’s taken the fall, but it is the first time he realizes he will be killed in prison.
In a traffic accident, he makes his break!
Straight off, he ain’t Dr. Richard Kimble. He has a criminal record, is involved with criminals, and is a gigolo.
Over the episodes, his backstory gets teased out, showing the many people he has disappointed.
The first half has stronger pacing and is a hard moving thriller. I really appreciate that he was unable to get out of his handcuffs for a few episodes. Most shows – five minutes, free!
I’m sure I got this because Kim So-Yeon plays the obsessed prosecutor. She was the ice cold N Korean agent in 2009’s IRIS. Her acting borders on hysterics here, everyone else is fine.
Not quite by the numbers, but predictable. Certainly acceptable for casual viewers.

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Corruption - 1968 - 5/10

Brilliant surgeon is engaged to top fashion model.
At a Swinging London happening, an arc light topples and sizzles the model’s face.
Wait a minute! Her fiancé, the surgeon, he’s brilliant, remember?
The doctor begins to harvest tissue, the fresher the better.
Interesting time capsule curio gradually turns mad, insanely mad.
As bad as the script seems, the direction is ridiculous.
There is a lengthy chase at one point. It goes on too long, but rather than trim, this is simply sped up. I asked aloud, “Where’s Benny Hill?”
This pales next to the last act and the ludicrous finale.
Poor Peter Cushing, what was he thinking?