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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 35


Paranormal - 2020 - 7/10
AKA - ما وراء الطبيعة

Early in life, young Refaat, playing hide and seek, is tempted into a shunned house.
The house is cursed, haunted by a siren, waif sized Shiraz.

While friends and siblings “rescue” Rafeet, the ghost is a tenacious playmate.
That is the arc of this six story series, set in 1960’s Egypt, ruled by Nasser.
Rafeet grows into a troubled, lonely soul, yet admired by those he reluctantly aids.
Like other “touched” souls, he is drawn to darkness, and darkness drawn to him.
Stories are steeped in superstition and myths of Ancient Egypt.
Mummies, tomb guardians, plagues, etc …


Def Leppard: In The Round - 1989 - 6/10

VHS memories.
The group was at their pinnacle here, touring the Hysteria album.
Well photographed, crisp sound mix, nonstop wall of hits.
This is a perfect time-capsule for the pop metal / hair metal era of the 80’s.
Def Leppard and Van Halen were arguably the top of the commercial heap.
Within two years, Grunge would sweep that era away like molten lava.


Death Bed: The Bed That Eats - 1977 - 5/10

How’d I miss this gobbler? I was dating Zelda at this point, and surely this would have screened at the Nuart or Reseda or Victory drive-in. Or my brother would have posted me a copy over the years. Nope.
Anyway, per title above, inside an abandoned manor lurks a huge four-poster that eats folks.
And not just humans! First couple arrives for a bit of buckle bouncing.
The man brings food for stamina: apple, tangerine, Ripple, and a bucket of chicken.
While the man navigates her brassier, the bed wolfs down that fried chicken.
The narrator of the story is trapped within a painting.
As he relates how the bed came to be cursed, victims are chomped. Or he carries on a one-sided conversation with the bed, who does little more than chuckle, moan and chew noisily.
Sure enough, this movie is desperately bad, and yet it is weirdly original, so some points there.
This is god awful slow, however, and our thespians have the acting chops of a bag of soggy pork rinds.

Speaking of actors, in the credits I saw “Dave Marsh” as the soul trapped in the painting and went, “No way!”
I looked it up. Same Dave Marsh who wrote for Rolling Stone, Creem, Village Voice, as well as editor of the first and BEST edition of The Rolling Stone Record Guide, the red one!


Wanted For Murder - 1946 - 6/10

Nice British thriller set in post WWI London.
Eric Portman plays the rich swell with a slight strangling compulsion.
Fine police procedural as the inspectors focus their gaze on him, and the small errors he makes.
Many scenes of London add to the appeal of this one.
Great film for a wet weekend.


Charlie Is My Darling - 1965 - 6/10

Recently discovered, never shown documentary on early Stones.
Often blurry, rapid pans, pixelated images.
Worthwhile to see a very young band still playing halls and clubs.
Less than an hour long. Great for fans.
Mick and Keith before they became the Toxic Twins.


All About Nina - 2018 - 6/10

Stand up comedienne moves from New York to Los Angeles, chasing the break.
Offstage, she bangs meaningless one night stands. Onstage, she vents and vents.
Most of the jokes are painfully funny, more female centric.
Actually, the club scenes, auditions, competitors, are enjoyable.
Actor Winstead shines here.
With relationships, however, things drop a notch.
Personal matters reflect “Me-Too” period, and seem forced, almost contrived.
Her LA guesthouse owner evokes passé New Age, space cadet stereotype.


The Head - 2020 - 7/10

Top notch, engrossing thriller, though I am tempted to drop a point.
When the relief team arrives at the Antarctic base, they discover corpses.

And a survivor, shuddering from cold and psychosis.
Episode by episode, the narrative is teased out, death by death - except - the narrator is unreliable.
Additional witnesses are likewise untrustworthy, and, the prime interviewer has an agenda.
In our current era of lies, this is spot on.
My main problem is that the winter team (RIP) would be Weyland-Yutani rejects.
They are psychologically unfit for isolation and close quarters interaction.


Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines - 2012 - 3/10

Five college teens are going to some mountain man festival in West Virginia.
First day, they cross paths with in-bred, sadistic, giggling, hillbilly, mental escapees.
Predictably, the teens decide to remain in the vicinity.
Many creative demises follow.


Wife Wanted - 1946 - 6/10

Diverting potboiler about fading screen actress venturing into real estate.
The office works hand in hand with the next door lonelyhearts club.
Small fish waste their money in the dating agency, or fall prey to blackmail.
Real estate rubes are sold Arizona oil wells.
Film percolates along, though it is no great shakes.
This was Kay Francis’ (30’s Pre-Code siren) last movie.


Roald & Beatrix: The Tale Of The Curious Mouse - 2020 - 6/10

Lightweight holiday trifle, though let me not dissuade you, good soul.
After the death of his father, and beloved sister, young Roald withdraws deeper into his books.
Before deciding to run away and visit his hero, Beatrix Potter,
Potter, meanwhile, has struggles of her own.
The newest book is not coming along so well. Her publisher wants “softer” stories for coddled children.
Worse, she needs spectacles!
Their stories interweave, until – Aha! the singular encounter.
Filmed during the 2020 Covid pandemic, the film is expertly shot and composed; a wonderful class for those studying the techniques of cinematography.


Linda Ronstadt: Live Hollywood - 1980 - 6/10

After watching a feel-good, empty documentary from 2019, I pulled out the concert video.
Linda dominated the airwaves in the late 1970’s and this show caught her just after she passed the peak.
Manager Peter Asher had shifted musical gears on her again, moving her into “Modern Rock.”
Alas, Linda was never a full bore rocker. She did not have the voice for it.
When she pours on the volume, her tone narrows and becomes strident.
Other songs, such as the haunting “Faithless Heart,” she vanishes into the poetry of the lyrics.
That said, her voice disturbed me, so I dug out other concert videos - 1974 - 1976, where her tone was still spectacular.
By and large, she has disowned her “classic” rock era, when she fronted a wall of guitars.


Love Is All You Need - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Den Skaldede Frisør

Young couple (English - Danish) opt to marry at his family villa in Italy.
Girl’s mother, recovering from cancer therapy, discovers husband shtupping a flexible replacement.
Boy’s father still has not gotten over his wife’s death.
Surely they will be too preoccupied to take note of each other.
Add coastal scenery, breezy directorial style, light comic touches.
OK date night flick in Danish and Italian, though Mr Brosnan speaks English throughout.


Lucy Worsley’s 12 Days Of Tudor Christmas - 2019 - 7/10

For traditionalists such as myself, the Yule season is about to conclude. For others, the tree hit the curb December 25.
Historian Worsley offers a day after day exploration of the season that starts on 25 December – not mid-October.
So much is completely lost now. Lord Misrule, house mummers, Saint’s days, though the heavy food and vast quantities of alcohol consumption have survived.
Us commoners only receive exposure for the first few days, then focus shifts to the court of Henry VIII.
Banquets, splendid gifts, opulent costumes. Likely this is where Worsley’s passion lies.
For a more down to earth view, watch the Christmas episode of Tudor Monastery Farm (2013) with Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold.


Cockneys Vs Zombies - 2012 - 6/10

Guess the title says it all.
East End construction crew finds underground vault sealed in 1666.
Hmmm … let’s open it!
Next thing you know, a gang of bank robbers are fighting the undead who have surrounded an old-aged pensioners home.
Features Alan Ford, Richard Briers, Honor Blackman (!).
Also the very catchy pub song,

♪ We’re going head to head
♪ With the undead.
♪ You can fill 'em full of lead
♪ But they won’t stay dead. ♫


Face-Maker - 2010 - 5/10
AKA - フェイスメーカー

Plastic surgeon who used to work for the US Witness Protection Service now changes faces for the desperate.
The only price “… is your old face!”
Unhappy or on-the-run souls find the black market “Face-Maker” and persuade him to “rebirth me!”
New identity = problems solved. Sometimes … sometimes not.
Half hour, single shows. Mid-episode, the surgeon finds the patient and gives them a -
“So how’s it going?” speech, followed by, “Oh, by the way, I just sold your old face."
Late night J-doramas usually air midnight or later. Many are dreck, a few very good, this is middling.
Low production values, generic plots, acting fair to amateur.
Non-demanding time waster.

Despite my shrug of a review, I, nevertheless, reworked existing subtitles for this show.
Steamlined dialogue, Westernized grammar, fixed tense errors.
Full credit given to original subber.
My subs can be found -


View From A Blue Moon - 2015 - 5/10

Surfing “documentary” focusing on tube and curl specialist John John Fletcher.
J J and friends catch waves across the globe, in what comes across as vanity project.
The limited narration is akin to “See John surf,” “Go, John, go,” “Wave, John.”
Slick, 4K photography, yet editing is so brisk one cannot study technique for more than five seconds.

I live with someone who likes adventure docs (surf, climbing) and I have seen more than I care to recall.
Pretty camerawork aside, this one is piffle.
For classic surf films, watch the Endless Summer trilogy.
For big wave surf, Bilabong Odyssey or Riding Giants, and, if you can find it, Biggest Wednesday: Condition Black. Fifty footers.


The Trip To Spain - 2017 - 6/10

Another in the series of “Trip” movies from Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
As characters, they are growing on me. Mind you, they continue to play scripted versions of themselves.
Anyway, this time they go to Spain to bicker and bait each other.
Gourmet food is an afterthought in this encapsulation of the series.
Meals might have more time in actual episodes, but this duo works better for me in small doses.
An acquired taste, though ruminations of aging and fleeting fame are slyly presented.


Doll & Em: S02 - 2015 - 5/10

Sad to say I watched all of this, as well as S01.
Six episodes of chick angst. Dolly and Emily hole up in a lighthouse and write an autobiographical play.
Mikhail Baryshnikov provides the local Broadway theatre. Ewan MacGregor is Ewan MacGregor.
Evan Rachel Wood and Olivia Wilde read the stage roles of Dolly and Emily.
Yes, stars are piling on to this brittle, uncomfortable comedy.
Dolly is even more passive aggressive than before, while Emily plays victim to the hilt.
Characters test their friendship and viewer patience with their thoughtless behavior.
Episode with Virginia Woolf is a standout.
Self abasement along the lines of The Trip series.
An acquired taste.


The Party - 2017 - 7/10

As in, dinner party from hell.
After her elevation to a ministerial post, Janet invites family and close friends to help her celebrate.
Everyone brings knives. Well, no, one carries a handgun.
Depending on how you feel about dinner parties, this is either a talky bore or a delicious banquet.
Very theatrical, with perhaps three stage sets, this feels like a play.
Kristin Scott-Thomas and Patricia Clarkson bolster a diabolical cast.
Dialogue is brittle black and venomous, and pacing is perfect.
I laughed throughout and enjoyed thoroughly.
Then again, I hate dinner parties.


The Cry Of The Owl - 2009 - 5/10

Peculiar thriller, with absurd plotholes and unanswered questions.
Troubled man, going through a divorce, begins peeping on single woman living in isolated woods.
She catches him, invites him inside. They talk. Two beats later, she now stalks him!

Complications ensue.
At one point a character disappears. Where to? How?
The film feels unfinished. Characters are barely more than empty cartoons.
There is no understanding of any relationship, let alone a single character’s behavior.
Felt like 15 minutes of plot were shaved. From Patricia Highsmith novel.


The Cry Of The Owl - 1987 - 6/10
AKA - Le Cri du Hibou

Depressed over an impending divorce, Robert starts observing a young woman at night.
He’s not exactly stalking, she simply seems so happy he enjoys the vibe as it washes over him.
Juliette catches him, however, calls him out. Then invites him inside.
He has assumed, because of her smile, she was well-adjusted.
Too late, he finds himself entangled in her moods and obsessions, and activates a malevolent pair.
Layered tale of deception, self-deception by Chabrol based on a Patricia Highsmith novel.
Superior to 2009 remake which suffered gaps in plotting.


Lord Of Tears - 2013 - 4/10

Artsy horror charges from the gate, takes a wrong turn midway, gimps to the finish.
Scottish teacher inherits city house, plus a stately manor house, and a parental warning to “never go to the manor.”
Sooner than you can suggest he sell, he returns to the country.
Opening packed with moody imagery, black n white stills, turbulent clouds, all artfully sequenced and underlaid with an evocative score.
Much of the look is reminiscent of Stephen Clark which really hooked me.
Twenty minutes in, an American female appears and the story grinds to a stop.
The girl cannot act, her character annoys, and one wonders why the director kept her. US demographic?
Seriously, one could discard 75% of her screen time and the film would be better for it.
Oh yeah, there is also a character with a booming voice, wearing a dinner suit and an owl head.
Disappointing because Tears began so well, though it might have been a one-note tale.


The Art Of Negative Thinking - 2006 - 6/10
AKA - Kunsten åtenke Negativt

Weekly, monthly meeting of paraplegic support group arrives at home of newest member.
Much to his resentment, resistance, and dismissive scorn.
They are, indeed, a bubbly mix with their optimistic credos and motorized wheelchairs.
Viewers might be forgiven for hating them almost as quickly as the infuriated homeowner does.
They roll in anyway, and he immediately begins to shred the smiling facades.
Black comedy holds back way too much.
Feels like a play, stage bound and talky. (Note: on the boards in 2010)
Yeah, what was I expecting? Dancing? Synchronized swimming?
From Norway.


The Mystic Nativity (The Private Life Of A Christmas Masterpiece) - 2009 - 7/10

Well done documentary on Botticelli’s long hidden / forgotten painting of the birth of Jesus.
The composition is explained, as well as period events that influenced it.
Chief among those, the revolutionary preaching of Girolamo Savonarola.
One of Botticelli’s final works, he works with revolutionary new mediums, canvas and oils.
Then there is the history of the painting itself. How it came to be lost, then purchased for a song.
Informative, never dry, with enthusiastic presenters.
The above image is only the top portion.


This Is Spinal Tap - 1984 - 11/10

First and finest of the Rockumentary - Mockumentary genre.
One brilliant moment after another.
“This goes to 11.”