Sign In

A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 38

Author
Time

Laurel Canyon - 2020 - 7/10

Rosy tinted nostalgia of Los Angeles neighborhood, circa 1965-1971, when musicians roamed.
This is more free-wheeling and more substantive than 2018’s “vanity doc” by Dylan’s kid.
Straight off, Joni Mitchell is included, as are Love, the Doors, even Alice Cooper (early Zappa signee).
Youthful photos and images are shown while current voices recollect.
One sees the artists during their creative peak, not after the progression of decades.

The second part opens with the demise of the 60’s: Manson family, Kent State, Altamont.
Narrative cruises into the 70’s, with Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles.
Some have voiced the second half is a downer. Not really. Tastes and fashions change.
Chronology of the doc is somewhat massaged, but not overly so.

Author
Time
 (Edited)

London: Modern Babylon - 2012 - 6/10

Flashy arthouse film / documentary / 100 year history of London.
More or less chronological beginning from 1900.
Edits newsreel footage, silent films, movies, interviews, converts, dancing like a skipping stone on events of the last 100 years.
WWI, the Blitz, Swinging London, 2011 riots, are covered, as well as the changing face of the city.
London, the quintessential “English” city at the beginning, emerges as a multi cultural megapolis by the end.
Very well done, but a bit wearying, like viewing a two hour music video.
Sensory overload to be sure.

Author
Time

Howl - 2015 - 6/10

Midnight train to Eastborough slams to a stop in the Thornton forest.
Bickering, querulous passengers soon realize they are stranded and become prey.
Predictable (I guessed early meals, and called the survivor). Limitations disguised with rain, fog and low light.
Unlike Dog Soldiers, no humor, and characters are weak, annoying or simply undeveloped.
Much as I hoped, Allen Ginsberg never appears.
Wolf pack, queue up.

Author
Time

Romulus - 2020 - 6/10

Boldly imaginative take on the founders of Rome.
Note. This is pre-Rome. No coliseums, no columns. Straw huts and animal skins.

Straight off, I was baffled. Who were these characters? Plus, there were so many!
Not to worry, characters are drawn in broad strokes, and a fair percentage are killed early on.
After awhile, I was glad I stayed with this, as I perceived what the producers were doing.
Big points there. The final episode, however, proved deeply unsatisfying to most.
Latin majors, rejoice! Ten episodes, spoken in the Classical language!

Author
Time
 (Edited)

Vanquisher - 2009 - 4/10
AKA - Suay Samurai // สวย…ซามูไร

I started watching this with others, finished watching alone.
Heard muttering about, " … another one of his winners … "
Absurd Thai actioner begins as CIA sends hottie Thai op to kidnap a Muslim insurgent for the Russians.
Within five minutes, the time frame is two years later, and hottie is sent to eliminate another radical.
From there, confusion reigns.
A pair of Japanese hitmen get involved, as do an army of sword swinging ninjas.
There are a couple of lush female Thai cops (on either side of the conflicts), three Muslim chicks with scimitars, a dozen Thai black op agents on underpowered, put-put motorscooters, a samurai master, and absolutely no plot whatsoever.
Everyone was fighting … for … I’m not sure what.
This got awful reviews, I still watched it.
Loser.

Author
Time

My Name Ain’t Suzie - 1985 - 6/10
AKA - Fa Gai si Doi // 花街時代

Purported rebuttal to 1960‘s The World Of Suzie Wong is too little, too late.
Barely adolescent, village girls follow free-spending madam back to the Hong Kong brothel.
There, they are educated in the ways of male satisfaction, and emptying males of their folding money.
Colorful Shaw Brothers production is PG, with no nudity, let alone suggestive moaning.
Just giggling, happy hookers servicing the US Navy from the Korean conflict to Vietnam era, after which traffic ebbs.
Expect the ubiquitous bar fight. Triad involvement hinted at, drugs and pregnancies skirt by.
Most surprising (to me) was seeing the abandoned boy the madam had raised as her own, and was turning into her private boy toy, a young Anthony Wong in his first role.

Author
Time

Gadjo Dilo - 1998 - 6/10
AKA - The Crazy Stranger

Young French man wanders the Romanian countryside, cassette Walkman in his pack.
He seeks Nora Luca, gypsy folk singer, all but unknown in the west.
Colorful story throws him into the Romany world, where he is perceived as a curio.
The fact that he knows only a few Romany phrases and NO Romanian, cast him as the rube.
Fortunately (and fortune bears two faces), one girl speaks French.
To term their relationship highly charged would be understating it.
Film does not gloss over the tensions between normal Romanians, and the gypsies.

Note: I have been to Romania a few times.
I watched a pack work a set of hustles in Timișoara (in McDonalds) one evening. (Similar scenes had played out where I worked, when Traveler kids “shopped.”)
Mock fights, girls removing tops to adjust their bras – if they are wearing one to begin with, while a quiet mule drifts from table to table, taking cellphones, lighters, any item not nailed down.
I never saw any of the girls wearing traditional garb, as in this film.

Author
Time

84 Charing Cross Road - 1987 - 7/10

Love letter to readers and book collectors.
Based on the correspondence between New Yorker Helene Hanff and the staff of Marks & Co (especially Frank Doel) in London.
Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins well cast.
Film has nice feel for the post war rationing and hardships in England.
The era of acquiring fine, leatherbound classics (albeit secondhand) for £1 4s 6d is gone, gone, gone.
Meanwhile. the current era indicates actual, physical books are fading as well.
Quiet film, worth viewing if you have not seen it.

In the early 80’s, bookshops were still plentiful along Charing Cross.
Sadly, there are fewer now.

Author
Time

American Pastoral - 2016 - 4/10

Overwrought, over-acted, out of date yarn of girl who turns radical in the 60’s, then goes underground.
Wait, no, the story is really about the father (Ewan McGregor) who spends his time (life) hunting for his daughter.
He is below amateur in this, by the way, committing mistakes, making terrible judgment errors.
Then again, there is the crumbling of his middle class, white bread marriage (to Jennifer Connelly).
Some of the scenes that might have been provocative in 1975 are laughable today.
Heavy handed downer of Roth’s critique of the social veneer.

Author
Time

Impetigore - 2019 - 6/10
AKA - Perempuan Tanah Jahanam

Maya is stalked, then while working at the toll booth, she is assaulted.
Wielding a machete, the man apologizes, “I’m sorry, but you curse our village. I must kill you.”
“I don’t know you!” she screams. “I never heard of your village!”
Fortunately, police arrive and the would-be assassin is shot dead.
So what would you do? Go to a remote, isolated village where everyone wants your life?
That’s what Maya does, seeking answers.

Another fine Joko Anwar film. This is shot during late afternoon and night.
The mood stays grim and foreboding throughout. The cinematography in this, as in other Anwar films I have viewed, is well thought out and imaginative.
The plot is somewhat rehashed, but the style is mesmerizing.
For those who adored Hong Kong cinema (before Chinese censors and mainstream audiences diluted it), check out this director.

Author
Time

Labyrinth - 2012 - 5/10

Treating this two part series as a movie.
Produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, which is what drew my interest.
Dual narratives of present day and 13th century France, where the Crusaders tackle a Cathar sect.
Nice production values for the earlier era, poor casting for the modern.
Based on a best-selling novel (book received wildly mixed reviews) about the Holy Grail, intolerance, church intrigue. Violent, bloody, sexy.
First part held my interest throughout. Second half, I blame the author.
Stories stretched to the point of silliness, and seemed targeted for YA readers.
Possibly 13 year old female readers. Based on female leads consistent reactions, very gullible female readers.
Scoring the parts: Pt 1 = 6, Part 2 = 4.

Author
Time

A Wedding - 2016 - 7/10
AKA - Noces

Uncomfortable story of relocated Pakistani family living in France.
The 18 year old daughter ponders an abortion. Waffles and procrastinates.
After she makes a decision, the family concludes she needs to marry.
Living in France, she is becoming too Western.
She is given three photos of Pakistani males and told to choose.
Again, she procrastinates, only this time the screws bear down.
You root for her because she has spirit and joie de vivre, but family pressure is agonizing.
Though opening credits state, “Inspired by true events,”
much of the story seemed to evoke Madame Bovary.

Author
Time

Amulet - 2020 - 5/10

Border guard commits misdeeds during Balkans conflict.
Jump forward, and he works build sites as (possibly) illegal worker.
Until he is offered room and board at a fixer-upper house, occupied by dying mother and her daughter.
Soon, he has concerns about the locked attic and dangerous incidents. Does he flee?
Artsy horror film is portentous and ponderous. And slow.
Rather than thoughtful, the pacing felt like padding.
The “amulet” itself was a shoehorned element, as it had scant bearing on the plot.
Too bad. There are decent concepts here, yet the result is muddled.

Author
Time

The Ax - 2005 - 7/10
AKA - Le Couperet

Nifty French thriller.
Chemist loses his job to downsizing and outsourcing.
After two years, he remains unemployed.
He determines who his likely competitors are and decides to winnow the field.
Very black comedy grows grimmer and darker.
Based on Donald Westlake’s “The Ax.”
Themes, far ahead of their time, still resonate today.
Especially if your job search isn’t going so well.

Author
Time

Flames Of Love - 1967 - 7/10
AKA - Jôen // The Affair // 情炎

Moody drama of young woman chastising her widowed mother’s scandalous behavior.
Her mother led affairs with lower class men, took to drink, and was run over by a truck.
Now the daughter, unhappily married, sees a similar path, darkly beckoning, in comparison with her faithless, businessman husband and meaningless home life.
A slow film, with compositions immaculate and imaginative.
Fascinating to watch her question those around her, and in so doing, question herself.
Her choices are extremely limited, and no matter how open minded men declare themselves, few are.
Arresting sound mix, as well. A perky instrumental balanced with stark silence or musique concrète.

Author
Time

Hatchet For The Honeymoon - 1970 - 6/10
AKA - Il Rosso Segno Della Follia

Beautiful girls are killed on the eve of their honeymoon, or on their honeymoon!
No mystery about the culprit, as we watch fashion designer John do the deeds.
The mystery is why he does the deeds.
Typical of Giallo, the sets and costumes are gorgeous, as are most of the players.
The pace is sluggish, though the narrative is coherent.
John’s home is stupendous! Vast rooms, grand staircases, huge entryways.
My favorite room was packed with mannikins, all dressed in bridal attire.
Not a first choice for Giallo, but should satisfy fans of the genre.

Author
Time

Arbitrage - 2012 - 7/10

Another of those heavily nominated Academy films that …
Wait a minute. Arbitrage didn’t get nominated for jack!
Not even Richard Gere, who gave another performance of a lifetime as a wheeler dealer, money hustler navigating a series of business negotiations, moral crises, police investigations, etc …
This is right up there with Margin Call in the financial chicanery films.
Intelligent alternative when you need a break from all those teen slasher and TnA romps.

Author
Time

Love Sarah - 2020 - 6/10

After Sarah dies, her “almost” business partner, daughter, and estranged mother decide to fulfill her dream and open a bakery.
Yes, a how-to movie.
Expect grief, romance, dramatics, confessions, secrets, money woes, gritty determination.
Will the bakery open, let alone succeed?
Predictable formula, though that does not mean this is a bad watch.
One evening, when you are hungry for feel-good, this might suffice.

Author
Time

Luck Key - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - Leokki // [B]럭키[/B]

Polished Korean hitman suffers an accident and suffers amnesia.
A young, shiftless indebted actor seizes the opportunity and switches identity papers.
Gradually, he realizes the noose he has put himself into.
The better - funnier - story follows the assassin who thinks he is an actor.
He has the superior work ethic, but he is a clueless actor, nonetheless.
Until he is cast in a crime drama where his ingrained skills rise to the fore.
Viewers do not need to be familiar with K-dramas to laugh at this.
Be warned, since this does spoof K-dramas, there will be romance.
But no tears - rejoice!

Author
Time

Zimmer 13 - 1964 - 6/10
AKA - Room 13

London’s top private eye is hired by a member of Parliament after a shady character from his past comes calling.
At its root, this is a caper film. An old fashioned train robbery.
Being a German Krimi, however, there are dozens of subplots and distractions.
Straight off, a serial killer is murdering fräuleins - excuse me, British lovelies.
Numerous shenanigans occur at the High & Low Club, which is a glorified striptease parlor.
This is where our ace detective takes evening dates, by the way.
Not to worry, one of the exotic dancers is a female cop. How do we know?
Because she wears regulation Scotland Yard underwear. Who knew!

Author
Time

Walgericht: Black Forest Crime - 2021 - 6/10
AKA - Ein Schwarzwaldkrimi Waldgericht

Countryside thriller starts well, with a corpse buried head first in an orchard, an inverted scarecrow.
Runes are found, scratched on exteriors, and a cloaked figure is glimpsed silhouetted against the horizon.
Another death, equally queer. This has the makings of good folk horror.
Until rational police come to the fore, dissipating the web of mystery.
Two part series feels like mismatched twins sutured together.
Not bad if procedurals are your thing, though I would have preferred the superstitious route.

Author
Time

American Mary - 2012 - 6/10

Don’t piss off the wrong females. Especially medical students.
Mary gets invited to a party by surgeons, gets drugged. Date raped.
Then she pursues the guilty, showing supreme body modification skills.
Dark, funny, but loses direction to focus on oddballs and freak seekers.
Neither as gory, nor as exploitative as it ought to be.
Chick horror meets carnival sideshow, with no sense of the jugular.
Juicy role for Katharine Isabelle.

Author
Time

Saving Banksy - 2017 - 6/10

Story of the homeless rat, though with Banksy referenced, nothing is that simple.
In 2010, Mr Banksy visited San Francisco and left behind a fair number of street art.
Most of which were tagged over or painted over

The rat, painted high over Haight Street, abided, though City Hall demanded removal.
Allow one graffiti artist and numbers will swell like cockroaches on fertility pills.
A Banksy admirer and do-gooder saved the rodent by taking it down (at his own expense) and storing it in his closet for a few years.
While fame sky-rocketed and inane rich collectors and predatory middle men sniffed the collectible cheese.
Street art - street art - remind yourself - only street art. Graffiti.
Nonetheless, the wine n cheese, desperate to appear cultured, babble and soil themselves.
Irritatingly funny - you will shake your head.

Author
Time

Rent A Cat - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Rentaneko // レンタネ

“OK, dry food or canned food? Vote with your paw. Come on, cats, choose.”
Sayoko starts her rent a cat business, partly to meet new people, partly because she has too many … well, she’s not a hoarder. Cats simply are drawn to her.
Maybe because she keeps a piece of fish cake in her pockets.
One of those quiet, quirky films from Japan.
Theme of this is about lonely souls trying to fill the hole in their hearts.
Best appreciated by “cat people,” you know who you are.
Expect a lot of felines.

Author
Time

Up The Junction - 1968 - 7/10

Posh bird from Chelsea glides across the river to Battersea.
Finds work in a factory, rents a squalid flat, buys second hand furniture.
Ken Loach extends the working class point of view of 60’s England.
The juxtaposition of the affluent beauty amidst the lower orders is a telling contrast.
Despite a two hour length, the story seldom drags, there is simply too much to take in.
Casting is excellent in unglamorous Swinging London tale, plus there is the unfolding mystery as to why she is “slumming.”