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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 44

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Let’s Spend The Night Together - 2010 - 5/10

Documentary about the ladies who put the sex in Sex - Drugs - Rock n Roll.
The groupies.
Whitebread, feel-good pic showcasing American squad notables.
Pamela Des Barres, Sweet Sweet Connie, Cassandra Peterson (Mistress Elvira), Tura Satana (huh?) …
Some are pathetic, confessing the current crop of rockers they are bangin’ are younger than their grandsons. Makes you wonder what those gents were thinking.
A few souls are completely delusional, arguing the case they were artistic muse rather than joy holes.
Also events were way back when, before AIDS, before the Lennon murder and subsequent beefed up security and bodyguards.
Female topless photos were digitally blurred, while infamous Plaster Casters totems were displayed in full glory.
Mildly fun, though shallow and glossy.

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T2 Trainspotting - 2017 - 6/10

Twenty year follow-up to the groundbreaking original.
Sick Boy, Spud, Rent Boy, Begbie, and a few others.
Renton returns to the betrayals he left behind, and plans a shizzle with Simon.
Begbie thirsts for vengeance, Spud writes redemption.
Flashbacks remind one of relevant points in the original.
I enjoyed this more than I thought, possibly because my expectations were low.

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Hitler’s Hollywood - 2017 - 8/10

Continuation of 2014’s From Caligari To Hitler, this is an exploration of the Reichsfilme.
Entertainment for the masses: historicals, musicals, thrillers, action, romance, comedy.
All, overtly or subtly, propaganda, overseen by Joseph Goebbels.
This shows the absorption of Ufa, the compromises by actors and directors - or willingness.
Clips shown are in excellent condition, with very good subs.
Note: finding these films is often challenging, and subtitles can be particularly difficult.
The English version of this is narrated by Udo Kier, who provides shade and nuance with his purring voice.
Outstanding documentary.

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Happy Ever Afters - 2009 - 5/10

Forced Irish comedy of two wedding receptions colliding at one venue.
Each couple suffers reasons for marriage.
Groom A and Bride B meet cute and gallop down predictable lane.
Nice enough romantic comedy if your station is not broadcasting a bowling tournament.
Tired formula, caricatures rather than characters, stale goods.

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Jiu: Special Investigation Team - 2011 - 5/10
AKA - Jiu: Keishichou Tokushuhan Sousakei // ジウ 警視庁特殊犯捜査係

Small children are kidnapped for high ransoms.
The loot is not squandered, however. Something “big” is planned.
Cop J-dorama follows two female officers.
Izaki is the hardass, physically combative type, Kadokura is quieter and idealistic.
Not a buddy movie, though, as one female transfers to SIT, the other to SAT.
Both investigate the blonde serial killer, Jiu, as corpses stack high.
Corny, clichéd, shallow, juvenile. NWO plotline.
Style flares in the final two episodes. if you stay around long enough.

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Can You Ever Forgive Me? - 2018 - 7/10

Unpleasant journey of the forger, the has-been, the soured ingrate.
Blocked writer is out of bankable ideas, behind in rent, yet still finds ways to buy a bottle.
At a watering hole, she encounters an old acquaintance, who is even more the failure than she.
She concocts a fraudulent way of earning money. Cash only.
Melissa McCarthy is excellent as Lee Daniels, with none of her over the top shtick.
Gullible targets, greedy exploiters, self absorbed, plenty to dislike in cutting real life story.

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We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks - 2013 - 6/10

Ignore the low ratings on IMDB, that is blatant skewing by Wikileaks despisers.
Detailed documentary of Wiki founder Julian Assange, and his greatest source, Bradley Manning.
Never boring for a minute, follows Wiki’s comet rise to dissolution.
Filled in gaps and explained some aspects for me, but I was still left wondering what story hewed closer to the truth.
Feels quite dated now.

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Things To Come - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - L’avenir

Isabelle Huppert as philosophy professor whose well-ordered routine unravels.
Campus demonstrations, older favored students who embrace new ideologies, a difficult mother.
Trifling annoyances, to be sure, yet the cascade quietly grows.
The professor navigates course shifts and endings.
She tries to repair or adapt as once-dependable threads unspool.
On the upside, more freedom opens up for her, and she is not a blind soul.

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This Is Our Land - 2017 - 6/10
AKA - Chez Nous

Small town nurse slowly gets involved with small town politics.
She is handpicked and the process is incremental, from disinterest to spouting the rhetoric.
The party message is anti immigrant, right wing anger.
The ticket head is the daughter of an even more extremist politician.
Envision Marine Le Pen, on whom the main candidate is clearly patterned after.
The story is too cool by half. This ought to have struck the jugular more forcibly.
Perhaps filmmakers toned down the headier aspects owing to the then ongoing elections.
Disappointing, at least for me.

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The Trials Of Henry Kissinger - 2002 - 7/10

Documentary about the political insider / gunslinger / minister without portfolio.
Follows the popular book that argued that the great HK ought to have been tried for war crimes based on his activities (or lack of) and maneuverings during Vietnam negotiations.
Film outraged half the audience, others were more cynical, stating that shady deeds and brinkmanship have been hand in glove with leaders since before Caesar.
Caveat emptor.

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Mortal Engines - 2019 - 5/10

If I were younger, with less film baggage in my memory cells, I might enjoy more.
As it is, this YA dystopian actioner felt crammed, rushed and illogical,
In a post apocalyptic world, the London city sprawl rolls across Europe, devouring cities, towns, small industries.
(How come only London survived? Where do they get food? Water? Who knows!)
The dastardly mastermind (Hugo Weaving as baddie) toils secretly, though a trio of females resist him.
Key males are villains or helpless, while the West (London) is bad, and the East (China / India) is good.
Good CGI, though the plot is fast food. I disliked Snowpiercer, too.

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Zygote - 2017 - 6/10

Firebase - 2017 - 6/10

Regrettably, I have cooled on these “episodes” from Oats Studios.
In the first slice, an experiment has gone terribly wrong in a polar laboratory.
Two wounded survivors flee from the murderous mutation.
In the second slice, a grieving Vietnam war father unleashes the water god.
Carnage ensues.
Neither short, like the earlier Rakka, resolves, both trail off as cliffhangers.
While production values and casting are excellent, the lingering impression is of a glorified movie pitch.
I will watch further releases, although my expectations have dropped.

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I Am - 2010 - 5/10

Master director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Patch Adams, Evan Almighty) has a bicycle accident, suffers chronic pain. As he heals, he starts thinking, wondering what is wrong with us - mankind - as a species.
I Am is his feel good, naval gazing documentary. A variety of modern philosophers and leaders contribute their thoughts.
The usual: Materialism leads nowhere. Cooperation is salvation, not competition. Love is all you need.
Bubble thinking.
All well and good when everyone shares limited hopes, utopian dreams.
Neither Shadyac nor his pundits address the millions of impoverished souls who might want a better home, more water, nutritious diet.
Not one mention spiraling population growth as a root factor, along with the degradation of resources.
Virtually everyone interviewed did so from a nicely air-conditioned or heated dwelling.
All are well fed, well dressed, well educated. Privileged.
I Am currently enjoys high marks on review sites. I suspect the dewy-eyed believe humanity is capable of greatness.

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Paula - 2016 - 6/10

Dramatization of German painter, Paula Modersohn-Becker, at the beginning of the 20th century.
Being female, barriers included sexism, mockery, hostility.
A costume drama, though not exceedingly so, the look is restrained, and Paris seems spacious.
The narrative does not quite match her history as listed in Wikipedia, though the essentials seems true.
Pacing can be sluggish, and the myriad characters confusing at times.
Viewers who enjoyed 1995‘s Carrington should feel at home.

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Mary Ryan, Detective - 1949 - 6/10

Quickie B-film of female cop who infiltrates gang of shoplifters and fences.
Curious to watch a woman handle what would normally be a “man’s” role.
How-to procedural. Mary is trained how to boost, lift, learn the jargon.
Then into prison and sidle up to gang members on ice.
A nice plot curve here and there, otherwise predictable.

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Cass - 2008 - 6/10

West Ham supporters, the Inter City Firm, led by boss Cass, strive to be #1 firm during the Thatcher years.
Violence, knifings, shootings, slashings, and the rumble of rival tribes.
Cass differs from other football/hooligan films in that the protagonist is a middle class black youth with a warm home background and loving parents.
Rude language throughout, yet little drug use and no nudity.
Based on Cass Pennant’s memoir, I wonder how much of those elements had been massaged out.

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Puss In Books: Adventures Of The Library Cat - 1997 - 6/10

Cat haters, keep away. Book haters, avoid.
Brief documentary of feline denizens working local libraries.
Rodent control, security patrol, good will ambassador, snoozer.
Twenty or so layabouts are discussed and profiled.
There are also stray human Cassandras who wail about dander and ailurophobia. *
Breezy fun for feline fans and library habitués.

  • Years ago, in my village, Dewey and Deci were given the ole heave ho.
    One infrequent patron hollered, and the board ignored over 2000 signatures on the petition defending the felines.

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Bitter Feast - 2010 - 6/10

After a harsh review from, get this, a blog, chef Peter Grey loses his own restaurant, and gets canned from his own TV show.
Does he dust himself off, start anew? Nooo! He kidnaps that nasty blogger critic and exacts vengeance.
If you’re so good at criticizing, let’s see if your own efforts match your standards.
Wicked horror tale of retribution against souls who cannot create, who eek a living as professional complainers.
Dark film that grows progressively darker. Early sequence of adolescent violence might upset the squeamish.
Bon appétit.

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Deadly Circuit - 1983 - 6/10
AKA - Mortelle Randonnée / Deadly Run

Lonely, aging private detective tracks femme fatale, “Marie.”
One of her many, many aliases.
She has a taste for affluent, single males, who give her expensive gifts before perishing.
While the narrative is compelling, the logic often defies belief.
The detective acts on choices that border on incredulity.
Early on, he realizes she is a serial killer, and an extremely bloody one at that.
Does he notify police? Well, there would go the whole movie.
The narrative takes several unexpected turns, which kept me engrossed, though I never accepted the detective.
Isabelle Adjani must have had a ball with this role, with the ever shifting disguises and wardrobes.

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Intouchables - 2011 - 6/10

French quadriplegic hires unknown streetwise tough as caregiver.
Many have raved about this one, because it is a feel good story.
Not as saccharine or cloying as most of these films are. Also, no big angst ridden drama moment.
Disparate personalities meeting, sharing perspectives.
Your hunch about what this film is, is likely correct.
I enjoyed this, but even though it was based on a true story, there was nothing fresh.

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Come And See - 1985 - 8/10
AKA - Idi i Smotri // Иди и Cмотри

“ … Adventures are not all pony rides in May sunshine.” Tolkien
Harrowing film of the Nazi invasion of Belorussia in 1943.
A young village boy joins partisan fighters and journeys from wide-eyed idealism to experience.
Opening chapters register uncertainty and anxiety, fears about what German invaders want.
Film proceeds to display, with brutal detail, the Master Race dealing with lower orders.
The audio mix on this is noteworthy, music and sound editing.
After a shelling, the boy suffers hearing loss and viewers share his disability.
Tone shifts from confusion, indifference, barbarity, and rare beauty.

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Winchester - 2018 - 6/10

Not bad, not great either, interpretation of the haunted Winchester House.
Corporate honchos send psychiatrist out to evaluate the 51% stock-holding heiress.
They want a non compos mentis judgment so they can rein in spending.
Film makes an interesting case for “why” she built and built and built.
Not necessarily accurate -no one actually knows!
Acting is fine, set design is outstanding, and producers resisted going over the top with interiors.

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London To Brighton - 2006 - 6/10

British nasty about prostitution.
Aging crime lord calls bottom rung pimp and orders a girl for the night.
Young - 12 years old.
The pimp’s jill finds a runaway and they coerce her into the lair.
Next minute, the females are fleeing for their bloody lives, pimp and gangsters in furious pursuit.
Unpleasant film, nicely done. Dirty alleys, dark woods, cramped flats, ain’t no sunshine in this one.

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Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors - 2017 - 6/10

Historian Lucy Worsley guides viewers on a tour of Miss Austen’s many homes.
Along the way, she shares influences and incidents at each.
Reenactment is minimal, an actress reading Jane’s letters, from time to time, in different settings.

This is one of the better docs by Worsley. No blaring pop tunes in this, for instance.
Essential for Janeites.

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Four Adventures Of Reinette And Mirabelle - 1987 - 7/10

Parisian Mirabelle, vacationing in the countryside, meets the more rural Reinette.
They strike a friendship, discuss their different lifestyles, make plans.
Despite the title, the story is more Reinette’s, especially after she moves to Paris.
Character study, watching Reinette learning to navigate urban indifference.