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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 64


Love, Life And Goldfish - 2021 - 7/10
AKA - Sukutte Goran // すくってごら

Losing his cool at work, Kashiba is exiled to a branch office, in a tiny village.
This is career ending.
Entering the village in early evening, he is bewitched by the girl in front of him.
Walking amidst a sea of fans, dancers, and lanterns.
And he realizes there is something highly unusual about this village.

Barely a romance, themes of regret, rejection and loneliness predominate.
There are also goldfish throughout, which I will not elaborate on. And triangles.
Much as Kashiba is smitten, another female is love struck by him.

This is also a musical, with a dozen songs. Catchy, hook laden J-pop.
Hollywood or Broadway would likely apply a formula and have a hit with this.
This is Japanese, however. This is quirky and will be should delight fans of such.


Sherlock Holmes And The Deadly Necklace - 1962 - 6/10
AKA - Sherlock Holmes und das Halsband des Todes

Necklace being the one originally possessed by Cleopatra.
Holmes is involved because Professor Moriarty has extended his murderous hands.
Christopher Lee is a stolid, forceful Holmes, but this tale is far from canon.
No, this is a Krimi, a German production similar to the films based on Edgar Wallace novels.
There is less action than viewers might have anticipated, and Moriarty seems to bear as much screen time as Holmes.
Though well-staged, the plot stumbles and there is little tension.
This is a misfire. Lee would have another crack at Sherlock in 1991.


The Lineup - 1958 - 6/10

Lean film spinoff from old (lost?) 50’s TV show called San Francisco Beat.
Don Siegel directs retrieval caper of twin hoods fetching merchandise smuggled in by innocent tourists.
Eli Wallach terrific as barely restrained, borderline psychotic killer.
Narrative sorta ho-hum, with cops a step behind bad guys. Good use of Bay locations.


Hunting The Gauleiter - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Okhota na Gaulyaytera // Охота Hа Rауляйтера

Nazi occupied Minsk during the early days of WWII.
The Wehrmacht overwhelms the territory causing the populace to flee to the wilderness (where they are never found!) or stay in the city to work as labor.

The plot is cynical and wise.
The regional commander, the gauleiter, is at odds with the SS commander.
The latter wants to kill as much of the population as he can, the former wants them alive as forced labor.
Likewise with the Soviet resistance, under orders to assassinate the gauleiter.
They would prefer to destroy a supply train (more damage, less reprisals), but one does not disobey Moscow.
Nice production values in this ten parter offset by hammy, melodramatic acting.
Specifically from the women, who were apparently directed this way, which I cannot fathom.
They gush, swoon, over-emote.
Or they can-can to entertain German officers.

In Russian and German, though the German is hideously overdubbed in monotone Russian.
Generally useful to view another take on history.


Music For Misfits: The Story Of Indie - 2015 - 7/10

Exhilarating three part series tracks the rise of UK indie music from the 70’s into mainstream acceptance by 2000.
Tiny labels, obscure groups with new sounds, naive yet enthusiastic entrepreneurs.
And fans. Fans who were tired of Corporate Rock and glossy, talentless pretenders foisted upon them.
Interviews with band members, label reps, journalists, shop owners, all older and wiser.
The whole, do-it-yourself, seat of your pants struggles. Stories are funny and often telling.
Most try to avoid rosy eyed nostalgia, the trap of only recalling the sunshine.
Terrific soundtrack, to be sure, with dozens of concert clips.
Essential for music fanatics.


American Hustle - 2013 - 6/10

Man, I was looking forward to this. Thinking it would be like Boogie Nights.
Odd interpretation of the AbScam sting, where politicos took bribes for influence.
FBI coerces low level hustlers to run the scam.
Main FBI handler displays less intelligence than my cat, other agents little more than career chasers.

Fashion seemed right. There weren’t enough drugs, music was incorrect.
Noticing crap like that kept yanking me out of the flow.
Plus, having heard and read so much ballyhoo, my expectations were unreasonable.


Cowards Bend The Knee - 2003 - 6/10

Hold tight, pilgrim.
After Guy leads the hockey team to a win, his girlfriends informs him she is pregnant.
He immediately takes her to the beauty salon.
Well, it’s a beauty shop by day. By night, it is a brothel. And in the rear is an abortion room.
While the girlfriend suffers a hideous procedure, Guy catches the eye of the brothel madam’s daughter, Meta.

And Meta, man, she is something else. This becomes her tale of obsession, as Guy is a classic fool.
Silent film, in and out of focus, repeated sequences, fragmented music score.
There is a narrative, though this leans heavily toward experimental cinema.
Challenging Guy Maddin film, aimed at hardcore arthouse cineastes.


Bastards - 2013 - 7/10
AKA - Les Salauds

Existential French Noir, grim and fatalistic.
Seaman summoned home after brother-in-law commits suicide.
Niece has been raped to the point of requiring repair surgery.
Sister shoves him toward vengeance.
Filmed mostly in gloomy interiors or at night.
Minimal dialogue, unusual for a French flick.
Physical similarity between sister and “villain’s” wife add to confusion.
Limited exposition, viewer on his/her own to grasp roles and backstory.
Typical of Noir, the deeper the seaman digs, the filthier and uglier the truth.


Doll House - 2014 - 5/10
AKA - Inhyeong-ui Jib // 인형의 집

Jeez Louise, did it really take me eighteen months to watch this 12 episode K-drama?
Shows how involved I was.
Young 20ish girl answers ad for light duty job at residence.
She has to wear schoolgirl uniform, pigtail her hair, and pretend to be a daughter.
What happened to the daughter in question?
Then she discovers there have been impersonators before her! What happened to them?
Mystery with enough suspense to unsettle teenage viewers. Maybe.

For the curious, you could easily watch the whole series in barely over an hour…
Each installment runs 6-8 minutes, including opening & closing credits and a preview of next week.


The Color Of Lies - 1999 - 7/10
AKA - Au Coeur du Mensonge (The Heart of the Lie)

Ten year old Eloise finishes her art lesson and walks home.
Next scene, two other children find her dead in the woods,
Police subsequently discover she had been molested.
The last person to see her had been her art teacher, a respected painter suffering a career impasse.
Marital problems are suggested and a celebrity writer pursues the wife.
Parallel with the murder investigation, the police tackle a string of robberies.

While locals never voice inflamed accusations, the new inspector clearly eyes the artist.
Claude Chabrol film is a clinical study of lies, secrets, and the confined village.
Not a nail biter thriller, but a psychological mystery, filled with clues and deceptive individuals.


All The Devils Are Here - 2021 - 7/10

Sly villains come and huddle round. Thou blackest voices art here granted sound.
Patrick Page gives an absorbing one-man play, check listing the scoundrels of Shakespeare.
From the early, smiling treachery of Richard III to the conflicted, emotionally fraught Macbeth.
Part acting masterclass, part history lesson.
Page enacts and explains how Shakespeare progressively gave his fiends more complexity, sympathy, humanity.
All the players fade with time. Statesman, soldier, peasant, meek or sublime. Bombast and prattle fade into naught.
Theatre junkies, forgather!


300: Rise Of An Empire - 2013 - 5/10

Not quite as good as 300, but good enough, I suppose.
Narrative runs parallel to the Spartans, finally shifting to the big battle at Salamis.
Beware, if you are watching this for Greek history class.
Hordes of attractive, bare chested males (mostly the CG breed) scream and slash in a bluish world.
Other than some female warriors, nothing new for this sequel.
Not a bad film, merely the over reliance on action.
Enjoyed it for what it was - midnight popcorn.


Polina - 2016 - 7/10
AKA - Polina, Danser sa Vie

Young Polina (I’d guess eight or nine) passes the enrollment tryouts for prestigious training school.
Her home life mixes with rigorous teachings until she auditions with the Bolshoi.
At this point, the story, which was following a predictable path, takes the unforeseen turn.
Polina starts a “personal” journey into unknown territory which puts her into conflicts.
For dance enthusiasts, this goes beyond the typical suffering for art reruns.
Great dance sequences, a broad display of styles, and a rich range of influences.
Juliette Binoche, with no formal dance training, does an impressive turn as choreographer / dancer.