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A few reviews . . (film or TV) — Page 71

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Attack Of The Crab Monsters - 1957 - 4/10

Lovers of crab claws or crab legs, how about a three foot serving?
Mind you, the crab itself is twenty feet wide, ravenous, and intellectual.
Say what? There ain’t no dinner as smart as me!
Think again, Farquar. Radiated crabs scuttle forth to conquer Earth in this Roger Corman masterpiece.
A second wave of scientists arrive on a tiny, deserted island after the first group mysteriously disappear.
The Navy drops them off, then departs. Their radio goes on the fritz, and is later smashed.
(Thank God, Russell Johnson (“The Professor”) is there to repair it!)
I don’t want to spoil too much. Suffice to say, as Mr Crablegs eats more brains, he absorbs their intellects.
Makes one wonder what would happen if it attacked a Wal Mart.

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A Woman’s Secret - 1949 - 6/10

An argument, a gunshot, then the confession. “I did it.”
Would cases all be so easy, declare police as the jail door slams shut.
Yet a skeptical detective and loyal boyfriend have doubts and begin to talk.
And so begins one flashback after another.
I watched because IMDB lists this a Noir, directed by Nicholas Ray, with Gloria Graham.
Rather, this is a mystery / woman’s drama with a Pygmalion trope.
Not bad, but not Noir.

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Edge Of Tomorrow - 2014 - 6/10

OK SciFi grafts Battle Los Angeles with the endlessly repeating loop.
Callous, inexperienced coward dies and dies and dies, only to revive again.
With each awakening, he learns more about the alien Mimics, and perhaps how to thwart the invasion.
Yep, bug hunt.
The dead - resurrect bit was repeated much too often.
Pacing was brisk, but the repetition became tedious, then tiresome. Film just felt sluggish.
J-Squad underutilized.
Not as awful as the naysayers shout, but not as good as it should have been.

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Saki - 2013 - 7/10
AKA - サ キ

Reprising her role from Utsukushii Rinjin (Beautiful Neighbor), Yukie Nakama returns as the demure, soft spoken Saki.
This time, her crosshairs target men, five of them.
Hauntingly beautiful, the irresistible siren soon bewitches each.
Saki probes, coaxes, until she burrows into them, finding buried scars.
She tears them apart until they crumble. And she watches throughout.
Others, she builds up - with straw - while flicking emotional matches behind her back.
Why does she do this?

This J-dorama is an acquired taste. Slow at times, over the top now and them.
Saki, setting her traps, is a real piece of work. Even as horrible as this villain was, I secretly rooted for her.
Plus, to paraphrase Hannibal Smith, I love it when a plan comes together, even by a murderess.

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Burn, Witch, Burn - 1962 - 6/10
AKA - Night Of The Eagle

Professor Taylor is on an academic fast-track. He is talented, skilled, forceful.
And – as it turns out, married to a witch.
He regards superstition, voodoo, hexes, charms as stuff and nonsense.
Once aware, he forces her to burn all her protective amulets, whereupon then Life sours.
Good horror outing, based on Fritz Lieber’s “Conjure Wife.”
Taylor is such a pig-headed prig, part of me roots for the forces of darkness to crush him.

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Nelly - 2016 - 5/10

Canadian novelist Nelly Arcan burst out of the gate with her first book, a best seller in her home country and France.
Succeeding books sold less and less until her suicide ten years later.
Film mixes her writer self, along with when she was an escort, along with her characters.
Those unfamiliar with Nelly Arcan (such as me) will have trouble keeping up unless you realize this.
Her novels were lurid and her characters were thinly disguised autobiographies.
Movie is filled with sex, rough sex, girl talk, and the insecure writer.
Often an unpleasant ride.

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Siren Of Atlantis - 1949 - 5/10
AKA - Atlantis, The Lost Continent

Fruity, cockeyed yarn about expedition searching for, and finding, fabled Atlantis.
The expedition is the French Foreign Legion.
Atlantis is in the middle of the Sahara!
Ruling the lost kingdom is a beautiful, ageless, sexually voracious queen.
Most of the citizenry act as guards or as dancers. (No TV, no reading material, dancing is the main entertainment,)
The music score is intrusive and distracting, and bulk of the acting is histrionic.
Who cares?
Queen Antinea wears skin tight or sheer as can be outfits. Plays chess with the men folk, leads them to her yawning conch shell bed, and drains their mojo, till their ain’t no wick in the stick.
Along with provocative costumes, is the $5.00 set design. Cinematographer Karl Struss filled the flick with phallic imagery. Candlesticks, chessmen, marble columns, even the omnipresent masked, turbaned guards.
Bad film but a fun one.

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Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance - 2013 - 7/10

Revamped take on Tchaikovsky’s ballet.
1890, the infant princess is surrounded by faerie,
Next, forward 21 years, 1911, the apex of the Romanov Dynasty.
Reawakening in 100 years to a world of cellphone and baggy clothed hipsters.
The opening part, for me, has always been a toil to watch or listen to.
The second part, circa 1911, promised much, being on the cusp of the Russian Revolution.
Alas, slumber struck Princess Aurora, though her childhood love was allowed to follow.
How? Why being turned into a vampire by one of the “good” vampires.
Yes, you read correct. The fairies have been rebooted as vampires.
Better than zombies, I suppose.
Tchaikovsky’s 3-4 hour ballet trimmed to 100”. Adam Maskell riveting as Carabosse / Caradoc.

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The Green Man - 1956 - 6/10

Seemingly agreeable Hawkins (Alistair Sim) found his calling at an early age. Assassin.
While he is a free agent and will liquidate any on his list, his preference is for pompous windbags.
During World War II, he finds competition from the Luftwaffe and retires.
Afterward - well - there is never a shortage of blowhards waiting to be snuffed.
Unexpected opposition arrives in a busybody vacuum salesman.
Fast paced, black comedy of murder, misunderstandings and mistaken identities.
Dialogue is rapid fire (based on a play), this is lightweight fun.

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The Armstrong Lie - 2013 - 7/10

Focused documentary on cyclist Lance Armstrong and the substance use denial.
Scant in the way of in-depth biography - marriages, kids, friends, nada. Couple of stills of him with his single mom.
When he arrived on the cycling scene, doping was prevalent. Indeed, cycling in general suffers a long, sorry history of cheats and frauds.
Nowadays, the money incentives are staggering. Few athletes - of any sport - remotely resemble normal humans.
All professional sports seem to be as real as wrestling.
I never liked Armstrong as shown in this, though I empathized with his situation.
Had he not joined all other contestants in steroids and blood tweaking, Lance would have been no one, another Damien Nazon.

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Lies & Alibis - 2006 - 6/10
AKA - Alibis

Confidence sting in new clothes.
Steve Coogen helps cheatin’ husbands, cheatin’ wives.
Big money to be made in saving adulterous marriages from divorce lawyers.
When a younger client treats his rough trade girlfriend a little too rough, stories and alibis fire up.
Entire cast uniformly excellent in droll comedy.
Sam Elliott memorable as seething Mormon hitman.

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Nausicaa - 1971 - 6/10

Interviews, reenactments, cobbled stories of Greek refugees in France during the Junta 1967-74.
Finding work, finding accommodations, homesickness, forming enclaves.
One of the female characters is named Agnes, and may be drawn from the director.
Or maybe not.
Varda is perhaps playing with truth here, but not to the extent of say Herzog.
What is most interesting are street interviews.
Most either did not know about the Greek situation, or did not want to know.

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Saint Amour - 2016 - 5/10

Viewers with a soft spot for “dumb” (dumb friends, coworkers, neighbors) might score higher.
Aging father and son hit the Agricultural Fair.
Dad hopes his prize bull will win a prize, Junior intends to get sloshed.
During a prolonged interval, they hire a taxi and drive through various wine regions.
Three males, including the driver, encounter a variety of altogether willing females.
Yes, male fantasy time. Our studs are bumpkin stumble-bums, yet ladies tumble.
Over talky, touchy feelie, angst laden, baggage packed, pointless, sexist …
Oh, sensitive souls, Depardieu exposes a v-a-s-t swath of stomach in a romantic interlude.

Subs = https://subscene.com/subtitles/saint-amour/english/1635227

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Diablo Guardián: S01 - 2018 - 6/10

Rose Alba has had it with her family’s middle class aspirations.
Most offensive is her name, and she rechristens herself Violetta.
OK, I’ve known young people who did likewise.
She decides to run away, stealing a stash of family cash.
Alright – but – how many families have 300K in US dollars in their homes?
Then, through impossible luck and fortuitous encounters, Violetta skedaddles to New York.
Skeptical? Shelve that, and be prepared to suspend more disbelief, a lot more.
Fairy tale seems aimed at frustrated adolescents who believe Pretty Woman is real!
Paulina Gaitan memorable as the juicy, headstrong, reach for the skies sweet tart.
Everyone else lacks charisma, some can barely act.
Concluding episode of S01 was inept, I bailed on S02.

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Life - 2017 - 4/10

I watch a lot of bad SciFi and Horror. This blend is a godawful, reeking pile.
Special effects are fine, though the plot is beneath any eight year old.
Orbiting scientists snag a one-celled organism from Mars.
They stimulate it and encourage it. Even name it - Calvin.
(Consider if the Nostromo crew had named the xenomorph - Daisy.)
Not only does the creature get a lot bigger, it quickly becomes smarter than anyone else onboard.
Also the hungriest. Lucky for Calvin there are a half dozen, box o rocks, totally stupid crew members.
Too bad the Life script writer was not among them.

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Young And Beautiful - 2013 - 6/10
AKA - Jeune et Jolie

Oft told tale of young, pretty student turning tricks for money.

  • Never overweight girls with buck teeth and furry legs -
    Girl earns €300 - €500 per handjob, bj, bareback, etc … and peddles her wares on Internet sites.
  • No mention of AIDS, scuttling crabs, or bright crimson, leaky weenie sores -
    Nevertheless, this is a François Ozon film, and I always watch his releases.
    Girl is younger than most. 17, not college aged. Her family is affluent, in fact, she doesn’t spend the money on anything. She seems to drift into the game after a boring initiation with German visitor. Subsequent encounters seem little more than ways to kill an afternoon.
    She shows business savvy and a sense of her own worth, understanding that youthful flesh is fleeting and valuable.
    Luminous Charlotte Rampling has key role near the end.

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The Woman With Red Hair - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - La Femme aux Cheveux Rouges

Early on, a woman with red hair is pursued, then, what appears to be, drowned.
This, as it transpires, is a flashback (not handled particularly well).
The story shifts to a war journalist, staying in this small village, recovering from trauma.
Plus, the red-headed daughter of the deceased. (Note: Mother and daughter use vivid hair coloring.)
Unlike most French mysteries, the hunt for this decade old mystery is by these two, not detectives.
A point for that, a point for good use of indoor and outdoor scenery.
As for chemistry between the two sleuths? Negative.

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Dear Murderer - 1947 - 5/10

The opening was one of the longest “prepare to die” speeches I have ever seen.
Twenty minutes.
Suave, cuckolded Eric Portman, visits then subdues his rival.
Next, he tells how he learned of the man’s bush brushing while he was overseas, and how he intends to kill him.
Afterward, he spends another five minutes doing the deed and scattering the false trail.
Then all the steam escapes, and the plot plods into police procedural.
Turns out, hot, cheating wife (Greta Gynt) has a history of running around. She’s already lined up her next man snack. Her husband needs roller skates to snuff everyone grazing her grass.
Nice lighting, lot of Noir touches, though this is very much in the British mystery vein.
Alright, at best. Dull and disappointing at worst.

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Spring - 2014 - 6/10

The casual affair that could turn into love.
American male, fleeing trouble in the States, goes to Italy and meets mysterious girl.
She carries a few secrets of her own including rebirth and transfiguration.
While carrying the Horror tag, romance and communication predominate.
The two leads have evident chemistry and this could be a warm date film.
Except there is a horror component, there is almost casual violence, and there is disintegration.
Narrative of love, however brief, colliding with the longer path.
This is an intelligent, well thought out film, splashed with beautiful coastal scenery.

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10 Rillington Place - 1970 - 7/10

Richard Attenborough plays the mild mannered, soft spoken John Christie.
Strangler, rapist, serial killer, trophy collector, check all the boxes on this one.
Film opens during Blitz era London, shifts to 1949, his proclivities do not lessen.
Rather, we meet new neighbors (Judy Geeson and John Hurt).
Slow pacing serves to ratchet the tension.
Historical accuracy seems to be fairly spot-on, though motives are minimal.
Attenborough outstanding as quiet milquetoast with haunted eyes and demonic compulsions.
Murder fanatics? Visit Christie at Madame Tussaud’s.

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The Monk - 2011 - 7/10
AKA - Le Moine

French film, set in 17th century Madrid.
Foundling abandoned outside monastery is taken in by monks, subsequently raised as one of their own.
In time, the orphan (Vincent Cassel) grows into the monastery’s rock star.
Devoted followers from near and far pack the chapel to listen to his sermons, give confession.
Enter the serpent, a new acolyte, clad in an expressive leather mask to conceal the ravages of disease.
Visuals are ravishing, with several remarkable set pieces.
Performances are subdued, troubled, including Déborah François in a supporting role.
An ominous undercurrent builds throughout, but there is nothing in the way of explosive action.
Story is not necessarily the most original, though handsomely presented.
May prove excruciatingly slow for impatient viewers.

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Six Empty Seats - 2021 - 7/10
AKA - Polyot // Полёт

Six business colleagues drive to the airport. As it turns out, the wrong airport.
The airliner they were supposed to board? It crashed, leaving no survivors.
Reactions vary. From guilt, to rebirth, to self-analysis.
One thing is certain, they have put themselves in a world of trouble.
Each episode told from one characters point of view. Their life before, and after.
Final episode is as fitting as it is haunting.
Would that all series were as well written.

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I Am Not Your Negro - 2016 - 8/10

Quasi-documentary of author James Baldwin carries a lot of bite.
Based on his never finished proposed novel incorporating Medgar Evans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
Traces and analyzes the almost futile misunderstandings of whites who have never come to terms with blacks living in their midst.
Baldwin’s voice ranges from resigned to despairing to righteous anger.
The filmmaker incorporates recent clashes, pointing the obvious: this is an unhealed sore, not remotely on any curative path.
This is a brilliant, insightful work, yet will be blistering for most.
We are, for any who bother to look, segregating society more than ever, physically and socially.

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The Greatest Movie Ever Sold - 2011 - 6/10

Watchable, though not particularly illuminating documentary on product placement.
Morgan Spurlock visits image consultants and product representatives, and pitches his notion of having them fund his documentary in exchange for gratuitous advertising throughout.
The consultants and executives are far more interesting than the concept.
At least one of the products I had no idea was still around - so this was a win for them.
Major companies who declined had me scratching my head.
The budget for this film was minuscule. $1.5 million. A major corporation’s investment would have been petty.
One who declined pled that documentary viewers were too few to matter.
Perhaps. Spurlock remains a recognizable name, however, and documentary viewers are supposedly intelligent.
Film was short, humorous, and I did sympathize with company honchos.
Notwithstanding, I do tune out their ads.

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Shinobi no Mono 6: The Last Iga Spy - 1965 - 6/10
AKA - Shinobi no Mono: Iga-Yashiki // 忍びの者 伊賀屋敷

Saizo’s son, after seeing his father killed, grows up following the ninja path.
Their time, however, is passing. As political alliances and maneuvering come to the fore.
Even the ninja, skilled as he is, realizes by the end that knowledge is more important than ability.
The opening conflict is exciting, and there is a spectacular rooftop fight in the rain.
Yet the overall tone is one of change, with the ninja fading from influence.
No matter how three generations have opposed, the Tokugawa clan is entrenched.