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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Six Minutes To Midnight - 2020 - 6/10

Lightweight espionage thriller suffers from insufficient plot.
On the eve of WWII, daughters of influential Reich commanders are in an elite English finishing school.
What if war breaks out? What will happen to those Aryan beauties?
Overly padded story (including an extended, lackadaisical chase) is dull.
Actor / writer / co-producer Eddie Izzard gave himself the lion’s share of scenes in fluff history.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Neon Demon - 2016 - 5/10

Listed as Horror / Thriller. Say what?
I got this hoping for fashion arthouse Horror. What a fool believes.
Dewy eyed miss wanders Los Angeles hoping to make it as high fashion model.
Success is overnight, everything else is glacial. Pace is mind numbing slow.
On the couture end, clothes look off the J C Penney’s rack.
Inventive composition, angles, colors? No, just colored light filters.
Nick Knight, Annie Leibowitz, Grace Coddington, et al have nothing to fear from this twaddle.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Beautiful Troublemaker - 1991 - 6/10
AKA - La Belle Noiseuse

Overlong arthouse fare that will tax your endurance.
Once famous, now less fashionable, painter returns to an unfinished project.
A fresh model awakens inspiration, though he cannot find the line.
This is four hours of the creative process, and will certainly not appeal to all.
I recall feeling cheated by the end (I first viewed during the original run).
One artist friend deemed it a masterpiece, another said it was like watching paint dry.
Revisiting this did not improve my opinion, though this is like watching a master at work.

What are you reading?

Various (Editor: Beech, Mark) - Crooked Houses

Multiple tales of the house, the estate, or the residents within, where a fissure ruptures the foundation.
In “The Sullied Plane” new bride Maxine marvels at how pristine, how perfect, her in-law’s manor is. Perfection extracts a price, however, which she impulsively attempts to uncover.
“The Shepherd’s House” is actually unseen, yet the gnarled owner, the Shepherd, has been witnessed for centuries. And those who spy the Shepherd succumb to terror.
Mother is a faded Southern belle, highly strung, riddled with delusions. In her childhood, she had fashioned a construct, as well as a pact, with her brother – her precious brother – the golden son. When he mysteriously summons her, Mother hurries her family to “The Psychomanteum.”
Owen, Mandy and son Adam move into the run down house. A fixer-upper to be sure, but more Importantly a fresh start. Owen blusters good cheer and optimism, while Adam broods, mourns the old home, and clings to his mother. Mandy, the close lipped sort, nestles in the cellar where she crafts a “Doll’s House.”
“At Lothesley, Montgomeryshire, 1910,” the house exists as more shell than ruin, and had been for more than one hundred years. The Crown wonders if it is worth preserving, so they dispatch a professor, conscientious if less than careful with things that ought not be disturbed.
“House Of Sand” strikes me as the most Aickmanesque of the stories. Told by an unreliable narrator, the impressive home and well heeled guests seem to alter every half hour.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Whore - 1991 - 6/10

Spare study of cynical prostitute.
Dealings with difficult johns, her handlers, tribulations, personal history.
Severe budget restraints are evident, and the look favors glamour over seedy.
Theresa Russell seems closer to a high tier call girl, rather than a street walker.
Many of the comments are laugh out loud funny. Once edgy film, tame now.
Viewed after seeing Pretty Woman, this is an acid rebuke.
Ken Russell provides a droll cameo as a waiter, sir!

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Ghost In The Shell Arise: Border 4 - Ghost Stands Alone - 2014 - 5/10

Stumbling, repetitive conclusion to groundbreaking franchise.
Finale prequel to the original finds the unit mostly assembled.
Kusanagi, Batou, et al, just before joining Section 9.
Usual themes of identity, cyber consciousness, terrorism, intelligence hacking.
Some visuals quite beautiful, other scenes are static. Characters sitting in a bare room, talking.
Action is minimal, the plot is borrowed bits and pieces from earlier shows.
Not essential, even for GITS fans.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Traitor - 2008 - 6/10

Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce star in terrorist / espionage thriller.
American Muslim Cheadle, after suffering a crisis of faith, switches sides and helps terror cell in Yemen.
Pearce the CIA op tracking him down.
Solid location photography, tense cat and mouse plot, several twists.
Well acted all around, and seemingly unbiased, but I never got involved with any of the characters.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Walk A Tightrope - 1964 - 6/10

Middling crime mystery sees female stalked by man with a gun in his pocket.
Does she go to the nearest copper? No, she heads into a pub.
Not to reveal too much, there is a murder soon thereafter, and the killer demands payment.
Straight off, we know who did it, just not why.
Dan Duryea, in the twilight of a long career, before a string of TV appearances, is the best element in this.
Once he gets going, he bristles with energy. Everyone else is muted. As is the film itself.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

L’Argent - 1983 - 6/10
AKA - Money

Sorry, I ain’t buying this.
Ostensibly, we follow counterfeit money as it passes various hands.
From the gullible to the devious to the sly to the trusting.
Moralizing film studying human reactions.
For skeptical souls, behavior is predictable, especially if your opinions of humanity are low.
Narrative settles on one character and his path, which sinks preposterous.

What are you reading?

Barnes, Colin - Dead Five’s Pass

When a new cave, hitherto undiscovered, opens up, cavers scramble to see who can explore first.
No one wonders, how did his opening suddenly appear?
Nor does anyone consider whether it is uninhabited.
Brisk novella has strong pulpy roots, and borrows heavily from HPL.
Two characters are granted superficial development. All others are dinner specials … meals.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Get Luke Lowe - 2020 - 5/10

Bit of a vengeance tale, cloaked in fashionable woke.
After being trolled and bullied, Sadie commits suicide online.
Her friends kidnap the troll – Luke – then attempt to force him to “confess.”
When he proves recalcitrant, they escalate with more violent techniques.
Heavy handed, preachy at times, spotty acting.
Creators try too hard with message film, end up being somewhat hypocritical.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Body Collector - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - De Zaak Menten

Based on true story of ex-Nazi collaborator living privileged retirement.
By chance, a Netherlands journalist follows the whisper and begins exploring the past.
Bloodsoaked theft of art, primarily paintings.
Confronting the rich with powerful connections and ample funds, however, there’s the rub.
Absorbing throughout, and the film does not flinch from SS activities in the Jewish village in Poland.
Strives for an emotional impact, but an air of detachment undercuts this.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet - 2012 - 5/10
AKA - Vous n’avez Encore Rien Vu

Only myself to blame for this pretentious two hour artsy film.
Deceased director summons ex-actors to view a modern production of one of his works, based on Orpheus And Eurydice. While they watch, they reimagine their own versions.
Sometimes, you are watching three versions of the same scene.
The look is theatrical, stagebound, indoors.
Very fine acting from France’s creme de la creme of actors, yet I was increasingly bored.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

A Killer’s Key - 1967 - 6/10
AKA - Aru Koroshiya no Kagi // ある ころしや の かぎ

A yakuza moneyman, in police custody, is about to reveal evidence that will convict mobsters and politicians.
The bosses hire a hitman, who also happens to be a dance teacher.
Correct, a dance teacher. Whom they intend to snuff after the job.
Raizô Ichikawa memorable as the cool, almost detached assassin.
Film is more the mechanics of death, rather than explosive violence.
Packed with details (geishas, rock clubs, fights) the movies rushes along.
Dry sense of humor may elude some. Retribution for welshers, if only.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Fair Isle: Living On The Edge - 2016 - 6/10

Breeders needed! Tiny island in northern Britain is looking for newcomers.
Current population is 57, not counting the sheep.
Power goes off at nights. Owing to storms, sometimes the island is cut off for weeks.
Just to keep the island going, inhabitants must do 3 - 4 - 5 jobs.
Isolation? Plenty. Awe inspiring nature? This is the place.
Mind you, during summer scenes many still wore jackets. Winter? Lordy.
Two part series of inhabitants fighting valiantly to maintain their community.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Sheik And I - 2012 - 7/10

Infuriating documentary (¿fictional?) of small (very small) American indie filmmaker invited to make film for biennial celebration for the Kingdom of Sharjah. Where? Tiny kingdom is one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates.
Without writing a script, the film maker decides to do the one thing he was told not to do, mock the ruler of the country, the Sheik.
Several of his scenes involve having extras don burqas and wave guns. (“Isn’t this the typical stereotype of Arabs?” one asked the director.)
He tries to recruit locals to impersonate the Sheik, and is warned of repercussions. He shrugs.
Is reminded, he goes back to America when finished. Meanwhile, his hired locals must stay and face consequences.
The director also tries to coerce women to dance in burqas, which is expressly forbidden.
Director, Caveh Zahedi, of Iranian descent, is every inch the entitled American, I-can-do-anything-I-want artiste.
Zero respect for the country, their social orders.
Film was quickly banned for blasphemy and director Zahedi threatened with a fatwa.
Cringe inducing film drove me up the wall, and everyone in the room screamed at the screen at various moments.
Yet I believe such was exactly the reaction he aimed for, so I’m giving it high marks for punching those buttons.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Beatles, Hippies And Hells Angels - 2017 - 7/10

Scoring this a 7 for Beatles fans. Casual onlookers, give a 6.
Labour of love overview of Apple Corps. Wide eyed, trusting souls, launch a “new business model.”
Behind the scenes histories as told by the office girls, a few hangers on, and the accountant.
Especially, the accountant. The Beatles, at the height of their success had tax liabilities to choke royalty.
“Set up your own company." They did, and this doc shows where a flood of the money went.
Packed with photos, many I had never seen before, as well as fresh voices.
Funny, engaging, bittersweet. From gear to groovy to bummer. Must for moptop fans.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Generation Wealth - 2018 - 5/10

Indirect followup to 2012‘s Queen Of Versailles charts the recent obsession with greed.
No longer keeping up with the neighbors, the mob attempts to keep pace with the affluent.
The first half is incisive, with penetrating analysis, historical overview, and smug interviews.
Our age of decadence. Perhaps, even, the end of a cycle.
Midway, however, wanders off topic, muddles into naval gazing, and totally loses the thread.
Pornography is explored, professional women commodifying their beauty.
Finally, our filmmaker wonders if she is a good mother.
From interviews with her own ever-smiling mother, we realize both women chose careers over parenting.
She had three + documentaries here, but by cramming so much in, the result is a mess.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Nobody Else But You - 2011 - 6/10
AKA - Poupoupidou

Crime novelist, suffering writer’s block, reads about apparent suicide of Marilyn Monroe lookalike.
Off he drives, to one of the coldest, snowiest regions of France.
Where he chats with locals, reads the dead girl’s diaries, and begins to smell a cover-up.
Good little mystery about very minor, local actress (she was the model for a cheese line) who treads out of her depth.
Sharp touches of comedy and irony.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Limehouse Golem - 2017 - 6/10

1880 London. A serial killer is loose and authorities at a loss.
Historical note: Jack the Ripper was 1888.
A marginalized detective is given the case, purpose being if he fails, he will be the scapegoat.
The inspector’s attention turns to an unrelated domestic murder, instead.
Suspects include Dan Leno, George Gissing, Karl Marx.
Methodical pace allows various imagined scenarios to unroll in gaslit Victoria England.
Aside from the illuminated British Library, this is set in dirty alleys and the hazy confines of the music hall.
Soiled look will appeal to fans of Ripper Street, Mr Holmes, Sergeant Cribb
Bill Nighy fine in role originally meant for Alan Rickman.
Steer clear of spoiler reviews. Devilish corkscrew ending.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Something Real And Good - 2013 - 4/10

Two sadsacks meet cute in an airport terminal. Their destination, Chicago, is snowed in and they are diverted to Denver.
The blizzard prone, mile high city had rain soaked streets and flowing fountains. Mmmm … SoCal …
Very much an indie flick, that felt like a small, two act (two actor) play.
Leads are mismatched, and pout and mug throughout.
There were no reviews whatsoever for this one when I saw, so I took a chance.
Avoid unless you are an investor or relative.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Ghosts Of Kasane Swamp - 1957 - 6/10
AKA - The Depths // Kaidan Kasane-ga-Fuchi // 怪談累が渕

Late at night, thick snow falling, the blind moneylender decides to collect.
The client? An impoverished, though arrogantly proud, samurai.
Who cannot, or will not, pay! Who uses the sword to terminate discussion.

Years later, the orphaned children are grown and getting into love triangles.
Yet the ghosts, and stains on respective families, infect their lives.
Dark film, crammed with weak souls, manipulators and betrayals.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Alexander Nevsky - 1938 - 8/10
AKA - Aleksandr Nevski

An invading army of Teutonic knights cut their way through 13th century Russia.
Prince Alexander Nevsky rallies the populace to halt the murderous foes.
Propaganda film with glorious battle sequences.
Evocative Prokofiev score aids immensely.
To you history buffs, this was meant as a warning to later Teutonic knights, the Third Reich.

Several years ago, the university in my hamlet decided to screen this.
With the university symphony! And a massed chorus of three church choirs.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Maya - 1949 - 6/10

After the ship docks, crewmen hurry into the red light district in search of company.
The most acclaimed prostitute goes by many names, but most call her Maya.
Ennui fills her. Whereas the other girls force bright smiles and laughs, she is resigned.
One seaman falls for her, and falls hard. He starts imagining an “us,” though she dissuades him.
The lighting and set design are remarkable, an offshoot of Expressionism.
Narrative itself is drama, replete with meaning-heavy dialogue.
Could’ve and might’ve been a play. Felt stagey despite attempts to open it up.