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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Bloodride - 2020 - 6/10

Six part horror omnibus from Norway. Each episode thirty minutes.
A family, new to the hamlet, discovers prosperity can be bartered for.
One’s perfect life, a girl realizes, can be ruined by a petty scribbler.

As with most anthologies, quality varies, with the bookends being the strongest.
The new teacher, open and enthusiastic, starts digging into a buried mystery.
Then there’s the office party. My God! in any country, these are insufferable.
Bad enough we have to work with these people, but get drunk with them? Please.
Oh, did I say office party from Hell?

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Murder In Collioure - 2015 - 6/10
AKA - Meurtres à Collioure

A body, stuffed in a wooden barrel, packed with nails and glass shards, rolls down a steep hill.
Yeah, another grisly yet imaginative murder in the French countryside.
The local detective is assigned a partner from a nearby province.
I was hopeful for a bit. The assigned partner struck me as old enough to be the detective’s father.
Plus, the female detective lived with another woman. So, perhaps the door to romance was sealed.
No such luck.
Police procedural, rather creative, with more energetic writing, and diverse yet memorable characters.
For all that, this remains a formula, weekend mystery.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Dragon Swamp - 1969 - 6/10
AKA - 毒龍潭

Vintage Shaw Brothers movie that itself is a throwback to an earlier, less bloody, era.
Plot involves the theft of a magical jade sword, with which the holder can control the martial arts world. In effect, the universe!
That said, the sword also is cursed and means doom for those who wield it.
Not as much fighting and swordsplay as one might expect, though there were a couple highly choreographed and stylized battles.
Main character, Qing-erh, is one of the most gullible and trusting females around.
She is also an orphan. Her family was severed by the sword when she was an infant, but as she starts hunting for the blade she makes fateful encounters.
A lot of fun, though I imagine part of the enjoyment depends on your tolerance for old school Hong Kong movies.

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Mr. Wick - Maniac

Two John Wick vehicles. No canines, no love interest.
As with most of Maniac’s edits, this is pedal to the floor action.
The two films do not splice together well, however.
More like two, high voltage television installments paired back to back.
To be more specific, by excising Wick’s “personal life,” this becomes a shooter game, with infrequent lulls to realign the plot.
There is no character development, and the backstory is limited.
Wick is barely more than a pair of hands, holding guns or clenched into fists.
Go into this expecting a fury blazer and you will not be disappointed.
For what it is, an efficient distillation of the two Wick films, this is a relentless edit.

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Self Help (Fight Club) - thecuddlyninja

Cuddly details a classic triangle. A girl, a man, and the man’s alter-ego.
The jagged relationship between Marla and Tylers in “Fight Club.”
This crackles from the onset with the opposites attract trope.
Then, for a chunk of time, Marla disappears.
Instead of a short, this feels more like a cobbling of fragments.
I wish cuddly had made different choices to enhance the continuity. As this is, this is a bit messy.
Sound is not always clear, either, and dialogue suffers.
Part of this is cuddly’s fault. Guys helming this particular Consecution antho bear some responsibility, as well, in not exercising enough editorial control and providing feedback.
If honchos in charge did try to advise cuddles, my apologies.

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Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring (500 Days Of Summer) - That One Guy

Bittersweet edit of “500 Days Of Summer,” focuses less on characters, and more on the arc.
Encounter - attraction - fairytale - discomfort.
This was a film I did not care for originally, but it grew on me over the years.
That One Guy catches the essence of Summer’s story.
How Mr. Right somehow settled into Mr. Right-Now, and one can understand why she floated out of reach.
While Tom might dream of a future together, to her, he is already in the past.
The editor has deftly caught the perfect scenes.
Audio is fine. Video - too many transitions are fade out - fade in.

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Diabolique: Alternative Cut - Dr Sapirstein

The editor tackles the flawed 1996 remake which was overlong and overloud (aimed at the blind deaf).
This black and white conversion brings the look closer to 50’s Noir, but there are few hard shadows or low angles associated with that style.
Dr. Sapirstein’s substantial removal (23 minutes) results in a quicker film, though not necessarily a better film.
I have tried over the years to like this remake, or even appreciate it.
This is simply a bad film, and not a “fun bad” film. Lead actors do their darnedest, but in the end this is turgid dreck.
The edit, however, is superior to the 1996 version.
Do yourself a favor and seek out the 1955 original, directed by H G Clouzot.

Eurospy movie recommendations?

If you are OK with subtitles, and have no problems with a breezy tone, consider Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (2006)
OSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009)
The first is fresher, perhaps funnier.

For the lone wolf gun for hire, no gadgets, no babes -
Day Of The Jackal, The - 1973 - UK

There are numerous TV series, as well.
Most of the European shows I have watched favor intelligence work over action.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Trance - 2013 - 6/10

Another brain mixer from Danny Boyle.
After the heist comes off, key mole Simon cannot remember where he stashed the theft.
Gang members beat and torture him without success.
Plan B: Hypnosis. Hire a hypnotist to get him to remember.
And then, plans go off the rails. Simon has other memories, buried.
Smart film, with a lot of tricks and twists.
Those who keep checking their messages during this one will quickly get lost.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Great Underground War - 2015 - 5/10

5 part documentary on tunnel warfare during World War I.
Talking heads (of varying value), reenactments, maps and vintage newsreel footage.
Mine techniques, explosion strategies, counter tunnels, and the heavy death toll.
Three episodes cover the western theaters of Verdun, Ypres, and the Somme.
The final two were of more interest to me, covering the Alpine war between Austria and Italy.
Indeed, the fourth episode featured no tunnels, just mountaineering warriors.
Possibly for war or history buffs, this felt padded to me.
E17 of The Great War (1964) covered the underground war succinctly in 15 minutes.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

See Here My Love - 1978 - 5/10
AKA - Écoute Voir…

Private detective Claude (Catherine Deneuve) is hired by young lord to investigate recent break-ins at his manor. Then he hires her to rescue a female “friend” who has been indoctrinated into a religious cult.
Meanwhile, electronic transmissions affect villagers, a radio station may be involved.
What do these have to with anything? Who knows!
The story bounces like a pinball, recalling campy Avengers episodes.
Deneuve is another matter. She obviously prepared for her role, playing her detective cool and remote.
Her character, self reliant and thoughtful, is years ahead of its time.
Deneuve fans will want to watch, but for detective buffs, this is sloppy.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Hex - 1980 - 6/10
AKA - Xie // 邪

There’s a body missing. Probably out in the village pond.
The two women ought to know, since they pushed it in there.
Bodies are troublesome, though, they often won’t stay put.
Wait, back up.
Chun marries into a rich household, but the gilded days dwindle.
Angry, bitter, he drinks, complains, beats servants and his wife.
The early plot resembles Diabolique, but after that, buckle up!
The house interior is gorgeous, and the film is jam packed with jump scares.
One can only imagine Hong Kong and Kowloon cinema theaters roaring at this one.
Eerie, creepy thriller is wild, and a guilty pleasure.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Make Up - 2019 - 5/10

Ruth comes to visit her boyfriend on the Cornwall coast.
He works at a beach community, overhauling during off-season.
Ruth could work, too, but she seems more inclined to chill. To do nothing.
Disappointing film cannot find its identity.
Is it a horror film? A mystery? A “relationship” drama?
Angles are offered with neither explanation nor resolution. Characters are poorly developed.
A dark ambiant score favors the horror mystery genre (though at one point I commented, “If you replace the music here with Beach Boys or Erasure, the whole vibe changes.”).
Result of this writer director vanity project is a muddle.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

A Company Man - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Hoesawon // 회사원

Large Korean metal exporting firm is actually a front for murder and assassination outfit.
One of the top trigger men has gotten bored, weary, exhausted and wants out.
Apparently, he’s never watched a single movie about trying to leave the mob.
Expect the usual crescendo of suspicion, mistrust, “severance package,” and noisy finale.
Interestingly, most of the characters behaved as bored 9-5 office drones - with weapons in desk drawers.
Derivative, copy cat fare, featuring many players from the much better K-Drama Ghost (Phantom).

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Devil Makes Three - 1952 - 6/10

Captain Eliot returns to postwar Munich, looking for the family he knew … before.
Older members did not survive Allied bombing.
The daughter, however, who the captain still sees as a teenager, has ripened over the years.
And works as a B-girl in the nightclub circuit.
There is so much in this film to recommend. The nightclubs recall heady Weimar days.
The whole mystery of the black market and smuggling. Location filming in Munich, Austria, and Berchtesgaden.
Yet the romantic element between Gene Kelly and Pier Angeli drags the proceedings into snoozeville.
The pair have no onscreen chemistry, delivering their exchanges as if they are addressing mannequins.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Climbing Blind - 2020 - 6/10

Jesse Dufton, barely visible in red jacket, ascends Scotland’s sheer Old Man Of Hoy.
Per title, Mr. Dufton is blind. Moreover, he is leading, not following.
Meaning, he has to feel for handholds and footholds.
No belay line.
Documentary touches on his backstory, and preparations leading to this climb.
At barely an hour, this is concise, well photographed, and will be must-view for mountaineering enthusiasts.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Tyrannosaur - 2011 - 6/10

In your face character studies with Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman.
Angry old man, boiling with rage and self destruction, meets devout, Christian shop owner, with violent skeletons in her own closet.
Despite the title, no dinosaurs.
The path to redemption seems fraught with swearing, beatings, and blood.
Rough film - pet lovers, you ought to avoid this one.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Black Widows: S01 - 2014 - 6/10
AKA - Mustat Lesket

Above. Happy men (husbands) with unhappy women (wives).
Would the males be so jovial if they knew their boat would soon explode, with them on it?
Because those unhappy wives planted a bomb.
Afterward, the widows must deal with investigators, shady business partners, studs drawn by their single status.
Some good mystery angles, lightened with laugh out loud humor.
Again and again, they have to deal with the unexpected.
That, and they can’t always rely on each other. Indeed, I found two to be weak links.
Wildly popular, dark series from Finland spawned copycats in Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, the Middle East, India, Mexico, Scandinavia and the Czech Republic. (For English speakers, subbed not dubbed.)

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Murder In The Land Of The Cathars - 2020 - 5/10
AKA - Meurtres en Pays Cathare

Amateur photographer (above) is found murdered at an exhibition of the Inquisition of the Cathar sect.
Since the prime suspect (covered in blood) is brother to the lead detective, an outsider is dispatched.
Who just happens to be an ex-beau. Really? Is France so cozy?
Writers toss in subplots and ramp up the suspect list.
Outdoor locations are NOT taken advantage of.
The victim seems an afterthought.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Elles - 2011 - 5/10
AKA - Sponsoring

Dreary goings on of two working girls.
Juliette Binoche portrays freelance writer interviewing two college girls who service gents for extra money.
No drug abuse, no criminal element, no pimps.
Just a pair of 18 year olds doing the deed with well mannered, well dressed, well paying johns.
The high priced call girl fantasy that some believe.
Arthouse twaddle. Snoozeville.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Love Or Justice - 1917 - 6/10

Lawyer Jack, a dope addict, hangs in the Dolphin Club, underworld watering hole.
He intends to kill himself, but Nan takes a shine to him and soon masters him.
Nan is something between a moll and a prostitute.
In a beat, attorney and doll shack up, while John gives legal advice to gang leaders.
Sordid material for 1917, though perhaps audiences were harder than one assumed.
An odd story of gangsters, legal eagles, barrooms, and the slumming hoi oligoi.
Louise Glaum may remind some of Theda Bara or Evelyn Brent, hard faced fatales.
Her acting borders on melodramatic.
The print shows nitrate damage here and there, but is in excellent shape.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Just Before Nightfall - 1971 - 6/10
AKA - Juste Avant La Nuit

Charles, weak, being coaxed.
His marriage is supposedly happy, the woman’s husband is a friend of his.
Guilt torments him, yet he cannot break free of the affair.
The female is stronger, more persistent, and can force him to do anything.
Including murder, which, once on her back, open like a flower, she suggests.
Middling Chabrol film, is less murder mystery (which occurs in the first minutes), more one of remorse and confronting indifference.
And “happy marriages”? Reference Tolstoy.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Vinyl - 2012 - 6/10

Cynical spoof of youth oriented music biz.
After four aging punkers bury a mate, they get drunk and jam up a can’t miss single.
Only no one is interested in old gits. Same as it ever was.
Undeterred, the leader auditions a group of spotty faced kids to lipsync for them.
The whole time, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to the youngsters once the old farts stepped out and jeered, “Yeah, that’s us!” which was their plan.
Disturbing undercurrent in keen satire.
Juicy role for Phil Daniels as the never say die front man.
Top soundtrack by The Alarm.