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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Running Man - 1987 - 6/10

In the near future, one of the cops in the US police state is framed and imprisoned.
Only to be given a “chance” if he participates in life and death game show.
Contestants square off against the television heroes, and generally all lose.
Yes, Barney, the fix is in!
Action adventure film based on novel by Richard Bachman (who quickly started hollering, hey I’m really Stephen King, so buy this here book!).
Empty headed fun, part of a string of Schwarzenegger hits.
Richard Dawson as smarmy host, genius casting.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Gilded Age - 2018 - 8/10

By the 1880’s, the wealthiest dominate the US landscape.
Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Vanderbilt, etc …
The notion of “democracy” one man, one vote, is usurped by capitalism, where the richest hold vast sway.
Politicians bought, laws bent to benefit the powerful.
While the rest of the nation, those looked down on as maggots, starve.

Matters come to a head in 1896 when, as will so often happen, the Electoral College gives the Presidency to the candidate with fewer votes.
One question lingers: Does government represent the people? Or does it represent wealth?
Exceptional documentary, sadly, still resonates to this day.
Voters endlessly reelect candidates who promise to work for then, only to enrich themselves.
The democratic alternative is what, mob rule?
Who bears ultimate responsibility? Turn to the looking glass.
Subtitles = https://subscene.com/subtitles/the-gilded-age/english/3214067

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Cat People - 1982 - 6/10

Stylish, steamy, sexy remake of the Val Lewton film.
Troubled Irena begins relationship with zoo curator, flirtatious, but not sex.
Not so with her brother, Paul, who seems eager engage in incestuous procreation.
Meanwhile, escaped panthers have been killing, leaving mutilated corpses.
As remakes go, this is far more imaginative than the norm.
Malcolm McDowell especially memorable as Paul, lithe, graceful, deadly.
Terrific erotic thriller, doused with horror.

What are you reading?

Saki - Little Red Book Wit And Shudders

Please, certainly you have a book by Saki on your shelves already.
This group has been selected by Stuart David Schiff and includes only a few of the more popular tales.
All of these are droll, if not outright sardonic humor.
Best enjoyed in small doses, like small poison or recreational drugs.
The book, from Borderlands Press, is a perfect size for dipping in and out.
Endpapers have a touch of glitter to catch the eye, a thoughtful detail that more expensive presses usually forego.
Schiff, for those who do not remember him, kept the flame of indie Horror flickering in the US during the 1970’s through 1990’s along with Harry O Morris and W Paul Ganley.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Footlight Parade - 1933 - 7/10

Director of Broadway musicals, which aren’t doing so well, changes gears and puts on Broadway preludes.
Yes, another variation of, “Kids, let’s put on a show!”
Except this one is spectacular.
James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler headline the cast.
Cagney’s performance is on-fire ferocious, while Blondell is sexy and wisecracking as ever.
One watches, however, for the outrageous Busby Berkeley dance numbers.
“The Honeymoon Hotel” is beyond risqué, while “Shanghai Lil” is set in a bordello and opium den.
Fantastic musical and brilliant gem from the Pre-Code era.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Great Escaper - 2023 - 7/10

He’s 90, he’s forgetful, plus he worries about his wife, who seems to have less remaining time.
Anyway, that explains why he forgot to reserve a place on the Normandy ferry to commemorate D-Day.
Instead, as always, he wings it, leaves the nursing home early, buys a ticket, and recalls memories.
Memories of his wife of 70 years, back when they were dating.
Memories of the soldier whose fears he tried to ease during the choppy beach landing.
A quiet film. Remembering others, paying tribute, holding onto love in the twilight of time.

What are you reading?

Marvick, Louis - The Second Mask

This is a wicked book.
The sort of book Lord Henry would present to young Dorian to further his education, to deepen his corruption.
And this is a tale of corruption: of values, of morals, of pledges.
Corruption, betrayal, deception, with a knowing eye toward self-deception.

Circa 1890, Sir Archibald Hacker is the acknowledged preeminent artist of his time. Whether paintings or sculpture, his compositions all but breathe life.
Just before his death, however, he entrusts a commission, a task, to a young lawyer. A man who already knew Hacker cloaked darker activities behind a genteel façade.
What remains is a sketchbook of unspeakable studies. Of recognizable depravity, which, like so many lurid obscenities, is potently addictive.

Louis Marvick has crafted a decadent journey, quite in keeping with the rotting aftermath of London’s fin de siècle.
Marvick has succeeded where others preen and posture emptily, boasting of their modern decadence, yet incapable of rivaling the celebrity frauds of our era, of matching the venalities that spill from political figures, let alone equaling the twittering car wrecks that everyone slows down to wallow in.

Marvick’s The Second Mask is an elegant atrocity, skillfully written, a crystal mirror against clouds of falsehoods.
Those who would seek the truth, would soon blind their own eyes.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Best Of Enemies - 2023 - 8/10

USA national party conventions of 1968.
Bottom ranking network ABC pulls a stunt, allowing two outsiders to engage in post-days’ debates.
William F Buckley and Gore Vidal.
Two intellectuals, both erudite, using words like rapiers, eviscerating both parties and each other.
Very heady adaptation of the 2015 documentary.
Attempts are made to include historical context and outside figures amidst the trenchant dialogue.
That said, US Boomers may be the last to have real time memories of these events.
For theatre junkies, this is riveting drama, wickedly funny, to boot.
Political obsessives, yeah, you will enjoy too.
For others, appreciate the intelligence expected of viewers in 1968.
English subtitles = https://subscene.com/subtitles/national-theatre-live-best-of-enemies/english/3210584

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Land Girls - 1998 - 6/10

During WWII, three young women are dispatched to work farms while the men are off fighting.
A flirt, a reserved studious sort, a romantic dreamer.
Friendships, emotional entanglements, and work.
Stories are not hackneyed, but somewhat predictable.
Scenery is lush and will be eagerly devoured by armchair pastorale travelers.
Easy rolling film with a lovely feel for time and place.
I saw this when it first came out, and it still offers a nostalgic charm.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Count Dracula - 1977 - 7/10

Criminally overlooked version of the Carpathian count.
Louis Jourdan readily has the elegance and panache of the aristocrat.
The story is faithful, right down to the moonlight snack Vlad offers to his brides.
Darkish throughout, and much of the colors seem drained.
Frank Finlay makes a worthy adversary as Van Helsing, yet Jourdan dominates every scene.
Why has this never had a restoration? This is one of the most faithful versions of the count.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Dracula In Istanbul - 1953 - 5/10
AKA - Drakula İstanbul’da

Young lawyer travels to Romania to help reclusive count buy kiosks in Istanbul.
Gloomy castle, one wife, aroused and thirsty, rooms forbidden entry into.
For thirty minutes, the plot is fairly faithful, until the scene shifts to Istanbul.
The lawyer’s wife, Güzin, is a cabaret dancer, while her sister, Sadan, is a sleepwalker.
Dancing, dancing, more dancing, coupled with declining health, and red-eyed bats.
Final act brings back Count Drakula, as well as his enemies, led by Dr. Nuri.
Curiosity got the better of me – again.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Savage Three - 1975 - 7/10
AKA - Fango Bollente

The three work for a huge computer / data-information company.
Work is monotonous and dehumanizing.
They are cogs in an electronic grid.
Releasing steam, and to feel alive, they engage in escalating criminal behavior.
Provoking riots, car theft, causing traffic accidents, beatings, murders, rapes, brutality.
The theme is 40-50 years ahead of its time.
Excellent German commentary equating this prescient film with ongoing human madness.
Dallesandro leads a forceful cast in what turned out to be a fantastic surprise for me (I was expecting a routine Poliziottesco or Euro-Crime).

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Eyes In The Night - 1942 - 6/10

An old flame reenters Norma’s life, and this time he is seducing her 17 year old step daughter.
For advice, Norma seeks out her blind friend, private eye Duncan Maclaine.
Who soon deduces nefarious activities swirl about Norma’s quiet home.
While blind, Mac’s remaining senses are as razor keen as a Hollywood scribe’s imagination.
As with so many disabled crime fighters, he has a formidable sidekick in his dog, Friday.
MGM programmer could have been a franchise, but faltered after a second installment.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Black Pirate - 1926 - 6/10

After his father is slain by pirates, the young lord secretly joins the ship, biding his time for revenge.
In short order, he out duels the buccaneer captain and becomes leader.
Followed by romance (a princess!), treasure, and ship to ship combat.
The drama, the story, drags a little.
Huge compensation – if you can find it – this was shot in early Technicolor.
Douglas Fairbanks, trim and fit, performs amazing stunts.
Chief among them, the sail shredding, copied in numerous swashbucklers.
Several DVD / BluRay choices (of varying color saturation) are available.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

No Hands On The Clock - 1941 - 6/10

Private eye Humphrey, on his honeymoon in Reno, is tasked with finding a missing man.
Several shady ladies fuel his new bride’s jealousy, while mobsters try to rub him out.
There are also scattered murders, suspicious cops, and FBI agents.
Pre-Boston Blackie Chester Morris glides effortlessly through muddled, percolating script.
I never knew what happened to the son, or why gangsters assumed Humphrey was one of them.
Jean Parker, as the new bride, makes a great foil to Chester.
Typical B-film: fun, forgettable.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Madame Blanc Mysteries: S01 - 2021 - 6/10

After her husband dies, wife Sally (antiques dealer) goes to France to tidy affairs.
Where she learns he had been murdered by his “other” wife.
Whom no one ever describes, even though they all saw her.
Spotty local mysteries follow, with a weak, ongoing arc of the husband’s death.
While set in France, most of the cast are Brits in postcard series in the cozy world.
Alright if you curb your brain – I tagged the murderer by the first episode.

What are you reading?

Connell, Brendan - The Heel

Mitch peddles wampum; tribal trinkets to souvenir shops, tourists and rubes.
He works on a dodgy commission, sometimes legit. Business is alright for an idle existence, which suits his lack of ambition.
The rest of his days and nights are devoted to the restless pursuit of female loins and petals.
In this pulp romp, Connell channels Bukowski, then filters the proceedings through Russ Meyer’s lurid lens.
Situations and descriptions exaggerate into laugh out loud nonsense.
Hardly a masterpiece, but wildly over the top trash.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Nude On The Moon - 1961 - 5/10

Doris Wishman nudie cutie finds our old professor and sidekick rocketing off to the moon.
Where – believe it or not – moon folk are all nude (well, they wear jumbo panties).
How can you differentiate them from Earthlings? By their pipe cleaner antennas!
Aside from a fair amount of volleyball in a pool, action is limited to strolling about.
Inspired shooting location at Coral Castle in Florida (which I have been to).
Performers are, by and large, healthy sized.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Guy Who Came Back - 1951 - 5/10

Ex-football hero is now middle aged, washed up, feeling unwanted.
During World War II the services would not even have him due to injuries.
The first half, borderline soap opera is so much household melodrama.
Things do perk up with a female promoter (Linda Darnell) where he attempts nonsense.
Will there be a big football fame at the end?
Will an aging, overweight ex-star perform wonders?
As a kid, I loved this film. Now, Hollywood schlock.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Fence - 2022 - 6/10

“Just don’t go leaving this laying about,” the motorbike dealer warns Steven.
Do young men ever listen? He leaves it outside the front door, and 10 minutes later it’s stolen.
From then, this becomes a quest through council estates Bristol, mid 80’s.
A journey through con men, petty thugs, opportunistic hustlers, drugs.
By turns cynical and comical. Everyone, it seems, is on the fiddle.
Attractive, sympathetic cast helps this immensely.
May resonate more with Brits who recall the 1980’s.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Hunt For Salamander - 2020 - 6/10
AKA - Otdel Izdirvane

Kamen leads the 4-man MWD team. An
MWD is an elite, national Missing Persons unit. It is an above the law, violent, crew.
After a morning jogger is murdered for no reason, they hone in on a recently released convict.
What follows are assassinations, frame-jobs, cover-ups, interference from politicos.
A trail begins to surface (feels improvised to me).
Late in the series, we hear about the Salamander organization – think SPECTRE.
Europol has been after Salamander, yet the organization is completely hidden.
Villains get shuffled, the narrative goes into a higher gear, and then … the show flat out ends!
Thirteen episodes, loose threads galore. What happened? They run outta money?

What are you reading?

Howard - Valentine - Possessions And Pursuits

Young Lord Clyro comes across a relic in Istanbul. He is drawn to it. The item, a mirror, exerts an almost supernatural pull, and yet it seems a holy piece. A portal into a higher plane. While churches often attempt to reflect the house of God, the relic offers a glimpse of the city of God.
No sooner has Lord Clyro returned to England when claimants and would-be possessors begin circling.
John Howard’s novella weaves through the impoverished gentry, the arrogant collectors, scholars, servants and those sensitive to the magic.

As ever was, the new head has determined to limit the annual pagan festivities. While seemingly harmless, the very notion of pre-Christian celebrations rankle. Rayment is an outsider, not a participant, yet in “Masque And Anti-Masque” he bears witness to the stealthy contesting.

By accident – no – say chance, or Fate, Phillip encounters the operator of “The Prospero Machine,” one of those coin-operated gadgets that dispenses a fortune card.
The cards themselves offer veiled predictions, advice, charms.
Phillip, impoverish poet (are there ever rich poets nowadays?) is hired to pen new mantras and wisdom for the next ream of cards.
Those who still puzzle over Mazzaroth will be caught in this spell.

What are you reading?

Selvin, Joel - Monterey Pop

If memory serves me correctly, this came out in 1992 in conjunction with the 4 CD / 4 cassette box set from Rhino Records.
Book and music were not packaged together, but it was understood they complimented each other.

Mr Selvin takes a chronological approach to the festival.
The genesis, feverish planning, a day by day survey of artists and set lists, aftermath, final thoughts.
In addition, this is packed with photos. Black and white, as well as color, by Jim Marshall.

There is a pronounced Northern California bias, along with a scornful dismissal of anything Los Angeles.
Nonetheless, this is an enchanted book, a souvenir of the flash of a moment.

Better would probably be two documentaries: Pennebaker’s Monterey Pop (1968), and the American Experience’s “Summer Of Love” (2007). (Selvin’s comments in the latter remain crabby and cranky.)
In this book, he cannot bring himself to acknowledge that the vacuous, superficial Angelinos that he loathes so much, actually pulled the festival off.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Green Street Hooligans - 2005 - 7/10

Expelled Harvard student heads to England to rebuild.
There, he wanders into a football firm and gradually acquires a taste for violence.
Elijah Woods seems something of odd casting. Sometimes believable, other times less so.
Viewed as a “continuing education” story, this works better, especially as Matt grows into a formidable male.
Developing useful skills and instincts.
Based on a novel, which I read per my wife’s recommendation, this can be brutal at times.