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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life - 2010 - 7/10
AKA - Gainsbourg (Vie Héroïque)

Challenging French film about artist, singer songwriter, personality, Serge Gainsbourg.
No time dates, names, or other signposts as viewer is dumped into Vichy France where Serge still goes by Lucien Ginsberg. Young Gainsbourg very precocious and very annoying. Accurate? Maybe.
Great masked alter-ego trails throughout film.
Parade of female performers and conquests follow, including Juliette Greco, France Gall, Jane Birken.
Some steamy scenes with Bardot, probably the most recognizable person to the uninitiated.

Solid period soundtrack, running from the 40’s to the 70’s, though not enough Gainsbourg tunes.
Two hours later, and I still didn’t have a feel for the guy.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The New Girlfriend - 2014 - 5/10
AKA - Une Nouvelle Amie

I will generally watch any film by François Ozon; I consider him a wayward nephew of Douglas Sirk.
This one covers unrequited love, identity, and deception.
The blurb in IMDB is uselessly vague -
“… young woman makes surprising discovery about the husband of her late best friend.”
The source material is Ruth Rendell, so I expected a dark psychological mystery / thriller.
Mmm … no.
The plot, steeped in individual fashion choice, despite being straight-faced throughout, is already dated.
The story, SPOILER about cross-dressing, is regurgitated and sleep inducing.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Missing Sun - 2017 - 6/10

Early on, Alma has what appears to be a conversation with herself, saying she is not ready to die yet.
Everyone else, however, seems to have shuffled off. Her husband is there. Sleeping, comatose, dead.
The sparse area is pretty deserted, though, and those who remain don’t seem to “see” Alma.
That had me wondering, is she dead? Is she a restless spirit?
Her home has quartz crystals, tapes on astral projection.
There is a cult-like church with a tiny flock, where the shepherd goes on and on about this life, that life.
The photography is extraordinarily sharp, the narrative quite opaque.
I was never sure what the writer / director was trying to say, in a film that moves at a glacial pace.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library - 2017 - 6/10

Lengthy documentary on the central location and the branches.
Free form structure. Five minutes of an author interview, five minutes in the childrens section, five minutes with the board, five minutes with a poet, or a rapper. Book club. Senior time! More board meetings. E-books. Funding.
Repeat - repeat.
The homeless problem barely touched upon. (My bride toils in the stacks, and believe me, street types, especially those with mental issues, affect patron traffic.)
Time runs three and a half hours. I broke this up into two nights.
The first half seemed mind numbingly slow. Every vignette went on three beats too long.
The second half was edited quicker and had a better flow.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Frances Ha - 2012 - 5/10

Say what?
Critical darling about deluded late 20’s girl who comes off as a failure on every level.
Doesn’t really have a job, mooches apartment space, fails with relationships.
Yeah, join the club, princess.
How does she pay New York rent? Eat out? Airfares?
Oh - it’s a movie. And not a New York film ala Woody Allen or Edward Burns. This was fantasy island.
Frances strikes one as shallow, self centered, untalented, yet resolute in the belief of her innate specialness.
Could be a metaphor for every Me Generation.
After muddled speeches, foolish decisions, squandering of funds, the film rushes a tacked on, happy finale that was as satisfying as a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Quiet Season - 2013 - 5/10

The old man arrives at the B&B for a rest, a holiday.
Though he is just a “nobody” the owner’s daughter recognizes him.
He is Professor Redhook from Miskatonic University, problem solver of the paranormal and supernatural.
Yes, there is something wrong inside her family’s lovely home.
Perhaps the professor is not simply on holiday.
The chief problem is an insubstantial plot, though the sound design lets music overwhelm dialogue.

What are you reading?

Bell, Peter - The Light Inaccessible

For the right audience, this collection of short essays is nothing short of magical.
Most of us might visit the Hebrides once, if we are lucky, and pray for passable weather.
Mr. Bell has apparently been there numerous times, and explored near and far.
His essays capture the legends and superstitions. Memorable inhabitants, bitter history (such as the Clearances).
As always, there is a spectacular, if harsh environment. Miserable weather followed by perfection.

Human signposts disappearing into the sands, homes collapsing into the earth, meanwhile reclaimed by wilder animals.
And the light. No one who has ever visited can forget the constant shadings of light and color.
A gorgeous Zagava book, Jonas has also provided stark black and white photographs.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Naked Alibi - 1954 - 6/10

Decent Noir with Sterling Hayden as no-nonsense police chief.
Drunk n disorderly baker brought in for questioning, provokes cops, gets smacked around.
Within days, three cops murdered and gruff chief suspects the family man, police brutality victim, the baker.
Plenty of false trails to keep viewer guessing.
Noir fatale, Gloria Grahame, plays cheap singer in low life Mexican cantina.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Shakespeare & Hathaway: S01 - 2018 - 6/10

Daytime detective series, set in Stratford-upon-Avon, with male/female partners.
Stories are one-offs. Robberies, sabotage, a bit of murder.
Police are involved, but TV detectives are always smarter than TV authorities.
Cheerful throughout, with wisecracks and light humor.
On par with the Agatha Raisin series, lacks the polish of Miss Fisher, superior to any Hallmark drivel.
S02-03 have come and gone, and been viewed. I have been informed if there is a S04 I will be watching it.
Resistance is futile.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

An Unpopular Woman - 2013 - 6/10
AKA - Eine Unbeliebte Frau

The “unpopular” woman, Isabel, races through a cornfield, then makes a mistake, emerging into an open field.
Police soon arrive, as well as the forensic team.
Isabel was pretty much disliked by all. She was mercenary, and slept with numerous males, most married.
Don’t start second-guessing the detectives, as another murder occurs, and a child kidnapping!
Based on a Nele Neuhaus novel, there is also, supposedly, a Cinderella undercurrent.
Confusing muddle of narratives and relationships, set in the equestrian sphere.
Better than “reality” TV, though.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Serpent & The Rainbow - 1988 - 5/10

Bill Pullman, field worker / anthropologist for Big Pharma, digs around in voodoo Haiti for cures.
Instructions are to find the “zombie drug” which supposedly will suspend life for a month.
Yeah, boss, wait till Marketing tries to overcome - “I ain’t gonna be no zombie” - consumer resistance.
Of course, he never gets that far. Instead he gets embroiled with the Bébé Doc Duvalier police state and growing insurrection.
Some curious dream sequences fueled by voodoo herbal cocktails, but the film mostly staggers around.
Directed by Wes Craven, this looks ten years out of date, circa 1975.
Pullman’s hair stays fluffy the whole movie.
Wasted opportunity.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Medusa - 1973 - 3/10
AKA - To Kynigi Tis Medousas

My fault for not even glancing at the synopsis.
Dilettante playboy works cheap hustles and capers with strong arm casino owner.
Meanwhile, the playboy’s sister tries to score Greek tycoon for husband.
Police sniff around, but seem more inclined to watch giggling arguments.
This film really blows. The first ten minutes is taken up with dancing!
English spoken in most scenes, Greek in the others. Not subtitled.
The plot feels improvised. George Hamilton admitted he did this for a free vacation with his new wife, Alana.
I only loaded Medusa because it was in my box of 50 Crappy Horror flicks.
This ain’t horror. Only horror is brain cells being destroyed. Rubbish from beginning to end.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Tehran - 2020 - 6/10

Mossad agent Tamar’s first mission goes wrong, badly wrong.
She is now running through the Iranian capital, intelligence teams in pursuit.
Iranian Intelligence wants her caught, while the Israelis want her rescued. Maybe. If not, perhaps silenced.
Tamar is resourceful enough to use and exploit others.
This series is a good cat and mouse thriller, tautly written, with neat twists.
And, not to be forgotten, that original mission, with or without Tamar, continues to spin.

What are you reading?

McCammon, Robert - The Providence Rider

Recent installment of novels following Matthew Corbett, and direct sequel to Mister Slaughter.
This time out, “problem solver” Corbett was kidnapped by arch nemesis Professor Fell.
Settings shift from New York in Winter, to the high seas of the Atlantic, into Bermuda. Time - 1703 - 1704.
Cutthroats, smugglers, blackmailers, arms peddlers, and the embrace of the octopus, hem Corbett from all sides in Fell’s palace of traps.
As always with McCammon, the book was well crafted, with a wonderful eye for 1704. Queen Anne sat on the English throne, New York was still a colony, recently taken from the Dutch. Slaves and servants were commonplace.
Nice entertaining read, and no, one does not have to read the previous books, of which there are several.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

My Cousin Rachel - 2017 - 6/10

Somber adaptation of Daphne du Maurier novel.
Young orphan is taken in by his older, single, male cousin.
After the youth comes of age, the cousin meets and marries an exotic English / Italian hybrid.
Just before he mysteriously dies.
Opinions and judgments of the widow, as seen through key characters, surge, ebb, and shift.
Despite several dramatic outbursts, film is coldly reserved.
Watchable, especially for costume drama buffs, but not particularly engaging.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Footnote - 2011 - 6/10
AKA - הערת שולים

Israeli story of two scholars. The popular professor and the dour iconoclast.
Both nominated for the top Israel prize for Talmudic studies.
Oh, yeah, they are father and son, with all the rivalry that implies.
Bitter complications arise after the winner is announced.
Film very frustrating on multiple levels. The way characters interact with each other.
Family members are introduced, troubles displayed, then nothing.
Females seem afterthoughts.
Well done, but I did not enjoy this at all. Despite ads, it was not funny, either.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Red Wedding - 1973 - 6/10
AKA - Les Noces Rouges

The deputy mayor, the wife of the mayor.
Both are married, locked in loveless matches.
Their attraction is immediate, and they soon lash and clutch like animals in heat.
While there are traditional routes of separation, divorce, a fresh connection, they chose a darker route.
Both characters seem poorly developed, surprising for a Chabrol film, and the tone is aloof.
They are not the most sympathetic nor the most rational.
A keen, if corrosive observation of soiled passions.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Night Of The Cobra Woman - 1972 - 4/10

Alert readers will note cobra and woman in title.
I safely predicted snakes, nudity, jungle magic, and budget limitations.
While the headlined star is the delicious Joy Bang, the film belongs to Marlene Clark.
After being bitten by a Fire Brand cobra, WWII nurse acquires immortality though the venom.
For reasons unexplained, she also drains manly wicks to remain youthful.
Decades later, a blonde researcher tries to meet the nurse, only she upsets the equilibrium.
That, and the arrival of her boyfriend, who gets the snake woman’s juices flowing.
Plot makes little sense, editing is jumpy, many breast shots.
For students of Serpentes, they appear in abundance.
Dumb film, fun in parts. I watched to see Miss Bang.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Sins Of Love - 1929 - 6/10
AKA - Hríchy Lásky

The great Kristen leaves the village stage to find fame in the big city.
Where blustering, hammy stage actors are a dozen a kopek.
Accompanying him, however, is his demur wife, of bewitching face.

Of course, she is given a quick tryout and voilà.
Curtain calls, bouquets, stardom, and interest.
The handsome male lead and the theatrical impresario ponder how to move Kristen from the scene.

Kristen may be something of a buffoon, yet he is not blind.
For those who have seen any version of A Star Is Born, you know the template.
The video elements have been wonderfully restored. Audio is another matter.
The new “score” resembles Ussachevsky with electronic blips, static, disembodied voices, etc …

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life - 2008 - 6/10
AKA - Le Premier Jour du Reste de ta Vie

French drama following a middle class family for about a decade.
Film hones in on five specific - important - days for the family.
When the oldest moves out, a wedding, death . . .
Most of the actors will be familiar if you view enough French fare.
Nice soundtrack, several funny scenes, bits of drama, but nothing over the top or false.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Innsmouth - 2019 - 5/10

The writer arrives in the fabled port.
He’s heard things, stories, you understand?
Right quick he encounters strangeness. Creatures and costumes.

This short stretches the HPL connection pretty thin.
Camera work and editing are good, sound is fine.
Dialogue is another matter. The miking is atrocious, with ambient noise masking conversation.
Not that characters say anything particularly important.
Stick for the ending, it’s pretty loopy.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Aviator’s Wife - 1980 - 6/10
AKA - La Femme de l’aviateur

François, a young postal employee catches an old flame departing his girlfriend’s apartment.
The girlfriend denies everything. Actually, she believes François is a creep.
Her opinion is confirmed when her swain he begins to stalk the other man.
During the course of an afternoon, he shares time with a high school student and they converse about women, choice, relationships, trust.
You know, the usual. At least of you are a character in a French drama.
François is five years older than the young student, five years younger than his girlfriend.
With that in mind, one sees youthful optimism, growing awareness, cynicism.
No one is downright unpleasant, though tics, obsessions and overall flightiness could drain your patience.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

The Phantom Strikes! - 1996/2013 - BionicBob

Top job and a quality companion to The Shadow Strikes!
This Phantom is recast as a 30’s black and white action ride.
Cheesy humor eliminated, nice removal of sloppy stunt work (visible wires and doubles), and reining in of Treat Williams’ original over-the-top, ham fisted acting.
The 1996 adaption of The Phantom was always a PG movie. Sex and violence very toned down.
Billy Zane was comfortable as The Ghost Who Walks, though he was awfully polite.
In addition, how on earth he preferred white-bread Kristy Swanson over smoldering Catherine Zeta Jones defied comprehension.
The edit is fun, breezy and light, and not as dark as many actual serials from the 30’s (meaning safe for sheltered family viewing).
This spirited romp through a 30’s time tunnel is worth seeking out.
Good popcorn flick from BionicBob.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Adrift - 2018 - 7/10

Redford covered similar ground in 2014 with All Is Lost, but this has different perspectives.
Couple taking schooner across the Pacific to the States enter hurricane Raymond.

Once the masts go, the ship is driven by currents.
As with similar films, the boat is far removed from shipping lanes. The pair are on their own.
The story enters survival territory, and is filled with flashbacks of how the couple met, how they connected.
Photography is impressive throughout, the plot logical, and one is immersed.
I have viewed a few films by director Baltasar Kormákur, his location shooting is stupendous.