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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Memories Of The Alhambra - 2018 - 6/10
AKA - Alhambeuraui Gungjeonui Chooeok // 알함브라 궁전의 추억

Polished K-drama should appeal to gamers and VR adopters.
A young designer develops an immersive game set in Granada.
Two CEO’s of rival tech firms are casually interested.
The game itself soon shows to have a few bugs.
Deadly bugs, as in lethal, especially as virtual bleeds into reality.

Worse, the higher one progresses it is nigh impossible to log off.
The main protagonist is not the young developer, but one of the rival CEO’s.
To be blunt, the guy is an arrogant jerk. He is rude, dismissive, and untrustworthy.
Opening episodes suffer the K-drama disease of “cutesy,” as characters behave and act like thumb-sucking seven year olds. This dissipates, but it is cringe worthy.
Soon enough, skills are honed, and a quest is undertaken.

Spanish locations are stunning.
Three quarters in, the series flags. Energy, momentum, invention, all dip noticeably.
The ending – not to spoil – was an exhausted failure. Not that it was even an ending, it was an attempt.
The creative team shrugged “good enough” and delivered a finale that felt dishonest.
Inside joke: Gamers are permitted to make allies, one of our protagonist’s most loyal allies goes by the handle of “City Hunter.”

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

City Hunter - 2011 - 6/10
AKA - 시티헌터

Jin Pyo seeks revenge on government officials who betrayed and murdered his black ops team.
He kidnaps an infant, then trains him for 20+ years to be his instrument of revenge.
Trouble is … the child grows into preferring justice over vengeance.
Revenge is a staple of K-dramas, and the father figure, Jin Pyo, clutches a toxic form of it.
Choreographed action every other episode, martial arts predominate over gunfire.
The love story (hello - this is a K-drama!) is corny and annoying, though characters grow on one.
At 20 episodes, this is overlong and padding is evident.
Emotional entanglements get quite involved by the last act.
Despite a so-so score, I watched to the end and enjoyed.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Joanna - 1968 - 5/10

Swinging London flick, very time and place centered.
Young girl (late teens) arrives in London, ostensibly to pursue arts classes, instead to revel in the loose Mod morals and laissez-faire life. Meaning, bang a lot of rich or artistic blokes. Luv em and leave em.
While Joanna comes across as gullible or foolish, she is neither.
She lacks purpose and has few values. Momentary pleasures suffice … for a time.
Gaudy 60’s piece is awash in excessive makeup, flamboyant fashions, and London exteriors.
Narrative chronology bops with flashbacks and dream sequences, jarring at first.
Music by Rod McKuen, one number by Scott Walker.
Dated novelty at this point, perhaps when it was released.
A lot was going on in '68, and this seems a frothy throwback.
Donald Sutherland terrific as young lord, seizing the last rays.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Frozen - 2010 - 7/10

No, this ain’t the sing-along kiddie film.
Three college friends spend all Sunday skiing.
Evening, the hill is closing because of approaching storms. They beg for one last lift ride …
Things go wrong.
These are not “slasher” teenagers that you want dead.
All are real, funny even, but unwise to the notion that there are consequences to risky decisions.
A clinic on how to make a great thriller using a lift chair. A 50 foot drop. Freezing sleet. Frostbite. 3 degrees. And the realization that the mountain is only open on weekends and that Friday is a long way off.
After all that, events go quite dark for our characters.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Long Shadow - 2014 - 7/10

By and large, I dislike documentaries led by a presenter.
For this, I make a wee exception. For one thing, this three part documentary on the legacy of the Great War, or World War I, is hosted by the original author of the incisive book, Cambridge professor, David Reynolds.
And unlike other presenters, he appears sparingly, and does not force his face into the frame 95% of the time.
This is not a doc of the war, the battles, the participants.
This is the aftermath, and later consequences, that resulted in the rise of Fascism, Communism, Nazism.
Or, equally significant, the limitations and outcomes of unbridled capitalism.
Also the perils of nation building, redrawing boundary lines, or simply the best intentions gone awry.
Reynolds makes the point of how nationalism leads into an “us vs them” mentality, though he wisely refrains from drawing parallels with current proliferation of global strong men.
One suspects he hopes, rightly or wrongly, modern citizens are intelligent enough to avoid past mistakes.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Wildcat - 1921 - 5/10
AKA - Die Bergkatze

Early Lubitsch film stars Pola Negri as rowdy leader of rural bandits.
The local military post does not deal with them, being preoccupied with the arrival of a dashing ladykiller.
So will the untamed vixen and the handsome lieutenant …
Visually interesting interiors are packed with curves and curlicues.
The pace of this is manic throughout, yet despite a few laugh out loud chuckles, most of the humor is farce.
Slapstick, cartoon antics better suited to pre-schoolers.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Bluebeard - 2009 - 7/10
AKA - Barbe Bleue

French film by Catherine Breillat.
Two young sisters climb into the attic and begin reading the Perrault fairy tale.
In a secondary narrative, the tale comes to life, and two sisters are kicked from the convent after their father dies.
The sisters return home and watch as creditors reclaim family possessions.
One sister realizes their powerful neighbor, Bluebeard, is rich beyond measure.
The neighbor also has a thing for young - very young - brides.
A beautiful film, but chilly in tone, with a dark undercurrent.
Both narratives plunge into dark territory.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Last Legion - 2007 - 5/10

I saw this on the shelf, and it looked lame, but I grabbed it anyway.
Colin Firth terribly miscast as a Roman commander assigned to protect the last Caesar.
Visigoths overrun Rome, so Firth and companions (Indian warrior maiden, huge guy in dreadlocks, et al) set off for Britain.
Ben Kingsley also participates in this “intimate epic.” Film-makers phrase, meaning not enough budget for cast of thousands. Intimate = cheap.
Firth can’t wield a sword for shjt. How come all those different nationalities speak and understand English?
Where do they dine on this long trek? Caesar’s Chicken?
Mindless nonsense.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Parfum - 2018 - 7/10
AKA - Perfume

Brief series “inspired” by the Süskind book.
Katherina is discovered floating in the swimming pool, murdered, head shaved, organs surgically removed.
Police quickly hone in on her tight circle of friends, all of whom hide histories and motives.
Somewhat talky, although the language is a key element. Confessions, evasions, misdirections.
One can see how the police were simultaneously fascinated and repelled by a few.
I watched this avidly each week, without a guess regarding who or what.
The denouement, however, was maddeningly opaque.
(Eventually, a Reddit forum offered a satisfactory explanation.)

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Modern Life Is Rubbish - 2017 - 6/10

He wants to be a musician, she studies to be an artist.
Inside the music shop (circa 1999-2000) boy meets girl.
Film is told in flashbacks. How they met, fell in love, moved into a flat.
Some choices are easier when you are younger, though the world is indifferent to dreams.

Flashbacks originate from one soul moving on, the other staying put.
A great musical soundtrack propels the film.
Characters are likeable, if formulaic.
The “Americanized” ending put me off.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Exploding Girl - 2009 - 6/10

Quiet, chick flick.
Ivy is home on college break. Staying with mom in New York City, hanging with friends, drinking a little.
Phoning her boyfriend. Repeat . . . phoning her boyfriend. Again. And - he - does - not - answer.
When you first hook up, your calls get answered immediately.
Ivy keeps getting his voicemail. The machine.
Either that or, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now.”
The women I watched this with shook their heads, recognizing the dump miles before the character did.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Monsters - 2010 - 5/10

Earth gets invaded by aliens.
Rather, Mexico gets invaded by walking octopuses (octopi - octopods) about five stories high.
The US erects a mammoth wall to keep aliens in Mexico. Is this symbolism?
Octopi wreck some buildings, yet far more damage is wrought by fighter jets.
Two unlikable US citizens journey through the “Infected Zone” toward the homeland.
Not a Horror film, not SciFi, not a Romance, but an old-fashioned Road movie.
Hardly any budget, sparsely plotted, the only “actors” were the two leads. Solid use of scenery, music, and unease.
A cadre of geeks swooned over this film, trumpeting what the director created with only $15,000.
I still felt like a carnivore inside the vegan cafe. Unsatisfied and hungry.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

Predator Chronicles Volume 1 - Uncanny Antman

I liked UA’s concept of an episodic Predator Darkhorse series.
The audio for both episodes was clear and well focused. No crinkly edits to my ears.
The video editing for both was likewise well done and smooth.
The second episode, Unexpected Visitors, was always the lesser of both theatrical releases. Uncanny Antman removed most of the teenagers and meaningless subplots. The story moves like a rocket, and was a blast to sit through.
I had problems with the first episode, Cold Comfort.
Confession, I liked the first AVP. A lot. If I could have been on set I would have argued to give the humans more firepower. AVP coulda / shoulda been a three way fight.
Antman removed most of the humans, and also a great deal of the narrative cohesion. Characters made a quick entrance, swift exit. What plot there was, was scant. The whole edit resembled a shooter arcade game
Enjoyed Episode 2, disliked Episode 1.
Professional job in editing, though, all the way.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

Bond, The Dead Are Alive - Problem Eliminator

As Darth would say, impressive. Quite the distillation of “Spectre,” tossing the Mexico opening into the mixer with some later scenes used as a flashback. At least that’s how I view it.

Video - 1280 X 538p AVC. Really nice editing here. Cutting is crisp and effectively pushes the story.

Audio - 353 kbps, 2 Channel AAC. No subs (OK, this being a short). Dialogue is understandable, there are no abrupt music transitions. There does not seem to be a sweeping dynamic range, so I don’t know if there was compression involved. For a short, again this is a shrewd decision.

Narrative - This functions more as a single Bond mission, with events leading up to it and the aftermath. The story remains coherent, though character motivations are missing as are the villains’.

Enjoyment - Ending is a blunt, though to be honest, this would make an excellent break if the editor ever decided to craft a cliffhanger serial. That said, I did enjoy watching this, and was surprised by the turns and choices made by the editor.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Ghost House - 2017 - 6/10

I’m inclined to indulge this cobbled together horror outing. It has strong points and liabilities.
American couple visit Bangkok, searching for adventure amidst their romance.
The female takes photos of anything and everything.
Being turistas, neither of them ask permission or consider others.
She is particularly drawn to ghost houses, or shrines to the dead.

Plot is a mix of other horror films and themes, from It Follows to “dead wet girls.”
It is not predictable, though, as it changes course throughout.
Thailand visuals are nice, and seem accurate. (most of the rooms I stayed in always had a greenish tint)
Sound mix is moody ambiant. Story itself, while clichéd, rarely drags.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

A Dangerous Fortune - 2016 - 5/10
AKA - Die Pfeiler der Macht

German adaptation of Ken Follett’s Victorian / Edwardian twaddle.
Young boy is taken in by relatives after his father commits suicide rather than face financial ruin.
In due time, he is a rising star at the family business, the bank.
Revolutionaries, gambling, drinking, murder, fraud and bodice ripping spice the first half.
Second half is dreary love triangle and general whining. Soap opera.
German take on gaslit England is interesting, but seems too modern in many regards.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Mia Madre - 2015 - 6/10

Overwhelmed film director deals with troublesome actor, a pleading ex-lover, teenage daughter.
Oh, and an elderly mother who is hospitalized, her condition deteriorating.
Film consists of confrontations, interrupted by visitations and reflections.
Memories, both fond and uncomfortable, spill into her “normal” world.
Many threads and characters explored, but the script is well organized.
A poignant film, not necessarily a depressing one.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Out Of The Fog - 1962 - 5/10
AKA - Fog For A Killer

Freshly released from prison (again), embittered George takes a room in a halfway house.
Ex-cons have trouble enough readjusting, finding work, meeting others, but his attitude is poisonous.
And then nearby, young girls start to get murdered.
Police suspect number one? Bingo!
B-movie with fine acting, unimaginative script.
Barely an hour, good enough time waster.

What are you reading?

Campbell, Ramsey - A Little Green Book Of Grins And Gravity

To be honest, this could be renamed, as it is on the running headers, The Enigma Of The Flat Policeman.
This was an unfinished draft by a talented thirteen year old, who, at the time, was devouring books by John Dickson Carr. A year or so later, he discovered Lovecraft and set course in another direction.
So, how is this novella?
It is immature, derivative, and maddeningly interesting.
What fascinates are the interspersed editorial comments, trying to elaborate on the young author’s influences, reactions, relationships.
Obviously written decades later, it is clear that more than a little thought went into these. Perhaps the old master still has fondness for the young writer.
The insights are generous. For tentative writers, the comments regarding what sources and wellsprings were drawn from, are enlightening.

Campbell, Ramsey - Ancient Images

Old fashioned creep yarn about suppressed horror film starring Karloff and Lugosi.
When a print surfaces, it immediately disappears and the owner is found dead.
A friend begins investigating and discovers a trail of death. Most of those involved with the film had died under mysterious circumstances.
Of course, she firms her resolve to find that film, despite mounting warnings!

Campbell works with hints, suggestion, and the half seen.
His work is not the compact, blood soaked style still in vogue in one arm of modern Horror.
This work, from 1989, owes quite a bit to Basil Copper’s “Amber Print” a decade earlier.
Before that, however, was M. R. James’ “The Mezzotint”.

Sideshow thread of gypsy caravan never worked into the plot properly for me.
Found the main character clueless and ignorant, making fool decisions.
Poor resolution.

Campbell, Ramsey - Scared Stiff

Not as in fear firms your resolve, or when frightened, stand straight!
Stiff, as in, did you know your codpiece swelled to a jumbo when you were scared?
Seven tales of horror and carnality, and not soft focus, veiled, slow motion rompings.
Less romance, more rape. Little passion, accent on penetration.
Campbell mixes cruelty, revenge, disappointment, resignation.
To my mind, the best stories bookend the collection.
“Dolls” occurs in the past, in a rural setting, where pagan circles gather.
“Merry Way” lures a disenfranchised, naïve city innocent to the pleasures of the Maypole.
My copy was illustrated throughout by J. K. Potter.
Text and art are something between erotica and porn.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Rise Of The Nazis - 2019 - 7/10

Three part series focuses on the early years.
The political maneuvering and organizational building.
The corruption of and overthrow of democratic government.
This documentary spotlights players who rarely get mentioned in similar docs.
Kurt von Schleicher, Josef Hartinger, Hans Litten, Fritz von Papen, Ernest Jung.
The first two episodes are enhanced by well preserved newsreels and home movies.
The third and final episode is devoted to the Night Of The Long Knives.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Ladies Should Listen - 1934 - 6/10

Julian spends his last francs acquiring mineral rights in Chile.
If nothing comes from this in the next few weeks, he will be broke.
Not to fear, two lovelies cast their gaze at him.
One is the daughter of a millionaire, the other is poor but honest.
Both admire him because, well, he is a young Cary Grant.
Stuffy drawing room comedy is barely an hour long.
Better gags and jokes in the second half, but mawkish direction and ill pacing hurt this film.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Duke Of Burgundy - 2014 - 6/10

Maid bicycles up to the manor door. Waits. And waits.
The mistress of the estate finally opens the door with, “You’re late.”
Domination and servitude ensue, climaxing with passionate erotic grappling.
The tone is understated, muted, restrained. The color palette is dark. There are no males.
A group of females attend classes, hairstyles in tight buns, save for the mannequins in chairs.
Film is fraught with symbolism and “meaning” but it is heavy handed and lethargic.
Well crafted study of roles and power games, yet the resolution ebbed away and I ended up scratching my head, already forgetting threads and characters.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

9000 Needles - 2011 - 6/10

My acupuncturist asked me to track this down for her.
I did, then decided to give it a watch.
Documentary about Devin Dearth, businessman and bodybuilder, all but a vegetable after a stroke.
US insurance company stopped medical payments at 100 days of therapy.
He had revived by that point, but his entire right side was paralyzed.
He journeyed to Tianjin, China and began extensive physical therapy, herbal applications, and acupuncture.
The treatment lasted several months, cost $20,000, and used over 9000 needles.
Inspiring story, needed a tighter edit.
Comment – For most westerners, acupuncture is a last resort, often too late to provide beneficial results.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Case Of The Scorpion’s Tail - 1971 - 6/10
AKA - La Coda Dello Scorpione

Good Giallo that plays with conventions and expectations.
Older husband dies in airline disaster, and his young, promiscuous wife inherits a cool million.
She soon draws plenty of attention: police, Interpol, insurance investigator.
And a masked killer who wields a nasty knife.
Multiple locations dance across a jagged, deliberately misleading plot.
Audio commentary with the scriptwriter. In it, he tells how he favored thrillers based on money or revenge, which had to obey reasonable lines. He was not a fan of Argento’s maniacs, where anyone could be guilty in the final reel.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Eternal Beauty - 2019 - 5/10

The family tries to deal with Jane’s mental illness.
Jane tries to deal with Jane’s mental illness.
Overwrought film tries way too hard, and in effect becomes a jumble.
Does Jane really have a car? A phone? On which there are voices?
Does she take her pills? Does she have a boyfriend? A suitor?
By the end, will anyone care?
To be blunt, this is poorly written, incoherent and self-indulgent.