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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Alone Time - 2013 - 6/10

Or time to unwind, return to Nature, recharge.
Overwhelmed with noisy, hectic New York, an office girl heads into the Adirondacks.

Soon, she is alone by the lake, with only her backpack, supplies and tent.
The contrast between the two worlds is pronounced.

For oppressed city dwellers, the landscape is ravishing.
Though the ending reveals an uncomfortable bleed-thru.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Orphan Black: S01 - 2013 - 4/10

Unfortunately, I started this directly after finishing True Detective: S01.
A quality gap separates fare aimed for adults and fare targeting the YA group.
Several female clones learn of doppelgangers.
Their personalities are as different as individuals in the writing room.
Conspiracies surface, and the females display utter lack of common sense.
Leaving this viewer to wonder - who cares? Fembots.
Confession: I succumbed to hype, and thought gushing articles were on to something edgy.
Wildly popular, aired for several seasons. S01 was as far as I got.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Same Sky - 2017 - 7/10
AKA - Der Gleiche Himmel

East Germany, mid 70’s, Lars is training in elite spy craft to be a skilled Lothario.
Targets. Females working for NATO. Seduction followed by exploitation.
Tight series that gets the period right (music, fashions, hairstyles), also Cold War attitudes.
Secondary stories that follow an Olympic hopeful and a gay teacher are compelling.
Even tertiary stories have merit, but the meat of the series is Lars, working to make women fall for him, trying to keep his anecdotes straight, calming fears and countering feminine intuition.
Sordid, cynical, and one be forgiven rooting for the cad, although with the ending I was going, “Is that it?”

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Our Ladies - 2019 - 7/10

The singing competition will be in Edinburgh, sin city.
Sister Condron hopes her girls to do well enough to move on to the finals in Greece.
“Screw Sister Condom,” mutter the ladies. They are hoping for a good shagging.
Raunchy, laugh out loud comedy, bristling with foul dialogue.
Set in 1996, before social networks and the erosion of relationships.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Venom - 1981 - 6/10

Decent thriller (NOT a Horror film) with a powerhouse cast.
London kidnappers set sights on a young boy while his wealthy parents are traveling.
The boy is a pet enthusiast, and the day of the snatch, he brings home a new snake.
Unfortunately, the shoppe mixes his order and he brings home a Mamba, which escapes.
At which point, the caper begins to sour.
During filming, Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed supposedly hated each other on sight.
Plot itself = bad guys, hostages, determined copper, and one pissed off snake (no CGI, it was an actual mamba, borrowed from the London zoo!).

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Invisible Woman - 2013 - 06/10

Subdued drama of the affair between 45 year old Charles Dickens and 18 year old Nelly Ternan.
Low key acting, complemented by subdued color palette (grays, blacks, browns) and moody music (piano or quartet).
In the open-mic, audience Q & A Director / producer Fiennes was defensive when asked, what’s the point?
Questions about social norms are dodged, as are reflections on women, marriage, celebrity.
Fiennes, who is a believable Dickens, aims for the passing snapshots of life.
Richly done, yet seemed superficial.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Silent Action - 1975 - 6/10
AKA - La Polizia Accusa: il Servizio Segreto Uccide

Opening the film, one by one, high level military brass are assassinated.
Headlines scream, “Murder or Suicide!”
The lead inspector, on the trail of a potential witness, knows not to trust anyone outside or within the police ranks.
Very good Euro-Crime thriller.
This is not Giallo. No hyper colors, no trendy fashion, few hyper-sexualized victims.
Here, plotting, intricate and coherent, is paramount. Focus always stays with the investigators.
Silent Action would be a solid introduction to this genre for the curious…
If you can find it, get the version with audio commentary by Mike Malloy.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Key To The Fields - 2014 - 6/10
AKA - La Clef des Champs

Mild French comedy of local who became Paris bigwig, returning to boyhood village and assorted mishaps.
His car is seized, his dog runs off, his mother and friends ridicule him.
Everyone muses on what a stiff, pompous, pain in the ass he was and remains.
In other countries, his character would soften toward sympathy.
This is French cinema, however, and sentimentality is over-rated.
Agreeable, and yet at the end, the village problem is left unresolved and likely unsolved.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Dom Hemingway - 2013 - 7/10

Jude Law reboots his career, playing hardened con released after 12 years.
He took the fall for someone else and expects to be well paid for his silence.
Unfortunately, Lady Luck doesn’t always see it that way.
Definitely not the usual gangster film as Law and mate, Richard Grant, are both glib and eloquent.
Bitter funny throughout, also a touch poignant as the once-king of the block is … well … twelve years older.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Transfer - 2017 - 7/10
AKA - Transferts

SciFi set in the near future. Within a decade, perhaps?
Medical breakthroughs have made it possible to transfer one’s soul into another body.
In an ideal situation, shift the consciousness of a cancer patient into a car crash victim.
Of course, the aged rich and powerful might want to jump into a young shell.
Or criminals might want to – or terrorists – or . . .
The government outlaws the procedure, the black market explodes, and an elite police unit is formed.
While the series has budget limitations, the writing is diabolically cunning.
Each episode (06) has fresh developments or a barbed twist.
Pili Groyne is memorably bewitching as the angelic Liza.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Some Velvet Morning - 2013 - 7/10

Two characters, 80 minute film, shot almost exclusively indoors, all but screams theatre.
Written and directed by Neil LaBute, another tipoff.
Ex-john shows up at doorstep of high priced call girl after a four year hiatus.
Left his job as attorney, dumped his wife, ready to move in and pick up where they left off.
Confrontations, accusations, recriminations.
Uncomfortable territory here, with an in-your-face attitude throughout.
Great for serious drama fans, with superb performances.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Internship - 2013 - 6/10

Light comedy of two middle aged stumblers who apply for jobs with Google, going the intern route.
Applicants break off into teams and competition begins.
Enjoyed this more than I thought as the two older males do not condescend to younger members,
nor do they try to take advantage of them.
They walk a narrow line between ignorance and earnestness, but carry that off.
Overlong at 2.00+ hours, yet never seemed to lose momentum.
Vaughn and Wilson struck me as being too old for these roles.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

In The House - 2012 - 7/10
AKA - Dans Le Maison

François Ozon offers another film (his third) about writers.
Young student worms his way into his best friend’s house and family, observing and probing their bourgeois, middle class home.
Sharing his voyeuristic streak, he writes stories about them and submits them to his composition teacher.
Always ending, “To be continued …”
The teacher soon becomes absorbed, as does his wife, with whom he shares the stories.
Maddening difficult to tell if the student’s observations were accurate or partial. Were the stories clichéd, balanced, stereotyped? Was the teacher layering his own filters and fantasies?
The house of cards narrative steadily teeters higher.
Not exactly a thriller, but an unpleasant ride.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Maiden - 2016 - 6/10

Near perfect distillation of the haunted house story.
Relator Lucy is saddled with a white elephant, the battered mansion.
Worse, it could be haunted, cursed, possessed.
Well, commission is commission. Amidst a few trifling problems she scrubs the interior to be presentable.
Limited dialogue, some jump scares, foreboding atmosphere, acceptable acting.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool - 2017 - 7/10

Gloria Grahame biopic, sure to attract Film Noir fans.
Annette Bening plays the faded femme fatale in her final two years.
This covers her relationship with Peter Turner (from whose book this is based) and his family.
AFTER she had undergone cancer therapy and thought herself clear, and into the final relapse.
Heyday films (The Bad And The Beautiful, In A Lonely Place, Crossfire, The Big Heat, Human Desire, among many) are barely referenced.
The infamous scandal of marriage number four is a mere breath.

Hollywood generally loves filmed versions of their glittering selves.
Chaplin, Ed Wood, Frances, The Aviator, Too Much, Too Soon, receive acclaim, and if not awards, at least nominations.
Other films, The Cat’s Meow, Valentino, The Last Of Robin Hood, Auto Focus, not so much love, even when acting is outstanding.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool seems to be in the latter group.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Mods, Rockers And Bank Holiday Mayhem - 2014 - 5/10

Somewhat illuminating.
Mods = sharp suits, scooters, and style. / / Rockers = leather, motorcycles, and speed.
Mostly, though, this is a shabby BBC doc about the overblown clashes between British youth in the early 60’s.
Early squabbles were exaggerated by the English press, fueling future rumbles.
Before they knew it, Swinging London swept their moment into history’s dustbin.

Editing complaints: This was padded, including repeated interview bites.
Worse, attempts to “damage” the look were blatant and amateurish.
Any time there was a 60’s photo, sprocket holes raced across the middle, or debris, or blobs of color.
Scratches and added grain seemed mandatory.
By the end, one of the editors must have snoozed because the vintage overlay bled onto surviving interviewees.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Joan Rivers: By Her Friends - 2018 - 6/10

Lukewarm pairing to Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work - 2010.
This is a remembrance of the savage tongue by friends, peers and daughter Melissa.
Numerous old clips and routines, though her bio material is better covered elsewhere.
Decent introduction and tribute to Ms Rivers.
Folks either love Joan or detest her, this doc is for the former.
Feels like a fan letter to admirers.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder - 2021 - 6/10

Fun, socially distant (Covid era) production put on by CollaborAzian.
An all-Asian cast perform this musical cousin of “Kind Hearts And Coronets.”
After Montague’s mother dies, he discovers he is actually a D’Ysquith.
More than that, he is actually eighth in line for the earldom!
Oh, those pesky relatives. Save for the lovely Phoebe, something of a cousin, yet elegant.
Then there is Sibella, catnip personified.
First things first, those heirs, can’t they simply … move along?
As far as the songs, think music hall or Gilbert & Sullivan.
Theatre junkies, comedy tonight!

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Square - 2017 - 6/10

Flux of museum curator, publicity consultants, journalists, benefactors, an innocent.
Not the actual creative forces. No, showmen, touts, hangers on.
Stockholm museum, determined to juice interest in upcoming installation, opts for disturbing gala.
Anyone who has done PR - or rolled their eyes at it - will recognize how some stunts, no matter how moronic or stale, succeed despite themselves, whereas imaginative concepts may be utterly ignored by the unwashed.
The distracted curator is a poor father, thoughtless lover, bully to children.
Insider satire may be too icy and too incestuous for its own good.

I had a couple fundraising gigs for “non-profit” arts groups.
Their appetite for money would astonish many. Just how much was taken in and spent.
I was good, coaxing mid-sized Poobahs to donate so they could admire their names in guides
Until I was fired. Next year, I was recalled.
When money is involved, the arts world has little shame.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Just Like A Woman - 2012 - 6/10

Chick flick hits the road.
Two women flee Chicago for a belly dance competition in Santa Fe.
To pay for fuel and supplies, they perform at bars and clubs along the way.
Fabulous outdoor scenery provides backdrop to confessions and fears.
Unlike other traveling souls who seem drawn to trouble, these two try to avoid it.
Their past trails after them, however, and free spirits always capture attention.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Museum - 2021 - 6/10
AKA - Yr Amgueddfa

Daniel, right, brings new mate / love stud, Caleb, to the museum gala.
Whereupon Caleb immediately puts the moves on Dan’s mom, Della.
And Della, apparently as heedless as she is weak, succumbs and opens the velvet temple.
First episode of a corkscrew puzzler from Wales.
Believe me, there are twists and turns throughout this labyrinth of schemes and secrets.
At times, this is a little too contrived from its own good.
Soap opera elements detract from the mystery angles.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Double - 2013 - 6/10

How come I never heard of this one?
Oh, because it was way too confusing and artsy for 98% of the planet?
Evocative Orwellian set design, straight out of Brazil sets the tone of an oppressive worker drone state.
Insecure, nebbishy Jesse Eisenberg bobbles adrift in vast, gloomy, mega-corporation, going nowhere fast.
Then his double, Jesse Eisenberg, arrives, swaggering confidence and gusto.
The pair meet, and the charismatic one offers to help his meek counterpart.
Viewers can spot that L for loser across his forehead.
Bleak, often wickedly funny film based on Dostoyevsky story.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Mystery Of Henri Pick - 2019 - 7/10
AKA - Le Mystère Henri Pick

Publisher Daphné hears about a peculiar library devoted to rejected books.
Manuscripts that other presses had refused to publish.
By chance, she comes across the one by Henri Pick, recently deceased pizza maker.
Once printed it becomes a massive best-seller, lauded by critics and casuals alike.
Save for Jean-Michel, TV critic, who declares the whole business is dubious.
From there, into the maze he scuttles, with viewers tagging behind.
Light comedy with a bitter edge will suit reading types, who will be better at catching the sly jokes.