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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Beyond Terror - 1980 - 6/10
AKA - Más Allá del Terror

The gang buys drugs, holds up a cafe, goes on a spree killing, flees into the countryside.
They find refuge in a crumbling monastery, which they soon desecrate.
As sins mount, so do consequences.

While this Spanish horror has its moments, it drags, looks cheap, suffers static camera work.
Nude sequences here and there, along with panting and thrusting, spark little interest.
Most of the confrontations are verbal, the gang are low watt losers.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story - 2007 - 7/10

Good documentary of the rise and demise of the premier soul label of the 60’s, 70’s.
Survivors reminisce, packed with performance footage.
Simmering in the background, is the ugly reality of racist Memphis.
While Stax’s late era financial woes cannot be carpeted over, other issues get a light tread.
Mention is made of Booker T. and the MG’s departing, reasons are like soft sighs.
Deeper history can be found online, yet for what this is, it is highly enjoyable.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Iris - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - In The Shadow Of Iris

Banker husband pays for expensive lunch while wife waits outside.
Long enough for his wife to be kidnapped!
Police are summoned, try to devise a trap, but the quarry is slippery.
Glossy thriller comes packed with twists and confusing characters.
(Other reviewers note males all sport beards - the females are long haired brunettes.)
Engrossing French mystery, though the characters are too clever by half.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Loft - 2008 - 6/10

Belgium original film, not the 2014 remake.
Five married guys share a pricey loft where they bring twinkies and bang-bunnies.
Wives, what little we see of them, are weak, clueless, insecure.
Then one of the guys strolls in with his bag of vino and sees naked hottie in the blood soaked bed.
Narrative bounces from police interrogations to flashbacks to alibis and false trails.
Easy enough to follow, though premise remains far fetched.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Dream Home - 2010 - 6/10
AKA - Wai Dor Lei ah Yut Ho // 維多利亞壹號

Is it so much to want a home of your own? A place to call your own?
Since childhood, since real estate goons pushed everyone out of her Hong Kong hutong, that is all Sheung dreamed of.
Unfortunately, Hong Kong property prices are in the stratosphere.
Part of this is a historical drama. The real estate, the Takeover, the gig economy.
The other half, however, is pure slasher. Inventive at that, too.
Narrative bounces. Just pay attention to “dates” and “times.”
This may be darkly funny, or a sour reminder, depending on ones housing plight.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Kontroll - 2003 - 6/10

Loose narrative of shady ticket inspectors working Budapest subways.
They hunt an aerosol punk named Bootsie, as well as a hooded figure (resembles Banksy) who pushes passengers into oncoming trains.
Filled with dark humor and seedy nightlife, no office folks at all, let alone tourists. Street people, pimps, alcoholics, bullies, lost souls.
Fairly accurate feel for the Hungarian underground, which is rightfully infamous among seasoned turistas. *
Inspectors cluster at main exits and generally target visitors. There are always fines.
Worthwhile film, whether you’ve been busted in Keleti or not.

  • Note: My bride was once busted in Keleti by ticket cops, I can vouch for the accuracy of this part of the story.
A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Goodbye Dragon Inn - 2003 - 6/10
AKA - Bú sàn // 不散

Deliberately misleading / baffling last night inside a vintage Taipei movie house.
Few customers fill the rows for a final showing of 1967’s Dragon Inn.
Men wander back halls and storage rooms, smoking cigarettes throughout.
Are they are ghosts - or lost souls?
The ticket taker limps from one empty area to another, performing nightly duties.
Little transpires in this haunted environment, allowing viewers - this one, at least - to reflect on the passing of movie palaces.
I recall entertainment shrines being filled with SOLD OUT audiences.
In recent times, however, attendance plummeted.
The cast of this is intriguing, containing members of the 1967 Dragon Inn, influential Taiwanese martial arts classic that I somehow have not caught.
Goodbye Dragon Inn is pretentious twaddle or quietly insightful. Mix of both.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Aquarius - 2016 - 5/10

Sônia Braga plays Clara, last tenant at the Aquarius, an old two story apartment in Recife, Brazil.
Her neighbors sold off to a property developer who intends to demolish and erect a high rise.
Clara won’t budge, however. Mind you, the Aquarius sits on the beach!
Conflict escalates between the 65 year old woman and the developer and his tactics.
Ostensibly a character study, I found Clara unsympathetic and inconsiderate.
Flaws don’t mean she is in the wrong, though.
While I do not understand Brazilian property laws, I have tilted against developers a time or two.
Film itself is overlong, with many scenes extending three or four beats past their limit.
Blame the writer-director for self indulgence and leaving pointless sequences in the final cut.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Battle Of The Rails - 1946 - 6/10
AKA - La Bataille du Rail

Above, in all likelihood, the face of the French Resistance.
Ordinary railroad workers.
From sabotage to passive aggressive delays.
Eventually, tasked to stall the Wehrmacht from speeding reinforcements to Normandy.
Frustrated German reactions are often funny in this how-to derail trains manual.
Perhaps because this came out immediately after the war, this has an immediacy, a freshness, a vibrancy, lacking in later war films, especially as time lengthened.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Resolution - 2012 - 4/10

OK, lemme get this straight.
Nebbish leaves his hot blonde wife (newly pregnant, ole flying circus position gone forever in a few months), so he can spend a week with childhood buddy, who is a meth addict, living in rural oblivion.

Weird snapshots show up, peepers stare into the house at night, video tapes, odd sounds.
After a day or so, the straight guy starts to wonder if the shack - on Indian burial grounds - may be cursed.
Displaying zero common sense, he stays put, musing aloud, “What is going on?”
I could well point the looking glass at myself, wondering why I select crap like this.
Not to give anything away, but if you’re one of those types who applaud open endings, this has your name on it.
Plenty of sites out there explain (or try to explain) the ending. Good luck.

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Shazam: Origin (The Adentures Of Captain Marvel) - Billy Batson

Overview - Editing the possibly whitest bread of all serials, “The Adventures Of Captain Marvel”, must have been a labor of love for Mr. Batson. Indeed, for those familiar with this show, this was doubtless irresistible. For those unfamiliar, this was a very good Republic effort, the sort they excelled at.

Video - 1920 X 1080 AVC. The print of this is sharp, really sharp, superior to my Laserdisc. Transitions between scenes are well done. I wondered about this, since cliffhangers are notorious for “cheats”. The editor has worked through all those, hurrying from worrisome moment to reaction and follow-thru by characters.

Audio - 125 kbps, AAC 2-Channel stereo. No subs (unnecessary). The sound is reflective of 1941 Hollywood. Dialogue crystal clear, if looped it was professional. Music compressed, mayhem easily identifiable.

Narrative - The series remains bookended in Siam, near Burma. Ha ha. This Siam appears to be the Khyber Pass between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The terrain, the attire of the riders. The youthful audience of the 40’s would never know, and modern viewers must take this section in stride and understand. Afterward, the story plays out as the sinister Scorpion and his henchmen acquire the deadly lenses, one by one.

Enjoyment - I liked this a lot. Despite prevailing habits, serials were never meant to be binged. They are too busy, and much of the fighting grows repetitive. I watched in three 40” chunks. The plot cleverly keeps you guessing about the identity of Mr. Scorpion.

This was entertaining, and I can recommend this to families with children. It is black and white, however, and there are deaths. Not to the level of current television fare.

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Schism (Elephant) - Neglify

From the DVD, Neglify Shorts Vol 1, though this can also be found as Part of Consecution Six - Shut Up!
Great job of condensing Van Sant’s underrated (under-viewed) Elephant.

Video - MPEG 720 X 480p. Editing was all first rate. Several scenes could have been extended a beat or two. I’m not complaining, just got caught up in the mood at times and wanted to linger.

Audio - 6 Channel AC3, 448 Kbps. On the sound system, I noticed the immediate shift from 2 channel to 6 channel. Music choices, from Floyd to Tool, blend well and enhance the short.

Incredibly, the narrative holds together and the germ of the story is easily understood.
I did not think I would this, especially since Van Sant is a director I kick at frequently.
Nevertheless, while I may not rewatch often, I liked this…
The short is poignant, brooding, steeped in fatalism.

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Prometheus: Giftbearer - Severian

One of the first released edits trying to “fix” narrative errors.

Video - 854 X 356 AVC. Higher resolution would have been preferred. Good editing nonetheless, shifting some scenes around. Dr. Shaw’s dream time after Holloway’s death is remarkable.

Audio - 128 kbps, AAC, 2 Channel stereo. No subs. (see below) Stereo, really? Dialogue is mostly clear, though garbled during excited moments. I listened through headphones.

This new narrative works well enough, though I can’t see how it replaces the original. It holds together, and remains logical throughout, but the improvements seemed insufficient. Straight off, Holloway continues to be a dick, for reasons poorly explained. Fifield and Millburn persist in being stupid. As characterized, this pair would do better at a space station diner, asking, “Want fries with that?” Finally, the croissant abides.

My enjoyment was hit and miss. Despite being a “favorite”, this does not surpass the A9 version that came out at nearly the same time. I enjoyed Severian’s effort, yet it is not the edit I will return to.

Subtitles: Yes, one of my bears. There actually are some subs available by Aorion. There are random timing problems, and they do not work for all dialogue. I repaired some issues, let others slide. Sorry.
Should you desire –

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Star Trek 10 “Through A Glass Darkly” (Star Trek Nemesis) - BionicBob

This is a great improvement over the original.
I pulled up my copy of Nemesis beforehand and could barely sit through it.
The pacing was deadly, and the narrative was cluttered.
Bionic Bob trimmed out the fat, and this movie goes!
Audio seems fine to my ears. Video edits are smooth. The only “clinker” is the added bit at the end, though it is fun, nevertheless.

I am not a fan of STNG (prefer Voyager), but BBob’s version of Nemesis is a winner, and I can recommend it to fans who tired of the series long ago.

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The Godfather Extended Edition - hal_over_9000

Stellar work assembling various outtakes and scenes from various editions.

Video - 1920 X 1080 AVC. Odd bit of TV business at 1:16. Fade to blacks seemed longish at some points.

Audio - 317 kbps AAC. 2 Channel stereo. No subs, aside the hard-coded during Italian language sequences. Good use of sound for transitions. Dialogue clear (aside from Brando, and unfair to nitpick for that).

Narrative - This is a rich, immersive experience. It has been a decade since I’ve watched the original. This version has all sorts of extras seamlessly edited in. Everything a Godfather fanatic could desire.

The additions add layers in an already textured quilt. They are not necessarily game changers, but Genco Abbandando gets a respectful farewell and Clemenza … man, any extra scenes featuring Clemenza is great by me.
This is over three hours, so switch off the phone and settle in. Rushing will demean this, a terrific edit.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Maciste In Hell - 1925 - 6/10
AKA - Maciste al Inferno

A demon kidnaps prime physical specimen Maciste and ferries him to Hell.
There, he contests with endless hordes of demons and wretched souls -
and - struggles with the temptations of barely clad demons of the female persuasion.
Oh, but a single kiss can be the undoing of the morally sturdy.
Very busy film. Loads of action. Guest characters include Lucifer and Satan!
Lavish production values. Costumes? Most of the underworld wears next to nothing – or nothing.
Save for Maciste, who seems to keep his business suit on most of the time.
Bodywise, Maciste takes after the old-fashioned circus strongman (think Rodrigo Quast) and not today’s steroid pumped fantasy figure.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Postcards From The 48% - 2018 - 6/10

As time hurtles onward, this one-sided “documentary” grows from curio to irrelevant,
Assembled here are voices, thoughts, warnings from members of 16 million who, during the Brexit referendum, voted to remain in Europe.
Filmmaker David Wilkinson makes his points, even extends to prospect of a revote.
That did not occur.
What this exposes is the perils of democracy of the uneducated and undereducated.
An electorate misinformed, poorly informed, or who never bothered with “facts.”
As if there are facts in politics, or if truths are accepted by all.

More balanced was “Europe: Them Or Us” (2016), though now equally meaningless.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Europe: Them Or Us - 2016 - 7/10

Out of date already. Two part documentary geared for then topical Brexit vote.
First part deals with the formation of the Common Market, and the UK’s reluctance to join.
UK does join, of course, and the second part details the EU, free migration, and mistakes made.
Presenter does a fine job trying to be fair, though as an outsider, I have no idea.
Curious souls may find this interesting as there is plenty of history, less shown on news shows.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Shiver Of The Vampires - 1971 - 7/10
AKA - Le Frisson des Vampires // Sex And Vampires

Newlyweds Isle and Antoine, still in gown and tuxedo, are driving to their honeymoon.
First, a sidetrip to her cousins whom she has not seen since she was small.
Alas, the cousins died recently under mysterious circumstances. and villagers warn of evil at their castle.
The pair decide to visit nevertheless, and then opt to spend the night. In separate rooms.
An early Jean Rollin film, so expect well composed sets, beautiful women in sheer gowns, and vampires.
At points, no dialogue, followed by characters talking in paragraphs.
Neither a scary nor a frightening film, this beckons with a trancelike charm.
Mind you, I am partial to Rollin.
Impatient souls may bemoan a lack of fluids in this, and limited running and carrying on.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Angel’s Share - 2012 - 6/10

Likeable Scottish comedy / drama opens with misfits ordered to perform community service for petty crimes or drunken behavior.
Main character has a steady squeeze who wants him out of a multi generation blood feud.
After a day trip to a distillery, coincidences pile up, stretching disbelief and plausibility quite thin.
As mentioned, the overall good-natured tone glosses over this, and you root for their most peculiar caper.
Subtitles an absolute must! Brogue is indecipherable at times, and many phrases sounded like Gaelic.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

In Darkness - 2018 - 5/10

Muddled thriller of blind concert pianist overhearing death of upstairs neighbor.
Thugs come calling, “What did you see!” - “I’m blind.”
Cops have questions. “Sorry, I was wearing headphones.”
Her secrecy masks a personal agenda, and overshadows the mystery of who killed the upstairs neighbor and why.
Therein lies a major problem with the narrative structure.
Focus often swings to side plots at the expense of other side plots.
Deliberate confusion is to be anticipated in a mystery, yet one expects a degree of logic.
The script (co-written by the director and the lead, hmmm) suffers too many threads that need pruning.
Decent, if well worn, premise, marred by excessive busyness.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Act One - 2015 - 7/10

Theatre junkies!
Adaptation of playwright Moss Hart’s memoir of the same name.
Childhood, early forays into the theatrical world, writing.
Then the first partnership with George S. Kaufman and the agonizing rewriting of their first play.
Engaging, funny, with appearances and name dropping of the Algonquin Circle.
And that may be a problem for those who don’t know references.
Theatre impresarios, Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, backers, etc …
Tony Shaloub peerless as Kaufman, Hart’s father, and an older, wiser Hart, gazing back.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Sightseers - 2012 - 6/10

Black comedy of repressed, middle aged female escaping thumb of domineering mother, who is slipping into dementia.
The female meets a slightly older man, they take off on a roadtrip - holiday - sightseeing tour, leaving Ma in the muddle of her short wired brain.
Straight off, the female realizes her boyfriend has a slight problem with order and rage, though he compensates by stoking her romping appetites.
Creeping body count on this. Each death one was at once grisly and funny.
Litterbugs, PETA members, health enthusiasts, if the tag applies, beware.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Shinobi No Mono 5: Return of Mist Saizo - 1964 - 6/10
AKA - Shinobi no Mono Zoku Kirigakure Saizō // 忍びの者 続・霧隠才蔵

Story picks up immediately after 4 (Siege) as Saizo successfully rescues his lord before Ieyasu captures him.
Ieyasu continues to consolidate power and for most of the players this is a back-pedaling game.
Stunt work holds up well, it must have been eye popping in 1964.
Adversaries build alliances, and use ninjas for assassination and counter intelligence.
A bitter tasting love story pierces some of the darkness.
Nevertheless, this episode has a fatalistic tone that seeps into everything.