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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

3 Beauties - 2014 - 5/10
AKA - 3 Bellezas

Forced, unfunny “comedy” from Venezuela.
Beauty contestant failure, now single mother, drums the path to runway on her small daughters.
The son is nothing. “Forget him. He’ll only grow into a hairy, smelly man.”
She also constantly reminds the girls, “You are not sisters - you are rivals.”
Resentments and grudges build, from childhood to the national competition.
If you can reference JonBenét, you ought to cringe at this.
Females I viewed this with totally recognized the mother character.
Beware DVD subtitles. Most ungrammatical, though entertaining.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

Shattered Island (Shutter Island) - Heavysyde

Filesize = 13.5 GB, Video = 1920 X 1080p AVC, Audio = 509 kbps AAC, 2-Channel stereo. No subs.

I hadn’t liked what Scorsese had been directing for awhile, but friends assured me Shutter Island was a return to form. A throwback to Cape Fear. Well, like the man says, there’s another sucker born every minute.
I didn’t like it. The film was overlong, bloated, with a “good enough” conclusion.
I think of doddering codgers droning on and on, instead of telling a concise story.
Heavysyde’s edit removes the flatulence.
More than that, he had rearranged the narrative by cross-cutting the final act, heightening the suspense, ensuring viewers stay alert and start guessing.
His new ending works better, as well, delivering a wicked stitching up of loose threads.
Visuals are first rate. The audio is strong, although dialogue is overwhelmed by music and ambiance at times. Such is in the original, as well. Audio engineers ought to know dialogue overrules crickets.
While I like the edit, all the cutting, the transitions are another matter. Too many fade to blacks, those blacks are too long. I think the edit would have been better served with a few wipes, and maybe lap dissolves.
This is a quibble, however, and if curious you should check this one out.

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Payback: Hybrid Cut - Neglify

Cracking good edit, turning Payback into gritty Noir from the 40’s.
Audio work, great. Nothing sounded out of place or jumps around with gain issues.
Video work, also solid. Lot of transitions in Black n White edits end up losing sharpness, or the blacks pixilate. Not here. Black n White is a pain in the ass to replicate, but Neglify scores big here.
This edit utilizes material from the original Payback, as well as the Straight Up cut.
The ending hews toward Straight Up - which I really do not like.
Writer / director Helgeland seems to have his own conception of Parker, excuse me, Porter, and he knows jackshit about Don Westlake’s actual creation.
Anyway, the ending pissed me off, mostly at Helgeland.
As an overall work, though, this edit was terrific and warmly applauded.

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Dick Tracy: The Noir Edit - Wakeupkeo

Filesize = 8 GB, Video = 1920 X 1040p AVC, Audio = 637 kbps, 5.1 AAC. Subs yes!

The 1990 film remains a powerful example of style over substance.
The set design, primary color scheme, makeup, songs, all top flight.
Story though? Originally meant for Disney, shifted to Touchstone as it was deemed too adult.
Nevertheless, this is still a cartoon.
Wakeupkeo’s intent to transform this into a Noir is intriguing, though I suspect Tracy harks back to gangster films of the 1930’s rather than post WWII Film Noir.
Straight off, the “look” of high contrast black and white is outstanding.

Using Miles Davis themes from “Elevator To The Gallows” darkens the mood immediately.
More would have been better, though I grasp dialogue interference.
The sound is a swaggering 5.1. Crank those bullet scenes, boys.
For all the trims and cuts, the narrative remains a problem.
This is a kiddee film. Violent, but aimed at juveniles.
Noir was always aimed at adults, with hard boiled themes.

The Kid is insufferable. Al Pacino’s Big Boy is a ranting buffoon.
Blame the source, not the faneditor.
This is a good, alternative view, of a disappointing movie.

Afterthought. There is an actual Noir story buried in Dick Tracy, although one would have to subvert the original pitch.
This would run about an hour, jettison the Kid, many of the goons, Tracy’s cops.
Typical of Noir, there is a femme fatale, smart plan, overreach, rotten end.
The stripped down story? That of Breathless.

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Halloween: Shape Reborn (the 2007 Rob Zombie one) - Aztek463

Rob Zombie’s reboot of the Halloween franchise was dull, overstuffed, and unnecessary. I have a relative who believes this director is a true artiste, and he keeps sending me DVDs as holiday gifts, thinking I will “see the light.”
Aztek, who did fine work combining 300, chopped a quarter of the film in trying to fashion a rougher, no nonsense experience.
The result is a lean narrative with a hammer down pace.

Video - 1280 X 720p MPEG4. Editing slick throughout. Despite the high resolution - better than this film deserves - the look is still grainy. To be expected in the night sequences, but interiors seemed gauzy. Not Aztek’s fault, most of Zombie’s films look this way. Blacks solid.

Audio - 6 Channel AC3, 448 kbps. No Subs. Again, high end sonically - better than this film deserves - and the sound design very clear. From whispers to howling, a lot of howling (more later). Aztek’s cuts and trims are well thought out, efficient, and professional. Range is not too dynamic, so you can likely play this in another room over your speakers without irritating others.

Narrative - One might think the story would be savaged with so much purged. Not so. This edit really holds together, though it does get wearying after an hour. The tale is itself essentially a padded one, what with a backstory featuring way too much gabbing, then a seemingly endless dark chase finale.

I wanted to enjoy this, but couldn’t. Young Michael, well cast, is truly repellent. His mom (Zombie’s sorry muse, Moon), is witless. Where in that mental institute is that kid getting materials to make masks? Who keeps allowing him to weak them?
The young actor, to be fair, is damn creepy. The chase finale went on and on and on and on, however. All the screaming, screeching, whimpering sounded like someone kicking a bag of cats.

Possibly worth a look for the curious, especially fans of RZ. For the uninitiated, caveat emptor.

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Halloween: The Doctor’s Cut (Halloween I and II) - JNisch

Filesize = 5 GB, Video = 1920 X 1080p AVC, Audio = 164 kbps 2-Channel Stereo, AAC. No subs.

Very good edit, especially for a first edit. A few too many fade to blacks at the beginning, although the editor does not make that a habit.
The video editing is skillfully done, especially the transition from the first film to the second.
Overweighed with the first film, I probably would not have missed an additional 10 minutes cut.
Second film is noticeably darker, although that works to disguise Jamie Lee Curtis’s age. In neither does she resemble a high school student.
High praise to the editor doing such a fine job merging the two films.
The first film was fresher, though I’ve always found Carpenter an adequate director, at best. Too many long shots, poorly paced until the final third, too much time where little happens. The second film was better directed, with nail biting tension from beginning to end, and the deaths were better shot.
For many (including me) this will be all the “Halloween” you need.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Son Of Saul - 2015 - 8/10

Hungarian film set inside camp Auschwitz during its gruesome height.
Told from the point of view of the Sonderkommandos, Jewish prisoners forced to assist the Nazis with “shepherding,” cleaning, and coverup.
One of the prisoners, when confronted with the death of a small boy, either has a breakdown or decides to act like a Mensch and give the child a proper Kaddish burial.
All manner of ugly things are ongoing in the background, out of focus or one only sees fragments.
One late night sequence is a harrowing view of living in Hell on borrowed time.
Interesting is the unseen order among prisoners, how they assist and blackmail each other.
Imaginative and fresh, dense with visuals. Arresting sound design.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Shattered - 1921 - 5/10
AKA - Scherben

Bahnwärter is a railman, he checks the crossties and rails daily.
He lives an isolated life with his wife and daughter.
Days are dull, the family is poor, yet they seem happy.
An inspector arrives and spends four days with them.
While Bahnwärter walks the tracks, the inspector rapes the daughter.
A distraught mother races outside into freezing winter.
Claustrophobic melodrama suffers from glacial pacing and overwrought acting.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Mission Kashmir - 2000 - 6/10

After his parents are killed, a young boy is adopted by a policeman and his wife.
Were his parents terrorists? And who killed them? Consider the police officer.
Crackling good Hindi film of vengeance and anger.
Explosive action scenes, basic plot (though these are adults, not eternal adolescents).
Romance elements are minimized, and the songs serve the plot. “Bumbro” is a mad highlight.
Newcomer Hrithik Roshan (above) was on the brink of superstardom.
Hardly the stereotyped Bollywood production, this should please action / thriller fans.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Night Stalker - 1972 - 7/10

One of those rare TV movies from the early 1970’s that became a phenomenon.
It was given a theatrical run, had a sequel, and launched a brief TV series.
Reporter Carl Kolchak is slowly digging into a string of serial killings in Las Vegas.
He starts wondering if perhaps the murderer is a vampire.
Sure, try to pitch that to your editor, let alone the police.
Darren McGavin disappears into the Kolchak role, though the entire case is great.
Doesn’t hurt either that the Jeff Rice novel was adapted into script by Richard Matheson.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Kingpin - 1996 - 6/10

No, not your local mob boss, but the king of strikes.
We’re talking bowling, friend, as in strikes, spares and gutter balls.
Rising lane warrior Roy bests top flight Ernie who exacts a vicious revenge.
The loss of Roy’s bowling hand, and end of his promising career.
Decades on, Roy discovers a hayseed marvel, a natural, though Amish.
Howlingly funny film boasts sly comedy and belly laughs.
From satisfying the landlady to flossing to Bill Murray’s headgear.
Hysterical from the get-go.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Irrational Man - 2015 - 6/10

Psychological mystery from Woody Allen.
Initially, I thought this a rehash of a recent Hugh Grant, The Rewrite, a droll rom com.
Yet, no, this is one of Allen’s darker films.
Joaquin Phoenix plays a philosophy professor who overhears a conversation of moral misdoing.
Next he contemplates the ethics and consequences of random murder.
The story is neither compelling nor arresting. Most of the parts seem curiously underwritten.
The professor and female student contribute dual voiceovers to further the plot.
Allen is telling, rather than showing. Violation of the old adage, show, don’t tell.
Better than 2014’s, Magic In The Moonlight, but pales beside Match Point.

Observation: Sound mix - 5.1. Haven’t paid attention to such in Allen’s recent films, but a step beyond 2.0 stereo.
Much of the music was classic Ramsey Lewis, circa mid-60’s, another move forward for the Woodster.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Mirror Crack’d - 1980 - 6/10

Glossy Hollywood production of Christie’s yarn.
A large film crew arrives in St. Mary Mead, including glamour queen Marina and director / husband Jason (Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson).
Rivalries are aplenty, along with death threats, then a poisoning.
Constables are stymied, but fortunately one has a local aunt, Jane Marple.
Angela Lansbury excellent as Miss Marple, if more crusty than scattered.
Kim Novak delicious as the voluptuous schemer.
Otherwise, this has an old-fashioned feel to it, the old guard crafting what feels like 1950’s cinema.
Wet afternoon film for those who can go along with the unhurried pace.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

5 X 2 - 2004 - 6/10

Inverted love story from François Ozon follows a couple “2“ through “5“ episodes of their relationship.
Story opens at the divorce attorney and a humiliating separation.
Then it flashes back to when the marriage turned sour -
back to the ecstasy of the nuptials -
to the desperate joy when you encounter one who could be “the one.”
The film is more the details, though, rather than the history.
Fate, coldly cruel here, twists each scene - from the beginning, or in this case, from the end.

What are you reading?

Bassoff, Jon - Corrosion

The first section of this slams like a fist to the side of your head. Joseph Downs, disfigured combat vet, exits his truck, broken down this side of nowhere. There’s a bar, there’s always a bar.
Inside, a women is being abused, beaten, while residents mind their own business. Downs doesn’t. He intervenes and the squalid tale starts going tick - tick - tick.
This is hard-boiled, full Noir, and the most ferocious part of the book.
Second section harks back seven years. Benton Faulk, high school misfit. Ma dying in a lonely room, Pa, self-taught scientist, trying to concoct a cure amongst a room full of rats.
Benton’s home is a hothouse of guilt, betrayal, obsessive desire.
For all this, I wish the author had not named that kid Faulk since it leads me to think of Faulkner and Southern Gothic, of which this reeks, even though these are mountain residents.
The two characters, Downs and Faulk, are damned and doomed. Page by page, you wonder how much is delusion, how much is warped madness, and how much is Fate.
Fate, nudging these characters this way and that, yet always towards each other. Pushing the encounter, pushing them into the tight dark confines of rotten air and sorry chances.
For a first book, solid.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Mae West: Dirty Blonde - 2020 - 6/10

Solid overview of the saucy actress, remembered for a handful of films and her unforgettable attitude.
After an opening flourish of her Paramount beginnings, the doc returns to her roots.
Childhood, vaudeville, then the scandalous plays.
Chief among them, “Sex”, which was pilloried and berated by critics and poobahs.
So, of course, audiences flocked to see it and laugh.
Numerous clips from her films, as well as period Silents to shine the Roaring Twenties.
Most controversies touched on, some lighter than others.
West was a casualty of Breen’s Production Code, though one or two of her later movies are worth seeking out.
Subs =

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Time And Tide - 2000 - 6/10
AKA - Shun Liu ni Liu // 順流逆流

Jeez Louise, what an unstoppable film.
Petty criminals, Tyler and Jack (Nicholas Tse and Wu Bai), the former an illegal bodyguard, the latter a mercenary.
Both are young fathers, trying to earn cash in a violent Hong Kong.
One owes a debt to the Triads and when collection time comes, hell breaks loose.
Such is one fragment of a messy plot.
This amazing film is one to see for the stunts, and to be blunt, astounding camerawork.
There’s a nod to The Matrix in this, yet this remains Hong Kong cinema at its peak.
A must see and, I think, Tsui Hark’s last gangster film to date.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Life In Squares - 2016 - 6/10

Compact, three part series of Vanessa and Virginia Stephen (Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf).
Begins in 1904 after their father dies, until 1941, Virginia’s death.
The Bloomsbury group is on display, as well as painters, lovers, relatives.
The two sisters, painter and writer, are portrayed by different actors for earlier and later versions of the characters. As are several other characters.
That can be confusing. The plot is a bit of a muddle, as well, more of observing relationships.
Perhaps this would be better for those knowledgeable about the Bloomsbury inner-workings.
I was adrift half the time.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Crash - 1996 - 6/10

Following a harrowing car wreck, a TV personality discovers and then delves into a bizarre car subculture.
Accident victims, disfigured, mangled, crippled, obsessed with vehicular mishaps and sex.
A twisted take of the love affair between semen and gasoline, flesh and chrome.
James Spader leads a brilliant cast in this spellbinding Cronenberg film.
Participants numb, self-destructive, suicidal. And highly aroused.

This is probably not for the uninitiated nor faint-hearted.
Packed with emotionless sex that may kill your mood for the night.
Based on J. G. Ballard’s novel, an author who often alienates more than he entices.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

An Officer And A Gentleman - 1982 - 7/10

Cocksure recruit Mayo enters Naval boot camp, training to be a fighter pilot.
(In many ways, this could be the precursor to Top Gun.)
With an ethos of all for me, and me for me, Mayo is hardly the team spirit.
While fellow cadets keep their guard up, local girls are quick to flutter.
Marriage to an officer is the traditional ticket out of Deadsville.
Steamy romance balanced with boot camp and the sadistic sergeant.
Lou Gossett won an Oscar who culls the weak, builds the esprit de corps.
High wattage date film still packs numerous emotional jolts.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Women Of 69: Unboxed - 7/10 - 2014

Offbeat documentary catches up with Skidmore’s Class of ‘69.
Instead of creating a yearbook, the women had crafted a “yearbox” in 1969.
Now, at age 65, they recall their college years and how that affected adult choices.

Freedom is an important concept, as well as independence. Breaking free resonates.

A life affirming doc, though unlikely to tempt younger audiences (in delicious irony, independent Boomers have raised dependent offspring).
The backward glance can be a trap. To my thinking, one should be careful when gazing at your younger self.

In 1969, Skidmore College was still a women’s college, before going coed in 1971.
Recently it has been awarded 1st place in the annual Reefer Madness poll.
Top school for marijuana users.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

How To Be Sherlock Holmes - 2014 - 6/10

Glossy overview of the actors who have played Holmes.
From William Gillette to Mr Cumberbatch.
Of particular interest are what each has added to the canon.
Gillette, for example, switched from a straight pipe to the iconic curved pipe (so audiences could see his face).
He also uttered the phrase - on silent intertitle - “Elementary.”
Rathbone updated Holmes to the 40’s, Cumberbatch to the present day.
Jeremy Brett given left-handed praise, with apologists whining how tired he looked at the end (for those unaware, Mr Brett had been fighting cancer for several years, eventually succumbing to a heart attack).
Rathbone quit Holmes, worrying he would become typecast (which occurred). No mention was uttered of the sheer times he portrayed the detective. 13 major film roles, and a whopping 220 radio episodes!
The narrative also reminded viewers how fortunate they were to have two new actors (Cumberbatch & R Downey) playing the consulting detective. No mention of the Miller / Liu series.
Purists decry the omission of Vasily Livanov, considered by many to be the finest Holmes.
( )

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Heroes - 1977 - 6/10

Vietnam vet escapes the hospital and makes the roadtrip to start a farm he and other vets had pledged to do.
Henry Winkler pretty good as the highly strung veteran.
Difficult to tell if he is delusional, unbalanced, nuts, or eccentric.
Those he meets along the way (including “overnight” star Harrison Ford) are definitely damaged.
Sally Field is the girl he picks up.
Numerous “vet films” came out around this time. This is middling, with tense moments sapped with cliché.
Winkler had trouble shaking his TV persona at this time, but he and Field have a sweet chemistry.