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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Carnage - 2011 - 6/10

Saw this first at a local theatre production. Live drama. I hated it.
Film version boasts big names: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C Reilly, Christoph Waltz. Roman Polanski directs.
Carnage remains a play set in one room, though.
Two sets of parents escalate the playground spat begun by their two boys.
Jodie Foster’s character is defensive and one of those “must have the last word” types. Waltz is the chronic cellphone addict.
Even after I quaffed a bottle of red, this didn’t feel any better.
If you like talky, argumentative dramas, jump on this, Floyd.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz …

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Dear Prudence - 2010 - 5/10
AKA - Belle Épine

After being arrested for separate shoplifting, two teenage girls form a tenuous relationship.
Unlike what some reviews indicate, they do not “bond.”
One is bourgeois, has superior prospects, yet is adrift following the death of a parent.
The other is harder to pinpoint, save she of rougher cloth, with more limited means.
Both are drawn to an underground scene of midnight motorbike racing, and death.
None of these lost souls are portrayed well, nor are they particularly interesting.
Nor is the film, for that matter.
Premarital sex, midnight motorbikes, cigarettes. These teen tropes were done in the 50’s, likely before that.
Here, set in 2010, they seem quaint.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Trip To Italy - 2014 - 6/10

Sequel to The Trip (2011) which I had looked forward to viewing, but ended up disliking.
So why I put this on … more fool me.
Once again Coogan and Brydon tour a series of top restaurants, crack wise, bitch, and chase tail.
Well, not Coogan who seems more restrained in this film, subdued, as if he was not keen on the project.
Nor would most relish spending weeks with Rob Brydon who excels as an annoying prat.
Breathtaking scenery, mouth-watering food, with added bits with family back home.
At one point Coogan’s son visits - as played by an actor.
The journey is scripted. Coogan and Brydon play themselves, yet they are reading lines. OK - fake, not a doc.
If you go into this knowing both men play versions of themselves, in a story otherwise utterly fictitious, you will perhaps enjoy this more.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock - 1962 - 6/10
AKA - L’orribile Segreto del Dr. Hichcock

The premier surgeon in London, circa 1885, has a miraculous anesthesia.
Which, back at home, he and his wife indulge in as their sexual proclivities are kinked.
Others could have warned him. Sex and medicines, like sex and ropes, are often fatal.
Twelve years later, Hichcock finally finds a new wife.
Who is curious about locked doors, footsteps, strangers on the lawn.

Truly gorgeous Gothic movie, listed as Horror, but it seems closer to Mystery / Thriller.
Little surprises in a story that seems to borrow heavily from du Maurier’s “Rebecca.”
Barbara Steele is quite lovely in this, though her role is a dewy eyed victim.
Robert Flemyng owns the film as Dr. Hichcock. Obsessed, cool, controlling, mad.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Chefs: S01 - 2015 - 6/10

Nasty French series of sharp edged knives in the kitchen.
Once lauded restaurant suffers debts, deals with fickle fans.
New hires, a new investor, new business manager join the unhappy team.
Meals are the rarefied sort, meaning €200 will get you a large white plate and what looks like hors d’oeuvres.
Beyond my range, so I watched with passing interest.
Writing is spotty. Narrative tottered between predictability and surprise twists.
There is a S02, chances are I will pass.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Future - 2011 - 4/10

Depressing tale of two sad sack whiners.
Early on, they decide to adopt a terminally ill kitty.
They bounce working from one meaningless job to another, quietly complain, and wish they were more successful.
I suspect the writer/director was making a point about disconnection - or life’s pointlessness - or souls without direction.
Failure on all fronts.
Both actors delivered lines in monotone, suggesting they were on Quaaludes, Prozac or Lithium.
By the end of the film, their characters had not advanced one iota, yet I had lost 90" of my life watching this lifeless poo poo.
And the terminally ill feline? Mope, mope, mope.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Space Battleship Yamato - 2010 - 5/10
AKA - 宇宙戦艦ヤマト

Wow, flashback to a bygone era.
Earth is being bombarded by hostile aliens using radioactive meteorites.
The hope for humanity lies with SB Yamato, which resembles a submarine meets aircraft carrier meets shark.
The cast overacts, spitting their lines in staccato outbursts which reminds me of the 60’s era.
Fighter pilots participate in dismal CGI dogfights, while the bridge crew parks at futuristic, 1984 type, consoles.
The Captain fares better, sitting a Laz-E Boy recliner.
Every single character is selfless, noble and heroic.
I have a foam brick that I toss at the screen sometimes. This movie, I hurled it frequently.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Bedlam: S02 - 2012 - 6/10

Ellie sees dead people. She has visions, premonitions, hears voices.
It costs her a paramedic job, and her fiancé drops her because he is as understanding as a fish hook.
So Ellie makes her way to the haunt packed Bedlam Heights, now rebranded Brightmoor.
Why? Who knows. Yet she gets to stay there free. Room and meals, gratis, while she does zip.
Followup to Bedlam S01, has a mostly new cast, is more drama oriented, with fewer kills.
Ellie has a looser grasp of her “gift” than did Jed, and most of the characters are illogical.
Nevertheless, S02 is better written and stitches a decent ending.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Hesher - 2010 - 6/10

Angry downer.
Young boy grieves for mom, dad is depressed, grandma does her best.
Into their lives comes “Hesher.” An angry troublemaker with the firebug gene.
Note: this character was supposedly patterned after Metallica’s Cliff Burton.
Slow moving at times, though generally interesting. The females of the audience hated this film (which they selected), whereas the guys laughed a lot. Probably much more tolerant of males barely housebroken.
Stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Natalie Portman.

Metallica enjoyed the film and allowed a batch of songs to be used throughout.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

La Belle Endormie - 2010 - 6/10
AKA - The Sleeping Beauty

Catherine Breillat mixes the sleeping princess with the Snow Queen, shuffles and extends the time.
An evil witch delivers the curse, a trio of less powerful faeries attempt to modify the curse.
Princess Anastasia, succumbing to the splinter, begins a long, dreamlike quest.
An imaginative reexamination of childhood fairy tales, with no special effects or computer gimmicks.
Breillat disorients expectations of an audience familiar with childhood tales.
Nice followup to the previous Perrault film, Barbe Bleue.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Cold Comfort Farm - 1995 - 7/10

The story of Robert Poste’s child, Flora, left orphaned by the unspecified demise of both parents.
She decides to stay with relatives at Cold Comfort Farm.

Droll comedy packed with memorable quotes.
“I saw something nasty in the woodshed.”
“If you come to this doomed house, what is there to save you?”
“Drain the well, there’s a neighbor missing.”
“There’ll be no butter in hell!”

Kate Beckinsale shines in an early role.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Death In Leon - 2016 - 7/10
AKA - Muerte en León

Documentary covering the assassination of Isabel Carrasco, chief of the government in Leon, Spain.
The murder occurred in broad daylight, and the killer freely confessed.
The story, the conspiracy, plays out in the courtroom.
Who else participated? How much did they know? And when?
As with real trials, viewers hear well coached stories, interpretations, dissembled versions.
Being a political murder, there is the whiff of corruption, evidence tampering and manipulation.
Quite absorbing, even though I knew nothing about Spanish politics.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Darkman - 1990 - 6/10

My introduction to Liam Neeson, thirty years ago.
He had been in other films (eg: Excalibur), but this was his first starring actioner.
Neeson harrowing as vengeance driven scientist squared off against the murderous Larry Drake and his trusty cigar cutter.
Sam Raimi’s comic tendencies now come off as silly and distracting.
Darkman came between Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness.
Those two were horror comedies, Darkman was more violent and should have thrust straight for the jugular.
Definitely a series that could use a reboot.
Neeson could also replay the role, much harder, more diabolical.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Anonymous - 2011 - 4/10

Shakespeare never wrote all those plays. Nor poems.
All were penned by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.
Very handsome looking production that methinks doth protest too much. Or persuades too much.
Typical nonsense from director Roland Emmerich.
His highlights feature: Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla, 2012, 10000 BC.
He can make em glossy, he can make em gassy, he can make em loud, he can make em preposterous.
With Anonymous, he succeeds on all fronts.
Given extra star because it really does look terrific.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

A Fantastic Woman - 2017 - 7/10
AKA - Una Mujer Fantástica

On the eve of a vacation together, Marina’s much older boyfriend suffers what appears to be a stroke.
Complications follow, as she must deal with the hospital, police, finally the man’s family.
Marina’s trans status informs everyone she comes into contact with.
Remarkable study of an individual walking a tightrope without a net.
Bystanders ignorant, indifferent, hostile. try to be tolerant, open-minded, yet the sooner they see the backside of Marisa, the better.
Her reaction is poignant throughout. Resigned, stoical, barely suppressing a desperate grief.
Memorable scene when one of the relatives describe her as chimera.
Of course, he does not “see” her, he only sees the surface, and her reaction resembles a wound.
Real tour de force. At first, I thought this was from Spain, but no, Chile.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Urban Explorer - 2011 - 4/10

A mixed quartet of global tourists opt for the €300 (each!) illegal tour of the Berlin sewers.
Destination, a recently discovered, now sealed Nazi room.
Obviously, those 20ish gimbots have never watched a dead teenager flick in their lives.
What else would explain, “Oh, sewer walk, fun!” ?
Avoids clichés initially, then succumbs to predictability and formula.
Docked several points for lazy writing (eg: helpless, whiny female characters), and one stupid decision after another made by players so they could be easy targets.
Caveat emptor.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary - 2016 - 7/10

Probably not enough here to lure seasoned Jazz buffs, but plenty for the curious or those who dip in and out.
Bit of background into Coltrane’s childhood and upbringing, work as a journeyman, achievements as a leader.
Family life and personal matters less so (consider the endless road for musicians).
Interviewees include friends, family, artists who actually played with him, later musicians who were influenced by him.
Bolstered with music throughout, as well as countless period photos and inspired illustrations.

In 2001, Ken Burns delivered a ten part, highly praised (over-praised?) series on Jazz.
The Trane doc would have fit well, especially since Burns seemed to treat the post 40’s as an afterthought.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Mado - 1976 - 6/10

The recession has hit Mado and her young friends particularly hard.
The men are “between jobs,” and Mado earns a living through casual hooking.
She is selective or lucky, as her clients are affluent developers, speculators.
Businessmen, but not as disreputable as their sinister rivals.
Or are they? Mado is young, but slowly sees through masks.
Film is overlong, and some of the detours (the mud run) are excessive and pointless.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Rolling Stones: Live In Fort Worth, Texas - 1978 - 7/10

By late 70’s, Punk exploded, dismissing the old guard as irrelevant, pompous, out of step, tired.
Old. Especially those British Invasion relics.
In '78, the Stones discarded the bloated sets, Jagger’s preening nonsense, and hurled themselves into a tight, no-nonsense tour.
Didn’t hurt that Jagger plugged in the guitar again.
In Cowtown’s Will Rogers Auditorium, “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band,” fully lived up to the title.
The performance was pedal to the metal, with a full bore, dialed to 11, sound mix.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Shinya Shokudô - 2009 - 7/10
AKA - Midnight Diner

Melancholy series of nightowls and insomniacs, gathered at the cafe, open between midnight and 8:00 AM.
Half hour episodes of lives lonely, broken or dead-ended.
Individuals who missed opportunities, compromised their dreams, outlived their time.
While the cafe has a small, fixed menu, the owner seems able to fulfill all requests.
Mostly simple fare, but each evokes memories or underscores a personal story.
At each conclusion, tips or techniques for that night’s recipe are shared.
This is one of the very best late night J-dorama, and fairly easy to find.
Watching between midnight and 2:00 AM, which was when I viewed, may enhance the mood.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Two Evil Eyes - 1990 - 5/10
AKA - Due Occhi Diabolici

Two story anthology, based loosely on Edgar Allan Poe.
The first directed by George A. Romero, the second by Dario Argento.
As the wealthy husband dies, his adulterous wife and her lover (the doctor, really?) drain his bank accounts.
Romero’s resembles a TV episode, the narrative waddles like a penguin in the Sahara.
Effects, what effects? Even the makeup is rubbish.
The second story, Argento’s half, is superior technically and storywise.

A crime photographer (modern version of Weegee) disapproves of his girlfriend’s new black cat.
That does not stop him from using the feline as a prop (cat lovers, beware).
The plot includes a witches coven, dismemberments, gallows humor.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Eye Of The Storm - 2011 - 7/10

Piss and vinegar matriarch (Charlotte Rampling) summons her two children (Geoffrey Rush & Judy Davis) to her deathbed.
The Norman Rockwell warm and fuzzy sendoff will probably bypass this family.
Bad blood, rotten memories and stunted adults.
Nevertheless, these characters are clear-eyed and have no false belief in redemption.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Agatha And The Midnight Murders - 2020 - 6/10

Agatha Christie, financially strapped, opts to sell an unpublished manuscript to a Hong Kong editor.
Dateline 1940. During the height of the Blitz, she and her driver venture into a darkened nightclub.
Inside are a dozen assorted guests, gamblers, and unknowns. And then the sirens begin to wail.
Locked room mystery has good cast and acceptable location.
Nonetheless, this is, essentially, a one room play. The lighting is dim, the sound is murky.
Fifteen minutes in, I bark, “The villain better not be so-and-so because that would be so obvious.”
End of the show, my prediction proved accurate, which means the writing is neither clever nor creative.
(I am not exactly the brightest Mystery sleuth.)
Wasted potential.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Shame - 2011 - 5/10

From all the hype I was expecting fare truly disgusting.
Train wreck sister moves in temporarily with her highly successful brother in Manhattan
She cramps his routine of meaningless sex, Internet porn, hookers, skin magazines, dirty videos, etc …
Both leads (Fassbender and Mulligan) could be termed easy on the eyes.
Bleak and depressing.
You would think someone could create characters who had a lusty appreciation of magazines and videos.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Ein Krimi aus Passau - 2020 - 5/10
AKA - A Thriller From Passau

Mother and daughter, Frederike and Mia, live incognito under a witness protection program.
Ex-police officer mom risks exposure because she cannot suppress her police reactions.
Matters are not helped by the daughter’s self destructive impulses, and her hating the small town where they hide.
And yes, the bad guys are hunting for them.
A small time private detective realizes who they are, though he has an agenda.
There is really no one else in the cast of importance.
The writing is inept, the plotting embarrassingly bad. One asinine coincidence after another.
This was instantly forgettable.