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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Donkey Punch - 2008 - 5/10

Another dead teenager plot.
Seven Brits, vacationing in Mallorca, hook up for a night of booze, drugs, and mattress action.
Aboard a yacht, no less.
When rough sex leads to accidental death, paranoia mounts … as does the death count.
Characters had IQ’s smaller than a sea sponge, though they were inventive with choice of weapons.

Note: Subs may be necessary. Characters from Leeds and N England had strong accents, not always understandable.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Animal Kingdom - 2010 - 7/10

Young man is orphaned and moves in with his grandmother and uncles.
The adult men are hardened, armed robbers, laying low between heists, under police surveillance.
This is not a high voltage actioner. Animal Kingdom is a study of grim decline and the inevitability of Fate.
I’ll confess, part of the draw for me was Jacki Weaver, Aussie croc-bait from 70’s exploitation flicks.
She is mesmerizing as the woman who holds the men together in a sweet smiling, grip of iron.
Basis for a US drama with actors buffed and beautiful.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

Episode V: The Overclock Edition (The Empire Strikes Back) – Overclock

Extremely noisy and aggressive fanedit. Straight off, let me declare this ought to be considered a SILENT edit. The entire audio track has been erased. Dialogue, music, effects. Gone, baby, gone. In its place is a fiery thrash power trio, the Overclock Orchestra. If this appeals to you, read no further. Get the edit and crank volume to 11.

Driving 2.0 metal score, well arranged and played. As noted by other reviewers, additional sound effects would have been welcomed. Explosions, blaster fire, crashes, doors, even if relegated to rear surrounds.

The music held my interest for awhile. The Hoth sequence was cleverly done, with a sly nod to the Williams score that had me saying “Cool” out loud. The opening of Part III, Bespin, featured a brooding riff Joe Satriani would have been proud of. Such was fleeting, however. During thoughtful or quiet scenes, such as when Yoda mentors Luke, Overclock members grind away, often with little regard to the visuals.

Z-Rock used to scream, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” I hear that.
Nevertheless, the propulsive Overclock attack will bleed your eardrums. γνῶθι σεαυτόν

Full thirty minute edit - Episode V Overclock

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

Eternal Sunshine (Of The Spotless Mind) - Ken Poirier

Distillation of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is hauntingly effective.
It focuses on the breakup / erasure, followed by the all-too-human tendency to cling to cherished memories.
Video quality is scruffy, with too much damage.
The audio is not exactly spotless, either.
The story itself is the hook. A poignant look at how fleeting are relationships.
And how fragile - terribly fragile - is love.
Banned but not forgotten, Mr Poirier was a decent editor and longstanding member of FE.
I remember him being shown the door, though I cannot recall the details.
His presence is missed.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

I, Zathius (Babylon 5) - TM2YC

If ever Babylon 5 wanted to go the Doctor Who route, this was the path.
Zathius (whichever 1 of 10) slipped in and out, almost at random, disturbing the timestream.
After a confusing opening five minutes, the narrative settles and this makes a case for logically understanding this odd being’s behavior.
The audio is fine throughout, the video elements show their age.
This is an extended short, and “breathes” better than other Consecutions.
That said, the tone ranges all over the map, from serious to farce to poignant.
Big, big thanks for the ‘in memoriam’ roll near the end. Nice touch.
This was a favorite series of mine for years. Less so now, I’m afraid.

What are you reading?

Hardy, Kate - Londonia

A futuristic (borderline dystopian) novel, just the sort of book I normally shun.
Nevertheless, my curiosity overcame my misgivings.
The woman is in rather a fog.
Her memory is tatters; she doesn’t know where she is, or even her own name. When asked, she studies the charm around her neck and replies, “Hoxton.”
In this sprawling book, we accompany Hoxton as she navigates greater Londonia, still recovering from a technological meltdown several lifetimes earlier.
Hoxton becomes a “finder,” rooting out baubles for the idle pampered gentry in the fortified Cincture.
Unlike most futurist dystopias, Londonia is not all gloom and despair. Citizens are genuinely trying to make a go of it. Barter and trade, rather than slaving or factional warfare.
This is a hopeful book. The story is a highly entertaining one.
There is a brief glossary at the back for the odd word here and there. Knowing a touch of French would not hurt. I’m surprised there was scant Gaelic, though perhaps Londonia was easier for Parisians to reach, more difficult for the Scots.
Years ago, a sadly missed bookseller would have called this a thumping good read.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Okkupert - 2015 - 7/10
AKA - Occupied

Ten part Norwegian thriller set in the very near future (say a couple of years).
United States has withdrawn from NATO and grown isolationist.
The Mid-East is embroiled in civil wars.
After global warming disasters, Norway goes “green” and halts oil and gas production.
The European Union “requests” Russia to stabilize Norway, and ensure the oil flows.
Stabilization grows into occupation. Citizens turn into rebels, appeasers, collaborators, profiteers.
Often changing positions due to the world of quicksand they are caught in.
Logic is not always to the forefront here. Why does Russia care if Norway ceases oil production since that means more profits for Russia with less competition?
Engrossing story about a larger nation superseding the rights of its smaller neighbor.
Not surprisingly, Russia denounced this show.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Le Mans - 1971 - 7/10

A movie for McQueen fans and gearheads.
With only a handful of dramatic moments, this runs like a documentary.
Moreover, this bears the look and feel of European cinema from that era.
80% of the film is racing footage. Roaring engines, screeching tires, announcements over the PA system.
A minimal Michel Legrand score during lulls. Otherwise, viewers are immersed in the crowd.
In many ways, this reflects a last look of the gentleman’s sport of motoring, before commercial interference.
Le Mans is and was a unique film. No soap opera elements, no childish dramatics, no intrusive music.
All sports car films are dwarfed by this.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Comedy Of Power - 2006 - 6/10
AKA - L’ivresse du Pouvoir

Isabelle Huppert plays no-nonsense prosecuting attorney, trying to bring down the influential old boy cartel.
She has snagged a big fish and hopes that will lead to larger game.
Were that such strategies unfold so easily.
Layers and walls shield the real money, plus they know how to counterattack.
Pragmatic, almost cynical, study of political and economic corruption.
Huppert’s home life catches an odd triangle between her, her husband and his nephew.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! - 2008 - 5/10 or 7/10

Documentary of Australian gonzo exploitation films from the 70’s onward.
Car crashes, nudity, cheap ripoffs of current hits.
These paved the way for Mad Max breakthroughs and popular fare of today such as Wolf Creek and Storm Warning.
Hosted by Quentin Tarantino.
Grindhouse fans, prepare to enjoy. Arthouse enthusiasts, move along.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Shockproof - 1949 - 5/10

The doll steps onto Hollywood Boulevard, pavement of dreams and broken promises.
Like a pampered feline, she glides into glittering boutiques and coolly purchases French perfume and flashy dresses of green satin and red silk.
Then she slinks down in the cramped office, bright from the blinding Los Angeles haze outside, the room sliced with shadows from window louvers that keep out neither the sun nor the heat
The man behind the desk is the boy scout, the square shooter, the honorable man.
Her parole officer.
Jenny crosses those long legs, flashes the smile that had ruined other men, even answers the hard questions, including -
“Yeah, I murdered him. But I’m paroled now.”
The cop is more cynical than yesterdays rubbish. He’s heard the lies before, all of 'em. Criminals never change, they merely learn new hustles.
Something about this one, this Jenny, is different, he thinks. Could be her dress, open at the neck, or the French scent, rising from the vale of desire. Could be her legs, tanned and smooth. Or it could be the hair, that flowing blonde hair.
Only the blonde came poured from a bottle, her yellow is fools gold. Flashy, but cheap, not real. Just like Jenny.
He ought to know better, our parole officer. Yet he sits transfixed by the hair, the legs, and the fragrance of perfume and warm skin. He breathes it in. Unaware, he climbs the gallows of temptation, before taking a swan dive into the troubled waters of love.

Shockproof is a Paramount crime drama, not nearly as pulpy as my opening synopsis.
Most of it moves slow and stiff, bordering on melodrama, with a Noir dash near the end.
Sam Fuller wrote the tawdry script, but Hollywood altered his ending.
An early Douglas Sirk film, replete with luxurious wardrobes, superb use of lighting, and masterful set design, including the haunting Bradbury Building (Blade Runner and “Demon with a Glass Hand”).
The story itself? Eh.
The two leads have the chemistry of a pair of water-logged two by fours.
Surprising, because in real life Cornel Wilde and Patricia Knight were a married couple.
Time waster, though Sirk enthusiasts will find plenty to admire.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Two Days, One Night - 2015 - 6/10
AKA - Deux Jours, Une Nuit

Many unanswered questions litter this Belgium/French film.
Just as Sandra is ready to return to her workplace, she learns she has been laid off.
Workmates were given a vote: Keep Sandra, or let her go and get a bonus of €1000 each.
Late Friday, the employer agrees to a second vote on Monday morning.
There were only 16 employees involved, and the narrative follows Sandra as she goes from house to house, person to person, begging to reinstate her job and give up that bonus.
A moral dilemma, to be sure, and sadly, not uncommon.

To be blunt, I did not like Sandra. She was out with depression (film did not say how long), she pops Xanacs like candy, suffers repeated meltdowns, and constantly gives up.
All of us have worked with characters like Sandra.
Quitters, whiners, or simply unable to cope for whatever reason (sometimes through no fault of their own).
Nonetheless, these are souls everyone else must carry.
Females who watched with me, were grudgingly more sympathetic.
They said I have no conception of what it is like to deal with moodswings and raging hormones.
“Too bad, work at home.” (Yes, Mr. Sympathy.)
Brilliant performance.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Girl From Monaco - 2008 - 4/10
AKA - La Fille de Monaco

The main character, a high powered defense attorney is miswritten as a Woody Allen nebbish type.
He makes relationship mistakes (personal and sexual) over and over.
An alibi presents itself, yet he makes a decision that no actual lawyer would ever make.
The ending is incompetent.
Pathetic writing, weak directing, over acting sink this dud quicker than an ice cube in boiling water.
Pass, unless you are the French film completest.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Passionate Lovers - 1982 - 4/10
AKA - I Eromeni // Ι ερομενι /// The Ambitious Lover

Aspiring Greek dancer wants to meet the great entrepreneur producer so she can fulfill her dreams.
She makes a heady impression, and within five minutes they find a room for bouncy bouncy.
Wait! He’s already married! Our dancer, Anna, she does not care. It’s love.
Wait! The producer is in debt over 30 million drachma. Oh well, easy come, easy go.
His wife, meanwhile, a jealous, ka-zillionaire sculptor, toys with a panting gym instructor.
The show numbers are cheap, interiors are empty, and an aura of sleaze pervades.
Worst of all, despite the nudity, trashy behavior, and weird subplots, the film bores.
Aside from the sultry María José Cantudo, no one else involved seems to make much effort.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Faneditors, take note!

Strange Bargain - 1949 - 6/10

When Sam asks his boss for a raise, he is reminded that the firm is struggling, and then fired.
Soon thereafter, the boss makes a proposal.
“I intend to kill myself, but I want you to make it look like murder afterward. My family will get the insurance, and I’ll pay you $10,000.”
What could go wrong?
Minor crime mystery benefits from good cast and an acceptable premise.
Sam is an innocent soul, though, and you cringe, watching him make mistake after mistake.

Murder, She Wrote: The Days Dwindle Down (S03E21) - 1987 - NA

So, almost 40 years later, Strange Bargain gets a reboot on an episode of Murder, She Wrote.
J. B. Fletcher is asked to solve an old mystery, shown using flashbacks of the 1949 movie.
Flashbacks are edited so that the story is modified.
Any good? A trio of original actors reprise their roles, and June Havoc and Gloria Stuart are brought in.
This is Murder, She Wrote, however, which generally has a safe predictability.
Once every blue moon, though, the series kicked out a rather dark episode.
This is one of those.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Last Exorcism - 2010 - 5/10

Rural Southern horror, better than anticipated.
Small time exorcist tries to release possessed girl, living among her disturbed family.
Atmospheric score. Welcome misdirection here and there.
Creative use of minuscule budget and limited sets.
Dark, moody flick, reminds one of rotten growth, bloated corpses, in a dank corner of kudzu.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Lang Historie Kort - 2015 - 7/10
AKA - Long Story Short

Ensemble movie tracks eight or nine friends for two or three years.
Multiple characters seem confusing, but attentive viewers will catch the rhythm and faces soon enough.
Transitory relationships, established friendships, marriages fresh and stale.
At the center is Ellen, who keeps making poor choices as far as men.
Stories advance at various parties. New Years, wedding, birthdays … Alcohol lubricates misbehavior.
Those who favor French fare or Woody Allen romantic dramas should enjoy.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find - 2019 - 5/10

A grieving young mother and her traumatized children struggle on the council estate.
Out of nowhere, a petty drug dealer forces himself into their flat, and soon starts feeling comfortable.
Slow burn story, as she grows increasingly fed up with the way others treat her.
The narrative is predictable, if totally implausible, with way too many “suspend disbelief” scenes.

How many good third movies in a trilogy can you name?

Personal favorite of Kieslowski’s “Trois Couleurs” trilogy.

Did anyone suggest “Lady Vengeance”? Still, it pales after “Oldboy.”

I would mention “Jingi Naki Tatakai” (Battles Without Honor And Humanity) except they are six films, not three.

Edit - Just remembered Linklater’s “Before Midnight.”

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

One Cut Of The Dead - 2017 - 7/10
AKA - Kamera Wo Tomeruna! // カメラを止めるな

A crew filming a low budget zombie yarn select an accursed location.
Before they know it, real zombies arise and most of the crew is swiftly consumed / converted.
Inept directing, atrocious acting, with camera work apparently by a distracted kitten.
I’m watching, thinking, “This is crap. I wonder how much they spent on this one day shoot?”
Adding digital cameras, boom mic, drone, gallons of blood, props, food, I arrived at the above amount.
Then, thirty odd minutes in, the story concludes and credits roll.

What? Hey! Where’s the rest of it? I’ve been cheated!
Be like me. Hang with those credits. Because afterward, “one month ago …”
And then the movie rolls. This thing is suddenly funny as hell.
Anyone who ever made their own film, longed to act or direct, this is essential!

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Dekalog - 1989 - 8/10
AKA - The Decalogue

Ten part morality series based on the Ten Commandments.
Each episode reworks a specific “thou shalt” commandment, though sometimes the reference is vague.
While stories are stand-alone, characters often reappear. Most live in the same large apartment.
Extraordinarily well done and thoughtful.
Although not a downer series, it is “Serious” filmmaking.
And yes, this is a Polish TV series, but is firmly rooted in cinema.
While I admired this and appreciated it, I did not enjoy a single episode.
For obscure music buffs, a rare chance to hear Van den Budenmayer.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Toy Box - 1971 - 5/10

Ralph and Donna are heading to one of “uncle’s” perverted parties.
Uncle, an infirm voyeur, likes to watch guests misbehave. Without clothes.

The above scene is early, before everyone disrobes and the moaning commences.
There are sequences in sunlit woodlands, cramped cars, an amorous bed, back staircase.
Virtually all dialogue is looped, once or twice the audio vanishes.
You could always switch off the sound and spin your Esquivel records.
There is the breath of a plot, and a weird twist at the end, if you can endure past the rampant nudity and rompings.
The cast is a smorgasbord of softcore luminaries from the 70’s, which is why one views this gobbler.
Uschi Digard, Neola Graef, Ann Perry, Marie Arnold, plenty more.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

After Hitler - 2016 - 7/10
AKA - An Dèidh Hitler

Two part documentary of Europe in the five years after the end of World War II.
The mass starvation, dislocation of millions, the survival of widows and orphans.
After the Soviet Union took control of eastern Europe, they took steps to engulf Greece, Germany, and any other country who would listen.
The West eventually countered, but almost too late.
Pretty much an unknown chapter for most.
Overall enlightening despite a lot of territory covered.
Note: I am increasingly unsurprised by how casually clueless many are of history.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Booksellers - 2019 - 6/10

Mixed bag for me, ultimately a disappointment.
Documentary of New York book dealers tends to focus on the rarefied strata.

Sellers of books that go for five, six, seven figures.
That excludes the majority of souls who actually buy books, as well as the group that build private collections.
The lack of onscreen documentation is astonishing. Interviewed subjects are given first names only (last names appear in the credits). Others show no names.
The narrative is jumpy and haphazard, and the editing is noticeable fade to blacks.

A few dealers peddle more commonplace titles, though they oversee huge warehouses.
There are lamentations of the demise of the heyday of used bookshops.
Barely a mention of Mr Bezos, nothing of his company, nor of eBay.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Falcon Takes Over - 1942 - 6/10

Escaped convict arrives in nightclub where he worked, pre-confinement.
“Where’s Velma?” followed by neck breaking. Only the beginning of neck snapping, it turns out.
The Falcon (George Sanders) gets involved - - for no real reason.
RKO entry came two years too early for Noir, but the components are there.

Ward Bond, the menacing murderer, is shot from low angles, in deep shadow.
Unresolved conspiracies, point to a mastermind at the top.
Story based on Chandler’s “Farewell, My Lovely,” awkwardly mixes light comedy with vengeance.
Entertaining, though Falcon fans and Noir buffs might be confused by this cocktail.