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A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Fig Leaves - 1926 - 6/10

Adam and Eve enjoy the paradise of Eden, complete with zoo animals and dinosaurs.
Newsboys even delivers stone tablets of daily events.
Eve complains, however, she doesn’t have a thing to wear (fig leaves seem identical).
Adam ignores her, so she vents to another neighbor, the serpent.
Flash forward a million years! Adam Smith is a plumber, and wife Eve complains about her wardrobe.
Silly film benefits from Olive Borden, who was an exotic beauty.

In real life, she and costar George O’Brien had a torrid affair at this point, which Fox capitalized on.
Borden was also a notorious clothes horse, and this film concluded with a fashion show featuring “nothing-to-wear” Eve.
That event was originally in Technicolor, now lost, but the still below gives an idea.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Rien Ne Va Plus - 1997 - 6/10
AKA - The Swindle

Con-artists and sharpers, Betty and Victor, fleece convention rubes and day trippers.
Small time targets. Low risk. Modest payouts.
Then Betty develops a high risk scam on her own, eventually telling Victor part of the details.
From here on, alliances flicker and trust dissolves, leaving viewers to navigate multiple shell games.
Lightweight material, especially for a Chabrol film, although the tone darkens as locations warm.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Living And The Dead - 2016 - 6/10

Circa 1890. Educated couple relocate to his mother’s rural farmstead after she dies.
Viewers - even inattentive viewers - will quickly realize the pair has moved to Spooky Lane England.
Possessions, ghostly hauntings, curses, the Ouija board!, and deaths, lots of graves.
Our couple, being educated and of scientific inclinations, disregard superstitious villagers.
Well photographed, nicely cast (save for the husband), the stories feel like “death of the week.”
This viewer’s sympathy ebbed more each week as the characters became myopic and dim brained, putting friends, neighbors, and family into clear risk.

What made this so disappointing is because the time, 1890, is the cusp of the Modern Age. The couple are familiar with Freud, photography, and scientific journals.
The pair are outsiders, and juxtaposed against the villagers, whose activities and attitudes have changed little since the 1600s.
Many possibilities were available, the writers seemingly took the easier route.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Trilogy Of Terror - 1975 - 6/10 (composite)

Part One, “Julie,” college guy bags his introverted English professor. Yawn.
Part Two, “Millicent/Therese,” sisters (one mousey, one frisky) snipe. Zzzzzz.
Part Three, “Amelia,” finds woman torn between spending night with obsessive mother and the new boyfriend she is keenly interested in.
Why she even bought him a birthday gift. A curio.
A fetish doll of a Zuni warrior, its spirit restrained by the golden chain encircling its waist.
Of course, if the chain were to somehow slip off . . .

Hair raising thriller still packs a punch, helped by Karen Black’s all-in performance.
Goofy nonsense, but my God, that doll is an remorseless block of fury.
Unforgettable adaptation of Richard Matheson’s “Prey.”

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Hitler’s Rise: The Colour Films - 2013 - 7/10

Two part documentary detailing events from the final year of World War I to Kristallnacht.
Covers the leader’s growing oratory skills, deft manipulation of others, and incredible energy.
Weimar economics are covered, as well as street clashes between the Red Front and the SA.
Some visuals are soft (to be expected). Digitized color, which I usually disdain, is restrained and well done.
Solidly presented timeline, and quite accessible (this not limited to Hist buffs).
Modern day Cassandras should respond to the line, "Hitler provoked disorder, while at the same time, claiming to be the only man capable of stopping it.”

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Nun Va Goldoon - 1996 - 6/10
AKA - A Moment Of Innocence

Ex-policeman seeks out a film director, looking for work.
Twenty years previous, the director, then a student, had stabbed the policeman during a protest.
He decides to make a movie of that encounter.
Thing is, the officer has his own memories of the event … and who should play him.
The handsome candidate, of course!
As the narrative is filmed, the policeman realizes how much he misunderstood.
Warm cinema from Iran, except for all the snow which surprised ignorant me.
For those who enjoy stories within stories, of films from Iran, search this out.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Marshland - 2014 - 7/10
AKA - La Isla Mínima

A pair of detectives investigate the disappearance of two sisters.
“They were whores,” spit several residents. “They wanted to leave,” retort schoolmates. “We all do.”
The rural area, a maze of wetlands, is miles and decades away from Madrid. 1980 Madrid.
One detective, the younger, is an idealist whose opinions have landed him this backwater of post Franco Spain.
The older man, hardened by the regime, appreciates the here and now over “what might be” mañana.
Although some have likened this to True Detective, viewers with a longer reach might recall Castle Of Sand (1974) with Tetsurō Tamba.
Comparisons aside, this is an outstanding thriller with excellent use of the Spanish outback.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Red Rock West - 1993 - 7/10

Choose Life!
Drifter Nicholas Cage rolls into Red Rock, Wyoming, looking for any sort of work.
He is mistaken for hitman, Lyle from Dallas, and paid to whack someone.
Payouts - double crosses - then the real Lyle appears.
Dennis Hopper unforgettable as Lyle.
Cage, here reminding us, was a great actor … once upon a time.
Dark, moody Neo Noir.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Radioactive - 2019 - 6/10

Biopic of Madame Marie Curie. Early childhood to death.
In between, marriage, acclaim and pariah status.
Aside from what I read in high school science, I knew nothing about her and trust this to be somewhat faithful.
Interspersed throughout are fast forward scenes of future uses of radiation.
Benefits include radiology, along with Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
Pandora’s box, opened by science.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Razortooth - 2007 - 3/10

Why do schlock studios keep making these monster craptaculars?
Because muffin brains like me spy them on the shelf and squeal with mindless glee.
A giant killer eel is loose in the southern swamps.
The eel is killing and eating unwashed, dumber than fencepost rednecks (not to be confused with articulate, well manicured rednecks).
Movie absurd beyond belief. Fellow hutong viewers began heckling me for finding this gem.
At the risk of getting a ban for this -
Wait for the moment when one of the “intelligent science students” declares the best method to deal with this creature is to find its Achilles eel.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery Of The Toynbee Tiles - 2011 - 7/10

Strange documentary of tiles placed in asphalt streets of dozens of cities
Cryptic messages and questions posed.
Who placed them? Who was Toynbee? What did the tiles have to do with 2001 or Jupiter?
Narrator begins the global hunt for more tiles and tries to penetrate the mystery.
Fascinating story that quickly draws you in and retains interest throughout.
This very reminiscent of In the Realms Of The Unreal, also worth hunting down.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Lesson Of Evil - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Aku No Kyôten // 悪の教典

The new English teacher is energetic, inspirational, and students seem to like him.
Then again, the classroom suffers cheating, bullying, attitudes, sexual misconduct.
Just as the teacher’s lounge has petty rivalries and jousting.
The teacher knows how to coax performance, and how to solve problems.
Yet, he does have a tolerance limit. He also has a dark streak.
Another lopsided Miike release.
The director, revisiting his grisly roots delivers a film that is repetitive and 15 minutes too long.
Unlikely to receive much of a US airing, whose school system it seems patterned after.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Tiger Bay - 1959 - 6/10

Seaman Korchinsky returns from recent voyage, only to discover his girl now keeps company with a rich swell.
Two minutes of rage lead to regret, remorse and flight.
There is a witness, however, a young girl. Talkative and a habitual liar.

Great looking urban film, shot in Cardiff. Neighborhood brims with immigrants and working class.
The coppers, as in most period British films, are dogged, yet receive scant cooperation from locals.
Story becomes one of hunts and standoffs, and viewer sympathy shifts periodically.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Piranha 3DD - 2011 - 5/10

Highly anticipated follow-up to the masterpiece that was Piranha 3D.
Lake Victoria might have been infested, but a nearby lake ramps up as the new wet n wonderful party place.
As any horror aficionado knows, piranhas can always navigate underground tunnels and passages to find new eating places.
This film lacked the budget of the earlier film, but producers compensated by adding hundred of girls. Plenty are topless, a fair share naked.
That DD in the title does not indicate battery sizes, either.

Couple of plot problems. Why were those two guys hunting dead cows in the lake early on?
Then there’s the girl who somehow gets a fish up her … umm … in her Temple Of Happiness.
When her boyfriend bypasses temple columns with his … Moisture Detector … then the piranha bites and latches on like a starving man onto a stale hot dog. I mean … how come she never knew about that fish?
The young actors were adequate enough. Subtle and nuanced roles were reserved for the big talent.
Gary Busey - Christopher Lloyd - Ving Rhames - David Hasselhoff.
Hasselhoff even sings!
Who were listed as producers? Why, those arthouse auteurs - Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
Don’t miss closing credits.

Note: I gave this 5, but could have easily docked it 3 for silliness and stupidity. Likewise, could have just as easily boosted it 3 for silliness and stupidity.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Woman In The Shadows - 1934 - 5/10

Vintage clunker wheezes worse than an asthmatic in foggy weather.
A fallen woman (luminous Fay Wray) escapes clutches of her sugar daddy mentor.
She finds shelter in the cabin of newly released convict (who served three years for manslaughter).
Talky adaptation of Dashiell Hammett work unfolds on a few sets.
Camera work is static, the narrative is dull. I watched to see Wray, who is beautiful in this.
Trivia: Filmed at Biograph Studios.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

8 Tage - 2019 - 5/10
AKA - 8 Days

Apocalypse fans!
In eight days, asteroid Horus will strike Earth!
Eight part series checks off our dwindling days, as individuals flee, others bunker down, others party.

In this depiction, most hop all over the place like frantic titmice, devolving to their base cores.
I disliked almost every character and kept urging the asteroid to accelerate.
Science is nonexistent. Horus is 60 kilometers wide. Aside from the catastrophic blast, the ensuing dust cloud would create the equivalent of nuclear winter. No sun, crop failure, freezing temps. Quit running, rodents.

What is my shallow advice?
Hit the stores. Premium booze, gourmet food, plenty of ice. Charge it all! The bill ain’t never gonna arrive.
Savor your time. If younger, relive 1978, pre-AIDS. Splash.
To quote poet Magidson, “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”
Apocalypse or not, it always applies.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Into The Night - 2020 - 7/10

Apocalypse fans!
A NATO officer hijacks a jet in Brussels, orders an immediate departure!
Destination, west. Head west, avoid the first rays of sunrise at any cost.
To press home his demand, he shoots the pilot, though not mortally.
Sure enough, even though our NATO officer flies off the handle and seems nuts, he knows something.
Sunshine is lethal. Only staying in the dark side of Earth ensures survival.
Most of the passengers are self centered, and there are malfunctions and shortages every episode.
New shake of an old concept. Inventive thriller benefits from a constant deadline. Slick cliffhanger.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Peur Sur Le Lac - 2020 - 6/10
AKA - Fear By The Lake

Apocalypse fans!
An unknown contagion blazes through Annecy. Coughing followed by the spew of blood.
Authorities don’t know what it is, how it got there, or how to contain it.
Government voices send in doctors and troops, but not much leadership.
The infected and the deaths escalate dramatically. Panic.
Most, if not all, of the secondary characters are irritating, frantic Nellies.
Eerily prophetic, though not enough meals.
Would that current mass outbreaks be resolved within six episodes.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Cyborg Girl - 2008 - 6/10
AKA - Boku no Kanojo wa Saibogu // 僕の彼女はサイボーグ

Cross between Terminator meets Robotrix meets Fembots, mixing comedy, romance, time travel and apocalypse.
Smokin’ hot female cyborg, wearing skin tight getups, sent to protect clueless young male.
Haruka Ayase is so scrumptious in this, one temporarily forgets how derivative the script is, or how the male lead couldn’t out act a paper sack.
Cyborg Girl is ostensibly a romantic comedy, heavy on broad based, juvenile behavior.
Truly, the male has negative social skills and behaves like he has never spoken with a girl in his life.
Good special effects, used (wisely) sparingly. Plus a few plot twists near the end.
More innocent viewers would rank this higher - more skeptical souls would cut the score.
Probably make an innocuous date flick.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

Casino Royale: The Big Picture - Problem Eliminator

Overview - Brilliant reboot of the Bond franchise finds James, not only newly promoted to 00 status, but rather inexplicably, newly promoted in general. As if he is a green, rookie lacking experience, viewed skeptically by all in British intelligence.
Problem Eliminator removes all latter suppositions. Bond may have a new license, but chances are he had been a field agent for years, and his promotion well earned.

Video - 1280 X 546p AVC. Solid editing throughout. Once, perhaps twice, I noticed a longish fade to black transition, but never at a point where it interferes with the tempo or mood. The color correction is nicely handled throughout…

Audio - 352 kbps 2 Channel stereo AAC. No subs. I listened to this using headphones. On a few occasions, the dialogue is difficult (almost exclusively these are exchanges between James and Vesper). Generally, the sound is excellent. I did not notice the opening song remix until I reread the editor’s comments after viewing.

Narrative - No complaints here. The story is faithful, despite bits excised here and there. The only sequence I dislike remains the recuperative period after Montenegro and before Bond fields the “where’s the money?” call. I have always found that section mawkish and difficult to believe. As if the British government would not jet in immediately to retrieve £100M… It was in the original film, it is in this edit, and it still causes me to shake my head in disbelief.

Enjoyment - Confession. I went into this rather cold. Owing to techicnal difficulties on my end, I sat on PE’s edit over a year, unable to view. After that time, I forgot what Problem Eliminator’s original intent was. Instead of refreshening my memory, I just loaded the film.

A Bond movie I am quite familiar with, I soon noticed omissions. My reactions ran along lines of, “Oh, he took that out. No loss.” “Good riddance there, that line made Bond look stupid.” “That had been weak, too, as if he couldn’t buy his own clothes.” “Aw, hell, the hospital bit, I hope he cuts this.”

I like this version. Like it a lot, and I wish producers had crafted this excellent 007 film this way.

FanEdit Reviews - Post Your Reviews Here

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 by steFANedit

I caught Blair Witch at the peak of its hype and was completely underwhelmed.
I avoided the sequel until I saw the DVD in a cut-out bin, paired with BW1, for $1.00.
Later, I kicked myself for wasting a whole dollar.
The film, which I only viewed once and now sits like an diseased barnacle on a lower shelf somewhere, was a complete p.o.s.
Stupid writing, enhanced by inept direction, and apparently edited by a drunken puppy.
So, why did I even get this edit? Because SteFAN made it.

SteFAN resurrected this tosser, and actually made it decent. Ain’t top tier horror, but makes for a watchable late night grind flick.
Characters remain unlikable, shouting, argumentative morons, but that’s what he had to work with and I cannot fault him.
On the technical side, I saw nothing wrong with the video and heard nothing out of kilter on the audio.
If you hated the original BW2, this is much more enjoyable.
Thanks, SteFAN. Come Halloween, this will air on the sheet hanging in my living room window for the begging monsters on my porch.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Soul Of Youth - 1920 - 6/10

Sentimental, moralizing, creaky saga of orphan boy Ed’s mistreatment and struggle.
Abandonment, a harsh orphanage, life on the streets.
Ed’s is a full story, running side by side with a conflict between politicians, one crooked, one honest.
By and by, the current of events pull Ed into the maneuverings.
The print I saw was wonderful! Beautifully restored, adroitly tinted, with an evocative piano score.
This is one of the very few surviving (and available) films of William Desmond Taylor.
Must see for Silent fans.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Wicked Woman - 1953 - 5/10

Bottled blonde steps off the bus in the boondocks, rents a room in a dumpy boarding house, hires on as waitress in low end dive.
Another role in the checkered career of Beverly Michaels, who seemed to glide from one trashy film to another.
This one exudes sleaze. Flophouse sets filled with low life schemers and their petty dreams.
The plot is no inspirational theme, rather seduction and greed. Souls fighting for loose change.
Characters are broken failures, and everything they attempt seems to collapse.
Not really dark enough or fatalistic to be a Noir proper, but sour candy for the fans of Michaels, and as good a film as any to start if you’re tempted by, or have a weakness for, hard blondes.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich - 1968 - 7/10

Groundbreaking documentary is showing its age.
Based on Shirer’s thick book (1000+ pages), this neatly slots into rise - apex - fall.
Compared with later, longer documentaries, this qualifies more as a survey.
Despite that, this is an excellent primer, and worthwhile if one cannot commit the time for more thorough explorations.
One of the best elements of this are the interviews with survivors, including those who actually knew Hitler, or knew others of the inner circle.
This firsthand retelling is missing from virtually all subsequent histories.

A few reviews . . (film or TV)

Suzanne’s Career - 1963 - 6/10
AKA - La Carrière de Suzanne

Bertrand is a pharmacology student, fellow student Guillaume is more affluent, and a womanizing ne’er do well.
At a party, they meet Suzanne and Guillaume decides to bag her because she looks “easy”.
Later, he decides to leech her savings. Think In The Company Of Men (1997).
Bertrand isn’t much better, the weak friend who tacitly approves such mistreatment.
Suzanne is a cipher, independent yet submissive, intelligent yet displaying poor judgment.
One of Éric Rohmer’s moral tales.