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A few reviews
Lost World: Jurassic Park - 1997 - 5/10

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Considered the weakest of the original trilogy, yet my personal favorite.
Main reason - the sheer quantity of meals.
With two tyrannosaurs and a pack of velociraptors, one expects to see tasty kills.
This does not disappoint.
From the opening child (gutlessly explained away) to all those armed and experienced hunters to Fido.
Chomp chomp chomp!
Unfortunately, director Spielberg, at this stage of his career, was still pandering to his core soccer mommy audience.
So, violence and mayhem tinged, this is more or less family friendly.
Another big problem is the script.
Most of the characters, so-called seasoned professionals, are astonishingly dumb.
For all its flaws, this is a guilty pleasure. I just wish someone could edit out the human stupidity.
Death In A French Garden - 1985 - 6/10
AKA - Péril en la Demeure

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Unemployed male catnip becomes guitar tutor to daughter of wealthy parents.
The wife initiates an affair almost immediately.
In the cafe, new neighbor (female) talks suggestively of differences between the brunette bush and the blonde bush.
Also, in the cafe, the waitress leans forward (twice) to display swaying charms.
Did I mention his pupil was a rich daughter?  Does she want him also?  Ha, silly.
For all that, this is not a sex comedy.
Surveillance VHS tapes appear, suggesting blackmail.
Really, don’t people, even adulterers, bother with curtains?
Tone steadily darkens (reference title) as traps from various partners snap down.
Slashed Dreams - 1975 - 3/10
Originally title - Sunburst (neither title relates to the plot)

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Sure, boss, whatever.
Another delight from my Chilling Classics box (50 awful films, $5.00).
College couple head for remote mountains to visit dropout friend. (Car buffs, they drive a VW Thing!)
Pace is slow, scenes dawdle. Nothing much happens for 50 minutes in very 70s looking film.
Eventually, the couple skinny dip in a lake and get heckled by hillbilly duo, the girl is promised “good time” later.
Do they get outta Dodge? Heck no.
They bed down in a ramshackle cabin. Door won’t close, there is no lock.
Being liberal arts majors, the pair sleep naked.
Later - “Psst, did you hear something? I think someone’s insi --- Aarrgghh!!"
Film has six - count ‘em - six musical interludes by nondescript female lounge singer. Slasher musical.
20s vaudeville crooner Rudy Vallee plays a country storekeeper. He sings too. Hell.
Oh yeah, Englund? He shows in the final ten minutes. This was his second role - Freddy K is a decade away.
Atomic Submarine - 1959 - 5/10

My brother phoned me yesterday, asking me to identify a film.
(My brother is the only guy I know who does not have Internet, let alone a computer.)
“It’s black n white.  Late 50s.  SciFi.  Four guys enter an alien spaceship.  One by one they get picked off.  One guy was trying to squeeze through the closing doors when ...”
I knew the scene, knew the movie.  Told him I would mail him a copy, then decided to watch.

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Arctic undersea shipping routes are being disrupted by mysterious force.
Couple dozen cargo vessels and shipping submarines (!) have vanished.
US Navy sends their best hunter sub to investigate.
It encounters a UFO, hiding in the Arctic ocean, scouting the Earth for colonization.
Trick lighting and almost black sets disguise miniscule budget.

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Dry, over-talky, with monotone voiceovers, and a lethargic two thirds don’t help matters.
Several familiar B-movie faces in the cast, though no one a casual viewer would recognize.
Audio commentary on DVD is actually more enjoyable.
Amy - 2015 - 8/10

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Two hour documentary of jazz singer, Amy Winehouse.
Creators unearthed rare materials, including 14 year old Winehouse singing for a friend’s birthday.
Her phenomenal vocal gifts are train-wrecked by substance abuse and pathetic reliance on toxic males
Can you say boyfriend (later husband)?  Can you say estranged father?  Latter reappeared after her success.
Doc brilliantly captures the thrill of her dizzying ascent, yet it is also painful, excruciating at times, to watch her make those colossal errors of judgment that eventually led to her death.
An argument was postulated that had Miss Winehouse stuck with more "€œFrank" oriented material, stayed in the Jazz orbit, she might still be alive and releasing.  Mind you, I listen to a lot of current jazz chanteuses.  They sing for ecstatic, cult audiences.  And theory or no theory, "€œBack In Black" was a monster, and whether she was prepared or not, Winehouse found herself on the tiger of fame.
Extraordinarily well done, though one viewing will probably be more than enough for most.
Two Days In New York - 2012 - 5/10

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Julie Delpy transplants the Two Days In Paris followup to New York.
Chris Rock is new boyfriend. Her crazy family visits and gets into farce situations.
I think she was aiming for Woody Allen territory, but mis-steps badly.
Silly, disappointing.
Learning To Drive - 2015 - 6/10

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After husband walks out of 20+ year marriage, wife decides to take driving lessons.
This is set in New York City where one can live a lifetime without a car.
Plot avoids the usual marital conflicts and roots of divorce. View this as a no-fault breakup.
The story follows the wife’s increasing self reliance.
Getting out of the apartment, envisioning a trip to her daughter in Vermont.
The Punjabi cabbie teacher’s story is more sketch, as are all male figures in this.
Ending struck me as improbable. Other elements (how does she afford NYC rent) implausible.
A quiet film, but a lot goes on. Will resonate more with female viewers (it did here).
Love Is Strange - 2014 - 6/10

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After living together 30+ years, a male couple decide to tie the knot and get married.
Soon thereafter, the one who is employed is fired because of a “morals clause?” Is that even legal?
They cannot afford their New York rent, they have zilch in savings, so they split up.
One moves in with family, the other with friends.
Pleasant enough film that predominantly tracks the older partner’s path within his nephew’s home.
Film suffers a lot of major flaws - men in their 60s with no savings - first solution is to split up.
Not the spoil anything, but the ending struck me as fake and an emotional cheat.
Trip To Italy - 2014 - 6/10

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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, mouthwatering 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.
Luther: S04 - 2015 - 7/10

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Never saw this one coming.
End of S03, Luther and sociopath Alice walked off into an uncertain future.
Just as well, the series showed signs of flagging, and S03 heard repeated cries of,  "Where is Alice!?!"
None of that here.
Luther returns in a taut, grisly two-parter.  He is grayer, thoughtful, haunted by memories.
Several storylines snake and twist across both episodes, which could be viewed in one sitting.
Convoluted, though not maddeningly like Midsomer became.
Not as good (or original) as S01, but superior to S03.
Will there be a S05?  Will Elba get tagged for 007?  Will Alice get her own show?

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