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A few reviews
Janis:  Little Girl Blue - 2015 - 6/10

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Another documentary on 60s icon Janis Joplin, forty odd years dead.
Does a good job talking with relics and survivors, unearthing a couple forgotten souls.
Copies of letters, photos, the usual concert footage, augmented with a lot of the Festival Express tour.
That was a train tour across Canada with Grateful Dead, The Band, Buddy Guy, Flying Burrito Brothers, Delaney & Bonnie.  (In fact, curious souls would be well advised to seek out 2003 doc Festival Express, a better film than this one.)
The earliest doc, Janis - The Way She Was from 1974, was slightly more sanitized than this (blame family white washing), but there were more survivors and their memories fresher.
Myth blurs with history, and this doc bears the golden haze of nostalgia.
Black Widow - 1954 - 6/10

Glossy potboiler masquerading as Noir.
Broadway producer Van Heflin allows dewy eyed girl to use his apartment during days so she can write.
Instead, she delves into the social register.  The “male” social register.

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Soon enough, she is found dangling by the noose.
Detective (George Raft) conducts a rather leisurely hunt while Heflin scrambles for clues.
Ginger Rogers steals movie as diva, Gene Tierney seems subdued.
Very w-i-d-e and lush looking CinemaScope heightens glossy interiors and New York streets.
Noticeably awful sound mix, though.  Early stereo, and it sounds like a third of the dialogue was looped.
Alert viewers will recall title when narrowing suspects.
Carol - 2015 - 7/10

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Gorgeous film of attraction leading into fling.
Younger female meets older female.  Age difference, wealth difference, class difference.
The foolish heart that learns through experience.
Set in early 1950s New York, the look is a fashion catalogue.  Clothes, hairstyle, makeup.
Director Todd Haynes shot in Super 16 so there is grain in the film.
Some critics have likened this to Sirk, but I think they are in error.
Sirk’s films are often high-voltage melodramas, and Carol is a subdued mood piece.
Social constrictions abound and repercussions for deviating from the norm glide quietly in the background.
Sumka Dipkuryera - 1927 - 6/10
AKA - The Diplomatic Pouch

Silent Soviet espionage thriller set in the Soviet's version of England, then afloat the steamer, Victoria.
A diplomatic bag, meant for the Bolsheviks, is being furiously sought by Police Inspector White
(undoubtedly a word play on the Reds enemy, the White faction).

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Cat n mouse struggles play out inside the confines of cramped and claustrophobic ship.
The villains of the piece, the British secret police, will stop at nothing to intercept the documents.
In their way are the stalwart, Soviet seaman.  Comrades united against capitalist dogs.

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The first twenty minutes of the film are considered lost, though you can pick up the narrative easily enough.
Imaginative, expressionistic camera work (director Dovzhenko plays the stoker), energetic music score.
Preachy and dated, but taut and enjoyable, nevertheless.

Note:  The film is easy enough to locate, but subtitles are another matter.
Most subs are for the 70 minute film, though all existing prints are 50 minutes.
Go here for more or less proper subtitles -


I resynced the timings, corrected grammar, spelling, and changed some words to clarify the inter-titles.
If anyone who can read Cyrillic wants to suggest an improvement, please advise.
Intouchables - 2011 - 6/10

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French quadriplegic hires unknown streetwise tough as caregiver.
Many have raved about this one, because it is a feel good story.
Not as saccharine or cloying as most of these films are.  Also, no big angst ridden drama moment.
Disparate personalities meeting, sharing perspectives.
Your hunch about what this film is, is likely correct.
I enjoyed this, but even though it was based on a true story, this was a stale happy meal.
Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre - 2015 - 5/10

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The above are your typical Arkansas female convicts wearing, I guess, their usual prison attire.
For whatever reason, they are on chain gang duty clearing stumps in the swamp.
During the water break, they all miss their mouths and water soaks their tops.
Oh, sorry, forgot about the narrative proper.
Frakkers (the new environmental villains) detonate a passage to a vast underground sea.
Prehistoric sharks quickly ascend and swish through creeks, streams, even scrub forest.
Because - gasp - they are land sharks!
Plenty of meals, no nudity, scant blood and gore, cursing such as “crap on a cracker.”
Better than Sharktopus, better than Sharknado sequels, but this ain’t Jaws.
Barefoot - 2014 - 6/10

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Far-fetched romantic comedy of hustler who meets wide eyed naive soul in mental hospital.
The hustler is a ne’er-do-well, heavily in debt to criminal types.
He takes the girl back to his rich New Orleans family to pass as his girlfriend as he tries to weasel money from dad.
Predictable, a bit by the numbers, and the premise of using that girl is more than a little creepy.
Evan Ward’s portrayal is luminous, though.
She nails this childlike innocent and glows throughout.  Viewers might start looking at the world through her eyes.

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Despite preconceptions, less awful than feared.
Mind you - syrupy, romantic date movie all the way.
Toast Of London: S01 - 2012 - 7/10

Perhaps an acquired taste, but if you are one for British humor, this is a gem.
Steven Toast is a journeyman actor, clearly on the downside of his career.
He does voiceover work, TV work when available, indie movies, theatre boards.
Currently his is acting in what is considered one of the worst plays ever.
He is pompous, cocksure (in more ways than one as there is a lot of rogering in this series), extremely annoying to those around him, and tearfully funny as episodes build.
This is packed with theatre jokes and many guest stars.
For a half hour show, it is generous with plot and laughs.
Example - In the S01 finale, Toast auditions for - he wrongly assumes 007 - and screws that up.

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Next, he loses a fortune to Lloyd Webber playing poker.  He runs from a hit man, shags a rival’s wife, finds time to act in his nude musical, and mangle his voiceover work.  Awesome Bond opening credits!
Priceless satire.
Scott Walker - 30th Century Man - 2006 - 6/10

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Mr. Walker is best remembered as singer in The Walker Brothers, a 60's British Invasion group.
None of the members were brothers or Walkers.
In most of the world, they were known for “The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine.”
In Swinging London, they were a phenomenon.
When the moment was over, Scott followed his own dark, haunted muse, crafting chilling, lonely albums.
Musique concrete.
The documentary charts the path of the most reclusive artist. I appreciated the film, but I didn't rush out to find “Scott 4“ or “Walker Bros Night Flight,” both highly praised.
The Bonnie Parker Story - 1958 - 6/10

Wild retelling of Bonnie & Guy (yes, Guy, not Clyde) and their spree in the panhandle region during the 30s.
Bonnie is the cigar chomping, tommy gun crazy, kickass boss of small time gang.

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They knock over hardware stores, gas stations, diners until she bullies her crew into robbing banks.
Film is peppered with explosions, gun battles, car chases, and arguments.
Menfolk don’t stand a chance.
Music is 30s Swing combo, hillbilly, and 50s jukehouse.
Dorothy Provine landed this ultimate hard blonde role and rode it for all it was worth.
Even during lulls, she is electric.

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