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A few reviews
Shout Factory's Collector Editions of ROBOCOP 2 and 3....

I think I will be picking these up.  Big Grin
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
Five Came Back (2017)

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Excellent three-hour warts-and-all Netflix doc on the WW2 military service and filmmaking of John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens, based on the recent acclaimed Mark Harris book. Spielberg, Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Greengrass, and Lawrence Kasdan appear as talking heads, as do the directors in archival footage. Very high quality clips of the films themselves throughout. Nothing hugely surprising, but a great watch for history and movie buffs. And just about anyone, really.

Grade: A
Dix Pour Cent - 2015 - 6/10
AKA - Call My Agent

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Brief mini-series about stressed film agents and demanding clients.
Ones liking may depend on tolerance for actors and affinity for French fare.
Story revolves around four agents trying to keep company afloat.
A gallery of French stars fill the guest roles..
Funny, exasperating, infuriating.
Viewers who expect resolution and explanation, beware.
Thundering Sword - 1967 - 5/10
AKA - Shen Jian Zhen Jiang Hu // 神劍震江湖

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To bring balance to the martial arts world, mystical sword must be found and destroyed.
Two rival clans seek.  One righteous, one wicked.  One handsome male, and one attractive female.
Do they fall in  love?  Can love conquer all?
Quite theatrical looking story features only a handful of swordfights.
Instead there are three songs, some sweeping musical cascades, and moral lessons.
Not a bad film, but less action than expected from a Shaw Brothers production.
The Finest Hours (2016) 

When I accuse Star Trek Beyond of being screeching and unconcerned with life to the point of vulgarity (i.e., Kirk quipping about how "fun" being a captain immediately after what must be the deaths of many of his crew members), this is the sort of contrasting example I have in mind. The Finest Hours is old-fashioned, big-hearted, and, yes, a bit corny. But it's also a thrilling adventure without a single firearm discharge or even a villain per se, just scared, smart, brave men. Which, much like In the Heart of the Sea, another recent major New England nautical box office bomb, has led to some sniffy reviews about how unsophisticated and old-fashioned it all is. Which seems to me like going to a church service and complaining about all the theology - some critics think themselves too clever to appreciate a simple story about honor and determination.

Then there are the reviews that complain about the CG looking "fake"... but most of the movie takes place at night, so the realistic course would have been to torture the audience with dim and indistinct visuals. Yes, the cold and hypothermia could have been better emphasized, and the money spent on the 3D presentation (which, for a movie this dark and dim: no, thanks) could have been spent on visible breath, but that's hardly a reason to condemn the whole movie.

Great perfs by Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. I really like Mick Lasalle's discussion of the former: "He’s an arresting character — shy and diffident, and yet with a rare decisiveness and certainty in his own judgment. Over the course of the film, the audience can’t help circling back to Bernie and pondering him, wondering if the thing that allowed him to be heroic was simplicity — a sort of “This is what’s right, so this is what I’m doing” — or moral profundity. Both possibilities are in play in Chris Pine’s performance."

It's no classic of cinema, but The Finest Hours is a gripping and moving tribute to an extraordinary real-life ocean rescue of tremendous honor and courage, and the apparent lack of a viable market niche for such movies is a shame. But here's to Disney for having made it at all. 

A-      (currently on Netflix streaming!)

PS. This movie is rated PG-13, the same rating as The Expendables 3, Star Trek Beyond, and Suicide Squad, despite being far more appropriate for young children, what with its complete lack of violence and the glorification thereof. How this got a PG-13 when Disney's Tomorrowland got a PG, despite its start-to-finish violence, including a high school girl smashing an android's head with a goddamn baseball bat onscreen, is inexplicable. Dear MPAA ratings board: Go fuck yourselves.
(04-07-2017, 08:28 PM)Gaith Wrote: Five Came Back (2017)

Grade: A

Grade A indeed, thanks for the recommendation. Totally fascinating and despite the huge coverage WW2 gets across all media, this was full of new stories. I notice Netflix have also uploaded many of the war films featured in the Doc in HD. It's like a mini film festival in your living room, great work Netflix. The doc made me re-think about many of the films by these 5 Directors, given where they were coming from post-war.
^ I just noticed all those HD docs available, too; Netflix definitely could and should do a better job of pointing that out. Glad you liked it! Smile
The Girlfriend Experience, Season 1 (2016)

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Unlike the 2009 movie, which I sampled but bailed on, this very different riff on the underlying theme is as much a psychological and legal thriller as it is a sex work procedural. It's also a character study that's constantly withholding not only answers but basic details, with abrupt time jumps, subplots that come and go, and a largely inscrutable heroine. Even when character work is foregrounded, tone reigns supreme; this is more American Psycho than Secretary. Riley Keough, one of Fury Road's slave women and real-life granddaughter of Elvis, is terrific, often inscrutable by design, but never not compelling.

The second season will feature an all-new cast and two new storylines. As solid as this 13 half-hour-ep run was, I hope they drastically mix up the tone and style, too, as more of the same would likely be tedious.

The Legend of Barney Thomson - 2015 - 6/10

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50 year old barber with anger issues escalates into homicide.
Hmm, the body.  What to do?  I know, ask Mum!
Mum, an acerbic, spiteful soul bails him out.  From frying pan into fire.
Now, police suspect him of being a notorious serial killer!
Very black comedy of murder, treachery, dismemberment.
Robert Carlyle - Emma Thompson - Ray Winstone, all must had a field day in this.

Alert!  My DVD has no SUBS, and the Glasgow dialect is thick and actors slur lines.
Now playing on Netflix...

I found it fascinating listening to De Palma review his career.  He comes across very blunt, honest, insightful, tough, and opinionated.
I thought the doc could have used some balance with counterpoints from his peers and co-workers.  
But he is a great storyteller and imo one of the Masters of Movie Making.
Highly recommended.
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.

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