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A few reviews
Churchill's First World War (2013, available on US Netflix)

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I love historical dramatizations, and don't mind a good talking-head historical documentary. When actors are put into the latter format, however, I get antsy - but then, I hadn't actually watched one of those hybrids until now. In this case, I didn't mind it, as the actors recite a few historical lines in various snippets, but don't have any dialogue scenes, so it's really not much different than visual voiceovers.

Anyhow, a strong, informative, and engaging doc. I wasn't at all familiar with this period of Churchill's life apart from his role in the dramatic miniseries 37 Days, to which this serves as a sequel of sorts. The material summarized here could doubtless be expanded to a great dramatic miniseries itself.

B+
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Una - 2016 - 7/10

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If you missed “Blackbird” on Broadway or the West End, here’s a fine alternative.
28 year old female tracks down the man with whom she once had an affair.
Fifteen years earlier.  At the time, he was her neighbor, her father’s best friend, and 35 years old.
Uncomfortable material, in-your-face delivery, filled with accusations and excuses.
To say she was permanently damaged by the encounter would be an understatement.
Throughout, both characters shift from sympathetic to repugnant.
Viewers who stick with this unsavory story will be kept on their toes the whole time.
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^ Sir! If the great Ben Mendelsohn is one of a movie's stars, it is your duty to point that out! Wink

(05-11-2017, 08:37 PM)Vultural Wrote: Their Finest - 2017 - 6/10

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Britain during the Blitz.  Political powers request a morale boosting film.
“Find a good story, maybe add an angle the Yanks will be drawn to.”
A Dunkirk news item is investigated, writers start fleshing out the story, studio honchos try to compromise with various Ministries.
Actors, fans, obstacles, and throughout, a rain of bombs.
Nostalgia territory, with nods towards Day For Night, as well as Foreign Correspondent.

I wanted to love this one, but only liked it. The central romance was undercooked, with an unnecessary love triangle to boot, and the peripheral characters didn't get enough to do. Maybe a miniseries would have been a better fit, allowing the filmmaking and other plotlines more room to breathe. Definitely worth a watch, and Arterton is great, but a classic it ain't.

B
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KING ARTHUR:  LEGEND OF THE SWORD


I love Arthurian Lore!  I love/hate Guy Ritchie!  What happens when these worlds collide?

A potential filled but ultimately underwhelming summer dud.

What I liked:  
--Jude Law!  He gives a great, layered performance as the evil King.  Complete scene stealer.
--I enjoyed the fantastical elements, particularly in regards to the sword Excalibur.  It is the first time I can recollect where the sword is more than a symbol, it is actually magical and grants it's user super-powers!   There is also an amazing sequence involving Eric Bana and the sword, showing how it became embedded in the stone that I loved.  There is also some very amazing imagery moments, such as the Lady in the Lake.
--the making of Arthur a street gangster and his crew future knights of the Round Table was an interesting new spin....

...but that also leads me into what I did not like....

--Charlie Hunnam, as smartass, badass and kickass hood he is good, but his range of other emotions seemed very limited in this performance.  Thus in many key scenes where he needed to create an emotional connection with the audience he fails.  I could not help but compare him to Eric Bana, who is onscreen maybe 10 minutes in this movie, but like Jude Law, his presence jumps off the screen and you completely understand and buy his character.
--same problem with Arthur's crew.... all lack any real screen charisma and are forgettable.
--typical Guy Ritchie quick banter and quick cut editing.... some sequences it was energizing, but there were times it felt very wrong for this genre, as though Ritchie was uncertain what type of movie he was making... it was off putting at times.  For a movie with a runtime of 2hrs6mins, it felt much,much longer, with me often looking at my watch in disbelief. 
--and then this movie makes the same mistake most superhero blockbusters have made in the past decade, by having our hero fight a CGI villain in the climax.... in this instance, not only is it emotionally boring but it also looked very video gamey bad.

In the end, there are lots of cool concepts and some fun moments, but the movie lacks any real weight.   Compared to previous King Arthur outings, it is not as deliciously bombastic as Excalibur, or earnestly epic as Clive Owen's King Arthur or even as b-movie fun as Colin Firth's The Last Legion.   It is a movie trying to be a bit of everything without fully succeeding at anything.
6.5 out of 10.
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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The Spiral Staircase - 1946 - 6/10

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Gothic thriller from RKO, if a bit stodgy at times.
Robert Siodmak, who helmed a clutch of excellent Noirs, gives this turn of the century gem a nicely creepy feel.
A mysterious, serial killer targets handicapped females.
Next on his list, apparently, is the mute servant girl working in the mansion on the town outskirts.
A thunderstorm howls outside, the family within are not what they seem.
In short, any of them could be the murderer.
Superb lighting, evocative score, a pervasive sense of doom, satisfying for traditionalists.
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L’Argent - 1988 - 6/10
AKA - Money

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Sorry, I ain’t buying this.
Ostensibly, we follow counterfeit money as it passes various hands.
From the gullible to the devious to the sly to the trusting.
Moralizing film studying human reactions.
For skeptical souls, behaviour is predictable, especially if your opinions of humanity are low.
Narrative settles on one character and his path, which sinks preposterous.
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The Body Collector - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - De Zaak Menten

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Based on true story of ex-Nazi collaborator living in privilege.
By chance, a Netherlands journalist follows the whisper and begins exploring the past.
Bloodsoaked theft of art, primarily paintings.
Confronting the rich with powerful connections and ample funds, however, there’s the rub.
Absorbing throughout, and the film does not flinch from SS activities in the Jewish village in Poland.
Strives for an emotional impact, but an air of detachment undercuts this.
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Fair Isle: Living On The Edge - 2016 - 6/10

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Breeders needed!  Tiny island in northern Britain is looking for newcomers.
Current population is 57, not counting the sheep.
Power goes off at nights.  Owing to storms, sometimes the island is cut off for weeks.
Just to keep the island going, inhabitants must do 3 - 4 - 5 jobs.
Isolation?  Plenty.  Awe inspiring nature?  This is the place.
Mind you, during summer scenes many still wore jackets.  Winter?  Lordy.
Two part series of inhabitants fighting valiantly to maintain their community.
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Ghost in the Shell Arise: Border 4 - Ghost Stands Alone - 5/10 - 2014

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Stumbling, repetitive conclusion to groundbreaking franchise.
Finale prequel to the original finds the unit mostly assembled.
Kusanagi, Batou, et al, just before joining Section 9.
Usual themes of identity, cyber consciousness, terrorism, intelligence hacking.
Some visuals quite beautiful, other scenes are static.  Characters sitting in a bare room, talking.
Action is minimal, the plot is borrowed bits and pieces from earlier shows.
Not essential, even for GITS fans.
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The Beatles, Hippies And Hells Angels - 2017 - 7/10

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Scoring this a 7 for Beatles fans.  Casual onlookers, give a 6.
Labour of love overview of Apple Corps.  Wide eyed, trusting souls, launch a “new business model.”
Behind the scenes histories as told by the office girls, a few hangers on, and the accountant.
Especially, the accountant.  The Beatles, at the height of their success had tax liabilities to choke royalty.
“Set up your own company."   They did, and this doc shows where a flood of the money went.
Packed with photos, many I had never seen before, as well as fresh voices.
Funny, engaging, bittersweet.  From gear to groovy to bummer.  Must for moptop fans.
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