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A few reviews
THE INVENTOR (HBO 2019)



In a span of a couple years, visionary company Theranos went from an estimated worth of over 400 Million Dollars to zero!  Was Elizabeth Olson a zealot; so obsessed with her idea of changing the world that she was willing to lie and put others in harms way?  Or was she an extraordinary con artist; one of the new breed of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs selling the Next Big Idea with no real science behind it?  A fascinating documentary that re-affirms the old adage, "Buyer Beware".
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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^ Really wanna see that.

I had an Abel Ferrara double-bill...

The Driller Killer (1979)
Abel Ferrara's infamous "video nasty", banned for 15-years in the UK due mostly to the title and a particularly grizzly VHS box cover, than to the actual content of the film. Remembering the ubiquity of right-wing Newspaper articles hysterically raging against the film back in the 80s/90s, only made me more curious to see it now that the ban has been lifted and a nice Blu-ray transfer is available (From Arrow Video). It does have a nastiness but that mostly comes from the seedy decaying 70s New York setting and the lo-fi visuals and sound (the actual drill murder sequences are few and far between). A tortured painter (played by Ferrara) and the Punk band driving him crazy by rehearsing in the flat below are the primary focus. It was okay.





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Mulberry St. (2010)
A feature-length Documentary Directed by and featuring Abel Ferrara, as he shows us around the New York Italian-American neighborhood during the annual 'Feast of San Gennaro'. It could be re-titled "Bull-sh*tting and breaking yer balls: The Movie" because of the revolving cast of mouthy old "wise guys" we are introduced to. This was only a bonus film on the Arrow 'The Driller Killer' Blu-Ray but I enjoyed this a lot more than the "main feature".

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales aka Salazar's Revenge (2017)
I've seen the other four films and this was on Netflix, so I'll give it a go I guess? It's more of the same convoluted plotting, too many characters and endless exposition about ancient curses and pirate codes. The running thread about the new female hero being branded a "witch" because she can navigate by the stars... in a film about sailors... was nonsensical even for this franchise. The score is still fantastic (Geoff Zanelli reworking Hans Zimmer's themes) and the flashback to a young de-aged Jack was a highlight. The ending which resolves a plot element from earlier films genuinely had the feels.



Howard the Duck (1986)
I haven't seen this George Lucas film since my parents rented the VHS when I was a kid... infact I haven't seen it because they switched it off when it got too gross and scary. I remember the last scene I saw and it turns out I'd seen 3 quarters of the film, so no wonder I got upset Big Grin . The new blu-ray transfer on the 101-Films label looks and sound amazing but the movie wasn't worth the wait. 'Howard the Duck' isn't bad it's just one of those misfires that is somehow simultaneously under-cooked and over-cooked. It can't decide if it's a silly action-comedy, or a more serious emotional drama and can't decide if Howard is a genuine hero, or a comedic coward. The tone is also all over the place, ostensibly a family adventure but one that has David Cronenberg style body-horror elements, numerous references to duck-on-human intercourse and shots of prosthetic duck tits in the opening prologue. There is no character development and barely a plot. Thomas Dolby's horrifically dated sub-Prince songs are cringe inducing and John Barry's score is almost too good. Scoring a scene with heroically gorgeous music works against the picture when the scene is not heroic and is just faintly embarrassing. "Embarrassing" is a word that sums it all up but given all the talent involved, that's what makes it a fascinating watch.

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A double bill of 16mm TV films by Alan Clarke on blu-ray...

Penda's Fen (1974)
An angry and puritanical Christian schoolboy in a quiet English village begins to question his sexuality and sees visions of Pagan gods, King Penda (the last Pagan English King), angels, demons and the ghost of Sir Edward Elgar. I won't pretend to understand all the references to Blake's 'Jerusalem', Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' and all the philosophical musings but Alan Clarke's film was fascinating and invites repeat viewings. It's nothing like 'A Clockwork Orange' but the comparison did make me wonder if this is a picture of a 1970s boy obsessed by Elgar, instead of Beethoven.



Made in Britain (1983)
A 16mm TV movie Directed by Alan Clarke starring Tim Roth (in his first role) as a violent and disruptive 16-year old racist skinhead called Trevor. He's not stupid, so he's already worked out that he cannot win inside the system, so the only victory possible is to defy the system's every effort to reform him. To lose as fast and as hard as possible and to antagonise and disagree with everybody. Roth's furious performance is astonishing and makes riveting viewing. Two-time Academy-Award winning Cinematographer Chris Menges shoots on Steadicam up close with Roth. The blu-ray transfer looks great and much better than my old DVD.



A much older Tim Roth discusses the film in this video, with a lot of NSFW offensive language:



I first became aware of 'Made in Britain' through the 2004 Hip-Hop album 'Council Estate of Mind' which samples dialogue from the film heavily between tracks:

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THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL (2014 Netflix)



A sports documentary that transcends whether you know anything about baseball or not, and tells a so story so compelling, that if you did not know it was true you would call bullsh@t.   For a brief moment in baseball history, 1973-77, the Portland Mavericks, the ONLY INDEPENDENT Minor League baseball team in the U.S., was the shining example of the phrase,  "For the Love of the Game".

Founded by Bing Russell, a former protege of the New York Yankees and Hollywood actor,(and father of actor Kurt Russell) he openly recruited anyone who wanted to play, giving second chances to misfits, losers, castaways and dreamers.  And together, this rag tag team of rascals would set attendance records, defeat "superior" League managed teams and make the Establishment very uncomfortable.

This stranger than fiction story has the hallmarks of almost every Hollywood sports underdog story ever made, except is it all delightfully true!

This documentary was made by the Russell family and is clearly a labour of love for them.  Listening to Kurt Russell proudly share outrageous stories about his father and his accomplishments is wonderful.  This is a classic feel good, the little guy wins, kind of story.  I do not know much about real world baseball, my baseball is the mythology of the silver screen, but I do know this documentary made me smile, laugh and cheer.

Thumbs UP!!!

Now where is the movie adaptation!!!  Big Grin
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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I have zero interest in, or knowledge of baseball (and sports movies generally) but this...

(05-09-2019, 05:25 PM)bionicbob Wrote: Listening to Kurt Russell proudly share outrageous stories about his father and his accomplishments is wonderful.

...is all I need to know Wink . Thanks for the recommendation, this is going on my Netflix list.

(Plus I dig the alliteration in the title)
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Great recommendation bionicbob .

The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014)
An amazing true underdog story Netflix Documentary about how actor Bing Russell (father of Kurt) started up an independent Baseball team in the mid 70s, which briefly rivaled the big teams. This story would translate perfectly to a feature-film (it might even work better that way and Kurt is the right age) and it has a similar vibe to Francis Ford Coppola's movie 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream', in that it's the bittersweet American dream. You can dream big and you can get to the top but you can never really win because the guys that got there first make the rules. I admired all the 8mm/16mm film that had been found and scanned in HD for the Doc. If I had to nitpick, I did get a bit tired of all the talking heads constantly telling me this, or that was amazing and unprecedented within the sport, without them actually explaining the reasons why. I understand the desire for this Doc to appeal to an international audience by not going in too heavy with Baseball history, facts and exposition but I would have liked a bit more detail. I knew nothing about Baseball going in and I still don't but I'm full of admiration for the team.



Four Lions (2010)
With Satirist Chris Morris' new film 'The Day Shall Come' out sometime this year I thought it was time to re-watch his last film, from way back in 2010. It's essentially 'Dad's Army' but with an incompetent British Jihadi terror cell, instead of a Home Guard platoon. Riz Ahmed (in one of his first big roles) plays the main character and the least inept of the group, with Nigel Lindsay playing an hilariously stupid nutjob. The standout gags are still the police sniper shooting a Wookiee and the bomb strapped to a crow.

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PEPPERMINT (2018)


How does one's beloved bride and mother of one's child wish to spend her Mother's Day morning?  Along with Egg Benny breakfast served in bed, we watched the revenge flick Peppermint.

A box office bomb and ravaged by most critics, we both found the movie very entertaining.

Granted, we are both big Jennifer Gardner fans, going back to her ALIAS days, so seeing her return to form kicking ass and blowing away bad guys was good fun for us.

The movie is predictable comic book formula.  This is essentially Gardner playing The Punisher.  So if you like those movies, you will like this too.  It is B-movie action, with some very nice and surprising production and direction moments.  The biggest weakest of the film for me is the movie does not take full advantage of Gardner's acting range.  The first act is great, Gardner does what she does best... when she smiles, you smile... when she cries, you cry... her charisma is magnetic and charming.  But after that, she just becomes an ultra killing machine and the movie never takes enough time to get back into her head or win you over to her side, it is too dependant on whether you connected with her in the first act or not.

But as an escapist action/revenge piece, this is an enjoyable 100 minutes.   Certainly and significantly better than Bruce Willis's recent and similar themed Death Wish remake.

Big Grin
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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(05-06-2019, 06:27 AM)TM2YC Wrote: ]

Howard the Duck (1986)
I haven't seen this George Lucas film since my parents rented the VHS when I was a kid... infact I haven't seen it because they switched it off when it got too gross and scary.


Yeah, I can relate, except I didn't get 3 quarters in, I got it shut off at the duck breasts. I know nothing about the plot of the film. I still have yet to watch it proper. Your description of it further makes me want to watch it, seems like a mess, and I love messes.
Mega Man is best game.
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(05-12-2019, 02:24 PM)jrWHAG42 Wrote: Yeah, I can relate, except I didn't get 3 quarters in, I got it shut off at the duck breasts.

You mean you didn't find that hilarious? I'm kidding, of course. It's dumb, the movie has a lot of other dumb things too, but I like the puns. Honestly you might really like it if you ever rewatch.
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