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A few reviews
^ Oooh never heard of that. Will keep an eye out for it.
Soviet Storm: WWII In The East - 2011 - 7/10

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Eight part documentary of WWII Russian Front, told from Soviet point of view.
This aspect of the war is rarely covered in the West. We believe it was all Patton, Monty and D-Day.
Far from it. Nazis and Soviets smashed at each other, big time. Massive fatalities.
Series made use of Soviet newsreel footage and limited CGI, along with the usual maps and arrows.
Beware: Maps were all in Cyrillic, though narration was in BBC English.
Highlights include the Battle Of Kursk, where over 6000 tanks slugged it out.
Must for war buffs.
Labyrinth - 2012 - 5/10

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Treating this two part series as a movie.
Produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, which is what drew my interest.
Dual narratives of present day and 13th century France, where the Crusaders tackle Cathar sect.
Nice production values for the earlier era, poor casting for the modern.
Based on a best-selling novel (book received wildly mixed reviews) about the Holy Grail, intolerance, church intrigue. Violent, bloody, sexy.
First part held my interest throughout. Second half, I'm blaming the author, stories stretched to the point of silliness. This also seemed targeted for YA reading, 13 year old females. Based on female leads consistent reactions, very gullible females.
scoring the parts: Pt 1 = 6, Part 2 = 4.
Night Train To Munich - 1940 - 6/10

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Brisk paced, cozy, espionage spy thriller.
Czech inventor of new armor plating for steel flees to England once Nazis invade Czechoslovakia.
By clever means, the Nazis hijack him back and Rex Harrison volunteers to return the favor.
Same writers for Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, the same setting - a train, leading lady Margaret Lockwood, as well as old boy toffs, Caldicott and Charters.

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Breezy, cat n mouse chase, with Nazis portrayed as easily duped, lightweight villains.
As World War II progressed, their roles would darken considerably.
^ Hey, I saw that one! I was led to it by the Al Stewart song Night Train to Munich, which is an awesome song but doesn't have anything to do with the plot of the movie beyond a general WW2-era setting.

I liked the movie, though that one guy's pistol seemed to have entered the infinite ammo cheat during the climax. :-)
Girl Model - 2011 - 7/10

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Documentary about the modeling meat market.
The girls in this film come from Siberia and are 13 - 14 years old. Most are rejected for being too old (say 15) or overweight (not starved enough). Those “fortunate” enough to get signed will travel to Japan for work.
Narrative tracks two stories. Young girl who optimistically chases the dream, only to spiral down. The other is of the “talent agent” who used to be a girl model, totally hated it, but is now an active exploiter.
Models struggle in squalid rooms, agents live posh. Surprise, surprise.
Disturbing, unpleasant.
Adele - Live At Royal Albert Hall - 2011 - 7/10

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Before she shredded her vocal cords, before the baby, before the seemingly endless hiatus,
Adele rode the tidal wave of the fame thing.
Terrific live concert, in front of adoring, hometown crowd, Adele in possibly a milestone moment.
Going against popular fashion, she keeps her cloths on, has no spectacular sets, and don’t swing any moves that remotely resemble choreographed dance.
For golden ears who lament the death of pure singing, there is no auto-tune, no lip-syncing, and a full third of the show are just Adele and her pianist.
Just music, and that voice. At this point, she was fearless, reaching for high notes, pushing the pedal for power.
The Big Combo - 1955 - 6/10

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Daring, perverse Noir finds obsessed detective pursuing boss of major syndicate.
Cornell Wilde OK as cop, Richard Conte excellent as cool, controlled organization leader, always two steps ahead of authorities or slippery enough to glide out of snares.
Swanky jazz score along with fine ensemble acting drive this one.
Famous with Noir buffs for the dramatic lighting, every shot is a master study in black n white contrast.

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The Production Code was pushed to the limits with this one. Forgetting the strippers momentarily, the more I watched Conte’s two gun men (Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman), I noted they shared a room, one was bare chested, and they kept touching each other.
Also, Conte’s trophy girl tries to escape, complains how she hates him, but cannot break away. In a key scene, the boss, standing behind her, drops quietly down, and her facial reaction is one of anticipated pleasure. Conte’s hold on her seemed a cunning one.
Life Itself - 2014 - 6/10

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Recent documentary, bordering on feel-good, about America’s favorite film critic.
Covers the bases from childhood, newspaper years, partnership with Siskel, demise.
Much is made of influence Ebert had, but the impact for me was from Sneak Previews on.
Back in the early 80s, Siskel and Ebert were one of the first to feature extended clips.
That was invaluable when deciding what film to spend my cash on.
Also, unlike more so-called literary critics, the Chicago pair never spoiled a plot twist,
nor did the reader have to wade through pages of text - seldom necessary for fresh releases.
At the end of it all, however, Ebert was a film critic.
His influence waned, as has the influence of all critics. The films omits that aspect.

The critical process, circa 1980 -
Sneak Previews: “Take 2: Going to the Movies"
Scenic Route - 2013 - 5/10

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Two aging, childhood friends are driving a forsaken backwater route through Death Valley.
Failed, homeless writer and newly married, burnout musician.
Height of summer, sheer oblivion, what are the odds of engine trouble?
I was barking aloud at this one:
“Don’t do that.” “No, you idiots, what are you, suicidal?” “Stop talking and start thinking.”
As gathered, the pair talked and they talked and they talked.
Note to producers: Men don’t gab this much. Otherwise they get booted from the Guy Club.
Note redux: Dialogue was not remotely “My Dinner With Andre.”

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