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A few reviews
Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood - 1995 - 8/10

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Essential companion to Hollywood: A Celebration Of American Silent Film, the definitive, 13 part documentary of early Hollywood.
An excellent introduction and a good checklist for hunting down movies to view.
The English version is narrated by Kenneth Branagh, there is footage from vintage interviews as well as survivors.
At only 6 episodes, this is less detailed, but highly recommended, nonetheless.
This probably ought to have been 10 episodes, at least, but there may have been budget limitations.

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Five episodes were on post WWI productions and studios.
Silent footage used was of excellent quality throughout.
Series book-ended with an introductory episode (up to the end of WWI) and the usual “end of an era” chapter.
One chapter follows Scandinavian films, another French, another German, another Britain.
Especially poignant listening to Joan Morgan, English child actress, who received the “big offer” from Hollywood. Her father turned it down without consulting her. Fifty years later, one could tell the lost opportunity still hurt.
Little on Italian films, brief mention of Soviet Union, nothing on Austria.
End Of The Tour - 2015 - 7/10

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Compelling, if historically suspicious, road trip of two writers.
Rolling Stone columnist takes assignment to interview David Foster Wallace, author of “Infinite Jest.”
Jesse Eisenberg takes the rather sour role of reporter Lipsky, resentful, envious, awe-struck and is terrific.
Jason Segel memorable as the author uncomfortable under the sun of fame.
He’s incredibly layered as individual who exposes himself and his flaws on one hand, then keeps friends at arm’s length on the other hand.
Film gracefully contrasts the loneliness and isolation most writers struggle with, alongside the near-delusional self confidence they must maintain to sustain themselves.
The Undead - 1957 - 4/10

Roger Corman cheapie filmed inside an empty supermarket.
De-listed scientist, after having traveled in Nepal, hires a hooker (named Diana Love) to help with research.
No, not that kind of research. Hypnosis / regression into past lives.
Anyway, Miss Love drifts back to the Middle Ages and recalls she is imprisoned and scheduled for a beheading.
The “witch” accusation carries a heavy punishment.
Her “modern” soul gives her alter-ego escape advice, which results in altering the time line!
One of the best reasons to watch this flick is for “real witch” (sexy Allison Hayes) with her imp (Billy Barty).

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If you didn’t get enough of Ms Hayes in Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman this has more bodacious goodies.
Acting in the modern sequences is wooden, lines poorly delivered.
Problems are less noticeable in the medieval era because everyone speaks a Shakespearian hybrid dialect.
Atmospheric score. Cheap, though OK special effects (don’t expect too much).
Mr Satan is a laissez faire bon vivant, and a cheerful pragmatic.
Roosevelt Game - 2014 - 8/10

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Nine innings J-drama, set in the corporate boardroom, in the development lab, and on the diamond.
Small manufacturing firm finds itself under serious attack by king sized competitor.
The larger outfit has deep pockets, and they soon launch every trick in the book to destroy the smaller group.
To add insult to injury, the big guys even poach three top players and coach from the small firm’s baseball team.
(Footnote - Corporations in Japan sponsor their own teams, have a season, and a tournament.)
To save money, the small firm begins layoffs and decides to shutter the baseball club.
They compromise, however, and the team will be only disbanded after they lose in the playoffs.

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Bet you can see where this is heading? Well, not exactly.
In the best tradition of J-dramas, the villains are wicked, sinister types.
But they are not stupid. In the ballpark, or in the boardroom, they are crafty and intelligent.
They countermove every tack the smaller electronics firm attempts to stay alive.
An addicting, nine episode series, with the battles played across multiple fronts.
Of course, the ball teams will square off eventually.

Enjoyed this greatly, and I truly despise baseball, specifically overpaid. MLB players who give the impression they don’t even like playing the game, disdain fans who root them on.
The games in this are old-fashioned, and the players earn next to nothing, so they play for love of the game.
Baseball fans, track this down!
Serial (Bad) Weddings - 2014 - 6/10
ALA: Qu'est-ce Qu'on A Fait au Bon Dieu

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Forced French comedy of traditional Gaullist, Catholic family marrying off three daughters.
To a Muslim, to a Jew, to a Chinese. Brace yourself for tasteless jokes.
Daughter number four, the parents pray and pray and pray, will marry a nice Catholic man.
Lo and behold, she gets engaged to a nice Catholic man, only she neglects to tell parents he is black.
Lot of stereotyping in this movie, politically incorrect humor, silly misunderstandings. Very dated.
Focus is on diverse males and pissing contest behaviour, females little more than afterthoughts.
While I didn’t care for this, others around the Net rated this major laughs.
Agatha Raisin: The Quiche Of Death - 2014 - 6/10

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Possible pilot that aired during the holidays.
Mystery, murder and comedy in the Cotswolds, with London press agent moving to the sticks.
The village seems 95% Caucasian, 100% rich (who else can afford those homes?) and they are having an annual cooking competition. In order to fit in, our newcomer decides to enter and win ... by any means.
Yes, good way to score points, claim the trophy.
Only murder surfaces, as do suspects, countless bang the weasel infidelities, backstabbing tongues, you name it.
Of course, being a city gal, and blonde know-it-all, Miss Raisin starts sleuthing.
Easy, predictable ... like watching “Midsomer Murders” lite.
Ladies They Talk About - 1933 - 6/10

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Barbara Stanwyck in Pre-Code women in prison flick.
Moll used as decoy while gang pulls off bank heists.
Only she gets caught and sent to the slammer.
San Quentin seems nicer than most caged womens’ pens.
The matron and assistant matron are no-nonsense, but sympathetic wardens.
Jailbirds listen to records, read, play cards. Hardest duty is laundry.
Stanwyck displays gentle and rotten streaks side by side.
Her loyalty to her old gang is paramount, though, which places her outside redemption.
At barely an hour, film loaded with plotlines, twists, romance, and razor edged dialogue.
For all that, not essential Pre-Code.
Modern Times - The Vikings Are Coming - 2014 - 6/10

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What is wrong with British men?
Don’t ask me, ask British women.
Single women. The ones who want children, but lack a boyfriend or husband.
They’re heading for the sperm bank.
Only they don’t want reliable British steel. They want Danes.
Has to do with anonymous donors, which is the UK method. Whereas Denmark males offer names, photos, brief stories. English birds make more personal choices that way.
Rather shallow documentary skirts an issue of what happens when donor children appear at daddy’s door when they hit 18?
Also - the cuter Danes are very popular. A couple have potentially sired over 100 offspring.
What happens if those children meet down the line ... and make their own children?
Helpless - 2012 - 7/10
AKA: Hoa-cha

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Nice paced Korean mystery.
Enroute to introduce his fiancée to his family, the boyfriend stops at a gas station for coffee and snacks.
Inside the car, the girlfriend answers her cellphone.
The boyfriend returns to an empty car.
He cannot find her. The police are uninterested, dismissing it as bridal jitters.
The boyfriend hunts harder, discovers she was not who she claimed. His fiancée was an imposter.
Eventually he hires a friend / relative (?), ex-police to track her down.
All that occurs early on in dark, downward spiral of a tale.
Solid mystery / thriller. Absorbing date flick, especially if your partner keeps secrets.
Stung - 2015 - 5/10

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Poor marks on IMDB should have warned me, but a glowing review on DVDTalk tempted the sucker in me.
Two caterers drive into rural nowhere. Birthday party for elderly WASPs in a crumbling manor house.
Lance Henriksen is the most recognizable player.
WASPs are soon attacked by wasps, big ones, maybe three or four inches long.
Them what gets stung gives birth to a fresh wasp, roughly the size of the host body.
Clearly, you want to keep pissed off insects near field mice and away from sumo wrestlers.
Plot is predictable, the pace grows boring, and the script has more flaws than invention.
There’s a good amount of meals - uhh, victims - at the party, but most get killed within three minutes.
Suspect filmmakers could not imagine different ways of killing, so that’s their fault.
Also, numerous small sized, crafty wasps are easier to hate and fear than laughable jumbos.
Then again, real wasps likely don’t take direction well. Again, blame the filmmakers.
To be fair, I was drinking, yet that didn’t make this retread any more entertaining.

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