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A few reviews
Le Code A Change - 2009 - 6/10

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French dinner party from Hell.
Spousal sniping, family conflicts, old flames, food nazis.
There were almost too many characters, but by the end of the film you knew who was who and what their stories were.
Passable.  Some reviewers were too harsh.  What did they expect?
Going in, I knew this would be a talky dinner party.
One character, praying inside the church, echoed my own thoughts every time I have a party to attend.

"€œLord ...
Give me the strength to go to this damn dinner!
Give me the strength to pretend, to laugh.
To ask questions, when I don't care about the answers.
To pretend that I'm there, when I'm far away."
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Beautiful Neighbor - 2011 - 7/10
AKA - Utsukushii Rinjin / 美しい隣人

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Stunning, mysterious female glides into the neighborhood.
Her husband is a foreigner (American) and forever abroad on business.
The woman next door is married to an overworked salaryman who is also gone most of the time.
Female bonding swiftly occurs.
Saki, the new arrival, is the beguiling spider, however.
Smiling softness cloaks the snares she lays for her friend, her friend’s husband, their child.
She is a destroyer.
Very much a “chick drama,” Yukie Nakama is mesmerizing as the duplicitous Saki.
One keeps watching to find out, if nothing else, what put the venom in her veins.
Beautiful photography, haunting music, though the plot falters near the end.
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The Guest - 2014 - 5/10

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Recently discharged soldier shows up at doorstep of family of his combat buddy.  Recently deceased.
Politely gains their trust with -
“He wanted to me tell you he loved all of you.”  and  “I would have been here earlier only I was in the hospital.”
Red flag alert for any family other than a movie family!  What kind of hospital?
Aarrgghh, they never catch on.  Instead they confide and reveal themselves.
Straight off the audience sees Dan Stevens is wound tighter than a rabbit trap.
First half of the film actually pretty good, before the plot bounds into the Land of the Preposterous.
Experimentation - civilian contractors - mercenaries - don’t wonder.
Not that I have to have explanations, in fact I enjoy ambiguous narratives.  Yet the script laid down miles of plot rail and left numerous questions suspended.
Better for non-demanding action buffs.
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Der Samurai - 2014 - 4/10

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Can’t say I wasn’t warned.
Low-budget horror film from Germany earned scathing reviews ... except ... from pretentious arthouse types.
In whose ranks I probably belong.
Apparently I am not pretentious enough, however.
Local police officer deals with problem wolf by feeding it in the woods.
“What are you trying to do?”  everyone asks.  “Feeding it won’t get rid of it!”
Chasing a lead, he enters an abandoned house and finds a homeless squatter.
Male - wearing a dress - applying makeup - wielding a samurai sword.
Lots of speculative arguments follow, along with foot chases.
Is the guy a werewolf?  Or an escapee of sorts in a dress?
Film - shot almost exclusively at night - suffers from limited costs.  No plot and no effects.
Dull - boring - offscreen gore - no sex - no nudity - scant violence.
Wine n cheese crowd might enjoy better, indie horror flick connoisseurs that they are.
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A Decade Under The Influence - 2003 - 7/10

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Broad overview of US filmmaking in the freewheeling 70s.
At the close of the 60s, film moguls passed into the sunset, and what seemed to get released were cash bleeding musicals.
Independent directors, taking their cues from European arthouse films of the 60s, stepped into the creative vacuum.
Stories were less epic, less fantasy, more personal, more relatable to modern audiences.
Doc covers a lot of ground in 2 hours. A multi-episode series might have been better. That said, since this first aired in 2003, many of the commentators have died. So perhaps this captures voices that might have been lost.

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Many individuals not mentioned, or they declined to participate. That’s always the way these shows go.
The end of the 70s saw smash commercial hits Jaws and Star Wars earn record profits.
Investors purchased studios as cash cows, focused on blockbusters and tent poles, and dialed down personal films.
Doc assumes passing familiarity with titles of the era.
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Bad Guys - 2014 - 6/10
AKA:  Nappeun Nyeoseokdeul or 나쁜 녀석들

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Hardboiled Korean actioner.  Oft told concept, but well executed.
Police commissioner offers special deal to three long term convicts:
"For every crime solved, five years will be knocked off the sentence."
The three include a professional assassin, a Gangpae strong arm enforcer, and a serial killer.
Overseeing them is a detective who had been suspended for excessive force.
Those expecting violence will be amply rewarded.
Beatings - stabbings - shootings.
Defying the usual K-drama cliches, there is limited romance, few tears.  Very plot driven, and it was apparent the writers had numerous ideas they wanted to explore.
For a couple episodes I worried the characters were going mushy, the sympathy route.  Did not happen.
Episodic by nature, yet there is an overall arc to the 11 episodes which gets progressively darker, concluding with an ass-kicking finale.
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The Mad Doctor - 1940 - 5/10

Dull mystery / thriller, not completely without interest.
After psychiatrist’s ill bride tires of being sick and expires, he relocates to the big city.
Where he quickly meets a suicidal female with a tendency to stand on the outside ledge of tall buildings.
Luckily for her, he’s a psychiatrist. Fortunately for him, she’s rich. An heiress.
Predictable, slow in stretches, with a title that telegraphs any plot twists.

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Ole Basil Rathbone (the shrink) and Martin Kosleck (chauffeur / sidekick) maintain a curious, eye raising relationship throughout.
Apparently the men live together and share a past studded with troublesome secrets.
They bicker, scheme, and engage in dark business together.
How this escaped Production Code censors is beyond me.
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The Real Jane Austen - 2002 - 7/10

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Clever one hour documentary “written” by Jane Austen and hosted by one of her nieces.
Actors portray various friends and relatives as well as Jane. Their lines come from actual letters.
Host Anna Chancellor played Miss Bingley (the Colin Firth version) and is also a great - great ... niece of Austen.
For hardcore Janeites, nothing is new, though hearing her juvenile works is a rare treat.
For newcomers, this will be informative without being heavy handed.
Breezy throughout with glowing photography and clips from numerous film adaptations.
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Elegance And Decadence: The Age Of The Regency - 2011 - 6/10

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Entertaining, sometimes enlightening three part documentary hosted by Dr Lucy Worsley.
Nice companion if you read or watch Jane Austen and an good overview of formal Regency, meaning the ten year period while George III was unfit and son George ruled as Regent.
Architecture, fashion trends, art, rebellion, poets and revolutionaries.
The era begins during the Napoleonic wars, ends as smoke belching factories transform England.
Worsley can be an acquired taste, but she is always enthusiastic and easy to understand.
Producers opted for a modern soundtrack - a growing trend - which is often distracting.
Pink Floyd - The Beatles - The Who - too many others to mention.
In a similar period, I also watched another three parter, Rude Britannia and the first episode also covers this time with salacious and naughty illustrations.
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Women Without Men - 1956 - 4/10

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British “women in prison” film.  Slow, snooze inducing, with the slimmest of plot.
In this Hammer Noir, female agrees to reunite with her new boyfriend New Years Eve.
Unfortunately, when she tries to break up with her current “handler” he smacks her around.
She bashes him with a hand mirror and gets tossed in the slammer.
The warden is stern but fair, the guards no-nonsense but approachable, the inmates a happy family.
You got it - fantasy prison.
For various reasons, three convicts escape (including our heroine, who just has to keep that New Years Eve rendezvous).
Brief movie plods along.  I watched it because it was Beverly Michaels last movie.  Except ...
- - - - -
Blonde Bait - 1956 - 5/10

... Except the American distributor shot additional scenes, edited the plot, and fashioned a new storyline.
US nightclub singer performing in London is dating a man who is a traitor, smuggler, and killer.
She doesn’t know and agrees to marry him on New Years Eve after he takes care of “business."
When she tries to break the news to her manager, he roughs her up, she grabs that hand mirror, and -
She’s in the big house.
US State Dept want her out so they can nab her no-good, villainous man (Jim Davis, scion of TV’s Dallas).
The new scenes are edited in rather awkwardly, but this succeeds as a new film and, to my mind, slightly better.
Bev Michael’s hair is mousy in the Brit version, back to glossy blonde in the US release.
Neither film is all that hot.

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Nevertheless, this was Beverly Michaels’ (great hard blonde) last film appearance.  Damn.
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