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A few reviews
The Grandmaster (2013) 5/10

The Episode 1 of Ip Man / kung fu movies

A confusing mess of a movie, that blows the classic wisdom of show, don't tell. 
Like the Star Wars prequels, great events happen offscreen - onscreen is people talking, people staring off into space, people, yes, standing in front of green screens.
Like Lucas, this director knows how to create visually compelling shots. Unlike Lucas, he also knows how to write dialogue (a lot of rather deep, philosophical dialogue). But the story is dreadful, and the character wooden and unreal.
Even the fight scenes, beautiful though they are, simply pop up at random moments, for very little reason, and have no weight to them as you already know the outcome.
Unfortunately striking images can only carry the film so far and it ends up a boring unfocussed mess. It's Episode 1 of Ip Man films.

(It was perhaps unfortunate that the night before I had re-watched the amazing "Hero". Goodness, that is an incredible movie. Stylized, yes, but the story has depth, emotional heft, and cinematography that blows "grandmaster" (and most other films) out of the water.)
Full Circle - 1977 - 5/10
AKA - The Haunting Of Julia

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Ten years after Rosemary, Mia Farrow reprises another haunted mother.
After her daughter dies, she separates from her husband, moves into a large, fully furnished flat that may or may not be haunted, and starts “seeing” her daughter.
Based on the Peter Staub book, before he struck gold with “Ghost Story.”
In the movie, you don’t know why she separates from her husband, though in the book he is clearly overbearing, and perhaps more interested in her trust fund than her.
Implausible common Horror violations include:
1) When the door is locked, then audibly unlocks - you DO NOT go inside.
2) Never EVER descend into the basement when you are alone in an empty house.
Farrow fine as grieving mother, everyone else appears bored.
Tokumei Tantei - S01 - 2012 - 7/10

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Terrific detective spoof, that also features solid mysteries.
Each episode is is a single story, so no narrative arc to follow. ( binging not necessary ).
Low rent private eye lives across from strip club, and trio of forever practicing lovelies.
No car, he pedals a pink girl’s bike.  That said, he is a coffee aficionado, and a damn smart dresser.
The clothes and look struck me as prime Disco era, which he wears with flair.
Each episode begins with a damsel in distress:  missing money, lost relative, stalker . . .
Because the detective truly lives on limited means, he does plenty of footwork and deduction.
The tone is lightweight, and Katsunori Takahashi oozes charisma.
Fun series - nine episodes.
Home - 2008 - 6/10

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For ten years, the family of five has been living in a beat up, pre-fab wreck of a house less than twenty meters from an abandoned highway.  Funding for the road dried up ten years ago and they have enjoyed rural bliss.
Without warning, road crews arrive, shift all their belongings next to the house, install guardrails.
Next day, traffic arrives.  First a trickle - then a steady stream - finally bumper to bumper.
Endless honking and exhaust fumes.
Film follows how they cope ... and how they don’t cope.

Big problem with the plot is virtually few countries would permit them to remain.  Certainly not France, which is where this is set.
Governments would seize the land by eminent domain (compulsory purchase, resumption, compulsory acquisition, expropriation, etc ...) to protect themselves from potential liability or any legal conflicts.  

Acting, led by Isabel Huppert, fine across the board in depressing movie.
QE2 - The Final Voyage - 2009 - 6/10

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Limited audience for this.  Documentary about the final trip of the Cunard liner, QE2.
History - highlights - final run from Southampton to Dubai, interspersed with passenger recollections.
“Limited audience” is a bit fuzzy, though, as the doc states that over a million people have sailed the vessel.
Likely millions more have cruised from port to port.
Belated souvenir for those who walked the Queen Elizabeth 2 gangplank,
perhaps of interest for others who wondered what the “posh boat” was about.

I was actually one of the million souls, in that I sailed the QE2.
For our 20th anniversary, I booked passage, somehow managing to keep it a secret from Zelda.
Our cabin, barely above the water line, was miniscule and barely within our financial means.
I paid extra for a porthole, which, owing to extremely rough seas, was sealed with a steel plate for the duration.

Unlike cruise ships, dinner was black tie, tux or suits for men, gowns for women.
Dinner was also 6:00 PM or 8:00 PM.  Period.
When I advised the agent we would prefer 6:00, he adamantly opposed.
“What’s so bad about 6:00?”  I asked.  - -  “Wheelchairs and walkers.”  - -  Dinner at 8:00 it was.

By sheer luck, the trip was movie themed.  Telluride honchos brought a dozen not-yet-released films.
Speakers included Peter Bogdanovich, Ken Burns, Roger Ebert, Paul Schrader, Chuck Jones.
You could catch lectures or simply share a private conversation in one of the many pubs.

The North Atlantic was rough, the ship groaned and shuddered most of the crossing.
Numerous passengers were seasick.
One of our dinner companions was a young Air Force officer.  One evening he confessed that while jogging on rain soaked decks, he had slipped and had almost slid overboard.  None would have noticed his disappearance.
Intrigued, we asked our guest officer if this had ever happened.  He smiled and gestured indifferently.
"How soon before anyone realized?"  Zelda pressed.
The officer gingerly wiped his mouth with his napkin.  "It would be altogether rude of a guest to leave unannounced,"  he smiled.  "Terribly poor manners."

For our 25th anniversary, we sailed again.  I booked an interior room and paid a quarter of what I had before.
We were seasoned travelers by then, also less wide-eyed.
We noticed, while the QE2 was still the same, the vibe was different.
Carnival had purchased the line, and crustier Brits commented about slipping standards.
No Telluride theme, no famous speakers.  Instead of ships officers, our dinner table included a blustery Teamster who always got red-faced drunk before he arrived.
Hard to blame new ownership.  You could visit Vegas twice, each stay would differ.
Nonetheless, both were magical trips, which I never regretted spending money on.
Miss You Already - 2015 - 5/10

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Drew and Toni on the cover, with the “miss you” title, I knew exactly how this would play, who was going to be the sufferer, and how events would transpire.
I was correct across the board.
Predictable tale of best friends forever, where one faces the ultimate battle.
Great chemistry between leads cannot compensate for oft repeated tale (reference to Beaches does not help).
Both women are too old for their roles, also.
Some of you will get stuck watching this beside your better half.  Too bad.
Bothersome Man - 2006 - 7/10
AKA - Den Brysomme Mannen

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Norwegian parable.
Office drone wakes up on bus roaring down oblivion highway.
He is dumped at a shack, then ferried to his new city, new apartment, new job.
Everyone is cheery, friendly, work duties are undemanding, and he lands a girlfriend who is agreeable and willing.
Sound like Paradise to you?  Yeah, well, some types are never happy with their lot.
The new man is dissatisfied.  He cannot pinpoint what his problem is with Eden, but he wants something else.
And he gradually makes everyone around him uncomfortable.
Well thought out visuals, maddening dialogue, and steady pace as the reveal unfolds.
Far From The Madding Crowd - 2015 - 7/10

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Not surprisingly, beautiful looking adaptation of Hardy’s novel.
Each of the three male rivals is given a sympathetic treatment - more or less.
Story follows young (20) Bathsheba Everdene who inherits her uncle’s farm.
Like most of Hardy’s works, this is driven by cruel Fate and often poor choices.
Some reviewers have been harsh toward Miss Everdene, but she is only 20 and has led a rather sheltered life
Thoughtful decisions are usually sound, impulsive acts deliver consequences.
For “purists” this is not an overly Modern interpretation, as has been the trend for Austen productions.
Leisurely paced, but not slow.  Plenty to see with sly subtleties.
Note the farm songs when Bathsheba operated it on her own, and those after Mr Troy arrived.
Bukowski At Bellevue - 1970 - 6/10

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One hour film of Charles Bukowski giving an early poetry reading.
Audio quality is a tad muffled, but understandable throughout.
Video is black n white, often out of focus, dirty, and freezes frequently.
For Bukowski fans, this is must-see as he is fairly relaxed and steady the whole time.
The audience is quiet and attentive.  Poetry buffs, perhaps?  1970 would be considered the late 60s.
Contrast with There's Gonna Be A God Damn Riot In Here from 1979.
By then, his growing acclaim drew audiences not into poetry, often disrespectful.
This earlier film catches him younger, just before “Post Office” and the fame thing.
Grandma - 2016 - 7/10

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Inventive “road movie” starring Lily Tomlin as no-nonsense elder, helping granddaughter.
Narrative transpires in one day. as the pair drive from friends to family to rivals.
From the sorry-ass boyfriend to the ex, trying to raise the money for an abortion.
Each encounter is a mini-short story.  Shrewdly done to reveal “grandma” history and character.
Very much the small film, shot in 19 days, micro budget, yet a strong cast gives top performances.
Funny, acid-tongued.  The DVD has worthwhile “making of” doc and a Q&A bonus.

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