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A few reviews

TM2YC

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^ Oooh never heard of that. Will keep an eye out for it.
 

Vultural

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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.
 

Vultural

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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.
 

Vultural

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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.
 

Gaith

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^ 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. :)
 

Vultural

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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.
 

Vultural

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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.
 

Vultural

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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.
 

Vultural

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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"
http://siskelandebert.org/video/5H42824U8X11/Sneak-Previews-Going-to-the-Movies
 

Vultural

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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.”
 

Rogue-theX

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[MENTION=17386]Vultural[/MENTION] , have you seen Jesus' Son? I hadn't watched it in a while but watched it again a few days ago, still got a good kick out of that one.
 

Vultural

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Midnight Hair - 2014 - 5/10

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Such a tantalizing title. Especially for a yarn featuring newlyweds.
Film is, however, Chinese horror, and a throwback to old school Hong Kong.
Happy couple moves into grand home. Within ten minutes you realize the joint is haunted.
Soon enough, the bride sees a pale ghost, the husband grows troubled.
So what do they do? They stay put. Well, it is a really nice house.
Story plods along like a drunken tortoise, past fog, creepy shadows, and jump scares.
The male actor (clearly a high school drama dropout) does IT or something. His gifted companion prances about in skimpy dresses, sheer negligees, tight tops, while exploring posh, dust-free, interiors.

Subs were embedded Chinese over English, and just as ridiculous as HK subs from the 90s.
Pedestrian narrative, poor ending. Might rewatch though, because I enjoyed that home.
It was huge - especially by Asian standards. And richly furnished.
How could they afford that? Yes, there was an explanation.
 

Vultural

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Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie - 2012 - 6/10

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Documentary of trash talking talk show host who chased fame from the rabble.
His TV show, which I well remember, barely lasted two years.
Meteoric rise followed by hurtling crash.
I knew he was involved in the 60s surf music scene, but that was not mentioned.
Instead, the doc showed his childhood home, a stone’s toss from the Kennedy family.
From leftie to songster to demagogue to has-been.
Curiosity flick. Better if you have a fondness for belligerent types
 

Vultural

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Possessed - 2009 - 2009 - 6/10

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Korean horror / thriller / mystery.
Young woman starts investigating disappearance of sister from skanky apartment complex.
Residents are all dying, alcoholics, religious nuts, or nervous sorts.
Doesn’t help that since the girl went missing, they are dying, one by one.
First half of film packed with symbolism, which yields to conflicts between faith and superstition.
Went from mystery to obsession, and I did not care for that transition.
Gray and cold looking throughout.
Film also known as Living Death, Disbelief Hell, Hell Of The Non Believers, the latter makes more sense.
 

Vultural

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Le Week-End - 2013 - 6/10

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Film references and pays homage to Goddard’s Band Of Outsiders, and features cues by cult fave Nick Drake, yet Le Week-End remains a frustrating, pale reminder.
Narrative follows an older, “professional” British couple who return to Paris for their 30th anniversary.
Their original honeymoon room has changed ... or perhaps they have.
They bolt, and book the executive suite in a posh hotel.
Bickering, whining, accusations and atrocious behaviour soon flow thick and fast.
The scenery was enjoyable - hell, I appreciated the story - a frayed marriage at the end of its rope.
Yet, I disliked the couple. Intensely.
Once they started running, without paying, from every place they went, short-changing waiters, cooks, maids, etc...., “working people,” it was hard to be sympathetic toward them.
 

Vultural

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The Hoodlum - 1951 - 6/10

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Ma pleads with the parole board, “He’s a good boy. He’s learned. Please, he’s my son!”
So junior get released, then starts working at his brother’s gas station.
Conveniently located across the street from the bank.
Grade-D Noir with hard as nails, Lawrence Tierney.
Main supporting cast are terrible, including Tierney’s brother, Edward.
Guys portraying the heist crew are fine, and the caper was creative.
Film clocks in at barely an hour, packing bullets, betrayal, and sleaze.
Okay for Noir diehards.
 

Vultural

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The Double - 2013 - 6/10

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How come I never heard of this one?
Oh, because it was way too confusing and artsy for 98% of the planet?
Evocative Orwellian set design, straight out of Brazil sets the tone of an oppressive worker drone state.
Insecure, nebbishy Jesse Eisenberg bobbles adrift in vast, gloomy, mega-corporation, going nowhere fast.
Then his double, Jesse Eisenberg, arrives, swaggering confidence and gusto.
The pair meet, and the charismatic one offers to help his meek counterpart.
Viewers can spot that L for loser across his forehead.
Bleak, often wickedly funny film based on Dostoyevsky.
 

Vultural

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Just Like A Woman - 2012 - 6/10

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Chick road flick.
Two women flee Chicago for a belly dance competition in Santa Fe.
To pay for fuel and supplies, they perform at bars and clubs along the way.
Fabulous outdoor scenery provides backdrop to confessions and fears.
Unlike other traveling souls who seem drawn to trouble, these two try to avoid it.
The past trails after them, however, and free spirits capture attention.
 

Vultural

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Mods, Rockers And Bank Holiday Mayhem - 2014 - 5/10

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Some of this is enlightening.
Mods = sharp suits, scooters, and style. / / Rockers = leather, motorcycles, and speed.
Mostly, though, this is a shabby BBC doc about the overblown clashes between British youth in the early 60s.
Early squabbles were exaggerated by the English press, fueling future rumbles.
Before they knew it, Swinging London swept their moment into history’s dustbin.

FE note: This was padded, including repeated interviews.
Worse, attempts to “damage” the look were blatant and amateurish.
Any time there was a 60s photo, sprocket holes raced across the middle, or debris, or blobs of colour.
Scratches and added grain seemed mandatory.
By the end, one of the editors must have snoozed because the vintage overlay bled onto surviving interviewees.
 

Vultural

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In The House - 2012 - 7/10

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Serious arthouse territory as director François Ozon offers another film (his third) about writers.
Young student worms his way into his best friend’s house and family, observing and probing their bourgeois, middle class home.
Sharing his voyeuristic streak, he writes stories about them and submits them to his composition teacher.
Always ending, “To be continued ...”
The teacher soon becomes absorbed, as does his wife, with whom he shares the stories.
Maddening difficult to tell if the student’s observations were accurate or partial. Were the stories clichéd, balanced, stereotyped? Was the teacher layering his own filters and fantasies?
The house of cards narrative steadily teeters higher.
Not exactly a thriller, but an unsettling ride.
 
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