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A few reviews

Vultural

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Athena: Goddess Of War - 2010 - 5/10

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Disappointing spinoff of the ground breaking IRIS.
South Korean security branch, NTS, squares off against international energy terrorist cabal.
Poorly acted, wrong headed direction, and a script with more holes than a rat infested wheel of Swiss cheese.
The main lead is too young, and early on grins and mugs as if auditioning for teen boy band.
A team captain is inept and foolish, as is a North Korean ex-elite agent.
Don’t get me started on the bane of K-dramas. The tears. Weeping, crying, sobbing like six year olds.
Yet these blubbering basket cases safeguard the nation.
There are exceptions, the chief being the Son Hyuk rogue baddie who excels.

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The director obviously knows action sequences, which are showcases. With actors, he seems clueless.
As much as I blame the series director for foolish comic relief and histrionics, however,
the main culprit is the ridiculous script.
Long, gorgeous episodes in Italy - for no purpose.
Two episodes in Japan, guarding a pop star - for no purpose.
Double agents exposed, and then the duped side shrugs and says, “Well, they’re sorry, so back to work.”
Initially, the main villains are USA agencies, which is a wonderful twist, only that thread is abandoned.
Stupid.
Mmmmm . . . wasted 20 hours on this goo.
 

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Submarine - 2010 - 6/10

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Quirky overload in this coming-of-age romantic comedy set in Wales.
Depressed, low key youth meets moody, rebellious girl.
His parents are oddballs, the neighbor is is mullet wearing, New Age motivational speaker.
Mostly set in school, the few students showcased are weirdos.
Nicely acted by newcomers, though cutesy script felt like a sack of marshmallows.
Others will enjoy this more than I.
 

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Censored per Request

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The original review contained the words "IRA patriots" which TM2YC found offensive.
I deeply apologize if those words upset anyone and, per request, have deleted the review.

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Vultural

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Cairo Time - 2009 - 7/10

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Ravishing looking film for adults of a certain age, who realize Life's opportunities are beginning to close around them. For most, this begins around age 40.
Magazine publisher (Clarkson) flies to Cairo to meet with husband, who is delayed in Gaza because of "situations."
One gets the impression she has become adrift, children gone, husband away on UN business. Detached ennui.
She relaxes, explores the area, connects with her husband's ex colleague, succumbs to the charm of the city.
Beautiful views of the Nile, White Desert, pyramids, mosques, the medina, as well as the seedier side.
Lyrical film, recommended to the arthouse crowd, anyone with patience for adult themes.
 

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Heartless - 2009 - 5/10

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Gloomy, arthouse Horror.
Photographer with disfiguring heart-shaped birthmark on his face roams London’s midnight streets.
Sees lizard monsters under hoodies murdering humans.
Next is summoned by demon. An offer to remove the birthmark stigma is extended, in exchange for services.
This really ought to be fun times, but is a mopey downer.
Guy is a sad sack loser. Even when he scores, he screws up.
Too fatalistic. Needed more lizards, less thinking.
 

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And While We Were Here - 2012 - 6/10

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Troubled couple go to Naples. He to play viola for concerts, she to work on WWII book.
Gorgeous settings of isle of Ischia, offset by serious, depressing tone of a husband and wife who can no longer communicate with each other.
She meets a 19 year old, still very boyish, though reckless and full of life.
“Chick flick” which will resonate more with female viewers.
The plot meanders around as the young wife (Kate Bosworth - quite good in this) broods much of the time, then starts thinking and rethinking, all the time listening to recordings of her grandmother, recalling her youth.
 

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Exam - 2009 - 6/10

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Eight job candidates are seated in a featureless room.
Simple rules are given. Such as, if you leave the room, you are disqualified. If you speak with the guard, you are disqualified. Then they are given 80 minutes to solve an enigmatic question.
After a few ejections, the remaining realize there are rules, yet outside the rules, anything goes.
Treachery, deception, violence. Personalities unleash. Mind games yield to mob rules.
Taut little suspenser, though feels a wee bit stagebound.
 

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Vidal Sassoon: The Movie - 2010 - 6/10

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Glossy documentary of the revolutionary hair designer, now beginning to slip into memory.
Filled with old footage and recent interviews with friends, family, and Sassoon himself.
Earlier years were more informative: His participation in underground groups opposing Mosley’s English pro-fascist parties. Also his service during 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Followed by the apprenticeship, then the fame.
Plenty of Swingin’ 60s footage, the five point cut, and survivors recalling the past.
Any hint of negativity (three divorces, one child committed suicide, selling off the business) omitted.
Still hear the commercial tag - “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.”
 

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Istanbul - 1957 - 5/10

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Disappointing yarn of smuggling and intrigue set in Turkey.
Weathered and world weary Errol Flynn does well as expat piloting shady flights.
Plot involved missing diamonds, murder, cops n collectors. Nothing special.
Interesting supporting cast includes Nat King Cole, Werner Klemperer, and Thorin Thatcher. Female lead much too young for Flynn - or everyone else in the movie.
Within two years Flynn would enjoy a major comeback and be shortlisted for Oscar nominations (The Sun Also Rises).
At this stage, however, he was still living on Zaca, his sailing yacht, on the run from tax collectors, acting in films in various ports of call.
I had small expectations storywise, but this was a Technicolor film, shot in exotic Istanbul.
Print was fuzzy and washed out. Not a great flick, but would grade a point higher for a restored print.
 

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Død Snø - 2009 - 6/10
AKA: Dead Snow

Leave it to me to view the sequel first.
First movie much more of a dead teenager flick.
Two carloads of medical students follow a remote mountain road, exit, then hike to a cabin in oblivion.
Inside, they discover stolen Nazi gold, followed by resurrected Nazi zombies.
Gorehounds, take heart. Though outnumbered, the med types - accustomed to blood - dish it out.

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Note: Reviewed Død Snø 2 a month earlier, here =
http://www.fanedit.org/forums/showthread.php?10186-A-few-reviews/page41
 

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Hey [MENTION=17386]Vultural[/MENTION] what do you mean the sequel? Dead Snow is the first one, right?
Red vs Dead is the sequel :)
 

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Sumo Vixens - 1996 - 5/10

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One of the questionable delights of the Kei Mizutani box set.
Minor yakuza gang, the Domino agency, covets land owned by ailing auntie of closed Women’s Sumo group.
His men cannot handle the wrestlers so he hires ruthless female squad.
Film climaxes with major female sumo tournament.
Silly comedy, forced to farcical stupidity.
Technical note - The video transfer on the DVD is terrible.
On the other hand, these are “topless” female sumo wrestlers, and all very thin.
Puritans beware, copious nudity abounds.
 

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Tokyo Fist - 1995 - 7/10

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Salaryman invites boyhood friend, now a boxer, home for dinner.
The more virile friend quickly charms, seduces, and swipes the wife.
The business man, showing some steel, hits the boxing gym, starts running, builds his stamina and endurance.
Sparring matches turn ugly, while the wife discovers her own steel fetish.
Glorious, blood spurting fights throughout.
Same crew that did Tetsuo films.
 

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The Foul King - 2000 - 7/10

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Alright fight fans!
Meek, lower tier bank clerk enters the wrestling arena.
Trains to be the masked villain!
By turns funny and sad, the latter involving his depressing workplace and the way others view him.
Once that mask is donned, though, beware the tiger.
Laugh out loud film with outrageous main event.
Early film of Kang-ho Song whose profile swiftly climbed in the West thanks to Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, The Host, The Good, The Bad, And The Weird, even Snowpiercer.

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Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s - 2013 - 6/10

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Sometimes you sit through films selected by other team members . . . just cuz.
High sheen, congratulatory documentary on glittering, high priced department store catering to the very rich.
Stunning to look at, though prices never shown (it is revealed a good sales clerk - excuse me, personal buyer - can earn $400,000 - $500,000 a year).
Much attention is given to the annual holiday display windows.
Everyone is either an employee, a designer whose fashions are there, or a designer who wishes their fashion line to get picked up.
Balanced documentary? Not so much.
Fashion porn.
 

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Joan Rivers - A Piece Of Work - 2010 - 7/10

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Documentary following the comedian for a year.
I had viewed this when it came out, but watched this time with her audio commentary.
In many ways, funnier and offered additional insight.
Rivers packs the commentary with jokes, one-liners, sarcasm, and confessions.
Sensitive souls, beware, there is foul language galore, as well as an early sequence of her sans makeup.
 

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Censored per Request

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The original review contained the words "Female hormonal tornado" which TM2YC found offensive.
I deeply apologize if those words upset anyone and, per request, have deleted the review.
 

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Traitor - 2008 - 6/10

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Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce star in terrorist / espionage thriller.
American Muslim Cheadle, after suffering a crisis of faith, switches sides and helps terror cell in Yemen.
Pearce the CIA op tracking him down.
Solid location photography, tense cat n mouse plot, several twists.
Well acted all around, and seemingly unbiased, but I never got involved with any of the characters.
 

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Grand Budapest Hotel - 2013 - 6/10

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Is it just me? How is this shaggy dog tale such a critical darling?
Narrative supposedly shows hotel in its glorious heyday, especially the ever attentive manager, and how it came to fall into the possession of the current, and possibly final manager.
Story itself is a series of onion like recollections, each more stylized, more fabricated the deeper memory probed.
Stunning set design counterbalanced by mannered performances of oddballs and kooks.
Anderson’s films are always worth a look, but the overall look and tone are beginning to feel repetitive.
 

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Big Sur - 2013 - 7/10

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Languid adaptation of Kerouac’s novel, focusing on a couple of stays at Ferlinghetti’s mountain cabin.
Slow going and meandering, yet enjoyable for fans of the author and the Beats.
Kerouac is older here, haggard, and well on his way to alcoholism.
Opening paraphrase sums up the curse of fame and expectation -
“All over America high school and college kids are thinking Jack Kerouac is 26 years old and on the road hitchhiking, while there I am, almost 40 years old, bored and jaded,”
Might be difficult for those who know the Beats only through movies, and not their works.
 
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