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A few reviews

Vultural

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Un Baiser s'il vous Plaît - 2007 - 7/10
AKA: A Kiss, If You Please
AKA: Shall We Kiss?

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Uneasy French comedy that straddles the line between awkward and guilt.
A couple meet one morning, make a connection, go on a perfect date - a long perfect date, wind up having a drink in her hotel room. Along the way, we realize both are in relationships.
He requests a kiss - she declines. Instead, she offers a story of the consequences of the innocent kiss.

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The couple were platonic best friends. She was married, he had relationships.
They had always had chemistry, however. The flame never died.
Why did they never date? Marry? Unexplained.
Eventually they did make tentative, fumbling moves in that direction yielding to an explosion of passion.
This half of the film innocent, goofy and funny. Before the guilt and fallout.
Most in the room enjoyed the first half, all giggles and accelerating heartbeats. Second half, not so much.
Comedy with a bitter aftertaste.
Restrained, almost symbolic set design if you notice those things.
 

Vultural

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Angel Guts - Red Classroom - 1979 - 6/10

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Second, and arguably most acclaimed installment of the rather sordid series.
Editor of magazine runs across an old stag reel featuring an assault reenactment.
The acting was so realistic, especially from the victim, the editor decides to track her down.
Find her he does, working at a love hotel (hot sheets joint), and he offers to feature her in a quality photo shoot.
During discussion, he realizes the line between acting and acted upon had been crossed during that stag film.
Also, he realizes she has become one damaged, very broken soul.
Nikkatsu Roman Porno, so expect high percentage of nudity, fair amount of violence, and numerous joustings.
Also, because of tight Japanese censorship, expect the strategically placed flower vase, stick of furniture, casually tossed pillow. For all the excessive gropings and sobbings, you will have a perfect idea just what is going on -- you just won’t get to see it.
 

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The Rewrite - 2014 - 6/10

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Being rather generous here, scoring a 6 for stale goods.
Hugh Grant plays washed up Hollywood screenwriter who accepts teaching position in upstate New York.
He is supposed to select his class by reading over 100 thirty page screenplays.
Instead he checks social profiles and chooses a room full of hotties and two male geeks.
No competition then, for him in his role of Lord Of The Thighs.
A series of glaring social faux pas alienates fellow instructors and students. (All that rang false and forced.)
Though technically in the rom com genre, this is lightweight in romance and comedy.
 

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Christmas Holiday - 1944 - 6/10

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One of the most misleading Christmas titles ever.
After young lieutenant receives his commission, he shows comrades an engagement ring, then receives the Dear John telegram.
He opts to fly to San Francisco, nonetheless, have it out with the woman who dumped him and married another.
Narrative shifts almost immediately as his passenger plane is forced down by bad weather to New Orleans.
A newsman tags the lieutenant as a lost soul and takes him to a “sporting house” where he meets one of the girls, Deanna Durbin.
They go to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, then to an all night coffee shop, where she starts to tell how a nice girl from Vermont wound up in a Louisiana brothel.
She fell in love with a ne’er do well weakling (Gene Kelly - bit of odd casting).
Depressing Christmas Noir, with almost every single character miserable, doomed, unhappy.
Durbin regarded this as her best film.
 

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God Help The Girl - 2014 - 8/10

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Three minutes in, I asked, “Is this based on a musical?”
The females who selected this quickly answered, “I hope not.”
There were songs throughout - lots of them.
Internal songs, numbers for a prospective concert, others, to quote Mr Wilson, busy doing nothing.
A small percentage will love this film, destined to become a cult fave. A greater proportion will shrug or dislike.
The cinematography is stylized and lush. For some, and this will be the last spike, there are dance numbers.
Odd coming of age tale, omitting the typical love angle.
Troubled girl escapes from clinic / halfway house, goes to Glasgow, tries to work on her song craft.
The theme is of the friends you make in your late teens, early twenties. Your peers.
The ones who help you through the awkward, often painful transition into adulthood.
The ones who, for the briefest of springs, mean the whole world to you.

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Yet that period is so very brief.
Bittersweet, and again, not everyone will enjoy.
 

Vultural

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The Great War - 1964 - 9/10

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Grandfather of war documentaries and one of the greatest documentaries ever made.
At a whopping 26 episodes, this is thorough, well researched, and fair minded.
In 1964 many veterans of World War I still survived and they spoke throughout.
Officer aides, footsoldiers, villagers. English, French, Germans, Austrians, Australians, Turks . . .
Minor shortcoming is that few of the interviewees are identified.
Mountains of newsreel footage, campaign maps and strategies. Surprise victories, bitter defeats.
Initial episodes are not even battle related, but background history and events leading up to conflict.

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We are still in the 100 year anniversary of WWI; this documentary shows how easy it is to slip into wars, all flag waving and shouting, and how difficult it becomes to get out of them.
Resentments, alliances, race hatred. Realities true during Caesar’s and Napoleon’s era, resonate today.
Several years in, World War I becomes one of attrition, deprivation and endurance.
On both sides, on-leave soldiers grasp how civilians, far removed behind the lines, no longer care about the war nor the soldiers bleeding and dying in miserable trenches, who stand forgotten. Much as today.
 

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Amalfi: Rewards Of The Goddess - 2009 - 6/10
AKA - Amarufi: Megami no hôshû / アマルフィ 女神の報酬

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Touristy thriller follows Japanese diplomat Kuroda as he helps prepare for G8 summit in Italy.
He gets sidetracked when a small girl is kidnaped. Distractingly so. The mother, who was art-gazing instead of watching her daughter is over emotional, antagonistic, and irresponsible.
I pity the diplomat and kept thinking, “She wants to go it alone, let her.”
The film cannot escape its television roots, despite spectacular photography. It feels like a two part series.
First hour pursues the kidnapping, the second broadens into conspiracy.
The photography, by the way, is stunning. Picture postcard of Italy - minus those pesky tourists.
When did they film? 5:00 - 6:00 AM?
Enjoyable, though lightweight.
I never figured out what the “goddess" of the translated title meant.
There were no Greco-Roman deities, no plus sized women.
Events occurred during the Christmas season, so this might be an alternative for jaded holiday viewers.
Oh yeah - Sarah Brightman alert. “Time To Say Goodbye” . . . twice.
 

bionicbob

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Vultural said:
The Rewrite - 2014 - 6/10

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Being rather generous here, scoring a 6 for stale goods.
Hugh Grant plays washed up Hollywood screenwriter who accepts teaching position in upstate New York.
He is supposed to select his class by reading over 100 thirty page screenplays.
Instead he checks social profiles and chooses a room full of hotties and two male geeks.
No competition then, for him in his role of Lord Of The Thighs.
A series of glaring social faux pas alienates fellow instructors and students. (All that rang false and forced.)
Though technically in the rom com genre, this is lightweight in romance and comedy.

I think I would score this one slightly higher, maybe 7.5... I agree very predictable but my wife and I loved Grant's role and his line delivery throughout, he is so blunt and honest, that we found it hilarious. Also JK Simmons is always good, no matter how crappy the movie lol
 

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Vultural said:
What If - 2014 - 7/10

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Tart romantic comedy.
Couple meet at a party, chat, drift away, but leave together so he walks her home.
She doesn’t invite him inside, advising her boyfriend will be so worried.
Instead, she writes down her phone number and says “call me.”
Oh yeah, whatever.
Still, being squarely in the romantic genre, they do succumb to natural attraction and become buddies.
Each is on the other’s friend shelf.
Dialogue driven film, rather clever dialogue, with characters who are career professionals, who don’t want to cause or inflict emotional carnage, but who also don’t want to miss out on the real thing.
Good date film. Know thyself, though. These are not giggling twenty year olds, nor is the film aimed at that crowd.
I wanted to like this one more than I did, but the characters would simply not shut up for even a moment, and their constant prattling over one vapid subject after another (many of them scatological) ended up bugging the heck out of me. Then there were weird tone shifts, including a second-story pratfall so ludicrous I was sure it was an Imagine Spot... but no, it was real. And the girl's ultra-cutesy butterflies-and-ponies animation job... ugh. Watchable, and tolerable, but I wouldn't recommend it.
 

Vultural

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Gaith said:
I wanted to like this one more than I did, but the characters would simply not shut up for even a moment, and their constant prattling over one vapid subject after another (many of them scatological) ended up bugging the heck out of me. Then there were weird tone shifts, including a second-story pratfall so ludicrous I was sure it was an Imagine Spot... but no, it was real. And the girl's ultra-cutesy butterflies-and-ponies animation job... ugh. Watchable, and tolerable, but I wouldn't recommend it.

I enjoy gabby films. French, New York, Woody Allen, indie, et al ...
I watch action fare, though seldom bother to review.
Have fairly more tolerance for chatty younger characters than oldsters.
Possibly because millennials are more optimistic, geezers often cynical or bombastic.
Don't know. Might have to consider.
 

Gaith

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^ Oh, I've got nothing inherent against gabby movies whatsoever. Love Casablanca, Charlie Wilson's War, The Social Network, Moneyball, Pride and Prejudice, the Before trilogy, Nixon, Recount, Conspiracy (HBO), and more... but talk, like action, can start to grate if it there's too much of it saying too little. The young people I know discuss politics, global events, how to make a difference in the world, the environment, and other serious matters as well as idle chit-chat, and What If's dialogue was pretty much all the latter and none of the former, and that got irritating by the end, as I felt the producers wanted a young and hip audience but were terrified of anything that might offend anyone in the corporate distribution chain. And though I do like to think of myself as a bit of an intellectual, I don't give talky movies extra points over more visual/action-oriented ones if they're not saying anything of interest. ;-)


Point Break (2015)

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Haven't seen the original. Some cool sequences when seen on a fairly large screen in 3D, and a pleasantly retro-timeless visual aesthetic (dark, rich colors everywhere, a minimum of electronic screens for a contemporary movie, and extensive use of an actual chalkboard in the second half) that makes it nice to look at, which is well considering how lifeless the dialogue and character work are. It's fine.

B-
 

Vultural

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The Two Faces of January - 2014 - 6/10

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Sleeper, psychological thriller / mystery based on Patricia Highsmith work.
If you know this particular author, you expect unpleasantness.
Circa mid-60s. Cheap hustler working female tourists in Athens, encounters a pair of fellow Americans.
Married couple, who are con artists and scammers on a higher level.
The college kid is drifting around, they are on the run.
They begin helping / using each other, each maneuvering for advantage.
Glamorous period clothes, especially appealing on Dunst.
Rugged, rock strewn scenery throughout Greece and Crete underscore the moral bleakness.
No likeable characters in seedy, on-the-run story.
 

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Coma - 2005 - 7/10

Surprisingly, there are few Asian dramas that are Horror themed.
There are a couple that touch on elements, such as Vampire Prosecutor, but none go as full bore as this neglected gem.

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Five episode K-drama, set in a closing hospital. Expect dark and deserted corridors.
Everything of value has been relocated and salvage employees scour floor by floor until they come to the door with the heavy steel bar, padlock, chains. In the finest traditions, they break into the sealed room and unleash ...
First episode follows the insurance agent, handling the closure and dealing with patients, particularly one in a coma.
The agent had actually been there ten years earlier, so there are flashbacks showing what happened ten years ago and what in now unearthed.
Second episode, same night, follows the head nurse once the sealed room is open and flashes back to when she was a young nurse.
Third episode, the police detective. Fourth episode - you get the pattern.

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Atmospheric sound design, inspired use of minimal budget, clever lighting.
Each episode reveals more grim history.
Halloween fare for spooky hospital fans, revenge seekers, dead wet girls.
Excellent, self-contained Horror series.
 

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Dreams Of A Life - 2011 - 7/10

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Documentary about a woman's corpse, found in her London bedsit.
She had died three years earlier, Christmas presents around her, telly still running.
Three years. How could anyone be so forgotten?
Interviews with old friends and coworkers served to remind us by what slender threads we hang onto each other.

I had written dozens of stories about a previous workplace.
Almost everyone gave me permission to continue using their first names. Many were now successful, a few famous.
I couldn't find one person, though. None of us could. It was as if she had vanished.
At a recent party, R said, "Some people don't want to be found."
While watching Dreams Of A Life, I remembered my old colleague, the one who slipped away.
 

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Hackney’s Finest - 2014 - 6/10

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Acceptable crime spoof that launches interesting, stumbles at the end.
Rogue copper tries to bust drug courier network.
After a savage interrogation of a suspect, he gets what he thinks is his first break.
He enlists a Russian crew for the dirty work, the courier has a Jamaican connection.
Accents = Cockney, Pakistani, Russian, Chechen, Jamaican, Oxford, dunno what else.
Brace for a degree of incomprehension unless you are a UK local.
Fun ride for much of the film, but budget limitations apparent by the end.
Ran out of energy, laughs, twists.
Caveat emptor - overdose of drug use in this, lot of free basing.
 

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Big Eyes - 2014 - 7/10

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Based on the true story of Margaret Keane who drew wildly popular “big eyed" children in the 50s and 60s.
Her husband claims credit, since womenfolk lack serious artistic talent.
Christopher Waltz steals more than credit, he steals every scene with his cringeworthy portrayal of the oily husband.
This is a Tim Burton film and I was concerned going in that it would be another excursion into repetitive weirdness.
Not to worry, this was a straight ahead drama / female empowerment journey with nice San Francisco locations.
Turns out Burton is an admirer and collector of her work.
Narrative never drags, though it is spare on the aftermath.
Terence Stamp delicious as sarcastic art critic.

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Creepy, big eyed children would make perfect zombies.
 

Vultural

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A Christmas Horror Story - 2015 - 6/10

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Per title, holiday horror, anthology style.
North Pole finds Mr. Claus squared off against elves going zombie on him.
Rest of the film takes place around Bailey Downs.
High school journalist students break into school during holiday to investigate mysteriously slaughtered students.
Father - mother - son climb over the “NO TRESPASSING” sign to chop a Christmas tree.
Bickering family visit reclusive, wealthy auntie where a bored, disrespectful son breaks a Krampus statue.
Anchoring the stories is a midnight DJ - Shatner.
Narratives weave back n forth instead of proceeding consecutively, which has irked ADD types on IMDB.
OK enough time waster. Few scares. Couple of points for invention and giving Krampus screen time.
 

ssj

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^ aweshum—will have to check that out. thanks for the find, virtua fighter!

centuries ago, when i was in college, i thought of painting/drawing a picture of santa in a fevered melee battle against elves. i didn't have the graphic talent to pull it off, so it never got done, but having such thoughts means i'm probably in the right demographic for this fare.
 

Vultural

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Mr. Claus can definitely kick with the best of them.

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TM2YC

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^ I like that they've cast Roy Wood as Santa.
 
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