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A few reviews

Vultural

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Incident - 1948 - 5/10

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Often categorized as Noir, this low-rent effort is not.
Cheap budget, poor sets, women with bad perms, men with empty heads.
Poverty Row, B-mystery all the way.
Man misses late bus and decides to walk home.
In a case of mistaken identity, he is mugged and beaten, but not robbed.
Later that week, he decides to find out who beat him up, who hired that guy, and who the intended victim was.
Yes, IQ of a sandwich.
Along the way he meets an intriguing female who keeps a few secrets.
Time waster. There are easily 643 better Noirs out there.
 

Vultural

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Playing The Field - S01 - 1998 - 6/10

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First season following the trials and tribulations of woman’s football club.
Limited pitch action, focus more on domestic dramas.
Infidelities, revelations, screaming matches, tears, cursing.
Probably OK if you can tolerate a limited soaper.

Got this for my wife who follows Premier League, particularly, though not exclusively, Man U.
I was glad when this concluded, gladder when she said she was uninterested in S02.
 

Vultural

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La Rose du Fer - 1973 - 6/10
AKA - Iron Rose // The Rose Of Iron

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Moody, minimalist Jean Rollin film.
When most think of this director’s oeuvre, key words are vampires and lesbians.
None of that here. In fact, this does not even qualify as Horror.
During a wedding banquet, a young male guest stands up and delivers a poem on death.
Applause across the room. Oh, those French.
Moved, a pretty girl agrees to go on a bicycle date with him the next day.
He pedals to a cemetery and in they stroll. The cemetery is magnificent, by the way. A third character.
The pair have a picnic, enjoy themselves in a crypt, and fail to hear the clock strike 12 - strike 2 - strike 5.
Gates are locked and the couple discover they are utterly lost.
Warning - There is next to no plot in this. Iron Rose is pure mood and atmosphere.
Typical of Rollin’s work, a dreamlike quality suffuses the look and tone.
The couple wander the tombstones and lose their direction. Again, this is not a horror film.
Scenes are laden with symbolism, some discernible, others a mystery.
Fans of the director should seek this out. Newcomers ought to find an alternative.
 

Vultural

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The Unthanks - A Very English Winter - 2012 - 7/10

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Folksinger sisters Rachel and Rebecca Unthank explore rural festivals in bleak winter.
They begin on All Souls Night (Halloween) and end on 21 February with a pancake race.
For those sick of it, Christmas is barely mentioned.
This focuses on darker traditions such as ritual combats, door to door begging, bonfires and explosions.
As one said, “The battle between good and evil, played out in the bitter cold.”

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Interesting throughout. Everyone seems cheerful and helpful, but I couldn’t help wondering how perfect such nights would be to commit and conceal a murder or two.
Subtitles might be helpful, the girls have pronounced Northumberland accents.
 

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J'ai Pas Sommeil - 1994 - 6/10
AKA - I Can’t Sleep

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French arthouse territory.
Story tracks a young Lithuanian girl just arriving in Paris to visit great aunt.
Also, it transpires, to meet a playwright or producer who apparently offered her work (?).
Camera trails her around, as well as another immigrant working the transgender entertainment sphere.
Without spoiling the plot, there is sporadic police activity and surveillance throughout.
In the background, there is the third thread of a shadowy “granny killer.”
Absorbing study of the Parisian underbelly.
Not an especially “fun” film, yet it held my interest.
Betty Blue fans, Béatrice Dalle has supporting role.
 

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The Lady Vanishes - 1979 - 3/10

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Early in the year, but this has set the low bar. One of the worst pieces of crap I’ve viewed in ages.
Pointless remake of the Hitchcock classic, featuring two godawful American leads, irritating music, and a wasted supporting cast.
Gabby nanny type, who may or may not be a spy, disappears from train in Nazi occupied territory.
Cybill Shepherd especially good/horrible as shrill, whining American heiress who demands to know what happened to her new English friend (underused Angela Lansbury). I would have paid for anyone to have hurled her off the train, moving or stopped, off a bridge or into quicksand, didn’t matter. She was painful.
A bored Elliot Gould plays the male hero. Shepherd and Gould have the chemistry of a pair of cracked duck eggs.
 

Vultural

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The Love Punch - 2013 - 4/10

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Tedious, forced comedy, undermined further with a totally implausible script and broad over-acting.
Felt like rehashed 60s farce.
Pierce Brosnan (who does not look well here) plays soon-to-retire tycoon who sells business, only to discover he sold to a corporate raider who emptied all accounts, including pensions. His included.
With ex-wife (Emma Thompson) and two neighbor friends he decides to crash the raider’s wedding and steal a diamond worth £10 million.
OK, call me jaded. £10 million is the haul? For his pension account, his ex’s retirement, other colleague’s money, the kids’ money, etc ... £10 million?
Moreover, didn’t his company have lawyers or accountants to protect from that? Or litigate afterward?
Pensions are usually sacrosanct. Separate from all other elements of negotiations. So I never bought that angle.
Their method of crashing a wedding - which I shall not spoil - is preposterous.
Trust me, my wife and I have crashed many a wedding, domestic and abroad. Always for champagne and nibbles.
This film is OK enough if you are undemanding and in the mood for old fashioned corn.
 

Vultural

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Kafka - 1991 - 7/10

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Non-descript insurance clerk (and part time writer), Franz Kafka, finds himself entangled with revolutionaries, secret police, anarchists, spies, and the imperious palisade known as The Castle.
Highly stylized film by Soderbergh is part Noir, part Gothic.
Unsettling narrative steeped in paranoia and anxiety.
Third act “Castle” sequence borrows heavily from Brazil. The same black humour abides, though in Kafka it is more brittle, less fatalistic.
Dialogue often conveyed multiple meanings so one has to keep alert.
Outstanding set design (Prague) of empty streets, endless midnight.
Kafka’s works, like Orwell’s, grow disturbingly relevant to our era.
 

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Vexed - S01 - 2010 - 7/10

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Three episodes of acid comedy, satirizing cop shows.
Toby Stephens jaw-dropping as clueless, no-check-switch, politically incorrect police inspector.
Lucy Punch as his sharp-tongued partner, prone to violent outbursts.
Truly funny in a mean, cruel, black-humored manner.
For those who appreciated Touch Of Cloth, only more wicked.
yνῶθι σεαυτόν

Have not viewed S02 yet. It aired two years later and supposedly
replaced one character and toned down Stephens’ cringe producing behaviour.
If true, too bad. Suits making creative decisions.
 

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Prog Rock Britannia - An Observation In Three Movements - 2009 - 6/10

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Ha ha ha.
Zillions of notes, oddball time signatures, fairyland lyrics, Roger Dean art, Gabriel’s outfits, the madness.
Plus Keith Emerson stabbing his keyboard with the knife!
Hour and a half documentary highlighting wild excesses with amused performers.
Why do a song in 3 minutes when you can do it in 33 minutes? Or longer!
Wait till you hear how many groupies the Prog guys pulled. Zero!
I still have my Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Emerson Lake Palmer, Captain Beyond, Tull, several others.
On vinyl and CD! Ha ha, what a geek!
Ha ha ha. Great times.
 

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84 Charing Cross Road - 1987 - 7/10

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Love letter to readers and book collectors.
Based on the correspondence between New Yorker Helene Hanff and the staff of Marks & Co (especially Frank Doel) in London.
Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins well cast.
Film has nice feel for the post war rationing and hardships in England.
The era of acquiring fine, leatherbound classics (albeit secondhand) for £1 4s 6d is gone, gone, gone.
Meanwhile. the current era indicates actual, physical books are fading as well.
Quiet film, worth viewing if you have not seen it.
 

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Romantics Anonymous - 2011 - 6/10

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French fluff. Romantic comedy of painfully shy woman and man who is afraid of females.
They meet at his failing chocolate factory, where she hires on as a salesman.
Unbeknownst to him, she is a master chocolatière in her own right.
Will she step up? Will she save the company? Will the shy pair get together?
Predictable - enjoyable. And a lot of mouth watering chocolate.
 

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Abwege - 1928 - 7/10
AKA - The Devious Path

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German silent, directed by Pabst.
Very much a precursor to Pandora’s Box and Diary Of A Lost Girl, this also explores moral shortcomings and the lifeless underbelly of the decadent Weimar.
Wife (Brigitte Helm), married to strait-laced fuss-bucket banker, deserts him one night to party with “more liberated” friends in hedonistic club.
Banker sits at home, window wide open, letting in blasts of freezing air, thinking of divorce options.
The club sequence, meanwhile, is a showstopper, and goes on for perhaps twenty minutes.

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Pabst revels in the excitement, the loose morality, the sheer boredom, the drunken excesses, the hazy confusion.
Far better than most films I’ve watched, this gives a real feel to the jittery edge of Berlin before the street riots between Communists and Nazis.
Ending displayed the censor’s hand, unlike the bleak pit of Pabst’s next two films.
 

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Bullitt - 1968 - 8/10

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Definitive McQueen anti-hero, exuding cool elegance.
Officer Frank Bullitt assigned to babysit mob snitch, finds himself set up as patsy for incompetence.
Brilliant procedural as detective and partner pick up the seemingly dead trail, and unravel a brilliant plan.
Film punctuated by three chase sequences, one a legend in movie history.
Wonderful Lalo Schifrin score, gorgeous San Francisco scenery.
Muscle cars at full throttle, terrific stunt driving, no - NO - computer fakery.

Anytime I read about a remake, I cringe, knowing soon-to-be dated music would blare throughout, drowning out the roar of V8s.
 

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Late August, Early September - 1998 - 7/10
AKA - Fin Août, Début Septembre

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French drama follows a group of friends as they, more or less, relate to each other and to the ailing writer in the center of their midst.
Gabriel breaks up with Jenny who, nevertheless, wants him back even though he is in a relationship with Anne.
These are creative types - artists, writers, designers, publishers - who form an unrelated family.
Most seem constantly broke, yet dine out frequently and wear nice clothes.
Characters are supposedly young adults maturing, but many are too old to be believable.
Very talky, and little seems to get accomplished all around, though fans of French cinema are used to this.
Whether you enjoy might depend on personal taste and if you can relate.
I actually belong to one of those “unrelated families” so it was easy to identify.
Note the date:  The whole publishing angle - actual books and readers - strikes me as long, long ago now.
 

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Ex Machina - 2015 - 6/10

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Buzzworthy SpecFi (as opposed to SciFi) started irking me from the onset with numerous plotholes and logic leaps.
Hotshot programmer for mega Internet company wins competition for dream date week with the boss.
Turns out, what he really gets to do is test AI (artificial intelligence) on prototype robot with female face.
Dialogue driven tale, as boss - programmer - robot all play word games, maneuver, glean info.
High stakes office politics, ethical and intellectual, with a sexual undercurrent.
Several gorgeous outdoor sequences, notwithstanding, movie feels stagebound.

One is supposed to suspend disbelief, more so with futuristic fare. Still, this film asks for a lot of suspending.
Issues (possible spoilers) - A two hour helicopter flight? Pretty far without refueling.
Also, who can acquire so much acreage nowadays? Who is selling?
Vast, spotless complex. Not a roomba in sight, let alone janitor, guard, or most anyone else.
Want to avoid spoiling, so just random holes -
... alcohol crutch ... / / ... power outages ... / / ... team members? ... / / ... battery life ... / / ... restraining gizmo ...
Alicia Vikander memorable as bewitching Ava. Male characters - limitations abound.
 

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Lucky Bastard - 2013 - 5/10

“Found footage” movie suffers from the usual “found footage” flaw - dead air grinding momentum to a halt.
Film in this production was assembled from a porn shoot that turned bloody.
Ah, porn and violence, the unwary are already lured.
Premise is that one random fan of paid porn website gets to bang pornstar. The lucky bastard.
The starlet has veto power, and her intuition warns her about one particular guy.
Still, guess who gets selected?

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Despite the genre, no penetration, no money shots. Gratuitous nudity aplenty, though.
Decent casting in this, with several familiar actors.
Script is laced with inside jokes, dark humor, stretches of boredom, and the creepy build.
If the concept sounds familiar, Boogie Nights had the sequence where Rollergirl filmed sex with winners in Jack’s limousine, which didn’t go so well.
Likewise for most in this film.
 

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Forgot about this thread :)

So...

Psycho II: 8/10
I was shocked how good this movie was. Seriously, very good to me. Maybe it was because I thought it would be garbage I don't know.
Of course the cinematography is weak compared to the Hitch, but damn, for a 1983 movie there are enough plot twists to leave you satisfied.


Psgycho III: 6/10
Enjoyable average 80's horror movie.
Perkins is still good in the role (he also directed the movie by the way) but it is in no way on par with Pyscho II, let alone the first masterpiece.
 

bionicbob

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Two movies I recently discovered on Netflix that I enjoyed probably way more than I should have....

LAST KNIGHTS - starring Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman

A traditional samurai tale transplanted into a mythical kingdom. While predictable and a plodding second act, it has a strong cast, great visuals and fight sequences. Plus I am sucker for epic tales of Honor and Revenge.
7/10.

Okay, this next one has a couple different names depending where it was released...
CURSE OF THE DRAGON SLAYER
aka SAGA: THE SHADOW CABAL

This one really surprised me! Yes it is very low budget (it was actually Kickstarter supported) and a definite B-Movie, but if you grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons or reading Dragonlance, then you will get a kick out of this movie! This is not Asylum or Syfy crap, this actually has some quality to it... lol. Some great costume/make-up design, the acting is a bit uneven, the scenery is beautiful, fight choreography needs polish and editing needs to be tighten, but still a good yarn of a Human Cleric, an Elven Bounty Hunter and an honourable Orc on a quest to stop the rise of a great evil.
6.5 out of 10.
 

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Wild Target - 2010 - 5/10

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Hitman Bill Nighy is hired to kill con-woman Emily Blunt after she cheats Rupert Everett with a fake Rembrandt. Nighy's character is amused by her, then intrigued, protective, finally in love.
Odd British "comedy" with a who's who of talent including Eileen Atkins, Rupert Grint and Martin Freeman.
At one point, during an absurd car chase, I turned to my companion and asked aloud if Benny Hill was still alive.
To be fair, my companion, already tipsy, loved this silly farce way more than I.
OK time waster.
 
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