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A few reviews

Vultural

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Lambert And Stamp - 2014 - 6/10

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Somewhat bipolar documentary of duo who managed The Who, detailing the calculated rise followed by litigation.
Doc can be divided into "€œbefore Tommy" and "after Tommy."
Meaning it is entertaining and absorbing up to that point, as the group struggles to strike maximum success.
Mostly talking head interviews, clippings, old footage, usual documentary material.
After Tommy hurls the group into Rock’s upper echelon, the narrative begins to skip over details.
There was a falling out, that is not clearly explored nor explained.
At one point the pair were discharged for "€œmismanagment," though Stamp loudly protested.
Little Google research indicates Mr Lambert had been skimming royalties for a substance problem.
Embezzlement?
The whole second half is filled with unanswered questions.  When did Lambert die?  Where?  What causes?
In one scene, why did Daltrey refuse to talk with Stamp in the garden?
Stamp also died in 2012 - no mention is made of that.
Hardcore Who fans will likely enjoy this more than average viewers.
Bear in mind, this is a documentary about the managers, not the group itself.
 

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Two Days, One Night - 2015 - 6/10
AKA - Deux jours, une nuit

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Many unanswered questions litter this Belgium/French film.
Just as Sandra is ready to return to her workplace, she learns she has been laid off.
Workmates were given a vote: Keep Sandra, or let her go and get a bonus of €1000 each.
Late Friday, the employer agrees to a second vote on Monday morning.
There were only 16 employees involved, and the narrative follows Sandra as she goes from house to house, person to person, begging to reinstate her job and give up that bonus.
A moral dilemma, to be sure, and sadly, not uncommon.

To be blunt, I did not like Sandra. She was out with depression (film did not say how long), she pops Xanacs like candy, suffers repeated meltdowns, and constantly gives up.
All of us have worked with characters like Sandra. Quitters, whiners, weak souls everyone else must carry.
Females who watched with me, were grudgingly more sympathetic.
They said I have no conception of what it is like to deal with moodswings and raging hormones.
Too bad, find another line of work.
 

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The Limey - 1999 - 8/10

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Dazzling tour de force from Soderbergh in one of his smaller, artier projects.
Career criminal (menacing Terence Stamp), out of prison, learns daughter died in Los Angeles.
As he investigates, obstacles and foes try to thwart him, confirming his suspicions.
Violence is this is casual, often throwaway, often funny. Blink - say at the pool - you may miss it.
At its essence, a revenge film, this is a masterclass in editing.
Layered flashbacks and a diced narrative might confuse ADD souls, though alert viewers will have few difficulties.
Acting across the board (Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren, Barry Newman, Luis Guzmán) terrific.
Music score weaves 60s pop with brooding piano.
Bickering audio commentary with Soderbergh and scriptwriter Lem Dobbs insightful re:creative compromises.
 

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Supermensch - 2013 - 7/10

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Eye raising factually, but highly entertaining documentary on Shep Gordon.
Manager to Alice Cooper, Blondie, Teddy Pendergrass, Pink Floyd (for barely a week), Luther Vandross,
Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Groucho Marx, King Sunny Ade, Gipsy Kings, Jean Luc Ponty,
Rick James, Pointer Sisters, Raquel Welch . . .
Stories are all funny and genuinely amazing, though the overall tone is one of endless backslapping.
Gordon was married to a Playboy model (not interviewed), dated Sharon Stone for years (not interviewed).
He was a tough businessman, none of his rivals were interviewed.
One gets the impression he remains a serial womanizer, which might explain why so few females appear.
Score is purely for entertainment value. Dock a couple points if shadows and darker honesty is your preference.
 

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Freeheld - 2015 - 6/10

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Biopic of Laurel Hester, New Jersey cop for 23 years who developed Stage 4 lung cancer.
When she requested her pension be awarded to her life partner, Stacie, the county board (all male) declined her request.
Multiple reasons are offered, though the main one is - Gasp! Your life partner is ..? You mean, lesb --?
Scenes inside committee meetings seem one-sided.
Most controversial social debates display multiple voices: pro and con. That is glimpsed in the 2007 documentary Freeheld on which this film is derived.
Movie comes off as over-earnest, heart tugging, emotionally manipulative.
Not that there is anything ostensibly wrong with that, fine movies do so often. Yet this is obvious.
Those expecting Julianne Moore to echo her portrayal from Still Alice will be disappointed.
Midway, her character disappears and yields center stage to others.
 

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Not Waving, But Drowning - 2012 - 6/10

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Almost tempted to bump an extra point for style and music alone.
Story of two friends heading off to New York, entering glamorous territory.
At the last minute, the father of one girl refuses to let her go.
Dual narratives from then on.
One girl struggles in New York, meeting dirt types, as well as better souls.
Left behind, the other girl finds work in an assisted living home for seniors.
Both try to stay in contact, but everyone knows how hard it is to stay connected with texts or phone.
Even as they miss each other, you realize they are on different currents, drifting apart.
After awhile*, this held my interest. The movie is very much female oriented, though, and women tend to respond and relate more strongly to this.

*awhile = An unrelated short film precedes the movie.
Apologists are defending it, but it does not fit, is slow and stagnant.
It only runs 15 minutes. Fast forward if you start nodding off.
 

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Hunderby - 2012 - 7/10

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Genius! Sheer genius!
Wicked spoof of Jane Austen shows, overwrought Brontë series, even Gothic potboilers like Rebecca.
Eight part series follows young Helene (an identity she assumed) as she marries local curate (marriage #2 for him, after first wife disappeared), and all the shenanigans (primarily sexual) occurring in tiny village.
Each episode less than 30“ and features truly fruity dialogue. Examples
“I wish I could lie with thee forever, nuzzling thy nectar nook.”
“You have conjured some fevered notion that I am eaten up with lust for another, and wake each hour with sticky britches.”
“I should love to plunge you, and stay inside you all day like a dozing mouse.”
All lines delivered dead-panned. I don’t know how actors did this straight faced.
 

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All Good Things - 2010 - 7/10

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Blonde, middle class Katie (Dunst) falls in love with David Marks (Gosling), über rich, heir apparent to Times Square properties.
David is a weak bundle of insecurities. Love goes astray until one night Katie disappears.
Though never tried, David, by many accounts, was believed responsible.
Based on true events.
For earnest souls who believe in Justice exists in this world - or karma - this is not your film.
Well acted, yet there was an overall coolness, an aura of disengagement, in the narrative.
 

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Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship - 2008 - 6/10

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Hugh Hefner produced documentary about risque goings on in the Silent era and Pre Code Hollywood.
Slick rehashing of well worn terrain. Sex sells, it always has.
Folks who protested never went to movies anyway.
Onscreen and off, misdeeds included Fatty, the murder of Desmond Taylor, mantraps Clara and Louise.
No mention of Convention City, Chaplin's escapades, Gary Cooper, Flynn , etc ...
 

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Everyone Else - 2009 - 4/10

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German romantic drama.
A tenuous couple vacation in Sardinia, and realize they are incompatible.
He is a promising, young architect, serious, and stems from money.
She is poorer, would rather dance than read, and works as a music rep.*
Slow, talky. Characters neither likable nor unlikable. B-o-r-i-n-g.
Next time I suffer insomnia, this might be the cure.

* The girl worked as a Uni rep. Say what?
Most music field reps got canned from 2000 on, in increasing numbers as the filesharing decade progressed.
That lack of credibility, one of dozens of missteps, make the characters and film phoney.
Had she been a zombie bounty hunter, I would have found more believable.
 

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Vultural said:
All Good Things - 2010 - 7/10

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Blonde, middle class Katie (Dunst) falls in love with David Marks (Gosling), über rich, heir apparent to Times Square properties.
David is a weak bundle of insecurities. Love goes astray until one night Katie disappears.
Though never tried, David, by many accounts, was believed responsible.
Based on true events.
For earnest souls who believe in Justice exists in this world - or karma - this is not your film.
Well acted, yet there was an overall coolness, an aura of disengagement, in the narrative.

You should watch The Jinx, by the same director. It's engaging.
 

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Poulet Aux Prunes - 2011 - 7/10
AKA - Chicken With Plums

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Overlooked arthouse film exudes dreamlike atmosphere.
French film, with French leads, but the setting is Tehran and so is the story.
Renowned violinist loses his will to live after his beloved instrument is destroyed.
Film tracks his final eight days, each day filled with flashbacks and music.
The tone skips from comic to poignant to heart-breaking.
One views this more for images and scenes. The colour selection is radiant.

On a cerebral level, logic is subservient to plot. ( Note TM2YC's comments in #874 following. )
- POSSIBLE SPOILERS -
Meaning, for twenty years main character was globe-trotting concert violinist, suddenly he is a school teacher?
Or - when he decides to die, no one intervenes to stop him?

That said, the film does state from the onset,
“Persian fairy tales always begin this way.”
Viewed that way, one should suppress skepticism and simply enjoy.
 

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C B G B - 2013 - 6/10

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Alan Rickman as Hilly Kristal, founder and manager of New York’s CBGB club.
Groups in movie include Television, Blondie, Dead Boys, Ramones.
Cartoon panels used throughout. Mirrors the secondary narrative of PUNK magazine.
Narrative and characters pounce around faster than a Ramones song.
Just keep up, damnit.
Packed with songs and history.
Accurate? No idea
Rickman shines in one of his last head-lining roles.
 

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Vultural said:
Poulet Aux Prunes - 2011 - 7/10
AKA - Chicken With Plums

I loved the comic book and meant to check out the movie when filming was announced but never did. I must check it out after your positive comments!

Vultural said:
logic is subservient to plot

As far as I was aware, it's an unusual but true biography of Marjane Satrapi's (writer/director) great-uncle.
 

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Battle In Outer Space - 1958 - 5/10
AKA - Uchû daisensô / 宇宙大戦争

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Earth’s space station gets attacked and destroyed by alien spacecraft.
World leaders assemble and scientists explain the invaders (the Natal) have a base on the Moon.
Fortunately, Japan reveals they have already constructed two rocket ships.  And a ray gun.
Small scale war ensues.
The Moon parts are fine, decent sets, good models, inventive special effects.
Lunar explorer pods are amusingly suggestive.

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The pint-sized Natal are clearly children, though.  Earth cosmonaut costumes most unstylish.
In many regards, this is refried Mysterians from 1957, an altogether superior film which boasted a finer score.
Even the saucers look like the Natal jacked them from Mysterian.
OK enough, but not the first choice for vintage Toho SciFi.
 

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Vanishing Point - 1971 - 7/10

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Cult drive-in favorite of cross country car chase.
Car delivery driver (repo maybe?) wagers he can get supercharged Dodge Challenger R/T (pure muscle) from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours.
Highway patrols in Colorado - Nevada - California soon in pursuit.
Sparse dialogue, diverse music selection, roaring V-8s.
While on surface a “chase” film, it is actually a sly character study, and observations of “freedom."
The driver’s (Kowalski) story is gradually revealed in flashbacks, newspaper clippings, and police dispatches.
Memorable side characters include a blind DJ, grizzled prospector, nude motorcyclist.
Hypnotic ride - Pointless remake in 1997 for spoonfed types.

Note - In the early 80s, ten years after this, I met a retired guy who did this.
He returned repo’d luxury cars (Caddies, Lincolns, Beamers) back to home dealers.
He got paid for fuel, motels, meals, airfare home, as well as $300 for driving.
Nice gig for him (got him away from his very bossy wife).
 

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Port Of Forty Thieves - 1944 - 6/10

Decent Republic programmer. More mystery than Noir.
Merry socialite wants to inherit multi-millionaire husband’s estate.
He vanished over seven years ago, so she hires lawyer to establish the death legally.
Slight wrinkle - clues, such as cheques signed by missing millionaire, keep appearing.
Impossible, the wife thinks - and knows - since she murdered him.
At less than an hour, this B-film speeds along with more murder, attempted murder, blackmail.
One darkly enjoyable element is Stephanie Bachelor’s portrayal of the widowmaker.

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Cheerful and sunny throughout, when scheming, even when killing, she is a woman who enjoys her work.
Nice to see.
 

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Lucky Them - 2015 - 6/10

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Character study of aging music critic (Toni Collette) ordered to do article on vanished icon.*
Tracking the missing is just the device. The story is about standing in place, unable to move forward.
She still prowls small clubs, has one night stands with increasingly younger musicians. (Collette, 40, resembles 50.)
Worse, the music magazine she contributes to advises her that her readership is down. She is irrelevant.
The movie becomes a road film, and an old admirer offers assistance if he can film her journey.
Thomas Hayden Church steals every single scene as ultra rich, socially clueless companion.
Funny throughout, filled with tunes you might enjoy in clubs, but never actually give your money for.

* The reclusive artist trope is an oft used one, but it is invariably a myth.
Most artists run out of things to say, grow old and out of step, or their option is not renewed.
They don’t vanish - they are merely discarded, then forgotten.
Stepping away while you are still potent and disappearing for decades is no small trick.
J D Salinger - Syd Barrett - Garbo - Bobbie Gentry - are a small group.
 

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Burning Man - 2011 - 6/10

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Hotshot Australian chef comes to terms with grief via alcohol and hookers.
His son needs attention, the restaurant struggling, and his driving a menace to pedestrians.
Lots of flashbacks of the happy marriage, and the golden moment he had.
Also lots of nudity.
Viewer Beware: Burning Man, was deliberately chopped, edited and rearranged in random sequence. Especially at the beginning, the narrative can be challenging.
Not without rewards, but the total experience can be a sour one.
 

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The Big Short - 2015 - 7/10

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Fun times for those who want to relive the financial meltdown of 2008.
Where tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, lost their homes, their jobs.
Film follows a disparate, unconnected group of traders and brokers who realized the US housing market was built upon crappy loans. If the loans were shoddy, so were the bonds. And the banks who hold those bonds?
At times, the structure is a bit too cute for its own good, with oddball cameos explaining happenings.
Clever, extremely well executed from start to finish - if a shade overlong.
Might be stomach churning for those who suffered through this time - probably most of us.
 
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