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A few reviews


Well-known member
Janis:  Little Girl Blue - 2015 - 6/10


Another documentary on 60s icon Janis Joplin, forty odd years dead.
Does a good job talking with relics and survivors, unearthing a couple forgotten souls.
Copies of letters, photos, the usual concert footage, augmented with a lot of the Festival Express tour.
That was a train tour across Canada with Grateful Dead, The Band, Buddy Guy, Flying Burrito Brothers, Delaney & Bonnie.  (In fact, curious souls would be well advised to seek out 2003 doc Festival Express, a better film than this one.)
The earliest doc, Janis - The Way She Was from 1974, was slightly more sanitized than this (blame family white washing), but there were more survivors and their memories fresher.
Myth blurs with history, and this doc bears the golden haze of nostalgia.


Well-known member
Black Widow - 1954 - 6/10

Glossy potboiler masquerading as Noir.
Broadway producer Van Heflin allows dewy eyed girl to use his apartment during days so she can write.
Instead, she delves into the social register.  The “male” social register.


Soon enough, she is found dangling by the noose.
Detective (George Raft) conducts a rather leisurely hunt while Heflin scrambles for clues.
Ginger Rogers steals movie as diva, Gene Tierney seems subdued.
Very w-i-d-e and lush looking CinemaScope heightens glossy interiors and New York streets.
Noticeably awful sound mix, though.  Early stereo, and it sounds like a third of the dialogue was looped.
Alert viewers will recall title when narrowing suspects.


Well-known member
Carol - 2015 - 7/10


Gorgeous film of attraction leading into fling.
Younger female meets older female.  Age difference, wealth difference, class difference.
The foolish heart that learns through experience.
Set in early 1950s New York, the look is a fashion catalogue.  Clothes, hairstyle, makeup.
Director Todd Haynes shot in Super 16 so there is grain in the film.
Some critics have likened this to Sirk, but I think they are in error.
Sirk’s films are often high-voltage melodramas, and Carol is a subdued mood piece.
Social constrictions abound and repercussions for deviating from the norm glide quietly in the background.


Well-known member
Sumka Dipkuryera - 1927 - 6/10
AKA - The Diplomatic Pouch

Silent Soviet espionage thriller set in the Soviet's version of England, then afloat the steamer, Victoria.
A diplomatic bag, meant for the Bolsheviks, is being furiously sought by Police Inspector White
(undoubtedly a word play on the Reds enemy, the White faction).


Cat n mouse struggles play out inside the confines of cramped and claustrophobic ship.
The villains of the piece, the British secret police, will stop at nothing to intercept the documents.
In their way are the stalwart, Soviet seaman.  Comrades united against capitalist dogs.


The first twenty minutes of the film are considered lost, though you can pick up the narrative easily enough.
Imaginative, expressionistic camera work (director Dovzhenko plays the stoker), energetic music score.
Preachy and dated, but taut and enjoyable, nevertheless.

Note:  The film is easy enough to locate, but subtitles are another matter.
Most subs are for the 70 minute film, though all existing prints are 50 minutes.
Go here for more or less proper subtitles -


I resynced the timings, corrected grammar, spelling, and changed some words to clarify the inter-titles.
If anyone who can read Cyrillic wants to suggest an improvement, please advise.


Well-known member
Intouchables - 2011 - 6/10


French quadriplegic hires unknown streetwise tough as caregiver.
Many have raved about this one, because it is a feel good story.
Not as saccharine or cloying as most of these films are.  Also, no big angst ridden drama moment.
Disparate personalities meeting, sharing perspectives.
Your hunch about what this film is, is likely correct.
I enjoyed this, but even though it was based on a true story, this was a stale happy meal.


Well-known member
Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre - 2015 - 5/10


The above are your typical Arkansas female convicts wearing, I guess, their usual prison attire.
For whatever reason, they are on chain gang duty clearing stumps in the swamp.
During the water break, they all miss their mouths and water soaks their tops.
Oh, sorry, forgot about the narrative proper.
Frakkers (the new environmental villains) detonate a passage to a vast underground sea.
Prehistoric sharks quickly ascend and swish through creeks, streams, even scrub forest.
Because - gasp - they are land sharks!
Plenty of meals, no nudity, scant blood and gore, cursing such as “crap on a cracker.”
Better than Sharktopus, better than Sharknado sequels, but this ain’t Jaws.


Well-known member
Barefoot - 2014 - 6/10


Far-fetched romantic comedy of hustler who meets wide eyed naive soul in mental hospital.
The hustler is a ne’er-do-well, heavily in debt to criminal types.
He takes the girl back to his rich New Orleans family to pass as his girlfriend as he tries to weasel money from dad.
Predictable, a bit by the numbers, and the premise of using that girl is more than a little creepy.
Evan Ward’s portrayal is luminous, though.
She nails this childlike innocent and glows throughout.  Viewers might start looking at the world through her eyes.


Despite preconceptions, less awful than feared.
Mind you - syrupy, romantic date movie all the way.


Well-known member
Toast Of London: S01 - 2012 - 7/10

Perhaps an acquired taste, but if you are one for British humor, this is a gem.
Steven Toast is a journeyman actor, clearly on the downside of his career.
He does voiceover work, TV work when available, indie movies, theatre boards.
Currently his is acting in what is considered one of the worst plays ever.
He is pompous, cocksure (in more ways than one as there is a lot of rogering in this series), extremely annoying to those around him, and tearfully funny as episodes build.
This is packed with theatre jokes and many guest stars.
For a half hour show, it is generous with plot and laughs.
Example - In the S01 finale, Toast auditions for - he wrongly assumes 007 - and screws that up.


Next, he loses a fortune to Lloyd Webber playing poker.  He runs from a hit man, shags a rival’s wife, finds time to act in his nude musical, and mangle his voiceover work.  Awesome Bond opening credits!
Priceless satire.


Well-known member
Scott Walker - 30th Century Man - 2006 - 6/10


Mr. Walker is best remembered as singer in The Walker Brothers, a 60's British Invasion group.
None of the members were brothers or Walkers.
In most of the world, they were known for “The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine.”
In Swinging London, they were a phenomenon.
When the moment was over, Scott followed his own dark, haunted muse, crafting chilling, lonely albums.
Musique concrete.
The documentary charts the path of the most reclusive artist. I appreciated the film, but I didn't rush out to find “Scott 4“ or “Walker Bros Night Flight,” both highly praised.


Well-known member
The Bonnie Parker Story - 1958 - 6/10

Wild retelling of Bonnie & Guy (yes, Guy, not Clyde) and their spree in the panhandle region during the 30s.
Bonnie is the cigar chomping, tommy gun crazy, kickass boss of small time gang.


They knock over hardware stores, gas stations, diners until she bullies her crew into robbing banks.
Film is peppered with explosions, gun battles, car chases, and arguments.
Menfolk don’t stand a chance.
Music is 30s Swing combo, hillbilly, and 50s jukehouse.
Dorothy Provine landed this ultimate hard blonde role and rode it for all it was worth.
Even during lulls, she is electric.



Well-known member
The Grandmaster (2013) 5/10

The Episode 1 of Ip Man / kung fu movies

A confusing mess of a movie, that blows the classic wisdom of show, don't tell. 
Like the Star Wars prequels, great events happen offscreen - onscreen is people talking, people staring off into space, people, yes, standing in front of green screens.
Like Lucas, this director knows how to create visually compelling shots. Unlike Lucas, he also knows how to write dialogue (a lot of rather deep, philosophical dialogue). But the story is dreadful, and the character wooden and unreal.
Even the fight scenes, beautiful though they are, simply pop up at random moments, for very little reason, and have no weight to them as you already know the outcome.
Unfortunately striking images can only carry the film so far and it ends up a boring unfocussed mess. It's Episode 1 of Ip Man films.

(It was perhaps unfortunate that the night before I had re-watched the amazing "Hero". Goodness, that is an incredible movie. Stylized, yes, but the story has depth, emotional heft, and cinematography that blows "grandmaster" (and most other films) out of the water.)


Well-known member
Full Circle - 1977 - 5/10
AKA - The Haunting Of Julia


Ten years after Rosemary, Mia Farrow reprises another haunted mother.
After her daughter dies, she separates from her husband, moves into a large, fully furnished flat that may or may not be haunted, and starts “seeing” her daughter.
Based on the Peter Staub book, before he struck gold with “Ghost Story.”
In the movie, you don’t know why she separates from her husband, though in the book he is clearly overbearing, and perhaps more interested in her trust fund than her.
Implausible common Horror violations include:
1) When the door is locked, then audibly unlocks - you DO NOT go inside.
2) Never EVER descend into the basement when you are alone in an empty house.
Farrow fine as grieving mother, everyone else appears bored.


Well-known member
Tokumei Tantei - S01 - 2012 - 7/10


Terrific detective spoof, that also features solid mysteries.
Each episode is is a single story, so no narrative arc to follow. ( binging not necessary ).
Low rent private eye lives across from strip club, and trio of forever practicing lovelies.
No car, he pedals a pink girl’s bike.  That said, he is a coffee aficionado, and a damn smart dresser.
The clothes and look struck me as prime Disco era, which he wears with flair.
Each episode begins with a damsel in distress:  missing money, lost relative, stalker . . .
Because the detective truly lives on limited means, he does plenty of footwork and deduction.
The tone is lightweight, and Katsunori Takahashi oozes charisma.
Fun series - nine episodes.


Well-known member
Home - 2008 - 6/10


For ten years, the family of five has been living in a beat up, pre-fab wreck of a house less than twenty meters from an abandoned highway.  Funding for the road dried up ten years ago and they have enjoyed rural bliss.
Without warning, road crews arrive, shift all their belongings next to the house, install guardrails.
Next day, traffic arrives.  First a trickle - then a steady stream - finally bumper to bumper.
Endless honking and exhaust fumes.
Film follows how they cope ... and how they don’t cope.

Big problem with the plot is virtually few countries would permit them to remain.  Certainly not France, which is where this is set.
Governments would seize the land by eminent domain (compulsory purchase, resumption, compulsory acquisition, expropriation, etc ...) to protect themselves from potential liability or any legal conflicts.  

Acting, led by Isabel Huppert, fine across the board in depressing movie.


Well-known member
QE2 - The Final Voyage - 2009 - 6/10


Limited audience for this.  Documentary about the final trip of the Cunard liner, QE2.
History - highlights - final run from Southampton to Dubai, interspersed with passenger recollections.
“Limited audience” is a bit fuzzy, though, as the doc states that over a million people have sailed the vessel.
Likely millions more have cruised from port to port.
Belated souvenir for those who walked the Queen Elizabeth 2 gangplank,
perhaps of interest for others who wondered what the “posh boat” was about.

[NSFW]I was actually one of the million souls, in that I sailed the QE2.
For our 20th anniversary, I booked passage, somehow managing to keep it a secret from Zelda.
Our cabin, barely above the water line, was miniscule and barely within our financial means.
I paid extra for a porthole, which, owing to extremely rough seas, was sealed with a steel plate for the duration.

Unlike cruise ships, dinner was black tie, tux or suits for men, gowns for women.
Dinner was also 6:00 PM or 8:00 PM.  Period.
When I advised the agent we would prefer 6:00, he adamantly opposed.
“What’s so bad about 6:00?”  I asked.  - -  “Wheelchairs and walkers.”  - -  Dinner at 8:00 it was.

By sheer luck, the trip was movie themed.  Telluride honchos brought a dozen not-yet-released films.
Speakers included Peter Bogdanovich, Ken Burns, Roger Ebert, Paul Schrader, Chuck Jones.
You could catch lectures or simply share a private conversation in one of the many pubs.

The North Atlantic was rough, the ship groaned and shuddered most of the crossing.
Numerous passengers were seasick.
One of our dinner companions was a young Air Force officer.  One evening he confessed that while jogging on rain soaked decks, he had slipped and had almost slid overboard.  None would have noticed his disappearance.
Intrigued, we asked our guest officer if this had ever happened.  He smiled and gestured indifferently.
"How soon before anyone realized?"  Zelda pressed.
The officer gingerly wiped his mouth with his napkin.  "It would be altogether rude of a guest to leave unannounced,"  he smiled.  "Terribly poor manners."

For our 25th anniversary, we sailed again.  I booked an interior room and paid a quarter of what I had before.
We were seasoned travelers by then, also less wide-eyed.
We noticed, while the QE2 was still the same, the vibe was different.
Carnival had purchased the line, and crustier Brits commented about slipping standards.
No Telluride theme, no famous speakers.  Instead of ships officers, our dinner table included a blustery Teamster who always got red-faced drunk before he arrived.
Hard to blame new ownership.  You could visit Vegas twice, each stay would differ.
Nonetheless, both were magical trips, which I never regretted spending money on.[/NSFW]


Well-known member
Miss You Already - 2015 - 5/10


Drew and Toni on the cover, with the “miss you” title, I knew exactly how this would play, who was going to be the sufferer, and how events would transpire.
I was correct across the board.
Predictable tale of best friends forever, where one faces the ultimate battle.
Great chemistry between leads cannot compensate for oft repeated tale (reference to Beaches does not help).
Both women are too old for their roles, also.
Some of you will get stuck watching this beside your better half.  Too bad.


Well-known member
Bothersome Man - 2006 - 7/10
AKA - Den Brysomme Mannen


Norwegian parable.
Office drone wakes up on bus roaring down oblivion highway.
He is dumped at a shack, then ferried to his new city, new apartment, new job.
Everyone is cheery, friendly, work duties are undemanding, and he lands a girlfriend who is agreeable and willing.
Sound like Paradise to you?  Yeah, well, some types are never happy with their lot.
The new man is dissatisfied.  He cannot pinpoint what his problem is with Eden, but he wants something else.
And he gradually makes everyone around him uncomfortable.
Well thought out visuals, maddening dialogue, and steady pace as the reveal unfolds.


Well-known member
Far From The Madding Crowd - 2015 - 7/10


Not surprisingly, beautiful looking adaptation of Hardy’s novel.
Each of the three male rivals is given a sympathetic treatment - more or less.
Story follows young (20) Bathsheba Everdene who inherits her uncle’s farm.
Like most of Hardy’s works, this is driven by cruel Fate and often poor choices.
Some reviewers have been harsh toward Miss Everdene, but she is only 20 and has led a rather sheltered life
Thoughtful decisions are usually sound, impulsive acts deliver consequences.
For “purists” this is not an overly Modern interpretation, as has been the trend for Austen productions.
Leisurely paced, but not slow.  Plenty to see with sly subtleties.
Note the farm songs when Bathsheba operated it on her own, and those after Mr Troy arrived.


Well-known member
Bukowski At Bellevue - 1970 - 6/10


One hour film of Charles Bukowski giving an early poetry reading.
Audio quality is a tad muffled, but understandable throughout.
Video is black n white, often out of focus, dirty, and freezes frequently.
For Bukowski fans, this is must-see as he is fairly relaxed and steady the whole time.
The audience is quiet and attentive.  Poetry buffs, perhaps?  1970 would be considered the late 60s.
Contrast with There's Gonna Be A God Damn Riot In Here from 1979.
By then, his growing acclaim drew audiences not into poetry, often disrespectful.
This earlier film catches him younger, just before “Post Office” and the fame thing.


Well-known member
Grandma - 2016 - 7/10


Inventive “road movie” starring Lily Tomlin as no-nonsense elder, helping granddaughter.
Narrative transpires in one day. as the pair drive from friends to family to rivals.
From the sorry-ass boyfriend to the ex, trying to raise the money for an abortion.
Each encounter is a mini-short story.  Shrewdly done to reveal “grandma” history and character.
Very much the small film, shot in 19 days, micro budget, yet a strong cast gives top performances.
Funny, acid-tongued.  The DVD has worthwhile “making of” doc and a Q&A bonus.
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