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A few reviews

Vultural

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Asphalt - 1929 - 6/10

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German silent film melodrama about a wayward B-girl and earnest policeman.
The girl is caught at a jewelers, hiding merchandise.
The arresting cop hauls her off to headquarters, where she convinces him to take her home so she can get her papers.
In her rooms, no papers are forthcoming.  Instead, she opens wide and pulls him into the scented petals.
Melodramatic plot, great exterior photography of Weimar Berlin.
The real star - or distraction - is Betty Amann.
Like the better known Louise Brooks, she was another American cast for her striking looks.
Unlike Brooks, however, Amann is by turns exotic, hard, and flat out kooky looking.
Her hairstyle features a big curlicue plastered across her forehead, which makes her look cross-eyed.
The story is one of weakness and redemption.  There is a moral center to this, in contrast to Pabst’s bleak films.
 

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The Gift - 2015 - 7/10

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Terrific, intelligent thriller.  I will try to be very careful here.
Man bumps into old schoolmate whilst buying new home supplies with his bride.
The old chum “invites” himself into their home, then into their lives.
The guy is reserved, moody, and the wife’s radar goes off.
Husband then remembers the guy’s school nickname was “Weirdo.”
Twenty minutes in, this has all the trappings of the 137 cookie cutter stalker flicks.
Only noooooo, the plot starts to skew and assumptions unravel.
BEWARE OF REVIEWS, try to watch this cold.
Darkly satisfying.
 

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Vultural said:
Some money could appear for a 85" feature of this.

It already pretty much did, back in '12, and the result was even more smarmy, pretentious, and all-around horrible. :p
 

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Angel Dust - 1994 - 5/10

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Japanese thriller about a serial killer who strikes on crowded subways the first Monday every month.
He targets young women, using a hypodermic to inject poison into them.
Nice ratings, notwithstanding, this proved a frustrating mystery.
The female police analyst / profiler is a rather weak soul who has unresolved feelings for an old flame, a psychiatrist who now deprograms “cult victims.”
Director Ishii seems to have been profoundly influenced by David Lynch (Twin Peaks aired a couple years earlier).
A cave, and murder within, recur frequently.  
Revelations and subsequent mysteries pop up from time to time.  None have any bearing on the murder.
It was like the writing room said,  “Oh, here’s a weird idea!” and tossed it into the plot.  Repeat.  Repeat.
Half the room fell asleep during this one.
I stayed awake - wish I hadn’t.
 

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Obscene - A Portrait Of Barney Rosset and Grove Press - 2007 - 6/10

Scored this high early on, lowered it as the film progressed.
Suspicious documentary of the publisher of Grove Press.
The first half of this is absolutely smashing!  New York literary elite, the Beats, Jazz greats.  All signposted.
Rosset bought a tiny press and proceeded to publish “Lady Chatterly’s Lover,” “Tropic Of Cancer,” and “Naked Lunch.”
Each time, he and his cohorts fought local censors and numerous courts.  Grove became the locus of the new generation of literature. and published the 50s edgy icons.

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Next, Grove bought I Am Curious Yellow and fought for the film.
By the 70s, however, Grove was publishing Victorian erotica (porn in purple prose).

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Those erotic titles were the ones I distinctly remember seeing in the drugstore racks.
The press, as well as the documentary, goes downhill at this point.
There was a well publicized strike by, as Rosset called them, women libbers.
A bomb went off.  He lost his business, he lost his property.
Everyone soft pedaled the latter years.  Last twenty minutes feels like a whitewash,
 

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Quiet Please:  Murder - 1942 - 6/10

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Brisk thriller / mystery, with the main characters very much the villains.
Smoothie George Sanders is a rare book thief.
After well-publicized thefts, he creates quality forgeries which he peddles to unscrupulous collectors.
They can’t well verify if the book is real, and if they find out, who can they complain to?
Great plan, eh?
Except one forgery is sold to a Nazi agent, buying for Hermann Goering.
During a blackout, Sanders and his duplicitous colleague (sensual Gail Patrick) find themselves trapped in a vast public library, along with a private investigator and those pesky Nazis, demanding a refund!
Fun little B-movie, very much of its time.
 

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Laggies - 2014 - 6/10

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Hmmm, another film in a row from Kiera Knightley that I actually enjoyed.
She relies less and less on her squints, pouts, head shakes, her bag of “cute” crutches.
Acting, instead of coasting.

Ten years after prom night, college degree in hand, Megan is back in her parents’ home, waving a cardboard sign outside dad’s accounting agency.
Her friends, meanwhile, are gliding into adulthood - getting married, making babies.
By chance, she starts hanging with high school seniors, seeing mistakes they are making, by extension mistakes she has made.
One of the girls has a divorced father.
Lightweight romance is a bit predictable, but Knightley underplays her role and dumps the glamour thing,
Good date flick.
 

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Tracks - 2013 - 6/10

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Based on the true story, and I gather this was more or less accurate as two of the original participants appear in the Bonus section, along with numerous photos.
27 year old female decides to hike 1600+ miles across Australian outback to Indian Ocean.
With her are four camels and her faithful black dog.
A photographer acquaintance helps her get National Geographic as sponsor, but Tracks is a lonely trip.
Existential, metaphysical journey, though difficult to tell if she actually “changes.”
We don’t really grasp Robyn’s before and after.  The physical journey is the movie.
At the end, I was like,  “Is that it?”  “Why did she ..?’
Self discovery - understood best by oneself.
 

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The Town - 2010 - 6/10

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Overlooked, street smart caper film from Ben Affleck, with ass kicking finale.
Crime passes from one generation in Charlestown.
Favorite target seems to be banks, which in this film are all helpless as comatose grannies.
Security?  Trained guards?  Hidden surveillance cameras?
Sorry, no, which is rather hard to accept in otherwise realistic script.  
Affleck gets involved with sorta almost witness, while the gang presses for one final haul.
The big one.  The stereotyped “last score,” after which all will lay low and exit crime.
Yes . . . how many times?
Ingenious heist, clinically executed.  Gunfire galore.
Nice location filming, which might be a double-edged sword for some.
Unwary viewers better have subtitles if unaccustomed to nasally New England dialect.
 

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Hector And The Search For Happiness - 2014 - 6/10

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Simon Pegg as successful psychiatrist who suffers a crisis.  Bored, self-doubt, plain old ennui.
Abandons girlfriend (Rosamund Pike!) to pursue a globe-trotting quest to discover what makes happiness.
Exotic locales, scrapes and escapes, plastic villains, convenient guardian angels.
Feel like I’m shooting BBs at the balloons of a nine year olds birthday party.
The story was diverting, though hackneyed and lighter than sponge cake.
Essentially a feel good travelogue with dollops of greetings card wisdom.
Breezy ... yeah, yeah ... saw it, checked off my list, won’t rewatch in this life.
 

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Le Rayon Vert - 1986 - 5/10

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French patience tester, extremely well acted, but might strain your endurance.
Recently dumped female (uhh - three years earlier) whines about what to do during summer vacation.
She stays with family - complains.  Visits friends - moans.
Asks for advice, only to disregard.
One of the best / worst moments occurs during an outdoor meal when she - a recent vegetarian - launches into a tirade about meat and animals.
Doesn’t stop her from drinking, however.  And complaining even more.
I often say people get what they deserve.
Sadly, no pianos hurtle from the skies in this one.
 

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My Gun Is Quick - 1957 - 6/10

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Low budget quickie of tawdry Mickey Spillane novel.
Mike Hammer helps out jailbait hooker in hash house.
Couple beats later, downtown police advise him girl was found dead.
Curious, Hammer starts investigating.
Crappy sets, no name actors, indifferent music score bear witness to limited resources.
This actually works in favor of the cheap look and gritty feel of the material.
Spillane’s pulp cocktail of strippers, murderers, WWII smugglers, and sex is well served.
 

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The Nostalgist (2016)   (7/10)



Beautiful-looking steampunk 15-min. short on YouTube that plays a bit like a live-action Pixar piece. Worth a watch for those who love Christopher Nolan, and even some of us who don't.



Wayne's World (1992)

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In retrospect, this amiable hangout flick feels like a warm-up for the superior Hot Rod. Only a handful of the gags are actually funny in their own right, and maybe only one or two could be called inspired, but it's warm, fuzzy, and impossible to dislike. B-
 

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Lady In The Van - 2015 - 7/10

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Beware - Advertised as a comedy.  Maybe in the “better him than me” genre.
Maggie Smith plays homeless lady who moves onto a street, eventually one resident’s driveway and stays 15 years!
She never does find work, frightens the children, does not bathe, is argumentative, imperious, manipulative.
Gradually, very gradually, viewers peek into slices of her past, and realize hers has been a tragically wasted life.
While I did not enjoy this film, the plot construction is excellent, score works well, acting is peerless.
Challenging movie to love, though easy to appreciate.
Based on a short book, then on a much lauded play (2000, also with Maggie Smith).

The real question is how neighbors tolerated Mary / Margaret in their midst.
 Most streets would have summoned authorities and institutionalized her within days.
Recommended, though her character is exasperating.
Keep a sharp eye out for numerous cameos!
 

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Que la Bete Meure - 1969 - 7/10
AKA - The Beast Must Die

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French revenge film.
Single dad’s lone child is struck and killed by a hit n run driver.
Police explore the usual leads, find nothing, extend apologies, return to their lattes.
The father is far more determined, however.  Finds an overlooked clue, stumbles across a witness (who did not see the accident, but saw something related), then hones in on the quarry.
Older film, yet not moralistic, though there is collateral emotional damage.
Also, to me refreshing, this is not revenge-porn which is today’s norm.
My bride always argues, “Revenge doesn’t bring the dead back.  You only wound yourself.”
I always say,  “True, but you remove one more bad guy from the world.”
 

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Gaith said:
The Nostalgist (2016)   (7/10)



Beautiful-looking steampunk 15-min. short on YouTube that plays a bit like a live-action Pixar piece. Worth a watch for those who love Christopher Nolan, and even some of us who don't.

I watched this and both liked and disliked it. Did it really need to have a flashback to events that happened about 2 minutes previously? If it is ever expanded into a full length piece I would like to see more about the family history and such and the boy's mom. I liked the style of it though a lot and I liked the ideas about addiction too. Worth a watch I'd say. It's only 15 minutes long...
 

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^ I agree, it felt a bit over-edited/over-explained in those moments. Still, nice to see a live-action genre short film that isn't ten minutes of lightsaber twirling and nothing else.   :p
 

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Where To Invade Next - 2015 - 6/10

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Another even handed documentary from the always fair minded Michael Moore.
This outing, the social critic travels abroad to “claim” the best attributes of other nations for his fellow Americans.
Italy - six weeks paid vacation.  Five months paid maternity leave.
Finland - no homework and young grades only go to school three hours a day.
Slovenia - free college.  Tunisia - equal rights for women.
France - healthy school nutrition.  Moore, poster child for health, offers one of the children his Coca Cola.
There are other countries, with other systems.  Moore marvels at each with a big,  “Are you kidding me?”
Nary a differing voice is heard in his very idealistic walkabout.
No reference made of human nature.  Greed, laziness, self serving, what are those?
Tempted to dock a point because Moore is such a one-sided schmuck.
 

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Duke Of Burgundy - 2014 - 6/10

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Warning! - Arthouse alert!
Maid bicycles up to the manor door.  Waits.  And waits.
The mistress of the estate finally opens the door with,  “You’re late.”
Domination and servitude ensue, climaxing with passionate erotic grappling.
The tone is understated, muted, restrained.  The colour palette is dark.  There are no males.
A group of females attend classes, hairstyles in tight buns, save for the mannequins in chairs.
Film is fraught with symbolism and “meaning” but it is heavy handed and lethargic.
Well crafted study of roles and power games, yet the resolution ebbed away and I ended up scratching my head, already forgetting threads and characters.
 

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Bombay Velvet - 2015 - 5/10

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Street urchin’s violent rise to become big-shot manager of wildly popular club in 60s Bombay.
Riffs of Scarface and Casino float, though this is tame on violence and sex.
Story starts in 1949 following two young boys. Time shifts abruptly with few clues.  Just catch up.
Big money employs thugs to pound the path for land development in go-go Bombay.
Many musical numbers, yet most are set in the nightclub world of sequins and stockings..
Strives for operatic, succumbs to melodrama.
Uninspired plot, poorly envisioned characters, a story that is glossy, empty, and of course, overlong.

Danny Boyle and Martin Scorsese thanked in opening credits.
Thelma Schoonmaker one of the film editors.
Shoulda been better.
 
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